As romantic as it may be to have the notion that you can play in a band for a few months, get discovered by some A & R rep, make a record, and tour the world, that just isn’t how it happens.
A band is a business. If you don’t treat is as such, you are setting yourself up for nothing other than failure.
As is the case with any business, investment is required, in the way of time and money. It’s fallacy to believe that you can build your career without spending any money. I get so many emails from artists who are just so terrified to spend money on anything. While I understand the reservation to a degree, I tell them all the exact same thing; it’s a business and must be treated as a business. It’s that simple. If you were going to open a flower shop, it would never occur to you to try to grow all of your own flowers to save money. You would get them from suppliers, obviously. A music career is no different, and artists need to realize that if they want to be taken seriously.
While it is absolutely possible to run your band independently, newer artists often misinterpret the word ‘independent’. It is not possible to run and, certainly sustain a career alone. You may have a career independent of a record company or recording contract, but you must build a team of professionals to guide you in your journey.
This requires managers, accountants, marketing/PR people, booking agents, and attorneys. This may seem like a lot of people, and it may even seem like a waste of money. That said, if you actually plan on any modicum of sustainability as an artist, you must be surrounded by people who know what they’re doing, the same way you would if you were opening a restaurant or any other business.
Should you be in a position where you do end up with a record company, you may think you needn’t worry about any of the above as the label will take care of all it for you. To a degree, you’re correct. You will, however, pay it back by way of a word musicians learn quickly; recoupment.
Think of it like an auto loan, for a moment. Let’s say you need to buy a car, immediately, but you have no money for a down payment. The bank is kind enough to give you the loan that you need, but they extend your loan another year and make you pay a higher interest rate. They didn’t’ really do you a favor in the end, but you got the car you needed and did what you had to do, right?
Much like the auto loan, labels ultimately charge you for the booking agents and the promo and the attorneys and the accountants. You may not ultimately realize it, but that advance they gave you because they believed in your talent SO much is all getting paid back to them…and it pays for these services.
Obviously, recoupment is a bit more involved, but these things certainly factor into it.
Whichever path your career takes, the bottom line ultimately remains the same; it is a business and needs to be treated as such. Also, at the risk of repeating something I say in just about everything I write, it is paramount for artists to remain abreast of everything going on in their career. They may have the greatest manager in the world but it matters not if they have no idea what’s going on. An informed artist will always be more successful than a clueless one.
A few resources-
Until you can afford a promo agent- How to Market Your Band With Little or no Budget
Need a PR/Marketing Company? This one is global- www.amp10promotions.com
If you’re clueless about the industry part and need to be a bit more informed, quickly-