How to Manage your own Music Career is fast becoming the way to go. Artists are becoming more and more experienced marketers than ever before. We are well into the digital age where things were turned upside down for artists but this has given rise to the Independent Artist movement.
I will be providing a number of steps that will give the artist a clearer path of what to do first and progress. Most of it is practical advice but in my experience, Many artists are not getting the practical stuff done correctly. My experience comes from investigating the Music Industry in Ireland for over 12 years.
My steps will begin as if you are a new artist and beginning for the first time. Those of you who are more progressed can skip or maybe reconsider a revisit to one of the steps. The steps are there as a guild and will give you a good idea of what to do and how to build a fanbase. Some of you play Music for the pleasure but some want to bring your music to a whole new level and building a fanbase will be critical.
Believe it or not Many artists get this wrong from the very beginning when starting out. An act looking to reach the stars can get caught up in the madness of looking for gigs everywhere. This is a big mistake in my opinion and securing a regular in your local community should be your First Step to how to manage your own Career.
I remember a friend of mine told me back in 2009 that " If you can't make it in your own backyard, You ain't gonna make it anywhere". This man had been in the business for over 50 years and managed acts like Chad & Jeremy, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Canned Heat, Eagles, Peter, Paul & Mary, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, America, Poco, and many others. John Hartmann was a Music Manager for 40 years and lectured in music management for the following 10 years. If you can't take his word for it then who?
He was the old stock that did it the hard way when digital was unknown. He still believed in some of the old tricks that he learned were still relevant in the digital age. The grassroots of Music management is still with the Venue and will always be. Here is a free book, written by John about Managing an act in the digital age. I urge you to read it as its full of all the information you will ever need in relation to Music. Building Bands in the Digital Age
Find a local Venue and set up a Base camp there. This is where you will start building. Pick a Venue owner or Manager that loves music and will support your Journey. It's not one-way traffic by the way. Show the venue that you mean business by inviting your family and friends to your events and show that you are there for the long hall. The Venue is critical to build a solid platform and grow. I have another blog that goes into this more extensively. It has nearly 5,000 views so I must be saying something that resonates. Reality Check for the Irish Artist - Booking a Music Gig In Ireland
Build a website and not a crappy one. Make it stand out and get it done professionally. You can go to Fiver and Upwork these days and developers can build a website for 100 to 200 euros. I have seen some dreadful websites in my time and there is no excuse for this in a time where websites are affordable and easy to manage these days.
The website is your second place of operation and needs to a pleasant place to visit. You should have a very well presented front page with the tabs Home, About, Media, Music and contact page.
Have an Email subscription platform set up where you collect up all of your contacts. You can pop the emails in yourself or fans can subscribe to your newsletter. Most artists make the mistake of not doing this. They believe that it's too much work and social media is the way to go. Wrong !! Social media have been tightening up posts for about 5 years now and is fast becoming useless to artists. Unless you have 100s of thousands of followers on social media, you are wasting your time with the likes of Facebook. Twitter etc. There just don't work anymore.
There is just one useful tool on social media and that's live streaming. If you are an artist then play to your audience there and make sure you have an email subscription below it so you can get their details and build a relationship with the new subscriber. You need to get personal and build a proper relationship.
Youtube streaming is another great way to connect to your audience. Ask your listeners to subscribe and to also click the notification. By doing that they will get an email notification telling them when you are live streaming and you can perform and chat to them live. You need to get in front of your audience and away from Social Media posting. Social media is too distracting and is designed to hit you with all sorts of notifications to distract your audience too. You need to have their attention.
This one sounds obvious but most artists just don't get it. If you want people to buy your Music then you need fans to buy from you. I'm sorry, but your fans are not the ones who liked your page on facebook. They are the ones that came to your gigs and subscribed to your website and Video channels. Concentrate on those only as they have a genuine interest in you and you should have the same for them. This is the number 1 Marketing tool you need in how to manage your own Music career.
Launch an EP or Album when you have actual fans. Time and time again I have seen artists launching their Music and expecting a huge response only to be disappointed. You need to put in the graft with your fans first. If you do, they will support you when the time comes. Don't waste a good EP or Album if you are not completely sure that you have, already anticipated fans and lots of them. It just doesn't make any sense to launch something as important as your Music and not know what to expect. You should know this in advance. Many successful artists wait a year to two years to launch to get the very best result for their music. Don't be in such a rush.
