I've been doing this internet music thing since 'I work on the internet" was still considered code for, "I'm unemployed and live with my mom." In that time we've worked with literally thousands of independent artists and had a front row seat for some of the seismic shifts that have occured in the music industry, especially for indie artists.
In some ways there's never been a better time to be an independent artist. Thanks to the power of the internet they're able to reach more fans in more places with less resources, and the ceiling is higher than ever. Ten years ago it was essentially impossible for an independent artist to have a top ten album in the country, now it happens regularly. On the downside, all that open access and increased rewards have created an influx of artists, resulting in an over-saturation that makes it extremely difficult to hold anyone's attention, and the rules are changing constantly; just when you've got YouTube down, Spotify becomes a factor.
But there are some fundamental principles that don't change, principles that I see artists ignore every day, usually because they simply don't know better. So instead of just telling you about this dope Funk Volume Virtual Hip Hop Conference and giving away some passes, I'm going to tell you about this dope Funk Volume Virtual Hip Hop Conference and give away some passes AND drop some knowledge darts to get you inspired to learn more.
So with that said, here's something that's been on my mind. And by "on my mind," I mean "I had to deal with this dick manager today, and today was far from the only day."
Manange Your Management
Should you get a manager? That depends, who's your manager?
As I mentioned above, being an indie artist is now about so much more than making music. There are videos to be made, tweets to be tweeted, iTunes links to coordinated, merch to made and much more. You need help. I get it. But remember, when you take on a manager (or any other representative), you're no longer just You The Artist, you're now You The Company. This is the person who is going to be your extension into the real world. With them on board you can spend as much time as possible in the studio making music while they spend as much time as possible talking to booking agents, lawyers, bloggers and everyone else You need to work with to succeed.
Awesome, right? But that also means that if your mananager is a dick to one of those people, or even just generally unorganized and not particularly pleasant to deal with, no matter how cool You The Artist may be, no matter how extraordinary You The Artist's music may be, if You The Company is annoying to work with, you're in trouble.
I highly recommend not being a dick when you're a superstar as well, but at least then you'll have some leverage. At this stage in your career though? Let's be real, as an indie artist people are going to want to work with You because they want to work with You, not because they have to. And they're not going to want to work with you if your manager even occasionally has a power trip, or takes a week to answer even a basic email. Unfortunately, I can't even begin to count the amount of times I've wanted to work a new artist I was excited about, but had to give up because their management - who they often directed me too - was more hassle than they were worth. Watching an artist you like hire a bad manager is like seeing the most beautiful girl in the room, and then your buddy telling you he recognizes her from Cabo last spring and he's pretty sure she gave him herpes. It's a horrible feeling.
I've seen people's cousins be awesome managers, and I've seen people's cousins be terrible managers. I've seen superstar, well-connected managers be terrible managers, and I've seen superstar managers be, well, superstar managers. Ultimately, the most important qualification that person has to have is that they're truly, genuinely passionate about You, and they're someone you're happy to represent you to the world. And if you're not sure if you have that person, from experience I can tell you that not having a manager at all is better than having no manager. You may miss opportunities, but at least you won't burn bridges.
I know, I know, that was kind of sorta but not really that helpful. That's because topics like these really deserve much more time and expertise than I can provide her. Thats' why...drum roll please...I'm happy to have DJBooth as a sponsor of the Funk Volume Virtual Hip-Hop Conference. Taking place online this Saturday (November 22), the #FVHHC will allow artists across the globe a chance to listen to live panels on important topics (like how to assemble a successful team) from proven veterans like Funk Volume CEO Damien Ritter and DJBooth favorites Wax, Jarren Benton, Crooked I, Yelawolf's manager J Dot and many, many more artists and professionals.
If you're interested, you can go hit up FunkVolumeConference.com for the full list of panels, panelists, information and to buy passes. But...hold on, let me get my infomercial voice together...because we love you and the good people at Funk Volume are so generous, we're giving away five passes to the conference.
To enter to win, all you have to do is HIT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE, or the embed below. We'll select the fivewinners this Friday, November 21; those winners will receive instructions for logging into the conference for free on the 22nd. Good luck, and keep on your indie grind.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome.