Solo Artist: What Is It?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 24, 2022

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A solo artist is someone who performs or creates their own music without the help or accompaniment of other musicians. Solo artists are often associated with genres such as singer-songwriter, folk, and jazz, although solo artists are becoming increasingly popular within many other genres as well.

In this article, we will talk about the advantages and drawbacks of being a solo artist.

What is a solo artist

Definition of a Solo Artist

A solo artist is a musician or performer who writes and performs songs by themselves. These solitary performers are responsible for everything concerned with the production of their songs, including songwriting, performing, playing instruments, and producing recordings.

They have the freedom to express themselves without constraints imposed by being part of a band or ensemble. Solo artists can release albums independently as well as sign with record labels, music production companies, and/or film studios. As an independent artist, they take full responsibility for their success or lack thereof; this requires hard work and dedication but also provides more control and freedom for them to create music the way they desire. Many modern solo artists cross-market themselves across multiple musical genres and play different instruments on different tracks in order to produce complete works by themselves.

Additionally, there are many benefits to pursuing a career as a solo artist; these include:

  • Having unlimited creative autonomy over lyrics/songs/albums.
  • Gaining all financial rewards from releases because an artist retains complete control over their copyright (no need to share with any other musicians).
  • Certain freedoms such as having no set practice schedules or restrictions will be available on trips and tours since they need only worry about themselves while they’re on stage performing or recording in the studio creating new works.

Benefits of Being a Solo Artist

Being a solo artist has many benefits, including having more control over the creative process, the opportunity to express yourself more intimately through your art, and having more flexibility with how you make a living from your art.

Starting a career as a musician is an exciting but difficult task. By going solo, you are in charge of all aspects of your art and can tailor your music to suit exactly the sound you want to create. You also benefit from having much greater control with regards to distribution. You no longer need to rely on labels or publishers, but by utilizing digital outlets such as YouTube, iTunes and streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, you can have direct access to audiences worldwide.

Going solo also gives artists creative freedom which is especially important considering the highly competitive music industry today. By representing yourself as an artist in complete control of their own destiny, it allows you to stand out from the crowd and puts the power back in your hands when it comes to owning and mastering your work. Furthermore, being able to connect one-on-one with fans through social media platforms such as Instagram can be incredibly beneficial for gaining recognition for both future singles or albums you may release.

Finally, being a solo artist grants players with flexibility over allowing other responsibilities beyond music into life which would not be possible when partaking in a band or group dynamic which might require some commitment between rehearsing music together or scheduling tours or publicity together involving everyone’s availability at once. This affords solo artists much needed time and space for those looking for diversifying incomes including career paths outside of their music such as voice acting or audio engineering jobs if they choose so too demanding commitments away from their life chasing dreams within the world of music that only works now as independent professionals making their mark in today’s global alternative market!

Music Industry

In the music industry today, more and more people are taking the path of a solo artist. As a solo artist, you take on the responsibility of representing yourself, writing and producing your own music, and breaking into the industry without the help of a label. This route can be both empowering and challenging, so let’s explore the pros and cons of being a solo artist in the music industry.

Overview of the Music Industry

The music industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving force that can be divided into four major categories – recording, live performance, music publishing, and synchronization – which encompass a wide variety of roles and opportunities. Through these four major categories, career paths can open up for those interested in composing their own music or working behind the scenes for established artists or record labels.

A solo artist is an individual musician who puts out their own self-recorded material independently from either a major label or an artist’s collective (such as a band). Solo artists can release new music as often as they want without having to answer to anyone else. These musicians must rely on themselves for publicity and promotion, but this independence also gives them the freedom to move quickly when inspiration strikes.

Solo artists may find success both independently from home and through more traditional channels such as signing with an independent label or major record label. Opportunities exist in many areas including film/television licensing deals, online streaming services, digital downloads, radio playlists and more. Working with experienced industry professionals – such as A&R reps, publicists and booking agents – can help solo artists navigate the process of finding opportunities that are right for them. To succeed in the modern music landscape requires an entrepreneurial mindset where solo artists must be able to think outside the box while remaining proactive with their careers.