This should be your Number one target if you are serious about having a successful career in the Music Industry. Believe it or not, It has never been easier to Chart on the Irish Chart in Ireland. During my investigations over the years, I spoke to a few Major Record stores and I asked them straight out, what does it take to get into the top 50 on the Irish charts? Their answer shocked me. 100 to 200 CD sales could easily do this and even get you into the top 20 sometimes. That's a major opportunity for anyone hungry enough to attempt.
So here is a scenario for you. Imagine an act having done all the groundwork and started off with their local venue. They became the best act in their area and invite acts from their outside areas, the best ones and then gig in their areas. Have a beautiful website and collect up lots of emails from fans on their travels. Engage and build a relationship with those loyal fans and eventually build up a fanbase of 500 to 1000 genuine fans. Launching their Ep or Album soon and reach out to a major record Store.
They tell the record store that they have a large following and that they would like their CD stocked with them. The record store is a commercial business and would be more than happy to accommodate. I know this because I spoke to them lots of times. They all have an independent section in their stores. You ask them to make your Cd available online as your fanbase in national and will be purchasing Online for convenience. Ask your Loyal fans to purchase your anticipated Cd and they are happy to respond and Buy. You sell 100 to 200 Cds or Maybe more and those sales are registered with the Irish chart. Now wouldn't you think that would be a better way to launch rather than flogging a few Cds down at the local with few or no fans?
Lightning Live is a New Approach that was introduced by The Official Charts Company. The Official Chart Company compile the Uk and Irish Charts. Lightning Live was rolled out in 2017 in the UK and Northern Ireland. I first came across it in 2017 and was quite annoyed that this wasn't introduced in the Republic of Ireland. So I contacted the Official Charts Company for an explanation as I felt both countries should have had this at the same time. I received a reply and was told that the same lightning Live would be launched in the Republic sometime in 2018.
Before I go into what it is, I was also shocked at the lack of information there was about this? One article in fact and that was it. The thing is, this new initiative is a game-changer for independent artists. For the first time, artists have the ability to launch an album at their local Venue and have their CD sales credited towards the Irish Charts. With the right marketing plan, the Irish Artist could very possibly enter the Irish charts with just an Album Launch at a nominated venue. For the first time, Artists could, in fact, compete with the big guns and launch themselves towards many possible opportunities.
Since the Irish Launch of Lightning Live, I have not seen or heard any information from Our Music associations in Ireland about this very positive opportunity. Type in Lightning live on google and see for yourself. Practically impossible to find anything about this.
Anyway here is a link to more information on the Irish rules to Lightning live. You need to go down a bit on the PDF but have a look. Very interesting and disgraceful that this wasn't announced to every artist in Ireland. There is a massive opportunity in this and to anyone who is looking for ways to crack the Charts. Lightning Live information
Busking is another Great way to get your Music out there along with making a little money. I was recently in Liverpool and came across the Irish Band Keywest busking in the City Center. Not only were these guys very good but they were selling dozens of albums while I was listening. I thought it was fantastic and they had attracted a large crowd too. These guys used to busk in Dublin City Center and much of their success was down to their busking on the streets. If you are not getting gigs then get out there and make yourself available to the general public.
Every artist should have a range of merchandise from Cds to hoodies and t-shirts. Make sure they are good quality and your logo is put neatly on them. You should have them available on your website and also with you where your gig. You never know where you might sell one of two. Every few bob helps so get inventive and business savvy. Remember this is Music but also a business that needs to be sustained. Have a special offer for your Fans that have subscribed to you. Make sure you give them value for their loyalty to you.
I leave you with this. if you are willing to put the effort in there are lots of opportunities out there. Do it right from the start. Build that fanbase and when launching, Make sure that you have a close relationship with your fanbase. Cds might be dead at present but they are still the most powerful asset you have. One Cd sale in the record store equals 1500 streams and more. The same for vinyl sales and there are coming back in force. I hope you see the opportunity here.
Thanks for reading & feel free to comment .
I have many more really informative Blogs on how to Manage your own Music Career HERE