The 12 Grades of an Independent Artist

Hobby vs. Music Career

“Most Artists are stuck in 8th Grade”

1st Grade- As a youngin, you like music. You may not understand what it is, but your body responds to it. Many beat on pots and pans or slap things trying to create sounds. All you know is: Music is here and I’m going to experiment with it.

2nd Grade– You realize: There are emotions forming because of music! People smile, clap, and laugh when playing itsy bitsy spider. You notice when songs are played people react with feelings to it. A slow song comes on, and someone might cry to it.

3rd Grade- Music is more than a beat and words. You can learn from music, you can use it to determine the mood you’re in, or it makes you get into a mood, either way, you see music everywhere, and everyone’s style of music can be different. It’s universal.

4th Grade- Music is a culture. Being that music is universal, you notice music is used to influence people, you use it as a tool to express who you are as a person, you notice there could be a popularity factor in it. You understand music is a statement.

5th Grade- Your music is a description of you. After analyzing the many cultures of music and the many styles, you tune in to ‘your favorites’. As a person, you decide how much influence it has on you. Whether it be: just liking the music, to wanting to actually be the star.

6th Grade- You decide to act out on your decision that : ‘music’ is to be included in all descriptions of ‘YOU’. Whether you’ve decided you want to be a singer, producer, etc.  Whatever your motives might be: You know at this point that music is ‘IN’ you and now you want to see what you can do with it yourself.

7th Grade- Get in where you fit in. You look for ways to contribute and be a part of the music world. Even if it’s making songs in your basement, going to all sorts of music events, etc.

8th Grade- Talking about it and being about it. You know you want an in-depth opportunity to be in the music world. Opportunities come for you to prove you’re ready to take the next step. You think you can now call yourself ‘an artist’ ‘a producer’, etc. because you’ve done a little something with your time in relation to the music world.  You feel relevant. You feel the possibility of being more relevant.  You act out on ideas. You’re proactive to your decision to try and include yourself in the music world and business.

9th Grade- The Awakening. The music world is also a business world. And OH! how important of a part does business play in it!! It’s no longer a ‘hobby’ but time to incorporate the business aspect into what you’re doing.  It’s deciding time for artists.

10th Grade- Implementation. Sacrifices will be made. With starting any small business, you have to expand yourself. This is more than just a hobby, its a full blown ‘Plan of Action’. ‘The business’ behind what you’re doing becomes just as important as the music itself.

11th Grade- Keeping the faith vs. Quitting. If you quit altogether anything that you’re are doing: Your heart wasn’t in it. This doesn’t apply to slowing down because you don’t have the financial support. This means: It’s not worth it to me anymore. Anyone who has a business that they are creating reaches points where they feel at a stand-still. But it’s YOUR determination that differentiates you from others. What side you really want to be on?

12th Grade- Determination vs. Reality. You’ve graduated, you do everything you need to do and continue to do it. You continue to become knowledgeable of the music business. You’re at the doorway of ‘The Real World’..Depending on how you’ve done so far can determine where you’re going. BUT the Real World will not fully accept you or be fair to you. The ‘College’ of the music world is very different from your first 12 grades. No one wants you to succeed at ‘College’ but YOU! You’ve come this far and learned so much without giving in and quitting. Your heart is in this, your pride, reputation, maybe even all your finances.  No one can tell you you’re not going to ‘make it’. (Except the haters that you keep around for motivation).

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