Written by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment
Krafty Entertainment is a music business development coaching company dedicated to providing guidance to musicians (and their teams) on how best to nurture supporters and profit from doing so. Krafty Entertainment’s founder Kyle Kraft has over 20 years experience in assisting both developing and established artists in substantially growing their net income from their music. Interested in working with us? Let’s talk!
What artists should focus on to get the interest of potential team members
Artists at an early stage of their career development often think they need to get a manager, agent, or record label on board to build their business for them, without understanding what they need to do to get established industry people interested in working with them or the fact that what they really need is to educate themselves and build their businesses more themselves (or get others to assist them in doing so) in order to get that interest. The reality is that with over 100,000 songs being released every day by millions of aspiring artists there is no shortage of talent for industry people to work with, and therefore the talent that establishes more social proof in the form of streaming numbers and social media engagement are more likely to attract more interest from industry people.
Regardless neither social proof nor being appealing to industry people should be the focus of an artist’s efforts, but rather building and monetizing an engaged audience should be the primary focus. Industry people are interested in working with artists they can make money by working with, and regardless of what industry people an artist has on their team they need to generate income to both cover their expenses and invest in growing their business further. Ultimately the more income an artist generates, the more they’re going to be able to afford to pay for the time of people they’re interested in getting on their team.
If artists aren’t already consistently generating substantial income (via multiple revenue streams) from their audience, they need to focus on increasing knowledge and income before pursuing getting experienced industry people on board. In this day and age it isn’t realistic for an artist to expect a manager, agent, or label to take them from generating next to no income to a lot of income, when the reality is that experienced industry people are mostly interested in helping artists who have already established a business build their business further.
As a starting point there are plenty of free resources available online for artists to self-educate themselves IF they are willing to do the work necessary. The days of artists being supported substantially by industry people due to talent alone are largely behind us. It takes work ethic, perseverance, professionalism, and realism in addition to talent in order for an artist to be successful in building a business with longevity around their music, and the more of a foundation you lay for yourself demonstrating you possess those characteristics the more industry people are going to want to work with you.
Understand that your work doesn’t decrease when you add people to your team, if anything it increases as you now have to not only keep yourself motivated but also contribute to keeping a professional motivated/ incentivized to work on your behalf as well.
What kind of team members you should be looking for
Recognize that experienced industry people want to maximize the income they make for the time they spend, and that therefore you should be looking to start a working relationship that initially involves a small amount of the industry person’s time. For that reason you should be looking for high level contributions (as opposed to manpower) from experienced professionals.
If you’re looking for manpower for tasks that you truly can’t do yourself that NEED to be done (and what needs to be done to build your business is an entirely separate discussion), you should consider asking collaborators, friends, or fans to assist you (which may or may not involve compensation) or hiring an assistant (which can be part time/ virtual/ and even in another country which may cost you less) as opposed to looking for that work to be picked up by an experienced industry professional you’re looking to have join your team.
The type of industry people you should be looking to add to your team should be carefully researched and planned out before you even start researching specific potential candidates. Your needs for team members depend as much on your current accomplishments and resources as your goals, so think carefully about all of those as you are researching potential team members.
How to find potential team members
Focus your networking efforts with the aim to build relationships with industry people who work with artists who have a little more established businesses than yours. You are not likely to get interest in working extensively together from someone who works with artists with a lot larger audiences than you have until you get closer to the level of business they normally deal with. Keep in mind that the fundamentals of business development are largely the same regardless of genre of popular music, so while its important that your team members believe in your music they don’t necessarily have to have direct experience with the same genre as you make.
Personal introductions generally have a higher likelihood of resulting in getting a response, so its a wise move to ask artists, producers, engineers, and other industry people you already have relationships with for recommendations and introductions. Music industry associations (like performance rights societies, local or regional collectives and non profits, etc) can also be good resources to point you in the right direction. Music industry events and conferences can also be good opportunities to get face to face time (and therefore the opportunity to start a dialogue) with people you may not otherwise be able to get a reply from if you just contact them via email and/ or social media private messages.
How to pick the right team members and start a working relationship
When you’re researching industry people to pay to work on your behalf, ensure they are experienced professionals who have a track record of recent success in assisting artists with the kinds of goals you have. Explore options, and if someone hasn’t played a direct part in the kind of success you’re aiming to have you’re probably better off looking at other options when it comes to investing to maximize your likelihood of success. Be sure to talk to other artists your potential candidates have worked with to find out what they think of your working with them, as well as other industry professionals you trust to get their input about the idea as well. Be cautious of who you give your money to, as there are lots of scumbags in the music industry who just want to take your money without providing the value you’re looking for in exchange.
While managers, agents, and labels normally take a percentage of income generated from artists they’re already working with, some of those people may also be willing to “consult” with other artists in exchange for a set payment for their time. You can further relationships and educate yourself by offering to pay those industry people you want to build relationships with for a small amount of their time (perhaps start with an hour or two) to ask them a bunch of questions. Try to keep your initial financial commitment as small as is necessary to get their interest, so that if you’re not happy with the direction things are going in you’re not on the hook to pay for a bunch more time from someone it doesn’t make sense for you to keep working with. Be sure to research and prepare a prioritized list of questions you have for the person you are consulting with prior to your initial consultation in order to maximize the value you get from your investment.
Once you’ve had an initial consultation with someone you will be in a much better position to determine if it makes sense to ask how you can work together, or if you should explore other options to see if you can find a better fit for your short to mid term goals. Someone you’ve already paid for their time is also going to be a lot more receptive to discussions about compensating them to spend further time on your behalf, as they will have more confidence that you value their time and are less likely to waste it than someone they haven't done business with at all.
Stay focused on building and monetizing your audience
Ultimately when you’ve built enough public social proof (with high enough streaming numbers and social media engagement) you will have industry people getting in touch with you to build relationships towards working together. In the meanwhile your focus should be on a healthy balance of establishing some social proof, but mostly on maximizing your income (despite the fact that isn’t necessarily public). Build, nurture, and monetize your audience, and you’ll be on the right track to growing a business around your music with longevity that industry professionals will be interested in assisting with.
This information was compiled by Kyle Kraft of Krafty Entertainment. Whether you are an artist who is in the early stages of building your career and have next to no money to invest into it looking for the best paths to generating income, are an artist that has established a following and are interested in getting assistance with securing tens of thousands of dollars in funding to further your career, or are an artist or collective with an extensive fan base that would like assistance with increasing the efficiency of your business development, we can help you.
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