How to Build a Music Team

How to Build a Music Team: Practical Ways to Get Support

Building a career in music requires a ton of hard work and involves a wide array of both music and business activities. Whether you're an aspiring solo artist, a band looking to break into the industry or an established musician looking to grow your music career, having the ability to form a strong team behind you can make all the difference in achieving success. That said, knowing the right time to find a great manager, an entertainment lawyer, or fill other important roles is equally as important to your career progression. 

Related Article: How to Become a Musician

So if you want to know how to build a music team, here are our recommendations: 

Be Realistic with your Expectations

Before we dive fully into this, here's a quick dose of reality. No matter how good your music is, if you have a small fanbase and aren't earning enough income to support yourself, industry professional are not going to be lining up to work with you, unless you're willing to pay them out of pocket for their time (which we'll address later). Also if your main reason for forming a team is because you don't feel like working hard, you aren't ready to form a team. (yes, musicians have said that to us countless times) Instead, focus on learning how to build your career on your own - it's completely possible.

3 Reasons You Should Add New Team Members 

  1. When your responsibilities are too much to handle and you can’t cut back on your workload.
  2. When you’re too busy to create music.
  3. When you come in contact with a task that’s too big to learn (i.e. Legal or Accounting)

On a personal note, TJ and I run an entire record label and MIC by ourselves. We have an accountant, a entertainment lawyer and we hire consultants as needed, but we do everything else on our own. And I'll be honest, there are lots of days where I would love some help - like right now - it's 8:30pm on a Thursday night and I've been working since 8:30am, so it would be amazing to have someone else write this blog - haha. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is, you're capable of doing way more than you think, so look to yourself before turning to someone else for help. Plus it's important to understand every aspect of your business. The music industry has countless stories of failed musicians that blindly trusted the wrong person with their career - please don't make that mistake. Now, when you're 100% sure you're ready for a team member, here's what you need to do.

Define Your Needs:

Before you start assembling your music team, take some time to clearly define areas where you need support and the types of different skills you're looking for. Do you need help internally with you day-to-day tasks? Help with growing your fan base? Do you need the help of a lawyer or another type of expert? (i.e. account) Do you need someone with a specific talent you don't possess? (i.e. drummer, graphic artist) Really think about the specific roles where you need help and if you're unsure, consider adding a mentor to your team.

Related article: 5 Reasons Musicians Should Have a Mentor 

Identify Potential Team Members:

Once you've outlined your needs, start scouting for potential team members who possess the skills, experience and passion to support your music career. You can start with someone like your best friend, after all you do want to find people you enjoy working with, but only ask them if they're dedicated to help you and possess some of the skills that you need. Next, go through your remaining network, which may include friends, family, musicians, producers and local fans to identify potential collaborators. If you're further along in your career, reach out to industry professionals and attend networking events or if you're looking for a graphic artist for a specific project, simply do a quick Google search and see who you can find. In general, you want to look for people that share your vision and values and who have a track record of success in their respective fields and a clear understanding of the skills you need. That's the only way to build a strong network.

Build Trust and Rapport:

Building a successful music team is not just about finding talented people, it's also about building trust, rapport and strong working relationships. Meaning, if you're going to build your music team, fill it will people you respect and love being around. Before working with anyone, take the time to get to know them on a personal level. Transparency, honesty and open communication are essential for fostering a collaborative and supportive team dynamic.

Delegate Responsibilities:

Depending on your needs, your team may include a paid intern for a little help with small tasks, a manager to handle business affairs and strategy, a booking agent to secure gigs and tours, a publicist to generate media coverage, a producer to oversee the recording process, a music lawyer to review your contracts and session musicians to enhance your sound. When you're first starting out you'll have a hard time filling all those roles, so you'll need to do a lot of work yourself and use third party service providers for some of your day-to-day tasks. For example, you can work with a music distributor when doing an album release or other music releases to services like Apple music and Spotify or work with a music publisher to find placements for your songs. There are lots of DIY solutions for musicians, just be sure to work with reputable services and use caution when potentially working with services that offer things like radio promotion and performance opportunities. Most artists don't have good experiences with services like that.  

Set Clear Expectations and Goals:

Clearly define the roles, responsibilities and expectations for each member of your music team and establish measurable goals and milestones to track progress and success. Communicate your artistic vision, priorities and timeline with your team and ensure that everyone is aligned and committed to achieving your common objectives. Regularly check in with your team to assess progress, address challenges and celebrate achievements along the way. You always need to oversee the work that people do on your behalf, so have a system where you can monitor them.

Create a positive working culture:

Foster a supportive and positive work environment within your music team by prioritizing open communication, mutual respect and collaboration. Encourage creativity, innovation, and experimentation and create space for team members to share ideas, provide feedback and contribute to the creative process.

Free vs Paid Team Members

When you're first starting out in your career, you should rely heavily on volunteers when you need help. That said, never put a volunteer in charge of something that is key to your career, like maintaining your website or making them part of your music management team. It's better to put them in charge of things like your promotional street team or your email list at shows. Meaning, simple short-term tasks that help you, but that won't wreck you if they don't get done well or at all.

As you grow your career and start to earn a steady income, you should still try to get donated work whenever possible and bartering is a great way to get quality help for free - you just need to be able to offer something of value in return. However, eventually, you'll need to pay someone for help. When that time comes, always get multiple quotes for the work you want done, check people's work and get reference and again, meet with them to see if you like working with them. And finally, NEVER SPEND OUTSIDE YOUR BUDGET - unless you're guaranteed to earn that money back.

In conclusion, building a music team is a collaborative and iterative process that requires careful planning, communication and an alignment of goals and values. By assembling the right team of talented and dedicated individuals, you can take your music career to new heights and achieve success, but never stop learning.

And finally, if you're serious about making music your profession, then I strongly encourage you to learn how to build a sustainable music career for yourself because it takes more than talent and great songs to be successful.

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How to become a recording artist How to become a singer songwriter How to become a singer