What It's Like Being: An Independent Musician

And YouTuber

Demo version of a song from my upcoming EP

I am a musician and YouTube content creator. I spend most of my time working from home trying to make money by creating entertaining content. I work upwards of 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I absolutely love what I do. I get to live the dream of being my own boss and getting paid to play music in front of a live audience. The main issue is that when you first start out as a musician and even a YouTuber, you don't make much money if you even make any at all.

Being my own boss is one of my favourite things in the world. I get to choose my own hours and only work on things that I'm really passionate about, but one thing that many people don't realize is that when you start writing music, it's more than just sit down, write a song, and then make money. You have to do all the marketing, editing, production, and planning on your own or pay exorbitant amounts of money to people to do that for you. There are now a plethora of websites that allow you to sell your music other than iTunes, like Bandcamp and SoundCloud. But not everyone knows about or uses those sites and getting your music onto iTunes is not as simple or cheap as one would expect. Unless you are signed to a record label, you can't just throw your music onto iTunes; this means that you need to pay a website like CD Baby to put it onto iTunes for you. The same thing goes for streaming services like Pandora; you can't just throw it on their site.

I'm lucky enough to have gone to college and learned about all the differing aspects of the business side of the music industry and even started my own company to assist artists trying to navigate the many confusing aspects of the industry. But what about before I went to college? How did I get my music out to the masses and earn money from my hard work? I didn't. That doesn't mean I couldn't have though, I was too lazy to do the research and learn how to get my music on iTunes and Apple Music, Pandora, and the many other sites that allow consumers to well, consume your music. Now that I have decided that this is what I want to do for a living, I have taken the time to research and learn how to successfully market my brand, push my music and also how to properly write a song.

Before I went to college, I thought that I knew what I was doing and that I was writing and producing my music like a pro, but the truth was I was doing almost everything completely wrong. The saying ignorance is bliss comes to mind. When I enrolled in college and went to my first songwriting class, I thought that it was going to be a walk in the park, because I had been writing music for about 5 years at that point. Oh, how wrong I was. I had to undo years of bad habits, learn new skills that the younger people in my program already had, and on top of that learn brand new topics that I had neglected because I thought they were irrelevant. Unless you're already a songwriter, you have no idea how important musical history is when it comes to songwriting. 

Now you may be wondering, how did I decide that I wanted to be a professional musician and the answer comes from when I was a young kid getting bullied incessantly because of my size and how I looked. I turned to music as a coping mechanism and started learning guitar at around age 10. Then at school, I started learning trumpet when I was about 12, and that same year I joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and started to learn the bagpipes (this did not help with the bullying). After spending a few years learning these instruments and travelling with the school band, my cadet pipe band and my civilian pipe band, I started to write music for fun, then in my last year of high school, we had an assignment in music class to write a piece for the whole class to play. I had so much fun doing it that I decided if I couldn't get into the army, I'd spend my time making music.

In July of 2015, I tried to join the Candian Army, but I developed a severe liver infection and had stopped studying for my aptitude test, and because I didn't study enough, I failed the test and lost all my self-confidence. I lost out on my dream job because of my laziness, that's what I told myself. I decided to work for a bit and then that job I was going to use as a way to make some quick extra cash, ended up turning into the longest job I ever held, which I left just last week. I met my girlfriend, who encouraged me to start pursuing music again. I applied to college, got in and formed both of my bands, started my company and made some of the greatest friends I'll ever have.

In the last few weeks, I have dedicated all of my time to writing music and making YouTube videos. It's so much fun, but at the same time incredibly stressful and time-consuming. What is it like being an independent music artist? Rewarding. 

Kyle Stumpo
Kyle Stumpo

I run a blog called The Ottawa Sound which aims to promote Ottawa Canada based musical artists, venues and any other aspect of the local scene. I'm also in two bands Rebel Reload and Batavia.

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What It's Like Being: An Independent Musician