Congratulations! You’ve toured and played many gigs and have airplay – you also have a manager and a crew of people helping out. Whether it be with artwork, or music, producing, gigging…you have a crew. Things are gaining traction and now you have been approached by a label like I don’t know, UMG. You have the opportunity to change your life and be paid in the process. You will meet new people that want to go on the journey with you. Perhaps a fantastic bassist, or a very knowledgable agent. So what do you do? Dismantle the crew that has helped you get here and get a brand spanking new one?
Some have been known to do just that. But is it wise?
When you start getting recognition locally, nationally or globally – is it really only you who got you that far? (No need to answer that, we can tell you it’s a team effort)
At this point in your career, you will be excited about what the future holds and may experience the need to be impulsive with your decision making. Take a moment and figure out who you need with you and who you can trust.
You will be pushed to think about who you need to remain around you, and who needs to go. We’re not saying loyalty should come above value. Giving the friend from high school a job just because they asked, probably requires reconsideration at this point. The friend who ‘hangs about’ is a mediocre business move.
We want you to be better than that, you are better than that, and we want you to achieve great heights. But great heights require a focussed, dedicated team and strong mindset. If you came with a team like that, you’re doing well.
When you should keep your team as it is
1. They’re a part of the reason you’re getting recognition
Boom! You have a bodacious team that got you this far. You all know your roles and are in sync with each other. Keep it that way. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
2. You trust them
Ah, the ’T’ word. Some may say trust is hard to come by. It certainly takes work and a few strained situations to develop trust. Experience comes with time, but trust doesn’t always work the same way, and in this business, you need those you trust around you.
3. They are competent
When you don’t have to watch over what others are doing – great. It’s really great. They know your style and way of working and you can just check in from time to time. Have team meetings to touch base and make sure everyone delivers. What more do you want? Most times if you are ever missing some people that can improve the team, a label will make introductions or provide that for you. Like A&R, licensing agents, etc. Say what you want about labels, but they don’t tend to allow incompetent people to stick around.
How do you make sure your team stays on course?
1. Give them clear outlines
What do you want you and your team to achieve in the long term? Tell them. Ask them how they see getting there. Ask them to learn about how to get you to your goals if they are unsure about the navigation.
2. Tell them what your expectations are
It is imperative that people in your team can evolve and grow in their role to support you, so you won’t need to drop them. Of course saying “do this or I’ll drop you” is not a good strategy. Be honest with what you need and state that you want your team to grow as a unit. Also offer them support – tell them when they are doing things that are helpful to you and say thank you. Team members jumping ship because you are now a ‘difficult pop star’ is entertaining, but not funny when it comes down to it.
3. Communicate what could happen if their actions aren’t up to par
In a kind way, communicate that if they can’t deliver, they may be asked to move on. Also tell them that you are committed to doing all you can to help your career, and you’re not just relying on them to do all the heavy lifting.
When you need new team members
1. When you’re not progressing (and it isn’t you)
Let’s say your manager doesn’t know so much about the industry, but knew enough to get you recognition. Now they seem lost and are learning too slowly to offer you any decent guidance. This can be a problem. It is a problem. You need someone who can take over the reins and get you places quickly. Someone who knows the big players (or any players) in the industry who can fast track some things. Waiting for someone to keep up is a career killer.
2. When you are being held back
This could be as simple as needing a more skilled musician in the band, or one that takes it seriously and turns up to rehearsal. Or new producers to work with who are capable of bringing out the best in you. It is healthy to seek out help from those who are better than you – it raises your game. Look out for the person who is along for a free ride and hoping to get away with it.
The larger your team gets the easier it is for those kinds of people to hide away doing nothing for you. Keep your wits about you. Do your own homework on people you want to bring into the fold and regularly check up on them to gauge if they are of help or hindrance.
We know it can be a mixer of daunting and exciting when things take off. You may feel exhilarated and terrified in equal measure. This is where a team can support you. Lean into them. Lean into each other. A competent cohesive group can get through anything.
All in all, your team up to now has played a great role in your career – and may they continue to do so. Do try to make it work. Unless they are falling short of the mark – then for sure move forward from them.
We’re always here to make up part of your crew, whenever you need us.