In many ways, there has never been a better time to be an independent artist. Up and comers can build their own audiences from the ground up on social media without going through gatekeepers and climbing industry ladders. Fans also get a front row seat to see their favorite artist grow and evolve, creating a powerful bond — and dedicated fan community — in the process. But as exciting as it can be to see their star rise on social media, this new generation of independent artists can still use a lot of help as their careers progress.
Nowhere is that more important than when it comes to understanding their finances. For many artists, music is a passion project, and in order to support themselves they have to take on other work such as in the gig economy. A recent study from UnitedMasters found that for two-thirds of musicians, music accounts for 10% or less of their total income. Chasing your dreams is difficult enough — adding financial pressures to the mix makes for a daunting recipe.
And that phenomenon isn’t limited to artists either. Research from Intuit—the global financial technology platform that makes TurboTax, Credit Karma, QuickBooks, and Mailchimp—showed that 78% of Gen Z Americans feel prosperity is out of reach, yet they feel optimism for the future. Little financial knowledge and lack of access to financial tools is contributing to this feeling, and is critical to supporting their success as artists. Whether it’s paying business related expenses to understanding how to budget for everything from tours to merch, financial literacy is a vital component of success for independent artists around the globe.
The independent recording star LaRussell knows those struggles all too well, and has used his platform to educate artists on how to navigate nuanced topics like writer’s block, as well as complex financial ones like release processes and distribution splits. He launched a series “Free Game Fridays,” and posts new episodes every week so artists can learn from him and his community. In a recent episode, he discusses distribution contracts and how they can include yearslong exclusivity clauses, limiting the financial upside of a hit track for independent artists.
“Our mission at Intuit is to power prosperity around the world for small businesses and consumers, yet prosperity means something different to everyone,” said Mari Casper, Head of Integrated Brand Marketing at Intuit. “We know access to financial education and tools increases financial well-being, which is vital for artists to evolve and thrive in their music industry pursuits.”
Artists who have greater financial knowledge and access to financial tools have a greater chance of progressing in their career. Intuit is teaming up with LaRussell and his nonprofit Good Compenny to create a brand new project called “The Breakthrough.” Over the coming months, Intuit and LaRussell will be giving emerging artists tools and opportunities to grow their careers and take advantage of opportunities like collaborating with LaRussell on an original song or performing live alongside him at a musical showcase. It’s one way Intuit is supporting emerging artists in taking their career to the next level by also helping them to take control of their financial health.
“We’re providing indies with the knowledge, access, resources, and capital that we have. Our greatest strategy is execution. We lead by demonstration instead of conversation,” says LaRussell. “Every day we strive to lay a great blueprint that can be replicated, followed, and utilized as a tool for future independent artists. Things feel easier to do when you’ve witnessed someone do it already.”
Good Compenny is a platform for creators by creators. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide creatives around the San Francisco Bay Area with resources and support, and give them an outlet to bring their talents to the wider world. It emerged out of LaRussell’s own experience coming up as an artist where he didn’t feel like he had the knowledge in place to succeed. After finding independent success, the “Again” rapper wanted to make sure he could pass on his own lessons to artists still finding their way.
Those goals are why Intuit is partnering with the organization on “The Breakthrough.” Intuit is dedicated to giving artists everywhere the financial tools they need to take their careers to the next level, whether it’s using Mailchimp to connect with their fans or using QuickBooks to manage their business at every stage of growth.
“It’s exciting to have Intuit partner with me in my mission to champion creative independence, ownership, and building wealth through your art,” says LaRussell. “Now, I’ll be able to power more moments, stages, and opportunities for emerging artists to scale their careers.”
“The Breakthrough” will be shared on Intuit and LaRussell’s Instagram pages as well as Intuit and Good Compenny’s TikToks throughout the project. Independent artists have more opportunities than ever, and with Intuit’s innovative and personalized financial technology solutions, they’ll be more confident in their finances to help them succeed in their careers.