Blake Berglund isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. To raise funds for his latest album, Realms, Berglund went door-to-door in hopes to sell 1000 albums. In just 31 days, he sold 1028 albums.
As an independent artist, taking risks with self-determination has paid off for the country singer/songwriter. For any inspiring artists, his advice is crucial. Below Blake Berglund shares tips on how to carve out a career as a successful independent artist.
For those lucky enough to get tickets, Blake Berglund will join Colter Wall on tour this month.
12.07 – The Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB – SOLD OUT
12.08 – Louis’ – Saskatoon, SK – SOLD OUT
12.09 – Louis’ – Saskatoon, SK – SOLD OUT
12.11 – The Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB – SOLD OUT
12.12 – Commonwealth Bar – Calgary, AB – SOLD OUT
What are you waiting for? Download Realms today and get to know Blake Berglund.
TC: How did the idea of selling your albums door-to-door come to be?
BB: Like many of my decisions, it came in a moment of clarity where the excitement of a concept overruled the odds of it succeeding. I was living in Medicine Hat, AB at the time and thought that if I could move a handful of albums in a day it would supplement my income at the time. The first few weeks of the experiment resulted in a hundred dollars or so a day. About one in twenty houses were a sale. I refined my approach consistently over the course of four years (2008-2012), moving over 10,000 albums. In May of this year, I publicized that I was doing it again as a marketing fundraiser for the new record with a goal of 1000 albums sold. I sold 1028 in 31 days.
TC: What are you most looking forward to about touring with Colter Wall?
BB: I was in New York when his manager called asking if I’d be interested in doing his tour from Quebec to Arkansas, I was kept on for Texas and then offered all the Canadian dates following that. Colter and his team have a keen sense of community – the successes that they have achieved have been shared with many fellow artists, I’m lucky to be included in that group. I’m most looking forward to the hang – his knowledge of music is astounding and dates back to the origins of the genre. He’s great to have as a DJ on an eight hour drive.
TC: Who are your musical inspirations?
BB: I tend to be inspired the most by authors opposed to musicians. For the last couple years, the writings of Joseph Campbell have impacted me the most. He was a lecturer and author from the forties to the eighties focusing almost entirely on the concept of mythology. I crafted my new record, Realms, around an archetypal story-structure that he presented in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces. Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry come in as inspiration closely behind Campbell – cowboy culture is a major theme in all my writing.
TC: How would you describe your sound?
BB: I’m grateful for a fanbase that has allowed me to evolve my sound with each record. I tend to get flamboyant about my opinions on “Country Music” from time to time because of what I feel the institute used to generally stand for. This has kept the genres traditionalisms very apparent in my sound. With that said, it is also a genre that has the grounds to be extremely progressive. Arrogantly speaking, I feel my music falls somewhere between those two thoughts. The new record, plays out like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages, and slicked right up like George Strait circa 1995.
TC: What’s on your Christmas wish-list?
BB: World Peace
Blake Berglund Shares Tips on How to Make A Career as an Independent Artist
You cannot make anybody take notice. The most influential in the music industry will take notice when you have provided an opportunity for financial return – as it should be, it’s business. Until then…
One fan at a time. It’s a cliché because it’s the answer. Sometimes that one fan comes at a higher expense (driving 5 hours to play for 10 people) but in a commitment to a long-game vision, that one fan is a valuable as a gemstone. The more high-financial investment experiences you have under your belt, the stronger the reference point to a fan’s dedication. A major downside to rapid success as an artist in the music industry is not having developed that reference point. An army of support is the most valuable leverage in any industry deal. Build that army.
Forgive yourself. In the truest sense of the word “Independent”, we have the responsibilities of ten full time jobs. Proper self-management of finances, bookings, marketing ideas, marketing execution, online presence, public relations, artistic direction, and advancement (to name a few) can easily become this accumulating ball of stress. For years, I judged my own worth on whether or not I was getting enough done in a day – and with that mindset, you can never get enough done in a day. It took a greater cosmic life approach to truly shift that outlook within me and truly appreciate that I’m only one person.
Create lucky breaks. I [thrive on] cold emails and random introductions. 9 times out of 10, you are contacting somebody that thinks they’re too busy to even care to respond but the industry is riddled with influential people that will genuinely connect with your music and respect your drive.
Artistic Craftsmanship. See it all as an artistic extension – even my grant writing is approached with an artistic mindset, makes it a little more fun in the very least. For me the greatest (and easiest) developer of my craft is reading. When asked about songwriting, I always bring it back to reading. If you aren’t a strong reader you sure as sh*t won’t be a strong writer.
In a nutshell, redefine your success and remember the words of Willie Nelson – “If you fail at something long enough you become a legend.
I’m going to be a legend.