The Manager’s Corner September 2012

| September 6, 2012 | 0 Comments


by Chris Daniels

I’ve managed my own band since the 1980s, and despite the amazing change in technology, success in the music business is built around four tried and true elements: great music, really hard work and timing (often mistaken for luck). The other key element is getting the help you need to make that luck happen. These days, that help is everywhere. The book I wrote for my University of Colorado Denver class on artist management is called “DIY: You’re Not in it Alone” and that is exactly what you need to understand.

As school starts, I find that I have a number of new students who are just getting hip to what it means to take care of their own careers in music, and many really don’t know where to start. So in an effort to help new readers of the Manager’s Corner, and new musicians to the scene, I want to take a quick moment and recap the basic idea of DIY – “Decide It Yourself” and really strongly encourage all the new young artists to get as much help as you can. Help is out there. Here are three quick examples, two of which I have talked about in earlier articles. But I want to re-stress this … there are people, companies, and partners out there that really can help advance your career and help you get your music to new ears and fans.

Example One: These days DIY artists are putting out their own CD and music via Internet and hoping to market that music as best they can. Sadly, many have little or no idea, other than getting the music recorded, about how to distribute and market it. This is where aggregators like TuneCore, IODA/The Orchard and CD Baby come in. There are a number of these that get your music to iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, and other online outlets, but what you may not know is that most of these companies act a little differently – and some will ‘partner’ with you – offering all kinds of amazing help marketing your music. Each has its strong points, and I could easily write about any one of them, but to make this short I’m going to pick one, CD Baby. The disadvantage that CD Baby has from somebody like TuneCore is that CD Baby does charge a per- download fee plus the set up fee. The advantages that I think CD Baby brings to the table are pretty good: 1) They sell physical CDs as well as getting your music on iTunes, Amazon and all the others, (they do not sell it to retail/record stores around the country), but they will carry the CD so that you can sell it from their (and your) website. 2) Their accounting is better than most of the others. You may not care or want to know that you got $.0025 cents per stream on Spotify, but they will tell you and some others will not. 3) They can help you with both UPC and ISRC codes for your music. If you don’t know what those are I encourage you to look it up on the web. 4) They will help you set up a website, plus they have all kinds of marketing help. Again, TuneCore and others all have great services too, but what you need to understand is that these aggregators are partners; they serve as team members helping you reach a bigger audience.

Example Two: As a DIY artist, you NEED to get your publishing poop in a group. That means that you need to (1) join a PRO (Performing Rights Society) as a songwriter, (2) form a publishing company and affiliate that company with the same PRO you are in, (3) upload your songs to that PRO and use the new features that they offer to help songwriters market their music. For example, BMI now has BMI Live for songwriters who perform their music in public. If you register your songs, gigs, and set lists with BMI Live, you can start collecting performance royalties from BMI – who collects them from the venues you play – it expands your revenue stream.

Example Three: Last but not least, your fan base that you are building on Facebook and Twitter and your website are not only good for helping you fund your music projects through things like Kickstarter, but they also would LOVE to help because they believe in your music; you just have to ask, “Hey Y’all, we are working on our website and really need photos from our last three gigs. Please, any of you that took a really great photo of the band send it to and if we use your photo for the new record we will give you free tickets to the next 3 shows.” See how easy it is to get your fans to be part of your team? You just have to ask, and trust me, they do want to help. They believe in your music and they want to be a part of helping make you successful.

There is much, much more to this – which is why I teach it at the University of Colorado, but you are not alone. There is help and partners and fans and skilled people out there who love music and who want to help young artists get ahead. Take advantage of every one of those opportunities you can as you build your story.


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