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5 Things Before You Start As An Indie Artist Part 1

Friday, November 21, 2014Ava Bella

If I flash back to 2010, before I left the corporate management gig, you could NOT have made me believe that I would be leading the life that I am now. I had just completed training for one of the largest tax preparations companies in the nation, gotten a certification, I was recruiting a team for my branch, and had a lovely salary where I made a nice coin plus commission off of the profits from the branch as a whole. I had totally tucked away my dream, like way far down deep in my back pocket next to the lint. I remember working some nights until midnight during the height of tax season, and not making it home until 1 AM; some weeks I surpassed the 65 hour mark. Nope, you would have never been able to make me believe that in just 3 years, I'd have an album, been on 2 tours, left my sleepy hometown of KCMO to soak up game in LA for a few months. Yeah, there's no way I would have believed you! 





I began to think what I would have told my 2010 self to prepare for what these last 4 years have been like. I've also thrown in a few pics of the journey that make my heart sing and a smile form on face. I digress. 


@ 1st Stage Show in my hometown - Riot Room, Kansas City, MO
If I could go back, this is what I would say:

There's gonna be a lot of noise | There will be noise, not just the in the studio, but noise in the trinity: haters, naysayers, and full on BS'ers! All those people that egg'd you on and told you, "You need a CD" or "You should do a show" or even the "You should be using that talent" will be the same one's you can't find, won't answer their phones, or will tell you to quit tagging them in posts on facebook. It's absolutely hilarious now, when I think about how people get super duper bent out of shape over facebook event invites or tags and text messages. Just turn it down and tune it out. Believe me, if you do, you will be better able to tap into your creativity without any of that on your mind. It may not be virtual or social media; it could be lack of support from family or friends--don't sweat it just keep it pushing, they'll come around. When they do, have good energy, say thank you, and be nice as pie.

@ Kill Your TV Awards 2013 Liberty, MO - Photo Cred: Chad Cogdill


Remember what you learn on that job??? | Peep game: I started in retail at the age of 14 and was managing my first store by the age of 17. I have retained and put to use so many practices that I learned. Recognize your path. Instead of dreading going to work every day, what do they do that will work for your brand as an indie artist. What doesn't work? How will you create an environment where your team operates in creativity and purpose so much so they can't wait to walk through YOUR doors? How will you firm the team in the first place? Make a list of what they do. Okay. You made your list now...Flip that ish!

A friggen epic moment! Opening for Big Freedia @ Riot Room, KCMO Photo cred: @KCPL 

Protect yourself and your work... This is so importantContracts and agreements are still necessary if you're an indie act. You need to be familiar with these and other documents to be paid for your work. What if you create a body of work or a song, and someone decides that they want to use it in a commercial? What happens when you work with another indie artist? What forms or agreements do you need? NEWS FLASH: hand shakes ain't good enough! What's even more sad is what my partner in rhyme, James Christos, always says, "contracts and agreements are only as good as the two people who have signed them". Still and all, it's better to protect yourself. If you want to know how to start(here comes the plug), email me here or comment below with a question(you are surely not the one who wants to know) and I can point you in the right direction.

My first time performing @ SXSW Festival, 2014 Austin, TX


Save your money |  Now I am the exception, I started with settlement income. It wasn't millions, but it was a start. Some of you have that good Barista job, that cool trendy retail gig, or that cushy management job like I had. Use that ISH!! Once you've decided to exit stage left at your job, if you take $25-$50 per paycheck every 2 weeks for say 6 months minimum, guess what, that's almost $700. That can be studio time to record and mix, may be it's the cost for your logo design or your album cover, just maybe, it's the first few hard copies of your project on CD - not to mention travel expenses for the road... That brings me to number 3.


After rocking @ the Big Freedia Show 2014, Riot Room, Kansas City - Photo Cred: James Christos

Go on the road | Get up, get out, and get something. I tell every new artist that it's so important to get out of your city and see how hot you are out of town. You don't have to go far. Get a map! For me, I was in Kansas City and I maxed out on local open mics, band gigs, reality show auditions (SWEET BABY Jesus!!), and those $25 gig offers that made me realize it was time to branch out...lol. For me it was as simple as hopping on the highway and going to Chicago (which is now my second home), and St. Louis (which is really KCMO's distant cousin-it's crazy how night and day these cities are). Bottom line, move around and get your money honey! Watch what happens when you do!


Way too early morning flight leaving KC to move to LA, March 2013

Protect yourself and your work... This is so important | Contracts and agreements are still necessary if you're an indie act. You need to be familiar with these and other documents to be paid for your work. What if you create a body of work or a song, and someone decides that they want to use it in a commercial? What happens when you work with another indie artist? What forms or agreements do you need? NEWS FLASH: hand shakes ain't good enough! What's even more sad is what my partner in rhyme, James D. Conqueror, always says, "contracts and agreements are only as good as the two people who have signed them". Still and all, it's better to protect yourself. If you want to know how to start (here comes the plug), email me or comment below with a question (you are surely not the one who wants to know) and I can point you in the right direction.

I hope that these 5 things help you. These are just a FEW of the things I've had to learn PDQ on my journey as an indie artist. If you want to know more; READ PART 2 HERE

-AvaB


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