Your Band Is Your Business: 5 Things Unsigned Artists Need To Do Right Now

IStock_000010267528Small.jpgGuest post by Gregory Haberek, artist manager and co-founder of All For The Addicts Management.

In my last post, my focus was on the "old" record business model and its flaws. However, I cannot fully blame labels and big music business for the current economic climate of music. Yes, I understand some indies can actually be beneficial to the artist and that both physical and digital sales are important. I also see that there is no one correct solution for anything in this business, which is one of the things that give me faith in the future of music.

However, I feel that in order to even the playing field, musicians should be taking a more active role in the branding and research necessary to properly market to their audience. It amazes me to learn how many musicians fail to think of their band as an actual business. They go to practice, create a Facebook and Twitter, play a few local shows and expect to one day get signed and have the label do the rest. The fact is that in this industry, many bands do not know what is really needed to become a profitable band.

Artists need to take the time to: 

1. Study Their Fans

You as an artist should make it your mission to know where your fans are and how to market to them. Research where your fans find out about new music, where (and how) they buy merch, what blogs they read, what magazines to they look at and even down to how they wear their accessories. Now you can ask them what graphics they like before you print a shirt, ask them which song should you do a video for… these are the people that are spending their money on you in a tough economy, so give them what they want!

2. Be Versatile

Create products that speak to your fan and your brand. Like any smart company, you need to constantly be reaffirming the quality and integrity of your product. Only put out your best and make your music available. If you are unsigned, then use digital outlets as well as the hand-to-hand sale of physical at shows. I know this sounds like common sense, but that's because it is!

3. Create a Network

Every time you play a show, talk to the venue owners, the booking agents, the promoters etc. and shake their hand. Whether you play for 5 or 500 people, creating a good relationship with these people will open the doors for future shows an opportunities. Know that if you want to make it, you are going to need a team of people working for your cause. Once you are ready (you will know when you are), start building a team to help you (i.e. booking, PR/press, legal, management etc.). Posting to your 350 Facebook fans alone is not going to get you that help. 

4. Get Thicker Skin and Take Criticism Well

If you get a bad review, look for things to improve on and work with them. If you have a bad show, find out what was bad about it and correct it. Even with this post as well as my last, I know that people may not agree with my thoughts and criticize them, but if these words help to inspire even one person to think or re-evaluate a situation and make it a positive then I have done my job. You as an artist should do the same. Your lyrics speak to people and your music/branding gives those people a way to relate to you. Everything is subjective and it is a great time for the artist to make money directly. But how can you do that if you get upset every time someone makes a critique? :) 


Making it as a band takes time, trial and error, love and a whole bunch of failed attempts, but in the end, if you truly have something that should be shared and you believe in the product, then keep pushing and always find new ways to make friends with your fans! People are more likely to support a friend in need than a cocky rock star.

The music business has become complacent with the big business, little band dynamic and if you arm yourself with the knowledge of your fanbase and good business practices, you will be in a position of power and hopefully secure more of a fair deal when working with others. If you are on point with your business, then you have the power.

Gregory Haberek is an artist manager and co-founder of All For The Addicts Management.


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  1. Number 3 is very huge especially if an artist is touring in the future. Maintaining relationships with people is the best way to exude professionalism regardless of the turnout.
    Another important thing that a lot of bands forget is providing the promoters with merchandise. We have to remember that they are fans as well. Leave them something memorable which will help them remember you.

  2. I totally agree.. It is so often that bands just expect favors of venues without giving them anything in return. Whether it is a packed show or not.. creating that relationship will make a difference.

  3. I believe that bands/artists need to realize that once they get to the venue they are working – the venue is like the workplace. Anywhere from having a swift change over to shaking hands when introducing yourself, all of these are important practices!!!

  4. I agree with all of you. Praverb, Greg, and Kevin really make valid points about creating a fan out of the venue owners and promoters. I can definitely use that advice. I often forget to make them a fan and concentrate on pleasing their bottom line, when as a fan, they may believe I have what it takes, even if it didn’t conjure up their bottom line that day. Good advice. Thanks Greg.

  5. Every point in this article is 100% correct, and it’s stuff that a lot of bands need to take to heart. THANK YOU for spelling it out so clearly.

  6. Great advice – thanks!
    I had the honour one evening to speak personally with Johnny Walker, (former) Exec VP of Def Jam records at a music executives event. The question I asked her was what she thought was the single most important thing a band can do to take it to the next level? She simply answered, “Get fans in the seats!” She said it didn’t matter whether you have 50 or 50,000 fans in the audience, you need to relate and engage them. Make them want to come back for more. In business, relationship management with your partners, vendors, customers, clients, etc. is key!

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