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Nate Davenport

life after labels

They say in love, you should spend less time looking for the right person, and more time becoming the right person.  Sometimes, it seems, those who search the hardest for their soul mate end up neglecting their own “soul-improvement”. For those people, the hardest thing is to realize that it’s not bad luck or a lack of options keeping them from achieving their goal (a good relationship with a special person), but their own inadequacy. These same principles translate well into the life of an artist.

The number of parallels between music and love is staggering, whether it be a band “breaking up” or a label “courting” an act, the list goes on from there. This principle of self-improvement in order to achieve a successful partnership in music is valid; labels know how to identify not only work ethic, but also an active following. So an independent act should look to improve and promote themselves more than they should bust their asses trying to find someone who can make them who they want to be. “If you want to be different, then be different!” (Quoting myself there, but I’m sure it’s a paraphrase of someone who said it better).

They also say that the moment you find yourself content to be alone outside of a relationship, the perfect catch falls right in your lap. That irony is not lost on music. Check out this comment by Ilana Lee on 15 September 2009 at 11:54am in reply to Hypebot’s “I’m Sorry, but it Was Never Just About the Music”:

“It’s ironic that artists that are willing to embrace the platform the internet has given them and create a fan base on the strength of their own hard work and dedication (not just musical talent) probably don’t even need that Big Official Record Deal any more. But those that are clueless or unwilling, who truly need the mass distribution and marketing dollars, are seen as non-starters by the labels.

Makes for an interesting landscape going forward…”

That is an irony that i’ve struggled with, especially as a singer/songwriter who has to foot the bill for every musician i work with, most of whom command (and deservedly so) a handsome price. Labels who would provide financial support for my live show don’t want someone who isn’t established, but to get established, I have to play live shows.  There are ways around that, which is why i haven’t given up yet.  Those include licensing, radio, and grassroots, word-of-mouth support, and even finding talented friends who don’t mind playing shows for little or no money.  The point of this isn’t to identify those ways, but to develop my realization of what it means to market myself as a valuable commodity


Let’s look at how this relates to how you present yourself, considering this column focuses on style and presentation.

Tip #1: Be Accessible
The days of the rock star attitude are over. The new rock star is friendly, punctual, more like a great coworker and less like a deity. Ideally, there will come a point when you can’t maintain complete contact with your fans, but resist that point at all costs. Sleep less if necessary. Until then, answer every serious message, reach out to people who “friend”, “like”, “follow” you, do whatever you can to be accessible — oh and be nice.

Tip #2: Work Hard
Most people focus on the image or what life will be like once they achieve critical mass as an artist. I wrote an entire song about the fact that major changes in life don’t come as the result of one huge turning point or decision, but a long series of small decisions. That applies to a career in music as well. For those of you wondering, the song is New Hope.

Tip #3: Go the extra mile
Take this application section, for example. I really only had two tips for you, but since things always come in three’s, I had to have a third tip. Another example: I take requests on my YouTube channel, and sometimes those requests aren’t popular songs that will get me 5,000 views, but I do them anyway because it will make maybe one or two people’s day a little better. Isn’t that what music is all about?

What are you doing to present yourself in an attractive way to your fans, colleagues, and the music business in general? Leave comments below with your thoughts, I will respond to all.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011 at 4:25 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “life after labels”

  1. Larry says:

    Enjoyed reading your post! Liked your analogy and definietly agree with all three tips. Thanks for sharing . . .

  2. Meg says:

    I just posted on my facebook today about how listening to my radio at work just made my day because I love when people sing their hearts out. The one song I wanted to hear today came on the radio and couldn’t help but smile when it came on. (hints tip #3, it does make someone’s day when you go the extra mile)

    Your musical ability is truly wonderful, keep up the great work and see where life takes you. This is something my Sister and I are working on. Knowing that what we do makes a difference and someday it will help the right person at the right time.

    Thanks again for sharing your music. Can’t wait to hear more!

    • nate.davenport says:

      thanks meg. i’m the same way, love hearing people give it all. keep me posted on what you and your sister are working on, email or facebook or whatever. good hearing from you!

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