How To Get A Manager (Or Be A Successful Independent Artist)

Pleased to introduce the How To Get A Manager (Or Be A Successful Independent Artist) – a FREE email course for new, unsigned and independent artists!

For a long time I have been paying attention to the questions that I am most-asked by new and aspiring music artists, along with noting all of your comments during the AR Seminars and the emails I am sent.

Without doubt, one of the most common questions is ‘How should I approach artist managers?

If you are a music artist or singer/songwriter trying to develop your career, this is a perfectly legitimate question.

However, it’s the wrong one to be asking.

This is because getting a manager is never a case of approaching one and hoping they believe in your talent enough to sign you up on the spot. The music industry simply doesn’t work like that.

The steps you need to take to get a manager are far more complex, and are ones you should be working to implement now – even if you don’t feel you’ll need a manager for quite some time yet.

This is the short answer.

However, as a way of reaching all of you who have asked how to approach managers, I have written the (long) answer down.

I am offering this to anyone who wants it, by way of an email course, for FREE.

You will learn:

  • What Artist Managers are looking for in new artists, and why they choose to work with some artists over others
  • What you need to have in place to get a manager OR be a successful independent artist
  • How to approach managers and other music industry personnel (or better yet, attract them) 
  • Find out if you are ready for an Artist Manager now

The course starts on Monday the 24th of July, with one-lesson-a-day sent directly to your email inbox.

To receive these, simply enrol here now.

As this course was inspired by all of you new artists who have reached out about this topic, I also wanted to say thank you for your comments, questions and emails.

Looking forward to sending you the first email on the 24th of July!

How to prioritise tasks as a developing music artist

There’s no doubt that juggling the many tasks you need to do as a developing music artist is challenging. This is particularly tricky if you are also working around a full-time job or studies at the same time as trying to move your career music career forward.

However, prioritisation and time management is challenging at every stage of your career. As you become more established and more successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes easier. In fact, if anything, it can become even tougher – you’re more in demand, your team grows and then there is even more people and schedules to be managing. Priorities need to be clear and time management needs to be slick across the board, so that the entire team is working together cohesively.

How you prioritise the tasks which are most important and how you manage your time is an ongoing balancing act throughout a music career. But if you are working independently or are perhaps at the very beginning of your careers where you’re doing everything by yourselves, I know that this can feel even more overwhelming than usual. It’s sometimes difficult to find the energy to devote consistent time to your music career around everything else you have to do.

As an artist manager, I’ve had to perfect my time management and prioritisation skills down to a fine art – teaching my artists techniques and helping them to focus on priorities effectively. Times that by 3, 4 or 5 different artists you might be managing and you get the picture as to how crucial this is.

Here’s how to prioritise tasks as a developing music artist:

 

1. Focus on the music first

If you’re at the very beginning stages of your career, you feel you’re still a new artist, or your sound is still developing, really focus on getting a clear sound identity down first.

If your sound identity is still unclear, i.e. you haven’t been able to narrow down and define exactly what your genre/style/defining musical motifs are, and what you want to be communicating musically as an artist, continue focusing on this until you’ve defined it.

Then focus on getting a really great product (and when I say product I mean high quality recording of songs that you’ve written or performances of your voice/instrument) under your belt. If you don’t yet have high quality recordings of songs or performances that you’re proud of, this is your starting point.

Make sure you focus on the music first. This is absolutely your top priority in the beginning stages of your career, because until there’s some singing, playing or songwriting of yours to showcase you can’t drive anything else forward.

 

2. Make audience-building part of your daily routine.

Audience building is one of the most important tasks of your job as a music artist. However, lots of artists make the mistake of thinking that audience building can’t start until they have a release to promote, or have played X number of shows, or until that have a manager – in truth, if you don’t begin building your audience til this point you are likely late.

A small and sustainable way of starting to audience build is to document your musical journey. For example, what are you working on each day that is a part of your music career that you can give a snapshot of for anyone who’s following you on social media. Been writing lyrics? Photograph them. Been rehearsing? Film a clip of it for your followers to hear. Playing a gig? Livestream a song from it for those that couldn’t attend.

