Indie Spotlight: 2020 Wrap Up
December 31st, 2020 by Graci Phillips
Indie Spotlight is a content series by Indepreneur dedicated to highlighting the successes and stories of our Indie community members.
Each month, our staff selects students and clients from our community to interview and gain insight into their journey - the challenges, the setbacks, and the major wins!
This month I'd like to do things a little differently. Typically, #IndieSpotlight highlights one member of our community. But this year has been a wild ride for all of us. So I invited the entire community to share their 2020 stories. Indies always work hard, but this year may have been the hardest.
Let's celebrate the things that went right, the lessons we learned, and the obstacles we overcame.
Friends, we did it.
Despite everything that 2020 threw at us, we're still standing. Something that has given me so much hope this year was watching the Indepreneur community absolutely kill it throughout 2020, against all odds. So it seemed appropriate to spend the last moments in 2020 celebrating how this community continues to work hard, adapt, innovate, FITFON, and keep pushing forward.
Is it always easy? Absolutely not.
Is it worth it? Hell yes.
*Thank you to the community members who took part in this celebration of strength and badass-ness! You can find more information about all of the artists who participated at the bottom of this article.
For many industries, the music industry included, 2020 was a doozy. As an Indie musician or music marketer, what were some of the biggest struggles you faced this year and how did you overcome them?
"I've lived only on my music, touring, and acting for 15 years now. My year was all planned out with two great new acting roles and tour dates in between. When all of this was wiped clean, the first thing I think of is "every crisis is an opportunity".
I promised myself that I will never be in this position again. I committed to Indepreneur and started devouring the trainings. I quickly realized that while I have been fortunate enough to always be on the go, I have given so little attention to the effectiveness of my online music business.
Because of the stimulus check we were all getting, I was able to lend my spring and summer to training and revisioning my business. But by August, like many of us, I was wondering how I was going to provide for my parter, our home, and survive. My pivot is something maybe a lot of you can do. I started custom recordings and this has literally saved my hide this fall and winter. That and my Patron that I've been growing for the last two years. Here is the best blessing of it. This year, with covid, I realized that I can NOT keep doing my records old school - paying a producer, paying for studio time, musicians, etc. With averaging around 3K per song to create, there is simply no getting ahead money-wise.
I bit the bullet and got a Macbook Pro, Logic Pro X, and have been spending my down time learning how to produce as I'm already a musician. The custom song situation is actually paying me to learn my own equipment and "train" me to record my new releases in the future. https://www.levikreis.com/shop/custom-recording .
I can't not mention in this question the importance of building hard core believers. Patreon carried me through this year. Build your membership site. LIVE for these people. Give them the world. Let them know that they really are the reason you do what you do. They are your record label. Respect that. Cultivate that. Live streaming every week was also a bit of a help money wise. Currently, I have had to discontinue all growth strategies until I feel secure that mortgages can remain paid and fam can eat. In the meantime, I am doing custom recordings for people and willing to invest a little every month in developing a new product so that when I turn this funnel back on and have tweaked ALL my things, I can bring them to a ton of ascension options, including a new membership site I'm working on." -Levi Kreis
It's not hard to come up with things that went incredibly bad this year. But, what's something that went surprisingly well for you this year?
"Something that went surprisingly well for me this year was creating fan interactions.
I feel like now I have a much better back and forth with people interested in my music, and it is really inspiring. I have learned a lot about the people who like my music, and I can't wait to start implementing that knowledge more often to create a more interesting and specific experience for my fans." - Pravin Thompson
What is one major lesson or takeaway you got from 2020 concerning your music business?
