Artist development in the music industry has evolved over time, leaving most of the early progress to the artist themselves. For the most part, the days are gone when a record label developed up and coming talent. The question continuously arises for those young artists, “where do I start”? With the advent of the Internet, the possibilities are mind boggling. Stick with the concept boards working on your art project, it is one of the best tool for creating a story.
Many artists put in their mission statement, simply that they want a record deal, thinking that is all they need to succeed for career in music. Most don’t have a clue what it takes to get that deal, let alone maintain that career.
Artist development is a huge area overlooked by far too many artists and bands. Let’s explore the question, “What is artist development”?
A record label A&R rep once “discovered” fresh new faces in clubs, bars or word of mouth and would then support them, cultivate their creativeness, build up their fan base, and guide their direction with the intent of turning them into superstars. All of this of course, was with the intent of selling those 45’s, LPs, cassette’s and CDs. Gradually, many labels moved more into product development, which meant they are focused more on the immediacy of sales of the latest CD (product) released, and not bringing the artist up to that point. And more often than not, naive artists were at the labels mercy.
In this Internet age, it is more the artist or band themselves that must build the quality sound that is ready as a commercially viable product. On top of that, they need to have an already established fan base, basic music business skills, perhaps even the early music sales of a well produced CD. Labels are looking for pre-packaged, very talented musicians that are already showing their value.
A music career is a charted path to follow. Artist development involves all the issues surrounding and arising from that charted path, and crosses into knowledge of product development – the ultimate sale of the music.
Checklist on what artist and product development necessitate:
- Exceptional vocals, musicianship and/or songwriting skills
- Continued education and enhancement of musical skills
- Quality equipment
- Performance ability
- Image creation and maintenance
- Plan of action, goal setting
- Exceptional promotion materials, including photographs, press releases and artwork
- Business management skills
- Marketing, publicity, and promotion knowledge, online and offline
- Professional management
- Basic knowledge of recording, producing, engineering, and mastering
- Basic knowledge of manufacturing, distribution, and sales online, brick and mortar and air-play
- Good choices in members, staff and advisors
- Physical and mental preparedness
- Basic knowledge of finances, accounting
- Law and legal issues: publishing, copyrighting, trademarks, and an attorney
- Alternative career options – even athletes need to have other options!
Tending to all areas of your music career may make the difference between a one hit wonder and longevity in this business. It’s been said, “If you think this is a piece of cake, you better go bake one.” The music business, again, is a business. Businesses need to make money. That’s worth repeating – the music business is a BUSINESS. Take the time to find out all you can about each of these steps in your journey.
That being said, an up and coming artist must begin somewhere…and if a career in the music business is the goal, then any naiveté must be addressed immediately! Knowledge is power. Power gives you leverage. And who knows…that entrepreneurial artist may just find they don’t need that particular record deal after all.
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