[Editors Note:The following is an installment in our series of a partnership between TuneCore and students at Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University. In an attempt to offer new insight and educational content for independent artists, we’re excited to give these music industry professionals of the future a journalistic platform. This piece speaks to the process of self-management when first starting out your music career!]
1. Finding Band Members
As a new artist or songwriter striving to create music in a band setting, starting out can definitely be a struggle – you have to buy equipment, find bandmates, and (of course) actually be able to focus on making qlaity music. However, finding bandmates in 2019 shouldn’t have to be hard
Using websites like Join A Band, Sonicbids, and Meet & Jam is the easiest way to find bands looking for new members and musicians looking for bands to join. If you want to take a more personal approach, try social media. Every musician looking for work will have a platform of some kind. Take the time to look through local artists that you think you’d mesh well with. This may mean staying within the range of your genre at first. Once you find them, use social media for its intended purpose and be social! Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with other artists. One message can lead to opportunities to write and play shows with your peers. Over time it is easier to lean on one another so when one of you starts to gain success, you can pull one another into the spotlight.
Get Involved With Your Musical Community:
Going to open mics, networking and connecting with the songwriting and performance community will only broaden the chances of meeting your next perfect bass player, keyboardist or drummer. Even if the performer isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, odds are, they will know other people in the music industry working and performing in the same genre as you. It’s not always the first connection that you make that will lead you to your perfect opportunity, so keep an open mind.
2. Demos and songwriting
Before you can even think about making a demo, you have to have some songs. You won’t get very far with covers, so you should have original material. If you’ve never written a song in your life, now is a great time to start. The beauty of songwriting is there is no right or wrong way to create a song. Sometimes the lyrics come first and other times it’s the melody. You might start with the chorus, or maybe your inspiration is leading you to a verse instead. The important thing to remember is that songwriting is a skill that takes practice to develop. Not every song is going to be a hit.
Very rarely are songs written by one person. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other writers and musicians! One good idea could lead to an even better idea, which can lead to a great idea. You want to strive for great songs and not just good ones. Connect yourself with people who can help you get to that point.
Once you have some songs, then you can consider making a demo. While modern technology has given artists the ability to record a quality demo from virtually anywhere in the world, there are countless advantages to relocating to a city with a booming music industry. If moving away from home isn’t an option, there are countless different affordable softwares you can download to help you in your recording process, including: Logic Pro, Audacity, and Sound Forge. Many of them have free versions that can be utilized before upgrading to the more advanced paid versions. Once again, don’t be afraid to collaborate with other people during this process. Outside perspectives can be incredibly helpful during any creative project!
3. Electronic Press Kit
Press kits are essential to furthering an artist’s career. In an age and industry where nobody has the time of day, press kits provide industry professionals with an efficient and professional way to distribute their material. As a new artist, you’re going to need a digital press kit in order to market yourself.
An electronic press kit (EPK) is essentially a pre-made set of promotional materials that one sends to different media outlets for advertising. Music industry EPKs have a few necessary components that differ from other industries. A good digital press kit should include: your biography, a few professional photos, your best music (polished and demos), videos, articles or reviews (press), social media sites, achievements, and contact information. In order for your your press kit to be useful, you must be able to present it to many types of people such as booking agents, talent buyers, promotions teams, and other music industry professionals.
A press kit can be used in many different situations. For example, a booking agent could utilize an EPK while booking an artist to play a club or theater. The artist sends the press kit to the club promoter to take a look and see if the artist’s style and music fits their scene. They can see what the artist looks like, sounds like, and what their overall style of performance is. If the promoter decides the artist would be a good fit, then they can use the photos in the press kit to help promote the upcoming show, as well as link videos that have been carefully chosen by the artist to the ticket page where potential fans could see.
4. Booking yourself
Booking yourself can be a daunting task, but if you have the right tools and confidence, it can be done successfully. Booking for a new act is very important, it can lead to new opportunities and the growth of your career. Don’t stress if you don’t have a manager or booking agent quite yet, by following these relatively simple guidelines, you can act as your own!
Networking and Attitude:
Booking for an independent artist has the potential to be overwhelming, but is absolutely essential for gaining exposure. The right attitude can go a long way when it comes to successfully booking yourself in the music industry. That being said, a negative attitude or demeanor could potentially diminish your chances of booking a show that could be fruitful to your career. While it’s true that skill, talent, and creative ability are important things to possess in order to propel your music career forward, it will be quite difficult to book yourself without a positive attitude, good people skills, a strong – but not overbearing – sense of confidence, and an obvious, inspiring drive to move forward in your career.
One way an artist can pursue self-booking is to use their network and connections. If an artist has a friend looking for an opening act, they should connect with them to discuss that opportunity. Many artists book a spot in writers rounds because they co-wrote a song with a friend who already has a spot in the round. Booking via networking is beneficial because the artist kills two birds with one stone. They gain exposure to a larger audience, and they get to network with fellow writers, artists, and musicians. Remember that at the end of the day, the music industry is all about making connections with people in order to share the art you’ve worked so hard to create, and booking yourself is no exception.
On Finding and Approaching Venues:
First, you’ll want to research the live venues in your area and find the specific requirements to book a show with them. Understanding which venues you should be targeting is an important step as your performance will likely fit better in certain venues instead of others. You will probably need to get in contact with their talent buyer, or a promoter who frequently hosts events at the venue.
Second, you’ll want to have an EPK packed with music, photos, album art, bio, videos, links, past press, and contact information. This gives you credibility and gives them a way to hear your music.
Third, the venue will want to know if you can draw a crowd. Make sure you know how you will market your show and be able to provide a rough estimate of how many people you will be able to draw.
Finally, put your research to the test. Stay organized with the information you have found on the live venues in the area, then submit carefully crafted information with attachments of the tools you have gathered. Feel free to mention other shows you have done and the successes of those shows. Give other ways to contact you and open the discussion of looking at potential dates for performances. This process will take time, so it is important to be patient and send follow ups.
Another step that follows booking a show at a venue is the promotion behind it. There are many tools that everyday musicians can utilize to draw attention to your show. At this point, you should have already distributed your EPK to the venue; you want them to be able to advertise you and get the word out about your upcoming performance. Also, the very same social media networks you used to find your bandmates can be used to promote your show. Creating a Facebook event enables friends and the general public to be able to share the event with their network. Another promotion tool that an artist can use are the tools offered by streaming platforms. On Spotify, artists can list their tour dates on their artist page. On Bandsintown, artists can send mass messages to fans who follow their page.
This allows artists to communicate upcoming dates and give special alerts so they don’t go unnoticed. Finally, Pandora AMP is a great tool for those artists that have music on the streaming platform. They can record liners and messages that preface their music, such as a message promoting their next show.
Finally, remember that a positive, infectious attitude will also help to establish the critical connection between you and your target audience. If a venue knows you have a well-developed audience that feels personally connected to you and invested in your journey, they will feel confident about your turnout and therefore more likely to book you. This is such an important element of booking yourself and all it requires is simple but consistent positive engagement.