As an artist manager and consultant, I’m often prompted with the question: “What’s the best thing I can do for my career today?” The answer is multifaceted, but very simple — build a solid infrastructure.
To illustrate my point, let’s think of your music career like a small city. What’s the best example of a high-functioning city? New York City, of course. We all know that NYC is large in land mass, but the most surprising stat is NYC’s population density, at over 27,000 people per square mile. That’s an enormous amount of people, but that level of growth would not be possible if not for some forward thinking done many years ago. In the late 1800s, builders developed the technology needed to build tall residential structures we now call Skyscrapers. This allowed a lot more people to fit into the same land mass. New York residents also benefit from a great subway system, bus routes, and city planning to help make roads efficient and easy to navigate.
What does any of this have to do with your music? Well, just like a major city, you’ll need to focus on the fundamentals if your aim is sustainable, long term success. Here are the pillars you should be building from day one:
- Register Your Band As a Business (Then Treat It Like One)
Most bands didn’t start out in the boardroom, but there are many advantages to registering your band as a business. Registering as a business (and keeping track of your business expenses) can be a real life saver during tax season. You can deduct your website costs, equipment and other fees from your taxable income so that your money can go even further. For those in a group, separating your business and personal accounts provides a great way to centralize your operations and ensure one person doesn’t have too much power over the finances. Lastly, registering your company lets everyone on the outside know that you mean business, and your music career is a serious matter.
You’ll have to decide whether you want to register as a Corporation, a Limited Liability Company or a General Partnership. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but I suggest talking with a Lawyer or Accountant if you’re having trouble deciding. Open a Business Checking account, and be sure to track all your expenses at all times, to make sure you’re getting the most out of your career.
- Properly Copyright and Register Your Music
As you start to gain popularity, your music may pick up steam on the radio or even be licensed for use in Film or Television. When that happens, you generate performance royalties each time your song is played. The only way to ensure that those royalties are paid to you in full is to properly register your works. You can do this any time, but the best time is before your music is released. That way, you can guarantee that you royalties are tracked from day one. Join a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC et. al), and register each song in your catalog. When your song gets placed, all you will have to do is sit back and collect your paychecks.
- Build a Website and Learn Analytics Tools
Your website should serve as the central hub for all of your operations. You can use it to sell your albums/merch, post updates about your music, and point people to your social media profiles. The best part about having your own site is collecting the data from the people who visit. Through it, you can learn what content got the most views or was largely a dud. You’ll also learn when your biggest fans are online, so you can schedule your content posting accordingly. Websites are becoming easier to set up, and with no coding experience, you can get started with Squarespace or WordPress in minutes.
- Start and Grow an E-mail List
I touched on the importance of E-Mail Lists in an earlier post, but their value can’t be overstated. Maintaining a healthy e-mail list is the easiest way to understand and grow your fan base. The more dedicated fans you have, the greater opportunity you have to convert your hard work into hard-earned cash. Someone who went out of their way to sign up for updates from you is way more likely to purchase your material than someone who happens to see an advertisement with your face on it. Sign up for an e-mail marketing service (Mailchimp, Aweber, etc) and offer your fans exclusive content for being members of your e-mail fan club. You’ll thank yourself for it every day.
This may seem like a lot of work to do just to get a few Soundcloud streams or Facebook likes in return… but if you’re willing to go the extra mile as a professional from day one, you’ll get a lot more in return than social media love. When you finally have your breakout moment, you will already have the building in place to house all your new fans. If you need help, contact us. We’ll help you lay a solid foundation to build on.