Often musicians, bands, managers, booking agents, publicists and the likes sit on their backsides and wait for opportunities to present themselves. This reactive way of doing things unfortunately isn’t effective and many people find themselves waiting for a very long time.
The biggest P in the music business is the word ‘Proactive’. Being proactive involves finding and creating opportunities before they find you, going out and making things happen with the goal of attaining success and positive outcomes.
As an artist, you need to be on the ball and make sure that you are constantly active in the business. Getting “out there” increases your visibility and at some point, someone is going to take notice of you and things are going to happen. Being proactive when it comes to continuously writing music and presenting it to labels and publishers will go a long way in giving ammunition for these guys to work with. Being proactive on social media channels gets conversations started instead of merely responding to current threads that are posted is one way of becoming an opinion leader. Being proactive in building relationships will create opportunities to work together on various projects.
To back you up as an artist and give strategic support, a proactive manager is needed. Not someone who handles administration, but someone who can procure opportunities that will enhance and add value to your career. The manager must be the one who asks the questions and drives the process when it comes to dealing with third parties such as labels, booking agents and sponsors.
In South Africa, booking agents have a very bad reputation of being mere processors of incoming queries. There is very little hard sell of artists on their portfolios. The common tone towards booking agents is that they are a “waste of time” and useless at administration. A good booking agent will proactively sell his or her clients in to the events companies, festival organisers and corporate marketing teams and motivate for bookings and advise how and why the artist can add value to their function. When it comes to artists, they also need to be proactive in supplying the agents with enough material for them to use when going out to pitch – YouTube footage, an updated biography, a list of cover versions, press photos.
We all know the dire situation regarding retail of physical albums. We also know that it is at times challenging to get stock on to the shelves of music retail stores. It is a huge achievement to have the likes of Musica and Look & Listen selling your albums and stock levels need to be sustained. Therefore the onus is on the distribution agent to be on top of stock levels so that stores never run out. This said, it is also your responsibility (or that of your manager) to make the distribution agent aware of any career activity that may create additional demand – massive live performances, TV appearances, media articles and, of course, charting singles.
Publicists are not only hired to respond and react to media queries. Although responding timeously with the correct information falls within the scope of work, it is the duty and responsibility of a PR practitioner to proactively seek opportunities for press coverage by “selling in” stories with strong angles that have been created. This has a good success rate of the PR person has strong relationships with editors, reporters and content producers who are all willing to work together on getting that story in to the public domain through their respective media channels. Prevention is better than cure and very often proactive intervention with a situation is simmering on being a disaster can help do major damage control before any actual damage can be done.
To conclude, you as an aspiring, or even an established artist need to be proactive, as does every single person on your team. A forward thinking attitude and a drive to create positive attitude will boost your chances of being successful in the South African and global music business.
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