Supporting every successful artist or band is a great behind-the-scenes team. This can include a manager, record label, booking agent, publicist etc. all of who play key roles in a growing musician’s career. But, how do you know you’re ready to approach these people who can help you to take your career to the next level? And what should you have at your disposal, besides great music, to sell your craft as worth their time and money?
When is the right time in your career to start approaching labels/management?
I think most artists know that they need a manager and there’s a good reason for it; it’s the single most important decision that you as an artist will make once the music is made. A manager can help you assemble the other aforementioned parts of your team. A good manager will have experience, contacts and relationships in the business that can help you take the next step. He or she needs to have an understanding of how music is marketed and what it costs. And they’ll know how to increase your income while managing your spending. They’ll have to have a clear sense of where you are, where you want to be and what it will take to get there. If you are at the point where handling all this is taking away from your focus on the music, it might be time to start looking for some help.
How should an indie band start looking for management/labels?
Chances are if you are ready for a manger, they will find you. Word of mouth, a live show or a blog article are all great ways to get noticed. However, it doesn’t hurt to poke around and see what manager might be a good fit for your music and vision of the future. Maybe they’ve worked with some artists who are similar in sound. Maybe you’ve noticed a client of theirs who has had a surge of success and think you can take a similar step. Whatever it is, if you are cold calling a prospective manager, make sure to explain to them (briefly) why they caught your attention. Do your homework and make it personal!
As far as looking for a label, it’s important to remember that signing a new band/artist is a huge financial investment. Again, do some research and find out what label would be a good fit for your style. Figure out who oversees A&R (Google is a wonderful thing) and send them a link (not a file) to hear your most recent songs. Or, find out who is on their staff and try your luck with them. It’s never a bad thing to have a fan on the inside! Make sure your website and social media are up to date and polished. You never get a second chance at a first impression!
What are the ideal press kit credentials before contacting music pros?
Like I mentioned before, it’s important that your websites are up to date with your most recent music, photo, biography etc. Speaking of a biography, it’s helpful to have some text with key background info: where you’re from and what you’ve done, for starters. Lay out some career highlights, interesting factoids etc.—a marketable band/artist will have a developing story in addition to great music. Did your last album generate some positive reviews or interviews? Pick out a few of the best ones and include the links or clips. If you’re savvy with technology (or even if you’re not) create a PDF document or web page and lay out all the important information in a neat, organized manor. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. A clear website means a potential manager gets a clear idea of what you do.
Music industry veteran Steve “Renman” Rennie runs the online music biz mentoring platform Renman Music & Business and online course Renman U Insider’s Guide to Today’s Music Business. Join Steve for a free webinar on Thursday, January 28th at 12:00 p.m. PST "5 Keys to Building a Successful Career in the Music Business." Sign up for free here.