267 – 10 Ways to Fail as an Independent Artist

by | Apr 8, 2022 | Podcast

Do you wish you could be a spectacular failure in the music business? Are you looking for the step-by-step process that will make you an embarrassing disgrace to yourself, your family, and the world?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:32 – A framework for failure
  • 00:52 – Be a jerk to everyone
  • 01:17 – Flake out on everything
  • 01:58 – Don’t improve as a musician
  • 02:29 – Spend all your time on social media
  • 03:18 – Don’t build email lists
  • 03:55 – Make Spotify your sole source of income
  • 04:34 – Don’t get expert coaching
  • 05:16 – Don’t invest in your personal growth
  • 05:56 – Don’t reinvest in your music career
  • 06:29 – Remain a Blockbuster in the age of Netflix
  • 07:00 – Episode summary

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:


Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.

So, normally I talk about frameworks for success, just like in the last episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

This episode is going to be a little different. What follows is a framework for failure.

Now, this might seem a little strange, but by the end of it, I think you will begin to see how powerful an exercise it can be.

You’ll see what I mean. Let’s get into this.

1. Be a Complete Jerk

Insult the people you meet. Make fun of your fans. Criticize and attack your bandmates. Curse the media. People are awful and they deserve to know just how much they suck and how much better you are.

Hit on men or women who are already attached to someone else. Stay at hotel rooms, throw the TV out the window, and refuse to pay for your stay. Flip off everyone. They’re horrible people for not recognizing your greatness.

2. Be a Flake

Don’t show up to band meetings or rehearsals. Don’t show up to gigs. Don’t show up to radio or podcast interviews. And if you do show up, make it an hour late, and pretend like you weren’t at fault. Make no excuses, no apologies, and put no effort into salvaging the opportunity or resolving the situation whatsoever.

Be a person who promises big and delivers small. Or deliver nothing at all. Disappoint your friends, your family, your fans, and anyone else who dares express any interest in you.

Make bad excuses. Say, “I’m washing my hair that night,” or “I’m tired,” or “I have to get up early tomorrow,” or “my dog ate my homework,” in contexts where it doesn’t make sense, and pretend like people buy your reasons for being absent.

3. Don’t Improve

Spend no time whatsoever working on your craft. Don’t try to be better.

Next time you have a show, or a new release, make no effort. Don’t practice. Don’t market. Don’t show up with new material unless it’s just as bad as your earlier works. Don’t engage the fans. Don’t engage the venue owner, event organizer, or anyone else connected to your show or project. Actively insult them instead.

Give a half-assed attempt at everything, just to make sure your performances aren’t getting better. You don’t want to improve by mistake and give the wrong impression.

4. Rely Exclusively on Social Media

Spend all your time and energy on social media. Create accounts far and wide – Bandcamp, Facebook, Fanbase, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Pinterest, ReverbNation, TikTok, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, SoundCloud, YouTube, and any other sites you can find. Go join all the Web3 sites while you’re at it.

Don’t post anything. Follow a bunch of people and leave useless comments on their posts, like fire emojis, and “DM us” or “promote it on” some random Instagram account no one has even heard of or cares about. It’s the classy thing to do.

Use social networks for all the wrong reasons. Don’t network. Pretend like you’re more important than everyone else. Don’t promote unless you’re promoting a scam. Violate the terms and conditions proactively.

And as much as possible, delude yourself into thinking that all your efforts on social media will one day pay off.

5. Refuse to Build an Email List

Email lists are for chimps (and yes, my use of the word “chimp” rather than “chump” is intentional here). Don’t set up an account with an email service provider. Don’t put email signup forms on your website, don’t give away anything for free in exchange for anyone’s email address. Don’t ask for anyone’s emails at your shows, either. Don’t use a tool like Leadpages to hypercharge your list building efforts.

If you do end up with a list of emails, spam them mercilessly with online gambling and erection pill ads. Don’t mention anything about your next release or next show. Don’t invite anyone to be a part of anything. Don’t share content, don’t survey, and don’t ask questions. Don’t waste time getting to know your fans.

