The following is an article I wrote for Street Knowledge Entertainment‘s Knowledge Blog. It’s regarding the importance of being humble in the music industry.
Being Humble as a New Artist
Eric Phillipson of SpeakYourMusic.com
New artist’s listen up! We need you! The industry needs you! You need you! Over the years, through the declining industry, there is one trend that I’ve seen grow more and more. That is the disappearance of the humble artist and the larger and larger presence of the big-ego artist. It’s not that I don’t understand your swag or the fact that you’re the artist. I get that. What I don’t understand is all of the hating going on in the industry.
I can’t tell you how many artists I once worked with (keyword: once) who felt that they were above others when it came to certain promotional tactics or just working with some people. Now I’m not talking about your somewhat established people, I’m talking about the ones who are trying to build a fan base or who are not yet making money off of this music they love (by the way, check out Q’s post on giving your music away for free). These are the artists that need to come down, be humble, and take the “all promotion is good promotion” road.
Now being humble applies to many different things, these are what I’m going to cover:
The first one I want to talk about is management. I see a lot of artists who hear that they should get a manager and then don’t even use them. When someone wants to book a show, they give them their number or book the show themselves; they cut their “manager” out of all of their deals. Don’t do that. If you tell someone that they can be your manager, set up an agreement for compensation, and let them be your manager. It’s aggravating when you’re told to manage someone so you put effort into them only to have them start cutting you out of the deals. The being humble part comes into play just off of the simple fact that you need to trust your manager if you’re going to have one. If you don’t trust them, get a new one. Management is there to take a load off of you so you can focus on making music, and take yourself to the next level.
The next thing I want to talk about is being humble in the promotions you do. I’ve seen brand new artists, who had no buzz in an area, who were not willing to go out and hand out CD’s or hang up fliers for a few hours during a late-night promo run. That has to stop! If you have no buzz, you need to pull all stops and get out there and get yourself a name until you get to the point where you can hire street team help to handle that for you. I know there are tons of artists who feel that lying about their fan base will bring in more fans or add to their swag; it won’t. If you know you have no buzz in an area, be honest with yourself and get out there! If people haven’t heard of you at all, they will be more willing to listen to you if you’re actually out there rather than having someone else out there trying to pitch your music.
The fans! Answer every single one of them. Even something as simple as “thank you” is perfect. I’m talking to the people who get the MySpace messages or the Emails or have a few people come up to them after a show. Not the ones who have mobs of people coming up to you. There are too many artists who get sidetracked and read messages from fans without ever replying. You’d be surprised how much fans are willing to promote artists who are willing to recognize them. By the way, make sure people who receive your CD’s during handouts can contact you! Just set up a “fan” Email address and slip it inside of your CD’s so that fans can contact you. Fan mail is always a rewarding feeling.
The final aspect of being humble that I want to talk about is being humble while networking. I’ve known some artists who don’t give others who are trying to come up the time of day. I’m not even talking about on an artist level either. Don’t always try to network with bigger people, sometimes networking with others who are trying to come up will work wonders for you. Be sure to network with people coming up in other aspects of the entertainment industry, not just music. For example, network with new clothing companies, people breaking into acting, graphic artists, TV people, people who are trying to start their own next big website, people who are trying to break into radio, etc. Some of these people are bound to do great things, and even those who don’t become huge will still be willing to help as long as you can help them. Plus, these people would love for you to support their new ventures and it always looks good when you are sponsored by someone.
In the end, being humble as a new artist can take you far. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some fake people out there who will try to take advantage of you, just always be sure to check your ego and remain a humble person, you never know who you might meet because of it.
Be sure to check out Street Knowledge Entertainment home to Philly based artist Trel Mack.