100 Things That You Are Doing Right

© 2011 Vinny Ribas

It’s easy to second guess yourself, especially if your music career isn’t progressing as quickly as you want it to. But I think it is vital that you first recognize the things that you are doing right! Some things just need more time, not a complete overhaul! Use this checklist to see how on track with your career goals![private_member]

  1. Booking
    1. You have complete and up-to-date physical press kit and EPK (electronic press kit) so you’re ready for whatever a buyer asks you for.
    2. You do your research before your call on a gig to make sure that you are a good fit.
    3. You’ve studied some basic sales techniques so you can sell your act effectively.
    4. You’ve made it a habit to make the phone calls every day necessary to get gigs (or you have someone else doing that, such as a booking agent).
    5. You have done your homework and know what the venues you play are willing to pay, how much money you need to make in order to make a profit and then charge accordingly.
    6. You follow up on all incoming and outbound booking calls as necessary.
    7. You ask for referrals from the places or people you just performed for.
    8. You book return dates at a venue immediately after your finish your gig.
    9. You rally your fans to come to your shows so you can ask for more money.
    10. You send written, snail-mail thank you cards or notes to each venue after your engagement there.
  2. Marketing
    1. You have a great looking, fast loading, up-to-date interactive website that is separate from all of your social network sites. It has your name as the url (e.g. www.myband.com).
    2. You are steadily building a larger and larger fan base.
    3. You encourage and entice everyone to sign up for your email list and you get their first names, email addresses and zip codes.
    4. You send an interesting, possibly funny, interactive newsletter at least once a month that includes a call to action (e.g. vote for your favorite song on my CD and get a free download).
    5. You only have an active social network presence on those key websites that are most relevant to your act.
    6. You interact with your fans on a one-on-one and small group basis so as to build real relationships with them, resulting in their desire to buy your music and merchandise.
    7. You have a brand statement that describes your act in one short phrase or sentence, and it is highly visible everywhere your name is.
    8. You use free downloads, free merchandise and other enticements to engage your fans.
    9. Everything you do has the end purpose of subtly leading your fans to where they can buy your music.
    10. You appreciate your fans and let them know it on your website and in your newsletters, and reward them for their loyalty.
  3. Recording
    1. You pick only the very best songs for your recordings, regardless of who wrote them.
    2. You budget ahead of time so you know exactly how much money you have to spend, what every one of your expenses will be, how you are going to pay for it and how long it will take to recoup your money.
    3. You hire the most experienced producer within your budget who has produced projects in your genre and style that you like.
    4. You use the best studio for your kind of music and sound that is within your budget.
    5. You hire the best studio musicians and singers within your budget (if needed) instead of insisting on playing and singing everything yourself and getting a less-than-stellar sound that takes 3 times as long to record.
    6. You have the best mix engineer that you can afford mix your project.
    7. You use a good mastering lab to master your project.
    8. You have someone who is talented at graphic design design your packaging so that it looks very professional, attractive and enticing.
    9. You get 3 mixes for all of your songs: 1) music vocals and backup vocals, 2) music only, and 3) music w/backup vocals only.
    10. You get acoustic tracks of your songs to give away as free downloads.
  4. Songwriting
    1. You have studied the craft of songwriting, and you continue to study and learn.
    2. You are co-writing with writers who are better than you and who are strong in the areas that you are weak in.
    3. You keep an ongoing list of potential song titles and song concepts so you never run out of ideas.
    4. You write on a regular basis.
    5. You get your songs critiqued by at least one proven writer before spending money on recording it.
    6. You belong to a songwriter organization to sharpen your skills, find new co-writers, pitch your songs etc.
    7. You record great demos on the songs you are pitching to others.
    8. You legally protect your songs.
    9. You do your homework before pitching your songs to make sure they are appropriate.
    10. You understand the business side of songwriting (publishing, licensing etc.).
  5. Performing
    1. You study your craft, improving your skills by taking lessons or having a coach.
    2. You rehearse on your own daily (or as recommended by your coach).
    3. You rehearse as a group enough to put on nothing less than a tight, well-planned show.
    4. You have learned how to read a crowd.
    5. You know how to entertain, not just play songs.
