Headphones and keyboard

How to... build your music team

We asked artists and industry experts for their top tips on choosing the right people to work with, from managers to music lawyers.

Liam Konemann
  • By Liam Konemann
  • 30 Jan 2023
  • min read

Your music team are the ones who let you get on with the work of being a songwriter. From bookings to publicity, or from getting you onto playlist to getting you from A to B, your team will help you keep the gears of your career in motion. While nobody can promise a completely smooth journey to the top, surrounding yourself with the right people for you will mean that you are better protected against life’s little bouts of turbulence.

We asked artists and experts from across the industry for their top tips on assembling your top team. 

Do your homework…

‘Look at the roster that the publicity company is already looking after,’ says Rupinder Virdee, Head of PR, Marketing & Digital at PRS for Music. ‘I’d make sure that the musical genre matches yours and that there is a mix of both well-known and respected talent alongside up and coming talent. It’s easy to be drawn in by a company that looks after well-known names but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are keen to, or know how to build upcoming talent.’

… and be specific

‘The media landscape is ever changing and breaking an artist is becoming more and more difficult so when it comes to finding a publicist it’s important to find someone that is really going to champion you and your art. I would advise researching PR agencies and individual publicists within those companies to see who they represent and if you can see your project fitting in their roster,’ says Tom Mehrtens, Head of Music and Entertainment at SATELLITE414.

Remember that, ultimately, this is about you

‘Make sure you meet your publicist (digitally or in person) before confirming you’ll work with them. I find it’s incredibly important to have a good relationship with them, since they are going to be presenting you to media and to do that they need to understand you as a person and as an artist,’ Tom says.

‘When it comes to building a team, whether big or small, I always say find and work with people that are passionate about the art, have a clear understanding of the end goal and are able to add value to the process,’ adds Kieran Thompson, Artist Manager at Localism Club. ‘Having a good track record is great, but if you're working with people that don't understand what you're doing or where you are trying to go, you'll ultimately be at a loss when it's all said and done.’

Globetown Records founder Marit Berning agrees. When it comes to building out your team, she says, there are three things to keep in mind beyond someone’s CV; ‘Do you share similar life philosophies? Is there a mutual understanding of your ambitions and goals? Are they as passionate about your art as you are?’

A strong foundation goes a long way

'I'd say it's important to show your drive & determination from the get-go before getting your team in place. Playing shows, releasing music, creating your brand, so it's in a good place ready to present to potential suppliers once you want to get a team on board,' says artist manager Maria Torres. 'This proves to agents/labels/managers that it's worth them investing in the next step of building your career. Don't be afraid to build something yourself first!'

Bring something to the table

‘An artist should always make sure they have something to manage - a dedicated fan base, a network, great songs and so on,’ says Jacqueline Pelham-Leigh, Relationship Manager – Black Music at PRS for Music. ‘A creative should also have the right relationship mindset. Be willing to foster and develop a great working relationship with your manager.’

‘On the record label side of things, the best piece of advice I can give is keep writing and recording demos,’ says Walt Disco’s Jocelyn Potter. ‘Labels always want to hear lots of music. Mastering your craft always has to be the top of your priorities and if it’s too good to ignore then you might find the right label!’ 

It takes as long as it takes

‘Don’t rush into anything. Will these people show up for you through thick and thin, will they make you feel supported, will they listen, do they have the capacity?’ says solo artist Lucinda Chua. ‘Sometimes these qualities are more important than who is on their roster, awards under their belt or promises they will make. Make it your business to know how you want to operate and build relationships that support this.’

‘Self-managing until you find the right person is no bad thing, it means you will get more familiar with the industry side of things which will be beneficial to you in the long run,’ says Jocelyn.

Finally: don't forget to look beyond managers, agents and publicists 

‘Find a music lawyer,’ Lucinda says.