Whether you’ve realized this already or not – there is a lot more to being a musician than putting out music.
Along with the days spent writing, recording, rehearsing, and performing your music, many essential tasks can become time-consuming.
Managing your social media, keeping up with your email newsletter, and strategizing your next music release are just a few of the things that you have to do frequently — and that’s just scratching the surface.
As your career grows, the more responsibilities you’ll face, and eventually, it may become nearly impossible to get everything done by yourself.
So if you’re starting to become overwhelmed with all of the tasks that come with being a musician, it may be time to build a team for your music career.
Are you biting off more than you can chew?
Do you feel overwhelmed with all of the tasks you have to complete to keep your music career afloat? If you do, you’re not alone.
Keep in mind that there aren’t many entrepreneurs out there who can successfully operate their businesses without help.
After starting to view your music career as a business, you must define the roles you want to take on and the areas you’ll need help with.
Every established artist has some form of a team. Think back to all those awards shows you’ve watched and ask yourself, “who do they always thank in their acceptance speeches?” — Typically god, their fans, their family & their TEAM.
Even those who scream independence or preach “Produced mixed mastered engineered written by me” have a team. No slight to Russ, but this is just reality.
We need to stop looking at our idols’ body of work and thinking, “wow, they did that all by themselves. If I just put my head down and grind, I’ll too be that successful.”
For the most part, it just doesn’t work like that. You need a team. Having a team, or outsourcing some specific tasks, is an excellent investment in your music career. We are confident that if you get good people in your corner, you’ll be much better off.
Your music is a personal journey, and you may feel the need to control every aspect of your career. With that said, don’t choose just anybody to work for you – but if you have a hard time trusting others to get the job done, understand that you can’t get everything done on your own.
Some might have the budget to hire an agency to help them. Others may have just enough to hire a freelancer who can help for a fraction of the cost.
You might even have a close friend just chomping at the bit to assist you in any way possible and for no money at all. Regardless, building a team and onboarding a few people to take on essential business tasks can give you more time to focus on creating your music.
Using The E-Myth Model to Build a Team For Your Music Career
At some point, while scouring the internet for business advice, you might have stumbled across The E-Myth Model by Michael Gerber. The E–Myth explains why 80% of small businesses fail and how to ensure your business isn’t among that group by building a company based on systems, instead of relying on the work of a single individual.
While Gerber’s book has nothing to do with music, the concepts he discusses are relevant to artists trying to navigate the music industry.
Think of McDonald’s for a second. While they might not have the best burgers money can buy, they are everywhere and can replicate that success with ease. Now, if you were handed the keys to a Mcdonald’s tonight, would you walk in there tomorrow and start flipping burgers, operating the till, dealing with the accounting, doing graphic design for the happy meal boxes?
You would hire someone for each specific function you needed and hire a manager to oversee everything while focusing on more pressing issues that will drive the business forward.
How is it that teenagers who can’t remember to clean their rooms can run the cash register at McDonalds and (almost) never forget your order? Because McDonald’s has systems in place to ensure they replicate successful customer experiences more often than not.
Your music career isn’t any different. You, the artist and entrepreneur of your budding music career, have many things that need to get done to move your career forward.
You need to develop systems and a way of doing things that works for your situation and bring people on to help you replicate those results.
Or you can go the other route and juggle a million things at once and expect results simply because you make great music and you work hard. Great music and a solid work ethic are a given, but you need to work smart as well.
If you’re wearing multiple hats right now as a musician, don’t feel guilty at all, this is normal, and we commend all your efforts!
However, all we want you to do is strive towards a plan that involves strategically handing off some of these tasks when it makes sense. Never be afraid to find others to help you along your journey as a musician.
Building Your Music Team
If you’re ready to start building your team now, the first thing you need to do is assess your situation and determine what your overall tasks typically look like.
Determine the things you absolutely cannot pass off, and then select the things you can delegate to others. Try to think of the tasks you have a hard time completing or just aren’t the best use of your time.
From there, see who you already have around you that can help. If you don’t know where to look for potential talent, asking your friends or loved ones is not a bad place to start!
You can also leverage sites like LinkedIn, Fiverr, and Upwork, depending on the type of talent you’re looking for. After you realize what you need help with and who you can hire for the job, you must delegate specific tasks and oversee the work.
Always set boundaries and expectations to monitor their progress and mitigate any tension down the road.
So, who should you pursue?
As I mentioned before, there are many roles to fulfill when putting together your team. Here are some options to consider, along with a summary of what their roles are and if it makes sense for you to pursue them right away:
Reluctantly we start this list off with everyone’s favorite buzzword when it comes to building a team. Everyone seems to think that you need a manager ASAP, and while we don’t exactly disagree, that fact remains that it depends.
The term manager itself can mean so many different things depending on the situation. Some managers act as booking agents.
They could also have backgrounds in entertainment law. Or have insane connections and experience within the industry. Others have zero experience but strongly believe in you and will move mountains for you. While others just suck and could steal your money.
When establishing yourself as an artist, the question of if you need a manager is hard to answer. Typically, if you’re doing a good job growing your career without one, chances are a decent manager will end up finding you.
The question then becomes, why do I need you? And what value do you bring to the table? On the flip side, this is also why you may not want to pursue a manager prematurely because they’re asking the same questions about you.
After all, they have bills to pay and would be relying on either your current or future potential to generate income. This is a whole course on its own, but here are a few things to consider when it comes to a manager.
Your manager should already understand the music industry or have an unrelenting desire to figure it out and not take no for an answer if they lack experience.
