The term Indy Artist, coined in the ’80s by the media, is short for ‘Independent Artist’. It describes the band or singer-songwriter who records and releases their own records or albums released under independent labels.
Often times, the Indy Artist writes lyrics that are “rawer” than that of the mainstream.
The “Indy Artist” has come to describe a unique sound, different from the major labels. They often use sounds that are less polished or have a very different way of using their voice.
The Indy Artist frequently uses unconventional time signatures, more chord progressions, or more reverb than a mainstream artist.
Many times they also incorporate unique instruments, such as a washboard, a hurdy-gurdy, Buke and Case, singing saw, bagpipes, autoharp, and more.
Indy rock began to emerge in the ’80s as a genre of alternative rock. The genre includes Indy pop, lo-fi, as grunge, grunge, punk revival, noise pop, emo, sadcore, post-rock, math rock, and in the UK, Britpop. In the ’90s, some Indy Rock Artists broke into the mainstream music scene. Still, most retain an outsider, underground sound.
The Indy-folk genre, also born in the ’90s, was a combination of the acoustic guitar sound and folk or classic country music added to the more contemporary sound.
Indy Artist and the Internet
The early 2000s brought change to the music industry with the growing importance of the Internet. Indy Artists began to enjoy commercial success by writing, singing, producing, and releasing their own original songs over the Internet. For example, many Indy Artists acquired large fan-bases or superfans. The Indy Artist will have more opportunities as technology expands.
Music City the place for Indy Artist
Nashville, TN, known as Music City, is receiving an influx of Indy Artists. Some hope of building a traditional music career, looking for fame and fortune. Some Indy Artists just want their music heard.
The diversity among the singers and songwriters is more varied now than ever before. There are some very talented artists in the Nashville music scene. But there are also a lot of mediocre acts. Most artists are hoping to be signed by the music moguls.
You don’t have to be the most talented to be noticed. But, you do have to be able to carry a tune, or write a good song, or play an instrument well.
Online Music Stores
In the last few years, online music stores have exploded onto the internet music scene. Companies such as CD Baby, iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, ReverbNation are giving artists a real chance to be heard. This gives the Indy Artist a chance to make a substantial income from their music.
CD Baby will be hosting the “DIY Musician Conference” in Nashville in August 2018. For four days, Music City will be the hub for the Indy Artist, a different type of musician, the Do It Yourself Musician.
Indy Artists from varied backgrounds with different styles will fill the streets of Music City. This conference is unique in that it is dedicated to musicians of any and all genres who share a common approach to marketing their original music.
“Independent musicians and small boutique labels are one of the fastest-growing segments of the market, and they share a lot of concerns,” explains CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner. “No matter what kind of music you make, no matter where you are in your career, you need similar advice and support, and we program the conference in direct response to the questions and concerns we hear from musicians.”
Retro Music is not necessarily about Babyboomers. It’s a term that seems to be floating around. What does it actually mean? Is there a difference between Retro Music and Modern Retro Music?
Modern Retro Music
Modern Retro Music is music that has been newly created but sounds like it was crafted in a different era.
The younger generation is discovering Retro Music as a new sound. Many younger artists are taking the older styles and adding their own twist making it Modern Retro Music, such as The Pipettes and The Raveonettes. These two bands are very different yet both Retro. The Pipettes give off a vibe that is almost identical to some of the girl bands in the 60s. You can tell by listening to The Raveonettes that they have an abiding love for the Ronettes. The Revivalists, on the other hand, use many different styles in craft their version of Modern Retro Music
Retro music can be songs that you listened to in your youth, times that brought laughter or tears, or even anger. It could be the actual song you heard in the past or a remake, like “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” by James Ray originally recorded by George Harrison, or the many covers of “I Who Have Nothing” by Ben E. King (1963).
Retro songs can touch you in ways that don’t touch the person next to you. It connects with the feelings of your past. You can relive a moment, a day, an evening, a summer, or even a lifetime. Your connection may be age-dependent, whether it’s the actual song or just the vibe, you could be transported back in time to a specific event where you can relive the emotions of heartbreak, tragedy, or love.
Some of us, in the older generation, are also writing new songs with the flavor we grew up with.
Al Green, Lennon, Cat Stevens, Rolling Stones, Smoky Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, so name a few.
Curtis Mayfield is one of Larry’s all-time favorites from his youth. He was one of the most influential musicians behind soul music. He began as a songwriter, then, created The Impressions, and later went on to achieve success as a solo artist, movie producer, and record label owner.
Larry S. Warfield’s Retro Style
Larry was also influenced by the music greats like Bill Withers, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Stephen Stills, and Richie Havens.
