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Julie JD - What it means to be "Indie"?

Julie JD
February 22, 2011

When you think of Rockstars, you think sex, drugs & rock n' roll. But let's face it, in this day and age, Rockstars are entrepreneurs. And now we call them indie artists.

So what is indie? Well, it's short for “independent” which refers to a philosophy based on a proactive approach to one's career; retaining complete artistic control, to maintain the integrity of one's art, regardless of record label affiliation. Wait, what? That means no record labels. You write what you want, play what you want and own the rights. Any artist will tell you, that it's important to own the rights to your work.

So what does this have to do with hats? Hang on I'm getting there.

When you're an indie artist, you're not just reaping the royalties of your product, but you have to dress up. Being independent means you have to take over the responsibilities the label would have. You have to be in charge of the live performance, the recording and sales, the merchandise, the promotion, the investments and any other job on the side to keep yourself afloat. They don't call it starving artist for nothing you know.

Being an indie artist is a full time job in itself. You need time to create your art, self promote, set up gigs and update your page. That's right, myspace is just as important as setting up a gig. It's how you talk to your fans and let them know what's up. Organization is key, I would suggest setting some time every week, or everyday for these jobs. Some you would have to do more often then others.

So I'll talk first about your artist hat, I picture this as a sort of beret. It's the most important hat, because before all the recording and promotions, you have to write the music first. You'd have to be a machine to be able to just sit down at the same time everyday and write music. However you should be putting in time to practice too. This can be difficult if you're in a band because of alternating schedules, but each member is responsible for their part and should be putting in the same amount of effort, at least musically.

Songwriting isn't all it's cracked up to be either. It can be devastating when you hit a block. We all do it, happens to the best of us. My tip on that would be to do something inspiring. I tend to go for a drive, start out listening to the radio, then my cds and before I know it, I'm singing out something my own. Maybe you should try a walk in the park, making a pit stop to do some people watching. Just being somewhere busy can inspire you. Attempting to guess where everyone is going or what they're doing and saying to each other. Perhaps you're more like me, a solitary person where you need to be alone to really think. A park during the day is the best, listening to the wind and birds, sometimes the traffic. But you need to encourage yourself to find that inspiring place or thing to do. No music means no money.

There, you have a product. I know it sounds very corporate to talk about your art like that, but it's the music business. Sometimes you have to be literal and displace yourself to get somewhere. A little harsh, but helpful. So what can you do with your song once it's done? Besides the obvious; recording, you need to register them! As soon as you have a fixed copy of your song, whether it be writing it down or self recording it, it is copyrighted. But to register your song means you have proof of that copyright and you can now be compensated for any public performances. This is where SOCAN comes into play. This is a company that will register your works, if you wish to know more about it I recommend you read Audio Toyes #8- What is SOCAN? There is also the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) and they offer the Canadian song vault service, which is really only offered to members in good standing of SAC.

By registering your song, you have proved that you own the works. But if legal action does occur it's not about who wrote the song but who wrote it first. So not only by having the date of creation you should be able to prove that the infringer had access to your works. Therefore you should keep track of who you send the material to and when. Even if it's a promoter or producer you just never know.
Now, I don't want to bore you guys to death so I am not going to take up hours of your time talking about the many hats at once because frankly, there are a lot of them. You'll just have to wait until next time when I will be touching on the recording subject, but mainly talking about how to get your songs out there. So get your captain's hat out because your going to be shipping out a lot of copies.

If you would like to check out more about registration, here are some websites with more information.

Audio Toyes #8-what is SOCAN?:

Songwriters Association of Canada:

SOCAN website:
Songwriters Association of Canada:
Songwriters Association of Canada: