Indie artists are at a disadvantage. While there are some who will dismiss any thought of comparing themselves to other artists, I would like to offer a different perspective. The Problem for Indie Artists
First of all, the biggest problem for indie artists is gaining exposure through unfriendly systems. The traditional systems that are in place today were built around an industry that has many layers of interdependency. These layers of interdependency are the various services that are frankly necessary to operate at higher levels. Agency, management, and promotion are only a few of these services. Some of these systems may seem “unfriendly” because they are reliant on larger publishers and labels. For the larger labels, publishers and related services, self sufficiency threatens their source of income. If we were on the opposite side of the fence, we would view it the very same way.
However, as indies, we are not on their side of the fence by definition. We are indies, which, aside from being a genre unto itself, is short for independents. Part of the Solution for Indie Artists
Indie artists must provide many of the services through friends, by themselves, or by paying for specific services. New systems are developing to assist indie artists, but they are unfortunately mired among scores of new services that are yet unproven. Either way, it is an uphill battle for an indie artist.
It is necessary for an indie artist to create paths for themselves that are not always clearly marked. I would suggest trying to look at yourself from the perspective of your potential market. It is not an easy exercise, because it could not be further from the core business of making music. In fact, it can be discouraging. Most artists already have enough to discourage them, so it becomes a critical part of survival, for some folks, to avoid anything that is discouraging. However, if you don’t have the money to pay for this service, then you may need to be a little more resilient. So, if you can be brave for a minute, take a look at yourself from a real market perspective. How Do You Find You?
First of all, how do you find you? It is perhaps a silly question to some folks, because you already know where you are. But, the vast majority of your market has no idea where you are. This is very difficult for many people to imagine, but it can be powerful. Stated differently, how do you rise above the crowd?
Who Do You Sound Like?
I think there are many ways to differentiate yourself, but I want to address one of the easiest techniques for drawing people to yourself. It is actually very simple. Who do you sound like? Do not be afraid to compare yourself to well known artists. Why? Because your market already knows these artists and it can be like a beacon of light leading back to you.
“But I am unique”, you may say. Yes, you are unique. But, there are elements that can be compared to other artists, including your style, the sound of your voice, and perhaps something a little less noticeable such as your lyrical phrasing.
It is a little contradictory in that you are trying to differentiate yourself by comparing yourself to others. However, you can also paint a very nice composite picture of yourself through comparisons with more than one artist. I know most everyone has seen it before, but you might say that you sound like the Allman Brothers with the funk style of Mother’s Finest. It creates a picture that can lead people to you through association with well known artists. The Added Bonus
Guess what? There’s more. You can use these artists as keywords to help your prospective fans find you a little easier. The well known artists do not mind as it also helps them, but it is a very descriptive way to drive potential fans to you. What is the beauty of using well known artists as keywords? They are well known so they are much more likely to be used in search strings.
I would only caution that you should take your time to get this characterization right. Using an artist that does not describe your style or sound does nothing to help you because there is nothing more frustrating to a potential fan than to be disappointed at a poorly characterized comparison. Get a Second Opinion
You should ask others for their thoughts on comparisons. It is very difficult to be objective about yourself sometimes, so this can be very useful. Ask a lot of questions. Ask them how you are similar. That is, are you similar in terms of sound, or are you similar in terms of style? Spread It Out
Finally, try to create a composite built on well known artists from different generations. This also helps to attract potential fans, as you may have an appeal to a larger demographic that may surprise you. If you are an older artist, don’t dismiss the potential for younger fans and if you are a younger artist, don’t dismiss the potential for older fans.
Article written by Del Boland and distributed by permission of Del Boland. Follow Del’s blog at http://publishingboxofdreams.blogspot.com.