“It’s All About The Team Baby!”
by Sass Jordan, Artist – The Lowry Agency
Let’s face it .. you don’t do this alone. Even if you do all the work, and all the administration, booking, accounting, publicity, photography, performing, playing, travel planning, blogging, tweeting, booking, touring, advancing, writing, phones, ALL of that, and more, you’re still not doing it alone, because you do it for the fans – and they are what help you continue. As long as they want to see and hear you, you’re not alone.
On that note, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your work is to assemble a team of people that can facilitate the process for you. I think this holds true in pretty much any endeavour, but we are speaking in music business terms here, so that’s where we’ll focus. The craziness of running a musical ‘business’ can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many endless details to take care of, above and beyond the honing of your craft and developing your musical skills. I honestly have nothing but the utmost respect for performers who have managed to become well-known and can work consistently. Even if I don’t care for the musical style or even the personality, I still have huge respect, because I know what it takes to pull it off. It’s not for everyone. You need the courage of an lion, the patience of an ox and the energy of a jack russell terrier!
Probably the best place to start a team with would be with a personal manager and a booking agent. You can build everything from there. I know people who have started with an entertainment lawyer .. but that works kind of the same way, because big entertainment lawyers know EVERYONE in the business end of things, and they can definitely hook you up with managers and agents, as well as publishers and record distributors etc. A manager is a wonderful player to have, but as usual, finding one who is going to be able to do the job the way you need it done with the budget you probably have, is a challenge.
You have to decide up front how you are going to pay people. That is a massively important point. If you are getting into a situation where you are signing on with a big management company, you will have little choice in the way things are done, and rightly so, as you need them far more than they need you. The thing to remember is, it is never THEIR name on the marquee, so any problems or situations that arise will be attributed to your name, not theirs. If you are hooking up with someone who is as unknown as you are, there are different things to watch out for, namely, do they have any experience at all, and how much will they understand what is going on and what needs to be done. The main selling point for a big , successful company is that they have endless contacts and lots of people that owe them favors. The downside is that you get lost in amongst all the big fish, the ones that make them all that money and favors. The main selling point for an unknown is that they are as hungry as you are, and have as much to prove as you do, therefore will work tirelessly on your account, with no other acts distracting them, and they will work to make you money, because that is how they make theirs! The downside, of course, is that they often don’t have a clue what they are doing, and they don’t have the clout to get you hooked up with other people that can help the cause.
In the end, you are going to have to go with your intuition and your own feeling on everything, as there are no hard and fast rules. If you have respect and integrity, you are likely to find that comes back to you – perhaps not every time, but by far most of the time. A team is the greatest thing you could have as a performer … and I wish you nothing but the best of luck in building one!