Independent Rockstar

Insight for Independent Musicians

10 Great Tips to Help You Fail as an Independent Artist!

We’ve all seen and read posts and eBooks about how to ‘succeed’ as independent artists and to be honest, I’ve even written a few.  But what about those of us who are bent on failure?  Those of us who would like to know how to shoot ourselves in the foot as efficiently and painfully as possible?  Those of us who would like to be more unsuccessful and confused?  Well this post is for you!

Some of these things I’ve done myself, and I can assure you – they work amazingly well!  Others I’ve merely watched in admiration as true masters of blunder and confusion have performed their magic before my very eyes.

So here it is, my guide to failure for the independent artist:

1. Steal Your Own Thunder

Got a new Cd in the works?  Awesome!  Make sure you release every version of every demo and every mix you record during the process on Facebook, Reverbnation, Myspace and anywhere else you can find.  Try to confuse your fans so that they’re not really sure if you have a CD out yet or not.  Don’t set a release date well in advance or plan your promotion to build anticipation.  Try to make your release as flat and confusing as possible!

2. Don’t Sell Anything!

You’re definitely going to get signed by a huge label in less than three months anyway, so why bother?!  It’s much better to just wait for other people to come in and straighten things out.  Taking responsibility for your own career is hard work and it might lead to success, so try your best to avoid it.  Try to keep it real and stay as broke as possible.  If you have any money then you’ll be less needy and you’ll have more leverage, which could lead you towards success, so stay away!

3. Hide Your Best Stuff

Try to make sure that people have a hard time getting to your best songs.  Hide them on your online music players by either shuffling your songs randomly or putting them way down on the list.  This will make sure that they’re less likely to get the best possible first impression.

Also, make sure you stop playing your best songs live as soon as possible in favor of new material.  Remember, new is better than good.  After all, you’re sick of your best songs by now anyway, so why should you go out of your way for people who haven’t heard your music yet?  Besides, that would just draw in new fans, so don’t do it.

4. Don’t Deliver For Your Fans

It’s generally best to reach for the stars and swing for the fences as soon as possible.  Try to see if you can drag all of your fans out to the ‘big venue’ in town well before you’re ready to play there.  That way you can make sure that your fans overpay to see you at a venue that doesn’t care about you and will cut your set short.  Bonus points if your fans have to pay for parking.  The whole experience should go a long way towards losing your audience.

It’s always best to make sure your relationship with your fans is based on them doing you favors as opposed to a mutual exchange of value.  People will willingly come back to see you if you focus on their experience and deliver the goods, so it’s best to make sure you focus more on having them do you favors.

5. Impress People With the Volume of Your Content

If it’s good to have a YouTube video on your home page then it’s great to have 37!  Try to mix in unprofessional and amateur content as much as possible.  If you’ve done it – then why not show it!  Obviously the big record companies are going to be way impressed when they see just how many ‘things’ you’ve done.  If people have no idea how to digest the massive amounts of unorganized content on your page and tend to leave in frustration then you know you’re on the right track!

6. Don’t Tell Anyone Your Name

When people come to see you it’s best if you keep a sense of mystery about yourself.  Whatever you do, don’t give yourself away by showing or telling people the name of your act.  Try to make them work for it.  Remove any visual evidence that you even have a name and try to make sure that if you mention your name you do it in a way that’s garbled and difficult to hear and understand.  Bonus points if your name is hard to remember like Anne Kalshzyagrakaviczich.  In that case you can tell them your name once just to dare them to try and remember it.  They won’t be able to!  If they like you then this should piss them off.  Awesome!

Also, try and secure a confusing URL for your website that’s spelled strangely and has numbers and dashes and is not memorable.  Extra credit if you can make sure that the URLs for your YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account and other social networking sites have nothing in common with each other.  If someone wants to follow you then you certainly don’t want to make it easy for them!

7. Don’t Let Anyone Have Anything for Free

Whatever you do, make sure that no one gets their hands on your music without paying you.  If more people got a hold of your music then you might generate more demand, so cling to your music with an iron fist.  And whatever you do, if you ever do give away any of your music, make sure you don’t get an email address in return.  That might start you in the direction of adopting habits that lead to more money and more people coming to your shows.

8. Don’t Facilitate Long Term Relationships

Your relationship with your fans should be all about one-night stands.  Anything beyond that will just ruin the experience.  If you actually look for ways to stay in contact with them like collecting their email addresses and finding creative ways to engage with them on Facebook and other social networking sites then one day you might wake up and find yourself gaining positive momentum and building a sustainable path of continued growth and success.   So make sure people don’t have an easy way to stay in the loop or to find out when and where you’re playing next.  If they do find you online, say on your website,  make sure that it’s confusing and doesn’t have any dynamic content or a reason or means for them to stay connected.

9. Try Your Best to Be Vague and Confusing When Describing Your Music

When someone asks you what you sound like, try to make sure they won’t understand, remember and/or be excited about what you say.  You don’t want to be painted into a corner by a concise and interesting description of your music.  It’s best to try and give them a long-winded summary of every way to conceivably describe everything you will ever play.  And whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to anyone else to give people a frame of reference.  It’s best to tell people that you don’t sound like anyone and that you’ve invented a new kind of music.  This should sufficiently confuse and frustrate them to the point that they don’t care to find out any more about you.

10. Talk About Yourself.  A lot.

Finally, it’s a good idea to make sure that you don’t talk about anyone or anything else besides you and your career.  If you stop promoting yourself for even a minute and start talking up others and remarking about interesting subjects then people might actually start to think you’re a real person and listen to what you have to say and want to hear more from you.  It’s best to avoid this scenario by incessantly blasting your ‘friends’ and fans with promotion.   This should lead to nausea amongst anyone who decided to give you a chance –  a great weapon in your quest for failure.

For bonus points, throw in a few complaints and guilt trips into the mix.  This should make sure that even the few people who tolerate your interpretation of how to use social media won’t like you or want to see you succeed.

So there you have it.  10 powerful tips that are sure to help you fail!  Use them well and use them often.  Try and combine different tips and see just how quickly or painfully slowly you can run your career into the ground.

About Scott James

Musician / Blogger / Web Designer / MBTI Nerd living in Hollywood, CA
Scott James

16 Responses to “10 Great Tips to Help You Fail as an Independent Artist!”

  1. Aum says:

    Great Article Scott! I’ve actually had many people tell me these thing with utmost conviction that it’ll work in the long run!! Ho Ho Sharing this article with all my rockstar buddies! Kudos man…you’ve earned my subscription! 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    Great article haha!

    Definite plus on the randomized playlist stuff on Myspace and all, I see a bunch of bands doing that, not all your songs are equal, and if I hear the crap ones first, that’s what I assume the rest of them are like, and LEAVE.

    • Thanks Joe. True isn’t it? If you were applying for a job you wouldn’t choose your outfit randomly and then answer the first interview question with your 5th best answer would you?

  3. right on as usual/ good stuff/ its show biz and people want to hear something they like.

  4. Aman says:

    Another great article Scott.

  5. All for naught….your clever licks,
    Using these misguided business tricks !

  6. I’ve done everything on your list scott!

  7. Ed Shane says:

    Hey, Scott…
    We’re about to conduct our annual music career seminar for Texas artists and I’d like permission to include two of your posts in our seminar workbook. This one “10 Great Tips to Help You Fail…” and “CD Release Tips” from February, 2010. I’m happy to give not only credit but also your blog URL. OK?

  8. http://www.facebook.com/#!/midnitebluesband says:

    I think we are all guilty of a combination of these points and this is a very clever way of getting attention and actually making your point. Awesome article!