We’re excited to announce that Phil Taggart will be running exclusive one-to-one career development sessions for our WaterBear students.
Phil has been a champion of new music on his Radio 1 show for years, he runs his own record label, presents the UK’s biggest music podcast, Slacker, and recently released his book ‘Slacker Guide to the Music Industry’ which helps new musicians navigate the world of releasing music.
He knows his stuff. And it’s fair to say he is the man any upcoming musician wants to get in front of and pick his brains one on one. So we’re thrilled we can provide our students with the opportunity to do exactly that!
Our first round of Phil Taggart's Career Clinics will be taking place next week.
Hello, I'm Ade Dovey and I have worked in the Venue and Live Music Industry for over 15 years. My professional background has focused on developing new venues to launch into the market. Mainly grassroots venues operated by independent companies and/or via third party teams such as promoters who managed venues alongside stakeholders, shareholders and private landlords.
In the build-up to the pandemic, I had moved from the multi-venue grassroots sector to coordinate events, content and live music in the Arena and Theatre venue realm overseeing various North West and North East locations such as Manchester Arena, Newcastle Utilita Arena, Leeds First Direct Arena, Aberdeen P&J Live Arena and Bonus Hull Arena (operated by ASM Global formerly SMG Europe). Within this role, I would be responsible to programme sustainable and financially viable events up to 21,000 Capacity. Ranging from Popular Artists, Sporting Events, Comedy, Live Cinema with Classical Soundtracks.
Before this, I coordinated many venues including Manchester’s Albert Hall, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute (for the company Mission Mars). These venues focused purely on contemporary bands and DJs in and around 750 events a year over 200,000 ticket-buying customers in and out as well as being responsible as ‘Head of Programming’ managing a team of 10 professionals who coordinated ticketing, social media, support artists, administration, production and club events.
The main goals and objectives with working in one or multiple venues (as the main principles apply for one up to several) is to achieve a healthy calendar/diary system and point of contact for all departments in the event booking universe. In order to visualise this, you tend to adopt the mindset that if your venue had arms, hands, a nucleus and the ability to communicate well, then that is you as the programming manager. On a daily basis, you will be networking constantly and consistently with external promoters both locally and nationally ranging from new promoters and local allies up to Live Nation, Kili Live, DHP Concerts, AEG and more. At the same time, you will be coordinating many valuable and intricate threads of details in ticketing, marketing, production (Sound and Lights), logistics, tour managers, event reps (show contact), drivers, local authorities, venue teams and staff as well as additional stakeholders (finance, business owners, IT, local press, interns, student union, human resources and more depending on the business model).
As a programming manager, the communication or systematic approach to having a healthy diary system is dependent on the quality of your resources. This includes contacts within the local music scene, national scene and band/talent knowledge and is essential you have motivation and a ‘mission statement’ followed by a plan knowing what audiences you want to attract based on your venues appeal and target demographic. It’s vital that your initial aim is to know what is to be expected of the quality of your booking approach so you can build and build on attracting the right promoters, booking agents and artists so that you create a vibrant cultural seasonal/annual listings which open the doors to more bookings.
With technology forever expanding and goalposts moving it’s essential to focus on your tone and language online and in each establishment in order to speak to your audience and relate in order to not just book the right bands but to make sure it’s financially viable and within budget in order to obtain a sustainable and economically sound business model. Some venues are natural at developing this from the launch, however some older venues who want to adapt might struggle and require the right team and skilled staff to advance in the competitive market.
It’s also worth to note not all venues have adequate budget to employ resourceful staff and (as I have experienced personally) you might be doing a lot of the work yourself and once successful, usually after financial year 2, you can progress to outsource an assistant or reliable ticketing and social media staff. It’s very rare for one individual to be able to programme, production manage, ticket manage and be an expert on social media and often the dilemma is due to time management as the live bookings industry rarely slows down and you will need to be able to respond and communicate well with composure without taking a breath or even being able to put the kettle on.
Generally, you are at peak performance and business 9-10 months of the year and utilise the other two quieter touring periods to refresh your systems, analyse your approach and coordinate opportunities for the next busy year. The touring season tends to start from September and slow down just before Christmas, the NYE section is often quiet for bands but a great time to create business with DJ events. January is regarded as an admin month but a very busy period follows February into June. Festival season often counteracts the summer months programming but allows you to prepare for student return and making sure you’re booked up every prime day (Weds-Sat) and often battle out the calendar dates available with your reliable independent promoters.
