NOTE: I felt compelled to write this article for 3 reasons:
- Many artists believe that having a manager is important to their success.
- Several artists have asked me to manage them recently.
- I often wonder how I am able to manage my music career & continue to grow it.
In my opinion, having a manager isn’t critical to your success in the music business. I believe that it’s more important to harness The Power of Effective Delegation (affiliate link).
Here are some tips that have helped me grow my music career (and continue to do so) without a manager:
- Make a paradigm shift – In high school, I told my private drum teacher about my professional music career aspirations. His response has been the reason I have a career in music:
You are an entrepreneur first and a musician second. Through the years, I found it necessary to add one thing to his advice: You are an entrepreneur first, a marketer second, and a musician third.
- Know what hats you need to wear and when – When I’m performing, I’m musician. When I finish performing and someone asks me for my business card, I’m a marketer. When I’m creating next years budget, I’m an entrepreneur.
- Write a business plan to generate cash – Writing a plan down makes it real. This is uncomfortable for many aspiring artists because it means that dreaming is over and it’s time for action! Your plan can include getting signed to a record label, but it’s not necessary. Before you begin writing, learn the Anatomy of a Business Plan (affiliate link).
- Manage time effectively – Making appointments with myself is how I “fit it all in.” I have time allotted to practice drums, check email, manage my social media accounts (even though some of you believe I’m on Twitter all day), make phone calls, do bookkeeping, etc.
Two of my favorite books on time management are First Things First (affiliate link) and No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs (affiliate link).
- Build real relationships – I’ve learned the hard way that one of the most important keys to success is to make and KEEP commitments. Showing up on time shows respect for yourself and other people. If people can’t trust you with time, what can they trust you with? Next, don’t start relationships by asking people for stuff. Whenever someone follows me on Twitter, then asks me to check out their YouTube video, or retweet something, it gives me a cold feeling. Each year, I reread
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (affiliate link) to remind myself about how to grow real relationships.
- Learn to sell – You have to learn to sell your music, your products, your services, and most importantly yourself, like a pro. Great sales professionals know how to take an opportunity, “close a sale”, and do it fast! When an opportunity comes through my email inbox at 9:00 AM, I shoot to have a paid gig by 10:00 AM. Each year I reread, How to Master the Art of Selling (affiliate link).
- Master confidence & enthusiasm – Professional sales skills are critical. Of the many sales skills that I’ve learned over the years, the best one to master is to confidence and enthusiasm. It’s very contagious, goes viral really quickly, and applies to performing as well.
- Learn to negotiate – Like sales skills, negotiation skills are important as well. When someone tells me “NO”, I understand that it really means “NO…for right now” and it’s a powerful teacher. Negotiation has taught me how to find solutions in which every party wins in a dispute.
- Stay ahead of the game by learning - You can’t read a few “music business” books, apply what you learn, and then expect to have a successful music career. As a general rule, I steer clear of “music business” books because I believe that it’s more important to learn about overall success in business. I’ve learned more from Starbucks & Apple about success in music than I have learned from any music business book. I try to read 1 business book a week. In addition, I subscribe to these magazines: Entrepreneur (affiliate link), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (affiliate link), and The Economist (affiliate link).
- Present yourself seriously and people will take you seriously – If you want people to pay you, present yourself like a trustworthy business person. You will stand out from most other musicians who look like “musicians”.
- Your most important business relationship – Your most important business relationship is your relationship with your accountant. A great accountant does more than taxes, they are a trusted business adviser and a great resource for connections. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of connections I have made because of my accountant, Becky Egan. If you contact her, be sure to mention my name.
- Constantly improve your music skills – As I write this article, I’m reminded of the fact that I need to finish an assignment for my drum teacher. I constantly take drum lessons and will never stop. Having someone to constantly critique your music skills, challenge you, give you a fresh ideas, and grow you will lead to a higher income.
- Align yourself with successful people – You’ve probably heard this saying before: “You are who your friends are.” If you hang out with other struggling musicians, then you will remain a struggling musician. I make it a point to surround myself with people who are better musicians than me & are further along in their careers than me.
- Attitude is everything – You will never hear me bashing the music business or being negative because I don’t have time for it. Each day, I wake up with an attitude of gratitude. On that note, I have to say:
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article!