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The Indie Artist's Guide to Building a Creative Team


At Noise Complaints, we always advise artists to assemble a high-functioning team of support. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts and in our ebooks, you’ll need to think like a business in order to successfully execute your strategy and earn money as an artist. In order for a business to run properly, it requires multiple people to handle different roles.


One person can’t do everything.


How to Build a Team


There are different ways to build your team. You can select friends who you know well and understand their talents and interests. Or you can outsource the work. Maybe give college students an opportunity to work closely with a band and begin building their resumes. If you have perfected your craft, created good music and have a clear vision, then with a little determination, you’ll find someone to join your team.


As you build your team, there are some essential items you have to check off and make sure are covered. Make sure that each person has a successful track record of applying skills that you don’t have yourself. Also make sure each team member knows their role, so that they can focus their efforts on specific tasks and not waste time. Most importantly, everyone in your team has to believe in your vision and align with your brand.


Your team’s work will be seen by the world, and that directly affects your brand. The capabilities of your team will also affect your overall strategy. All in all, be smart and careful when choosing your team.


Keep in mind that you do not have to have a fully comprised team before you start chasing your goals. At different stages your team may need more or less people to execute your vision and strategy.


Most Important Roles on Your Team


Let’s explore what you should  consider and think about when building your team. We’ll also discuss why each role is important and some characteristics to keep an eye out for. As the phrase goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” so focus on building a team that will help your dreams come to fruition.


Obviously this isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide, but we are noting essential teammates and why they are necessary to build your brand’s success and achieve your goals as an artist.


  • Manager – A manager is an integral part of an artist’s team. More than anyone on your team, they must wholeheartedly believe in your talent and your vision. Additionally, they should be someone you completely trust. Most importantly, they need to effectively handle the business side of the industry, such as touring, networking/business development, and finances. They should also have an in-depth understanding of the entertainment industry and how it works. Referring back to the small business analogy, if the artist is the CEO setting the strategy for the company, holding people accountable, delivering ideas and creating music, then the manager is the chief operating officer (COO), ensuring the execution of the strategy, keeping the lights on, figuring out areas to improve, and holding everyone accountable – even the CEO – to make sure things get completed.


  • No-man/confidant – This may very well be that best friend you who always keeps it real with you. They call you out on your bullshit and will tell you no. This is the trusted friend that does this with love and your best interest in heart, so at the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt your feelings. Hopefully, as a bonus, they have immaculate taste and a good ear for when you create something dope. Their biggest role is helping you stay sane and grounded, and imparting feedback and criticism.


  • Media/PR – Media and PR are delicate tasks. While you don’t want to over-manufacture messages and press releases, you also can’t effectively market on the fly without a plan and direction. You may need help taking an idea from just something in your mind to a tangible message, or assistance crafting the perfect e-mails to blogs or other media outlets, or any of the various marketing and communication activities that go into getting yourself out there. Having a dedicated content creator on your team who understands PR and media is invaluable.


  • DJ – The DJ is your stage partner, there to help you read the crowd and amplify your show. They should help you make changes to your show on the fly to keep the crowd involved, and add uniqueness to your set.


  • Audio engineer – The audio engineer is essential to get your music sounding right. While they may be in the background, they are super important. Have you ever heard an album that was improperly mixed and mastered to the point where the levels were off? Maybe the music is too quiet so you can’t hear it without your speakers on high, or if you turn your speakers up, the music sounds like a mess? There are a number of elements that can affect the sound quality of your music and ruin the listener’s experience, regardless of how good the song is. Make sure you have an audio engineer that knows what they’re doing. It will pay dividends.


  • Photographer/videographer – Having a photographer or videographer goes back to the importance of fan engagement. In an age where we constantly let people know what we’re doing and content is king for marketing, a photographer and videographer is a must-have. The content from a videographer following you your day-to-day routine or filming your stage show can be turned into marketing material, or a music video, or used for fan engagement in numerous creative ways.


  • Designer - Find a designer whose work you adore. One who is on the same creative wavelength as you, because design is an important aspect of business that often gets overlooked. The design of your merchandise or cover art can be someone’s first impression of you, so you’ll want designs that draw the audience in. The best designs tell a story on their own, in addition to the message you tell with your music. Make sure you have a designer on the same page as you to add visual layers to your sonic story.  As we’ve said creativity is a differentiator, don’t limit the creative execution only to your music. Instead make sure the visuals are as high quality as the music by working with a designer you believe in.


  • Analyst/Analytics specialist - The world of digital technology is a treasure trove of data and you’ll want to be able to make the best use of it, especially as you create and update your strategies. Having an analytically savvy person on your team will help you understand data related to social media engagement, song engagement, website engagement, and any other digital efforts you take part in. They will help you focus you energy and give you data-backed reasoning that will help guide your career. The data tells a story, so you’ll need someone to help you decipher what it means.


The content above is an excerpt from The Noise Complaints Group’s 1st ebook, Primer series: Music Marketing 101: Branding and Strategy. In this book artist can learn how to earn more money, using practical strategies to transform their loyal fans into paying supporters by using analytics to schedule a tour, designing merchandise that sells, and leveraging other creative ways to earn revenue. To read the full book, visit our online store.

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