One of the major benefits of being a successful signed artist is having help managing the business end of your music. There are tour managers, business managers, personal assistants, accountants, the list goes on. But when you are just starting out or if you have chosen to pursue a DIY path as a musician, you may have to do most if not all of that work yourself.

Many artists are either unaware or uninterested in being businessperson and choose to focus rather on their creative craft. While this is certainly important, if you hope to become commercially successful, at some point you will need to treat your art as a business. Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking management into your own hands.

1. Even at the earliest stages of your career, make your best effort to project a professional appearance. I don’t mean you need a suit and tie but be on top of your game. Understand that anything with your name on it represents you and will leave an impression in people’s minds. When networking in person, shake hands and speak confidently. If communicating via email, use spellcheck and treat every message as you would a job application or an important academic assignment. Poor first impressions are hard to overcome.

2. If you are managing other people in your band, understand that not everyone operates the same way you do. Maybe you are organized and neat, maybe you are chaotic and make it up as you go. Whatever works for you is fine but be aware that others may not share your tendencies or talents. That’s okay! Everyone is good at something and the best managers find ways to levy individual strength for the good of the group. Be patient and communicate positively and carefully whenever possible.

3. Be organized. Not everyone is good at this but even if it isn’t your strong suit, some effort towards improvement can go a long way. I have found spreadsheets to be an invaluable tool for organizing schedules, band budgets, setlists, etc. Maybe that’s not for you but whatever you end up using, make sure you have your information arranged in a way that makes sense to you and is easily accessible. Know when your gigs are and what time you need to be there, have setlists arranged so you don’t fumble on stage, keep track of your finances, and file your emails so messages don’t get ignored or forgotten. I promise this will benefit you both in the short- and long-run.

Management is no easy task and there is a reason that administrators often make the big bucks. Managing your art can be a full-time job in itself but don’t get discouraged if it seems intimidating. Small steps every day will pay off and you will get better at it. Just don’t get too bogged down that you forget why you are a musician in the first place; it’s all about balance.

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Educated but self-effacing, opinionated but reticent, and unabashedly eccentric; Alex aka Squatch is the lead writer for A life-long musician, he founded the blog in the interest of helping independent artists gain exposure and to provide insight into navigating the creative arts industry.

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