Indie musicians need to be professional as they navigate their careers. The indie (and major label) music industry is built on networking with others in the industry. Just as any new small business needs to build a positive reputation to help their business grow in the right direction musicians have to recognize that they're running a business with their music and the service they provide. In either case positive word-of-mouth travels fast, yet negative comments seem to travel faster and do more damage than good.
In the indie music industry, as in most industries, success is built on communication and relationships. The music industry is all about who you know and who knows you. It's not an industry where you want to burn any bridges. That means it's important to be professional, respectful, courteous, polite, friendly and as easy to work with as possible. If you can do all of those things they will come back to you in the form of gigs and other positive opportunities that will find you.
An example of unprofessionalism in music happened the other night at the MTV VMAs when Taylor Swift won the award for best video and Kanye West jumped on stage, grabbed the microphone and said that Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time implying that Beyonce should have won the award.
However, not all was lost...Beyonce ended up winning the video of the year award and graciously reminisced about winning her first VMA and asked Taylor Swift to finish thanking her fans since she wasn't able to do it initially when she won. Beyonce's gesture was a true act of professionalism. Plus, it needs to be mentioned how professionally Taylor Swift handled everything, especially as she's still fairly new to the music industry at age 19.
Though many indie musicians would like to take the nation, and the world, by storm it's helpful to start small--setting some goals for local success to then build toward larger aspirations.
These days many indie musicians feel that with the aid of the internet they should be an international sensation in no time. Unfortunately, it doesn't often work that way.
The internet certainly does add convenient and widespread access to potential fans across the globe, however, that doesn't necessarily mean folks in other parts of the world are huge fans...yet.
The best advice is to still concentrate on building momentum within your local scene. Definitely use every capability the internet has to offer, but focus locally first. Once you start becoming noticed locally, regional and national exposure will begin to follow.
Take, for example, the band Locksley. Locksley is an indie band that originated in the Madison, WI area. Locksley gained some great exposure locally, writing great tunes and putting on engaging live performances. Eventually, they moved to New York and have since gained national exposure with appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Locksley is slated to release their Be In Love album early next year.
I wanted to write and let folks know that I've just been selected to write for an online publication called Examiner.com. I will be their Madison, WI Indie Music Business Examiner. I will write articles to offer tips and advice to indie musicians about the business side of the their endeavors to help them be successful in what they do.