Starting a Career in Music

STARTING A CAREER IN MUSIC

 

So many times I come across musicians trying their best to start a career in music but struggling to find out the best way to do it.  They are swimming upstream and forever trying to play catch up with no clear direction.  They have no game plan to go by or even goals set to measure their progress. It is my intention with this blog post to help set a few things in motion for musicians who are struggling with this particular issue.  We all know how paralyzing it can be to feel completely overwhelmed, and this is not what you need when launching a career.

First and foremost you need a vision. A definable vision statement that you can explain who and what you are.  A mission statement is next and this explains the path you are taking to get to your vision. It’s hard to sell yourself to any industry expert if you don’t know who and what you are and where you want to go.

Then you need to develop a business plan of some kind. It doesn’t have to be some monster plan until you are seeking capital or label placements.  You need to have at least the goals and marketing plan done here.  Basic financials would be great as well but can be added later.  There is no point in recording a CD if you don’t have a fan base to sell it to and a way to distribute it you will just have a garage full of unsold CD’s.   It always best to have a game plan before making major purchases. Remember YOU are the product not the CD.

Once you do you have a plan in place, image together and a CD or EP to market, plan on spending a couple years on just this one package of music. You don’t need to rush into another writing another CD. Chances are that while this music may get old to you, most won’t have heard it and it is fresh to them.  Then you need to concentrate on booking yourself as much as possible.  Keep at it as much as you can and don’t give up.  You most likely are not going to find a good booking agent until you have radio airplay, management and a label.  This is up to you so be diligent!

This is just a quick lesson on what to be thinking about so work hard, play out as much as possible, track everything you sell and give away and let wisdom guide you!

When Does An Artist or Band Need a Manager?

WHEN DOES AN ARTIST OR BAND NEED A MANAGER?

So often bands or musicians seek out management thinking that they need management from the start or just too early in their careers.  With all that needs to be done for an artist’s career, it can seem very daunting and overwhelming.  Artists are often so confused by the amount of information available — and most of it not very good — that they are often more paralyzed due to the staggering amount of info and no clear direction.

The role of a good manager takes on so many forms: often a business consultant, negotiator, accountant, image consultant, promoter, etc.  They require pay for their services and most bands can’t afford their own bills, let alone that of a manager. While a manager is often needed to achieve almost any measure of success in the music business, most bands and artists know that a manager can’t do it all and that success or failure is solely the responsibility of the artist or band.  The artist or band have the final say and have to provide the show and content that makes them marketable. If they aren’t able to provide that or aren’t committed to their own success, then rarely is it the fault of a manager when goals aren’t achieved. The band and artist are the “Founder” of the company and the manager is the “CEO.”  This is called the “music business” for a reason.  Artists and bands have a ton of responsibility to achieve the success they are seeking.  If the band or artist isn’t willing to work as hard as the manager, then it is very difficult to achieve anything and the manager is wasting his time at this point.  A commitment on both parties is essential to make it work and the band or artist needs to trust the manager’s advice and handle their responsibilities whether the band or artist agree or not.

So that begs the question, when does an artist or band need a manager?  The answer is simple.  Not until there is something to manage.  Most artists and bands don’t perform enough or have enough to work with for a manager to do anything with and be effective.  The artist or band should be playing 80+ paying shows a year and have a very solid press kit before seeking out management.  There should be a solid fan base at least regionally if not nationally.  In the beginning stages of a band or artist’s career, it is wise to seek out a good manager who offers hourly consultation to be able to help set the artist or band in the right direction. The manager can then follow up at regular intervals if the goals are being met, before signing the band or artist full-time, when they are ready.

The Promotional Kit

THE PROMOTIONAL KIT

 

Biography  – Form

  1. Performance Description
  2. Performer Background.
  3. Special Performances
  4. Recordings
  5. Quotes
  6. Notable Venues

General Information Sheet

A list of information that isn’t necessary to include but can be helpful.   Contains things like places the artist has played by category (festivals, concert halls, clubs, radio and television shows) special workshops or projects and discography or videography.  Keep current at least on a yearly basis.

