Music Magazine

In Music, Should DIY Really Mean Do It Yourself?

Posted on the 13 November 2013 by Electrickiwi @webdesignmusic

DIY MusiciansA debate which is coming up more and more these days is whether or not musicians can -or should – be DIY artists. There is a certain romanticism to the idea of doing everything yourself, and I think that many artists would love to able to handle every aspect of their career personally. Unfortunately, for most, the DIY ethic is not sustainable in the long run.

To begin with, you probably will need to do everything yourself. It’s the same whenever an entrepreneur starts a business – it’s likely that they will need to do the work, handle the accounts, do the promotion/marketing etc until they have the capital to hire someone else to do these things. As a musician, you will probably be in the same boat.

Just because you can do it by yourself, doesn’t mean you have to

You may be at a point in your career where you are balancing so many different roles – you’re a writer, performer, tour manager, accountant, social media whiz, copywriter. You’re managing – but only just. Something is going to suffer, and unfortunately for many, it’s the creative side. That is the part that you should be nurturing, that you should be focusing on. So just because you CAN do it all yourself, doesn’t mean you have to.

The hardest part is knowing when to let go, and when to delegate control of one of these tasks to someone else – someone who has more expertise in that particular area. I know that your music and your brand is your baby – that’s how I feel about my business! However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring someone to handle your accounts, or booking your shows, for example – you’re a MUSICIAN, no-one expects you to be good at anything other than what we love you for – your MUSIC!

Together Everyone Achieves More
Your Team is your Secret Weapon

Putting together a team who care about you and your music as much as you do may seem like a daunting task, but think of the possibilities. Yes, you COULD do everything by yourself, but think about how much easier and time efficient it will be if you have two or three extra pairs of hands working on all the non-musical stuff that takes up your time.

If you have a strong team behind you, your art will benefit, and you’ll have more time to focus on the parts of the business that you love.

Letting Go of the Reigns

It’s important that you choose who you work with wisely. Do you know anyone who has the particular skills that you’re looking for already? Look at your existing network of family, friends and professional contacts. Is there anyone there who you trust enough with the responsibility you’re going to hand over to them? Perhaps you don’t know someone who is going to be right for the task at hand – do you trust them to recommend someone who is going to be right for the job?

The most important thing is to take your time when it comes to putting your team together. Choose them carefully as it’s your career that’s on the line. It may sound selfish, but you have to put yourself first when it comes to building the right team and support network around you. It may take a while, but once you’ve got that killer team together, you’ll feel so much better for it, and you’ll be in a stronger position for booking that tour you’ve always wanted to do, and more confident when you’re releasing your next record.

The Money Situation

Of course, when you’re employing people, you will need to make arrangements for pay etc. It’s important to set realistic expectations, and to be fair both to yourself and to the team you’re surrounding yourself with. Be open and upfront about what you can afford to pay and work out arrangements accordingly. It may be that you can only offer experience (for college credit, or for a CV/resumé) rather than a wage – make sure this is communicated before any work is conducted so that both parties know what is expected. In my opinion, if you are making money and the people who are working with you are helping you to do that, then they deserve some form of payment. Obviously every situation is different, so follow your instincts, but do seek appropriate advice if needed.

What are Your Experiences?

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with the DIY approach, and team-building. What areas of your business have you delegated to others? What benefits have you seen so far? Maybe you’ve had a bad experience? Whatever your thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!

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