On March 21st the BBC ran sessions around the UK inviting musicians, industry experts and fans to learn about the industry, in a day of advice sessions, expert panels, and conferences. Here are some of the highlights and learnings. Some are obvious, some may change the way you have considered things, all are worth reading. (Plus, it will save you the two and a half hours of your life that it will take to listen to the videos here).
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– Be persistent and hungry, and show that hunger. Don’t bug people, but show them you want to succeed and love music, and they will react.
– No one is going to bump into A&R, they will take years to find you. It is about making waves with your music…it all starts with one ripple etc…
– If your music is good enough, people will find it. Record companies are perfectly right to expect you to have done something yourself – the tools are there. The label can take you from 20 to 100, but you have to do 0 to 20.
– The record deal is one tiny bit – it’s all about what you do before and what you do after that really matters, so don’t just hold out for that deal and think it will change everything.
– The industry is shrinking, all falling apart, as people don’t work together – if the thing we love is music, let’s keep listening to each other and moving forward.
– There is no money for new artists – you have to enjoy what you do.
– This means that most musicicans needs work elsewhere to finance themselves. Pick flexible jobs that will teach you skills that will help. Spreadsheets, plans and accounting may sound irrelevant, but as an independent artist you will have to do it all. Even The Beatles worked – dirty finger nails, starving hungry, breakdowns in the middle of the night – all are part of it.
– Make sure monetise your live dates – be members of PRS, and submit your set list.
– Consider syncing – it’s not a dirty word any more as there are so few ways of making money.
– Share your music via Spotify and radio etc – the reach of exposure from one and better compensation from the other balance out.
– Similarly, although more people may download a song, you make more money from CDS at gigs – £5 rather than 79p – so don’t forget them. Make an effort with the CDs – make them different, eye catching, and easy for people to listen.
– Give your band page and website personality – not a robot. Just be normal, and respond to people in real time. Complete conversations and journeys, and have them wanting to come back to listen to you, rather than just push out content.
– All bands need a website – it is all very well having ‘enigma’ but you need a way of communicating with fans.
– Build up a profile amongst your local scene – if can sell out 300 seats in local town, promoters will believe that you can do elsewhere and take a risk on you.
– Hand to hand flyering can’t be beaten – if something is in your hand you have to look at it.
– There’s no such thing as an official single launch any more – the music is there for people to find.
– In a manager you need trust, to be going in broadly the same direction, they need to be someone you can battle with but not too businessy – but you do need to be able to trust them and their capabilities.
– Pushing yourself forward is all about having momentum with right people who have same passion.
– Your friends will always be your biggest fans, but it is important to go out of your comfort zone and communicate with people who aren’t your friends and reach new people.
– All of your friends have a network, hook up with other artists, do a cover – you are getting into other networks and reaching new people.
– Making amazing music matters more than having hits. Easily forgotten.