2016 is said to be the year of the monkey – a year filled with confidence and impulsive energy. A time that inspires joy, curiosity, and inventive nature. I don't know about you, but whether you're into Chinese astrology or not, that’s a mantra I can get behind. But we can’t very well leave our careers up to the stars, which is why it’s imperative that you start planning exactly how you’re going to harness all that creative energy.
Since you’re reading this via Sonicbids, you already know what a powerful management tool it is – a place to not only apply for live performance opportunities and host your EPK, but to get organized and get serious about your career. If you're looking for some additional tools and techniques to help skyrocket your music career, check out our list of favorites below!
1. Google Drive
Google Drive is one of the most powerful tools that an artist can have. It serves as a place to organize all your documents, spreadsheets, photos, and more. It’s basically a free version of Microsoft Office that has the benefit of quick shares across your network and accessibility from absolutely anywhere. So when you need to share your setlist with your bandmates on the fly, Google Drive is there. When you need to share chord charts, demos, band photos, etc., a simple click is all you need.
This is one of the most effective tools for scheduling tweets. Gone are the days of having to log onto Twitter every day just to promote the same material. With Hootsuite, you can spend significantly less time and energy worrying about when you have to log on, because you’ll have the ability to schedule tweets ahead of time. Want to promote next month’s show two days beforehand? Done. Want to schedule a recurring reminder about your new album? Say no more. Hootsuite also has the option to auto-schedule so that your tweet goes out at the optimum time according to when your followers are online. Although you can schedule other social media posts from this platform, Twitter is really where it shines.
For those looking to throw a little extra cash at your social media routine, Hootsuite offers a pro version which allows for bulk scheduling, the addition of team members, social media insights, analytics, and more.
In this day and age, there’s no replacement for a band’s email list. With Facebook views dropping, an email list is your best shot at getting in front of fans. There are a lot of options out there, but for emerging bands, Mailchimp is the way to go. Not only is it free for the first 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, but you can also schedule your campaigns to go out at a later date, import your lists from a myriad of services (including Google Drive), track views and opens, and even send emails targeted to specific demographics/lists. It’s one of the cleanest, simplest, and most effective ways to deliver your news directly to your fans. To encourage signups, consider offering a free download in exchange for an email address.
When you need to send larger files, like songs or hi-res images, Dropbox is going to be your best option. You can get the information you need to your band and teammates without slowing their inboxes to a crawl. For most people, the free version of Dropbox will serve them just fine, but there are also plenty of paid plans to fit every need.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of Freedcamp, it’s essentially Basecamp, but, well… free. It’s an excellent place to organize all your to-dos, mark down important dates, and engage in discussions with your team. So long as you stay under 200 MB of storage (with a 10 MB per file limit), you can manage as many projects as you'd like. That means you can have a project dedicated to band press, another for tour coordination, one more for merch brainstorming, etc.
Because it’s a collaboration tool, you can invite as many people as you’d like to be a part of it – your manager, another band you’re going on tour with – the possibilities are endless. But one thing’s for sure – you’ll be a whole lot more organized once you start utilizing all it has to offer.
6. Delegate tasks
For all the useful apps out there, there’s something to be said about good old-fashioned human organization. One of the most important things you can do to more effectively manage your music career in 2016 is to simply delegate tasks. Whether that means splitting up tasks between band members or hiring an outside team, it’s crucial to recognize that you simply can’t do it all alone.
Take the time to compare and organize schedules, strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between to figure out who should be in charge of what. Maybe one of you is great at social media, but not at logistics – put that person in charge of maintaining socials, while the person who's good at logistics works out a tour route. The more you embrace a team mindset and accept that you can’t do it all on your own, the more successful you’ll be.
7. Create a brand and a business plan
Although at first glance, you may be thinking, "But I’m an artist, not a business," the truth is that your band is a business, and you have to treat it that way. This means outlining your visions, your marketing strategies, goals, products, services, etc.
Work together with your bandmates to identify your brand. For instance, if the band were a person, what would it be like? Who would it hang out with and where? What kind of food would it eat? What kind of job does it have? By turning your band into a person, you’re helping hone in on your demographic. From there, you can put together a business plan to further identify the specifics of building your career. You can find excellent templates here.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations and Infectious Magazine. She has also founded several chapters of the free weekly music industry meetup Balanced Breakfast. Muddy Paw specializes in working with up-and-coming artists on personalized campaigns designed to bring their careers to the next level. To date, they've secured placements on sites such as Noisey, AbsolutePunk, Substream, Property Of Zack, PureVolume, Anti-Music, and many more.