Three NON-NEGOTIABLE Things Every Musician Should Have

Episode 27 Of The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast

Indie Musician Secrets
12 min readOct 9, 2023



INTRO: There are no secrets to success, just things you haven’t learned yet. And once you learn them, it’s up to you to apply them. I’m Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and music business coach. Join me as we talk digital marketing, social media, technology and more, and share interviews with industry professionals to help you unlock the “secrets” and take control of your music career. Because we ARE the new music business, and this is the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast.

What’s up? What’s up? What’s up? And welcome to the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast. I am your host, Jamaal aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting Hip-Hop artist, and music business coach here at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to today’s episode, where we’re going to be talking about the Three Non-negotiable Things that Every Musician Should Have.

But before we dive into that, I just want to remind you that you can listen to you can stream the podcast from all of your favorite platforms. You can also download as well. Don’t forget to also leave us a rating and review, that would be helpful in terms of pushing the podcast forward.

So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s topic: The Three Non-negotiable Things that Every Musician Should Have

photo: Wendy Wei

There are so many things that we have to think about as independent musicians; we wear several hats. And there are other things that we need to have in our music business. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying I’m just saying that I believe that these are three things that are “non negotiable.” Okay, so we’re going to dive in and talk about each of these individually.

#1 — Dedicated Music Website

The first being a dedicated music website. I just want to send out a quick reminder: we don’t own our social media channels. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, including YouTube (which is not technically social media that is a search engine but I throw it in there as well) — we don’t own these. We rent the space.

Our goal should always be to drive new customers to our website where we can control the interaction, where we can make offers, where can put our music in front of them. We can have those things that we want them to participate in, or to interact with…

The other thing that we can do on a website, that we can’t do on a site that we don’t own, is we can put a Pixel on it. You can’t put a Pixel anywhere other than a site that you own. You can’t put a pixel on YouTube, you can’t put a pixel on your Instagram. If you don’t know what a Facebook Pixel is (I won’t dive into it too much today. That’ll be another conversation for another day), it’s an amazing free tool that you can add onto your website that basically tracks visitors to your website. With your Pixel, you can specifically target people who visited your site — who’ve taken certain actions on your site, who’ve visited certain pages — and you can tailor your marketing (Facebook and Instagram Ads) around what they’ve done on your site. You can get real specific with those things. You can also create look-alike audiences. Facebook can create audiences “look like” or have similar attributes to the people who have visited your website, based on that Pixel.

One thing that I want to remind you of (and know it’s going to make some people cringe and that’s okay, it’s okay to be a little bit uncomfortable as we’re moving towards having a business mindset about our music) is that you are a musician and a marketer. It’s either gotta be you or someone in your camp, on your team. But if you’re not marketing your music, then you’re missing out. And these are some of the tools that we use to market and promote our music.

If you don’t have a website, or maybe you’ve had an old one for a while and you just need to refresh and do something new, I would encourage you to try out Bandzoogle. You can get a 30-day free trial, PLUS 15% off the first year on any plan, by using code: BIZMINDEDMUSIC. Or, you can go to bandzoogle[dot] and that code will already be applied.

Get a 30-day FREE trial and 15% the first year on any plan with Bandzoogle:

And if you’re not familiar with Bandzoogle, they are a web hosting company that is built by musicians for musicians. Bandzoogle staff are actually music artists as well. So they had independent musicians in mind when they built their service years ago.

#2 — Email List/Email Marketing System (EMS)

Alright, the second non negotiable must-have for every musician is an email list or an autoresponder, or some type of email marketing system.

I think we have to get over this idea of email being antiquated and nobody really does email anymore. Because, honestly, that’s garbage. Email is still the single most effective method of communication. And it’s actually more “connected” than social media. Now, I know some of you are super involved on social media — you’re showing up, you’re always there every day — but the reality is social media requires the person (follower) to either be there at the time it happens (for a Live, for example), or it requires them to interact with the platform with the certain amount of time alloted before that post becomes kind of obsolete. So, with Instagram, it’s about 15 minutes. Are your fans always going to engage or interact within that 15 minute window? Probably not. With email, it’s nice because it drops right into their inbox.

