DO YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME???
Hello everyone! I'm ArwenStarsong and I am back with another nonsensical rambling about the amazing adventures of being a musician that is COMPLETELY solo.
THAT IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT... I am gonna set things straight on how it really is to be trying to make a music career out of nothing but your own creativity, blood, sweat, tears, and finances.
People seem to have this idea that many musicians who go solo have it easy. They seem to have this false notion that they get to have all the fun, get all the money, and they get places a lot faster than with a band... well let me be the one to tell you first hand that being solo and how you have it depends on many factors on the end of the artist. Here is a list of them...
See what I mean? Now that you have a picture of what that is like, we can move on the actual experience of it using a series of comparison gifs and explaining the reasons.
EXPERIENCE 1- GETTING IDEAS LATE AT NIGHT
HERE IS WHY:
There is so little time when it comes to being a solo artist. Depending on the factors listed above, you can either be REALLY good at managing your time and be productive during your day. Or you can be the image on the right.... Yeah... This is the reality of not having enough time for you. Of being pulled in different directions in your life and still trying to fit in time to create and practice your art. It can make for many sleepless nights and be bad for your health. It is overwhelming at times and then sometimes from being so occupied, you come up with something AMAZING.... but cannot write it down or play it because the rest of your family is asleep... So you stay up ALL. NIGHT... staring at your ceiling and wishing the sandman would knock your stupid ass out....
EXPERIENCE 2- Writer's Block
There is no in between when you're a solo musician
Much like the previous thing I mentioned but this is the opposite... This is the I GOT NO IDEAS BECAUSE I AM OVERWHELEMED... Henceforth the left right image. You are either Kermit or Spongebob in this case. Normally if you're solo, it can be very challenging to come up with ideas on your own... And then You need to make time to promote and do all the other things it takes... shooting videos, photos, artwork, etc... It can be hard on your mental health when you're overworked, but this is the life of someone going about it alone without the wealth or resources. AND BLOCK SOMETIMES CAN BE DEADLY....
Whatever you do to get by, just don't forget your name.... (hah....) Writer's block can sometimes be permanent so if you ever suffer a block, try writing down your feelings/ journaling your ideas as random thoughts pop in your head. It helps a lot!
EXPERIENCE 3- MONEY MONEY MONEY
Most likely if you're solo, you'll be broke a lot of the time unless you already have a lot of money, a huge amount of listeners/ audience, or a supportive family/ friend group.
Money is one of the most major challenges solo artists come by. Crowdfunding for projects can be a challenge unless they have a HUGE following and that in itself is very hard to come by (Because people do not usually take a solo artist seriously unless they are in a specific genre or have the looks to match...). Saving money can be tricky. Balancing a day job, paying bills, and also paying for the health of your music can get pricey. Most of the time there won't be money to spare. Henceforth why everyone asks up and down for it in the music industry. With money you can make better content, but then not have enough to eat sometimes.... There are many things a musican in particular has to pay for....
- Lessons (If you're even able to fit it into your schedule)
-Rent for the Venue a gig is held in
-Fees for studio musicians/ band members (For solo artists, this is a must. Because as much as one can be a jack of all trades, it does not mean they have mastered EVERYTHING.)
-Distribution fees (both physical and digital)
-Making Merch (YES. MAKING MERCH COSTS MONEY!)
-Booking a performance/ gig (booking agents. nuff said.)
-Instruments/ Instrument Maintenance (If your instrument breaks or needs a repair, you gotta pay for it)
-Music Production (Recording, Mixing, Mastering. ALL ARE SEPERATE FACTORS IN THIS CATEGORY)
-Photo/ Video Shoots AND EDITING THAT COMES WITH IT.
-Equipment for Performance and backup equipment in case that equipment breaks.
-Promotion Costs (Radio Spins, Facebook Ads, Youtube Ads, Google Ads in general)
-Running a Website (Pro domain costs 12/ year and also has fees added to whichever site you choose to make your website.)
-Clothes (to look the part)
-Bills for living
-Management (If you somehow manage to get someone to talk to you. This is a long shot most of the time because to even get a hold of someone you need to network a LOT)
-Networking (This means going to shows and meeting others who do the same thing you do.)
This ALL comes down to how you manage your money and what you do to save. Journaling/ planning your expenses can make a HUGE difference! And hopefully by reading the text above you get an idea as to why bands and solo artists ask for money. IT IS BECAUSE MOST OF US ARE STRUGGLING TO MAKE END'S MEET AND WE WANNA GET OUR ASSES OFF THE GROUND.
Experience 4- Practicing
The reality of the matter is that making time to practice gets to be a DESPERATE endeavor.
Being a solo musician means you put your mind and your heart and sometimes (if you're obsessed enough) YOUR SOUL into practicing to better your craft. Practice is what makes the musician do what they do. sometimes when you do it all on your own, it can be very VERY challenging to make the time for practice, so you find time to do it when you have alone time or even during business meetings. Or like me.... where you sing in car karaoke like crazy and people stare at you like you're tweaking. Either way, practicing is the foundation of the musician and when you're solo, making time for it is ESSENTIAL. I suggest giving yourself at LEAST 1 hour twice a week or more to make yourself have time for everything else.