“They brought an original, creative and engaging new musical interpretation of the human experience.” – Larry S. Warfield
You can hear a similar interpretation of life in Larry’s original songs.
Some of his music has a country flavor. Still, others have a jazzy, pop, or blues feel. He also has a substantial volume of Christian and worship songs. Larry’s songs weave life’s ups and downs into the lyrics that pull on your heartstrings.
His original songs will encourage and inspire while entertaining you.
Larry S. Warfield’s Modern Retro Songs are the perfect mix of catchy 60’s or 70’s vibe, country, and jazz combined with a modern twist! An anomaly that simply just works.
Ben, a better than an average musician, singer-songwriter, had always dreamed of having a music career, performing on stage for thousands of people. Maybe we should say, he always dreamed of being a star, a big-time entertainer. He was doing everything and getting no place with his music career.
Like many other musicians, Ben didn’t handle rejection well. Every time he’d get close enough to see that he might have a chance at a music career, his fear would surface causing him to back down.
After many years of putting his songs on the shelf, Ben decided to take a risk and pitch his songs to some music execs. Living in Southern California provided the opportunity to personally go to Pitch Sessions in Los Angeles. Every week for months, he’d spend an hour or two on the busy freeway to get to the weekly pitch. Every week it went the same.
First of all, the music exec would have the musicians hand in a CD which they played for the whole room. The experts then critiqued the song and handed the CD back. The exec occasionally chose one song for further review. Consequently, Ben’s drive home seemed to get longer and longer.
This went on week after week, month after month. Sometimes, he would get a few encouraging comments, but he never had a song chosen for further review.
For that reason, he stopped going to the Pitch Sessions. Instead, he began sending CDs to different music publishers and entering contests. The Songwriters’ Digest stated that the musician would receive feedback in a few weeks. But weeks passed without a word.
He had almost forgotten the CD he sent to a contest when a return package came in the mail.
Ben hurriedly ripped open the package and unfolded the letter that revealed their analysis with a list of changes that needed to be made. He immediately headed for the studio, convinced they would pick up his song, and give him a recording contract. The wait began again.
Finally, the long-awaited package arrived. Ben knew he had made the exact requested changes. With shaky hands, he opened the package and grabbed the letter that would reveal his next step to stardom. He knew there was a contract waiting for him. His music career was about to launch.
He slowly lowered himself to the sofa flipping the letter over to see the back. He looked up at his wife standing in the doorway wiping her hands on a dishtowel.
She took a step closer, “Well?”
He sat stunned, then held the letter up for her to see.
Music Career Fades From View
“Two lines? What does it say?” she asked.
He read it out loud, “Dear Ben, Thank you for submitting your song for evaluation. We regret to inform you that we will not be able to use your song.”
“That’s it?” she asked.
He looked at her with a blank stare. Another roadblock – the end of a dream.
“That’s it? That’s all there is?” she said. “After two years of going back and forth to LA and sending out CDs, that’s all there is? There’s got to be something else you can do. There’s gotta be.”
She slouched on the couch beside him.
“From everything they’ve said at the pitches this is it. If they don’t pick you up, you might as well give up or just keep going to pitches and sending in songs.”
Both were quiet for a long time.
Ben began pacing, dragging his fingers through his hair, “I guess it’s over. I’ve done everything they told me to do.”
“There has to be another way,” she said grabbing her phone. “What’s a DIY Musician?”
“DIY?” he said laughing. “DIY is Do It Yourself, as a handyman.”
They both stopped and looked at each other. Maybe there is away.
Will taking charge of your own career, DIY style, turn you into a well-paid music star overnight?
Probably not. Yet, it is possible. It takes a lot of motivation and sticktoitiveness. Most people don’t have that much, do you?
We’re going to look at two current musical stars. One gained his stardom online before landing a contract. The other traveled the traditional path with a contract. We will also recap what it takes, on a personal level, to achieve stardom.
According to Nielsen’s rating, Ed Sheeran is in the top 10 musicians in 2018. According to Biography.com, Ed started playing the guitar at a very early age. When he was 11, he met Damien Rice backstage at a Rice concert. Damien advised him to begin writing his own music. That night he wrote several songs, one entitled “Typical Average Teen.” At age 14, Sheeran, with a backpack of clothes in one hand and his guitar in the other, headed for London to gig for the summer.
At age 16 he moved to London, he began singing on the local circuit, while recording his music. He began to tour relentlessly, sleeping on fans’ sofas every night after his gigs. His first album, self-titled, was released in 2006 and a second album, Want Some, in 2007. It wasn’t long until Ed was opening for more established acts. In 2009 he performed more than 300+ live shows while recording his third album, You Need Me.
