So, you have your band members, your practice space and some decent gear. You’ve written some awesome music and had a couple of local shows. Where do you go from here?
Make an agreement
First off, make an agreement with your band members about the direction and ownership of the band and its music. You are making a business plan, so it’s best to spell out all the details in writing. You’ll want to make sure to include details about the image and style of your band here so everyone is on the same page. Assign tasks to promote the band. This ensures that every band member is handling important roles at all times. In Chil, we take it a step further and do it on a project basis in order to stay updated on changes we want to make following the previous release. It may seem like this is silly in the beginning, but once the train is moving you’ll be glad you have this in place. Additionally, when Chil work with other bands, we get them under contract as well, so there are no misunderstandings.
Set a budget
You’ll need to know how much the band can spend per month. Sticking to your budget is important: This will help you plan and assess how much money your band should be spending on various media outlets, merchandise, advertising and other expenses. One person needs to be in charge of keeping track of every transaction and paying everybody out, and another person needs to be in charge of collecting payment. Be sure to set aside money for emergencies such as vehicle repair or replacing broken equipment.
Form a team
A band is bigger than just the musicians, and to build your band, you’ll need a team. Many bands bring in social media managers, merchandising personnel, photographers, videographers, publicists and booking agents. Who you bring in will depend on what you need and your set budget, and often it’s best not to rush to hire all these roles right away. In the beginning, it’s OK to lean on your peers who have a passion for certain areas in order to save expenses, but you should be willing to hire professionals.
You need to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of each band member so you can maximize your potential. In Chil, we saw we had a need for a stronger social media presence, so we hired a content manager. Also, make sure to utilize the relationships of people in your network. We’ve worked extensively over the last few years with Austin Bello (Forever The Sickest Kids) in writing, producing and publishing our music. It’s essential to build your team around the band. Don’t build the team first and then fill in the cracks.
Purchase a domain
A band needs a centralized hub, and your domain fills this role. Serving as a direct marketplace for merch and music sales, your domain is almost always more profitable than selling through distributors. Your domain also serves to promote your social media. Very early on, Chil formed a landing page that redirected visitors to our Myspace. Since then, we’ve developed our own website using all of our social media outlets so that you can access them all in one place.
Pick the distributor
Having a distributor for your music will help you reach more people than doing it on your own. It’s an important decision, and you need to be willing to do the research on your options.
If you’re looking to have your music on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and all the other outlets, you may want to look into companies such as CD Baby or TuneCore. There are a decent number of companies that offer these services, and they all have varying pricing options, like upfront fees or percentage of sales. If one of your main goals is getting on Spotify playlists, then seeking out an independent distributor with those connections may be the route you want to go—although those can be tougher to get into, whereas TuneCore is open to everyone. If you’re looking to just sell your music as quickly as possible and not pay anything upfront, then Bandcamp is a good route to go. In Chil, we’ve opted for a distributor that provides us with the specific marketplaces our fans are most active.
These are the tools that we’ve utilized in Chil to grow from a band into a business. With every project that we work on, we look at how we can make each of these sections more effective, resulting in a superior end product. We hope that you will find success using these tips.
To learn more about Chil, check us out on ChilRockBand.com where you will find information on our latest single, “Something To Live For,” and details about our headliner at Musica in Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1 to send us off to record with Al Groves at Motor Museum in Liverpool, England. We’re running an IndieGoGo campaign to support this project.