There are so many things to think about when you start out as an independent artist.
Some of them are quite high level…
How should you portray yourself as an artist?
Should you be looking to sign to a label or build your own independent following and do it all yourself?
Some are far more specific…
How do you work out everyone’s percentage share of royalties?
What things should you look out for in reading a producer contract?
Either way, you’ll find yourself turning hundreds of these questions in your mind from the moment you start out as an artist. When some things start to become clear to you, other new uncertainties will come up instead.
AND, there is MUCH more to being a successful artist than simply releasing good music and having a good promotional and touring strategy.
Being ‘successful’ in the long term is not just measured in streams, radio plays and festival appearances.
To be a successful artist you have to be a happy artist.
This guide brings many of these questions together in one place so that you can feel more confident in the decisions you take as an artist, without needing industry help to build your career!
Who runs The Emerging Artist?
My name’s Ned Mortimer and I created The Emerging Artist after many years spent feeling my way through the fog and uncertainty that comes with life as an independent musician.
I was always exposed to music as a child (forced to take violin and piano lessons), but it was only when one of my sisters lobbied me into learning the guitar that I discovered just how deep my passion for songwriting was. Coupled with a love for attention, fed at the time by various appearances in school plays and musicals, this passion led me to form my first band aged 13. The teenage years were suitably full of misplaced angst and songs written for unenthusiastic love interests, before I set off for university and the safe path offered by a law degree and subsequent job in the city.
The passion for music, however, trumped the lure of a lucrative job as very early on I had a chance meeting with a chap called Vedantha, who would go on to become my band mate and co-songwriter of many wonderful years to come. We formed an indie-folk duo called August and After, moved to London to record our debut album and start looking for an ‘audience’ and realised we had NO idea what we actually needed to do.
Nearly a decade later, we’ve now played sold-out shows all over Europe, amassed several million plays in countries all over the world and had the support of some pretty cool people including the Independent and BBC 6 Music.
I am now a fully independent freelance musician and don’t for one second regret my decision (if you can call it a decision…) to forgo working in the city for a comfortable salary.
So why did I start The Emerging Artist?
There are three distinct reasons:
Firstly, I sincerely believe that financial success and emotiona wellbeing in the world of music (or any of the artistic disciplines) shouldn’t depend on whether you have “industry support”.
To put it another way, it should not only be financially viable, but actually advantageous to “go it alone” and be a true independent artist. Not to mention a lot more fun – you get your creative control, you can make your own business and lifestyle decisions, engage with your fans in the way you want, etc.
Secondly, it has taken me nearly of decade of writing songs, releasing music and playing shows around Europe to realise that I actually know more about this stuff than I give myself credit for.
I remember stepping bleary-eyed onto the London music scene and not having a clue about anything – finding studios, getting gigs, what royalties were, and so on – and needing to scour the internet (as well as ask a few dear musical friends who were further ahead on their journey than me!) for any sort of hint of where to go next.
I experienced all the confusion, the highs and lows and feeling completely lost that go hand in hand with starting out in the world of music. I still feel the emotional strain – and I don’t want this blog to focus solely on making money, because I firmly believe that your emotional wellbeing as an artist is more important than your bank balance, so I will write about ways to manage your motivation and emotional resilience too! – but I do at least feel far more assured in knowing how the system all fits together.
Thirdly, I LOVE talking about this stuff. It takes very little to get me into an hours-long conversation about anything, from choosing the right music producer to the different ways to increase your flow of song ideas.
Whether you’re just starting out, have been playing music for years or aren’t even involved in music at all, I hope you will find my content useful/engaging – please leave comments, sign up to my newsletter for deals and other opportunities and never forget what drives you to do the things you love! And thank you for reading 🙂