Take Your Music to the ‘Next Level': Independent Artist tips

22Apr09

I have my own recording studio in Minneapolis, and if I had a dollar for every time I hear independent singers and songwriters say, “I want to take my music to the next level.” I would have as much money as Simon Cowell. Seroiusly, I hear it over and over again. It got me thinking about that statement today. What does that actually mean?

If you are a singer or songwriter and you say, “I want to take my music to the next level,” what does that mean to you? I can almost guarantee that it means that you want to be rich and famous. You want to quit your crappy day job and do, “what I have wanted to do since I was a little kid.” Am I right? Well the first thing you really should do is ask yourself what level you are really on right now. I would dare to bet that 98.67% of you are at level 1. Level 1 is where you sing karaoke every once in a awhile, or you sing around the house and your friends and family think you are the next American Idol. Other than singing to the radio or the occasional live karaoke experience, you probably aren’t doing much more for your music career. You are not one step away from stardom. That may be hard to hear, but you have to be honest with yourself. If the previous description describes you, your next level is not being a platinum recording artist. You need to be realistic. Your ‘next level’ should be to get a high quality demo recorded. Get an actual product that you can start marketing yourself with. Keyword there is ‘yourself.’ You are dreaming if you think one demo recording is going to attract someone who will ‘make you a star.’ It could get you attention, but you are the one who needs to develop your career. Labels and agents do not want to spend money or time developing artists anymore. They want someone who is already making money, so they know there is already an audience. It takes the risk out.

So what is the next level?? You really should invest the time and money yourself and make a demo that you can sell to friends and family…since they obviously think you are a star already, they should throw out some cash. Then once you have your CD or downloads ready, you NEED, NEED , NEED to get a good website that showcases your music and your image. THEN, you need to start booking yourself to sing at whatever you can find. Yes, this means singing for FREE at even small gigs where there may be 3 people. Look for open mics, art festivals, fairs, school events, churches….anywhere they may want someone to come entertain. Do it for the exposure and ask to sell your CD’s. Now you have some gigs you can actually promote on your website, and an avenue to sell more CD’s and get more fans. After you do this for awhile, the next level would be starting to look for PAYING gigs. By this time, you should have a pretty extensive resume of places you have performed and you are starting to get known as an artist. These paying gigs may not be much bigger than your free ones, but it is the next step on the ladder. Only after you are performing on a very regular basis, bringing in fans and selling lots (thousands) of CD’s, would you be close to moving into the level that you dream of.
You may actually be surprised how much money and satisfaction you get from doing everything on your own. You will start to see that having a ‘record deal’ is not what it is always cracked up to be.

So for those of you looking to take your music to the ‘next level’….figure out what level you are at right now. What are you doing this week to advance your music career? — Chad C-Sharp Productions

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8 Responses to “Take Your Music to the ‘Next Level': Independent Artist tips”

  1. Interesting post and I couldn’t agree more with your comments about the satsifaction to be had from “doing everything on your own” and that having a record deal is not always the pot of gold people imagine it to be.

  2. Thank you for iterating what I am doing.
    Check out some of my grooves at http://www.myspace.com/blindoutfit.
    Hope you enjoy and I can’t wait to entertain you.
    J
    Blind Outfit

  3. I can def appreciate your perspective. I am 28 and have been making a living on music alone now for ten years as a solo acoustic artist. But it is starting to take a toll on my body playing as much as I do. Last week I was in the ER for blood clots in my right arm from over exertion. This week I have six shows. I am def paying my dues. I am looking for someone beyond me to take me under their wing… A mentor if you will. I will do whatever it takes to make me the best I can be. I have over 50 originals have played in a Nicolas Sparks movie played at Tom Petty, Allman Brothers, and The Black Crows concerts back in PA. I have hit a wall. I work so much at my job and am having a hard time getting my career going. I am very thankful to do what I do but like I said it’s starting to take it’s toll on my body and soul. I do hope you get a chance to hear my music and make some constructyive suggestions…LG
    myspace.com/larrygeorge24

  4. 4 Andy

    I Really agree with your article. The pop idol – x factor type programs have made it look so easy to become a so called star. But even those seemingly over night successes have worked very hard to be where they are.

    I think building on the level you are and to be honest about the level you are at is the way to go. I run a website for unsigned and independent artists called BANDiZMO.com and the range of talent from those who think they are but have paid no attention to the music they are making and those who really have talent, drive and produce wonderful music is vast.

  5. 5 Scott

    Re: “you NEED, NEED , NEED to get a good website that showcases your music and your image.” Look no further – ScottJamesWebDesign.com ;)

  6. 6 John

    I think what people mean by saying “I want to take my music to the next level” is simply just to get their music sounding better than it is at the minute….as in the next level/the next stage closer to perfection in their eyes/ears. I don’t think they mean they want stardom or fame by saying this. I have used this phrase before and all I meant was to improve my music by learning different production techniques etc
    :)

  7. Hi Chad,

    I know this article is 2 years old, but I discovered it just recently.

    When I say I want to take my music to the “next level,” I really do not mean to become wealthy or famous with it. When I say next level I mean I do not want to sound like an amateur – I want to improve my production quality significantly.

    But wanting to improve and knowing how to improve are two separate things. So in the meantime, I am reading everything I can get my hands on involving music production techniques.

    So there are more meanings to “next level” than just fame and money.

    Best wishes!
    Shannon McDowell

  8. Good advise seriously im at the level where im looking for more shows and im about to record my Ep but i need to get more views, fans etc any advise on that…
    Please check out my page..
    ww.reverbnation.com/ADsoOTF


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