You might be thinking, how do I become a programmer? Where do you start? My advice would be to integrate with your local favourite venue and knock on their door or direct contact online about being interested in shadow experience at an event and/or offer your services for a period of time as an intern. There are many roles within a small or large venue organisation and often the case most venue programmers are found and recognised from having multiple experiences within the live sector but personality, trust and eye for detail are often your most recognisable attributes to an employer. But first and foremost is the drive, passion and love for music and making the venue a home for the day to all touring artists and touring personnel and making sure you have good relationship skills with all industry colleagues.
At some point in your music career, you may find that self-managing isn’t an effective strategy for you anymore. If you haven’t been approached by a manager or management company, you will have to be proactive to secure a manager that’s right for you. This means finding, researching and reaching out to a relevant manager or management company.
Before you reach out, make sure you’re ready for a manager. For many bands and artists, self-management can get you very far and put you in a better position to secure a management deal at the right time. When you do reach out, make sure you are contacting managers that want to work with your style, genre and type of band. Check out this guide to make sure your efforts won’t fall on deaf ears.
Managers are business people that need work and income, so they generally don’t make themselves difficult to find. However, just as a manager will want to appeal to an artist with their experience and catalogue, so must an artist put their best foot forward to appeal to a manager. Think of your music, band or project as a product and think about how it could be considered a worthy investment for a manager.
When you are ready to get a manager on board, check out these contacts.
Genre: Singer-songwriters, Contemporary
Genre: Singer-songwriters, Pop and Dance
Genre: R&B, Rap, Drill, Reggae and Dance
Genre: Rock, Metal
Genre: Rock, Prog & Metal
Genre: Rock, Blues
Genre: Classical, Jazz, Pop and Fusion
Here are 5 directories for finding managers and management companies.
The Unsigned Guide
The Unsigned Guide is a UK music industry contacts directory. You can search for over 240 UK artist management companies and band managers. This features allows you to narrow your search by region and get contact information, websites, social media channel links and addresses.
Signing up to The Unsigned Guide costs £5.99 monthly, £10.99 quarterly or £32.99 annually. The great thing about The Unsigned Guide is that the directory doesn’t just cover management, but record labels, studio production, live venues, press, publishing, distribution, media, training, music law and more.
Music week has an annual directory to help music industry professionals connect with up-to-date contacts. With its finger on the pulse of the evolving nature of the music industry, Music Week brings out an updated directory every year.
The Music Management Forum (MMF)
The MMF are the largest representative body of music management in the world. Their members are managers and management companies. Through their website, artists seeking management can submit their details to the members of the MMF using this form.
Association of Independent Music (AIM)
AIM is a not-for-profit representing UK independent music. Find opportunities, jobs and contacts through the website. The AIM friends directory allows you to search for industry professionals such as live music management.
Musicians’ Union (MU)
The MU provides advice, news and connecting facilities to its members. The members directory allows you to search for other members in your area.
There’s also the option to seek out a specific manager based on your genre and the bands you know using that manager. If there’s a band similar to yours who has good management behind them, reach out to the specific company or person. Being passionate about being part of their roster, because you appreciate what they already do and want to be a part of it - if coupled with some real growth and movement from your band - could be the personal touch that makes the difference.
Welcome to our August Round Up of all the latest news from WaterBear HQ. Our focus recently has been on resilience, something truly at the core of our ethos at WaterBear. Afterall, that’s what a ‘Water Bear’ is known for. Being resilient over these last few months has been essential. Not only are we approaching our September reopening with confidence, we’re also hugely excited by all the latest announcements we have in store! We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to ensure our city-wide campuses are COVID-19 secure, creating environments which nurture creativity and excellence. Read on to find out more…
No matter the situation, we are dedicated to providing our students with all the tools, resources and facilities they need. So, and to support the local live community, we’ve acquired our very own live music / club venue on Brighton seafront! That means even if it takes a while for the live sector to return to normality, you’ll still have a place to play. The venue will also serve as teaching space and will be a great place to hang out and socialise.