Choose a social media platform and share just one behind-the-scenes look at what you’re working on musically each day of the week. By the end of the week you’ll have shared seven pieces of content that have given people some insight as to where you are in your music career, what’s coming in future, and what’s going on the behind-the-scenes!

There’s lots of other audience building strategies and approaches you can take further on down the line when you start putting campaigns into place around your music releases. In the meantime, you can start building your audience in this simple way now. You can even do it on the way to work!

 

3. Batch your tasks

Make a list of everything you need to do of a week – that might be songwriting new lyrics or material, recording, rehearsing, curating social media content, collaborating with co-writers and producers.

Then try and batch those so that you’re focusing on one thing at a time. For example, if your focus is on the music and you know that you need to write or record new material, make sure that you set aside a specific time to do that.

Maybe Saturdays are specifically dedicated to songwriting, Mondays are the days when you contact promoters and open mic nights about coming to perform, Tuesdays for a half an hour is the day that you really focus in on your social media.

During each time you will only focus on that time slots allocated task, rather than flitting from one task to another. Otherwise your focus becomes very diluted.

If you can, avoid trying to complete 20 different things that are your list all at once, or split your focus amongst lots of different tasks. I find it’s much more productive to spend intensive time focusing on just one task at a time.

Knowing in advance what you will be working on at a given time also allows you to prepare and organise around it much more easily. Crucially, you should find this allows you to complete tasks more quickly.

 

4. Eliminate unnecessary tasks

As a developing music artist, yes there is lots to do. But it can also easily feel like there’s even more to do than there really is – I’ll explain why. Instead of just keeping busy, you should really be thinking about if I task has a return on its investment of time. Is it a necessary task, in other words? Much of the work you undertake may not be. But how do you tell?

If a task isn’t either improving your craft, strengthening your brand, building your audience or making you money, it is likely an unnecessary task. Sure, there’s lots of little things you can do that might make minimal improvements in a certain area, but if it’s not having a specific return on investment it may not be worth the time it takes. For example, if you are playing a gig to help build your audience, does that gig attract audiences who fit your own audience demographic? Does it get good numbers of people through its doors? Are they likely to be responsive to the style and type of act you are? These are the types of questions you should be asking to determine whether this is a task worth undertaking.

It isn’t possible to do everything at once, especially if you’re working full-time or you’re studying so it’s important to prioritise. When time is at a premium, if a task doesn’t fit into any of these categories you can probably eliminate it.

 

5. Take one action every day (no matter how small)

If you want to make sure that your music career is moving forward consistently, make sure that you’re taking one action towards it per day. Whether you have 10 minutes to spare, or you have two hours to spare, make sure that you’re doing at least one action per day. This ensures that momentum is kept even when working around a busy schedule, and allows you to fee that you are not neglecting your music career.

If you save all your music tasks and do them on one day at the weekend, it can become quite overwhelming and very easy to procrastinate (hence falling behind with your goals) instead of breaking these into more manageable chunks. As a result, quite often what that means is that nothing happens because you don’t get around to it, or something else comes up and the time that you set aside to focus on your music career falls by the wayside. Sound familiar?

Break down your to-do list of tasks that you need to do that week into small chunks and do one of those things a day, even if that’s just sending one email or posting one thing on social media. That way you know that you’ve at least done something, focused a little bit on your music career that day.

 

Learn more

Those were my tips on how to prioritise tasks as a developing music artist. I hope they help. If you have any more tips that you have found help you prioritise tasks in your music career, please do leave them in the comments to share with fellow developing music artists.

For more on this topic you can view a previous AR Seminar on this topic here and for more information on the ‘Self-Manage Your Music Career’ course, please register your interest here.

Here Are The 4 Things You Should Focus On As A Music Artist

For any artist trying to ‘make it’ in music, the dream might be to focus exclusively on your passion – that is, the creation and performance of the music – for a living.

The reality of course is that you will have found yourself wearing many hats, busy all the time with numerous tasks demanding your attention (from invoicing and managing your social media, to attending industry events and marketing), often whilst juggling a part time job or music studies.

Often this creates a sense of busy-ness without much sense of progression.It can be very difficult to know exactly which things you should be focusing on to move your music career forward.

As a result, many of the independent artists I meet are looking for the exact steps they should be taking in order to succeed.

