Tag Archives: independent artist

Anything You Want: Creating an Independent Artist Utopia

5 Oct

Have you heard of CD Baby?  This company sells independent music online and was founded by Derek Sivers in 1998 and, despite his intentions, became a multimillion dollar business.  A few months ago, I read his book Anything You Want that detailed what he learned about starting and running a business, etc.  His book is not the typical business leadership book – and I loved it! I often find myself coming back to some of the nuggets of wisdom in this short read when making plans and goals for our future, especially in regards to Adam’s music career.

Business is not about money.  It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.

Starting with no money is an advantage.  You don’t need money to start helping people.

When you make a company, you make a utopia.  It’s where you design your perfect world.

I love that Adam and I can create his own “musician utopia.”  There are no “rules” that we have to follow.  There is no record label dictating his schedule and how he spends his time.  He is not confined to a specific genre and does not have to fit a certain type of mold.  Our family can still be a priority and he can write songs about his faith without being confined to the Christian music category box.

Recently, I ran across an old post at Indie Vision Music that asked people what they thought of an article written by artist Gungor on his website, titled “Why the Christian music category shouldn’t exist.”  The post brought up some intriguing points and the comments that followed were pretty interesting, as well.  I know that categories can be useful, but they can be limiting, as well.  Also, it seems odd to me to confine songs about God to a small section of the music industry… Let me know what you think!

A big part of creating our utopia is figuring out how to use Adam’s talents to help others.  I love the following quote by Aristotle.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.

If we focus on how Adam’s music can be used to help others, then I think we will be on the right track.  We used to be so consumed with how and when Adam could be a big enough artist to support our family, but now we’re not focused on the money aspect.  Money and fame are not motivators for Adam.  I, personally, just want Adam to be able to enjoy doing music without putting additional pressure on himself.  We are both blessed to  have jobs and be able to spend so much time with our daughters.  God has provided for us time and again financially and I know that He will continue to do so.

Also, Adam wants to be true to himself and his beliefs and sing about things that matter.  He doesn’t like how the music industry panders to a certain demographic.  Country music is a perfect example of this.  Many (superficial) singles on the radio right now have to do with trucks, dirt roads, and drinking.  What happened to the country music of 10 years ago that inspired Adam to move to Nashville? What happened to meaningful songs about love, faith, and family?  I like a fun, upbeat song as much as the next person, but seriously, where is the substance?  Even Vince Gill, Adam’s musical idol, has commented on this topic.

In addition, while social media has given artists more ways to connect to people than ever before, it also forces one to constantly be promoting and thinking of the next gimmick to get everyone’s attention.  From trying to make viral YouTube videos to coming up with a unique merchandise item to sell, it almost seems like there is more effort put into “attention-getters” than the actual music itself.

Of course, doing things on our own is more challenging and time-consuming than if we had a team of professional industry insiders to guide Adam’s musical dreams, but how much would we have to compromise?  How would our marriage endure?  Would our family suffer?  I’m so excited that Adam can release an album (yes, he’s working on a full-length album as opposed to the popular 5-song EP in this radio single-dominated market) full of whatever music he wants.  Some songs are upbeat with irresistible melodies.  Others are thought-provoking, insightful and inspiring.  We are learning how to do new things in order to be creative and professional on our tiny budget.  The freedom that we have is definitely worth the extra time.

Welcome to our utopia- where God, family, being real, and figuring out how our dreams can help others rules our ever-expanding little world!

What does your utopia look like?

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Step 1: What’s My Name?

4 Aug

As I mentioned about a month ago, Adam and I have decided to make our own opportunities and pursue his career path as an independent solo artist. We have been busy setting goals, gathering information, and putting our creative minds to work!

One of the first items on our agenda was to decide on Adam’s official stage name. He has been going by “Adam Lee,” but there is another guitar player who goes by that name and has several websites and accounts. In addition, it is not a very unique name. Adam has chosen to go by the name everybody knows him as, Adam Shick. Yes, the last name needs to be enunciated (say it out loud and you’ll understand why), but at least he won’t be competing for space with too many other “Adam Shicks” on search engines! This change means that Adam is in the process of creating new Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, ReverbNation accounts, etc. Once we get the new official website up-and-running, be prepared for alerts to “like,” “follow,” and “sign-up” to keep up-to-date with his new music and shows.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am busy researching marketing, promotion, and other strategies for do-it-yourself musicians. I have come across some great resources! Here are my favorites, so far:

1. Ariel Publicity I love Ariel Hyatt’s blog and her book, Music Success in Nine Weeks! I’m going through it for the second time to glean all the tips and organize them in my marketing binder.

2. Passive Promotion Great advice broken down into easy to follow steps from a musician, Brian Hazard, who has tried them out already!

3. Mixtus Media A Nashville-based PR firm! They have a great blog with some useful printable resources/worksheets! This site is helpful for authors too!

4. DIY Musician Blog This blog available on cdbaby.com is full of advice and tips for a constantly evolving industry!

I think that we have a pitch nailed to describe Adam’s musical style and his artist bio is in the works. Adam continues to record his latest songs as part of his upcoming debut solo album. We are exploring logo ideas and a photo session will be scheduled soon! I’m so excited to start working on the website!

It’s Time to be Independent

7 Jul

The past few weeks have been exciting! Adam and I have decided to dedicate ourselves to pursuing his career as an independent artist. No more waiting for a big break or for the right person to come along to help propel Adam’s major record label dreams forward…

We both came to the realization that “independent” is the way to go around the same time. If you’ve read my last few posts (or kept up with this blog at all), you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time reading books and watching shows about using our talents and pursuing God’s will. For the past few years, I’ve had an itch to start some sort of business and about a month ago, the obvious idea hit me over the head to step up and help Adam pursue his music career in a hands-on way. I’ve always been supportive, but I left his “music stuff” up to him. I started to research websites, digital distribution of music, promotional advice blogs, etc., and realized that pursuing his career on our own was totally doable. Yes, it will take a lot of time and hard work, but I could see the steps and the opportunities and that was all I needed to get me started!

Adam, on the other hand, came to this conclusion after a long weekend of teching at one of the stages at CMA Fest in June. He had listened to about 40 different acts and realized that what is popular right now with commercial country music does not really match up with his values or what his music is about… He realized that he would never get to be true to himself with a major record label deal.

So…when I approached Adam about us teaming up to commit to going the independent route, it didn’t take him too long to jump on board.  I feel that God has given me a passion and purpose for this.  Even though I know next to nothing about the music business, I’m not afraid to jump in and I’ve already seen where God has given me some wisdom and insight that I haven’t had before.  I feel that my strengths of organizing, planning, researching, etc., will complement Adam.  There are a lot of things that I will be able to take off his plate so he won’t be so overwhelmed and feel like everything is on his shoulders.  He can mainly concentrate on making amazing music and connecting with friends and fans.

Right now, Adam is focusing on working out at the gym (yes, he did get a membership and a trainer) and recording his new songs! I am working on our promotion and distribution plan.  An official website is in the works, as well! I can’t wait to get Adam’s latest songs online for everyone to hear!  Many more updates to come!

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(The picture above shows some of the categories I have in my Marketing/PR plan binder – I feel so professional!)