By Johnny Dwinell
I entertain so many conversations from artists and songwriters about how difficult it is to build a team and break into the music business.
They go on and on about how much they want it, how much they need it, how they were born to do it, and then, ultimately, how they’re frustrated.
I really do.
Remember, I was an artist first.
I hear their frustrations.
I feel their pain.
I’ve been there, man.
Look, this business is rife with hindrances when you’re really in it.
It’s impossible to succeed if you are just “sticking your toes in the water”.
It’s impossible if you’re working from a playbook that is ineffective because it’s outdated, naïve, ignorant of your strengths and weaknesses, and non-responsive to the constant industry changes.
Are you really on the field playing or are you commenting on the game from the cheap seats?
…where it’s safe.
Some of the conversations I endure are akin to someone sitting up in the nosebleed section of a professional football stadium telling everyone how they want, need, and were born to play pro football while complaining that the quarterback never throws the ball to them.
I’m so not kidding.
You’ll need to put together a team
I promise that if you are going to have a chance in this business you are seriously going to have to pull your head out of the clouds (and/or your ass) and put together a team, a plan, and a business model that will move you forward.
I got news for you, that team is different for everybody.
Therefore the plan is different for everybody.
Nobody is going to hear your song and come to your door to make you a star. It doesn’t work that way.
Maybe it’s happened to one artist but that is an asinine plan of attack to pin your hopes, dreams, financial resources, and reputation on the perceived evidence of one enchanted lottery ticket.
It’s doubly idiotic when you consider the fact that you don’t live the rest of your life like that.
I mean you don’t tell your landlord to “wait for the rent” because you just played the lottery do you? No, you go to work every day and create cash flow.
You make it happen.
For someone else’s team, btw.
When you put a team together you initially have to look at each relationship intelligently and pragmatically.
You want to determine how you can bring value to the relationship and whether it’s a relationship that is valuable to you right now.
Oftentimes the best way you can bring value to a relationship is with money. Start doing business with someone that can offer you something you need.
The benefits are unlimited. At Daredevil Production, LLC we have many relationships with artists that started with them paying us to develop them; to deliver a killer radio ready track and all that statement entails.
These artists paid for the tracks and certainly received their money’s worth.
They also now have real relationships with hit writers, musicians, artists, industry executives, movers and shakers, and any of our friends that may be hanging out at any given time during their project.
You’re not ready for some relationships.
In fact, getting the big representation for many of you would actually be the kiss of death for your career. The more you accomplish before the big relationships, the better deal you will get and all the better position you will be in to capitalize on that opportunity.
The world doesn’t care about your potential because they don’t know you. As such, they will judge you and any explorations of a future relationship with you based on what you’ve already done.
The only way to prove your value in the industry is to do something. SOMETHING!!
Here’s a few thoughts to consider when building your team.
- Hungry teams are more productive.
- It’s more important to have a team that is invested, that wants to play ball than a bunch of marquis value names.
- In the beginning the bigger names are of no value to you and you are of no value to them, don’t take it personally.
- Make sure they are as enthusiastic about your project as you are!
- Have you heard of Chase Rice? He co-wrote the Florida Georgia Line smash hit “Cruise”.
- Florida Georgia Line was developed arguably by one of the top 3 most powerful songwriters in Nashville; Craig Wiseman. Craig could have tons of high value names on his team but one of the names he had was Chase Rice. My guess is that’s because Chase was a good writer with a good work ethic and a solid head on his shoulders.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Now, not only is Chase a rising star as an artist, but he is the co-writer of “Cruise”. He wasn’t any of those things when he co-wrote “Cruise”.
- Find your class
- Develop relationships within your class that will add value to your team.
- Get in touch with potential team members (songwriter nights, engineers, producers, etc.)
- You may need to pay them professionally if they’re upperclassmen.
- Doing business is a great way to start team building with upper classmen and you also get something immediate from the exchange.
- Teambuilding within your class is more about personalities and projects than money.
- Once you get to know them figure out what you can do for them to deepen the relationship.
- We have had many writers trade construction work and such for studio time. Pretty cool.
- Interns who work tirelessly to be on the inside. (Our interns freaking ROCK, btw!)
- Eliminate the dregs
- Friends who would take a bullet for you are not necessarily good for the team if they don’t add value.
- Loyal band members are of no use to you if they are the weak link in the band and can’t play. Is there some other place in the organization that will exploit their highest and best use?
- You need a killer live show; a good team is paramount to that.
- Understand the nature of the beast
- Booking agents work off of a percentage (unless you can pay them)
- Managers work off of a percentage (unless you can afford a salary)
- These people will come to you in droves when you are ready for them so stop lamenting the fact that you don’t have them yet.
Get in the game.
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