Here’s what went down at our ‘Getting Started and Building A Team’ seminar

#industry takeover #seminar #february #Jamila Scott #Shaurav D'Silva #Will Spencer

Fresh from the successful return of our Industry Takeover seminar at the much-rated Red Bull Studios in January, this month we returned to the venue to spread some knowledge about how artists can make things happen for themselves. Hosted by CMU’s Co-Founder and Editor, Chris Cooke, the discussion was dedicated to ‘Getting Started and Building A Team’. Industry insiders from labels, Method Records, 2-Tone Entertainment and digital platform Music Glue, took to the panel to share their advice on how artists can take a DIY approach and start bossin’ it.

Chris didn’t waste time getting straight into it. He started the session with a useful summary about what unsigned artists should be doing right now to kickstart their careers before they even build a team. “The truth is, however good your songs are and however good your recordings are, if you make those songs and recordings, and sit and hope that one day a manager will manage you and a promoter will book you, nothing will happen…You need to start the process,” Chris explained.
Chris didn’t waste time getting straight into it. He started the session with a useful summary about what unsigned artists should be doing right now to kickstart their careers before they even build a team. “The truth is, however good your songs are and however good your recordings are, if you make those songs and recordings, and sit and hope that one day a manager will manage you and a promoter will book you, nothing will happen…You need to start the process,” Chris explained.
He went on to breakdown that artists also need to take advantage of three things to start making make money from their music - intellectual property, live performance and their fan relationship. “That’s all the music industry is. Ultimately, you make music, build a fanbase and then sell them stuff” said Chris.
His main message was that DIY doesn’t mean doing it by yourself. “The first business partner you really need is probably a manager. Somebody to help you work out what your business is, work out who your fanbase is and then ultimately select the business partners, negotiate the deals and manage that relationship. Most artists get a manager first, then possibly an agent next to get gigs and onto the festival circuit, and at that point, they start reaching out to labels,” Chris emphasised. (For a more detailed explanation of Chris’ overview, you can download his slides here). 

Followed by a brief Q&A slot, the panelists took their seats in front of an eager audience. Joining Chris on the top table were Jamila Scott, A&R Manager at Method Records, Shaurav D'Silva, Managing Director at 2-Tone Entertainment and Will Spencer, Account Manager at Music Glue.
“The more an artist has a clearer vision of who they are and has built a team, or a network of creatives or a tribe of people…the easier it is for us, from an industry perspective to get involved and attach ourselves to a creative hub that already exists,” explained Shaurav, whose roster includes multi-platinum drum and bass act, Sigma, Afro-pop star Fuse ODG and acclaimed producer Diztortion.
Shaurav stressed that while it’s not always necessary to have all your team in place when you approach a manager, it’s an advantage to have most of it set-up, and even that can come with a downside. He pointed to the example of Rag’n’Bone Man who initially struggled to recruit people to his team for the first few years of his career, because he was cautious about allowing new collaborators into his circle, and was also not a fan the usual industry methodology of making songs with anyone and everyone to create exposure.
Having worked across management and major label A&R (artist and repertoire) for the last eight years for the likes of Duke Dumont, Lion Babe and Years & Years, Jamila highlighted how important it is to put your music out when you’re ready for people to hear your ideas. Not only can getting feedback help artists enhance their next piece of work, it can assist their collaborations with other artists, songwriters and producers. She suggested that “If you're sending music out to build a team, then pick your 3 best tracks instead of sending lots," as people are short for time.
Speaking on the importance of fans, Will commented that while every artist is going to have different social media channels which are important to them, “it’s really important to create yourself a hub – be that a store or a website where you can take people of those different social channels and bring them into your little world.” As an Account Manager at Music Glue, Will helps artists leverage their fan relationships by selling direct to their audience via the platform. He emphasised that creating a hub allows artists to collect data on their fans - something that’s essential when approaching agents, promoters, labels and even ordering band merchandise.
The end of the night saw another insightful Q&A with the audience, before the UD Creatives were given the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with each of the panellists. Ultimately, it was another successful Industry Takeover with the seminar generating some key takeaways when it comes to starting and building a team. In case you missed it, here are a few:
1.    Collaboration is key. This applies to the business side of music as well as the creative side. Many of the best albums and singles weren’t made by one person alone; work with other singers, songwriters and producers.
2.      Be open-minded. You’re all working towards the same goal. “There was a time when artists and managers viewed labels as the enemy; but now they’re all working on the same trajectory…Most record companies have 360 deals with their artists so you’re all earning from the same revenue streams.” – Shaurav
3.    Build a team beyond other music makers. We’re living in an age where visuals are one of the most important things. Ask yourself if there are creatives also looking for exposure that you can collaborate with e.g. photographers, videographers, bloggers and designers.
4.      Make use of everyone on your team. Identify people’s skills and give them roles that play to their strengths.
5.      Provide incentives. Especially when you’re not making money from your music it’s important to keep your team motivated. Try and work out what else you can do to benefit them.
6.    Bigger isn’t always better. You don’t have to start off with a massive team, you can recruit people as and when you need them e.g. hiring a radio plugger to push your new single to radio.
Each month we’ll be bringing you another exclusive session down at Red Bull Studios. Join us on Tuesday 21 March when we’ll be hosting ‘Building A Fanbase: Social & Music Media’, helping artists figure out the best way to use digital platforms and tools to grow their audience.
Grab your tickets to the next Industry Takeover seminar.
Words: Verbal Vixen