This is also a great opportunity for MA students who might be looking to develop careers within the live industry. Combining an MA project with a functioning music venue has amazing potential for career development. To find out more, please get in touch.
Check it out:
We’ve also got more new premises at 15 Bond Street, situated in the iconic North Laine area of Brighton. Here you’ll find more teaching space and a large open mezzanine area, plus it’s directly above one of the best coffee shops in Brighton. 15 Bond Street really is a creative’s haven.
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We are thrilled to welcome award-winning duo Royal Blood into the fold as WaterBear patrons. And to celebrate this partnership, we’re giving away the first ever Royal Blood Scholarship award, the recipient of which will have all of their course tuition fees paid. The scholarship applies to all current and incoming BA (Hons) students, who are studying on-site in Brighton or online. Scholarship applications are open until the end of August so if you are still considering joining us, now is the perfect time to apply.
For details of how to apply for the Royal Blood Scholarship and all Ts and Cs click here
We love innovative & forward-thinking musicians – and that is exactly why Rabea Massaad is a fantastic fit for WaterBear. Not only is he an insane guitarist, he’s a titan of YouTube and a real champion of the DIY music ethic. Students will be seeing more of Rabea from September, producing lesson content and getting involved with masterclasses and events. And it’s not only Rabea joining the team. Our tutor roster is always growing with amazing people, keen to share their skills and knowledge.
Here’s Rabea to tell you more…
Our Master’s course, the 1-year MA Music Entrepreneur, just keeps getting better! The opening of our new venue will allow all WaterBear MA students to gain invaluable experience in a real-world setting – fantastic for anyone looking to gain skills in venue and events management. Alongside this we've also launched our Production Lab, these will be optional weekly music production workshops, again available to all MA students. These workshops will offer in-depth content from our highly experienced audio production team.
And if all this wasn't enough, there’s now a tuition fee loan available of up to £11,222, meaning you can access an additional £1272 on top of your course fees for any kit, software or gear you may need. Find out more about the course here.
So you can see we’re confident this September at WaterBear is going to be epic! Our incredible, diverse and talented students and tutors bring the college to life and we can’t wait to open our doors. If you’re interested in being part of WaterBear or finding out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re ready – hope you are too!
For music artists and bands looking to grow their fan base, a great website remains an important tool. It’s an exciting time when producing a website as it’s your “home”. It’s a place where fans can easily discover you and your music, and then hopefully go on to be paying customers and superfans who champion your work.
But getting website traffic isn’t easy. Competition for your fans' time is highly competitive.
If you want to get more people visiting your website, try implementing these eight tips:
By creating amazing content that attracts fans, they could feel compelled to share on social media and expose you to a wider audience.
If you’re not creating content that emotionally connects with your fans, you risk being lost in the millions of pieces of content published each month. You will need to create unique, attractive, inherently valuable, share-worthy content that speaks for itself.
With a productive social media strategy, whenever you create a piece of content, share it multiple times across your social media profiles in different ways.
Repurposing is a great way to refresh content without repeating yourself.
When you share your content on social media, understand which format works best for each platform you choose to work with.
Each time you publish something valuable on your website, you can send a link out to your email list which will organically bring visitors to your site.
The bigger your email list, the more people you’ll get to your website.
One of the most effective ways to build your list is by giving away something in exchange for an email address. The giveaway, called a ‘lead magnet’, is valuable content that people can get once they hand over their email address. For example: exclusive music, downloads, blogs, live streams, premium content which is unavailable anywhere else.
Guest posting on someone else’s website or social media allows you to tap into a new audience.
If you have something valuable to offer, that will be of interest to others, research other websites that relate to your subject matter. It doesn’t necessarily always need to be just about music. Consider popular culture, trending topics, and current news.
If you want to stand out and have the opportunity to post on someone else’s platform, you’ll need to be unique in your pitch. It’s not just about you getting in front of the audience, it’s also about you adding value to their audience.
Forums and Facebook groups can be great sources of traffic for your website if you know what you’re doing.
These platforms will want you to participate in the conversation that’s happening in the group itself, not simply spamming the group with your music links. You’ll need to answer people's questions, contribute your thoughts, ask questions, and add something significant to the conversation.