"The biggest takeaway I have from 2020 is that I need to prioritize and invest in my music business. I feel confident that I could make this my main gig, but I need to clear out all the side hustles to make room for doing it all well." - Emily Wade Adams
"Keep going." - Tom, of UNCOMELY
"If it doesn't ship, it doesn't count!" - Jonah McLean, of DUX
"One major lesson I felt I knew before but definitely know beyond a shadow of a doubt after this year - your fans matter. A lot. Especially those who are on this journey with you for the long haul. There is no value in you keeping some dumb wall of "artistic mystery" with these people. Get your hands dirty with these folks. Know their names when you see them live. Know what they do for a living. Know their kids names, etc, whatever you can to have genuine engagement with them. They see promise in you. They are here for you. Value that and they will carry you through the hard times." - Levi Kreis
"When things start going wrong, that doesn't mean stop. It means pivot, pivot, pivot until it works. Plans may not always play out the way you want them to, but you can't let that stop you in your tracks. Even small progress is progress. Keep moving forward!" - Graci Phillips
"One major lesson I've learned this year has been to take care of the fans.. They are what matters. Not a fancy festival, record label, or knowing the right people.. Take care of the people who care about you.. in and outside of your music career!" - Pravin Thompson
"One major lesson I learned this year is to make sure you nurture people and then make them sales offers. It seems to be a repeatable cycle." - Ed Isola, of The 502's
"One major lesson I learned this year is that I need to work smarter, not harder." - Ian Goldberg, of Cryptic One
"Just do it!" - Stefan Woldekidan , of KAHSAY
"Don't create or use systems which have a point of failure that is beyond your control." - Kyle "Circa" Lemaire
One way I've tried to frame this year for myself is, "Okay. Things didn't go the way you planned, but what did you learn?" In what ways do you feel you grew this year as an Indie musician and marketer?
"One area I grew in was learning to take smaller bites to better understanding marketing in general. It's something that has always felt overwhelming to me, but through simple implementation of Indepreneur courses, and Digital Marketer courses, I feel like I'm starting to get a much better understanding." - Jonah Mclean, of DUX
Jonah McLean, of DUX
What advice would you give to other indies who are navigating these same waters as we go into 2021?
Emily Wade Adams
"My advice to other Indies is to just make a plan for the year with deadlines and do your best to stick to it.
Make sure you give yourself enough time for everything you need to do, and don't get overwhelmed - just take it one step at a time and keep moving forward.
If you get stuck, come to the Indies FB group for support or join one of the weekly Q&As! They are soooo helpful!"
"To really pay attention to Buddy System, Fan Finder, etc.
I've wasted a lot of money on ad's leading to nothing than vanity metrics such a lot of comments, likes, thumbs up and sharing. But I have made only one (1) person sign up for my email list. I see this as an expensive learning process...
To the other indies, do your homework - and do not try to shortcut anything."
Stefan Woldekidan , of KAHSAY
What is your #1 hope for 2021?
"To be able to say "I have a rapidly growing fan base" and "I have a well-defined brand"." - Kyle "Circa" Lemaire
"My hope for 2021 is to really build my customer/mailing list and start to make offers more consistently. And have a more consistent revenue month to month." - Pravin Thompson
"My hope for 2021 is that we can all get back to live performances ... and that I successfully release my EP! Thanks Indepreneur for all your support, you guys rock." - Emily Wade Adams
My #1 hope for 2021 is to continue to watch the community grow and thrive. We're only going up from here! Stay Indie!
- Graci Phillips, Indepreneur Community Manage and Indie Success Specialist
About the author:
Graci Phillips is Indepreneur's Community Manager & Indie Success Specialist. Graci is part of our Nashville team and specializes in providing resources and solutions to our members, community building, and highlighting success stories within this incredible community.
If you are a member of our Indie Community and have a story to tell about your journey as an independent musician, reach out to Graci at firstname.lastname@example.org! We're always looking for new stories to share. If you aren't yet part of our Indie Community, you can get access to our entire library of music business trainings, our entire suite of exclusive discounts on partner products and services for musicians, our 4000+ private community of Indies, and weekly live stream Q&A's and coaching calls by signing up for INDIEPRO!
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