They should help guide you through your career and help you make decisions. Your music is an extension of your vision and creativity, and a good manager should help you reach your potential and bring that vision to life.
From helping facilitate brand partnerships to making sure you’re on time for your next gig, your manager should always have your back and then some.
This is a marriage though, so you need to get to know your manager first. You know, maybe a couple of dates before you tie the knot.
This goes for anyone you hire, but the bar is set a lot higher when it comes to managers because there are countless stories of these situations ending in divorce. Alright, enough with the analogies; let’s jump into who you might want on your team first.
Content is king, and in today’s day and age, your visuals are everything. Major artists have dedicated photographers catching them at their best every moment they can.
They have crazy budgets for their music videos and people who are staples in the industry to create them. Keep in mind your music might not be what catches someone’s attention first. It will usually be what they see, depending on the platform.
This means that you shouldn’t take your content lightly. The cool thing about this is that there is no shortage of talented photographers, videographers, graphic designers, etc.
Furthermore, not all of them will charge you an arm and a leg to work with them. Some might, and it might be worth it based on what they can create, but I guarantee you can find someone who is well within your budget, works fast and can create what you envision with ease.
Once you find that person, be nice to them and keep them happy, they are crucial to your success in this day and age.
social media manager
These days, social media is everything — it’s how you communicate with your fans, promote your music, and can even be a source of income!
Your presence on social media is a visual extension of your music career.
However, suppose you’re not a natural when it comes to social media. In that case, you may find value in handing off some of your social media tasks to a social media manager who will help you manage and grow your social media presence.
I do urge you to be careful with this, as not all tasks should be outsourced, especially if the person doesn’t have a good grasp of your brand or is out of touch with the music industry.
Most engagement related tasks should remain with you as the artist, just to be safe.
Is all press really good press? I’ll leave that up to you — but if you want to generate any sort of press, that’s the job of a publicist.
After all, how are people going to find your music if they don’t know your about you? A publicist will work alongside you or a manager to reach out to people in the media, promoting your upcoming projects at the right time, and helping to manage your public image.
There are many levels to this, but usually, the key thing with a publicist is their connections. The higher the value of these connections, the more you can expect to pay your publicist.
Regardless if you hire a publicist or not, we suggest building your relationships with publications on your own and supporting them regularly instead of only hitting them up when you need something.
This can vary from country to country, but radio is the one part of the music industry that seems to live by its own rules and doesn’t plan on dying anytime soon.
That said, the job of a radio plugger is similar to a publicist. Their main goal is to leverage their radio connections to get more airtime for your music.
They can be a valuable person to have on your team, and can generate another income stream for your career if they’re good at what they do.
Street teams are usually volunteer’s on the frontlines spreading the word about you and your music. They help with promotion, bringing more people to your shows, and are usually the first to share, comment, and like everything you post.
They’re your group of ambassadors helping you grow your audience through word of mouth. Usually, they’re compensated with free tickets, merch, exclusive behind the scenes access, or whatever you can think of to thank them for their support.
If you sell merch at your shows, we highly suggest finding someone you trust to help run your merch table. When you’re at a show, you should be focused on performing and engaging with fans.
You can always subtly direct people to your merch table from the stage, but you’re only one person, and you can’t be at two places at once.
There are missed opportunities for sales every moment you’re not at that table. Don’t just have anybody working your table either.
Find someone with the gift of gab who can sell water to a fish and instruct them to push for extra things like gathering emails, for example.
Working your own merch table is doable, but there comes the point where you’ll want to maximize your earnings from this, and sometimes that means getting help.
Depending on your genre or style of music, you may or may not need to hire musicians. Often, musicians are hired when recording the final cut for an album or live performances.
They often work on contract, so unless you need a designated guitar player around every day of the year, this should be an occasional expense.
Yes, your music distributor is a member of your team so treat them accordingly. Find the company that works for you and gets the job done.
You need to get your music on all the major platforms out there, plain and simple. It’s no secret that there are many companies out there offering this service, but make no mistake, whichever company you choose is a part of your team.
We always suggest reaching out to them before you commit and seeing how responsive they are.
Ask questions and get a feel for how they’ll respond to you if something goes wrong — nothing like having shit hit the fan with your release and then having to wait a week just to hear back.
We have lumped these three together even though their functions are very different because our view on them is very similar to our thoughts on managers.
Please don’t jump the gun and think that you need any of them right away. Especially if you’re just starting, chances are there isn’t much that they can do for you yet.
Suppose this happens to be a close relative who is willing to take you under their wing, then by all means.
Otherwise, as you continue to grow, opportunities will begin to present themselves, and you’ll know when a lawyer makes sense to help you with contracts, or a booking agent to help you crack new markets, or a publisher to help with sync placements.
You have to crawl before you can walk, so aspire to have these people on your team, but when it makes sense.
Final Thoughts On Building a Team for Your Music Career
Hopefully, now you have a sense of what it takes to build a successful team! Even though it may be overwhelming to have multiple people working for you, know that you do not need to hire people to do everything right now. If anything, know that there are options for you when your career and budget grows!
Kevin is the founder of Music With Flavor, which joined Whipped Cream Sounds in 2023. He is a seasoned musician turned industry expert. His passion for music goes beyond melodies; he delves deep into the intricate world of music marketing, striving to unearth the most effective strategies for indie musicians. However, Music With Flavor isn’t just about Kevin’s knowledge; it’s a network of industry experts handpicked to provide the most trusted advice. Kevin’s role is to pose the right questions, not just answer them, as he and his team tirelessly research trends, connect with artists, and gather valuable insights.