How to Get Started in the Music Industry

For those who dream of taking the leap and pursuing a career in the music industry, it’s important to have a game plan and know where to begin. The music industry offers an enormous array of different paths for aspiring artists, producers, songwriters and more. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose your path: The first step towards success in the music industry is to decide which route you want to take. Are you interested in becoming a solo artist? Do you hope to become a producer/artist or engineer/producer? Perhaps you want to work as a songwriter or artist manager; each of these paths has its own unique set of steps, knowledge and opportunities.
  • Study your craft: Once you’ve chosen your path within the music industry, it’s time to focus on developing your skillset through practice and research. Take lessons, study online tutorials or read books related to production, marketing and other fields that relate to your desired trajectory. Participating in artist forums or interning with experienced professionals can also provide valuable insight into the inner workings of the business side of the music industry.
  • Network: Building relationships with established professionals is key for anyone looking to succeed in the music industry, so make sure you take advantage of any chance that comes along. Attend live events, join artist meetings and stay active on social media—it’s essential for networking and getting noticed by people who have already made their name in the world of musical artistry. Additionally talking with other fellow aspiring performers can help keep your spirits up during what may be an intimidating journey towards success as a solo artist!

Challenges of Being a Solo Artist

Being a successful solo artist in the music industry can be a challenge due to the high competition and frequent need of promotion. Some challenges that solo artists should be aware of before committing to a career in music include:

  • Having limited resources, competing against larger groups, performing alone on stage, and having to manage all aspects of the business (booking gigs, promoting songs, etc.).

Limited resources: One barrier that a solo artist must overcome is managing their limited resources as they usually have only themselves and their own money to invest. This can make it difficult to invest in equipment or other forms of assistance such as songwriters or producers.

Competing against larger groups: As it is nearly impossible to match the amount of performances made by large bands, solo artists must devise creative ways for promotion including reaching out for radio interviews and live performances. Without a group backing them up with backing vocals and harmonies, it is nearly impossible for one person to make their presence felt in comparison to others.

Performing alone on stage: Being alone on stage can feel intimidating as there is nobody else there with you who you can look for support from or collaborate with during your performance. Thus, being able to keep yourself entertained onstage becomes an important factor when it comes down to delivering a memorable performance.

Managing all aspects of the business: As you are your own boss when it comes down to your music career, one must be aware that they are responsible for all aspects of setting up performances and promotions – booking meetings/gigs/radios-shows; managing social media; drawing up contracts; setting up finances; and being available at all times for interviews or other promotional activities necessary when getting exposure in this field. Being organized is key here!

Financial Considerations

As a solo artist, there are several financial considerations that you need to consider before launching your career. It’s important to create a budget to track your income and expenses and to plan for long term financial sustainability. You also need to research the different music streaming services and decide which ones will best serve your needs. Additionally, you should consult an accountant or lawyer to make sure you understand the legal and tax implications of your music career.

Sources of Income for Solo Artists

From the self-employed singer-songwriters performing gigs in small venues to established music artists recognised the world over, solo musicians of all levels rely on sources of income in order to earn a living. While many solo musicians have same expenses and worries as other business owners, such as marketing costs and insurance policies, their main sources of income will differ from other industries.

In general, solo musicians draw income from four key areas: live performances, royalties, merchandise and working as a freelancer or session musician for other artists.

  • Live Performances: Whether it’s part of a large tour or playing one-off shows at local venues; live performances remain the primary source of income for many solo musicians. Strategically planned tours can not only generate an immediate financial return but also increase the artist’s profile with fans and music industry professionals alike. Additionally, these gigs may open up further opportunities for collaboration or new business ventures down the line.
  • Royalties: Some of these streams are derived directly from events and include merchandise sales at each show (i.e., t-shirts hoodies etc). Income is also generated through sales royalties (for CDs/digital downloads), streaming services (Spotify etc.), mechanical copyright performance rights societies such as ASCAP and PRS and synchronisation license fees. Additionally, some record labels may offer advances on future recordings as part of their contracts with artists which can help cover upfront expenses including studio rental fees and travel costs associated with promotional activities. These advances are then recoupable against future earnings prior to any payments being made out to the artist’s account by the label’s back office team/accountants when applicable.
  • Merchandise: In addition to tickets for performances generating revenue for performers; artwork online stores provide an opportunity for profits through music related products such as limited edition prints/tote bags & T-shirts etc., where an additional stream can be created by either giving away or selling exclusive products that amplify fans’ connection with their favourite performers after each show has finished which helps create longterm brand loyalty & delivers novel experiences; therefore later monetizing this fan based relationship & allowing further outflow within promotions or reviews over social media etc.,
  • Freelance/Session Musician: Musicians who have already established themselves may be able to gain additional income through establishing themselves in composition work within film/TV production companies or even production houses creating commercial advertising soundtracks – whilst providing an avenue towards greater creativity & potential collaborations towards more complex projects than those previously attempted beforehand due to access towards more resources (including personnel) than commonly seen in certain industry fields prioring this establishment – depending upon current goals & ambitions which well be established pre commencing project – also ‘session musician’ opportunities amongst video games companies often arising enabling creative local players alongside international ones whom already possess unique background contacts pre commencing assessments providing larger amounts access onto different platforms internationally due increased presence along those individuals credentials enabling potenital chances encounters having bigger influences showcasing one’s material than currently seen locally [depending upon infrastructure].