Experience 5- Time Management
People think that being a solo artist gives you all the time in the world to do everything you need to because you are your own boss. As much as you can be your own boss, the reality is not what one would think/ realize. Going solo is a challenge, seeing as you also have to be a time management wizard. I have mentioned this many times in this blog already, but it is probably the most important thing out of all the experiences I am sharing. Being by yourself means you do EVERYTHING. LITERALLY EVERYTHING. You're the artist. So you write the music, write the lyrics, spend weeks at a time making the instrumental you're writing from scratch (which entitles you REHEARSE the parts you're gonna make), have to make time to rehearse the lyrics/ vocal parts, recording can take up to a month depending on what else you have going on in your life. Then to get quality material, you have to hire a person to help you and working with said person can eat up at least 2 weeks of your time to make one of your songs happen. ONE SONG. There is also having to keep up your little youtube channel by posting at least 2 videos a month. Which also takes up 3 or 4 days of your time to record vocals/ an instrumental then shoot a mini video and editing all night a few nights in a row. Then there is the other side, which is shooting a video for your release, talking about your release, trying to become a social network pro all on your own, making money by working a job so you can pay to promote yourself, saving money for a video shoot, which can take another couple of weeks depending on what you're doing. There's also waiting for whomever you hire to shoot your video to finish your video edits. During this time, you may wanna make doctor appointments and get your adult shit done so your health and bills are also kept in check. They say that in order to have a life you must sacrifice something. For solo musicians, that thing is definitely SLEEP.... which is essential for your health, but who am I to talk??? (I'm dying guys. I am writing this for you after a 12 hour crash from 3 days in a row of not sleeping...) With 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, it gets literally IMPOSSIBLE to fit music in sometimes. Henceforth why I suggest using any days off work to focus on your artistic endeavors. Even that little bit of time can really make a difference.
Experience 6- When you finally sleep
There is a reason why a lot of solo artists say "SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK"
When you finally get sleep, it is a crash. it is not a sinking into your bed and drifting off kind of crash either. it is more like "FUCKING FINALLY-" *CRASHES INSTANTLY* then you wake up an eternity later and realize half your next day or more is gone. This is the essence of being a solo artist. A normal human is supposed to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. But we are not normal. We are creatures of the night. We are not normal humans. And being normal is a challenge... With so much to do and little time to think, things can get hectic. I just hope you all make room for eating and sleeping. Because let me be the one to tell you, THE ROAD IS NOT EASY. And sleeping is essential. If you cannot fit at least 7 hours, try to fit in a power nap on a 6 hour sleep. or just do 6 hours. 6 is enough to at least hold your sanity... lol
Experience 7- The Business Aspect
Not every artist is a business expert... Not every business expert is an artist.
AA lot of the time when you're riding solo, you have to know a little bit about business and how it works. Doing it by winging it gets you nowhere. Look at me, for example. Been in this for 10 years now and have been seeing others who do the same thing i do make it in less time. Why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW BUSINESS WORKS. Networking, making connections, talking to people, being active, and making sure you're heard is a major aspect of growing as an artist. You want people to know who you are? You have to be assertive and know how to negotiate deals and terms. This can get people to backing you up and when you have people you can trust backing you up who know their stuff, their insight can be CRUCIAL to help you understand how to succeed. This is EXACTLY why over the past year I have grown SUBSTANTIALLY from what i was before. I made many other friends who make music. I met a producer who is currently helping me make my EP. The fellow artists I follow watch what I do and when they like my stuff, it lets me know I am doing things right. I reach out and try to help as well when I can. I also did a TON of experimentation to see how I can make my brand better and help it grow. I made it my new year resolution to put ALL my spare money I make into things that will help my music or make it. One payment for an ad can make ALL the difference, folks. And I highly suggest you also read a TON on how business works. I am still learning a LOT, but I know for a fact that I am gonna continue to grow thanks to the knowledge I have received thru advice and books. I encourage you all to take these measure as well. Knowing whatever business you're going into is a necessity. And another thing: KNOW YOU CAN TRUST PEOPLE. Don't let ANYONE take your talent for granted.
Experience 8- TECH ISSUES ARE THE FUCKING WORST!
Being tech savvy is NOT an easy endeavor.
There is nothing worse than already being pressed for time then having your technology fail to work the way it is supposed to. This is a big deal to people who use Live Streaming apps and video apps such as Youtube and Twitch. The thing is that to keep your channel active you need to post at least once every 2 weeks. And sometimes that can be a challenge when your schedule is whack and your tech is even worse. And not everyone is a millionaire like some youtubers are. They have to make do with what they have. During these times, having a good warranty for your stuff is essential because if you do, you may not have to pay a cent if something breaks. You also should make sure everything is up to par before you get up and running on your project.
There is a lot more to explain away, but these are the most essential ones I have.
In conclusion there are a lot of pros and cons to being a solo artist.
Out of my personal experience, however, I find that there are as many pros as there are cons. Sure, I may not sleep much and I may always be broke, but is this music worth it to me? YES. Every inch of my being loves what I do. And I know that there are millions of starving artists like me who feel the same. At the end of the day, I know I do EVERYTHING for the music. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I know someday I will find my band. For now, I am the eagle that flies alone (Arch Enemy Reference lol)....
Hopefully you all get a clear understanding of some of the struggles a solo musician can face. As someone of the metal genre AND as a female, it is twice as hard. And I don't plan on stopping any time soon. Stay metal, my friends. I'll see you on the next one! ;).
ArwenStarsong is a singer, songwriter, lyricist, Youtuber, and multi- instrumentalist from Fresno, California. She is an enthusiast of the metal genre, and a lover of poetry, art, and writing. She also livestreams video games for fun sometimes. She is an artist of the Symphonic/ Power metal genre that is beginning to bud in the community. She recently helped found a new Symphonic Power Metal band called Sun Lay Silent.