To DIY or Not, That is the Question

Editor’s Note: Anastasia is the co-owner/founder of Imperial Marketing Group. We recently interviewed this Boss Lady for our Spotlight On… series. You can contact her on Twitter @BossLadyA or via email: awright@theimgway.com.

So you want to be a star? You want to “make it”? Then you’re going to need a few essentials along your journey to stardom; the most important probably being consistent financial investment, a working plan and a great team. A lot of new artists shoot themselves in the foot right out of the gate because they don’t truly comprehend the financial, human and time investment needed to “make it”. I’ve come across a lot of artists who think they can do it all themselves. Meaning, they think they can effectively be their own manager, publicist, booking agent, and marketing & promotion team, and still be the artist. But, the reality is your art will suffer the more time that is spent away from it. If you are serious about “making it” in the music business, then the Do-It-Yourself attitude has to die, so that your dream can live.

Now I know, we’ve all seen and heard of the starving rock band journeying across the United States, booking their own gigs, and playing for food & gas. And trust me, that hunger and hustle is absolutely needed throughout an artist’s career no matter how big the star. Once you get on top you have to fight to stay there. But, an artist needs to know at what point in their career someone else is needed to help them get to the next level.

In today’s musical landscape, there are a lot of DIY tools, mostly online, that help emerging artists in the marketing, promotion, and distribution of their music. However, this just means artists do not necessarily need a major label as much as they used to, it does not change the amount of time that needs to be invested in these areas. Someone still has to get the work done, and it should not be the artist’s responsibility.

Now I’m not saying go forth and get a manager, or spend money on a publicist, booking manager, etc. I’m saying, take stock of where you are in your career and truthfully ask yourself: What areas do I need help in? How do I get from point A to point B to point C and beyond? If you’re an artist who’s just starting out, you probably do not need a full team, but you will need someone at the very least to help you get a plan together, hand out promotional materials at events, get a basic website up, etc. A major issue with new artists is that before even thinking about putting a team together, they are either ignorant about what they need or ignorant of the music business period.

GET EDUCATED. I can’t say it enough. The music business is as transparent as it will ever be. The excuse, I don’t know, is no longer valid. There are many resources available, free at that, for new artists to be able to learn. If you don’t know, Google it, go to Barnes & Noble, go to the library (yea, I know, what’s that?), or go to a free seminar or workshop. If there is anything an artist should do using the DIY method, it should be educating oneself on the music business. Do not let anyone take advantage of your naïvete. Being new to the game doesn’t equal being ignorant. Yes you will learn a lot along the way, yes mistakes are bound to happen, but you shouldn’t walk into this business blind or thinking you know enough.

In the end, I understand relinquishing power over your art and career is hard. Trust is a major issue and there are a lot of snakes in the grass and knives at your back. But, on the flipside, there are also a lot of good business people in this industry that are truly great at what they do. You just have to find them.

Artist Check List

–       Get Educated. Utilize free resources from performing rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. They’re a great place to start.

–       Ask Questions. Talk to other artists, tweet at professionals on Twitter, email executives. Be honest with yourself. The only way you’ll get an answer is by asking.

–       Research. Once you’ve gotten a few referrals, conduct your own research. What worked for someone, might not work for you.

–       Take Action. Trial and error. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself and to take it one day at a time. You’re in competition with no one but you. If you want to be a star, you’ll need patience to shine.

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