It’s All About The Teamwork

In an earlier article, I wrote about the mountain of responsibilities that come with being an independent musician.  It was a daunting list, but an important one.  To their credit, many bands split up the responsibilities, which makes thing more manageable.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are bands where a band “leader” ends up taking on the lion’s share of the list.  Somehow, most are successful, no matter which approach they take.  However, there is a third option that I don’t see utilized often that adds layers of perspective and accountability that are sometimes missed in the world of trying to make music.  This leads to my question for today- have you thought about building a team? Everything done by the Cozmic Debris brand is the work of one person- me.  I do all of the writing, social media, website upkeep and promotion.  I listen to dozens of hours of music a week, looking for more musicians I can get behind, and still find time to get on the air anywhere between 6-8 hours a week.  Of course, that requires time to put each show together.  I can get it all done, but whether or not I do it well is a subject for debate. Compare that to my work with Music Mafia Radio.  We have people to handle the website.  We have another person that does an incredible job of maintaining our social media accounts, a person who also produces eye-catching graphics.  We’ve got people who take care of all the organizational stuff and make sure Rick and I know what we are supposed to mention on air.  We have a person who handles the business aspects of the station.  I handle the stream programming.  While I dabble in parts of the rest of the list to help out, all I really need to do in any given week is flip on the mic and start talking and playing music.  Everything gets done with much more polish and much less stress than my activities in the Cozmic Debris world.  And it happens because we have built a team. Building a team around a solo musician or band can be a long process.  The first hurdle to clear is finding people that can be trusted without hesitation.  After all, your career and reputation are at stake, and you will be asking your team to promote your brand.  You will be looking for people that serve as ‘experts’ for a particular portion of the responsibilities. They need to take your idea and run with it in a way you may not be equipped to do.  They need to understand the music and the philosophy of the band and demonstrate a true passion for your music.  You also need to find people possessing these traits who are willing to volunteer their time, because the reality is that you probably can’t afford to pay anybody to help out.  The reason it can take some time to assemble a team is that you need to be able to check off every single one of those boxes, and the trust piece can sometimes be hard to come by Don’t get me wrong- all final decisions on anything should remain the responsibility of the musician or band.  After all, it is YOUR career and YOUR music.  That’s the whole point behind being an independent musician.  You are not looking for these people to take over the decision-making process.  Instead, you are looking for people to put the decisions already made in motion. Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, what kind of people do you need?  Here’s a basic list you can consider: The Social Media Guru:  This is the person who handles all of your social media accounts.  A person who knows how each platform works and knows the tools that make working on those platforms effective and efficient.  A person who knows how to get the most visibility.  As social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to change the rules of engagement in a way that makes reaching your current and potential fans almost impossible, having someone who knows how to get around the roadblocks becomes even more important.  Finding the right social media person can have very positive effects on your brand image. The Mouthpiece:  This is the person who handles all of the real world interactions and publicity.  They are the one to help you find and talk with venues, work with radio stations to get you airplay, find bloggers and interviewers who are willing to put the spotlight on you.  This is the person that can explain the music to anybody they come in contact with. The Techie:  Developing websites, creating mobile apps, building Alexa skills… there are skilled people that consider these things fun hobbies, and the chances are high you know one of these people.  Your brand value and awareness can grow exponentially with a professional looking web presence. The Organizer:  This is the person who knows every aspect of what the band has going on.  They are the person that reminds you of upcoming interviews, upcoming gigs, studio sessions… they are the person that tells you what you need to wear and what you need to know for wherever you are going. The Mentor:  This is often an overlooked part of the process, but can be the most important.  Typically another musician, this is the person you seek advice from when things appear to not be going in the right direction.  You run available options by them to get an unbiased analysis.  Ideally, this is the person whose ear you trust the most, someone you can take honest feedback from when it comes to your music.  You don’t want a cheerleader.  You want somebody you respect enough to take critical feedback from if it is warranted because you know they have your best interests at heart.  This person should fall outside the entire music creation process (including recording and mastering). They need to understand music on a level that allows them to provide meaningful feedback.  This only works when the trust and respect levels are extremely high. There you have it- the perfect team to help you get back to the business of making music.  Even if you can’t find somebody to fill every one of these roles, just getting a couple of them will help free up your time to work on the more artistic side of the business. One of these days, I’ll build a team to help with Cozmic Debris.  Until then, you are stuck with my jack-of-all-trades approach.  Who knows?  Maybe when I finally do build an incredible team, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been rolling around in my head for the last year.