When we talk about a live-show setup, we're usually referring to gear, obviously. But there's actually more you can do to ensure a memorable performance. Sounding good is the bulk of the battle, of course, but looking good counts for something, too.
Feeling like an outsider around your non-musician friends? Perpetually working but somehow always-and-forever broke? These are the kind of issues that, as an independent musician, are often universally unavoidable. We deal with them because we love what we do, but that doesn't mean we've got to fully submit to them, either.
Commiserate by reading our top seven gripes below, and feel free to add your own in the comments.
Ask any self-professed lifer, and they'll admit it freely: making a career as a DIY, independent musician is not easy. At some point, you may want to abandon music-making in search of a more financially stable and less emotionally and physically trying path.
For some, that may be the right move; nobody has any business faulting you for making a choice with your own well-being in mind. But a big-picture mentality – recognizing the ruts as temporary and making steps to skirt, or at least smooth over, the next potential set of bumps – can help you regain the strength and focus you need for the long haul.
It's totally understandable that the slew of inherent struggles, like relentless touring, penny pinching, and constantly pouring your soul out in the studio and onstage only to feel stagnant afterward, would wear you down.
Before you call it quits, though, consider our best advice to get through these seven disheartening moments most artists endure at one point or another.
Your local music scene provides both a helpful network of resources and an uplifting sense of community, and that's an especially empowering combo of tools for pushing your progress as a band or solo musician.
There are massively positive effects of being a member of your city's underground landscape – but don't forget that you shouldn't close yourself off from other, non-musical creatives, either.
What makes a city especially friendly to independent musicians looking to advance their careers? The obvious spots, like New York City or Los Angeles, aren't the easiest places make any sort of dent. Not only are they overwhelmed with folks with the same aims but also they're quite pricey, and when you're struggling to make ends meet financially, you'll ultimately lose time and energy that could be spent building your career.
The ideal cities for DIY musicians boast a balance of low-cost living and openness to independent music. Cheaper rent, a sense of community, fans and venues with a penchant for championing the underdogs – all of these things are important.
The five places we've picked offer all of that and then some. You can make music anywhere in the world, but in these environments, you'll likely have more time to focus on music making and a more supportive network to receive the art that materializes.