How to make it and succeed as an indie artist in 2015, according to Branden Daniel

Branden Daniel and his band, Branden Daniel & The Chics, have seen their songs play on SiriusXM Radio’s Top 10 underground garage songs of 2012, The CW’s Hart of Dixie, the new edition of Beavis & Butthead, and film without ever being signed to a major label. Now, it’s their turn to provide advice for independent musicians looking to follow suit.

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What has been the hardest part of selling your music when people don’t think twice about illegal downloads? I saw comments on Taylor Swift videos from fans saying they buy her work because of her personality. But when you aren’t as public as her, it’s hard for people to know your personality. They only hear your album preview.

Honestly I try not to think about it. We have had songs pirated from TV shows and the video game we’ve been in. Some people put them up on YouTube and at the moment I have no problem with that because it’s just kids sharing music they like and it’s just more exposure for us. I get the feeling that between vinyls coming back into popularity and pirating music getting an increasingly ugly stigma that the pendulum of music sales will swing back our way some day.

It’s important to remind music fans that artists are not making the money they deserve for their work, money they can at the very least sustain and live on. We need the fans to pay and we crave your support, without it we can’t afford to give you more.

Have you ever held onto promoting a single that eventually did well but for a long time wasn’t selling? What caused the shift if so?

Yes, I’d say we expect the singles we put out to have a slow start every time. Our latest Single “In Light” which we printed 7″ vinyls of, had a slow start this summer and then the Music Video (link: http://0puu.mjt.lu/link/0puu/gj8zno5/1/NtWW2fRUkPSCaOEYAXVOwQ/aHR0cDovL3lvdXR1LmJlL2ExOWp4cjNyd3JV) got picked up by MtvU here in the states and suddenly things got rolling. I will be surprised when a song takes off from the moment we put it out, but I look forward to it.

What is a good way to discover new artists online? iTunes Radio and iHeartRadio only recommend mainstream artists similar to the one you’ve chosen! It really irritates me.

I’ve never discovered music online. I don’t like streaming sites, not only because they don’t pay artists well, but because I want to listen to music I intend to listen to. We’ve had more people discover our music from TV placements and radio play. This year our song “In Light” will be featured in a movie from Miramax titled Ditch Party. It will be interesting to see how that brings new fans to us.

If you’re not getting out to shows but you want to discover new music, follow your favorite artists online and read their interviews. They’ll only tell you about other bands or artists that they really love or are inspired by.

How do you work so you don’t fall into the “all their songs sound alike” pitfall? And avoid radio trends that won’t be around by your music release?

I think it starts with an intent to deliver a facet of yourself that you haven’t shared yet. Diverse influences are important. I listen to a lot of classic pop hits from the past 50-60 years. R&B from the 50s and 60s, rock n’ roll from the 50s to 90s and even some classic children’s music from Disney movies etc.

It’s always been important to the band and I that we provide diversity between the songs we release. We’re cognizant of the “songs sound alike” cliche, and we all push to try new things that steer us in new directions.

What if someone doesn’t have any money? How can those bands record good music on a very low budget and still sound good like the big label acts with the soundproof studios?

We don’t have any money, but we’ve made quality a priority in our recordings, so we save what we earn and use it to to pay for our big hero, producer Tom Biller, and whichever studio he and we feel comfortable in.

Another way they could do it, is to rely on their wits and study the technology of studio recording. It’s not for everyone, but you can make yourself a strong music engineer and take full control of the process through your own equipment. Plenty of great recording artists, engineers and producers started by doing that and made impressive recordings with their limited resources.

What would you tell a musician who may have received mainly or only nasty reviews on Amazon or iTunes? Do you think it doesn’t make a difference in sales at all?

“Don’t read your reviews!” is what I’d tell them. Culturally, this is a real low point.  Internet trolls and haters having the anonymous ability to jab and insult anyone they like. Someone who blasts you on iTunes is not someone who has integrity and therefore they should not be listened to.

For a recording artist, ignorance is bliss on this matter and a clear mind is a productive mind. A negative slam by some idiot won’t hurt your sales. If someone does get to you, then as an artist you have the wonderful opportunity to tear them apart in your next song.

When someone is ready to make a YouTube channel and doesn’t want boring videos, other than live performance videos, how can they market themselves via YouTube? 

Most importantly be as innovative as you can be. If you think of something that sets you apart, do it wether it seems cool or not. We have a great friend in Kevin Blanquies who is a innovative and brilliant artist with his lighting equipment. When it was time to make a video for our single “In Light,” we thought of him and how his trippy lighting was perfect. The idea paid off and made more of our video than we could have without him.

We have a new single titled “Willie William” that we are conceptualizing a video for now. We’re going to release a limited-edition t-shirt with a logo for the song created by our Seattle buds at CMRTYZ http://cmrtyz.com/fashion/  . The video will implement the logo along with a character story line. The idea is for the video to have the look and feel of a TV fashion commercial meets a music video. We think that’s different and will suit the song while setting us apart. Creating visuals that excite and fit the music is always the most important thing.

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