What Makes for a Successful Indie Artist Business Model Today?

Today we live in a fast paced information age where mobile phones, and tablets do more than computers did ten years ago.  We live in a time where just about anything can instantly downloaded and enjoyed.  Many industries have had to evolve with the sudden surge of technological innovation, and other fail to so and fall apart just as fast.  The Music industry is one that has failed to effectively evolve to fit the times.  Sure the way we consume music is very technologically advanced, but the inner workings of the business is still in the stoneage.  This has opened up a lot of opportunity for independent music artists to take advantage of this fact.  Social media sites like twitter, and facebook make it easy to talk to fans.  Music distribution is no longer the responsibility of the big record labels because services like Songcast and Tunecore make it easy for self distribution.  Even making the music is easier now with software like Pro Tools and Logic Pro.  So if everything is easier for Indie Artists why are most of them still working day jobs and gigging only when they have a free day or weekend?  Why are so many Indie Artists unable to make a music career the primary source of income in their lives?  These are very good questions that many people ask.


I believe the problem that is stopping many Indie Artists from living their dreams is the absence of an effective Business Model that gets results.  I will speak on 3 criteria that make for a good Indie Artist Business Model.  If you don’t have these then you are going to have a very hard time making the income you should be making as an independent music artist.  These 3 things are Ownership of Consumer Realationship, Excellent Internet Marketing Planning, and a Superior Product.


In a talk at IdeaLab! 2013; Music Entreprenuer, Ryan Leslie spoke on the importance of owning your Consumer Relationship as an indie music artist in this new music industry. He gave an example from his “Les Is More” Album, which was released on iTunes but he had no way of directly knowing who bought his album.  In many Industries a given company has person information on their costumers such as a mailing address, email, and phone number so doesn’t it make sense for an independent music artist to have similar information about their album buying fans?  In a world where everyone already expects the music they consume to be free and available instantly this information is vital for music artists to have so they can communicate with customers more effectively.  Think about it.  How does American Airlines let you know you have tickets?  Do they send you a tweet?  They also require your passport and other ID in order to do business with them.  This is a way to prove that you are the one who bought the tickets.  So why not use the same practice as an indie music artist?  Got a new music tour?  Then just send a simple email to all the customers who bought your album directly from you first as a reward.  Paying customers get more access then ones who are not buying.  This allows you run your music business much more efficiently.


The next thing a good Indie Artist Business Model needs is Excellent Internet Marketing Planning.  In this new information age the majority of business is now done online so it makes sense to do most of your marketing online as well.  Social Media is the new way to use word of mouth advertising and a good banner ad campaign will give you much better results than a street team use to.  Dave Kusek speaks about leveraging your fans as marketers with the use of the internet aswell.  The number one way to capture the attention of new customers and old fans is Video, and with the introduction of Youtube it is easy to produce a great video ad. All these components of your internet marketing plan come together with a professional website that can be produced for a very affordable price with sites like WordPress.


The last thing you need is the most important of the 3 criteria, but unfortunately a lot of indie artists overlook this one thing: A Superior Product.  All too often indie artists cut costs in the production of their music.  This is not a good practice!  You need to make your music as good as you can possibly make it.  This means using the best recording environments and equipment, and the best help you can find to mix and master your work.  Number one Independent Hip Hop artist; Tech N9ne talks about this in an interview for Ms Drama TV. Once the audio is done, it’s time work on the visual design of your album or single.  Don’t use a cheap fix for any part of creating your product.  Your product represents you and should reflect your very best effort.  Your customers and fans deserve the very best from you so don’t cheat them.  If you follow this advice I am sure they will gladly pay any price you ask for your art.


In conclusion a good Indie Artist Business Model consists of many more parts than a Superior Product, Excellent Internet Marketing Planning, and Ownership of Consumer Relationship.  These are 3 the most important criteria in my opinion and if done properly will make any Indie Artist very financial successful.














1) Idea Lab [whuIdeaLab] .  (2013, October 19) . Ryan Leslie speaks & performs at IdeaLab! 2013 [Video file] . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I5bj4LfDZE


2) Kusek, Dave (2014, January 27) Top 10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Leverage Your Fans as Marketers [Blog Post] Retrieved from http://newartistmodel.com/10-musician-mistakes-fans-as-marketers/


3) Ms Drama TV [msdramatv] . (2010, February 8) . Tech n9ne talks K.O.D, emotional darkness, being hip-hop’s #1 independent, & winning a Woodie Award! [Video file] . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk1-G3UW0TA