Quit waiting for magic potions and 1-800 numbers to success. Put together a plan and get your work ethic in check!
In order to attract serious interest in the music industry today—whether it be from a record label, publishing company, manager or attorney—independent artists (yes, that means you) must be proactive about their careers and accomplish a great deal on their own first. This includes building a strong buzz through live performances, press, and online marketing, as well as selling a respectable number of CDs.
However, with no organized plan of attack or blue-print in place, many artists fall short of reaching their dreams and moving forward to that next level of their careers. Sadly, their gigs are poorly attended, boxes of CDs left unsold under their beds—and even worse—the band calls it quits after months or years of developing. Make no mistake; having no plan is like planning to fail. Equally, having a plan and failing to execute it is just as damaging.
Get To That Next Level Of Your Career
At the Taxi Road Rally (a music business convention in Los Angeles, California), a young artist—let’s call him John Doe—approached me with a very important question,
“How can I get to that next level of my career?”
I proceeded to tell him that he first needed to modify his attitude, think proactively, and put together a realistic marketing plan. Furthermore, I explained the importance of
having a gigging, radio, Internet, press, sales, licensing, and sponsorship strategy—and to be sure to execute and see-through his goals.
I even recommended some very specific websites he could approach and made him aware of the helpful resources I’ve researched and created throughout my many years as a music business consultant and signed recording artist.
But after all of this, John repeated his question, “Yeah, but I mean, how do I do it—how do I get to that next level of my career? I got the skills, I got the hits, now all I need is someone to realize how great my stuff is so I can get back to doing what I do best—music.”
Embrace That Nasty Four Letter Word and Create a Spark
You see, what John didn’t want to hear was the word WORK. That nasty four letter word that so many of us try to avoid—that darn pain in the butt thing that keeps getting in the way of you and your dreams—that thing that eats up your precious time. I’ll say it again, WORK!
But perhaps if you look at it all another way, the work that lies ahead of you won’t seem like such a daunting task. Imagine that you are trapped on an island in the middle of the sea, and all you have at your disposal are a bunch of sticks. The thought of building a boat and sailing back to mainland would seem overwhelming. But rubbing a few sticks together long enough to create a spark that gets the attention of someone in the distance now seems more attainable.
You see, rather than feel the weight of the world is entirely on your shoulders, work at creating the attention of those that can help you by first helping yourself! Create some momentum in your career.
Eventually fans will be motivated to help and you can start delegating some of the work responsibilities to them. Perhaps in time, a reputable personal manager and even a record label will become interested.
And who knows, by the time you attract some interested industry peeps, you just might be so self-reliant you decide you don’t need their help after all. At least you’ll be in a far better position to leverage the right deal or relationship.
Know How To Get Things Done
The discipline of executing your goals requires know-how. It is not something that one should naturally be expected to grasp. Corporate executives Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan wrote extensively on this subject in their book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. I’ll paraphrase the key points that you can use to get started in achieving your goals.
1. Understand that executing a strategy isn’t about just getting things done, it starts with a putting together a smart and realistic plan with goals that are easily achievable—both with the short and long term in mind.
2. Make sure to remain flexible in changing and adapting your strategy as new events and opportunities unfold. Try to calculate these changes and events if possible when putting together your plan.
3. Find the right persons [band mates and fans alike] to whom you can delegate certain responsibilities and hold them accountable for getting work done and accomplishing specific goals. Keep in mind: the term “do it yourself” does not necessarily mean “do all the work by yourself.” It means finding ways to do it together.
Market Your CD and Create a Buzz
Having no plan is like planning to fail. Equally, having a plan and failing to execute it is just as damaging. For further information on putting together and initiating a marketing plan of attack, please feel free to write me about my book How To Market Your CD and Create A Buzz at email@example.com. The book includes step-by-step tips essential in putting together and initiating your own personal “Marketing Plan of Attack.”™ And since money is tight for most of us, we’ll do this from the perspective of having a ZERO TO LIMITED DOLLAR BUDGET!
As Tom Whalle of Interscope Records once said, “The hardest thing in the world to do in this business is start a band nobody’s heard of.” But as long as you’re willing to put together a strategy and execute it, you’re chances of success are far greater. Now get to it.