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 manuevers that will enhance your presence and ensure that a proper strategy for success is laid out and followed.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Satori Ananda is chief of staff at W.A.R. Media, LLC, responsible for artist operations under the W.A.R. Media Roster of managed artists. She is also the social media director for Statik Selktah's Showoff Casino, social media/brand manager of entertainer Jean Grae, and production assistant on Grae's Life With Jeannie sitcom. Satori is a regular blog contributor, content director for Skyyhookradio.com, and the co-founder of #SocialWerk, a social media training platform for indie artists, managers, and industry professionals.