How To Build A Team To Push Your Music Further
You're a young artist, with wide eyes and a burning passion to make, play and share music. Sooner or later you'll get to the point when you'll ask yourself, "Do I need a team around me?". It's a pretty big step to take because you're asking someone else to take care of an important element of your brand and your future livelihood.
So do you really need a team around you? Can you go it alone? Can you afford to bring new people in?
The honest answer to that question is that you will need a reliable group of people around you however you don't necessarily need to call them your 'team'. The truth is you can get pretty far going solo but it really depends on your skill-set and your willingness to wear different proverbial hats. We've put together a rough list of valuable roles that you could look out for when assembling the dream-team. Just keep in mind it probably won't be a case of hunting down specific people but more so crossing paths with likeminded people as yourself and realising that they have skills and goals which compliment yours. Don't be too hard on yourself when trying to fill the following roles.
Are you penning the songs alone? Do you have a regular collaborator? Even the very best songwriters share ideas and bounce thoughts off other songwriters. We host a range of networking events (keep updated here) designed to introduce new artists to other new artists but also a bunch of the other roles mentioned in this article. You might not think you have the desire to work with anyone else but often just talking with likeminded creative can set off a spark for a new idea.
Reload Sessions Networking Events: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/reload-sessions-11902514432
Similar to the songwriter, do you have people you can play with? Maybe you're a solo act, but you might need additional people to help our record your EP or album or even take a show on tour with you. Generally speaking word-of-mouth and recommendations are a good way to find reliable musicians to join you for a project. If someone's amazing at what they do but flaky in terms of scheduling and time management you might want to keep that in mind when building your inner circle.
RADAR. Meet new, up and coming musicians at RADAR's live show. http://www.musicconnex.co.uk/radar/
ICMP. NW London's music college host a plethora of musicians looking for new projects. http://icmp.ac.uk/industry-connections/live-music-london
Most people have their 'go-to' guy. Someone who knows their sound and knows what works and what doesn't work. Don't worry, this can take a while to find and really the only way to find that person is to try it out with different people.
RAW Material. RAWMaterial works with a host of different producers for community-led projects for young musicians. http://rawmusicmedia.co.uk/
Who owns the studio? Where will you be rehearsing or recording? Do you have a space you're comfortable with? Maybe a home studio or a friend's apartment or possibly a professional studio you can hire out. It could be a case to try out different spaces and see which help with the creative process the most.
Resident Studios. One of our favourite affordable live rooms in London. http://www.residentstudios.com/
Create your own home studio. http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/home-recording-studio-essentials/
Social Media Guru
As your career progresses you'll need to really keep up that presence on social media. Some artists have a friend from their inner circle access it or a lot of bands allow access to all the band members to lighten the load of staying up to date online.
Twitter For Musicians. http://www.makeitinmusic.com/twitter-for-musicians/
How To Use Twitter To Build Your Music Career. https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-use-twitter-to-build-your-music-career-2460818
9 Mistakes Musicians Make On Twitter. http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2014/08/06/9-mistakes-musicians-make-twitter/
Graphics and Digital Designer
This role is up there in terms of importance. Do you have a contact or several contact who can take great photos, videos and create logos and graphics? You might not have thought about it but you'll need promotional material, whether it's a session like on Reload Sessions or photos for a press-kit or logos and branding for a show promoter. It's always great knowing a reliable person or group of people who can help you put this together. Some music schools assist with this type of service or otherwise you can ask around on social media - word of mouth suggestions always hold a lot of weight.
The big one, do you need someone to run your day-to-day? Schedule appointments and studio space and shows? It's a tricky one but in the ever-changing music industry labels are now looking for artists who know how to get the ground work done themselves. We spoke with Kwame Kwaten a few weeks ago about what it takes to be a good manager. Ultimately you want someone who will really fight in your corner, someone who will want to be close to you and help you not only succeed but improve your existing skills.
