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I had the good fortune of being part of a great article on managing your own music career that the fine folks at Music Connection Magazine just published written by Bernard Baur.

Managing Your Own Music Career

MC: You are a big proponent of artists managing themselves. Why is that?

Dave: Because artists should take control of their lives and careers. Although talent is important, the more artists know about the business the more successful they will be. If you’re serious about a career in music, there is no one who will take care of you like you would.

So, do artists need a manager?

I’m not saying artists should never have a manager or sign with a label. Both can be incredibly helpful. But, in order to attract either one you have to prove yourself and get results. And, most artists today have no choice but to manage themselves.

What approach should artists take when managing themselves?

They should realize that business and art are two sides of the same coin. If they apply the same creativity to the business side (as they do to their art), it can be exciting and productive. And once they start to see progress, motivation really kicks in.

You advise artists to form a plan. Can you explain the process?

They should ask themselves what they want to accomplish, what they like to do and what their definition of success is. The answers to those questions will help formulate a plan to reach their goals.

That’s a very business-like approach. Why should artists go down that road?

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.

What common mistakes do you see artists making?

Not knowing about the business, and thinking that someone is going to discover them and make them a star is the most common mistake I see. Additionally, not asking for help when they need it can hurt their progress. Lastly, not connecting with the right people. You know, DIY (Do It Yourself) isn’t realistic anymore––there’s too much to do. Today, you need a team…I call it “doing it with others.”

How successful can self-managed artists be?

Well, we have artists in our program who are making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. It’s not millions like a superstar, but it is possible to make a living with your music, as long as you work at it and keep moving ahead.

Managing Your Own Music Career - Music Connection Interviews Dave Kusek

Read the complete article here including interviews with Ben Mclane, Dead Rock West, Eesean Bolden, Epic Records, Gilli Moon, Mclane & Wong, Mitch Schneider, MSO RP, The Creative Warrior Academy.

Managing Your Own Music Career

Dave Kusek is the founder of New Artist Model, an online music business school. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo.

For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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So we’ve covered the fact that many musicians don’t know the next steps they should be taking in their career and many more don’t have enough time to get everything done. Now, we’re going to address both of those problems with a method commonly used by entrepreneurs – a business plan, or in this case, a musician career plan.

I know, most of you probably didn’t get in to music to write a business plan, but if you’re really serious about making a living off your art, it’s an invaluable resource that will help you succeed. Think about all those choices you face everyday. How long should you spend on social media? Which social media channels should you be on? How much time should you dedicate to touring? Is crowdfunding the right way to fund your album? If you have a plan in place that states where you are, what you’re focusing on, and where you want to be in the future, these choices become a whole lot simpler.


If you need more guidance on setting your goals and putting a plan in place that will set you up for success in music, we have a free workbook that you can download right here. Learn how to create a unique plan for your own music career and start putting it into action today!


1. Business Structure

You probably don’t think of your band as a business, but that’s exactly what you are. A lot of the professional bands and musicians out there even go so far as to organize themselves into a Partnership or even a Corporation. You don’t have to go that far quite yet, but you need to think about what everyone’s roles are within your business and how each moving part works together to make one whole unit. How do you communicate with each other? Is one person responsible for decision making or does the whole group vote? Talking about these things up front will make everything run a lot smoother and more efficiently.

2. Revenue Streams

There’s more revenue streams out there beyond just selling albums and singles. Of course, the revenue streams you draw on depend entirely on your career focus. A songwriter will pull from different revenue streams than a recording artist. The main point here is to be creative with it! The music industry is ripe for innovation. Sponsorships and brand partnerships have grown exponentially lately. Some musicians even make money from exclusive membership sites.

3. Booking Strategies

Playing gigs shouldn’t just be something you do on the side. It should be part of your overall strategy. Depending on your goals, you can use your live show to forge a deeper connection with your fanbase, spread awareness for your music to a new city, or meet new collaboration partners.

What’s your musician career plan?

Some of the most powerful advice in the music industry comes from people who worked hard and found their own success. At one point in their life they were just a musician or music lover with a dream. They learned from their mistakes and are here to tell the tale to the next generation of rising musicians and music entrepreneurs.

This post originally ran on Cyber PR. Here’s a consolidated list of 10 tips, but to see all 49 be sure to check out the full article. This advice comes from women in the music industry, but it can be used by anyone.

