5 Music Career Tips for Independent Artists

It can be a scary transition starting out as an independent artist, in a world full of contracts, networking and intellectual property. 

That’s why; here at JMC Academy in both our Contemporary Music Performance and Songwriting courses, we prepare our students for all aspects of working in the industry. We’ve put together a quick snapshot here of the advice our lecturers give to students to help them succeed as an Independent artist in the Industry. 


1. Playing for Exposure

Many artists are often asked to play for ‘exposure’, meaning un-paid. It is widely debated in the industry as whether new independent artists should perform for free to get more ‘exposure’ and get themselves know. 

Head of Music in Melbourne, Chris Pickering believes that “You should never under-value your music by playing for free for someone you don’t know. ‘Exposure’ is a relative thing. If a venue owner wants you to come and play at their venue for exposure then you should politely ask them to come and serve drinks and make dinner at your house for a bunch of people for the same exposure. People are always willing to take advantage of musicians when they can, so don’t let them. However, if it’s a favour for a friend, or if it’s an opportunity to open for someone you admire and respect, then in might be worth taking a pay cut for that. However, NEVER play for free. You should always respect yourself and what you do.”

Read: How to handle being asked to play an unpaid gig

2. Protecting your work

One of the advantages of copyright law in Australia is that once you have created something that has a ‘permanent record’, such as a digital imprint or physical print, it is then copyrighted as intellectual property from the moment it is manifested. Another way of being doubly sure of this is to register any original works with APRA so that they are aware of your work and that you can then receive live and broadcast royalties for it. 

3. Expanding your fan base

Having a social media identity helps to channel your fan base to a contact place and extend your audience reach. It is important to offer you fans good content so post videos and audio of all your best performances so they have quick access. Make sure when you perform to have you social contact details visible and available to your fan base.

Read: Using Social Media to correctly promote your Music

4. Collaboration

“One of the main advantages of studying music at an institution that suits your musical taste is that you will be put in a situation with other like-minded musicians who will form part of your core network, and that you may even end up forming long-term musical relationships with.” Chris reflects that collaboration is one of the best ways to expand your audience and musical style. 

 Another way to expand your connections for collaboration is to go and see live music as often as possible so that you get to meet as many people as possible from your local scene, and to begin starting to organise your own shows and your own crowd. “Music scenes are generally very inclusive when you are a nice, enthusiastic person, so don’t be afraid to get out more and be a part of it!”

5. Work Hard

“It is always important to focus on being the best. Practice and focus on what you are offering as a musician and make it different.” JMC’s Head of Music in Sydney Kemo Bunguric argues. 

Chris agrees, “The one thing you need to do above all else is DON’T GIVE UP. Carving out a career in the music industry is hard work, and you are going to face many setbacks, but staying the course and staying true to your own sound and style is a surefire way to gain respect from other artists and musicians, and also respect from your listening audience. Set yourself up for the best chance at success by being the best musician and writer you can be, which means dedication to practice and always improving your craft.

Being a musician/songwriter is not the life for everyone, but it can be a heck of a fun time and immensely creatively rewarding, and if you work hard and make your own luck by being consistent, reliable, friendly, and dedicated, you will make it.”

Find out more about studying Contemporary Music Performance and Songwriting here at JMC Academy