• The Job of a Manager for an Unsigned Band

    In general, the band manager’s job is to take care of the business side of things allowing the artists’ to create and perform their music. The duties of the manager for an “unsigned” band vary depending on the stage of the artists’ career. Typical responsibilities include promoting the band and marketing materials like EP’s and assuring distribution to the proper press and media outlets. But, a manager may wear many other hats working for the band in a multitude of ways.

    Sarge Tip

    Whether signed to a record label or not, you need to have a written contract outlining the responsibilities and role the manager will play in your career. A formal agreement will keep miscommunications and surprises from happening later.

    1. Financial Management.
    The manager is responsible for handling the financial affairs of the band they represent; this may include everything from ensuring correct payment is received from the venue to paying the bills for promotional materials and hotel rooms. Another large portion of the financial management aspect is to actively pursue funding opportunities for their artists, such as a kick starter or fundraising for tours.

    2. Networking.
    This is nearly a 24/7 responsibility of a good manager. They should always be on the lookout for networking opportunities to meet new contacts and introduce their band to a broader listener base. In one word the manager is the mouthpiece of the band and an integral part of the band’s success.

    Sarge Tip

    The manager should have business cards and press kits with them at all times as well as have their “elevator pitch” prepared.

    3. Promotion.
    A manager should be an active participant in exploring potential promotional opportunities as well as determining the best activities for the band to participate in. Should they play a “free” show or be booked for a fundraising event? Should they stick with playing only events booked by a well-known local promoter?

    Sarge Tip

    In some situations, the band manager’s role is to oversee and delegate promotional tasks to the band members or others in their camp. For example, the lead singer may have the duty of keeping up with Facebook, the bass player may be in charge of distributing flyers, etc.

    4. Booking Gigs.
    The manager can help reduce pressure on the artists by ensuring that they are getting in to the right venues at the right time. For instance, booking venues where they are ready and able to play, and with shows that suit the genre of their music. Over-playing in the same place to the same crowd should be avoided. The manager should play a large part in getting the band good exposure in as large an area as they can penetrate. However, the band manager is not always the one to book the dates in conjunction with a large tour. Most large tours with headlining national acts have touring managers and promoters taking care of the dates and bookings. In this case, the band manager is only in charge of the needs of their own band.

    5. Negotiating.
    Acting as a liaison between the band and the venue and / or the promoters; some of the manager’s responsibilities may be to ensure that the band is playing for a fair percentage of the door revenue or a guaranteed flat rate for the show; and that there is water, beverages, or food provided; as well as proper recognition on the flyers and advertising pieces for the event(s).
    The manager is also responsible for signing all performance agreements on the band’s behalf.

    6. Coordinating / Scheduling.
      A manager should be the glue that holds the band together, staying in contact with each member and scheduling rehearsals and studio time that make sense for everyone.  Solidifying load-in and load-out times, making sure everyone and all equipment arrive on time for every show.  Scheduling promotional photo shoots and other public appearances is also an important part of the coordinating duties. Like a show or rehearsal, this will include making sure everyone can get to the location. The manager will probably also have a say in the photographer being hired for the shoot, as well as the overall look and theme of the shots.

    7. Technical Assistance.
    Depending on their own background, some managers have more skill and knowledge than others in this area. But every manager needs to have a full understanding of their band’s technical requirements. At times, this may require them to be in contact pre-show with the venue, the sound and lighting technicians, etc.

    8. Media.
    While social media has taken the world by storm, and most artists have their own pages with thousands of opportunities for self-promotion. The manager should definitely oversee all media outlets to ensure that the right message is being sent out across the internet, radio and publications relating to the music scene. A manager should always be working to get the band featured in local print media, online magazines, and radio stations; maintaining social media sites and keeping the fans updated about the shows is a very important task of a manager.

    Sarge Tip

    In some cases, the manager works directly with a publicist who is hired to handle all media relations.

    9. Coach.
    Although it is business, a supportive manager can make a huge difference to band members when a little life coaching is needed to keep them on the right track; the manager needs to be prepared to take on the role of counselor and therapist when needed.
    A manager must possess the skills to handle everything from diffusing quarrels between band members; to step in when band members need help to overcome drug and alcohol addictions; to give support during personal family crisis; or to be a shoulder during a bad break-up with a girl friend or boyfriend. Other coaching roles include always seeking out new outlets to get the music out there, like Spotify, Sound Cloud and I-Tunes. And also to give coaching advice on the band’s stage presence ensuring that they look as good as they sound, and are projecting the correct image to suit the band’s style.

