Common Sense Basics That Artists Still Get Wrong21st April 2014 • 4 comments
It’s 2014 and it’s still somewhat shocking the amount of things that artists muck up. Given the amount of resources, consultants, and information available for little or absolutely no cost, it’s astonishing that artists make so many missteps when it comes to basic, everyday things they should be doing for their careers.
Here are a few things it’s imperative you get right.
A Proper Web Site
It seems ridiculous that this has to be said, but it has to be said. I see countless artists day in and day out who find it acceptable to get by with a nice smile and a Facebook page. Sure, you have a lot of songs on Soundcloud, and that’s fantastic, but the entire point of what you’re using social media for is to get fans to your web site! Your web site is your hub; the central location for your band, your career, and all that occurs therein. While it’s important to engage via social media, it is never an acceptable replacement for a proper web site. What if you’re charming a manager who doesn’t use Facebook? What if fans who like your band aren’t old enough to be on Facebook? Only relying on a social media site, any social media site, for your primary source of engagement is alienating anyone who doesn’t use that particular platform, and there are always people who don’t use a given social media platform. That aside, social media sites aren’t conducive to hosting a fully interactive experience, as web sites are. You can’t host a web store, your tour dates, band bios, videos, audio, and any other information you deem relevant on a social media site without having to do so on their terms. Don’t cut corners when it comes to a web site, it makes you look unprofessional.
Speaking of social media…it’s called social media for a reason. Interact with your fans and followers! Don’t troll and spam, but chat with them, talk to them, and interact with them. Take advantage of the real-time engagement social media allows and the opportunities it presents. Nothing solidifies a fan’s devotion to an artist more than that artist making them feel appreciated. Spending a few minutes each day to reply to a handful of tweets, say thank you to some fans on Facebook, or comment about an Instagram photo shows that you notice your fans and what they do for you.
It also builds your fan base, which means more success for you. Fully capitalizing on the accessibility of sites such as Twitter and Instagram will create far more new fans and internet buzz than lazily assuming an anti-social media approach. While it doesn’t seem entirely necessary to be the type who follows nine million people, not following people is contrary to your objective.
There is an artist currently on a fairly massive tour with a Royal starlet, and I recently took the world’s coolest eleven year old to see this artist. She loved the opening act and I told her I’d follow them on Twitter so we could catch them the next time they were in town. Guess what? They follow 36 people. 36. They’re on a massive tour with a wildly successful artist; they could be capitalizing on huge momentum, engaging with fans like crazy, and increasing their fan base tenfold- and they follow 36 people. Needless to say, I didn’t follow them on Twitter as there is no point. Time is precious and if people are going to devote their time and social media space to you, you’d better be an artist who makes it worth it for them.
Know That Sometimes You Need Professionals
The indie ethos is a wonderful thing, for sure. So much can be done by artists that it’s created a mentality that no outside professionals are needed for any services, and that’s simply untrue. While it’s wonderful that so many artists are willing and exited to learn much of the industry workings, there are things that need to be left to professionals. Once you’ve reached a place where real money is being made, real album sales are happening, and proper business deals are being spoken of, it’s time to find a real manager. If you’ve spent thousands of dollars to record your album and can’t understand why no one is buying it based on the flyers hanging up around town and the post on your Facebook page, consider hiring a PR representative or marketing agent, even if only for a consultation. While GarageBand and your MacBook may make it possible to record your own album, it’ll more than likely sound like you recorded your own album. Pay a producer. Remember, when you hire any of these people, you’re paying for their experience, knowledge, guidance, and you’re also paying for access to their contacts. You wouldn’t consider cutting costs on your instruments, why cut costs when it comes to making yourselves look like professional musicians?
Be Willing to Learn
While this is applies to everyone, not all industries are in flux as constantly as the music industry. Additionally, it’s important for those in creative fields to stay open to maximize creativity. Once artists start to get a bit of success, they may become trapped in the mindset that they know what they’re doing and don’t need advice from others. This leads nicely to the next item on our list…
Keep Your Ego in Check
You may be talented. You may be amazing. You may be beautiful or handsome or the greatest thing to hit the music industry since (insert great thing here) but if your arrogance and cockiness become larger than your talent and interest in becoming better, people will leave just as quickly as they came. While it’s entirely possible people will stand by you and give you as many ‘yeses‘ as you’d like to hear in order to ride your coattails and stay on your payroll, ask yourself a couple of questions: 1) Did you start performing to surround yourself with yes men who tell you anything you’d like to hear simply to pacify so they can continue to use you? 2) Do you only want to have a career or notoriety because of your antics, behavior, or bad attitude? Don’t be a jerk. Be grateful. Be appreciative. Keep and use the manners you were taught when you were 5 and you’ll be just fine.
Don’t Be Too Trusting
As is the case with anyone, be careful whom you trust. Don’t be jaded or bitter, but become educated and learn the basics of the business and industry so that people can’t take advantage of you as easily. The best thing about the business of music is turning someone’s dream into a career. The worst thing about the business of music are those who prey on that and take advantage of what artists don’t know and use it against them. If someone tells you they’re an expert; run. If someone talks about how wonderful their career is with no mention of how they plan to use that career to benefit yours; run. It’s easy to get excited by the thought of making your dreams come true but the best way to make that happen is to be the one controlling it.
The best way to be in control of your career is to be educated and it’s imperative for artists to have a working knowledge of the music industry. Knowing the fundamentals of publishing, copyright, contracts, management, licensing, and all of those things that sound terribly boring and manager-y also happen to be the things that put money in your bank account and ultimately keep you making music. Know your business.
None of this is groundbreaking or earth-shattering information, but rather rudimentary information; much of which has been covered in articles on Thirty Roses, and definitely across the internet, ad nauseam. The shocking thing is how many artists still fail to do so many of these things. If you’re serious about your career, start paying attention to the basics. Most don’t cost any money and all will ultimately be to your benefit.