How an Entrepreneurial Singer Makes It in Today’s Industry

Dylan Andre on America's Got Talent
America’s Got Talent Finalist Dylan Andre reveals how to carve out a career as an independent artist.

How would you describe your ‘singing business’?

Building a universe of fans that connect with me and the message that I’m putting into my music. I enjoy making music – it all comes from me. So, when people connect to it and support it, it cycles back and allows me to keep going.

What do you do to make sure a gig works for you?

Planning a gig is super different now, it’s really important that any gig you promote online or anywhere is sold out – or at least almost completely full. You’re sending a message to the owner… among others. The hype machine gets that buzz going. If owners know they have a gem in their town that can make them loads of money, a friendly rivalry starts between them of who wants you on what night. This positions you into a place of power and gives you fuel for the hype machine to keep running, which in turn gets you more fans.

What are your current aims and goals?

My main goal in the business of music is to be able to live a happy life – and I’d like to support my wife and future kids solely with music, cause now I work a 9-5 and run this business through the day when I have free time. The current goal in view is just to keep writing songs that connect, playing gigs, and getting better and I’ve no doubt that all of those things will come.

Can you tell us more about how the music business works for you?

Sure. I spend absolutely $0 on the creation of music. I write, produce, mix, and master all of it on my own. This is frowned upon in the world of studios and private producers, but it’s the future now… I do my own graphics and distribute my music through Distrokid for $35 a year. Doing it on your own is a grind, but I thrive there. There’s no need for a $500,000 budget for a project. You position yourself as low risk, high reward, instead of high risk, uncertain reward. Labels just don’t have the money these days.

How does a singer get recognized by a label?

If you can give your fans what they want, and express what you feel you need to, then job complete. For labels it’s about making enough money to make them take notice. The perfect analogy is Facebook (the Label) buying Instagram (the Artist) to take control of what they built. The label makes its money, and the artist get the tools to reach more people. That’s the goal, but none of that will come if I don’t write songs, play gigs, and get better.

Some singers feel they will have it made if they get onto a reality show – what is your view?

I think people can assess whatever their success is to them; then, it’s their success. However, when it comes to reality shows I think many artists get blinded by the lights and think they’ve made it because of the short-lived fame, but their wallets are still empty.

What did you learn from America’s Got Talent that has affected how you do other gigs?

AGT was a great experience for me. It’s helped me get into places outside of LA, but in LA where I lived for years, everyone had been on a show.

Did being on AGT help you to up your game?

Yes – it helped me not to be afraid to do anything! Although I think that came with the whole live TV situation. The stage coach told me that each camera was equivalent to 4 million viewers, and there were 2,000+ in attendance in NY, 20,000+ in LA, In Vegas, there were only 3 people I performed for and it was Sharron Osborne, Piers Morgan, and Howie Mandell (There was no audience in Vegas.) All of this should have scared the crap out of me, but I think all that just made me step up. It was kind of do or die.

Is there anything that you might do differently with hindsight?

The producers thought there needed to be a level of growth shown in physical appearance from episode to episode. So, each time I appeared, they wanted me to look more and more “put together.” However, I think you just have to be yourself. I mean, they dressed me up in an all denim outfit and cowboy boots… I just wanted a T and some jeans!

What are your top tips for a singer who wants to make a living from singing?

Just be honest with yourself in what you want to be and define your expectations of that. I live in Nashville, where on Broadway there are 25 amazing singers echoing all day and all night, and no one cares. Sometimes heading to where the glitz and glam are is the last place you want to be.

Would you ever want to appear on a reality-singing show again?

I’ve had fans ask me that on all platforms, but the only way I’d appear on one again would to be a mentor. What I’ve seen is being on one of those shows is like buying followers on Instagram. They show up and make you look and feel legit, but when the next season comes on, most if not all stop following you just like when Instagram starts the next bot clean up. Keep in mind that fans of the talent shows are fans of the show, not you.

If you could go back in time to your pre-music-business self and give some advice, what would it be?

I’d tell my 17 year old self: “Don’t worry about getting signed, to just work on building a business, and to stick to those 3 goals: write songs, play gigs, and get better.” I’m such a believer in that now, I just wish I would have listened when I was young.

Dylan Andre sets up for one of many of his live gigs.
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