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Tuesday, April 08, 2008 

The Indie Music Box

by Madalyn Sklar

The indie music box... are you in it or outside of it?

Most of us are in it because it's a comfortable place to be. It's easy to do what everyone else is doing. And yes, we let ourselves be in this box. Seems most musicians get trapped inside rather than thinking outside of it. There are so many indie artists out there doing exactly what you are doing. If you don't want to stand out, just follow alongside everyone else. It's so simple and unimaginative! Get my drift?

What can you do to stand out?
What can you do to make that impression and "wow" people?

Here's one example:

I was just reading a really great blog post by Mark Nissley called The Story of a Rock Star. In it he talks about his work with a rising star back in the 90s. It's obvious that he's referring to Jewel.

I was fortunate to work with one of the best star stories of the last decade. I first met this star before her 20th birthday. She lived in her van, and sang nights at a coffeehouses and bars. She was fortunate enough to get a spot in a San Diego club and was surrounded by some leading talent of the early nineties. She studied them and learned from them. There were more talented people around her, but she was the one to receive a big contract. She had one of the biggest debut albums of all time, with a number of subsequent albums.

There are many aspects to her story that can illustrate the points that I am getting to, but I'll just share one. I attribute a single reason this songwriter became a star. While all the very talented musicians around her spent their time between and after sets, hanging out back stage and drinking (among other things), the teenage girl did something different. She met her fans and really talked to them. She told her story at every show. She positioned herself at the exit and shook every patron's hand. She asked people if they liked her music. She asked people to come back and see her. One of those hands she shook was an executive from Atlantic Records. They came back to see her, and brought a contract.

Okay is the light bulb going off in your head now? Good!

See in my coaching practice I tell musicians this all the time... talk to people! Greet people at the door. NO ONE DOES THIS!! Well I take that back. I've seen very few people do it, and boy do they get results.

Be different. Be outside the indie music box.

I welcome your feedback on this. Comment and tell me what works for you.

Copyright © 2008 Madalyn Sklar, IndieMusicCoach

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach, consultant and author. She founded IndieMusicCoach and has spent over 12 years working with a wide range of independent musicians all over the world - U.S., Canada, Ireland and Japan thus far. Her goal is to help indie artists achieve greater success in the music business by working smarter not harder. She is also the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians, with a vision of bringing together and empowering musicians from around the world.

Madalyn is available for one-on-one consulting and coaching at affordable prices. Check out http://www.indiemusiccoach.com/ for more info.



Its good to see my blog applied outside the box it was written for. Well, its not really outside, is it? I am actually applying my music experience outside the box. In any case, thanks for reading and sharing. I am sure we could share some stories. Keep reading for more parallels.


This is absolutely true. I actually know of at least one exceptionally talented musician who has (so far) failed to really take off in large part because she hasn't "marketed" herself.

It's really funny because somehow she makes an intense connection with people who see her (she's friendly but doesn't go out of her way) because of her great stage persona, but she apparently just doesn't feel comfortable with the business side.

I wish that I had applied this when I was first starting out. But I'm definitely trying to do better now.

Thanks Mark and Madalyn.

I play at the Irvine Spectrum. This is an outdoor venue, I talk to people coming by on my breaks and before I start to play. It really is a good thing. You really make them feel at ease and they love talking and telling you their stories.

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

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