How to Manage Finances as a Solo Artist

Managing finances as a solo artist can be difficult. It is important to create and stick to a budget, making sure to keep track of expenses associated with gigs, performances, equipment repairs and general living expenses. Developing long-term goals can help ensure that you are making logical financial decisions for both the short-term and long-term future. Here are some key tips for solo artists planning their finances:

  • Create a detailed budget that accounts for current and expected expenses.
  • Utilize freelancer tax services such as QuickBooks Self-Employed or FreshBooks if you’re unsure of how to manage finances on your own.
  • Set up a retirement plan (such as an IRA or SEP), so that you have funds available when needed.
  • Save money by having all necessary materials relevant to your work (such as contracts, marketing materials and photos) produced in advance rather than relying upon last minute expenses when booking shows or releases.
  • Negotiate payment terms with any organizations, venues or promoters that you work with in order to ensure consistent income throughout the year.
  • Work with a financial advisor who can provide personalized guidance on setting goals and how best to manage funds during busy seasons or lean times in your career development journey.

Tax Implications for Solo Artists

When you are a self-employed solo artist, you’re considered an independent contractor by the tax authorities. This means that you will be required to pay your own taxes rather than having them withheld from your pay like other employees.

In addition to paying self-employment tax (often referred to as SE tax), you will also need to pay income taxes and any other taxes in accordance with local regulations. Depending on where you live, this could include additional income or sales taxes.

You might be able to deduct some of your expenses from the income you make. This can include expenses related to your work such as travel costs and equipment purchases, as well as operating costs, like office supplies or advertising materials. It is a good idea to keep good records of what is deductible and what isn’t so that you are prepared when it comes time to file your taxes each year.

Solo artists need to ensure that they stay on top of their financial situation and adequately prepare for filing their tax return each year. Any mistakes made could lead to fines, penalties or even an audit from the IRS in some cases. Keeping clear records and staying organized will help solo artists avoid any issues with the IRS while saving them time and money down the road.


As a solo artist, you need to be able to promote yourself to break into the music industry. But what exactly is promotion? The goal of promotion is to get your music heard by people and to attract new fans. There are many ways to do this, from using social media to all sorts of advertising. Let’s take a look at some of the key aspects of promotion for a solo artist:

How to Promote Your Music as a Solo Artist

As a solo artist, taking control of your promotion is essential if you want to succeed in the music industry. Fortunately, there are some easy and cost-effective ways to draw attention to your music.

The first thing you should do is create an online presence and build a fanbase. Setting up pages on popular social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is a great way to reach out and engage with potential listeners. If you can afford it, hiring a web designer to create a professional-looking website for your music wouldn’t hurt either.

Your live performance will also be vitally important especially when establishing yourself as an artist. Perform at as many open mic nights and other shows as possible. This can help spread the word locally while giving fans the chance to hear you perform in person. Additionally, having merchandise such as t-shirts or stickers with your logo on them is always a great way to show people who you are beyond just music.

Finally, utilize online tools and services that can help promote your music. This could include:

  • Creating an email list for customers;
  • Using streaming platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music;
  • Setting up digital stores on platforms like Bandcamp;
  • Utilizing digital radio networks;
  • Creating videos for YouTube or Vimeo that showcase your work.

