Oath Of The Indie Musician – Part 4: Self Initiative

Part 1: Declaration  |  Part 2: Plans & Goals  |  Part 3: Skilled & Receptive

Part 4: Self Initiative | Part 5: Niche  |  Part 6: Critique

Part 7: Colleagues  |  Part 8: Fans | Part 9: Community

Part 10: Positive Environment  |  Part 11: Help Yourself By Helping Others  | Part 12: Pay It Forward

Self assessment, investment, and promotion are mandatory.

blocks spelling motivationThis statement seems obvious, but I’ve run across many musicians whom believe the world owes them something, simply because they write, record, and perform music.

Maybe it’s the influence of the MySpace generation, where everything was handed to them on a silver platter. Struggling, clueless artists, brainwashed into believing 30,000 connections were potential paying fans who gave a damn about the well being of the band.

Not to mention that every bored housewife and unemployed bloke on the planet claimed to be a music promoter and/or industry consultant. All free, of course. No need to invest in their own self worth.

That didn’t pan out too well, did it? Unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of this same bullshit carried over to Facebook and other social networks.

Let’s take a look at line 4 of The Oath. If DIY truly exists, this is where it begins … and ends.

Self Assessment.
The process of “knowing yourself.” It involves taking an inventory of your likes, dislikes, personal characteristics, values, wants, and needs, as well as how you tend to react to certain situations. This can be broken down into the following categories:

Interests – Things you enjoy doing can give you important clues about work or career interests. Aside from the actual writing, recording and performing of your music, what other interests can be transferred to your career as an artist?

Personality – Your unique combination of emotional and behavioral characteristics constitute your personality. Different aspects of your career require different personality traits. This is where building your team comes into play, and DIY is often an epic fail.

Skills – There are generally 3 types of skills:

Skills that can be transported from one job to another.

Skills that are developed through life and work experience, or from exposure to role models.

Skills that are learned through training.

No doubt, there are many skills you have learned through one or more of these methods that will aid your music career.

Abilities – Whereas, skills are learned, abilities are natural talent. Again, other than the music itself, do you have any natural abilities that may aid in building a successful music career?

Work Values – Make no mistake, a career in music is no different from a career in any other field, as far as work ethic is concerned. If you lack the personal incentive needed for job satisfaction, you will more than likely fail. If you do achieve some form of success, you will no doubt have lived a miserable professional life.

Lifestyle/Financial Considerations – Are you willing to live the life of a touring musician? The finances needed to live a life of luxury will more than likely not be available for some time, if ever. Knowledge of monthly expenses and having realistic financial goals will, however, help in the long run.

Preferred Work Environment – Just as with living conditions, your work environment can play a large part in how you feel about your job as a musician. Your comfort level with where you work often makes the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful career choice.

Self Investment.
This is a must, as well as to be expected, before assuming that others will invest in you. Even if your plan is to use a fan-funding platform, you will need to show your fans that you are worth the investment.

For those of you still interested in the old model, record labels will expect you to have a finished product with verifiable sales, and be a self-sustained, touring artist before they will even look at you.

Not all investments are financial in nature. Investing in yourself could mean investing in your own well being. Eating healthier and/or carrying out a daily exercise routine would be good examples.

Developing an organizational system, as well as standard operating procedures, thus solving the time management dilemma, would definitely be a wise investment.

Education is a big one. I’m not just talking paid schooling or training, but as mentioned earlier, skills developed through life and work experience, or from exposure to role models.

Networking, although, considered an action, is most definitely an investment. Investing a little time and effort into reaching out to other industry professionals is investing in your own success.

Wes Davenport offers up this great advice:

“Most worthy investments in yourself take a hefty amount of willpower. To keep me going, I think of my future self. For example, if I continue with my exercise routine, the future me will be grateful. These investments are the building blocks of my future self. Kind of silly, but it works for me.”

Self Promotion.
Let me start off by saying self promotion is not SPAM or self adulation. It’s more like being able to wave your own flag without sounding like a self-serving ass, or flooding the net with bullshit.

SPAM is blindly shooting out mass, un-targeted emails, bulletins, comments, and event invites across your social networks. It’s not promotion, it’s annoying, ridiculously stupid, and for the most part, a complete waste of time. In fact, you may lose more fans (if they ever were truly fans) than you will ever gain, using this method.

Consider building a relationship with your fans. When you’re on a personal level with your followers, you will never have to clutter their inbox and/or social network pages with bullshit. You’ll also see a lot higher return on your promotional investment.

I’ve always heard it said that self-promotion is the art of spreading ideas, concepts, and a greater vision. Self-adulation, on the other hand, is simply the promotion of accomplishments. Deeds that have already been done.

The reason one works better than the other is based on the concept that people are selfish. No, really. They want to see or hear something that makes them feel good. Promoting ideas, concepts, and a greater vision not only peaks interest, but inspires hope, thought, and action. It makes people happy.

When you constantly promote accomplishments, you’re really not doing much more than telling your fans – me, me, me. Sure, they may support what you have done, but it really does nothing for them personally.

So, to wrap it up:

Assess your interests, personality, skills, abilities, work values, lifestyle/financial considerations, and preferred work environment to see how they fit into your aspirations of making music your career of choice.

Invest in yourself. Not just financially, but physically, mentally, spiritually, etc., BEFORE expecting anyone else to invest in you or your project.

Promote ideas, concepts, and a greater vision, NOT just accomplishments.

Download TAKE THE OATH: A Practical Pocket Guide For The Career Indie Musician NOW!

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Don Harrison

Music Business Web Guy
In short, I develop music careers, design websites, and help independent artists (and other entrepreneurs) get their business ducks in a row.

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