Music – A Team Sport

Teamwork© 2017 Vinny Ribas

No artist can build a solid career completely alone. Do you wonder why you’re so exhausted and can’t get ahead of the game? The simple truth is there are just not enough hours in the day to:

  • Take lessons to perfect your craft (singing, playing your instrument)
  • Write songs
  • Take lessons and rehearse to perfect your craft(s)
  • Rehearse the band to keep your show tight and fresh
  • Fill your calendar with bookings
  • Get to gigs, set up, do sound check, play the gig, break down and move on to the next one
  • Cover all of your legal bases (copyrights, signing and negotiating contracts etc.)
  • Record, distribute and sell your music
  • Manage your finances
  • Market your act and your music
  • Studying the music business
  • Networking (live and online) and attending industry conferences and events to make connections
  • Drive PR opportunities such as CD reviews, interviews on radio or TV or in a magazine etc.
  • Pursue bigger career opportunities such as touring with a major artist
  • Drive from gig to gig
  • Book your hotels and other travel
  • Manage your website and keep it up to date
  • Sleep, exercise, cook and keep yourself in good shape
  • Take care of your family
  • Many other tasks that are critical to your ongoing success

Every single one of these tasks is important. In order to ensure that they are all adequately taken care of, you absolutely need to attract a strong team. Don’t get me wrong… It’s not the easiest thing to do. It takes time and it requires putting a long list of specific things in place to attract each professional.  A basic artist team for a serious, small touring band normally consists of a manager, one or more booking agents, a publicist, a marketing expert and one or more producers.

  • A manager who acts as the CEO/COO of your company, directing the day-to-day activities, making sure that all of your bases are covered and seeking out greater opportunities for you.
  • One or more booking agents who fill your calendar with good and great gigs.
  • A publicist who pursues a wide variety of PR opportunities
  • A marketing expert who handles much or all of your social networking
  • A bookkeeper and/or accountant
  • An entertainment attorney
  • Band members or support musicians
  • An assistant, office manager or intern
  • Coaches for your voice, instrument, performance etc.)

Depending on the nature of your act, there are a myriad of other personnel such as a band leader or music director, sound and lighting engineers, tour manager, co-writers, publisher etc. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s stick the absolute essential roles that need to be filled to be a working artist.

At this very moment you may not be in a position to attract or hire experienced and reputable people to cover all of tasks that need to be done. Some require you either pay for their services or they earn a commission based on your income.

Here are some very logical and feasible steps that you can take right now.

  • List out all of the tasks required to run your music business (expand the list above). Every artist has a different list based on the nature of the act, what he or she is trying to accomplish and in what time frame.
  • Determine which tasks you need to handle personally (such as taking voice lessons). Schedule them so they are not overlooked or forgotten.
  • Determine which tasks you can recruit or hire nonprofessionals to do. This could mean recruiting fans, friends and/or family members to do some regular marketing for you, finding an intern to get you some bookings etc. Delegate and oversee the execution of those tasks. Put those support services into place.
  • Determine which tasks require a professional  Determine what it will take to get them on your team and put those pieces in place (money, marketing materials, some gigs, increased social network presence, larger mailing list etc.).

Here is a short overview of the requirements for attracting these professionals:

  • A Manager works on commission. He (or she) normally receives 15%-20% of your gross entertainment-related income. So in order to attract a reputable one, you need to either be making good money already or have ‘something special’ that the manager believes he can market on a level that will bring in great money for you and for him. For example, he may believe that your act is perfect for theaters, colleges or corporate gigs that pay $5,000 or more per show.
  • A Booking Agent works basically the same way. He (or she) makes a 15%-20% commission from any gig he gets you. If the agent is exclusive, meaning you contract with him to be your only agent, he may get a commission from every gig whether he lands it or not. So in order to attract a good agent, you must be able to command enough money to make it worth his time and effort. If you don’t earn very much money right now, you must be a strong enough act (with professional marketing materials) that the agent believes he can place you successfully into higher paying gigs.
  • The rest of your team members are all paid a straight fee. How strong they are depends on their reputations as well as how much you can afford. As always, you will get what you pay for.

5 -Research the professionals you’d like to attract to be sure you’re targeting the perfect teammates. Reach out to them and explain to them exactly why you are a good fit for them. If they balk or say ‘no’, and you really want to work with them, ask what you could do to change their minds. Some might help you put the necessary pieces in place, or help you find suitable alternatives.

All of the roles and tasks I mentioned are important. If there are roles that you just don’t have time for or are not strong at, you have several options:

  • Study or practice until you become proficient at a specific task or role
  • Find volunteers to help you
  • Bring on interns to help you
  • Hire an assistant to cover multiple roles

If all of this sounds overwhelming to you, know that you’re definitely not alone! In that case I strongly suggest you hire a consultant to help you navigate the business and ensure that you are:

  • Spending your time and money wisely
  • Doing things properly and efficiently
  • Performing or delegating all the critical tasks mentioned above
  • Taking advantage of every opportunity for income or publicity
  • Constantly improving in every area

Keep in mind that a good consultant will not only guide you on what to do and how to do it.  When you’re ready he will also introduce you to or help you find the absolute best members of your team.

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, a global business club for serious independent artists, songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Indie Connect helps its members increase their chances of success by providing practical career direction and education, combined with live and online industry networking opportunities. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, an artist manager, a booking agent, songwriter and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He is a published author and popular speaker at music industry conferences.