Entertainment Magazine

Building a Team and Avoiding Industry Sharks

Posted on the 07 July 2021 by Electrickiwi @webdesignmusic

There are sharks out there, but they can be avoided!

I’ve been speaking with a lot of clients lately, both about the work we do together on their websites, and the bigger picture of their careers. A common thread that has been coming up in conversation is that around building a team, and the mixed experiences they’ve had around this.

Many of the concerns that we’ve discussed recently have included:

  • How to identify what roles you need to fill in your team, and how to find the RIGHT people to fill these roles
  • The impacts of hiring people/companies who simply don’t deliver what they say they will
  • Consultants offering bad or irrelevant device (AND charging over-the-odds for it)
  • Poor expectation management (especially when it comes to PR campaigns)

Before I go on, I want to clarify that there are MANY trustworthy individuals and companies out there who do GREAT work. But for the purposes of this article, I want to focus more on why/when you would need to seek out service providers, what red flags to look out for when you’re looking to build out your team or find collaborators, and actions to take to help you make the most informed and effective decisions.

Why do you need to build a team?

Even though we’re living in the age of the DIY artist, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do EVERYTHING yourself.

In the early stages in particular, it might be most cost effective to handle everything on your own – but you’ll get to a point where you need to grow your team in order to focus on what you do best – creating!

Exhaustion and burnout is the real deal. Learning to delegate and sharing the workload can help keep you motivated and on track to meet your goals.

How do you identify where you need help?

Over the course of an average week, keep a note on the time you’re spending doing different tasks.

  • What tasks do you enjoy?
  • What tasks do you struggle with? Would the time you spend on these tasks be better spent elsewhere?

This can help you figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which can make it easier to identify the skills you need to bring on board.

Many artists think that a manager is who they need to bring on board – but most of the time, this isn’t the case. Often it’ll be bringing someone on who can handle a lot of the admin work for you, while you focus on the creative side, and building connections with people in the industry and growing your audience.

How do you find the right people?

  • My first suggestion is almost always to ask around. Ask people in your network who they’ve used for specific tasks or jobs, and find out what their experience was like.
  • Get really clear on your hopes and expectations, and be open with these when approaching service providers. A trustworthy service provider should be able to help manage these and be honest about what the results could be. Anyone who guarantees 100% success in any area should raise a red flag (especially if you can’t find proof that they have achieved these results for other artists).
  • Do your research. Look the person or company up and see what people say about working with them.
  • Ask questions. If the person is reputable, they won’t be offended if you ask about their process, their pricing, the results you can expect.
  • Get to know them. If this person is going to be part of your team, you’re going to be working with them frequently and on an ongoing basis – so you want to be sure that you actually click! I’m not saying you have to be instant best friends or anything, but don’t underestimate the importance of getting along with the people that you work with. It makes the entire experience and process so much more enjoyable, and you’ll likely all be more invested in the success when you have a personal connection and mutual respect.

What should you be wary of when approaching (or being approached by) service providers in the music industry?

What red flags should you be looking out for?

Beware of the cold email / message – If someone is contacting you out of the blue and promising you the world, this is definitely something to be wary of. For example, if someone sends you a DM on Instagram saying “Hey, I can get you in front of labels for a one-time fee of $XX” this is almost definitely a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of anyone who overpromises, especially if they can’t offer proof of past results.

Agencies and firms who genuinely offer these services will most likely NOT be asking for money up front, and many of them will actually be so inundated with submissions that they aren’t doing a great deal of outreach. And on the occasions where they ARE reaching out, I can almost guarantee you that they will not be asking you for payment.

Check their credentials – just because someone SAYS they’ve worked with major artists, don’t take that at face value. You also need to bear in mind what ROLE they had when working with these artists – realistically how involved were they in this artist’s success?

Similarly, just because someone has worked with big artists in the past doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be able to replicate that success with you. If their success is from 10 – 20 years ago, it’s very possible that their experience is outdated and not particularly suited to the modern music industry. Sadly I hear a lot about artists who are drawn in to consultation and training programs by people who used to work at big labels and worked with big artists, but ultimately the “strategies” they are being taught are just not effective in 2021 – so it’s been a lot of money wasted.

Check their online presence – do they have a professional looking website? Are they on LinkedIn? Do they have positive (and legit!) reviews on their Facebook page / LinkedIn profile / Google? Can you find references that you can check on to get real feedback on what they are like to work with?

Some final thoughts…

The music industry is such a competitive place, and as a result there are a lot of people who are willing to take advantage of the ambition and motivation of artists.

But at the same time, there are so many genuine and trustworthy professionals in the industry who will work hard and give you their very best.

It’s to be expected that we’ll all make some mistakes throughout the process, and not every collaboration is going to work out perfectly.

It’s unrealistic to expect that everything will be smooth sailing all of the time – but I’m hoping that this article helps you to avoid some of the traps that artists fall into, and helps you to make some more informed decisions to progress your career.

What about you?

I’d love to hear from you. Please share your stories in the comments below – both the good and the bad, to help your fellow artists make better decisions and perhaps to avoid mistakes you may have made.

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