The Team Members Every Independent Artist Needs
As an indie artist, you’re used to doing it all. But at some point in your journey, you will find doing it all takes away from your ability to focus on your music. When you realize you don’t have enough time to get everything done, it’s time to start thinking about assembling a team to support and assist you.
Before putting together a team, you’ll need to determine your group’s goals. Each musician’s needs are different, depending on the goals of the group. After determining your goals, but before hiring anyone, check to see what skills and talents the people around you already possess. Assign band members roles/tasks first based on their skills and natural talents. For instance, one band member might be good at networking, while another might have a good eye for photography. Utilize what you have before bringing on outside people.
Once you’ve determined your goals and assigned tasks to group members, the following questions will need to be addressed:
Who do you need on your team?
- Manager – A good manager will handle all of the details of running your music career while simultaneously building your brand. Managers are the go-between with record labels, distributors and radio promoters. If your manager is in place before you assemble the rest of your team, a good manager will assist in making decisions on filling other key roles on your team such as finding a publicist, booking agent or distributor. Typical payment for managers is to take a percentage of sales, not a salary or monthly fee.
- Publicist – A publicist…well…publicizes you by obtaining media coverage for you. This usually covers print, TV and electronic media. Publicists are usually hired for specific tours, album releases, etc. and will begin work several months before major announcements or releases.
- Booking Agent – Booking agents secure regional and national tours. They will also schedule your individual live performances. Booking agents are negotiating on your behalf, so it’s imperative to secure a reputable agent who has contacts in the right areas.
- Accountant – While an accountant familiar with entertainment deductions for tax purposes is optimal, most accountants can direct you in tax deductions, budgeting, etc. Accountants can also proactively help you budget for upcoming tours. Whether you have an accountant on your team year-round, or only at tax time, it’s important to have a professional financer to help direct you in financial decisions.
- Distribution/Label – As an indie artist, you’ve probably done distribution yourself through services such as DistroKid, TuneCore or CD Baby. But once you’ve grown too large to do your own distribution, hiring a distributor makes sharing your music with a much broader audience just as simple. Distributors distribute your music all over the world, including digitally to such sites as Spotify, iTunes, etc. Also, if your distributor feels you show promise, his contacts can be an asset to you.
Add on later
- Business Manager – Works in conjunction with the accountant to make sure your taxes and investments are handled. Also collects royalty checks and takes care of paying your business-related bills.
- Music Attorney – It is important to find a lawyer who specializes in entertainment – specifically music. Music attorneys will review contracts with labels, agents and publicists, and negotiate terms, when needed.
- Graphic Designer – Creates merchandise and album art, graphics for your social media pages, and other materials such as flyers. Graphic Designers can also be your web developer if they have skills in that area.
- Social Media Guru – Your posts should be your own, however, you can hire a social media guru to assist with scheduling posts, managing when posts should be posted at optimal times, and in keeping your brand message clear and consistent. It’s a good idea to send photos and videos to the guru in advance, then while on tour, the guru can strategically post for you.
For the add-on-later roles, sometimes band members or family members may fill those roles until your music is bringing in enough money to hire professionals. Remember that your team should be assembled over time. Don’t rush the process. It takes time to determine the specific needs of your group, and even more time to find the right people to fill each position.
When do you need to hire a manager?
Up to now you’ve probably been managing your own music career. So, when to hire a manager will be determined by how large of a role you want the manager to play in your music career. If you want the manager to manage all aspects including hiring other team members, you’ll want to hire a manager once you’ve established yourself as an indie artist with a following. If you want the manager to play a minimal role by only making arrangements with labels and keeping track of tasks given to other team members, then waiting until you have other positions in place such as a publicist and booking agent, might make more sense.
However or whenever you assemble your team, remember that each team member is there to assist you. You should have the final say-so on all decisions made on your behalf.