When you think of entrepreneurs, you probably think of healthy eateries, savvy young businesspeople, and startup software companies. However, an entrepreneur is someone who takes on greater than average financial risks when organizing and running a business. By that definition, an independent artist would certainly fall under the entrepreneur label.
Brooklyn’s Amy Allen would not be one to argue with that assessment. Exemplifying excellent entrepreneurship skills, she has recently released her next EP, “Get Me Outta Here!.” CBS had a chance to catch up with this industrious entrepreneur to ask her about her music and the many hats she must wear to be a successful artist.
How is being an independent artist similar to running a small business?
Being an independent artist is being an entrepreneur. You have to wear all the hats, you have to research, make your own opportunities, take risks and find ways around your obstacles. As an independent artist, you are managing every area of your career and trying to make it grow. You spend a lot of energy to tread water and keep things afloat, and even more energy to gain ground. It’s definitely exhausting, but at the same time, exhilarating, and I couldn’t think of anything else in the world I’d rather be doing.
What does your typical day entail?
At any one time, we are working on booking gigs, rehearsing, writing new music, making sure all of our various administration accounts are up to date, staying on top of social media and marketing, managing the budget, and massaging relationships. But, it doesn’t stop there. You have to be your own accountant, business manager, publisher, booking agent, publicist, etc. If you’re lucky to have someone or a team to help you, then some of the responsibilities are spread out, which gives you a little more time to do what you love — music. But no matter how big your team becomes in the future, you’ll always be spinning the wheels. You’ll always have to work. I think that if you don’t want to work, then you don’t want it bad enough.
What surprised you the most about being an independent artist?
There are definitely a lot of small housekeeping tasks that I never knew existed until I realized I needed to do them! A small list includes filing U.S. copyrights for my songs, brainstorming ideas and concepts for our band’s brand, learning about U.S. Visa restrictions for non-U.S. citizens, learning about SEO and keywords so people can find my music faster, studying the basic legal rules of copyrights for publishing, structuring budget costs for recording an album and making a video, and learning the business and basics of video production.
How important is technology to you? What software tools do you use in your day-to-day?
The ability to upload your music to iTunes and Spotify without a record label is talked about a lot. I’ll just say the internet gives indie bands a chance. Everything was different twenty years ago, ten years ago, five years ago. Today, you can do everything on your own, and while success varies, at least you can try on your own. That’s the key part. Just try! The tools are out there. For example, you have the ability to send your music to magazine and blog editors without a label and the ability to stream your music without a label. You can make a record in your own bedroom. You can connect with fans directly on social media. In addition to my own artistry, I also write songs for other artists almost every day of the week, which adds an entirely new dimension of business management for me. Now, I’m negotiating writing splits and agreements, etc. On a daily basis, I rely heavily on Google Calendar, ProTools, and Spotify.
Is there a geeky side to you?
I think I geek out most when it comes to the type of music I’m most passionate about. This becomes very apparent when I’m in restaurants or long car rides with the band, and some girl group song from the early 60s comes on the radio, and I somehow know every word when no one else has ever heard it. I think I went through a phase in middle school where I predominantly listened to deep cuts by a lot of random artists of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and it’s all just hidden away in my brain.
What is your favorite part of all of this?
My favorite part has always been playing the songs I’ve poured myself into with some of my closest friends in the world. Whether that’s in the studio recording, or on stage at a festival, I just live for those moments. And having put in all the hard work on the business side, makes the recording and performing with my band that much more special.
What advice do you have to people who have a dream, but are afraid to chase it?
Life is short. Do something that excites you. If you put in the grind, there’s always a way to make it work.
This article was written by Allen Foster for CBS Small Business Pulse