I won’t lie to you, the most unappealing part of being an independent artist is watching all the other artists work so hard. Specifically, it’s watching just how hard they work to gain an audience. They are putting out music constantly, promoting themselves daily, and just constantly grinding away at trying to build out some sort of fanbase – all of which I have to assume nets them some sales, right?
That constant release cycle, though, seems unsustainable to me. What happens when you miss one of your scheduled releases? What happens if you run out of ideas? Assume that you put out something new every month for a year. You build up a following during that and have people that like your music and look forward to the monthly release – but you hit a wall. Everything you create sounds just like what you created before or some new sound you were trying to nail doesn’t work out right.
You’ve set an expectation, at this point, to have frequent releases and suddenly you’re not meeting the same quota and maybe you start losing the interest of some of those new fans. That’s a lot of pressure to be under for seemingly very little gain. Those followers aren’t subscribers or buying your work. Most of them are probably in the same boat as you – struggling to get a start on their music careers.
I get it, I’m in a similar hamster wheel. I spend my free time writing up these blogs, trying to stick to a schedule in order to appear consistent and active. When I’m not writing this, I’m spending mornings and evenings playing music, recording it, mixing it, and trying to get new releases out there… Because, it feels like it’s the only way to grab someone’s short attention span.
Maybe it’s less about the fans’ short attention spans and more about our own. It doesn’t take long, before I get tired of the grind that is music promotion for a new release. I figure if I promote for a month and get little traction, six more months isn’t going to help with that. More importantly, I just don’t have the time and patience – if I spend six months on promotion, I won’t be able to make more music and I’d rather be making music!
While I can’t offer any advice on breaking the cycle, I will say that if you are feeling that pressure, it’s okay to take a break. Walk away for a minute, push back that next release, focus on the love of the craft. Your real fans will stick by you through that and the ones that leave? Well, I doubt they were supporting you financially anyways. Really, the most important thing is to take care of yourself. If you feel good about your work, others will too… it just might take some time for that day to come.
P.S. Did I mention I have a new release coming out? May 28th is the magical day and I’m excited!