I manage several musicians. There are so many different approaches for pushing their music. Where do I focus?

Right now it feels like I am throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks, but I would like to narrow the focus a bit. Do I push more for promoting to festivals, licensing, viral social media campaigns, etc?


A fresh game plan is key. I've been there. Every artist is different. I'd suggest creating categories for the level each artist is at. I look at them as race horses. Each horse daily changes its location around the track- until someone wins at something. Managers have a super hard job of constantly keeping things moving and networking with the right people. But you have the challenge of keeping your artists happy whilst being realistic. If we had a call I'd like to suggest we do an audit of a day in the life of you. What are all the moving parts you have going? What can you do to create a structure and a simple action plan that will help you and your artists get some real wins. This biz is tough BUT I can help you get clarity.

Answered 9 years ago

Trying to make money in the music industry is difficult these days, so if it's been hard, it's not just you. :) But you can start by thinking that 1) every musician is a business, and 2) you grow a business by figuring out how to improve profit margins and add new revenue streams. So what's making each artist the most money right now? Festivals? Conventional touring? Unconventional touring (i.e., Licensing? e-Commerce/merch sales? Identify where you're already making a good margin, and then brainstorm ways to scale. For example, if licensing has been good, make sure that each musician's ENTIRE catalog is on EVERY licensing company's website/platform. Then, set up a call with a rep at that company and ask for their advice on maximizing revenues with their platforms. I'd also ask each musician what their income needs/goals are for 2015 so that you and the musician have clear targets for each quarter. It's hard to shoot straight without a clear target.

Answered 9 years ago

I am an attorney that has represented artists for many years now. I would like to build off Austin’s point that musicians are businesses. A good manager should first make sure that the business aspect of the band/musician is finalized and protected. Specifically, this means that you first need to make sure that your musician/band has proper band agreements in place, proper insurance, registered their copyrights, discussed trademark issues, understand basic bookkeeping, setup as an LLC etc., and other general business concepts. Once you are comfortable that your acts can effectively and efficiently run as a business then you need to find the best places to earn revenue. In my experience, musicians tend to make money in many different ways. For instance, I represented a band that made a living touring colleges. They have been very successful at it. However, they have not had a lot of luck at festivals and things like that. On the other hand, I have represented acts that tour clubs constantly and make a living selling merchandize. I think it depends greatly on the type of act and what they do best.

I can give some general advice though. I would make sure that the musicians have signed up with ASCAP/BMI and soundexchange. I have represented many clients that are not aware of soundexchange. For smaller acts, this can be a good source of income. Another piece of advice I generally provide to managers is that they should try to find a booking agent to book tours/shows/festivals. These agents will likely have a better grasp of what kinds of venues will be best for the musician and they have better connections to the clubs/venues. Then, I try to get my musicians/mangers to look into licensing their works. Many companies offer non-exclusive licensing services. You can start with these companies until the musician gets more exposure. This will reduce the time you spend trying to find licensing opportunities.

Lastly, you want to make sure you are providing enough support to each of your musicians. I would look to hire an intern to help with some of the more basic tasks. For instance, oftentimes I see managers utilize interns or assistants to do social media campaigns and things like that.

I hope this provides some direction. Good luck!

Answered 9 years ago

My background is in digital marketing. Are you measuring your efforts consistently? If not, you should then look at the data to see what's performing and what's not. Then learn, make changes and repeat. You might have more luck looking at how startups market themselves, "lean startup", validated learning, etc. Also, repurposing content for different online mediums so that they are native to the platform works well. However, the artist needs to actively engage with their audience and have conversations.

Answered 9 years ago

Hi, I'm Tommy and I'm a music business educator. Each artist's music can be promoted differently.

If I were you, I would regard three things:
- Their genre of music.
- Their story behind their music.
- Their message as artists.

The whole process of taking these three parameters into regard is called Mediatization (look it up): it's not only the music that matters, but the story people connect with. You can promote an artist's music to a fanbase which 1) loves the music itself, 2) connects with their story, and 3) digs the message the artist promotes.

This is the mindset. The actual strategies and tactics can be countless, when you apply this way of thinking.

Let me know if this made things more clear and whether I could help.

Positive energy and love,
// Tommy

Answered 9 years ago

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