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The One Thing

This is why 99% of independent artists fail

Published 23 days ago • 3 min read

Poor marketing, bad music, and lack of talent aren’t the real dream killers for most independent artists.

It’s quitting.

It’s refusing to learn and adjust.

It’s starting and stopping over and over, eliminating any hope that our efforts might compound over time.

Being a musician is tough business.

It takes an almost insane level of self-belief and discipline to succeed.

But guess what?

That’s the case for anything worth pursuing.

Whether you’re building a complete music-centric business or simply trying to cultivate a small fanbase as an independent artist, it will take work to get there.

So rather than falling victim to the trap of thinking it’s timing, luck, or raw talent, let’s talk about the things that truly stop artists from winning—and how we can avoid them.

They stop creating

Winning the game of building something from nothing is all about consistency.

For artists, that starts with creating.

Ideally, we should all be putting a bit of effort into new music daily, or at least weekly.

Creating music is a craft, and succeeding at one’s craft requires making it our life’s work.

That means doing it all the time.

When we’re tired.

When we don’t feel like it.

When we’re uninspired.

No matter what’s pushing against us, we have to push back harder and keep showing up no matter what.

This means being unafraid to do it poorly.

Especially in the beginning but even when we’ve become “experts”.

I personally have hundreds, maybe thousands of half-baked ideas and sessions on my hard drive.

All breadcrumbs of creating without ceasing.

Most of these ideas will never see the light of day, but some might just turn into something great.

What matters is that I am a student of the craft of creating music.

And that will never stop.

They stop releasing

Building a career as an independent artist requires more than simply making music.

We have to release it.

We have to share it.

We have to market it.

Creating music is how we receive internal feedback to improve our craft.

Releasing music is how we receive feedback from our audience.

And every release can teach us something new if we’re willing to take the risk and pay attention.

A song could blow up.

A song could flop.

Both are opportunities to take feedback from your audience and bring something potentially better to the table next time.

Now don’t get me wrong, dropping a flop hurts.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

But releasing a song that underperforms isn’t a license to quit.

It’s a license to learn.

And learning is the name of the game.

If anything, I’d argue a song that underperforms is motivation to show back up as quickly as possible and take another shot at the net.

More shots equal more opportunities for a win.

They stop evolving

Making music is more than just a creative outlet—it’s a journey.

When we first start releasing music, we are on the hunt to find the combination of what we do well and what others enjoy hearing from us.

We want to discover what works.

But discovering what works is finite, momentary at best.

It is always changing.

What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

We have to be willing to evolve with every piece of music we create and put out.

Because evolution is improvement.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of “sticking with what works” without considering the need to adjust course over time.

An inability to evolve can be the kiss of death for an artist.

Or a content creator.

Or a business.

Or a nation.

Life changes.

Tastes change.

We must be willing to change too.

When we fail to evolve, we can become stale and predictable, and new music can become less enjoyable over time.

If we want to build a career that can be measured in decades, we have to be willing to consistently step outside of our comfort zone and try something new.

After all, the treasure is rarely found on the beaten path.

Whenever you're ready, there are four ways I can help you:

  1. Read the Newsletter: Read previous issues of The One Thing to learn at your own pace and upgrade your marketing knowledge for free.
  2. Book a Consultation: Schedule a one-on-one call with me to improve your marketing across paid advertising, social media, and more.
  3. The Spotify Traffic Accelerator: Join the hundreds of artists who have successfully learned to automate their growth on Spotify using paid ads on Instagram.
  4. Become a DuPree X Artist: Hire our team to manage your marketing across streaming platforms and social media so you can focus on what matters most—making music.

The One Thing

Tom DuPree III

One high-leverage idea to scale your audience (and your business). Delivered every Tuesday.

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