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How to not get discouraged as an independent artist in the music industry

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The music industry is a challenging business for novices and experts alike. It is easy to get discouraged when the success that one dreams of seems difficult to achieve. While staying consistent is essential, it is not the ultimate answer or remedy for issues related to discouragement. iMusician offers advice on how to deal with low spirits and self-doubt.

Different levels, different issues in the music industry

The journey toward achieving one’s artistic goals can be long, tedious, and intimidating. Being a musician, or working towards becoming an established name in the music business, is a challenging endeavor regardless of the stage that one finds themselves in.

Those starting out may find it overwhelming to wrap their minds around the complexities of music theory, music production software, sound design, plugins, or instruments. Phrases such as “consistency is key” might sound appealing and are not necessarily wrong. However, they don’t magically solve the internal conflicts and self-doubt that — if not addressed early on — can become a major obstacle to our flourishing.

Experienced artists, on the other hand, may struggle with different challenges, such as improving their craft, gaining a higher level of visibility, finding the right opportunities and connections, or achieving financial independence. Meanwhile, many established musicians tend to struggle with creative blocks, maintaining momentum and visibility, making a living, or adapting to a constantly changing environment without losing their creative identity.

It is easy to get discouraged when expectations and wishes do not correspond to reality. For this reason, we would like to offer some advice on how to deal with discouragement and self-doubt.

1. Embrace your music journey

The first step in minimizing discouragement and self-doubt is embracing the journey. Each one of us has a distinctive background and story and is on a unique path toward growth and success.

Some people might have been lucky enough to grow up around music and find themselves in places that foster art and creativity. Others, however, might have discovered their passion for music much later in life or do not have the same access to networks and opportunities early on. Similarly, some might have received emotional and financial support from their loved ones, while others didn’t.

It is important to remember that many successful artists did not build their careers independently. More often than not, family members, A&Rs, major record labels, managers, marketing experts, and other highly influential individuals contributed to and shaped the careers of well-known artists.

Independent artists, however, don’t always find themselves in such a position and have to do a lot on their own. Thus, comparing yourself to more successful artists who started from a very different point won’t offer much insight. At worst, it will only lead to more self-doubt and guilt for not being where you believe you should be.

Instead, it makes more sense to analyze the strategies of artists whose first steps looked similar to yours and apply them to your approach. Additionally, connecting with others who are on a similar path and level can be highly beneficial for all people involved. If this is not possible for you in real life, you can always join an Online Community, including our iMusician Community Forum.

At the same time, keep trying to make the best out of your situation, embrace the journey, and constantly seek opportunities and valuable knowledge.

2. Reject the idea of being perfect

Nevertheless, it can be difficult to stop comparing yourself to other, more successful musicians, especially in the digital day and age. Social media can make it seem like everyone is more successful, talented, and dedicated to their craft.

Additionally, when it comes to the quality of music, the songs we hear on the charts are rarely created by one person. Highly experienced songwriters, producers, sound designers, and mixing and mastering engineers who work in high-quality studios all play a role in shaping and polishing the sound of a song or album. Independent artists, however, rarely have access to the most expensive equipment and network of industry professionals. Instead, they tend to work on their own or in small teams, either in their home studios or rented spaces.

Instead of getting discouraged by the quality of your sound in comparison to a top ten song, try to make use of the tools and resources that you have access to, including blogs, online courses on songwriting or music production, podcasts, or YouTube channels. At the same time, you should first and foremost focus on creating and publishing music that sounds good enough — ideally, this will open new doors in the future, attract new fans, and increase your network.

On a more philosophical note, perfectionism in itself is unattainable. However, this should not be an excuse not to give your best according to your skills and individual situation.

3. Set tangible, smart goals

Focusing on an intangible end goal can quickly become overwhelming and a source of discouragement and self-doubt. Truth is: unless you’re lucky enough to go viral, it will take time to achieve the level of success that you dream of. Breaking down a big goal into smaller goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART goals) can help you cope with uncertainty and become more structured.

Instead of pursuing the abstract goal of gaining more followers, you should define its purpose, your target group, a realistic amount of new followers, strategy, and time. This approach will make it easier to celebrate small victories rather than getting lost in the abstraction of big goals that might leave you feeling unsuccessful and overwhelmed.

4. Define what success means to you

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, you should question common ideas of success and ask yourself what you truly want to attain from your music.

Do you want to “live the dream“ and become a full-time musician, or would you prefer more stability by working part-time to support yourself and your art? Maybe you see music as your hobby that allows you to connect with others and express yourself creatively rather than as a job.

Do you want to become the next superstar whose name people know across the globe? Or would the constant visibility and lack of privacy make you feel uncomfortable? Maybe you’re somewhere between the two, wanting to be known locally and maybe even nationally, but not globally?

Deconstructing your idea of success can help you set better goals and appreciate the journey.

iMusician resources for your music career

Are you struggling with discouragement or self-doubt and looking for further help? iMusician offers different resources for independent artists to help them achieve their goals.

Our blog helps you stay informed about the most recent developments within the music industry while our guides help you tackle different challenges.

The iMusician Community enables you to connect with fellow musicians and industry experts to receive feedback, guidance and support. Whatever questions come to your mind, you can simply ask them in the Forum — your fellow Community members will be there to find your answers.

Do you want to get your music heard across the world? Our distribution services allow you to get your music on the widest range of streaming platforms and shops worldwide forever. You can find out more about our plans and products on our pricing page.

If you’re looking for easy yet efficient tools to market yourself, you can make use of our Artist Hub products. Create a buzz for your releases with our Release Pages and establish and embrace the epicness of your artist brand thanks to our Artist Pages.

Ready to get your music out there?

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Always stay up-to-date

All You Need.
All in One Place.

Get tips on How to Succeed as an Artist, receive Music Distribution Discounts, and get the latest iMusician news sent straight to your inbox! Everything you need to grow your music career.