Building an Artist Team
With success comes responsibility. Hopefully as you progress in your career this will become the case. As you grow, the demands of “wearing multiple hats” will become too much work. It will be time to bring in more help. As you build a fanbase, you should assemble team members who do an exceptional job filling essential roles and bring them on as these jobs become too much to handle. Everyone has to be on the same page and doing a good job for you to be successful, so you want to find team members who are as excited and talented as you are. You want to find passionate, self-motivated and talented people to fill each role.
Musicians – Until you build a fanbase and can afford to pay people to do most of these jobs, you’re going to have to do them yourself. The musicians you work with are a crucial part of the team and will be responsible for many of these roles until you can afford to bring in other people. This is how you’ll get things done when you’re starting out and keep your costs down. It’s also important to note that if any of the musicians you work with aren’t too wild about doing this work, the rest of the team may start to lose excitement as well. It’s extremely important for the musicians involved to keep their heads up, take on their roles and keep the ship moving forward with enthusiasm so that all other members of the team feel motivated to do their jobs. Otherwise, they will find a more motivated set of musicians to work for and gain greater returns from.
Recording Engineer/Producer – While musicians will change this up from record to record, having a constant person who can help you record, mix and master your songs is a plus. A producer will create the foundations of your songs and also help guide your vocal performances. Learning to do many of these duties for your own music is extremely helpful.
Graphic Design – While musicians will use the talents of many different designers for various duties throughout their careers, it’s smart to employ one person who can deal with the many graphic needs you’ll have. Websites, advertisements, stickers, merchandise and album art all need graphic work. This can get expensive fast, so developing a relationship with a talented artist or learning to do it yourself is necessary.
Distribution – If you don’t sign to a label, you need to get a distributor for your music. Distributors get your music for sale in physical and digital outlets. Many distributors will work to get good placements for musicians who show promise and constantly promote their music. Developing this relationship can do a lot for you.
Videographer – If you’re going to do YouTube updates, acoustic videos, music videos or any other type of video content, someone is going to have to film and edit them. Getting your videos promoted can be a huge step in gaining more exposure. While promoting to traditional TV outlets is nearly impossible to do yourself, you can get around this by utilizing online video promotion–by far the strongest method for promoting videos today.
Manager – Whenever you get an opportunity, no matter where it comes from, it’s your manager’s job to maximize its potential. Your manager is the hub that connects your team together. They’re the go-to person to make sure everyone is on the same page and keep your strategy coordinated.
Your manager is also responsible for making sure your accounting gets done correctly, that everyone shows up at the right place and that your whole infrastructure is working well. It’s your manager’s job to make sure something gets done even if another team member is slacking off. In the next chapter, the many roles and duties of a manager are discussed more extensively. Your manager is by far the most important member of your team, outside of those you make music with.
Booking Agent – One of the hardest team members to find is a good, competent booking agent. Because of this, many musicians are forced to act as their own booking agents. Your booking agent will book your tours, take care of guarantees and submit you to get on tours with other acts. While this member of the team is usually hard to come by, taking this job seriously is do-or-die for a musician whose fanbase is built through live shows.
Lawyer – Once you’re making money and getting new opportunities, you’ll need a lawyer to take care of any contracts that come your way. In general, you’re going to want to deal with a single lawyer for all of your matters. Oftentimes, a band will sign a contract with a lawyer where the lawyer receives a fee on all earnings that the band makes through the lawyer’s help. A lawyer will also shop your music for record deals and licensing.
Keep in mind that there are many types of teams in music. First, establish your goals, identify your needs, and create a strategy for success that you can offer to any prospects. Discuss those goals with your team, be open to accepting their guidance, and commit to being the best part of the team you can be.