Last updated on July 1st, 2022
As we’ve pointed out plenty of times here on the Muze blog, it takes a village to build a career in the music industry. No one artist – or industry professional, for that matter – can go it alone. And fortunately, you don’t have to. For one thing, Muze is designed to help you meet your perfect musical match, and you can get started by signing up right over here.
This article is dedicated to helping you know what to look for – and what roles to fill – when building your team. And of course, you’ll need more than musical talent in your midst to bring your career to the top. Let’s explore the different roles together, shall we?
Let’s start with the obvious one: you can’t have a band without bandmates. Even if you’re a solo artist, there will come a time when collaboration is key toward getting the creative juices flowing. Perhaps you’re looking for a co-writer to help inspire new ideas? Or, maybe you’re ready to hit the live scene, and need musicians to accompany you and bring your artistic vision to life.
No matter your vision, Muze can help. Sign up and join forces with some talented folks. They’re only a click away!
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Music Managers Forum (US) Nashville Music Summit, where artist managers shared their experiences and knowledge helping their artists navigate the ever-changing music industry. One point made that sticks out in my mind is that the manager’s number one job is to help artists make money.
A good manager will help you determine a fair performance rate. They will be on-hand to facilitate contracts, and are there to ensure that payment is delivered in a timely and efficient manner. They will help you identify valuable opportunities for growth, provide insight into new and emerging industry trends, and will help keep you and your thoughts organized as you embark upon your creative pursuits. They may also have connections with other potential team members, like the folks on the rest of this list.
These are the folks responsible for doing the dirty work: finding you gigs. Booking can be an arduous and time-consuming task and, if you’re just starting out, it may be difficult to know where to begin (or where to find the right contacts).
Your booking agent is going to have contacts you don’t yet have — in your market, and perhaps in others. For an agreed-upon rate or percentage, they’ll take a lot of the guesswork out of performing live, so you (and your collaborators) can focus on the performance itself.
Technically, your mentor could be anyone on this list. Often, your manager will double in that role. Also, you may have a musical collaborator who has been in the game a little longer than you, and who can share what they’ve learned in the industry. Producers perform well in this role – after all, they’re the ones responsible for bringing out the best in your sound.
No matter what, you’ll want to make sure you surround yourself with people who have been there and done it. A good mentor will offer guidance on what works and what doesn’t, will push you to challenge yourself creatively, and will help you navigate the pitfalls that they have faced themselves. Their sage advice is invaluable to your journey. Seek it whenever possible.
Didn’t we cover this one when we described The Mentor? Well, not exactly. We’re talking about more specialized teachers who can help you improve a particular skill. These could be guitar or instrumental coaches, or they could help you focus on improving your chops in a non-musical area, such as marketing.
Of course, our teacher may very well double as a mentor figure. In most cases, they will. The main difference is that, while doing so, they’ll guide you toward improvement in a specific area.
Depending on your sound and style, the definition of the “right” producer may vary. Different producers have their own genre specialties. Some may be well-versed in all phases of production – from tracking, to mixing, to mastering – while others may specialize in one area.
Similarly, having a go-to live sound/front-of-house engineer will be handy when you start gigging. Each live performance is an opportunity to sound your best — but you’ll only sound as good as the live mix. Choose your engineer wisely.
Whatever you need in the moment, it pays to do your research – listen to their work, look at their list of credits, and make an educated decision on whether this is the right engineer to help you achieve your creative vision.
(Some of your friends may have suggestions, too. Be sure to take their input into account. And, if you’re new to the scene, meet those trusted confidants right here on Muze.)
Just as your producer will have you sounding your best, a visual artist – or even, a visual artist team – will ensure that you can present yourself fearlessly and authentically to the world.
Photographers certainly fall into this category (name a prominent musician without compelling promotional and live photos). You’ll also want to enlist the help of a videographer to capture music videos, live sets, and other bonus content. A graphic designer will help you keep your other visuals – think logos, cover art, and other promotional materials – on-brand.
With the ever-increasing visual nature of digital marketing, looking good may be just as important for a musicians as sounding good. Make sure your team can help you capture the right look.
Your sound is dialed in. Your visuals are looking tight. Now, two questions remain…
- How are you going to let people know?
- Who are you going to tell?
Enter the publicist, who will come loaded with the experience and contacts you need to get your art (and your story) in front of more eyes and ears. A good publicist – or PR firm – will have a rolodex of relationships with media outlets (blogs, podcasts, radio, etc.) and other industry tastemakers. A good publicist will hold a lot of valuable keys to unlock new opportunities, and is a wise investment for any artist who is ready to get their name out there.
Whether you’re working through a publicist, or serving as your own, you’ll want to be sure to foster relationships with the people behind the media platforms who feature your art. We touched on this a bit in our EPK series, but the best relationships in the music industry – or really, any industry – are mutually beneficial. In the case of media, always be willing to find ways to help these platforms continue their growth, in exchange for the help they’ve afforded you. As your favorite blogs and podcasts grow, they’ll reach more people. That gives your art a chance to do the same.
Is music really music if nobody is around to hear it? All of the above relationships will help you reach new people. It’s what you do from there that counts.
Remember our EPK series, where we talked about building a true artist-audience connection? Consider what you’re doing to keep new and prospective fans hooked after your initial encounter. How are you engaging them at your shows? At the merch table? Online, in your comment sections or DMs? How are you connecting with them through your values, beliefs, and experiences?
Fans are looking to connect with you through you art. It’s your job to connect with them right back.
- Read more about how to find your fanbase in my interview with Sarah Beth Perry, founder of “With The Band”
Over the next several weeks we will be diving into each one of these valuable roles in more detail. Stay tuned!