6. Hope & Pray That You’ll Earn a Living from Spotify

Sit at home and wait for the dump truck full of money to roll into your driveway. Do nothing to earn it. You’re entitled. Actively pretend and delude yourself into thinking that one day soon Spotify streaming royalties will pay all your bills. But don’t draw attention to your music on Spotify, don’t ask to be on playlists, and don’t collaborate or work with other artists to increase your following. Don’t spend a dime on advertising.

Other experts say they earn thousands of dollars from streaming royalties. Believe them wholeheartedly. But practice selective hearing and refuse to hear the part where they talk about having multiple streams of income, many of which exceed their streaming royalties.

7. Don’t Get Coaching

Getting an outside perspective is a waste of time. There is no one that can see what you can’t see. No one can offer any tips, advice, or suggestions that could possibly help you get some wins, short- and long-term. They couldn’t possibly ask any questions that would help you see things in a new and different way.

All musician coaches are shills and charlatans, including those who’ve published over 260 podcast episodes and six books. They’ve done nothing to prove themselves and their willingness to help others.

Coaching costs too much. It’s a waste of precious resources that could go towards fried foods and alcohol. There is no discernable benefit that could possibly justify the cost, whether it’s social media growth, a bigger fan base, increased income from your passion, or otherwise.

8. Don’t Invest in Yourself

It goes hand in hand with the last point. There’s no point in investing in a coach, so it stands to reason there’s no reason to invest in yourself either. You couldn’t possibly find anything in books, podcasts, courses, live events, and any other programs that would make a difference for you in life or your career.

Don’t buy books. Don’t buy courses. Don’t join mastermind groups or go to live events. There’s nothing to learn, no one to meet, no opportunities to discover on the other end of any of it. Personal growth is a dead-end waste of time, and anyone who says otherwise is a rah-rah snake oil salesperson with a big jaw anyway. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

9. Refuse to Reinvest in Your Music Career

Why waste your hard-earned gig money on growing your career? No one pays you much of anything anyway. Damn cheapskates. Don’t save up for your next album, tour, or marketing and advertising. It doesn’t work, and it’s all a scam designed to extract every penny from your wallet and funnel it up to the political elite.

Blow all your money on entertainment. Get fried foods and alcohol. Hang out at the local pub or Denny’s and drop it like it’s hot. The idea that your health will suffer from bad food is just a conspiracy theory. Eating junk food is taking care of yourself. It tastes good and it fills you up.

10. Don’t Adapt

MySpace is still cool. LiveJournal and Blogger are the perfect places to set up a blog. Cassette tapes are the top way people listen to music right now, and everything else is a waste of time. Don’t try to keep up with the times. No one can anyway. It’s a waste of time and energy.

There’s nothing to be learned from the past, and clearly, there’s nothing to be learned from the future either. Lessons are pointless. They don’t exist. Music died in 1989. The same things that worked then work now. Don’t bother learning anything new.

Episode Summary

  • If you want to fail in music, be a complete jerk, flake out on everything, don’t improve, put all your time and energy into social media, don’t build your email list, use Spotify as your exclusive source of income and worship at its alter, don’t get coaching, don’t invest in yourself, don’t reinvest in your career, and don’t adapt.
  • Failing in music is generally a combination of factors. If you did all the above, you would naturally fail. But typically, it’s the combination of two or three toxic beliefs or actions that lead to failure over the long haul.
  • I would love to hear what you’re discovering for yourself in this conversation. Are you starting to see anything for yourself and how you’ve been approaching your music career? Are you seeing anything you could be doing to get on the path of success and get off the slippery slope of failure? Send your comments to musicentrepreneurhq@gmail.com.
  • This list should not be considered comprehensive. I’m sure you could think of many other ways to fail in music, including not getting started and things like that. But I think the point has been made. If success is the opposite of failure, you want to do the opposite of what we just talked about.

Closing Segment

If any part of this made sense to you, then I invite you to pick up a copy of my book, The New Music Industry. If you don’t already have it, why not? It covers all aspects of social media, video marketing, live performance, mindset, and more.

Get your copy at davidandrewwiebe.com/eBook. And yes, don’t worry, there are both Kindle and paperback versions. That’s davidandrewwiebe.com/eBook.

This has been episode 267 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.