Ayelle has a stunning voice. Raised in Sweden and Spain, and now based in the UK, Ayelle’s world travels expose themselves in her time-tested lyrics and sultry tones. Her 2018 EP Slow Clap is a whispering and climbing foray into love and loss, and the madness that comes with the potent emotion. There’s no mistaking her ghostly and affecting vocals; she’s the real deal. A real artist you can root for, she does everything independently.
“For me, it’s always been about being in control of my artistry and my projects,” she tells me over the phone. “That’s always been important to me. It’s really allowed me to grow in the direction I wanted to, rather than having it dictated by somebody else.”
That growth is due in large part to TuneCore, which empowers independence and acts as an important first step for artists who want to get their music out there and see a return on all their investments.
“TuneCore was a great first step to upload my music in a way I felt comfortable with, and to take those first few steps,” Ayelle says. “Figuring it out on my own, in a way that allowed me to be in control of my project and where I was taking it.”
For Ayelle, TuneCore allowed her some peace of mind with her financials, which upped her creativity. Streaming is fickle and you cannot solely rely on your streams to keep you working as a full-time artist. Ayelle recommends artists take on creative solutions to their financial problems. She believes everything from features to part-time jobs is a step toward becoming an artist full-time.
“I’ve had loads of part-time jobs!” she admits with a hint of pride. “I’ve only been full time for a year now, with music. Every part-time job I’ve had was a step towards being full time in music. Along that path, just try things out and see what feels right.”
DJBooth’s full interview with Ayelle, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Let’s start with: Why is being an independent artist important to you?
Ayelle: For me, it’s always been about being in control of my artistry and my projects. I’ve always felt that it’s very important to have a collaborative approach with your whole team and make sure that everyone’s on the same page. But also, taking charge of your artistry and being independent allows you more creative freedom. That’s always been important to me. It’s allowed me to grow in the direction I wanted to, rather than having it dictated by somebody else.
What are some hurdles you’ve faced while building an indie career?
I’d say that when you start out, it feels like a lot of doors are closed to you, and it’s easy to slip into a negative mindset if you’re not careful. I’ve had to work a lot on my mindset, really, and cultivating a positive mindset, and being open-minded. Trying things out and stepping out of my comfort zone. That’s the one thing you have to do to break down those barriers, is to just throw yourself out there into those situations you’re not used to, and just continue to grow.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of building your career?
The most rewarding aspect is just the fact I’m able to make people feel something. Music is like therapy, and it is like therapy to many people. How it brings up these emotions and helps us cope with our emotions… There’s nothing else that really allows us to delve into a certain feeling and explore it from so many angles. That my songs can do that for me is great, but that they’re able to do that for other people makes it even more amazing.
What makes TuneCore such a valuable resource for indie artists?
TuneCore was a great first step to upload my music in a way I felt comfortable with, and to take those first few steps. Figuring it out on my own, in a way that allowed me to be in control of my project and where I was taking it.
Then the path from TuneCore to Believe through their Aspire program just made sense, because it was like a hybrid of a label and a distribution service. From Believe, you get a budget and funding, if you've got a project, you get guidance. You have somebody there, like a product manager to help you through the process. You’re not so alone anymore. You get a team of people around you, which is important. Also, the pitching aspect. Pitching for playlists… You just cover more bases than when you’re just releasing on TuneCore and Believe. It’s a blend of both worlds that allows me to still be in charge of where I was taking my product.
Would you ever want to sign a major label deal, or is the TuneCore and Believe situation so good that you haven't considered that route?
I wouldn’t ever say “Never” to anything, because you never know how things are gonna develop and what relationships are gonna occur. So I try to stay open-minded about all possibilities. As with anything in life, if you decide something and just decide that is how it’s gonna be, you might end up missing out on opportunities you didn’t know where there. Goals are great, but if you get too rigidly attached to a goal, you might end up missing out to other opportunities you just won’t see, because you’re not open to them. I enjoy being flexible with it and being able to improvise and change things up as I go. So, who knows [laughs]?
Has having the Believe deal allowed you to be more creative?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Just the fact that when you’re self-releasing music, you always know what are the expenses. What is actually the money I’m earning? What is going in my pocket? Just being able to have that sense of security is great. But, streams are always fickle. They’re gonna go up and down, as with anything. I wouldn’t say it’s something to get too comfortable with. In today’s music industry, you need to be creative with the ways you make your income, and really try to tap into lots of different sources. There are a bunch of different ways to make a living as a musician and solely counting up on streams can sometimes cause a lot of stress. Even though that is a great thing, I think it’s important to be creative with it and never get too comfortable with one set of income.
How do you diversify?
It just depends on every stage of your career. There was a time where I did more features, and that would bring in a lot of extra income. Being proactive about these things, and finding out how other people are earning their money is a good way of going about it, and trying to think out the box. It just depends on what is the situation for you right now.
Lastly, what’s the best advice you have to indie artists looking to stay indie but be profitable enough to be full-time artists?
For your artist project, you never wanna put too much pressure on yourself like, “Oh, this is actually gonna earn a ton of money and I’m gonna have to live off of this.” Take the steps necessary to get there. Allow yourself to take the time you need to get there. Don’t stress the process, or make music you think is gonna make money, because that’s just gonna take the joy out of it.
If you need to take a part-time job… I’ve had loads of part-time jobs! I’ve only been full time for a year now, with music. Every part-time job I’ve had was a step towards being full time in music. Along that path, just try things out and see what feels right. When you’re ready to let something go, move on and try to find that next step, and eventually, it’s gonna work out. Income looks so different to so many people. It just depends on what opportunities come your way.
It’s a really weird one because you never know what somebody’s journey is gonna look like. Some people get certain doors opened for them at certain times, and some people don’t. You can never get a blueprint of how your journey is gonna be. It’s gonna look different for everybody, and that’s okay.