The concept of Artist Development began half a century ago with departments of record labels dedicated to cultivating an artist or group’s talent, and profiting from the results through a contract that has come to be known as the “360 Deal.” Modern artist development, however, is different. What used to be done by entire departments, has become the responsibility of the artist.
Modern Artist Development
In a guest post for Billboard, President of REN Management, Steve Rennie (who’s worked with Incubus, Korn, Rage Against the Machine, Ozzy Osbourne, and Celine Dion), described the change the music industry went through:
“MTV has been supplanted by YouTube. RollingStone has been supplanted by blogs, started by some kid in a college dorm who couldn’t get a job at Rolling Stone. Commercial radio stations have been challenged by online streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. New ways to hear music have emerged that operate outside the mainstream of the radio business… These kids today are not protecting a franchise. They’re trying to build one. That difference in mindset is huge.”
Due to this drastic change, many labels that sign new acts today expect them to be proficient in their chosen musicianship, able performers and possess a strong, active fanbase. So, artists will need to have already achieved a few career milestones, or steps that can be broken down into a career plan.
An artist development plan is essentially a step-by-step plan that cultivates an artist’s business sense as well as their musical talent, resulting in greater and greater career opportunities. Included in this process is daily practice, creating and recording music, performances, growing your fanbase, developing your image online, and handling business and tax paperwork. As you build your team, some of these career responsibilities will become theirs, so choose wisely.
No matter what your goals in the music industry, you need to have great music. The entire business revolves around the production of songs people want to listen to. With great music, you need to then decide what separates your brand from a sea of other artists. What makes you different? Next, analyze audience. It’s important to know who’s listening to your music so you can build better marketing strategies to target new followers and keep your current ones happy.
Focus on making good music for your target fanbase as well as keeping goals (weekly, monthly, and yearly). These goals might include increasing your social media presence, maintaining a website, networking with peers, and meeting influential industry members. Work to get your music in front of people, on playlists, on tour, or get back in the recording studio. But don’t be one of the many artists who make the mistake of focusing solely on their creative endeavors and neglect the other, crucial side of their career.
In addition to musical goals, modern artist development will include a thorough understanding of the business side. Music business tasks will include anything involving paperwork and payment. So, protect your music with copyrights, and enroll in Performance Rights Associations (BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC). Protect your business with a trademark and registering it with your state. If you’re in a band, write an agreement similar to a business’s operating agreement (it states responsibilities, who gets what percentage of profits, what happens in the event of a breakup, etc.). At some point, you will need to contact an attorney who specializes in entertainment law to handle the legal paperwork — especially if you’re making money from performances, merch, music sales, etc.
For today’s generation, being an artist also means being an entrepreneur. Dalex Design’s Artist Development packages can help you every step of the way to make your music reach as many people as possible! Get in Touch today to discuss your next release and start planning on your customized growth strategy.