How to Become an Indie Musician and Publish Your Own Music

In every creative industry, some lead the way by taking on a venture of their own. You can publish your music just like you can publish your books.

This is how people stay away from mainstream record labels and maintain creative control over their work.

    1.  Do Your Research

Diving into the world as an indie musician comes with its fair share of work. Your music is your business so you’ll have to treat yourself as an entrepreneur. There are free music guides and resources online to help you learn more about the music-making process.

Make sure to do your due diligence and research what it means in your genre and financial capability to self-publish your music.

There are dozens of platforms to upload your music to. Many companies offer a paid option to upload your music in one place and they’ll take care of the distribution and royalties for you. However, this comes at a price.

    2.  Start Your Own Record Label

Professional musicians are often signed with a record label. They take care of things such as music production, sales, marketing, and setting up a tour.

However, as a self-published musician, it’s your responsibility to take on all of those fine details. This is why you’ll want to start your own record label.

As an indie artist, you can receive the highest amount of royalties on your music per purchase or per play. It’ll help you keep your personal assets and finances separate from your business.

Not to mention, it looks much more professional when you start setting up your tour dates and have a record label to show.

Set up a business website and social media accounts. Eventually, if you’re up for it, you have the option of signing other artists under your label in the future.

Indie artists looking to release their own music to streaming platforms should find the right fit when it comes to music distribution services. With so many options they should look into reviews to weigh their options. This Tunecore review summarizes key points and considerations well.

    3.  Register With PRO

PRO stands for Performance Rights Organization. As a musician, the publisher gets a portion of the royalties along with the artist. Since you’ll be the publisher, you need to register your record label as a publisher. This will allow you to receive both royalties under one account.

Technically you don’t need a company or record label to register with PRO. But again, this is beneficial when keeping all of your finances separate for tax purposes.

All you need to register through PRO is an address, email address, and US tax ID number, which you’ll receive once you set up your business.

    4.  Register With BMI

BMI is essential for every musician to ensure their music is protected. BMI, also known as Broadcast Music, Inc., is an easy and free process to help manage the rights of your compositions.

The other benefit is that it allows your music to be distributed to television shows, radio, and even movies. It’ll collect royalties every time it’s used and directly set you up with your revenue earned.

    5.  Marketing Strategy

Unfortunately, this is usually the least favorite part for every musician. Your work might be out on every platform a person can stream music. But unless there is a proper marketing strategy, no one will ever find it.

Social media is a great place to start actively building a community. You can share clips of your music, behind-the-scenes footage of your recording and music-making process, or you can promote where you’ll be performing next.

You also want to consider other avenues for revenue within your marketing. Websites such as Kickstarter or Patreon, for example, allow you to raise funds for your music. It creates a subscription-based platform to share exclusive content with your fans.


Life as an indie musician isn’t as glamorous as it may look. But if you’re passionate about your work, it will be worth it. The most important lesson is to learn about the different avenues you can take towards self-publishing your music. Find out how you can receive the most royalties, along with maintaining the rights.

When in doubt, network with other musicians who have been down this same path. They’ll be able and willing to share what they’ve learned along the way so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.