Above & Beyond Group. We love these guys & have collaborated numerous times over the years. http://www.theaboveandbeyondgroup.com/
Sound Advice. http://www.soundadvicellp.com/
Someone's going to have to get your content out there, writing to blogs, brands and help set up campaigns. Often in the early stages of your career this can be done by a manager but once the ball is rolling it's often a good idea to get someone to handle this separately.
Space Promotions. One of our favourite PR groups http://spacepromotions.com/
We spoke about this with Van Straten Solicitors and sooner or later you'll need someone to cover your back legally making sure all the music you're making and releasing is within the realms of the law with a good legal standing. It's easier than you think to go down the DIY route but once you start turning heads in the industry it'll be impressive to ensure you've thought about this already.
Van Straten Solicitors. http://www.vanstraten.co.uk/
PRS (DIY). https://www.prsformusic.com/
PPL (DIY II). http://www.ppluk.com/
Time, Cost & Effectiveness
Those are the main roles you'll need to fill in your Avengers-esque squad, with the first few being more important in the early stages and the rest coming into play later on in your career. So from here you have three options, three ways to bring in these skills to your creative project. Let's look at how each option fares with time, cost (which is a huge factor) and effectiveness.
The Organic Assemble
Talk to people. Talk at shows, talk to fans, talk online, talk to friends. Find out as much as you can about all the roles you can. See a campaign you like being run for a friend of yours? Ask for their publicist. At a show watching a performer you like? Talk to them about a collaboration. Found someone on Twitter who does bespoke header backgrounds? Get their email address. Take the time to bring the right people to your team. It's important you get the right people and not just someone who has the right skills but zero interest. Try to make it beneficial for the person getting involved, if you're paying them smaller amounts of money then it's up to you to sell them the big idea and the big vision. Professionals will often take a hefty amount off their fee if they believe in the vision and understand there's not a huge amount of money to go around. Alternatively try and find people who want to find someone like you. For example maybe a student from music college whose 3rd year project is to manage a new artist (this actually happens!). Look for these people and see if they match your brand.
Pay As You Play
Services provided are paid for. Simple as that. With a bit of money in your pocket it's a heck of a lot easier to get in touch with more skilled professionals who can contribute more to your campaign, allowing you to focus on creating content. Money talks and you get get moving a lot faster than with the organic growth approach. We're not all fortunate enough to have access to funds but if it's at your disposal whether by hard graft or fortune and you genuinely believe in your vision then why not! Find people who match your budget and don't forget to keep an eye on what you pay for and what you agree on. If not treated properly things can go sour which can create bad blood in an industry where reputation is almost everything. This approach get result quickly, but make no mistake that if the passion, drive and talent isn't there the funds won't be able to build on much.
Do It Yourself
Roll up your sleeves. You got this. It's all on you. What a lot of people don't realise is that with the right attitude you can tick off a lot of the roles on that list yourself. Sure you're not a lawyer or a studio manager, but there are ways to get around those things. Instead of paying large fees for studio space, you could potentially create a home studio, and instead of working with a lawyer you could take early steps to protect your music which will cost you under £20. The savy creative can find a way to juggle all these things but it can be quite a lot to handle and you might find yourself staying up handling non-music related aspects related to your project. That's not a bad thing of course because it means you'll be learning more therefore raising your standard for that particular role so when you do eventually find (for example) a manager you'll have an idea of the role he/she should be doing. It can take a while to get to grips with everything but if you're in a secluded part of the country without access to connecting with other creatives or you don't have a budget for your early career then this could be the one for you. Numerous artists have started off this way with Ed Sheeran being one of them. Putting the time in goes a long way.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to add the skills need to create a successful campaign, whether that's learning them yourself, paying someone or networking your way to meeting like-minded people. The important thing is that there is no 'right way' to do things. Everyone has a different set of circumstances with a different time span and a different budget and it's just about finding what works best for you. Whether you build a team or keep it a one-man-show it's totally up to you.
Hopefully this article has highlighted some of the roles that are helpful when moving forward with your career. If you'd like to learn more on artist development why not check out our podcast series found here.