4 Habits Superstars Have An Independent Artist Should Avoid

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4 harmful habits superstars have that an independent artist should avoid

Many independent artists strive for growth using their idols as a blueprint. Find out how to avoid their mistakes and prolong your music career.

Nearly every independent artist charts their career course with an idol to look up to. What better way to achieve success than by mirroring a musician that has already emerged from the struggle with a record deal, bright future and thousands of screaming fans at every venue? While promising on the surface, following in these footsteps can occasionally be damaging, with even the most popular stars in the world slipping up at times. Watch out for these four harmful habits that could hinder your development as an artist.

1. Kanye West’s Shaky Album Rollouts

It’s difficult not to get swept up in the swirling tornado of chaos that is a Kanye West album rollout. From frequent title changes to Twitter tirades to head-scratching delays, the road to the release of Kanye’s 2016 album “The Life of Pablo” felt more like a meme than a moment. The botched delivery left a sour taste in the mouth of his supporters, distracting from the actual quality of the music itself. Fast forward three years and Kanye appeared to be back to his same old, unreliable ways, this time with his highly-anticipated gospel album “Jesus is King.” Contradicting rumors, miscommunication with his record label and a “confirmed” release date later, September 27 came and went without the project available for download, much to the dismay of his impatient fanbase.

Did Kanye recover and sell boatloads of copies when the album eventually saw the light of day a month later? The passion from his followers and past pedigree of several classic projects made it happen. But for an independent artist, establishing trust is paramount when attempting to build an organic audience. Music fans don’t have the same patience for lesser-known artists, meaning the margin of error between your brand and a global icon like Kanye West is exponentially wide. Pick a concrete release date for your projects, stick with it and follow through with quality content. Earn the confidence of your fanbase and nurture that bond so they view you as a trustworthy musician who consistently delivers on the hype.

2. Migos’ Bloated Projects

There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and a Migos project overstaying its welcome. The eccentric trio is infectious in a vacuum, with easily consumable tracks that are perfect for placements on your party playlist, but a front-to-back listen to a project feels more like a chore than a celebration. Last year’s “Culture II” boasted a whopping 24 songs and covered an exhausting 105 minutes. While the project was buoyed by a couple of chart-topping singles, many of the songs felt like filler tracks manufactured in a “hit” factory, with little substance or relevance towards the album as a whole.

The Migos have achieved a level of fame where the finer details normally designed to bestow significance and meaning to a project are irrelevant. Constructing radio jams is not just in a different ballpark than independent artists meticulously crafting meaningful albums, it’s in a whole other league. Don’t go overboard bloating your projects with the hope that one of the tracks gains traction. A listener’s attention span is razor-thin in the streaming era and a short album with high-quality songs could be the difference between a new fan and a missed opportunity. Trim off the fat and release a well-balanced project that can stand the test of time.

3. Lizzo’s Feud with Music Journalists

Lizzo’s explosion onto the music scene has been accompanied by both a resounding cult following touting the singer as the next Aretha Franklin and several negative headlines related to her occasional Twitter outbursts. One of those instances came earlier this year when she tweeted, “People who review albums and don’t make music themselves should be unemployed,” in response to a lukewarm review of her latest project on Pitchfork. The bold declaration drew criticism from music journalists and fans alike, sparking a debate discussing the requirements necessary for people to write about projects. The backlash prompted Lizzo to delete the original post but by that time, word had already spread and the damage was already done.

While making enemies with several music journalists and publications is unlikely to slow down Lizzo’s ascension into superstardom, independent artists don’t receive that type of luxury. Music blogs remain one of the tastemakers of the industry and album reviews are still an essential part of exposing your art to a broader audience. Not every dissection of your projects will be glowing with praise, but alienating this resource by attacking the writer or publication could have repercussions on your music career. Keep respectful working relationships with music journalists and use their analysis as fuel for future releases down the road.

4. Nicki Minaj’s Collaboration Reluctance

It’s no secret Nicki Minaj isn’t afraid of confrontation. From Remy Ma to Cardi B to Taylor Swift to Miley Cyrus, the list of feuds that have spawned centering around the outspoken rapper appears to be endless. While the petty beef occasionally ignites a fire within Minaj that translates into passionate art, she also burns bridges that ultimately grant her a lone wolf persona. The competitive spirit of attempting to eviscerate any worthy competitor she envisions challenging her for the throne is admirable, but Minaj loses out on countless opportunities for collaboration in the process.

Early on in your music career, it is beneficial to be accepting and collaborate with other artists to expand your audience. No matter the level of talent, every independent musician needs help to begin their climb to the top, and building a network of creators that are in your corner can expose you to new opportunities. Although every artist is vying for the same goal, use the competitive energy as a building block to sharpen your musical repertoire instead of a destructive force tearing down the people around you. Be open to new ideas and embrace a team-based mentality to morph yourself into a more well-rounded musician.

The path to navigate the music industry isn’t lined with roses. There isn’t a verified blueprint to follow that guarantees success. Even the most prosperous musicians stumble in their strategy sometimes. For an unestablished artist, however, a mistake has the potential to be catastrophic. Admire your idols but recognize their faults. Learning from the mistakes of those on the highest of pedestals will assist in pointing you in the right direction and accelerating your music career.

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