Independent Artists Guide to Budgeting

How To Not Go Broke Managing Your Career as an Independent Artist

In this modern age of music and entertainment independent artists are very common. Years ago it was a rarity to find a music artist that was 100% independent. However, in this day and time not only is it common, many of them are highly successful. Look at the number of artists who went on to become mainstream and either started off independent or they’re still independent artists. But succeeding as an indie artist comes at a price. You have to put in double the amount of time. You have to constantly market and promote yourself 24/7 and most importantly you have to finance your own music career. These factors are the main reasons most independent artists still try to secure a record deal. They rather have a company behind them that can manage, market and invest plenty of money into them. This is very understandable. However, you can win as independent music artist. Here are some tips on how to manage your career as an indie artist without going broke and constantly spending money you don’t have.

Utilize and learn how to benefit off your natural talents

If you are an independent artist in the music industry then clearly you have a talent. With an art and craft like music 9 times out of 10 you have more than 1 talent. Meaning usually if you can sing you can play an instrument. If you can play 1 instrument you can play a few. If you can rap you can produce. If you can write songs you can compose. With that being said take the 1-3 natural music talents or music related talents you have, master then and utilize them. Try to work as much of your natural talent and skills into your career as much as possible. A lot of independent artists lose money because they constantly hire others to complete certain tasks for them. The reality is a lot of these tasks indie artists hire others for they can do themselves. If it’s something you already know how to do or even somewhat good at you should do it yourself. If you have to hire someone for majority of the branding of your career you’ll never make any money being an independent artist. You’ll always be paying, “nickeling and diming” and owing someone else. This doesn’t mean try to learn or teach yourself a bunch of skills. If you do that then you’ll end up becoming “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” But if you need a task completed to benefit your career as an indie artist and you already know how to do it or you’re familiar with it don’t go broke hiring someone else to do it for you. The following are some common examples of talent and skills you should do yourself an independent artist to help save budget money:

  • If you’re a singer/rapper who also write your own songs use your writing skills to write your own press releases, bios and press kit.
  • If you’re an independent music artist who’s always in the studio why not start studying music production, learn as you go and become your own producer.
  • If you’re an artist who is also computer savvy be your own web designer.
  • If you’re a songwriter who also knows how to sing be your own demo singer for the songs you’re shopping.

Stop being everybody’s customer

A big mistake a lot of independent artists is they constantly become others’ customer. When building your brand and financing your career a lot of steps come with it. For instance you have to have head shots, a catalog of songs, original beats, a website, etc. As a music artist if you don’t know how to utilize your talents properly to complete these necessities you’ll end up hiring someone else for every little task you need done and you’ll end up being their customer. This means you’re always paying someone else and you’re never making any money. If you have to hire someone else to complete something regarding your music career that’s one thing. However, if you hire someone else all the time for every endeavor you pursue concerning your career you’ll always be a buyer. You have to learn when it’s a need vs. a want with hiring someone to handle a task regarding your career. This is crucial if you want to be a successful independent artist. Another thing you have to do is learn how to form partnership with others rather than you just being a paying client. Present the task to the individual as more of a collaboration. This may not work all the time but the times it do work will definitely benefit you financially and other ways.

Legendary artist Prince is a great example of how you should utilize all your talents as an artist whether you’re independent or mainstream. Even before Prince became famous he played all the instruments on his demo album, wrote, composed and produced all his own songs.

Use free resources

Another tip that will help you not go broke as an independent artist is using free resources. This may seem common and cliche but there are a lot of free resources out there many are unaware of. Of course we all know about the extremely popular ones such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many social media platforms. However, there are other platforms and companies that will benefit you as an indie artist that are free. This includes resources that offer free networking events, free press releases and more. Below is a list of a few:

  • Eventbrite – website that lists over thousands of events in all industry categories, a lot of the events are free
  • SBA (Small Business Administration) – organization that host entrepreneur related events that are sometimes free
  • – site that allows you to connect with liked-minded people in your industry, free to sign up
  • OpenPR – a site that allows you to create your own press release for free
  • WordPress – a site with countless free templates that allows you to create your own website for free
  • Your local George’s Music – a music store that also hosts plenty of free music related classes and events
  • Free online directories – submit your profile as a professional singer, rapper, songwriter, etc. to free online directories such as YelpHot frog and Yellow Pages.      
Here’s a list of all the free listings that independent artists can utilize

Be willing to spend some money on yourself

Although this post gives excellent tips on how to save and budget your money while investing into your career, you also have to be willing to spend some money. Yes you want to have a budget. Yes you want to make sure you’re actually making a profit. However, the reality is you have to invest somewhat. To get something of great value, you have to put in hard work, time, sacrifice and money. Think about it this way if your music career doesn’t matter enough for you to put money into it then is it really worth pursuing at all? The great thing is you can put money into your career while still not ending up flat broke. That is what the tips mentioned above is designed to help you do. It’s designed to allow you to invest in your career and put up some money while also having a plan that allows you to remain on a budget.

Another important factor to keep in mind when financing your music endeavors is to make a plan. In order for these tips to work you can’t just apply them sporadically. You have to have a system. You may think it’s not important. You may not see results overnight but eventually you will notice a difference and the benefits.

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