The truth is that this is almost impossible to provide because every artist is unique. They are different in style from one another, with different aspirations, different strengths and appeal to different audiences. The exact steps that may work for one artist can be completely wrong for another.

There are many variables and nuances to be considered, and it is only with full visibility and understanding of each of my artists unique set of circumstances that I can help them successfully navigate these. It is not surprising that every established artist’s route to success is so individual.

However, while there may not be a steps-to-success formula for artists, there are 4 key things you need to focus on to succeed.

You should find that each of the individual tasks you undertake as an artist fit within one of these 4 key focus areas.

If they don’t, ask yourself if they are essential or is it simply work without a return on its investment?

 

1. Creating A Brand

Having a strong brand as an artist is key – it is what represents you and your music to the world. It is your identity as an artist.

If your brand doesn’t sound, look and feel aligned with the artist you are, you will find it hard to connect with both potential fans and the music industry.

So, what constitutes your brand as an artist? At the very core of your brand is of course your product (the music you create or perform), surrounded by your brand assets (for example your logo, website & social networks, your singles/EP’s artwork, your live show, your image etc).

Understanding exactly who you are as an artist, and making sure that your brand reflects this, will be a large part of your focus in the early stages of your career.

 

2. Building An Audience

There is a misconception that you don’t start building an audience until you have the perfect body of musical work, which you release via a record label, to an unsuspecting public who then become ardent fans.

This is rarely, if ever, the case. In my opinion audience building begins as soon as you have some music and a brand you feel is as strong as it can be at this current point in time.

It is having an engaged audience which gives you your leverage (and people to play to!) so you want to be building this continuously, starting as early as possible. When you do release music, it will fall flat if there is not an audience already in place, ready to receive it.

You should be spending a little time on building your audience every day.

A simple way of doing this is to document your day-to-day musical journey – why not share a snapshot from today’s rehearsal, songwriting, recording session or gig on your artist social networks? It is the behind the scenes that will always be most captivating to an audience.

 

3. Implementing A Strategy

You need to have a strategy – a plan – if you are going to achieve your career goals.

You strategy should detail your objectives, the actions you need to take to achieve those, and set clear deadlines for each action step.

This gives you the roadmap to where you want to go as an Artist, and can also provide more structure and routine to your working week (very helpful as an independent artist).

No Artist Manager would work without a clear strategy for their artist, so as an independent artist you should be putting this in place for yourself. It will let you to see exactly which activities work for you and which don’t, allowing you to change tactics and direction when needed.

More importantly, it allows you to track your progression and ensure you are in fact moving forward.

Without this, you can end up stuck in the rut of doing things as you’ve always done them – which may not actually be working for you.

 

4. Monetising Your Music

This is often the last thing that artists think about, much less focus on consistently.

However, if your wish is to make a full-time living from music, at some point the questions of how and when you can monetise what you do must be considered.

There are a few key income streams in music at present, namely live performance, songwriting, brand partnerships and record sales/streams. However, for most artists these are medium-long term methods of monetisation.

It is in creating a strong brand, building an audience, and following a strategy that you can eventually monetise your music. And the more your audience grows, the quicker you can get there. After all, it is your fans who will stream and download your music and buy tickets to see you perform.

This is not to say that making money early on in your career or as an independent artist isn’t possible, but it is difficult without consistently focusing on the four areas detailed here.

There’s no roadmap to success in the music industry

Ok, so each of these 4 areas are broad – this is not an article encouraging less activity, but rather encouraging you to focus on the right activities.

I stated at the beginning of this blog that there were no exact steps you can take to succeed in music. However, I believe each of these four focus areas can be broken down into a series of exact steps artists can take to ensure they create a strong brand, build an audience, implement a strategy (one that is tailored to them) and monetise their music effectively.

This is the closest thing you can get to a roadmap to success in music, and it’s a journey you can take independently.

Learn more

Want to know exactly which steps you should take to create a brand, build an audience, implement a strategy and monetise your music?

If so, the Self-Manage Your Music Career online course does exactly that!

Self-Manage Your Music Career shows you step-by-step how to set goals and get clear on your vision as an Artistcreate your brandbuild an audienceimplement a strategy and monetise your music.

It is also packed full of additional resources and tools for new artists. Check it out here now.

Creative design from the South

Get in touch with us!