No matter what methods you opt for, consistent effort will be required if you truly want people to take notice of your work!

Social Media Strategies for Solo Artists

As a solo artist, social media can offer an effective platform for promoting your music. With the right strategies in place, you can increase your visibility and reach out to potential fans with ease. Here are a few successful tips and tricks to get started on your promotion journey:

  1. Identify Your Audience: Knowing your audience is essential for successful promotion. Figure out who might be interested in your type of music by studying demographics, previous user data, and popular fan base trends. This will help you inform how to tailor your promotional approach so that it resonates with potential consumers.
  2. Choose Platforms Wisely: Different platforms have different advantages depending on the music genre you produce. Consider the pros and cons of each platform carefully before selecting one for sharing content about yourself or marketing campaigns.
  3. Leverage Automation Tools: Automation tools are useful for scheduling posts efficiently across multiple platforms, allowing you to focus more on content creation instead of worrying if everything has been posted at exactly the right time according to viewers’ preferences. Some popular automated tools used by solo artists include Buffer or Hootsuite.
  4. Engage With Fans Meaningfully: Promoting yourself efficiently requires interacting with fans not only in order to build relationships but also to induce loyalty and encourage higher engagement rates when posting new content or organizing events or competitions related to music releases or upcoming gigs/performances if any.
  5. Keep Track Of Performance Metrics: To ensure effectiveness of the promotional campaign employed by solo artists, it is important that they track various performance metrics such as impressions, reach, likes/shares/comments per post etc., which can be done through many available analytics tools like SumAll or Google Analytics offering applicable insights from collected data derived from fan base activities surrounding an artist’s content over certain periods of time – allowing further refinement of campaigns over time as needed.

Building a Fan Base as a Solo Artist

As a solo artist, building an audience can be challenging. Many of the tried and true methods used by full bands are not available, leaving you to find new ways to communicate with potential fans. Fortunately, there are a variety of options for promoting yourself as a solo artist and connecting with your target audience.

One effective means of promotion is through digital media like blogs and streaming sites. Creating content on social networking sites such as YouTube and Soundcloud can help in drawing attention to your work. It’s also a good idea to interact with existing online communities, such as fan forums or music-focused chatrooms, for advice and feedback about your work.

Other methods of promotion include live performances in local venues or taking part in community events that can help boost your profile. You can even create original merchandise such as t-shirts or CDs/vinyls to take out into the world, giving potential fans something tangible to remember you by. It’s worth noting that joining an established label is another approach; although this isn’t necessary for success it can be beneficial for artists seeking increased exposure across traditional retail outlets or major radio airplay.

Above all else it’s important to stay focused on the goal at hand: building up an enthusiastic audience who will remember you long after the song is over!


The concept of solo artist is an increasingly popular one in the music industry today, as more and more artists take the DIY approach to their music careers. Solo artists may have more control and autonomy over their music, but it does come at a cost.

In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of being a solo artist, and address the ultimate question of whether it’s a good idea to break out on your own.

Summary of Being a Solo Artist

Being a solo artist may be a daunting prospect, but the rewards can be immense. As an independent musician or performing artist, you will have complete control over your career decisions, from creating and recording music to touring and promotion. You will have the autonomy to make your own routines and decide when and where to work.

Although there is no safety net of bandmates, this path allows you to lay the groundwork for creative projects while maintaining the freedom to pursue passion projects. There are resources available such as streaming services, online networks, and live performance opportunities that enable solo artists to gain exposure and even make meaningful profits now more than ever before. With discipline and persistence—backed by a strong network of friends in the industry—anyone can create a successful career as an independent artist.

Final Thoughts on Being a Solo Artist

Being a solo artist is a great way to make a living as a musician or producer. While it requires hard work and dedication, being able to control your own career and destiny can be incredibly rewarding. Being aware of the many challenges and potential pitfalls that may arise can help you make the most out of your career by setting realistic expectations for yourself and developing timely strategies for success.

From managing finances to marketing yourself effectively, it’s important to stay organized and mindful of both short-term goals like gigs and production deadlines, as well as long-term goals like building relationships with industry professionals or achieving a certain level of recognition in the music industry. No matter what level you’re at, staying true to yourself while professionally representing your art will go a long way towards having fun in the process while making something that you can be proud of.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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