5 Ways to Master Your Business as a Professional Band.
The music industry is a tough and gnarly beast to conquer, and it can eat you up whole if you let it. Things have changed so much, as a professional band, if you don’t treat yourself like a proper business, after a while there’s a danger you could be facing small success with little or no money or energy to carry on. A lot of time and expense can get wasted running around in circles, looking like you’re going places, but in fact not getting anywhere very far.
Let me present a common scenario: Let’s say you are a 5 piece rock band: drummer, lead vocalist, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist and bass player. You’ve been together for two years and you are now headlining in your local pubs and clubs. You’ve recorded a couple of EPs that are starting to sell well at your gigs. There’s an album in the pipeline, and an excited and loyal bunch of fans is building and starting to follow you wherever you go. Recently you’ve had airtime on local radio – one of the producers at BBC Introducing has been sniffing around, and some promoters have started to approach you to play bigger gigs. All the while you’ve been pumping every penny you can muster into this project.
At last, things you believe are hotting up, and soon you might start to see a return on your investment – or so you hope. You’re trying not to feel overwhelmed or stressed by all the work that’s going into keeping the band together – and truth be known, you’re struggling to find enough hours in the day. Even though success is looming, personalities are starting to clash a bit – you never prepared for this kind of dynamic to happen, and it’s wearing you out.
You realise you desperately need some kind of management to help you navigate through and take you to the next stage. You’ve had a few offers, but you’re not sure you want to get into bed with them yet. The rest of the band is restless – they feel they’re going places, and want to get a deal, while there’s so much excitement. Of course no one wants to lose momentum, least of all you. The band wants to sign some kind of a deal and get money in now. You, on the other hand, feel the band should hang on a bit longer. With big egos flying around, you feel no one is really sure what’s happening next or what you’re going to get out of a deal. Intuitively, you feel you are not ready to sign away your lives just yet – you need to understand a little more about what you’re letting yourself in for.
You’re not wrong. The truth is, the less professional and businesslike you are, the less inclined the major players in the industry are to get involved. Lack of business professionalism is a deal-breaker. The old days of the Svengali manager are over, and flakiness is easily spotted in artists, and frankly avoided. Very rarely do any of the top management companies or labels take on anyone who doesn’t know how to look after themselves both personally and professionally. They want a working relationship that functions on all levels – that is reliable and effective. No one wants to work with a bunch of egomaniacs – which is what you’ll end up looking like if you don’t know your stuff.
So here are the five things you can do that will differentiate you as a professional band that’s going places, and make you more approachable by the industry:
1) Ask yourself what business skills you have and find out what are the strengths and skill sets of the others in the band. With some guidance and advice, you might find you have the capability to manage your business and tame your band without having to give away a large percentage of your earnings to outside management too early, or incur expensive legal bills. You may be getting overwhelmed and exhausted because you are doing too much – do you need to do it all? It might be a good idea to consult someone who can give you some expert business advice and help you put a strategy together so that you can learn to delegate to others in your group.
The more clarity you have as to your investment, in terms of your personal time and money; what your vision is and the financial and personal outcomes you are looking for, the more streamlined and efficient you will become. So when that management company or big record label does come along, they will take you much more seriously if they see you are ready to work with them in a way that is businesslike and productive. If you both know what to expect from each other, you are much more likely to attract a better deal.
2) Within your circle, see if you can identify who is the organized person, the one who’s never late, never forgets anything and is able to deal with any problems. Is it you? If you’re a natural at managing, you should be able to work well with people and be able to forge good relationships with local promoters, venues, and recording studio heads and have the big picture in mind of where the band is going at all times.
3) Get used to working from a plan (we can help you with that). To start earning decent money from your music career, you’re going to need to target the right people who take what you do seriously enough to want to pay good money to see you and buy your products. You can’t run a career giving away freebies and putting all your mates on the guest list.
4) Promotion is so important. Look for the member of your group who is social-media savvy. They’ll need to be constantly producing content and putting it out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and your website. They need to have a shrewd eye for promotion opportunities, whether that’s creating a custom version of the latest meme doing the rounds or noticing a re-tweet from a friend that’s promoting a local cultural magazine who might review your gig or album. Who’s the arty one – you also need someone who can produce amazing posters and graphics on Photoshop. Good images and graphics say so much about who you are and what you represent as a band.
5) There’ll be one person in your group who earns the same amount of money as everyone else who is never broke. They are the financially sound one, they know how to manage their money and possibly create a budget spreadsheet or two for the band. When the demands and desires of your band increase, you’ll realize that you’re going to need cash flow to keep things going when you’re not earning. If you manage your money properly, you’ll be able to book better-paid shows, budget for longer recording sessions, and buy better equipment, and produce better content. Content is king remember. When you create good quality content, you create valuable assets for your business.
Here at The Powerful Artist, we can give you the financial training and a strategy so that you can earn a decent living from running your band as a business. We don’t do the management for you, but we teach you how to manage yourselves so that moving forward you can get the best deal and top management when the time is right.
We know that running your band on your own is tricky when time is hard to come by. Finding the right people to delegate to can sometimes be hard to get your head around. If you see yourself as a proper business, it gets a lot easier to operate as a working band when the work is shared and you all know what you’re doing.
Our Powerful Artist programme is designed to teach you and give you the tools you need to be able to manage your band as a business. It will provide you with a significant advantage against other musicians and groups in the industry. To find out more about The Powerful Artist or to get in touch with Gina, please go to www.thepowerfulartist.com.