    10. Send out demos to labels.
    When the time is right, and the music is ready, one of the most important jobs a manager does is to get those demos out to radio personalities and record labels. This will help increase the probability that the demo will actually get a listen! When assisting with the business side of an emerging band, the first priority of the manager is to get the band heard by the masses.

    Sarge Tip

    With a band manager… you get what you pay for. While it might be financially easier to have a family member or buddy in charge; they may not have the skills and know-how to take you outside your own backyard. At some point, you will need to hire a professional manager

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion

  • Copyrights

    Sarge_jokersPAYattention Your band is a business and the product is your music. Protecting both from being used by other parties who could make money on your creativity and hard work is a serious part of the business. Registering for a copyright on your music provides protection from having it used by others without your permission.

    1.What is a copyright anyway?
    A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for the original works of authors and artists, giving them the rights to their published and unpublished music and other intellectual works. What that means is that as the creators and writers of their original music, a band can keep exclusive rights to their work, including how and where it is distributed, who can distribute it, and who they allow to use it for other purposes. For more details on the purpose of the copyright, see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf.

    2. Who started the idea of the copyright?
    Actually the first copyright laws were passed in England way back in 1710 with the Statute of Anne. The statute was created to encourage writers to continue their literary contributions by protecting them from others who would steal their works for their own financial gain. England had the good sense to see that by protecting the author’s rights, these talented people would be able to make a living as writers and contribute more works to society.

    Sarge Tip

    If you are interested in the history of the copyright process, check out this link for more info: http://www.copyrighthistory.com/anne.html.

    3.How does a copyright happen?
    Here’s the easy part; you actually have a copyright as soon as you or your band documents original work. The means of documentation can be as simple as writing down the lyrics on a napkin, recording the music in the garage, or the combination of both. Registering your copyright is what proves ownership of the material.

     Here’s where it gets tricky; determining who actually owns the songs. Are they owned by the band as a single entity? Are they owned by the individual contributing band members? Is the recording owned by the producer? What about the sound engineer and the session musicians can they claim ownership in the creative process?


    Sarge Tip

    The band members need to have some conversation and agreement early on in the creative process to decide who will have ownership of the songs. Understand that there are typically two types of copyright that may apply; one for the original music and one for the sound recording. In this article, we are generally referring to sound recordings..

    4. Get prepared for the copyright process


    1. The band determines amongst themselves the ownership (author) of the songs and the recordings.

    2. Establish the “creation” date with the recording process. A “creation” date will be required for your copyright applications.

    3. Be sure to have two master copies for submission to the U.S. Copyright Office. Keep the original master in a safe, secure location. Do not send the original with your copyright application documents.

    Sarge Tip

    Do NOT rely on the “Poor Man’s Copyright”. This is the method that some people believe is as good as actually registering with the U.S. Copyright Office; whereby you mail a copy of the CD to yourself. Remember you already have a copyright once you document your music, but the formal registration is what proves you have the copyright and gives you statutory benefit in case of a dispute.

    5. How to register for a copyright:


    1. The most common way is to register on line at http://www.copyright.gov/.

    2. Complete the Form SR, which can be used to register one song or the entire CD

    3. Pay the registration fee of $35.00

    4. Submit two copies of the recording

    5. Be patient; generally the processing time is 3 to 5 months

    6. Use the copyright symbol, i.e. “copyright © 2002 John Doe”. You do not have to wait until the registration is confirmed by the Copyright Office

    7. Store Copyright paper work in a safe, secure location with your master copy of the recording.

    Read more about the process here: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/05/how-to-copyright-your-music/
    If you are serious about your music, and of course you are or you wouldn’t have read this far; you don’t want to wait until your music takes off making money and then find that there are a multitude of entities that can claim rights to the creation of the music and subsequent album sales.  Please note, this article should not be taken as legal advice. This is meant to give you the basics on why copyrighting is so relevant to your band and some resources to find out more about it. We recommend that you seek professional legal counsel before entering into the copyright process.

