Music artistry has never been looked upon as a stable career to say the least and there have been few institutions that offer any accreditations. With the feast or famine results it is no wonder only few make it and fewer having staying power. The good news is there are more institutions emerging where aspiring artists can train like Full Sail in Orlando (https://www.fullsail.edu/) or Musicians Institute in Los Angeles (https://www.mi.edu/). The fast pace tech world has also armed artists with tools to increase exposure and achieve success quicker, through the internet and cell phones giving direct consumer access.
Recently I was speaking to a talented artist who is new to the industry and recording her first project and she brought up all the different advice she had gotten. She sounded overwhelmed so rather than offer any more advice I just listened. What stood out to me was that most of what she was told I had heard repeatedly over the years. So I thought I would offer a short checklist to upcoming artists out there to help them on their journey.
No one can do it alone and your team will be key. But management should be thought of as your entire in house team not just your personal manager but business manager (accountant), booking agent and tour manager, publicist and more. The team gets bigger the bigger your brand is. In the beginning start small and seek counsel from some of your prospective managers before approaching them for representation. Managers only get between 10 to 20 percent of what you make so most managers with heavy resources are going to represent artists that they either really believe in, have full control of or that are already active and making money. So take your time and choose wisely. Factor in not only their resources but how much time they can spend representing you, how much they believe in you and how much they understand your genre when making your decision.
Honestly, almost no one fully understands the intricacies of publishing but everyone knows it’s important. Start here – Read and ask questions then repeat. No seriously. This is your residual income. Participate! You should be registered with BMI, ASCAP, JACAP (in Jamaica), SESAC and AFTRA. If you have not heard of these please stop and return to this article after you look those up. In the beginning these are your first key points of contact for your publishing questions. When you have a good sized catalogue and are ready to record on request, find your own publishing administrator to help you submit songs for placement in movies, video games, commercials and other opportunities. Look for a non exclusive situation where they get a percentage for the work they bring in and monies they collect on your behalf.
Here is a intro to Music Publishing
It is a mindset. I call it campaigning because it is. Working in an organized way to a singular goal. Which is to run a successful brand that creates a platform and provides monetary support. Decide what your core message is and live it. Represent your brand properly everywhere you go and require all those working with you to do the same. Like Granny used to say “bush have ears and wall have eyes”. You never now who is watching and everyone has a cell phone. Remember to lead the campaign like a head coach and your team are the assistant coaches you trust as advisors but you ultimately make the decision. This means although you will get most of the praise when things go well you must be ready to shoulder the blame, like any good leader. No complaining or finger pointing, be solution oriented and a joy to work with behind the scenes because the word will spread.
Waiting for managers, producers, investors or record labels to keep you busy is not just frustrating it is a career death sentence. You must fill your own calendar. Perform as often as you can and sell your merch as much as your music. Merchandise and performances are your source of steady income as you promote your music. No one can sell your brand as well as you can so out work everyone on your team. Do non paying events in your community, shoot or fund your own music videos, travel on your own dollar if necessary but stay busy. Increase the probability of your success by preparing non stop and seeking opportunity feverishly.