The Artist Foundation: 5 Top Tips Every Indie Artist Needs to Know

Advice from Nathan Dohse, President of Nashville’s AGD Entertainment

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The first time you are performing on stage in front of a crowd that is passionately singing your songs back to you, a fire is lit within you that spreads through nearly every part of your life. You can’t wait to get back on that stage and do it again. It doesn’t take long until your artistic endeavors become dreams of a career in the stage lights. In order for this to happen, it’s important that you build a foundation from which to turn your artistry into industry. I want to provide five tips to you that will help frame a way of thinking about art as a career.

Explore Your Identity

First, you need to be able to describe the emotions and vibe of your act. Are you edgy, fresh, sad, or orange? Brainstorming or “whiteboarding” an identity with actually written or verbal descriptions goes a long way. Once you’ve established a short identity description, you can cross-check everything to make sure you are consistently “you.” Always ask, “Is this edgy, or dynamic enough?” If something feels off, be brave enough to make changes.

It is safe to say that there are parts of your character and personality that will remain true throughout your entire career. Dig deep to find these characteristics, and lean on them while describing yourself. You need to be able to identify and be confident in what sets you apart from anyone else. If your artistic identity is too surface level, it may turn out to be a phase or trend.

Once you’ve established your identity, every song you write—every recording session, every design or photoshoot—will move more quickly and grow in consistency and authenticity.

Community Is Everything

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In today’s world of viral moments, it’s easy to get caught up in views, followers, and streaming numbers. These are the last things that you should be worried about in your beginning stages. As far as marketing goes, I want each artist to start with one goal and one goal only—capture your community first.

Whether you’re finishing high school or starting college, maybe you’re homeschooled or live alone in the arctic—everyone has a unique community within their reach that they are the center of. Start by making sure those closest to you are motivated and excited to participate in what you are doing as an artist.

Get People Talking

Word of mouth is the best way to grow traction as an artist. You have to get people talking about what you’re doing. You can actually prepare this more than you might think. Most news publications or blogs simply reprint a press release prior to doing any interviews. Take a stab at writing your own press release and sending it to local publications next time you have something exciting you want people to talk about. Patch.com is a great hyper-local news service in communities across the country where you can self-publish your upcoming concerts and appearances.

Music Hits Best IRL

Even if you’re not able to actively perform on a regular basis—especially now due to COVID constraints—you have to engage people in real life and not solely rely on digital interactions. A great way to create community is by putting together listening parties or release shows, which can also be done now virtually. This can eventually grow into regional show trades, and one day a tour.

Everyone Needs a Helping Hand

If you’re implementing these first four tips effectively and consistently, it will soon be time to start thinking about getting help or building a team. The first few people you add to your team should be creative-focused—perhaps a producer, photographer, or videographer. From there perhaps social media support or a publicist. Most importantly, you should have someone you trust to guide you through goal setting and hold you accountable to deadlines and objectives you’ve set. This is the beginning step to showing the larger industry as a whole that you are ready for a career in music.

ABOUT AGD ENTERTAINMENT

Nathan Dohse is the president of Another Great Day Entertainment Co. (AGD), which he founded in 2014 with his brother Timothy Dohse. The primary focus of the company has been artist development and entertainment management services; label and publishing services will begin in 2021. AGD provides the necessary steps and connections for an artist of any popularity or tenure to advance in their career and educates and inspires our clients with our knowledgeable team of industry professionals and through community collaboration. http://agdentertainment.com.

AGD Entertainment is thrilled to launch the first-ever Zero to 60 (ZT60) Scholarship program designed for the developing 16 to 20-year-old artists. Applications will be open March 1 to April 5, 2021, at https://agdentertainment.com/scholarship. One recipient will receive a full ride to cover their nine-month experience with the ZT60 program; two to three partial ZT60 scholarships will also be offered. Readers of Guitar Girl are encouraged to apply!!

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