Quote Sheets

This should include quotes or excerpts taken from articles, reviews interviews.  Pick out the best and most illuminating.

Review, Interviews and Preview Articles

  1. Reviews track your history and development.
  2. Preview articles are often written by snatching whole paragraphs from your own bio or press release.
  3. Interviews – self explanatory

Press Release

A sample press release is always a good thing to include.  It makes the kit very useable and professional.

Photographs

8 ½ by 11 flyer slick is a master sheet that includes a photo and name of the act.  It provides a blank space for the promoter to add information about an upcoming performance date.

Logo – not a necessity but strongly recommended

Business Cards

A Cover Letter

The One Sheet

  1. Short  Bio Paragraph
  2. Photo/CD Cover/Project Poster
  3. Logo/Name/CD Title/Show Title
  4. Related Critical Acclaim Quotes
  5. Specific Theme Information
  6. Contact Information

The Electronic Press Kit

All the previous mentioned items that can be emailed or downloaded.  Can also be burned on to CD and provides additional advantages to present video and audio in professional package.

List of Services

The Lowry Agency is full service artist management/development and promotions agency. We work with musicians, actors, speakers, voice over artists, entertainment companies, music coordination/supervision for film and TV as well as MMA promotions. We strive to help our clients identify and fulfill their entertainment goals. The Lowry Agency helps clients to meet and exceed their business goals, by creating a profitable business and marketing plan, implementing the plans, handling the business formation, bookkeeping, taxes, investments, insurance, imaging, professional team building, creative inventory, SWOT analysis and career planning.

 

The Lowry Agency services include:

 

Business Services:

Project Management

Business Planning

Career Planning

Business Formation

Bookkeeping

Tax strategies and services

SWOT Analysis

 

Professional Team Development:

Imaging Team

Legal Team

Financial Team

 

Video Production:

Video EPK’s

Music Videos

Commericials

SA’s

Corporate Videos

3D Motion Graphics

 

Radio Promotion:

Develop Radio Interest

Radio/Tour Promotion

Event Planning

 

Live Performance/Music Production

 

Public Relations Consulting:

Artist Awareness

Album Release Publicity

Tour Press

TV and Radio Syndication Opportunities

Media Training

 

Music Placement for Film/TV

 

Booking Services

 

Talent/Entertainment Buying Services

 

Voice Over:

Voice Coaching

Voice Classes

Voice Over Demo Production

Radio Imaging

TV Imaging

Jingles

Sound Editing

Copywriting

 

Creative Inventory:

Artist Evaluation

Sound

Material

Image

Music History

Performance Exposure

Recording Experience

 

Social Media Campaigns:

Facebook

Myspace

Twitter

 

Music Coordination/Supervision for Film, TV & Video Games

 

Music Production:

Music Demos

Full CD Production

Jingles

 

Imaging:

Artists Intent

Image vs. Trends

Existing Image

Issues

Charisma

Name/Branding

Other Skills/Talents

Marketing

EPK

Press Releases

Appearances

Webdesign

Graphic Design

Myspace

Facebook

Twitter

Shoutlife

SEO & Web 2.0 Campaigns

Blogging

Email Campaigns

Do It Yourself Campaigns

 

Consultation Services:

Hourly

Half day

Whole day

Speaking

 

Sponsors for our clients:

Wornstar Clothing (www.wornstar.com

Signature Sight & Sound (www.sssav.com)

 

The Cost of Using Social Media As a Soapbox for Indie Artists

THE COST OF USING SOCIAL MEDIA AS A SOAPBOX FOR INDIE ARTISTS

As I peruse the Twitter landscape with the recent elections that happened, I see lots of political talk and some very extreme views being posted by artists that are trying to grow a fan base. These same artists also are always commenting on how they are losing or can’t keep followers. Their numbers barely grow for the important fans they need and the impressions to attract the interest of endorsements and labels.

