Last week, we were invited to Abbey Road’s Amplify Festival as part of their 90th Anniversary celebrations. The two-day event consisted of an array of panels from artists, sound engineers and industry gurus aimed at educating the next generation of music creators.
AIM’s Ben Wynter hosted the first panel on day one focused on how musicians and artists can identify the best team for success and was joined by Slam Dunk Records Sally Bryant, Whitney Boateng from WME and intellectual property expert from Simkins LLP, Nick Eziefula.
Here’s what we learnt.
Consider building a team
When your career begins to progress, think about what you need support for. When things start to get busy, you’re likely going to need help to manage things like admin and touring.
You don’t need a big management company
If you have a friend that’s organised — and they believe in your music enough to put their heart and soul into it — that could be all you need to begin with. When Tobe Onwuka started managing Stormzy, he worked for Land Rover, but took a chance on helping out a friend.
Experienced managers will have a network
Ultimately, artists need managers to do the things they can’t do themselves. While you don’t necessarily need to have an experienced manager working for you, you do need someone with a network which can increase your opportunities, someone who will put in the graft and support you need.
Relationships are key
If you are seeking a manager or get approached by an A&R, you need to make sure you have a good rapport, but also be aware that those people may not necessarily stick around. If you’ve found someone you love working with and don’t want to be stuck with someone else if they leave the company, you could ask for a key person provision within your contract. If they go, the clause could allow you to follow.
Managers don’t just manage
Managers wear a lot of different hats, and they will inevitably be across all aspects of your career, but their key concern will be how it will progress.
It’s all about the music
Focus on building a decent catalogue of music. If the music is good, you’ll often find people coming to you with offers. Live agents will struggle to pitch you if you only have a few songs. If your music isn’t strong, you’ll find it tough to get noticed.
The right time to accept a publishing or label deal
Ultimately it depends what you want, and you can only make a choice based on what’s on offer. If you have offers, look at the deal and read the details. Don’t get hung up on seeking them out — if you have great music and build a buzz, people will come to you.
Is it the right deal?
Naturally, not all deals are the same. There are different kinds of publishing deals; an admin deal, for example, where they will do the admin and register your rights/works and collect publishing royalties for you. Then there are full publishing deals where they will do the admin but also seek opportunities to get your work used such as sync. They will also often put you in sessions with other writers, producers and artists.
Deals are complex so you need to think about what it means for you. How long is the contract term? Does it mean they retain publishing rights to your works for a certain period of time? Checking the terms is vital.
Understand the core principles of monetising music
You need to be aware that money comes from your legal rights. The intellectual property copyright is at the core of monetising your music.
Get a lawyer at the right time
When to seek a lawyer or legal advice is down to you. Whenever you’re thinking about the legal status of things like contracts or deals, a lawyer can help. But the challenge is the cost that comes with it — sometimes the legal cost is disproportionate to the benefit or outcome. If cost is an issue for seeking legal advice, think about what you’re signing, and whether it impacts your career long-term.
You can watch some of the panels and sessions from Abbey Road Amplify Festival now on Abbey Road Studios YouTube.