Plus, you can include links — all of those things that you want — depending on which social media channel you’re using. There are only certain things you can do. And some of the social media channels are relaxing, or expanding, some of these things, for sure, but email is still the most effective method of communication.

photo: Tim Samuel

It’s also not as high pressure or as expensive as SMS marketing. And I know that a lot of folks are really trying to go that route. But honestly, how often are you going to text your fans? You’re probably not going to be texting them every day, or even every week. So, you may be paying for a service that you’re not even getting that much use out of. And I think SMS is pretty high-pressure. And I’m not saying there’s not a place for it, I’m just saying right now where you are, in conjunction with whatever you’re doing on social media (or if you’re not into social media — I’m not a big fan of social media), I think email marketing is a great way to go. Also, I think more people are likely to give you an email [address] than they will their phone number. That’s just personally what I thing. I could be wrong. If there’s someone out there that’s like, “Hey, I disagree with that,” please let me know in the comments, or send me an email. But I would say that’s probably going to be more the exception than the norm. Most people are more willing to give an email than a phone number.

When it comes to choosing an email marketing system. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. I would say just find one that you like, it doesn’t matter if it’s MailChimp, or Constant Contact or ConvertKit or whatever. Just find one that you like that has a great user interface, that fits within your budget, and just get started using that. Yyou can always change later; you’re not bound to these email marketing systems for the rest of your life.

I’ll give you two that I have probably the most experience with. The first one being Activecampaign. I’ve used Activecampaign for a long time. It has great features in terms of being able to automate and segment based on the type of interactions that you’re having with your fans.

And also: Aweber. Aweber does have a free option for 500 subscribers or less. So, for those of you out there with the less than 500 people on your email list, Aweber might be a great place to start. Their automations are super easy to set up, and I think one of the really unique bonuses about Aweber is that they have live customer service, live customer support, including phone support, even for free accounts. So especially if you’re new to this or if you’re like, “How do I even start? Where do I even go to start building this stuff out?” It’s great to be able to talk to a live person.

If you want to start with either one of those, I’ll drop some links. I’m all about saving independent artists money, although you’re going to eventually need new things. You’re going to eventually have to start paying for stuff — that’s just the reality of running a business. But if you want to start with AWeber for free, you can do that today. Just go to I’ll drop a link in the description as well.

#3 — Online Merch Store

Alright, the last of our three non-negotiables that every musician must have is an online merch store. Now notice that I said ONLINE — that is the key, an online merch store. Selling merch at shows is great. It’s awesome. I’ve done it, I’m sure you have to. This should be a part of your business model. But let me ask you this:

What if you don’t have any upcoming shows?
What if you have fans in places that you may never play?

Or what about this, hypothetically, there’s a global pandemic that shuts down live events,and performing live isn’t even an option. That’s not so hypothetical anymore. Selling merch online can be a great revenue booster and brand booster. Imagine your fans walking around, all over the world, with your hat on, your T shirt, your hoodie.

photo: Aline Viana Prado

What’s nice about having an online merch store is there are ways that you can do it without having to buy anything upfront!

How many of us have been through that as musicians? You bought this merch for a series of shows that you had, and all of a sudden two, three, four, five, eight, years later you still have a closet full of two and three XL t-shirts. We’ve all done that: you have overstock, you have and random sizes laying around for years that you can’t do anything with.

Having an online merch store allows you to avoid having to buy anything upfront. Every time you have a new color way, a new design — that’s a new product, so, you have different minimums. Do you want unisex versus ladies cut? And you’ll have to make those decisions as to which products can [you] even get to be able to sell.