    6. You know what your fans want from your shows and you deliver that and much more every time.
    7. You show up for every gig, start on time, don’t short-change the venue or your fans by taking long breaks or quitting early.
    8. You tell and show the audience how much you appreciate them.
    9. You recognize and spotlight everyone in your band, as appropriate.
    10. You leave your problems off stage, giving 110% in every performance.
  6. Music and Merchandise
    1. You have studied your fanbase enough to know what they will buy, how much they will buy and what 1. percentage of your live audience will buy something.
    2. You only sell merchandise that you know your fan demographic will buy.
    3. You have something unique to sell that few if any other artists offer (e.g. baby clothes with your logo on it).
    4. You hang out at the merchandise table after your shows to meet your fans and don’t leave until the last one has gone.
    5. You know what your profit margins are.
    6. You have someone manning your merch table from the minute your shows end.
    7. You place your merch table near the exit so everyone has to pass by it on the way out.
    8. You showcase your merch from stage (e.g. wear the band t-shirt).
    9. You conduct contests during your shows and give away music and merch as prizes.
    10. You never run out of your most popular items.
  7. Business
    1. You have appropriate an attorney review all contracts before you sign anything.
    2. You have learned how to manage your money.
    3. You have or are assembling a business team to handle the areas of your business that you cannot.
    4. You have someone who knows bookkeeping keeping your bookkeeping up to date so you know if you are making money or losing money and how much. You keep all of your business-related receipts and use them to reduce your tax liability.
    5. You have an accountant or business manager watching over your money and doing your taxes. You never cheat on your taxes.
    6. You handle all facets of your business with the utmost professionalism.
    7. You are aware of what is happening in every area of your business.
    8. You do thorough research and conduct in-depth interviews before adding someone to your business team (manager, booking agent etc.)
    9. You have professional-looking business cards and carry them with you at all times.
    10. You are well versed in the many ways that artists and/or songwriters can generate income, and have created multiple streams of income to reduce the risk of your income totally disappearing if your main source dries up.
  8. Education
    1. You are extremely teachable, always craving to learn more.
    2. You have coaches and mentors from whom you are constantly gaining more skill, knowledge and understanding. You also pay it back by coaching or mentoring someone else.
    3. You study the business side of your career so that you are never taken advantage of.
    4. You know how the industry works and how to maximize your role in it.
    5. You know the basic legal issues that you should or must need to adhere to (e.g. copyrighting your songs).
    6. You keep up on global happenings that can affect your career, such as the current copyright law debates.
    7. You watch for trends, taking advantage of them when possible. You know when it’s time to look for something new because a trend is dying.
    8. You’ve learned some sales techniques to help you book your act.
    9. You know and follow the ‘best practices’ in your segment of he industry.
    10. You are aware of the latest technologies that can improve your sound, boost your career and/or increase your productivity.
  9. Personal Development
    1. You have your priorities straight (God, family, career, health etc.).
    2. You keep a balance in your life, making ample room for everyone who is important to you.
    3. You are active in your chosen spiritual path.
    4. You have a strong family relationship and work on it every day of your life.
    5. You take care of your body, exercising and eating healthy foods.
    6. You take care of your mental health. You do not drink in excess or do drugs.
    7. You have ‘systems’ to follow to keep yourself adequately organized.
    8. You take breaks (days off without working, vacations etc.) to give your mind and body a chance to rejuvenate.
    9. You have at least one person you trust and confide in.
    10. You adamantly do everything legally and ethically.
  10. People Skills
    1. You have learned and employ basic networking skills.
    2. You show up where it is appropriate and most effective for you to meet people who can influence your career or other important parts of your life.
    3. You study how to be a good leader, even if that is not the role you are in right now.
    4. You offer to help others before you ask for help.
    5. You avoid offending people with foul, inappropriate language.
    6. You know when the right time and wrong time are to talk politics, religion or anything else controversial.
    7. You avoid offending others with inappropriate dress.
    8. You act professionally at all times.
    9. You do what you say you are going to do.
    10. You are generous with your compliments and appreciation.
  11. [/private_member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.