Jolin Gomez wrote a good article for the Music Industry Report about the 10 reasons why indie artists fail that I thought was worth expounding upon. Here are 5 of his reasons, followed by my comments in italics.
The reason why most indie artist's fail is because:
1. You do not study the music business:This means not understanding the different elements of the business and how they work together. There are a lot of ways to break as an artist, but you've got to know what they are in order to exploit them.
2. You do not write songs seriously: Songwriting is the first and foremost task of any indie artist. Until you can write songs, you won't be taken seriously as an artist.
3. You have no originality or creativity:If you sound just like someone else, you've already lost. If people tell you that you sound just like U2 or Beyonce, it's time to go back to the drawing board. The world already has them as artists. They need something new.
4. You do not have enough live experience: It's difficult to hone your chops unless you play in front of people - a lot. It's not easy to do that these days with fewer and fewer venues available, but remember that most of your income will probably come from playing live. If you're not good at it, it's less likely that you'll succeed.
5. Lack of professionalism: Professionalism means great attitude towards work. Overall, the way you treat the music business as a serious business, or how you approach and deal with relationships makes you a professional. Nothing scares away professionals like managers, agents, promoters, producers and label execs like an unprofessional artist. They expect a certain level of professionalism, and if they don't find it in an artist, they move on regardless of how talented the artist might me. The hassle factor is just too great.