Packing and shipping: that’s another thing that, if you do it the way that I teach, you don’t have to worry about packing supplies, tape, labels. You don’t have to worry about making the trip to the post office to drop everything off. I’m not saying don’t have packing parties every now and then. But we’re talking about running a business and we have other things to do in life. And in some cases, the way I teach building an online merch store, you don’t even necessarily have to handle your returns. The manufacturer actually puts their address on your return label.

And probably one of the main points the way that I teach artists how to build online merch stores, is that you don’t have any ongoing fees! That is the kicker. Nothing against sites like Shopify, but I mean, I ain’t got time for $40 a month, do you? Forty bucks a month is gas money for like the week right now. That’s a huge chunk for a lot of independent artists, and you’re paying that 40 bucks a month whether or not you sell anything that month. So that’s what I’m trying to help you avoid.

If you want to learn how to get started doing this, how to build an online merch store — without having to buy anything upfront, without having to pack or ship, without having any ongoing monthly fees or anything like that — I actually have a new free guide that’s like hot off the press called the Business Minded Musicians Quick Guide to Selling Merch Online: Without Paying Anything Upfront (or Ongoing). I’ll leave a link in the description. You can also go to, click on the link that says “free guides,” and you can grab that there right there on the first page of the website. It’s going to really help you get started with creating an online merch system that you can start generating revenue from.

And for some of you out there maybe you you’ve been selling merch, maybe you’ve got a few things on your website or online or whatever this might be a chance to re-up that, to level up. And for some of you that have never built an online merch store before, this could be a great option for you to start actually generating some revenue for your music. This can just be something that you promote. Let people go online and they make their purchases, and it’s awesome because it’s on demand. It’s drop-ship. So the manufacturer’s gonna ship it right to them. You don’t have to worry about anything other than telling people about it, and every now and then maybe adding some new pieces.

Action Item

The action item for today is: Choose one of these to focus on today. Then move on to the next. If you don’t have a music website, that is your first action item. If you already have a website, then I would say the second thing you need to move on to is building an email marketing system. Lastly, create your online merch store.

There are so many resources out there to help you even if you don’t know how to do graphic design or whatever. And if you don’t want to do this yourself if you’re like, “I’m not tech savvy, I don’t know how to do this stuff. Or, I don’t want to do it. I don’t have the time, but I really want to have that,” at Merch Tower we can absolutely helped me with that. That is my E-commerce and digital marketing agency. Our flagship service [creating] Hassle-free Online Stores where we’ll do the full build out for you, including creating your first 10 items. Again, if that’s something that you just want to have done for you, you can visit: merchtower{dot}com. That’s the full build out with integration, your point of sale, everything connected, and a full merch store ready to go that we will actually hand off to you. We can help you get set up with that online merch store in no time.

If you have any questions or if there are any topics you’d like to have covered on the show, you can send me an email to questions {at} indiemusician secrets {dot} com. Don’t forget to rate and review the podcast as well. It’s so helpful. I’ve seen that we have [some] five star ratings on Apple Podcasts, so thank you to those of you out there who did that. I really appreciate it. And please remember to share this episode, all the episodes of podcast, with any independent musicians that you think it would be beneficial for. I am very passionate about helping independent artists grow their music career. Thank you so much for listening today. God bless and I will see you when I see you. Peace.

OUTRO: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to follow the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And make sure to leave us a rating and review. Also share this episode with other indie musicians who you think it would be beneficial for. And for more helpful resources to help you grow your music business, visit us at: I hope this episode has served you we’ll talk to you on the next episode.

Click the video to listen to Episode 027 via YouTube

TAGS: #IndieMusicianSecrets #music #business #podcast #blog #musician #artist #band #website #emailmarketing #onlinemerch



Indie Musician Secrets

Jamaal “Boss Eagle” Curry is a Hip-Hop recording artist, music business coach, digital marketer and entrepreneur. Visit for more.