The ultimate responsibility of artist management is to know the most effective and efficient technique of managing your band. For the independent artist, these tools will inspire you to know how to be your own manager.
The business of being a musician has evolved into the entertainment business incorporating music creation, concerts, licensing, festival organizing, merchandising, fashion, and branding. For that reason, the management of musicians is complicated and important.
There are as many artists trying to “make it” today as ever before. However, the industry has tightened up significantly, and many artists are either forced to make it on their own or realize that if their music isn’t “radio friendly,” they could possibly make and keep more money, if they establish themselves as a business entity. I want to inspire you to reexamine how you approach your career in music.
Money Making In The Music Industry
Major labels made a lot of money in the 20th Century selling recorded music. It was their bread and butter. It provided them with enough income to fill libraries with rock-n-roll excess. That world has unfortunately slithered away.
Today, the record industry is suffering, NOT the music industry. People are not buying recorded music like they used to, and that has the major labels crying foul. That has them doing everything in their power to control music.
On the flipside, we have the music industry; which is thriving like never before. Music is easier to access than ever before and every niche in the world is represented. New brands come out of nowhere and real careers are formed independently.
The Big Three have become modern entertainment companies, with departments that cater to the needs of multi-rights deals. The examples of modern recording contracts include 360-deal computation as well as “standard” clauses. Record companies are no longer just record companies.
This guide takes a look at all of the functions that the many industry intermediaries perform, illustrating how today’s artists can function as their own entertainment companies. If you’re just starting out or are gaining a following, what do you do when you don’t have a manager yet? Trying to make it big as an artist is a rough ride met with a variety of good and bad experiences. It’s even harder when you’re an indie musician and trying to manage yourself, build your following, write your music and, on top of all of that – book shows. Moreover, if you’re not earning money yet, you’re probably in school or working a part-time job, so, what do you do when you don’t have a manager or friend with enough free time to try and organize your life?
Almost any label (major or indie) expects you to already have a fan base and be touring. This is insurance for them, as the more you can do it on your own, the less risk they have in signing you. They’ll be confident you’ll make them money and not break up after the record is released. The more you bring to the table, the more demands you can make, and the more you’re seen as a partner to the label.
My goal is to inspire the independent artist forced to make it on their own. This edition of Managing Your Band is for two audiences: the personal manager, who has taken on the task of shepherding an artist from an unknown to stardom, and the DIY artist, who is aware of the need for having a team to succeed but is not in a financial position to hire the pros.
The budding personal manager should find this edition useful as well. The subject of marketing using social media is thoroughly discussed, including useful tools for maximizing success.
The point is that the major role for a manager in the old days was to secure a record deal. In today’s world, it’s about generating revenue from as many sources as you can. The truth is everyone can’t manage themselves and will need some help. A team is important. But knowing the information for yourself is even better. Mastering the art of management can be great for you and keep overhead low, but eventually you probably want to have a manager to help you manage your career.
Before you let someone invest in you, you should take a moment to assess a few things about your career and find structure so you understand how someone can help you and notice your potential. Today, artists need to be musical entrepreneurs. They need to develop their image and brand and know how to raise money and market their art. Often, if they don’t do it––it won’t get done. Artists have to realize that times have changed and they are responsible for their own success.
Not knowing about the business, and thinking that someone is going to discover you and make you a star is the most common mistake from artist. In addition, not asking for help when you need it can hurt your progress. Lastly, not connecting with the right people. You know, DIY (Do It Yourself) isn’t as realistic anymore––there’s too much to do. You will eventually need a team…I call it “doing it with others.”
The kind of manager I speak of is similar to management that actors, musicians, and athletes often have. One that provides an external perspective on a career. He or she figures out the business aspects and strategy, so the talent can do what he or she does best.
So with that in mind, how should you approach things if you’re acting as your own manager?
Acting As Your Own Manager
Today you can make and stay connected with fans without spending much money, you can release music relatively cheap (if you don’t opt for making an album without having any fans and record 3ps instead), you can reach music supervisors without a publisher, and you can book your own tour if you put in the work. Everything is at your fingertips to really make a go of things on your own. It may take a little more time and effort, but that’s the price of not having a lot of dough to really expose an artist
So where do you start?? Here are few ideas to help you out.
How to Be Your Own Manager
Assess Who You Are
“What a good manager does, whether it’s part of your brain or another person, is look at what makes you unique and focuses on those attributes,” says Jay Samit, a serial entrepreneur and author of the new book Disrupt You! Figure out your core competencies because that’s what’s going to give you the most value in the market. Ask yourself three questions: who are you, what do you want and what is the first step to getting there. If you don’t recognize your own potential and start taking chances on yourself – what reason are you giving anyone else to? Maybe that was harsh, but in all honestly, you should be thinking about those things if you’re really serious about your career.
