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Ask An Entrepreneur: How To Have A Successful Career As An Independent Artist

“I’m more than a recording artist. I’m a star,” Jayme Shaye exclaimed with a laugh as we chatted about her career as an independent artist on the phone during a warm summer day in late July.

And indeed, the 24-year-old, Los Angeles native seems to be well on her way to stardom. Since 2012, Shaye has been working towards her dream of becoming an independent recording artist and her hard work is paying off. Her debut album “deToxic,” is currently streaming on Spotify and generating positive buzz from critics. The Hype Magazine noted Shaye’s “soul-felt vocals and brutally honest lyrics,” that could “easily fill a void musically in many listeners’ lives.”

But Shaye didn’t simply begin a music career on a wing and a prayer. Instead, she relies on a few tips and tricks that she keeps up her sleeve to make sure her hustle as a musician isn’t in vain. Today, she’s sharing how other independent recording artists can have a successful career without being signed to a major label.

Invest In Your Craft 

Shaye moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 2012 just after graduating from high school to pursue her dreams of starting a music career. A move from Los Angeles to Ohio to be an artist might seem counterintuitive, but for her, it made perfect sense because of the job market and lower cost of living. “It was so much easier to get a job. Honestly, I don’t think that I would have been able to fund my career the way that I did if I was living in LA,” Shaye said.

Using income from several desk jobs including stints working in customer service, at a handbag store and for a debt collector, Shaye self-funded studio time to record songs. “Once I started investing into my music, that’s when I started to see results,” she said. Shaye admits having to temper her love for handbags to save the cash needed to make her aspirations a reality and she encourages all artists to make the sacrifice to develop high-quality material. “You have to produce a mainstream product,” she said. According to Shaye, crafting a mainstream product includes everything from getting songs mixed and mastered or, “touched,” to having professionally done cover art. “You have to have consistency all the way through,” Shaye said. “If you want to be treated like a big dog, you have to put out that kind of work.”

Set Goals And Use Your Truth

Shaye’s album “deToxic” was born out of a time of trauma and pain. Prior to working on “deToxic,” Shaye said she thought her music career was over when she learned that she was pregnant with her second child. “I was pretty devastated,” she recalled.  Though she tragically miscarried, Shaye channeled her grief into a newfound drive to further her artistry. “I didn’t want to feel like I lost my angel for nothing,” she said. One of the ways she refocused her pain to make her album was by releasing it on what would have been her due date, March 3, 2018.

At the same time, Shaye was also leaving a physically and emotionally abusive relationship and used her music to heal. Her personal struggles inspired all of the songs on the album and gave the album its title. “It was literally me detoxing from the toxic situation that I was in,” Shaye said.  

Shaye’s expressive vocals and sharp tongue writing distinguished the album and made her more vulnerable to listeners. “I just was really transparent with everything,” she said. Shaye said fans and supporters later reached out to share how much her honesty helped and touched them, and she, too, has come to terms with the trauma that inspired her record. “If I didn’t write that album I would still be bitter and angry, but I’m not, I’m at peace,” Shaye said. “I know how amazing I am.”

Have A Team 

Shaye wants the world to recognize her talent and her music, but she also wants people to know about the team that’s taking her career to the next level. “I think it’s impossible to do it by yourself,” she said. Shaye’s team includes two managers, one for business and one for media, a publicist, a cameraman for all of her visuals, a producer, a stylist and her assistant and friend, Rai Abella, who she calls her “backbone.”

Shaye credits her team with keeping her on point musically and personally and reducing her stress levels tremendously. “My artistry and my talent got the attention of these people to want to work with me — I did that part on my own. But everything that I’m accomplishing and everything that I’m going to accomplish, I never want anyone to think that I’m doing it all by myself because I’m not,” she said. Shaye considers herself good at identifying key people for her career, and heeding their advice when necessary. “Everyone has a part in this journey,” she said.

Relationships Are Key

In addition to having a tribe of seasoned professionals promoting her brand, Shaye also keeps her name out there and stays booked by networking and building relationships with other artists and people in the music business. “I try to always make sure I’m putting myself in the right environments to promote myself as an artist,” Shaye said. She regularly attends shows for other artists as well as festivals, parties and other networking events in her new stomping ground in Cincinnati. Shaye also ingrains herself with club owners and concert producers in the city to make sure she stays top of mind when they are planning shows and parties. “I’m always in the studio — putting a bug in someone’s ear,” Shaye noted. She also offers her services as a songwriter to other musicians. And, her grind is paying off. She’s collaborated with artists such as Dante Banx on her song “Baby Mama,” and producers Young Ex and Don Brown. “I try to make sure that I’m always working,” Shaye added. 

About the author

Jorie Goins

Jorie is a writer based out of Chicago, Ill. A journalist by day and dancer by night, Jorie is also the founder and blogger-in-chief of DanceTopia, which she hopes will serve as a digital dance hub where knowledge and passion collide. When she isn't writing or taking dance classes Jorie can be found reading, binge watching documentaries on Youtube ("Behind the Music" and "E! True Hollywood Story" are among her favorites), or trying out a new recipe from Pinterest.

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