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Artist Development

The Music - Good, or Great?

In the music business, everything starts with a song. Without great songs, there is no music business. Songwriting is not just an artistic expression; it is the axis upon which the music business rotates.

So, the first order of business in Artist Development is the music itself. Good songs are not good enough when you are preparing to market your music. People only respond to what they feel are great songs. Your songs must have some commercial appeal, if only to a certain music niche. (Folk, Hip Hop, Alternative Rock, New Age, Jazz, Blues, etc.) Finding that niche, and learning how to manage its growth is essential to becoming a successful act. So, your songs must be of a very high caliber.

Many songwriters have to decide if and when to look for a publishing deal or start their own publishing company. In our opinion until there is a demand for your songs, (meaning that there are a lot of people who want to hear your songs, or buy them), don't worry too much about getting a publishing deal. Don't get me wrong, the pot of gold at the end of the music rainbow is the income received from the use of songs. The business of music publishing, which is really the business of finding uses for songs, is very important topic to explore, but only when the time is right.

As your career develops, you may wish to improve on some of your creative talents by taking voice lessons, or master classes from more experienced musicians. Investing in the best equipment and musical instruments is another necessity if you are going to be a professional, working musician. No artists can perform their best work using mediocre equipment.

Are You Protected?

Artist Development is also about protecting the great songs by registering them with the copyright office. Songwriters and music publishing companies need to affiliate with the Performance Rights Associations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) as well, so that if and when those songs are played by the broadcasting industry, or in certain public places, they will receive proper payment for the uses of those songs.

Choosing a name for your act, and filing for a trademark to prevent others from using your chosen name are also part of the business organization of developing an artist's career properly. It is strongly advised that you invest in registering your band name or stage name by trademarking it.

Artist Development should also include writing up a band agreement that defines the issues related to running your career as a business and how you will work with the people in your band.

Starting your own business (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation) will also be a necessity if you want to have control over career. There are many questions to be answered about operating your own business, financially and professionally. You will also have to update any changes in your business operations as they may occur, because the different city, state, and federal laws affecting any business are constantly changing and evolving.

As you become more successful in your career you will need the services of an entertainment law attorney. Use lawyers who have had experience within the music industry. You will need them to look over any band agreements, record label contracts, publishing deals, or any other number of legal matters.

Message and Image - Consistent, or Confusing?

One of the most delicate issues involved with Artist Development is the matter of creating and consistently maintaining a clear and honest image. What people hear in your music must be seen in how you dress on-stage, and can help or hurt you when you create promotional materials, and artwork for your CDs etc. So, weave a thread of consistency with your chosen image throughout the Four Fronts of music marketing.

In the beginning, managing your own career will be your responsibility; with a goal of creating such a buzz about your music that you attract professional management. Many developing acts encounter some resistance to the lyrics or cover art they have created. Be prepared to deal with the fallout from any controversies surrounding your music from critics, special interest groups, or even the record labels you may be dealing with. There could also be some situations you get into that may lead to potential, ethical and moral decisions that you must make.

Artist Development as you can see, is a combination of creative and business issues that must be dealt with to make your music, and the business surrounding you music, run smoothly.