I’ll be the first to admit that New Year’s resolutions are kind of stupid. They usually involve quitting something (smoking, drinking, eating too much) that I end up doing on New Year’s Day because the party’s still on, and after that, I need my favorite vices to recover from the craziness of the holidays, and by the end of the week, I’m wondering why I bothered making a stupid resolution in the first place, and what’s so great about New Year’s, anyway?
But there is a secret to keeping a New Year’s resolution. The secret, friends, is to resolve to do something totally amazing with your new year. Don’t plan to wallow in miserable self-denial. Don’t plan to change who you are. Just plan on being completely awesome.
Doing great things is a particularly excellent plan if you’re someone whose future depends on your ability to succeed with no one cracking the whip behind you. Like, say, for example, if you’re an indie musician. Inertia can be a killer. So what better time to commit to becoming rich and famous than on January 1st?
There’s no shortage of ways to go about turning the dream into reality. Here are a few practical, achievable goals that can make 2010 the best year ever for indie artists:
Go On Tour
If you want to get out on the road in July and August, the time to start planning is right now. Three things are needed to make a stint of touring successful – connections, capital, and a car – all of which require some months of planning to turn into a reality. Start in January, and by the time the summer season kicks off, you’ll have a functional vehicle, merch to sell, and a series of show dates and places to crash along the way. The only secret to success here is to start planning now, rather than, say, in March.
Play Some Festivals
Getting into a big music festival is another one of those things that has to be planned months in advance. Indie bands that get those coveted festival slots put together slick, professional demos and EPKs, and they get those applications in on time!
The first step towards turning this resolution into a reality is figuring out which summer festivals accept indie applications, and what the rules are for getting your name in the pool.
Assemble a Support Team
Indie doesn’t mean lonely-crooner-in-basement-with-nothing-but-an-acoustic-guitar-and-a-YouTube-Channel. Successful indie acts don’t do all the work of promotion, production, and distribution themselves, they have a team of friends and supporters who help them on their way. 2010 is the year to put together your support team.
A strong team involves a mix of talented/enthusiastic friends (photographers, designers, wannabe managers) and professionals you meet, say, on Gighive! The goal is to have go-to folks to count on when you’re putting together a show or working on album cover art. Turning a solo indie act into a project involving a group of people is a great motivator, and you’ll be surprised at how many individuals are excited at the idea of becoming part of the show.
Make Friends With Bloggers
The interweb, she is replete with excellent, high traffic indie music blogs accepting submissions from bands for review purposes. Most blogs have submission forms so that bands can attach some mp3s. If 2009 was the year the magazine died (RIP Blender), 2010 will be the year that indie music blogs become the new Rolling Stone. Get your album reviewed on a well-read site, and you won’t just get some great free publicity, you’ll make a connection with an influential music nerd, and that might come in handy in the future.
Get a Sponsor
You might need to be moderately famous to be sponsored by a brand like Canon or HP, but many instrument manufacturers and small, local businesses are interested in getting behind an indie artist. Sponsorship can mean that a guitar maker is willing to donate instruments in exchange for an endorsement, or a local printer is willing to print CDs and packaging in exchange for their name on the box. Resolve to get some support from just one outside source this year. For some artists, the results of brand sponsorship have been a career turning point.
Put Together a Decent Website
Despite the somewhat ghastly nature of MySpace, the weirdly impenetrable strictures of Facebook Fan Pages, and the scrolling meaninglessness of Twitter, everybody who wants to be anybody is tapped into social networking to the max. Unfortunately, you can bet that in the future, we’ll be looking back at today’s people-powered media trend as so desperately 2009.
What’s still unique and different is for bands to actually have good-quality, interesting, accessible websites where cool things happen. 2010 is going to be THE year for band’s to spruce up that Hello World! WordPress page and take their internet game to the next level.
You must know someone who makes nice websites that are easy to update, easy to fill with your music, and easy for visitors to use. Save up, and pay that person some money to help you create a decent web presence. The micronization might be fashionable, but the coming year will divide indies who are ready to step up and become online present, from those who are doomed to obscurity.
But don’t let us tell you what to do! Indie artists, what are your resolutions for 2010? Write ‘em down here, and maybe it’ll shame motivate us all into turning 2010 into the year that indies outsold the majors.