You've probably heard "mindset is key" at least a hundred times before. And rightfully so; toxic mindsets will sabotage your success faster than any external adversity. But it's not easy to just alter your mindset. However, maybe I can give you some fresh perspective by presenting some key aspects of a healthy mindset for independent artists. Often times we look at the world backwards from the way we should. By flipping that around and looking at your music through the perspective of your audience, you should be able to foster a much healthier mindset and grow your following as a result.
1) Ask not what your audience can do for you; Ask what you can do for your audience.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see artists make when it comes to overall mindset. Our brain naturally frames questions from our own perspective. "How can I grow my following?" "How can I make more money from my music?" And so on. This is natural! But let me frame it a different way. What about "How can I add value to my audience and better connect with them?" or "What can I do to have even a small positive impact on people who listen to my music?" When you begin to look at it this way, the answers to your questions become a bit different. Now I'm not saying you have to put your own needs and goals aside by any means, but it really helps to tailor your approach to your audience's experience.
2) Stop Judging Your "Success" By Comparing Your Numbers To Others
Pretty straightforward. While it's alright to have some number-based goals, there are a few better options. Having number-based goals can lead to taking the wrong path to get there. For example, if your goal is to get 10,000 Monthly Listeners on Spotify, the easiest way to get there is to pay to get on playlists. While you might reach that goal, as soon as you're off the playlists your numbers will drop down again and those 10,000 people won't remember you.
A healthier approach would be to focus on growing a community that genuinely cares about you and your music. It takes more effort for sure, but each of the committed fans you gain are 10,000x more valuable to you than a stream from a passive listener.
To circle back, this is essentially why comparing your numbers to other artists isn't part of a healthy mindset. Most numbers we like to emphasize are popularity metrics, and if your idea of success is just popularity, you'll likely never feel fulfilled. Measure your own growth over time, focus on moving forward, and continue to have a positive impact on your audience.
3) If you're only focussed on your "big break" then you'll probably give up before it comes
Oof. Sorry for the harsh words. Breaks do happen. Tons of artists get signed to record deals every month. But if that's all you're waiting for, you'll likely burn out because you won't feel fulfilled along the journey. By the way, 99% of the artists that got noticed and signed had pretty substantial followings. They got signed because they had already proved that they were a marketable asset. Just waiting to "be noticed" is a toxic mindset. Marketing isn't the solution, continuing to grow as an artist is.
4) Stop viewing other artists as competitors and start connecting more
Ever looked at an artist's social media and wished you had the same amount of followers or engagement they did? Instead of viewing them as competition, see if you can learn from what their doing, or even reach out to them to connect if you feel so inclined. Lift up other artists, listen to their music, comment positive things on their posts, and they'll likely return the favor.
5) Be yourself, your whole self, nothing but yourself, so help me God
Or an interesting extension of yourself. It's okay to adopt a charisma that's a little off the wall as an artist. Whatever makes you unique, embrace it. There's a million artists out there trying to be like other artists. Growing a following that embraces your music is about doing something different. It's okay to take inspiration from your idols, just make sure you're not copying. Who could possibly be Beyoncé better than Beyoncé herself?
To Sum Up:
Stay positive! Remember that you're creating art at a time when people really need some good distractions. Success is a process, not a destination.
Jonathan Korzelius is a mixing engineer from Nashville, TN.
@echo.mixing on Facebook and Instagram