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Labels and managers and agents don’t do the work for you


I read an article the other day about a new, up and coming musician.  I read a lot of articles like this, I suppose.  Like it’s my job.  Wait, it is my job.  Anyway, I read this one start to finish.  Which I don’t usually do.  But I had heard this artist, knew some of his music, but really didn’t know that much about him and I wanted to.  So I read it. 

All was going swimmingly in the article – he grew up in the middle of nowhere, traveled the country picking up stories and songs in his travels.  He never thought he’d get paid to make music, but he needed the money and he finally found a way to make a living that he loved.  But then something terrible happened.  He got a manager and an agent and a label to do the work for him, so now he can be an Artist.

What??

All of a sudden my bullshit radar kicked in and I couldn’t read on. 

I mean, if you are a musician who has partnered up with a label and management and an agent in this day and age, no offense but – you’re either naive or on crack if you think that’s the way you get to be left alone by people to be the artist you want to be. 

You’ve just invited the fox, the bear and the elephant into your kitchen.  Ahh, isn’t it lovely and quiet in this kitchen?  Wait, the fox is digging through your cupboards and the bear is pooping everywhere and the elephant keeps breaking things and can’t forget the good old days.

Now, that might be an overstatement.  But my point is, my friend, if you hire others to work with you in the expansion of your music business venture, you will not suddenly have all the business taken care of for you so you can be an Artist.  You are just as responsible as you were before, if not more. 

You will have MORE work to do.  Any artist in this position can attest. 

Suddenly you have three people to answer to.  You have to keep them all up to date, keep them on board, and keep them inspired.  Sell them on what you are doing.  You have to guide them and manage them on what you want them to do for you, and on which of their ideas you like most.  You have to give them something to go on – all the time.  You have to respond.  Dear god, respond.  To more emails than you can possibly handle.  To more emails than will fit on your iPhone or crackberry.  Sometimes you need to redirect their attention to what you REALLY want them to be doing, so they don’t run amuck with your career.  So they are spending their time on the things you think will have the most impact.  You have to negotiate with them, bother them, sometimes even have conflict and argue with them.

Now I’m not saying these relationships are bad things to have.  But please know – when you expand your operation, you are still the CEO.  You are in charge.  The buck stops with you.