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This blog is a must read for struggling independent artists stuck in a rut. Let me set the mood; you’re an up and coming artist with many accomplishments, yet you have not made it as a mainstream star.  For the purposes of this blog, we’ll just say that you are talented, hard working, have a team of 1 or 2 people, and you have little monetary resources behind you.  Okay, that’s not bad, but what is holding you back from success and notoriety?  I am appologizing up front, because I do not have all the answers, but what I can do is share some of my frustrating and highly avoidable pitfalls and roadblocks that my artists and I have encountered along the way.  My teams’s struggle began late 2013, while putting together our first mixtape.  I have to say struggle, because even though he is an independent artist, we still have to sit at the round table to decide which songs out of the stash to ride with and it is a debate to say the least. Now, to do this you have to know what makes you different and stand out from other artists.  With that said, you want to compare that with what the current listeners are listening to.  You do that by checking out the top charted, downloaded, and most requested songs this year.  Be careful, because that does not mean copy what’s out there, but to identify what type of songs get the most recognition, for example, (club, hood, success, girl/boy power, money, gangsta, smoke, or riding music).  This is the topic you would use for your single.  With that done you want to put your album together with a clear focus, and it should give everyone something to listen to.  As you know with Independent artists it is tough to agree with which songs to go with, trust me, but just remember you love all of your songs, and there will be times that your personal favorites may not make the cut, but in the end the best decisions are made for your success.  In this blog I will lay out avoidable roadblocks on your climb to the top”.  First and foremost, you have to have a good recording equipment.  For those of you working in studios out of your homes, make sure that you do all of the following: Have a great engineer at your disposal when it is time for you to record your finished track. Poor quality will ensure poor mixing and mastering, trust me. All engineers can do is improve your poor quality song.  Invest in a good sound engineer to record you correctly the first time.  Only record yourself for selection purposes regarding putting your album together with your team. This is area is where your money should be spent.Not everybody who calls themselves mix and master engineers are ofgood quality! You will waste the bulk of your money and time selecting the first engineer you see or the cheapest, please beware!!!  Do not select an engineer based on prices either.  You want someone to mix and master your music with credentials.  They should have mix and mastered music that previously made it to mainstream radio, not internet radio.  These people will have websites for you to sample there work accompanied with a list of talent they’ve assisted.  Loud music is not the same as clarity of vocals and beats.  Every instrument used should be tracked out and heard, crisp not muffled.  You can also put in mainstream music to compare to your mastered tracks.  FYI it is also best to get a mix/mastering engineer that has a contract of what you can expect from him and his work.Social media takeover. You should have the social media channels on lock, youtube, facebook, instagram, twitter, websites, blogs, podcasts appearances, goggle etc. “Network all day, everyday!!!”.  You have to be visible people should hear about you somehow everyday.  I should be able to google you and find you or your affiliates on the first page.  Keep people informed even if they are tired of seeing your posts.Have an image, you should be easily recognized as an artist.Photoshoot, and go shopping it does not matter if you are going to be the jeans and whiteT guy, just present yourself that way everytime you are stepping out as an artist.  Do Not pay to perform. Popularly claimed groups such as coast to coast claim to get you exposure, but what they really offer you is a dent in your pocket of a whopping $300 to register for performances. It sounds exciting, but when you get there, you perform and that is it.  In reality, you haven’t gained an audience, because these people hear and judge hundreds of talent.  You may get cheers and head bobs, but no offers or successful connections.  The people you network with there are in the same boat as you, and are also trying to come up and be successful just like you.Get the work that you need done in writing, be mindful of your deadlines, because no one else is. Do not assume that you will recieve work back in a specific time frame just because “he is a cool guy”.  If you need your work back on a certain date, get it confirmed by the engineer and videographer first.  If you expect your work to be mainstream radio quality, get that in writing with what they will do to resolve it if they should fall short.Keep your fans up to date with what you are working on. If you are in the lab, post pics of you in the studio, hanging out, freestyling, or working on a current project; just post something, and to it often.Write, write, and write some more.You may have a notebook full, but you are also growing daily as an artist, don’t waste your talent.  You never know, someone may love what you didn’t feel was a hit, but it very well could be.Call the radio stations to set up a meeting with the music director to get your music played. Have your shit together please! Meaning the mixing/mastering of your music being of sound quality. Offical, not what you think is good, based on your own ears. If you have good music and good quality you can get your music played on more than just indie internet radio stations.When networking touch base with popular DJ’s to get your music played in the clubs and college campuses and stations. Now you will have to spend money to make this happen, I won’t lie to you, but it will be worth it.Alright, artists that is all I have for you at this time.  If I had any of these pointers when we started, it would have saved me a lot of headaches and grief.  I hope I helped my fellow independent artists bull doze their way through these mile high roadblocks and aided you in your success and climb to stardom.  If any other artists have encountered other dreadful roadblocks, please post it in the comment area on the bottom of this site for your fellow artists’ benefit. We’ve managed to get past these roadblocks, but we know there may be more along the way, see you at the finish line!!!

Steve Clenor

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