Assess Where You Are
Where are you at? If someone reached out to you today, what would be the first thing you’d want them to help you with? Let’s start simple: Do you even have an EPK? Are you trying to build your online presence? Maybe you’re looking to build a strong YouTube channel? Ask yourself these questions and determine your starting point. Musicians are an interesting form of entrepreneurs because you’re not just investing in an idea you’ve had, you’re investing in yourself, fully, completely and you’re trying to get others to do the same.
Determine Where You Are Headed
Get clarity on your goals. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How would you get there? A manager is focused on the longevity of the client. Follow the profiles of people you admire, and study their careers. What steps could you emulate to achieve what they’ve done? It doesn’t matter how unbelievable your goal may seem because, by asking yourself these questions, you’re determining how serious you are. The more you understand your own motivations or those of your band members – the better your work ethic will be.
Define Success For Yourself
Be honest with yourself, what do you want to achieve with your music? What keeps you motivated? This is a big dream to chase after and it’s obviously going to be discouraging at times. Structure and organization can help keep you motivated. Remember that so many people look up to and admire artists not just because of how great your music is, but because you, as a person, have devoted your life to your craftsmanship.
Have Time and Money Goals
Just be honest with yourself about where you’re spending your time and money; take a step back and look at what you’re investing in yourself. That will help you figure out what you should be investing in. You need to know how much you need to make to keep yourself/ band going. You need to save money and keep track of your spending. It might not be the most comfortable conversation, but this is something you should talk about in a honest conversation with yourself or your bandmates.
Ask yourself how much money you are willing to spend on your music. What are you spending it on: studio time, web stuff, design/branding or travel expenses? What’s making you money now, anyway? How much time are you willing to dedicate to your music right now? Are you playing adequate shows? Is your time unbalanced between actually creating music and managing your social media life? Write it down and change the way you think as well as the way you spend your time and money.
Steer Clear Of Deadends
You have to know when something may not be for you and your brand. “Managers don’t just get you work, there other job is to tell you, ‘If you go on that TV show, your career is finished.’” Likewise, you want to avoid getting categorized. “If you’re the manager of your own career, you want to make sure you’re marketable to a wider field than just the industry you’re in.” Take a look at your skills, and figure out which can transfer. Build connections outside your industry. Do a rigid assessment of your current job, too. A good manager can help you figure out when it’s time to move on.
Put Emphasis On Direct Contact
E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc.. are all ways to keep people updated. Be active and engage your audience.
Don’t Lay Emphasis On The Album!
Focus on songs and releasing music continually in little chunks (3ps). You build fans through songs. The faithful supporters will buy albums down the road, but you got to make the fans first.
Work To Build A Solid Live Show
If you’re good, play a lot and figure that live show out, as that’s what people will pay good money for. Physical music will always hold a place in the world, but it will be only for true fans.
Prepare For Your Performance
A good manager is always looking for ways to nurture the talents of the artist. Ask yourself what would help you do your job better. Even the kind of self-talk you use can help lure out your best work. Practice, Practice, Practice! You must make time to practice and know your lyrics.
Focus On Merch Early On
Create shirt designs, bring them to every show, and sell them online. You can make more on a shirt than a CD if the design is stellar and you don’t need to spend as much upfront cost.
Continuously learn about the internet, internet marketing, social media, music related technology updates, etc… Let’s face it. The internet is the sharing vehicle of today and the future.
Find your own authentic style of self-promotion. Nadya Kohl, CMO and SVP of business development at mobile intelligence company PlaceIQ, says that “Being your own manager means promoting your outcomes, much as your manager would promote your stats if you were an athlete, it can be done, and doing so is what keeps the value of your contribution to the team visible, and puts you in line for the next great—and deserved—trade.”
Self-management can be the cure-all for many dedicated, passionate, and talented musicians who are willing to put their careers on the line by working hard to carve out their own unique musical niche. Most musicians say they want to make a lot of money with their music, but when it comes down to it, few are willing to do what it takes to have their music heard, promoted, and marketed.
Remember, it’s all about building something from the ground-up. It doesn’t happen overnight. The following guidelines are suggested for any musician who wants to manage their careers as a business. You need to develop the skills of being a good business manager. If you love what you do, you’ll do what it takes.
To extensively learn how to be your own manager, purchase the guide Managing Your Band: Artist Management: The Ultimate Responsibility. If this blog post has inspired you to take the reigns in your career or even helped you to choose what to look for in a manager, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Also, I would appreciate it if you would share this post with everyone you know!