Music is a team sport. Achieving whatever goals you’ve put in place for yourself as an artist is winning. Although we’re constantly presented with the idea of DIY these days, having the right team in place is crucial to artist’s success in today’s environment. As hip-hop producer 9th Wonder says, “You need a great team if you want to win.”
Recording, distributing, and marketing your product can all be done for almost nothing. And because of social media and streaming services, fans have access to infinite music. This new playing field creates the challenge of setting yourself apart and building a sustainable career. Starting off, you’ll fill most of these roles yourself, which will help you understand the importance of each position.
We all have limitations, but we strengthen our limitations when we partner with people who are skilled in a specific area. Tasks are completed faster when you have more people working together. In today’s entertainment market, fans expect artists to engage with them; they expect constant content and dialogue across all platforms. Fans demand more music, more videos, and personal contact. Building a team is imperative to meet the demands of entertainment fans today.
Hits are not a one-person success story. There’s strategy behind the timing of the release, the artwork, the hashtags to promote the song, and so on. Never forget that a strong product is what your team needs to push, though. In the end, as they say, music goes in your ears and not your eyes. Providing your team with a sound they can get behind makes you the most important person on the team.
But how do you determine if you need a team at this point in your career? I am a huge advocate of list-making. Make a list of everything that needs to get done on a regular basis: social media, networking, creating email lists, sending out newsletters, contacting promoters, sending music to blogs, etc. Make a second list of your sources of revenue, including shows, merchandise, music sales, etc.
So, who do you need on your team and how do you find them? Depending on your particular situation, you’ll probably need each one of these folks at some point in your career:
Like a quarterback, the manager will run the plays. A good manager will help you navigate your career, as well as help build the rest of the team you’ll need as your brand grows. Many startup artists find themselves utilizing a friend or close associate as manager, since the 15 to 20 percent payouts may be few and far between while buzz is still growing. Having an effective manager on your team will allow you to focus more on the creative side of things, while he or she advises you on business maneuvers that will enhance your presence and ensure that a proper strategy for success is laid out and followed.
A publicist is a person whose job it is to generate and manage publicity for a public figure, especially a celebrity, a business, or for a work such as a book, film or album. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients.
3. Booking agent
As the demand for your product grows, a booking agent will be a great asset to your team. Since he or she negotiates on your behalf, a reputable agent with the right contacts can boost your visibility nationally by acquiring shows and tour placements.
4. Music attorney and business manager
Eventually, the need for a music attorney and business manager may come into play once you start to earn a significant amount of income. Your manager will know when the time is right to add those players to your squad.
5. Social media team
Today’s market is unlike anything the music industry has seen before. A social media-savvy team is imperative to ensure you can compete in the streaming world and understand how to leverage your presence on the internet.
Keep in mind that there are many types of teams in music besides this standard one. Songwriters may find it more beneficial to first find a producer or engineer they want to work with before locating a manager, for instance. A producer may want to establish a working agreement with a studio owner before obtaining a manager and, eventually, a publishing company.
First, establish your goals, identify your needs, and create a strategy for success that you can offer to any prospects. Discuss those goals for with your team, be open to accepting their guidance, and commit to being the best part of the team you can be.
Be prepared with a budget. Even a small budget to begin with is a good way to begin building trust within your team. Be prepared to make monetary offers to marketing and advertising professionals. Remember that they have built large networks within the industry which can be very beneficial to your career. Something is better than nothing. Always make an offer, and never expect professional services for free.
Your band is an investment. You’ve probably already spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment like PA systems, stands, strings, new instruments, and a plethora of other equipment, right? It’s normal to put money into something you care about and invest in something that helps pay the bills. So, just as we put money into our equipment and sound, we should also set aside money for marketing our work.
Naturally, this seems like a daunting task, as no one wants to take a gamble on marketing if the outcome is unsure, especially when labels and wealthier artists dump thousands upon thousands into their marketing. But it’s actually easier than you think. Even better, it can also be cheaper than you think.
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