Today, I’d like to talk about what it takes to build a team for music.
As a musician, you’ve probably got more things to do than you have time in the day, right? You need to write, practice, play, rehearse, perform, and record.
But you ALSO need to manage your social media pages, manage your email list and email your fans, plan your music releases, pitch your songs to bloggers, music supervisors, venue owners and bookers, and music libraries, and that’s only scratching the surface. And more times than not, these essential business tasks push your music aside.
The simple fact is it’s hard to get everything done on your own.
And this is one of the biggest dilemma of the indie artist.
Isn’t the music why you set out for a career in music in the first place? Is it really necessary to push aside the music to be successful in today’s music industry? I don’t think so.
DIY vs. DIWO
DIY has been the catch phase of the last era in music. But the truth is, no one has all the skills – or time for that matter – to be successful completely on their own in music.
Let’s say you’re trying to do everything yourself… Will you realistically be able to dedicate enough time to do each thing really well? Will you be able to put in the time to come up with interesting and engaging posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat while also developing a strategy to get gigs in bigger venues, recording and planning an album release, pitching your new single to music bloggers, and keeping up with your email list? You need to work smarter.
We all start out as DIY artists when the to-do list is shorter, but it’s not usually something that can be sustainable as we begin to grow and we take on more (and bigger) responsibilities – at least not without completely burning out or skipping sleep entirely.
So I’d like to propose a new phrase: DIWO, or Do It With Others. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, try approaching your career like an entrepreneur approaches a new startup. Build an efficient team gradually over time. Start lean with the people you have around you already, divide tasks according to skills, and hire in new team members as you grow.
Here’s some of the key steps in building an efficient team around your music.
1. Figure out what kind of team you need.
There’s no single formula for a team that will work for every musician. Your career path, your goals, your personal skillset, your time commitment, and your career level all factor into who you will bring onto your team and when.
If you need a little help figuring out your goals, I suggest you download this free guidebook: Your Music Plan for Success. It will walk you through easy questions to help you determine what you want out of your music career, which will also help you figure out which team members you should target. Click here to download it for free.
So for example, as a songwriter you may begin working with other songwriters and co-writers in the early stages of your career to grow your catalog and increase your skill set quickly. Depending on your skills, you may work with a producer or engineer to get TV-quality recordings, or you may be able to do this yourself in your home studio. At first, you may start submitting your own songs to music libraries and other licensing opportunities, but you may begin making direct connections with music supervisors, ad agencies, and filmmakers to license your music. As your career begins to grow, you may start working with a publisher to help you get bigger placements and connections. You may not be interested in releasing albums so you won’t even need a record label.
Let’s look at another example. If you’re a traditional band that tours and releases albums, your team will look very different. At first, you might either self-record your songs or work with a producer or engineer you know, and distribute your songs through a service like Tunecore or CD Baby. You’ll probably do a lot of the booking yourself at first, but eventually you’ll employ the help of an agent when your gigs start bringing in enough money. As social media, email, and planning gets too difficult to handle on your own you might seek the help of a manager. And eventually you may begin working with a record label or some bigger distribution partner.
2. Bring on team members when the need arises.
In both examples above, the teams grew slowly over time as the needs manifested. Early on, your team may very well consist of friends and family, and that’s okay!
It’s also important to remember as you build a team for music, that many team members come on board when there is a financial incentive to do so – they need to make a living too! Agents make a percentage of your live performance income, so if you’re only making a few bucks, they’re not going to find the gig too appealing.
3. Assign roles and responsibilities.
A really important thing many musicians miss is that your band members can function as a team in the early stages of your career. Each member has different skills and proficiencies they can bring to the table, and you’ll get a whole lot more done if you divide up tasks.
The first step is to take a look at the jobs that need to get done. You may need to consistently be posting on social media and engaging with your fans. You may need to write weekly newsletters to your email list. You may need to be reaching out to venues and booking gigs (and of course, promoting those gigs). You might need to design a basic t-shirt to sell at your gigs, or get a few key photos to use on your website. Get together with your band and make a list.
Once you have a list, brainstorm together who might be best-suited to take each task. Do any of you know photographers, artists, or website designers you could work with? Is one person more comfortable with talking to people and pitching your music to venues? Are any of you a social media buff who spends hours online? Look at each member’s skills and divide up the to-do list accordingly.
Once you start splitting up the tasks, you’re able to get things done a lot faster and move on to new ideas and new goals.
Build a Team for Music Success – Where to Go From Here?
Wherever you are in your music career, planning and building your team accordingly should always be a number one priority. Like we talked about earlier, who you bring on to your team will depend entirely on your goals, so it’s worth getting your goals and expectations straight.
If you need a little help figuring out exactly what you want in your music career, check out this free planning guide: Your Music Plan for Success. This guidebook will walk you through easy questions and exercises to identify your goals and begin building a plan to achieve them. Click here to download the guidebook for free.
In the New Artist Model Music Business Accelerator course, we have an entire module dedicated to team building and time management.
The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.
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