In 2010 Sheeran’s career took a big leap online. He knew how to use online media to his advantage by posting videos of his performances. For example, a rapper saw his videos and asked Sheeran to go on tour with him as his opening act, resulting in an even bigger online fanbase. Ed also produced 3 more albums in 2010.
Taylor Swift, one of the worlds leading contemporary recording artists, is also in the top 10 musicians in 2018. At age nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to New York City for vocal and acting lessons. At age 11, Swift and her mother went to Nashville and pitched cover songs to music producers but was rejected.
When Taylor was 12 she learned to play the guitar and began writing her own songs. At age 14, she moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. In Nashville, she began working with Music Row songwriters. She began meeting with one, Liz Rose, on a regular basis. Rose commented the sessions were “some of the easiest I’ve ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She’d write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she’d come in with the most incredible hooks”. Taylor was the youngest ever to sign with Sony/ATV Music publishing house. Her self-titled debut album was released in 2006.
Different Paths To The Same End – Music Star
Let’s do a little recap. In comparison, both artists started working on their careers at about the same age. They both have arrived as well-paid superstars.
Taylor Swift had the backing of professional lessons and participating in musicals from a very early age. Her family moved to Nashville to give her the opportunities provided in music city.
Ed Sheeran, with a backpack thrown over one shoulder and his guitar case in hand, set out for London to dip his toe in the water to see if he could get any interest in his music. At age 16 he was gigging in London on almost a nightly basis, sleeping on fan’s sofas.
Taylor got the attention of the songwriters on Music Row, which, I’m sure, gave her a substantial leg-up in the music business.
Sheeran got his biggest break in his music career by putting videos of his performances online and opening for more established musicians.
Today in the Music Industry
The Music Industry in 2018 has changed substantially. There are hundreds of musicians in Nashville and LA gigging on a nightly basis trying to get signed as the next big star in the making. The Music Industry is being very picky. The recording company puts a lot of money upfront to launch a musician into stardom. If you listen to American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice you’ll hear many stories about a musician getting a recording contract, but for one reason or another, it never comes to fruition.
I met a musician who plays on a regular basis in restaurants and bars around Knoxville, TN. He’s really good. He had a recording contract in Nashville years ago. But, before his album was finished his agent died, which ended the contract. Now years later, he’s still gigging on a weekly basis to make a little extra cash.
Noah Guthrie, who competed on Americas Got Talent in 2018, performed in the television cast of Glee, until the show closed in 2015. Now Guthrie is starting over. But, with 400k+ fans from America’s Got Talent, Guthrie is taking his music online. Check out his Facebook page.
Making it as a Musician Today
Above I mentioned that to succeed as a musician in today’s world you must have Motivation and Sticktoitiveness.
Motivation: the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.
Both Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift had the motivation to succeed in the music industry. Their minds were set at an early age to succeed as a singer/songwriter. In all I’ve read about both artists, their minds never wavered about what they wanted in life. Their goals were firmly set. I didn’t read anything about a time when either of them decided to forget music and do something different.
Sticktoitiveness: meaning dogged perseverance, tenacity, holding fast.
Both Sheeran and Swift held fast to their goals, of being a musician. The gentleman in Knoxville who still plays on a nightly or weekly basis and Noah Guthrie are still holding fast.
For many musicians, though, life has gotten in the way and the music has fallen by the wayside, but the desire never goes away.
Others may feel they aren’t good enough so why try.
Some musicians feel they’re too old and the music becomes just a hobby or something they do in their community or church.
It’s not too late
Consequently, the gentleman mentioned above is older and still gigs, but hasn’t become a star. For the older musicians, remember, the largest population is the Baby Boomers who still like their music.
Here are a few basic steps that we will be expounding on in later posts.
1. Hone your craft. May your music as good as you can possibly make it – practice.
2. Record your songs. If you perform video your performances.
3. Get a website and logins on all social media platforms. If you don’t know how to create your own website, get help.
4. Do like Ed Sheeran did, put your videos online. Use Social Media Marketing to tell others about your music.
Are you motivated? Do you want to get your music heard? Do you still have the sticktoitiveness to make it happen? Then let’s do it!!!
Are you an Indy Musician, Independent Musician, one who hasn’t been signed by a music mogul, and would like to make it in the music business? Or perhaps you are a musician/singer/songwriter who just wants to get your music heard?
There are several things you need to do before you play your music for people other than family. Have you copyrighted your music? If not, be very careful who you play your music for.
Also, have you registered your music so you can get paid when it is played? There are three companies you can register with: ASCAP,BMI, and SESAC .
If you are unsure about how to register your music or get it copyrighted, companies like CDBaby.com can help you. They also have free information that will help guide you through the process.