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion

  • Managing Your Band’s Website

    An unsigned band’s website is not quite like a standard small business website where its main keywords are products or services and is the first point of contact for a customer. The band’s main keyword is usually their name and the band’s website is often the second point of contact for the fan, the first point of contact might be a flyer.The differences between a small business website and an unsigned band’s website, highlights the need for an additional promotional effort on behalf of the unsigned band.

    1. Check your site for optimization: Loads fast, looks good, all links work, is useful, is interesting, has purpose, stands out, is interactive, offers easy mailing list sign-up, has a clear privacy policy, CDs are easy to buy/download, has updated newsletters, and has clear navigation.

    2. Your URL should be the band’s name or at least relevant to the band.

    3. Does your HTML coding contain a <DOCTYPE>, <title>, <description>, <keywords>, <content-type>, and <author> META Tag?

    Sarge Tip

    Keep it simple, Stupid! Get rid of: Microsoft’s smart quotes, frames and bollocks JavaScript, loose ampersands and double quotes.

    4. Make sure everything is up to date. Regularly update any news, pictures, show dates, and other changing information on your page.

    5. Make sure spelling and grammar is correct throughout page.

    6. Keep things interesting and appropriate for the audience you are reaching out to with your site.

    7. Create a clear security privacy policy. It’s a revenue helper.

    8. Make sure your site is easily found on top search engines.

    9. Your site should give a special access to your fans that social media sites don’t do. You should have a bio, band updates, mailing list sign-up, song streaming/downloading, calendar with upcoming shows, pictures/videos, merch ordering, etc.

    Sarge Tip

    All downloads, streaming, and online shopping should be as easy and user-friendly as possible for those visiting your site.

     

    Compiled by Chris Erwin

  • Gig Bag Checklist

    Sarge_jokersPAYattention How frustrating is it to get to a big show and then realize that you forgot to bring an essential item you need? It happens all the time with bands on the road. Below is a list of items that you should bring along with you that can help you get through any venture away from home. Fell free to print this so you can check off the items as you build your own gig bag. Don’t forget: its better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

    - AAA card (or some kind of road-side assistance information)

    - Batteries

    - Credit Card(s)

    - ID (always) and Passport (if traveling outside the U.S.)

    - Phone number of a friend in the city you are in

    - Gas money

    - Altoids

    - Hand sanitizer

    - Sweat-proof sunscreen and lip balm.

    - Grooming items (include deodorant, toothbrush/paste/mouthwash)

    - Condoms (if you’re going to play, play nice)

    - Extra change of clothes in case you get stuck somewhere and need to stay overnight.

    - Natural baby wipes (great for makeup removal, freshening up, and removing stains from clothing)

    - Lint roller

    - Safety pins

    - A few paperclips of various sizes (you’d be amazed what you can clean or repair with a bent paperclip)

    - A few protein bars (Power Bar, Soy Joy, etc.)

    - Watch/travel clock

    Sarge Tip

    Keep your ID, wallet, cash, etc. on you at all times.

     

    Below are more items for individual members of your band:

     

    Sales/Promo/Business Items- CDs- Promo items- Mailing lists- Merchandise- Sharpies

    - Business cards

    - Performance Rights Affiliation Card

    - Cell phone (please turn to silent during the show!)

    - Makeup

    - Hair products

    - Directions to the venue

    - Name and number of venue contact

    - Duct tape and/or Gaffers Tape

    - Itinerary/Tour Book/Call Sheet

    - The show file, containing your copy of the contract

    - Important phone numbers

    - Laptop accessories (if applicable)

    - Set lists

    - Wallet or vinyl zip ouch to keep receipts in

    Acoustic Guitar- Capo- Cloth- Finger-ease, if you use it- Picks (lots of ‘em)

    - Pickup- Slide

    - Strap

    - Tuning pegs/keys

    - Wood conditioner

    Drums- Adjunct rack percussion items- Carpet or blanket.- Drum key- Fingerless gloves or stick grips

    -Kick drum pillow or blanket or dampener item-Kick pedal

    -Tone control rings

    -Your drum throne

    -Your own cymbals

    -Your own high hat and clutch

    -Your own snare

    -Your own sticks and brushes (plus extras)

     

     

    Electric Guitar-Capo-Cloth-Effects Pedals (neat and readily daisy-chained)-Extra strings

    -Finger

    -ease, if you use it

    -Picks (lots of ‘em)

