Artist management nowadays is very different in comparison to 50 years ago. In fact, you require a completely different skill set. It’s not just about gaining a record deal: you have to brand yourself, make your own identity, and have many different sources for income. Due to this, a rising number of musicians are managing their career.
Managing your career can be daunting because trying to juggle being an artist and a businessperson is quite taxing and often, the two titles conflict.
Nonetheless, it can be done! At first, it is hard work, but don’t let that put you off as being your own manager is extremely rewarding.
1. Understand your brand point
Before you can even think about setting up any practical measures for your career, you need to solidify your brand point. What makes you unique and will it be profitable? However, try not to stray from your artistic integrity. You need to find a balance of staying true to yourself whilst finding something that pleases the consumers. This could be literally anything.
2. Build a business plan
In simpler terms, your business plan is a professional to-do list. It’s your written roadmap for sorting out your marketing and financial standpoints. How will you market yourself and will you be stable enough, financially, to be able to run your career? A business plan is essential when starting up as it allows you to articulate your specific goals. In turn, this helps you understand what needs to be done. Alongside financial and marketing aspects, your to-do list should include everything from writing your next single, cleaning your studio, networking etc. Make sure to outline immediate and future goals as well.
3. Keep track of your finances
Yes, it is as boring as it sounds but is of utmost importance for successful management, especially when starting your career. If you are extremely serious and passionate about starting and managing your own musical endeavours, it’s probably best for you to use a separate bank account with funds solely for business purposes. As a self-employed person, you need to take note of everything you buy that goes towards your career because, if not, it can affect how much you are taxed (at least that’s how it works in the UK!) Knowing how much you will need for specific things such as travel, studio sessions and equipment is extremely important to note down. Putting in the effort to financially manage yourself will allow you to know what you can afford and, in turn, save money. Maybe with all that extra cash, you’ll be able to hire an accountant and never worry about your finances again!
If you don’t network, you are probably going to be unsuccessful. In most industries, especially music, who you know makes all the difference between success or failing miserably. Cultivating new or old relationships with colleagues, fellow musicians, managers, producers, film-makers etc. will allow you to gather ideas and gain new perspectives for your musical projects. Networking opens many doorways for you and can possibly show career paths you never even thought of. This also opens your career up to the possibility of collaborations which, in turn, will grow your following and increase your sales. You can network through anything really: live events, online seminars, social media, email etc. For me, the most success I’ve had at networking is through LinkedIn. It’s free and easy to use so I suggest making an account!
5. Build a social media following
Building a community of listeners and fans can be hard, but fundamental nowadays to establish yourself as an artist. Social media allows musicians to find and expand their fan base by connecting to them on a more personal level. The content you post can be anything from announcing new albums, merchandise, personal stories etc. and this is what attracts a larger audience. Being able to be relatable and show your charisma is an important step to gaining followers. The more you post, the more you gain traffic on your profiles. Every single like, comment and share helps you gain popularity.
The most popular social media are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok. Trust me when I say that TikTok should probably be your best friend right now. So many artists’ careers have blossomed since the founding of TikTok in 2016, including Lil Nas X and Ashnikko.
Promoting your music on TikTok can allow you to gain access to their $200 million creator fund. It “supports ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content”. Essentially, TikTok will pay you for the videos you create, depending on the number of views.
6. Be creative and stay inspired!
Now that we’ve gone past all the boring steps for managing your own career, we can talk about the exciting parts. Your creativity is the whole reason you started your musical career, so make sure you have time for it! Schedule time for yourself where you can work on your tracks without being distracted by your phone, the TV, social media, emails etc. Without setting aside this time, you won’t have a career to manage and that would just be upsetting. Stay on top of all your goals in order to engage yourself with your creative work.
I know we all get writer’s block from time to time, so just make sure you stay in touch with your inspirations. Who inspired you to write? What do you aspire to be? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Answering these questions can help you stay determined and help with your creativity.
Managing your music career comes with a lot of time management and tedious tasks; however, if you’re like me and prefer to do things alone, it’s definitely worth the investment.
Good luck to you and don’t forget to treat yourself for all your hard work!