The problem with politics or religion is that half of the people believe one way and the other half believe the other.  If you, as an artist, come out with your views and are upset or mad based on the current political climate, you risk alienating part of your current fan base or potential fan base.

A lot of artists will point out people that have made it in the past and have had several political hits, so let me address that. Number one, this is a different day and age. This isn’t the time of the Vietnam War, and number two, most of those artists that have been pointed out were already established and had a fan base.  It’s much easier to point out the exception to the rule than to be the exception.

Musicians tend to express themselves much better through their music and not 140 character rants on Twitter. If you truly believe you are a great songwriter, then let your music do the talking and put your message out there. Let your music plant the seeds of your messages and change the world in the way that suits you the most. Music is the most powerful medium there is, so take advantage of it! It is easier to attract people with honey than it is with bitterness. Don’t alienate your potential artists for a rant box.  Be professional and use your music to convey your message.

If you truly need another outlet to express yourself besides your music, create a separate Twitter account and rant there. Don’t associate it with your music account or other music professionals who may support you, work with you or endorse you.  You have a responsibility to them and their image as well. Not everyone believes as you do and they don’t want your rants reflecting on them. Marketing is very important and so is your voice so do both smartly and effectively.

You as the artist have to decide what is more important.  So ask yourself – do you want to be heard for your opinions or your music?  Is your opinion more important than the career you are trying to develop?  In the entertainment industry, you have to be careful about alienating yourself before making a name for yourself. Is your personal crusade affecting that?

Yes you can niche market to people with the same beliefs as yours, but what are your goals, how much money do you need to make to survive and are you just singing to people who already agree with you, or are you trying to change the world?

Social Media Etiquette When Approaching Entertainment Business Contacts

SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE WHEN APPROACHING ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS CONTACTS

Somehow, somewhere in the crazy Facebook, MySpace and Twitter generation, musicians, artists, actors/actresses, writers and any person looking to catch a break in the entertainment industry have forgotten how to be polite, courteous and how to stand out and be noticed.  Now instead of artists/entertainers sending unsolicited packages to the offices of labels, managers, booking agents and PR reps, they spam our in boxes with unsolicited MySpace pages before they even say hi.  There is no asking permission if they may send something or even asking what they should send.  They just send their MySpace page without a thought as to what it looks like, what info we need to see or even if we are looking for any acts or what type.  Some just ask us to review and give an opinion instead of realizing #1 we don’t have time, #2 we charge for consultation and most importantly #3 it takes time away from our current roster and family. They expect us to look and listen to their pages along with the 300 hundred others we got that day.

Here are some social networking tips for all entertainment people trying to make it.  If you want to connect with someone on Twitter or any other social networking site, get to know him or her first. Do your research to make sure you understand what they do; you shouldn’t approach a manager about booking, as it isn’t what they provide for their clients. Don’t be an annoyance and bug them all the time.  Just because they helped you once, doesn’t mean they will do it again for free. Respect what they provide and expect to pay for advice and consultation.  Often we will give you some tips to help you out, we all like to share our knowledge, but we have to make a living too.  Never just send a MySpace, Facebook or Reverbnation page without asking permission and please make sure you understand what goes into a press kit or electronic press kit (EPK) before you send it.  Please make sure whatever you send looks as professional as possible. Don’t ever make them do the research on you or say just “Google” me.  They don’t have the time and will just toss your stuff in the trash.  It is your job to present yourself in the best way possible with the most accurate, informational and professional package you can provide. There are all kinds of free info on the Internet to find out what that particular music industry person will want to see.  If you can’t take the time to approach people correctly and professionally with your best foot forward, then you shouldn’t expect them to think you take your hopeful career seriously.

Please be aware of their space and time.  Be respectful and take your burgeoning career seriously, especially if you want others to!