    -Slide

    -Strap

    -Tuning pegs

    -Wood conditioner

    -Your amplifier

     

    Electric Bass Guitar- Bass head and cabinet- Effects pedals- Extra strings- Strap

    - Picks (lots of ‘em)

    - Tuning pegs

     

     

    Horns/Brass- All the pieces of your horn- Clip-on mics- Clip-on sound reflectors

    - Cloth to clear out spit valves

    -Mouthpieces

    -Music stand clip-on light

    -Music stand or clip-on chart cards

    -Mutes

    -Polish

    -Spare valve pads

    -Strap/Harness

    Keyboards- Digital in/out box- Keyboard stands- Laptop rig and appropriate connectors

    - Sample bank and appropriate connectors

    - Sound module

    - Sustain pedal

    Saxophones/Woodwinds- Cleaning cloths- Clip on Mics- Mouthpiece- Reeds

    - Saxophone strap/baritone harness

     

    Strings- Bow resin- Cables if using acoustic/electric- Clip-on music stand light

    - Cloth

    - Music Stand

    - Pickup

    - Your bow

    Voice- A water clip and sheet music clip accessory for the mic stand.- Lozenges, Throat Coat tea, or other vocal care product- Microphone and cable- Personal in-ear monitor

    - Personal steamer / pocket sauna

    - Water (not cold – lukewarm is best)

    - Honey


    Compiled by Chris Erwin

  • Build An Email List

    Email blasts can be a very valuable tool that a band/artist can use to keep their fans updated with pertinent information such as upcoming shows, promotions, or just to say “hey.” But how do you begin to gather these email addresses in the first place? Have no fear! There are a ton of ways! Below are 27 easy tips you can use to grab this marketing info.

    1. Put an offer on the back of your business cards to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

    2. Tradeshows – Bring a clipboard or sign-up book with you to tradeshows and ask for permission to send email to those who sign up.

    3. Include a newsletter sign-up link in your signature of all of your emails.

    4.  Send an opt-in email to your address book asking them to join your list.

    5. Join your local chamber of commerce, email the member list (if it’s opt-in) about your services with a link to sign up to your newsletter.

    6. Host your own event – Art galleries, retail shops, consultants (lunch & learn) can all host an event or party and request attendees to sign up.

    7. Offer a birthday club where you give something special to people who sign up.

    8. Incentivize your employees and street team – Give them $ for collecting VALID email addresses.

    9. Giving something for free like a song download. Make visitors sign up to your opt-in form before you let them download it.

    10. Referrals – Ask you customers and fans to refer you, and in exchange you’ll give them a discount or incentive.

    11. Bouncebacks – Get them back! – Send a postcard or call them asking for their updated email address.

    12. Trade newsletter space with a neighboring business or bands, include a link for their opt-in form and ask them to include yours in their newsletter.

    13. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Make sure you optimize your site for your keywords. You need to be at the top of the natural search when people are looking for your products or services.

    14. Giveaways – Send people something physical and ask for their email address as well as their postal address.

    15. Do you have a postal list without emails? Send them a direct mail offer they can only get if they sign up to your email list.

    16. Include opt-in forms on every page on your site.

    17. Popup windows – When someone attempts to leave your site, pop up a window and ask for the email address.

    18. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in your emails just in case your recipient wants to forward your content to someone they think will find it interesting.

    19. Include a forward-to-a-friend on every page of your site.

    20. Offer a community – Use social media platforms to host them.

    21. Offer “Email only” discounts and don’t use those offers anywhere but email.

    22. Telemarketing and phone networking – If you’ve got people on the phone, don’t hang up until you ask if you can add them to your newsletter.

    23. Put a fishbowl on your merch booth or the local music store and do a weekly prize giveaway of your product – then announce it to your newsletter. Add everyone who put their card in on to your newsletter list.

    24. Include an opt-in form inside your emails for those people who get your email forwarded to them.

    25. Use Facebook – Host your own group and invite people to it, then post new links often. From time to time, post a link to sign up for your newsletter.

    26. Use Facebook and Twitter – Post the hosted link from your newsletter into Linked Items to spread the word.

    27. Use Facebook – Include an opt-in form on your Facebook Fan page.

    Sarge Tip

    For a great email marketing tool, check out MailChimp.com.

    Now get out there and make some connections!

     

    Compiled by Chris Erwin