20 Independent Musician Resources You Need To See

independent musician resources

Photo credit: Chris Ainsworth

Looking for some independent musician resources?

On top of being an active musician, I research and consume a lot of content. And these are the 20 most helpful resources I’ve come across.

Let’s dive in…

Making Money From Music

Every musician can choose their own path in this industry because there are so many income sources available.

It’s just about finding and deciding on yours. So here are five independent musician resources on how to make money from music…

21 Ways To Make Money as a Musician in 2021

You may have seen most of the options on this list, but each option does have a link to a resource with more info. So you can find the income streams that appeal to you and learn more about them.

Plus, there are a few creative ideas you may not have thought about, like getting sponsorships and applying for music grants.

Read the post.

How To Make Money as a Music Producer

Want to get started as a music producer who actually gets paid?

This is a step-by-step guide that will show you methods and platforms that allow you to make money as a music producer.

Read the music producer guide.  

How To Get Your Music Licensed for Films, TV, and Beyond

Licensing agent and music publisher Josh Briggs shares a walkthrough of how to get your music in TV shows and films.

If you’re a beginner in the sync licensing niche, this post is perfect for you. But there’s also quite a bit of info in this post for those who have been pursuing sync for a while.

My favorite suggestions are “practice patience” and “remain true to your voice.”

Read the sync licensing guide. 

What Are Music Royalties (and How Can You Collect Yours)?

In this post, you’ll learn about the four main types of organizations you need to register your songs with. If you don’t register with these organizations, you won’t collect all the royalties you’re owed.

What are the four types of organizations?

  1. A digital distributor
  2. A performance rights organization
  3. A publishing admin company
  4. SoundExchange

 

Read the royalty guide. 

Best Music Distribution Companies – Full Comparison Chart

This is easily the most comprehensive review of every digital distributor. There’s even a comparison chart showing the features of each distributor.

In case you don’t know yet, a digital distributor sends your music to Digital Service Providers (DSPs), like Spotify, Apple Music, Shazam, etc.

Read the comparison.


Creativity, Productivity, and Life as a Musician

As musicians (often part-timers), it can be easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed.

These indie musician resources will inspire your creativity, show you how to stay productive, and help you balance music and life.

Ira Glass on the Gap Between Your Taste and Skill

Ira Glass is the longtime host of This American Life, the well-known radio show and podcast.

In this 5-minute video, he shares the reality of where you want your art to be versus where it actually is.

In other words, your taste in music surpasses the music you create. And the only way to close that gap is to make a lot of music.

“…The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work,” Glass says. “Do a huge volume of work.”

Watch the video. 

Elizabeth Gilbert on Hobbies, Job, Career, and Vocation

Author Elizabeth Gilbert makes a very important distinction between four aspects of your life: hobbies, job, career, and vocation.

Because they’re different things, and it will benefit you as an indie musician to think of them as different.

“Guess who else has had a job?,” she says. “Almost every artist who has ever lived!”

Watch this video. Then ask yourself: is music your hobby or vocation? Do you want it to be your career too?

Watch the video. 

Austin Kleon on How To Keep Going

Austin Kleon is an artist who writes, or a writer who draws. In any case, he’s written a trilogy of books that every person who creates needs to read.

In a 26-minute video, he gives a talk that would become his book Keep Going. He shares 10 tips for staying creative regardless of what your life looks like.

Some of my favorites are “forget the noun, do the verb” and “you are allowed to change your mind.”

Watch the talk.

No “Yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “No.”

If you often find yourself over-committed, scatter-brained, or just unsure if a project is right for you, use this method.

When you’re wondering if you should take on a new project or gig, simply ask yourself, “Is this a ‘Hell yeah!’ for me?” If not, then say no.

This 30-second read from Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) shares how to focus on what’s important to you.

Read the post. 

How To Do What You Love

Paul Graham is a programmer, writer, and investor. And this essay is one of the most useful articles for anyone trying to turn music into their career.

“The definition of work [is] to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve,” he writes.

Read the essay here. 

What Is Your “Average Speed” in Your Life, Your Health, and Your Work?

Author and habit expert James Clear says your “average speed” is more important than your top speed as a creative person.

In other words, consistent steps keep you moving forward while minimizing burnout. While sprinting may get you far, but then you’ll run out of fuel.

Read the article. 

The Part-Time Creator Manifesto

Developer Shawn Wang wrote a fascinating and encouraging piece about creating on the side.

He also offers practical tips for part-time creators, like “start now” and “keep shipping.”

“The point is to learn to create, and build your network,” he says.

Read the article.

5 Things To Help You Keep Going

If you want encouragement and practical tips to help you keep going as a part-time musician, I send a weekly email to thousands of musicians.

Each week, you’ll get five resources from the internet that I’ve found helpful as a musician.

It’s kind of like a mini version of this post. Every Monday.

Read the newsletter. 


Music Promotion

Music promotion is probably one of the most difficult things for musicians to master. Musicians are usually artists first, marketers second (or third or fourth).

So here are some resources to help you get your music out there…

Music Promotion: Nobody Cares About Your Music (As Much As You Do)

This music blog has some very useful insights on music promotion, and it’s all from their experiences of receiving music from artists.

So these are not your generic tips. They’re practical solutions.

“…Success is about lots of baby steps that build continuous momentum,” they write.

Read the post.

Music Marketing Methods That Are Rewarding and Effective

Marketing is hard for a lot of indie musicians because some people feel it’s icky.

But promoting your music is just sharing your creations.

And there are ways to engage with your fanbase that feel authentic that also work.

So this post covers online marketing for musicians that I and other artists have used to strengthen the connection with our fans.

Read the post.

Spotify Music Promotion using Facebook Ads

Andrew Southworth is an indie artist and founder of Genera Studios. And he’s gotten hundreds of thousands of Spotify streams using a specific Facebook Ad strategy.

In this video, he walks you through how to set up an ad that points people to your newest song on Spotify.

Watch the video.


Songwriting, Recording, and Mixing

Now for the creative process. Here are a few independent musician resources for making the best song possible…

10 Songwriting Tips From Bob Dylan’s Interviews

In this 4-minute video, you’ll learn 10 songwriting tips from the legendary Bob Dylan.

These quotes are pulled from interviews he did over the decades he’s been active, even as recently as 2020.

One of my favorite tips from this video is:

“Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years.”

Watch the video.

Songwriters On Songwriting

Songwriters On Songwriting is a book full of Q&A interviews with some of the best songwriters in modern music history.

Bob Dylan. Leonard Cohen. Paul Simon. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. And so many others.

Every songwriter needs to read this book.

Buy the book.

How To Record Music at Home: The Complete Guide for Bedroom Producers

New to recording at home? This guide is for you.

This to-the-point post covers what equipment you need, how to treat your space, and tips for recording.

Read the post.

A High-Level View of Mixing for Beginners

If you’re new to mixing, this is the video to start with.

It covers the basic philosophy and purpose of mixing every home producer needs to know.

The big idea is to “…visualize a three-dimensional space in between [the] speakers…”

Watch the video.

How To Pan Tracks and Properly Set Gain Levels

After you watch the above video, this video on panning and setting gain levels is the next one to watch.

Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution walks you through how to start your mix with just the pan and gain knobs.

Watch the video.


What’s Next?

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