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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artists - Invest In Yourself
Friday, August 21, 2009

Right now there are a lot of great ways for an artist to get their work out there that are either free, or very low cost. From social networking services, to making albums available for download, never has there been a time with so many cost efficient ways for an artist to further their career. An issue has arisen from all this, however, and it’s the fact that many artists are only seeking out the free, or almost free, ways to get their music to the world and promote themselves. Some don’t even have budgets, it’s just a big “what can we do that won’t cost anything” plan. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the artists who employ that plan aren’t making any strides in their careers and the reason should be obvious – they’re not investing in themselves.

While it’s great to find all the free avenues that can help you expose your work, if that’s the only way you’re looking to expose your work don’t expect very much in the way of results. Using only what’s free is the new definition of half-assed.

Take a trip back to 1996. Imagine you were an artist trying to get your foot in the door back then. If you wanted to be heard you had to pay for studio time, cut a demo tape or CD, make copies of that demo yourself, and seek out labels and potential management to hand it to. Obviously there are much easier ways of doing some of those things now, but the fact of the matter is you should still look at the time, money and effort you would have had to put in back then and put in the same kind of time, money and effort right now. Being in 2009, and having a number of conveniences that can make your life easier as an artist, just means you now have the freedom to put a larger slice of your time, money and effort into your career in other, possibly even more productive, ways.

Unfortunately, too many artists aren’t putting together budgets and many of those who are putting together budgets are doing it all wrong. I see far too many artists putting together budgets based how much they feel they should spend rather than how much they’re willing to spend. Having a career in music isn’t like shopping at Wal-Mart, you can’t just look for the cheapest possible deals and expect to have great results. The first question an artist needs to ask him, or herself before starting a project is - how much of a percentage of my earnings from my nine to five job can I, or am I willing to, put towards the career I want? Once you’ve figured out that number, that is your budget, spend it on your career. Obviously, start by looking at all the free options you have. Once you’ve assessed those options and decided which you’ll use, take a look at how much money is still in your budget. That money is NOT to be put towards anything other than your career. Have a ton leftover? Great. Press up CDs, find good independent distribution, hire a publicist, seek out a booker, create promo materials, make a video, fly outside your area for shows. Don’t want to spend money on those things? Then don’t expect to get very far.

If you seriously don’t have anything to draw from to get a real budget just start putting a small part of each paycheck you bring in into a personal “Artist” fund and wait for it to grow. Record your butt off the entire time you’re building your money up, generate all the buzz you can using the low cost and no cost avenues that are out there, and then when you finally have the funds you want put everything together so you can really make something happen. You’ll be amazed at the results. A buddy of mine just hired his first real publicist a few months ago. The leap his career has taken since then has been unbelievable.

A lot of people, when they discuss their favorite artists, mention performers from ten, or fifteen, years ago. All those artists had one major thing in common - they invested in themselves. If, as an artist, you’re not willing to make that investment, why should anybody else?


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:37 AM  
  • At 1:04 PM, Blogger iamthegif said…

    Damn, this makes me think. Real good post man. The money you invest is really what makes you stand out as one in a million as opposed to one of the million people trying to do it. I think that's why a lot of sub par artists go farther than talented artists a lot of times.

    Sub par artists seem to not take talent for granted. Talented artists are still struggling to comprehend that music is no longer a talent based industry and there aren't really any people that are willing to invest in an artist based on talent alone.

  • At 1:40 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Gif, quotes like the following show just how dope an emcee you are:

    "stand out as one in a million as opposed to one of the million."

    Seriously, I may jack that from you (but give you full credit each time I use it).

  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger Crew54 said…

    i really think there should be a follow up blog talking about some of the legitimate ways artist can invest in themselves.

    Being a person who has seen too many rappers spend too much money on bull in the name of "investing in themselves" I'm quite weary of most things.

  • At 3:53 PM, Blogger louis logic said…

    i'm inclined to agree. i've spent thousands on recording and videos and manufacturing and travel. i've even spent money to perform new material in front of an audience. you said it, adam. it would be nice if our scene wasn't so flooded with people who want success at no cost. awesome post, brother.


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