ENTERTAINMENT

The Juggling Act of an Indie Artist

Wear many hats and/or make many hats

GREY Journal

Independent artists juggle many hats by necessity. I’m not sure it works any other way. Ask a barista, teacher, waiter, techie and possibly even a biochemist. They probably have other passions and part-time jobs. As an indie artist today and probably throughout history, one finds a way to pursue the passion. The job, or way of making an income to pay for a roof and a bed, comes second.

Pursuing the Dream

Wes Speight of WaterPenny
Wes Speight of WaterPenny

As an indie artist of 11 years, I have and still do, juggle many hats. In 2007, I decided to take the plunge. I had been working in a screen printing shop part time while working my way, slowly, through a generic undergraduate degree. Prior to that I got an AA degree in Music Technology and pretty quickly learned I didn’t necessarily want to be an audio engineer; I wanted to be the musician on the other side of the glass. The plunge ended up being finding a producer, bassist, and drummer who would take my songs to the next level. Although this was my first venture into legitimately recording an album, rather than using my Tascam 8 track and an SM57, I knew the choice would help me decide if I were doing it for the right reasons and if I’d be committed. I recorded my first album, the Please EP and released it in 2008.

Here I am in 2019, still addicted to writing, recording, and performing music. I’m getting better at it every step of the way. I’ve toured 13 states and played in Europe and Canada. I might never win a Grammy or play Madison Square Garden, but if I can make one person (or more) feel good, groovy, and/or euphoric, then I have accomplished what I think any indie artist should hope to accomplish. I’ve recorded 8 albums, released several singles, and am currently wrapping up an album with my newest band WaterPenny. I’ve also delved into a bit of uncharted territory for myself writing ballads and hope to be able to wrap up a ballad album that I’ve been working on for a couple of years now.

Juggling Multiple Hats

Indie artist playing guitar
Indie artist playing guitar

If you have to juggle hats, then juggle away and juggle the hats of choice the best you possibly can. As a full-time teacher, father, husband, band member, poet, singer-songwriter, blogger, filmmaker, exercise enthusiast, and wannabe comedian, I play the juggling game. The answer to how I juggle these is probably easy to guess, time management. In undergraduate school, I wasn’t the best student. I became a better student when I planned out my daily tasks every hour and in graduate school I had to up the ante and practice this discipline even more meticulously. You have to prioritize and mix it up a bit to fit your specific needs and interests. If you want to successfully juggle several responsibilities my suggestions are:

Get a Day Planner

Google calendar works well, but I like to physically write things because it helps me recall them better.

Plan Every Hour and Don’t Underestimate/ Overestimate

This way, if you complete a task, you can reward yourself with a little break and then get started on the next one early. If you go over the allotted time, you can still recover. However, it will be difficult to get back on track.

Write Things Down

If you really want to be a meticulous planner, write down what you need to do every 20-30 minutes and stick to it. Be militant and take a day off or at least half a day to chill and recharge. Adjust accordingly.

What tips do you have for being a successful indie artist? Let us know down in the comments.

Wes Speight
Wes Speight (stylized as Sp8), an independent artist, has played many of the venues of hometowns Nashville and Seattle, toured 13 states, Europe and Canada. Speight has released 8 studio albums and several singles since 2008, on indie labels and self-released. Speight's music genres range from singer-songwriter Americana to gritty blues rock. Speight's other passions include being a good father and husband, filmmaking, exercising, and awkward comedy.

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