1. The Three P’s

Christine Ben Ameh
“The 3 PS- 1. Patience. 2. Perseverance. 3.Practice (Makes perfect).”
Recording Artist/Songwriter 
@CHRISTINE_AMEH

2. Fans First

Louise Dodgson
“Always put your fans first. Too many bands & artists are concerned with attracting the interest of the music industry. But the best way to do so is usually to forget all about it! Concentrate on your fans. Communicating with them and working hard to expand your fan base. Making the music and sharing it with people who really appreciate what you do is the enjoyable part. Your fans will help create the buzz for you and if you’re doing your own thing with a keen and constantly growing following, the music industry will no doubt catch up to you in due course.”
Editor, The Unsigned Guide
@editorunsigned

3. Don’t Fear Failure

Roswitha Bartussek
“Envision your destiny and take small daily steps towards it. Don’t be afraid to fail, the more often you fail the more likely you will succeed. Be your authentic self, don’t try to fit in, carve out your niche.”

Artist, CEO of Queen Rose, Inc.

@queenrose

4. The Truth Will Set You Free

Erin Dickins
“ Tell the truth – in music and life – never sing a lyric that you wouldn’t have as an epithet. Never do anything artistically to please anyone else. It’s all you – be authentically you – in your passion, your joy and your dreams. Shine your light big and bright no matter how big the challenges. Love every minute of the journey.”
(not just a) Jazz VOCALIST – Recording artist on Dot Time Records
@erindickins

5. Find Your Tribe

Barb Morrison
“Work with people (whether it be a manager, a producer, an agent, a publicist or a record label) who GET you. Having someone fully understand what you’re trying to say with your music is crucial. It’s much more important than how connected they are in the industry.”
Record producer & film score composer
@barbmorrison

6. It’s Not All About You

Cheryl Engelhardt
“Your results are not about you- they show up when you create an opportunity of value for someone else. I use this nugget when pitching music-to-music supervisors, getting a film-scoring gig, when talking with a potential coaching client, or even when inviting a friend to a movie. “What’s in it for them?” is the phrase I have running through my head before making a request of anyone.”
Songwriter / Composer / Creative Career Coach
@CBE

7. Listen

Madalyn Sklar
“Passion and persistence will get you far. Don’t be afraid to go big. Surround yourself with smart, motivated, like-minded people (join or start a mastermind group). Listen. Listening will get you further than anything else.”
Founder, GoGirlsMusic
@madalynsklar

8. Respect Everyone

Lauren McKinley
“Realize that this industry is ever changing and relatively small.  Not only should you respect everyone you meet and/or work with, but also you should always offer help where you can.  The people you help today will be the ones helping you tomorrow.”
Owner, Clover Marketing & Management
@CloverMktg or @LFMcKinley

9. Be True To Yourself

Lori Bumgarner
“Never try to do things exactly the way others tell you to do it or exactly the same way they did it. Promotion of your brand has to be done in a way that is true to you. Not every species of flower blooms at the same rate or under the same conditions!”
Image Consultant/owner of paNASH Style LLC
@panashstyle

10. Find Another Door

Laurence Muller
“When a door closes, never stand there like a dummy, find another door!”
Label Manager / Manager

What’s YOUR most valuable piece of advice? Share in the comment section below!

 

Marcus Taylor, founder of Venture Harbour, has compiled words of advice from 30 entrepreneurial leaders in the music industry.  Here are some of our favorites.

Focus on what works now

Benji Rogers “We are no longer subject to what was, only to what works. We can honor what came before us, but at the same time we have to be constantly aware of how fast this new generation moves. The new does not have to be scary and it’s allot less risky than it ever was. It just looks radically different than it ever did and we have to embrace that. Yesterdays fans are not coming back and so we should simply stop trying to find them.”
– Benji Rogers, CEO, Pledge Music

You don’t need investment

David Dufresne “If you launch a startup and think the only way to grow is by getting outside investment from venture capitalist or angel investors, you’re like a band that thinks they need to get signed by a major to have a chance at success. Focus on on building a product or service that has real value for the users and they will pay for it.”
– David Dufresne, CEO, Bandzoogle

Don’t Ask, Don’t Get

Steve RennieYou don’t ask, you don’t get, and you don’t learn.
– Steve Rennie, Manager of Incubus, Founder of Renman Music & Business

Check out the full blog post for more.