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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Today's Independent Musician - Building A Team

Teamwork For Songwriters And Musicians

Musicians working together goes way beyond just being in a band. What many musicians are not aware of is just how much strength lies within working together with other musicians, bands, songwriters, and other music professionals towards common goals.

Think about it.

One major thing that large record labels and publishers have over independent bands is their ability to draw together a team of people all working towards a focused goal, synchronised to a schedule. That is where a major part of their costs lie. People. Their money pays for lots of people.

You Do Not Need To Go It Alone

Individual musicians, or even bands, are but a speck in the music universe. The internet may have provided you with the ability to get your music to untold millions, unfortunately the number of bands and artists who are using those tools to reach fans has gone through the roof. Take a look around MySpace, Twitter or Facebook and the number of bands out there is staggering.

With top music industry commentators and music industry insiders now actively recommending bands to do it themselves, not go looking for record contracts etc, there are many professional level bands competing for the attention of fans on the internet. Only the best and most clued up get anywhere. This is your competition.

The simple fact is that with so many bands trying to get attention it is becoming harder and harder to get fans to hear your music. There are several ways to do this but doing it on your own reduces your chances greatly.

Being a speck is all well and good but when you dream of being something more, why not maximise your chances?

I would go into explaining the benefits of a team but seriously, I think everyone understands that a properly coordinated team can achieve great things. The problem within the music business is that too many make a stand on their own (as an artist -  band or individual). Each artist is an island, fighting over getting fans. In addition too many bands stumble along with absolutely no plan, no direction. Planning tends to be limited to "getting some gigs" and the occasional push towards something more out of their comfort zone.

The thing is, if the same old thing is not working... why keep doing it?

Time To Try Something New

There is no super secret. Collaborating with other writers, musicians and producers is common place within the music industry. What we are talking about is working collectively towards common goals. Using strength of numbers as well as harnessing the skills of individuals within that collective. A cooperative group.

So why not apply this mechanism towards your marketing and promotion, graphics, video editing, mixing, mastering, session work and more. They are all easy skills to trade.

Mechanisms to help manage such groups vary to help ensure all group members get treated fairly, including any financial implications. You could for example work on a credit based system, or indeed a financial system, quid pro quo or completely loose and informal. It's up to you what arrangement works best for you. The overhead in setting it up depends on which you choose but it doesn't need to take a lot of effort.

Often what works best is some form of credit system combined with a basic tracking of what is done and by who. Neither takes much to put in place. A set of rates, a credit usage speadsheet, a task spreadsheet and an action spreadsheet are all that is essential.

The whole point in doing this is to save you time and effort, to allow you to play to your strengths, and to allow you to trade those strengths with others. A small investment of time will allow you to do that and give you a net gain in what you achieve.

A Quick Example: Promotion Trade

Lets just look at the promotion side as a simple example. As an individual there is only so much you can do in terms of promotion tasks, either online or within the real world.

How many web sites are you active on? How long has it taken to grow friends or fans on those websites? How long has it taken to get to know those people?

So why not work with some other individuals or bands? Those bands would perhaps love to get their music exposed on those networks, and likewise you might want to get your music exposed to people on websites those individuals and bands hang around on. In a matter of moments you could multiply your web footprint, the amount of reach you have (the number of people who you can touch).

A Second Example: Skills Trade

You  have an agreement with 16 individuals to work as a team. You plan to release a new album, perhaps graphics and video work has been carried out by or via the team, in exchange you have carried out some session work and carried out a small amount of song promotion. In addition over the last few months you have helped promote some of the others in the network. Sometimes this was within the forums and social networks you are a member of. Sometimes by following exact promotion instructions detailed by other members in the team and once by sticking up some some posters in your neighbourhood. All this has gained you creit with the team.

Now your release is ready to roll. You have a promotion plan to help get the message out there quickly. The peak of traffic as people are exposed to your music will help push you up the download charts, which in turn exposes your music to a higher number of people. You prepare the team members to be ready. They have links and promotional materials. They know where and how they will promote.

On the release date you call in your promotional credit. 16 people are available to promote on that date and for 7 days after that, Perhaps only 30 minutes each on each day. So each day 8 hours of dedicated work is collectively carried out on your behalf, reaching people you wouldn't have otherwise reached

A Third Example: Collaborative Products

You meet and form a team with a graphics artist, a video producer and a music marketer. None of them are currently known for their work, but they are all talented individuals trying to make a name for themselves.

Each want to be noticed. As a team each member can benefit by working together.

The graphics artist does an album cover, logo etc for an album he knows will be promoted.

The video producer is at college and needs a video to submitted as acredited work. That video needs music. In producing that video together (they do the video and editing and you supply the music) you both get what you want.

The music marketer has a quality product she can promote, plus a team she can direct to carry out specific tasks.

You get graphics for your album a video and a professionally designed marketing campaign all in exchange for those individuals being named as part of the team.

The team members get to add it to their work history / achievements which in turn gets them some paid work.

Building Your Team

It may take some time to find the right people with the right attitude. Part of the time to find them may simply be learning where to look. Time and determination will get you there.

What Sort Of People Should Be In My Team?

Ideally you want your team to be:
  • motivated
  • skilled/talented
  • prepared to work hard 
  • prepared to learn
  • reliable
  • friendly
  • prepared to work for nothing or at cost


Look to local art and music schools and colleges to provide potential team members. Students tend to be cutting edge, have low overheads and have access to quality tools. They also want experience!

Visit this Music Industry Community now to help you get started with finding some potential team members. Songstuff has thousands of members with many willing to collaborate. Most have valuable creative and business skills they may be willing to trade.


When it comes to your music career it doesn't take much imagination to see how useful teamwork can be. It doesn't need a lot of effort to set up, and your ongoing contribution will either educate you or be built on your strengths and easy to do. Financially it doesn't need to cost you a cent.

The only real risk with this is the time you spend on tasks for other team members in a trade. When working in a collaboration there isn't a huge risk at all, assuming you have high standards when selecting team members.

This is a solution for bands and individuals that can work with both the real world and the internet. As a strategy it can allow you to achieve far more than you could otherwise achieve, allow you to work faster, cover more ground, and more intensely.


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