Building A Team as a Musician – Who First, Who Next? You are an independent artist in Ghana now, but what about in five years, ten years, Will you still be completely independent? At some point you will (hopefully) have too much on your plate do for yourself as an artist.
Generally speaking, your team will be built slowly over the course of many months/years. Independent artists spend a great deal of time trying to get the attention of industry professionals who will give their career a boost, but who should you be targeting first? Who will make the biggest difference in your career, right now?
I’ve watched many artists go from independent to fully supported, and so the below points are practically, a common and logical path you should take.
1. Publicists, Your First Music Team Member
Publicists are often the easiest team members to get on board, because their business model is fee-for-service. That being said, there are definitely good publicists and bad publicists, so you need to keep your head up and make sure you’re spending your money wisely.
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It’s good to get a publicist on board early for a couple reasons:
There’s no pressure if the relationship doesn’t work out. Typically, you’ll hire a publicist for a specific tour, single, album release, etc. So you are only tied to a contract for a few months, and if it doesn’t work out, no harm no foul! Good publicity never hurts! Even if you’re not totally happy with the results of your publicity campaign, whatever attention you get is worthwhile. Other people in the industry will see that you’re getting some press and their heads will start to turn your way.
2. Booking Agent: A Logical Next Step For Your Team
An agent definitely makes sense for an independent act that has been around the block a few times. If you are touring a lot or shooting for some big gigs, it can take a lot of time. And the fact is, some venues/festivals won’t even look at you if you are doing the booking yourself.
Having an agent also provides access to other, bigger acts that you could potentially tour with or share shows with. These opportunities are very hard to come by, and are hugely beneficial to an independent band’s or artist’s career.
If you get an agent on a reasonably big agency who really loves your music, that’s great. Hold on to them. Agents are instrumental in developing an artist’s career and moving things along.
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However, if you get on to an agency that you are going to outgrow or leave behind, you can absolutely move up the agency ladder. The “handshake deal” is still very much alive for agents, which means there’s no paperwork and nothing tying you down.
The best way to attract an agent is to build up as an artist on your own and eventually someone will want a piece of that pie!
3. Distribution/Label: For All Your Song Release Needs
If you’re looking at releasing an album or singles, it’s probably time to start looking at distributors and labels. There are some key differences between a record label and distribution company, as well as differences between a record deal and a distribution deal.
A distributor will distribute your music all over the world, online (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) and help you organize sales, merch for festivals and tours. You may notice that many labels don’t do their own distribution – many labels get their works distributed by Universal, or a large independent distributor.
If you will release something independently, you will have to probably use a service like CD Baby or DistroKid to distribute your release and to get it on iTunes. This totally works, and is absolutely the right thing to do for an independent artist.
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