“How do I find a music manager? How do I find a booking agent? I just need to find someone to get my music to the next level.” I’ve heard these questions and statements before, and fifteen or so years ago I sounded exactly like this. As it turns out, I wound up on the industry side of the fence and traded in the crowded, smelly van for a record company desk job – but I do have some answers for you.
Let’s start at the very beginning – do you have anything to manage?
I know – sounds like a stupid question, but is it? I’m not asking you if you have lots of work that you could use help with, nor am I making light of the pure volume of work involved in the creation of both recorded and live music. What I am asking is, “Do you have something ready to bring to market that needs managing or are you still building your product?”
There is no shame (I repeat) NO SHAME in being in the developmental phases of your career. We live in an instant gratification kind of world, which is why I know statistically that a majority of people won’t have made it this far into this article because they’re looking for a “get famous now” button. But my sincere advice is to take your time and develop your product – this will help you rise above the MILLIONS of people who went out to Guitar Center last week, purchased an instrument and recording gear, and had the first song they ever wrote up on MySpace the next day hoping for some kind of miracle that won’t ever come.
But back to management… let’s talk about what you should have together before even considering approaching someone to invest in your career. Notice I said “invest,” because whether or not they spend a dime on you, management is an enormous expenditure of someone’s time and efforts.
Before approaching anyone to manage you, have most of these together:
– No apology recordings of your music.
– Professional looking photos of you or your group.
– A basic, easily findable website (custom URL) you can update yourself.
– A mailing list and a place where people can sign up on said list.
– A social network presence (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube).
– Live performance footage (preferably in front of a crowd).
– A well-written bio highlighting your accomplishments.
These are the building blocks and marketing materials you will use over and over and over again. There are no words, no email sales pitch, and probably not even naked photos of a music executive in compromising positions that will get you taken more seriously than having the items above in place. Some of these items can get pricey, so do your homework and shop around if you feel that any of these items are best done by work for hire. Having these materials will get your more gigs, will get you taken more seriously by your peers and potential fans, and ultimately (if you have a product people want) will help you build a business in music.
“Okay – wait – isn’t this super basic? Does he think we are Idiots?”
No, absolutely not. But I can tell you that statistically aspiring musicians are looking at the wrong things to get ahead. Check out what people search for online for music related terms according to a Google AdWords query in June 2010:
Term: Global Monthly Searches:
“Get My Music Heard Online” – 10
“Get more people to my shows” – 10
“Make a Living In Music” – 46
“Marketing My Music” – 110
“Get a Music Manager” – 590
“How to Get A Record Deal” – 18,100
Draw your own conclusions but I think too many people are looking for a shortcut to fame that, barring an act of God or Justin Bieber, just doesn’t exist.
Rick Goetz is a music consultant and musician coach by way of a fifteen year career at major record labels and various online and television projects.
Original Post: MusicianCoaching.com.