Structuring Your Music Team Mindset
Having a blueprint for success when starting any venture is arguably the most important step of any successful plan. A premeditated plan when going into the music business will leave you aware of the dangers that lie ahead especially when making business decisions and serve as a guide to decide where time is best spent. That is not to say the risks disappear, but like anything in life the more we can plan ahead, set boundaries for how our ideal scenarios should play out, we increase our odds for a desirable outcome. Below we discuss your first tips to navigating through a successful music career. Hint: playbook tip #1 is centered around building a team that can influence successful outcomes.
Tip: Personality doesn't mean much as far as which one is more effective, remember your not interviewing for who you would like to be on a tour bus with you.one of the main things a professional does is bring some objectivity to your life.
“Hire the professional”, My dad always said this when I started a new project. Years Later I am seldomly reminded of what it means. Hiring the professional means using some else's years of trial and error, experience and network to fast forward your current objective. It's often easy to distract ourselves with the value of doing things the hard way whether it be for the financial benefit or just out of pure stubbornness. I think it comes from a little bit of both. A common trait of successful people is not only are they not shy from hiring professionals but they hire the best. Remember a jack of all trades is a master of none. Don't treat your career any different. The world is mostly centered around who you know, and music is no different. The key is not to be intimidated by the hiring process, hiring doesn't always mean having enough money to pay someone for a 40 hour work week, it could mean ongoing consulting or even just a 1 hour phone call. On the other spectrum it also doesn't mean thinking a team of top level people want to work for you for free until the project takes off. A reasonable start is finding one connected team member and growing from there. The key is to inverse yourself in a world that lives and speaks music business. Networking yourself to get in front of the right people is arguably one of the most important aspects for success.
Tip: You may increase your chances for success by being close to the major players, commonly found in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Atlanta.
Expectation When Starting Out
Not every action needs to be a grand slam and you don't always need to be at Fenway Park. Stop looking for the end all miracle, that one that takes you from behind to straight to the top, the game of life is won one base at a time. Think of your career in a more practical manner. Thinking about getting one step farther than you did yesterday this might mean reaching out to your highschool piano teacher rather than cold calling the Warner brothers CEO. But think about it like this, one may have a probable chance of referring you to a mid level executive with quite a bit of knowledge, and one may never get back to you. Remember it only takes one enthusiastic person to get the ball rolling don't get discouraged by cold calling dead ends, unanswered attempts or the dreadful ‘no’. It's all part of the process.
Miracles are Rare
There is an old saying if it's too good to be true it probably is. Well that remains especially true when dealing with music. The music world by nature makes it ripe for fraud and abuse, a world of gatekeepers and high level executives leaves most of the outside world in the dark on what actually happens behind the scenes. This leads to many who believe that their careers lie in the hands of a miracle (or a miracle worker), and of course creates an open position for any bad actor looking to take advantage. This reminds me of when I built my first studio. A friend of mine brought in an “expert” mid way through, thinking we magically hit it off, I believed the heap of promises he made (mostly to undercut the current contractor). He was sure to tell me how lucky I was in finding someone who cared for my project (replace project with career). What could go wrong? Well Pretty much everything. I look back on that experience and realize most of the gambles I ever took were in a period of wishful thinking. I didn't want to see the truth because seeing the truth would ruin the dream. Had I done some through research on what I was undertaking I might have avoided a lot of hassle. Stupid, but it happens all the time, don't let your dream be diminished or taken away by falling victim to bad actors.
Remember to ASK.
Questions to ask while meeting:
- How well they return phone calls.
- Who you work with day to day. (Remember Large companies hire staff)
- How they get paid
Questions to ask yourself when deciding:
- Check - References
- Reflect - How might this decision impact you?
- Reasonable - Can they deliver and what incentive is there for them to do so?
The most important part of decision making when dealing with another party is analyzing their incentive. Top Low? They may not show up to work. To High? They may not respect you. Too complicated? You may be getting the bad end of the stick. Too Vague? They may be hiding something. You see how all avenues of the incentive audit lead to more research. This is good in that it pushes you to uncover the most important and binding aspects of your agreement. Of course no one ever got anywhere by never making a decision. Do through research, sleep on it, ask the hard questions, and then make a choice. No one can ever completely avoid hiring or trusting the wrong person but you can significantly lower your chances.
It's not over till over, well sort of. Just because you have found an ideal hire or someone to work with doesn't mean you are out of the metaphorical decision gates just yet. This is actually the most crucial time to begin deciding how far in your career you can see yourself working with this person. Remember that no one looks out for your business like you do so be sure to take this auditing process seriously. Pay careful attention to the work ethic and decision making of each team until you have seen enough to merit your trust. It’s also wise to revisit this audit period from time to time to make sure no lack of enthusiasm has been lost for your career over time.
Tip: Discuss problems when they are small, If you talk frankly about your problems and they still aren't getting solved, make a change no one has the right to expect a lifetime contact with you.