If you’re an active member then you can share the occasional link to relevant content on your site. But only share a link to your website when it’s relevant to the conversation. Don’t force your music on people.
If you can get an influencer with a large social media audience to share your content with their audience, it can be a huge boost for your website traffic.
One of the most effective strategies for getting others to share your content is to quote or reference them via social media tagging. Be sure to make sure your social media content is really easy to understand, fast. Asking a question is a great starting point. This could begin the journey of building a relationship and having your content shared to a wider audience.
Always be on the lookout for ways to collaborate with other people who also have their own audience. The obvious collaboration is releasing music with another artist. However, there are many other methods to explore.
For example, collaboration is very common in the YouTube world and one way creators build up their subscriber base. Instead of trying to build an audience all by yourself, you can team up with others and mutually benefit each other.
Advertising on the likes of Facebook and Instagram is a cost effective way to get traffic directly to your website. Yes, it does cost money (unlike the other strategies listed so far).
But if you’re willing to spend a little bit of cash on content that’s already proven to be successful, you can get a lot of specific traffic to your site and not pay loads doing it.
The good news is that you can start implementing the above tactics immediately and get more website traffic. Always be sure to start small and work smart. Begin with one tactic, focus on it, and learn how to do it effectively. Then move onto the next only when you’re ready to.
If you start implementing these strategies one by one, at the right time, you’ll begin to see an increase in your website traffic.
Happy New Year, I hope you are feeling ready for 2020. If not, let this blog be a reminder that this is your year!
The holidays are a time for eating, drinking and being with family. As a musician, the holidays can also provide a wave of well-paid function gigs which give way to financial risk as January draws in (sorry, I know I moved past the cheer quite quickly).
If you are an original artist, you may have realised that avoiding a December release will stop your art getting lost amongst the holiday noise. January will be your month and the start of a whole new cycle of release and promotion. So, let's discuss how to monetise your career as an artist.
This year, if you are not already, you are going to treat your artistic pursuits through the lens of being a business owner. You are a business, and you need to organise yourself as such. This will help you maximise your reach and potential to make a profit.
The first aspect of planning is the assessment of your goals. In the next twelve months, consider what you want to achieve and whether it will improve your career? Make sure you implement the right action that will take your career from amateur to pro.
Are you going to release an album, EP or Single? This depends on where you are within your career. If it's an album, the assumption is that you are in an advanced stage of your project. You have an established fanbase and a few prior releases under your belt. And, perhaps a strategically placed album will give you gravitas as an artist?
However, if you are starting out, it’s worth considering whether an album is the best thing to release. An album's success relies on having a fanbase to release it too. It's a costly exercise, in both terms of budget and time. That means you will be looking to recoup, and feel as though it’s not a wasted endeavour.
Even if your career is established, a series of singles or EP’s can create high levels of sustained engagement on your socials. In fact, singles seem to be a release format that best apply to the social media culture of fast and disposable content. Due to the endless sea of digital content attention spans can afford to be shorter. Therefore, having reoccuring calls to action will be a huge benefit to your career as an artist.
With all that considered, you could plan your next twelve months like this;
Winter - Single
Spring - Single
Summer - Single
Autum - EP/Album
Do bear in mind that releasing an album in the last quarter of the year could lead to problems with the festive noise. So, you need to be strategic and time it right. To add, this is not a cast-iron plan, you can adapt what you want to release and when. However, the main takeaway should be to keep it consistent and don’t let the buzz drop off.
Merchandise is one of the biggest money-spinners in an artists toolkit. It can become so profitable, that it outweighs the money made from recorded music and live ticket sales. You have at least two avenues for selling merchandise; live and online. The age-old way of selling merchandise is on the stand after your show (if you need some help with this check out our channel for some tips). This can range from T-shirts, Vinyl, badges and even bottle openers.
You know the social media following you have been cultivating? Well, it's also social marketplace. You can sell t-shirts and the like via your Facebook, Instagram or any other platform you are using. Remember to be smart with it, price it correctly. If it costs you £8 per unit to print a t-shirt, plus a designer fee for the logo, then it can take some time before you start to see any profit.
One suggestion is to aim for a 50% cost to profit margin. Which means if you spend £5 on the accumulated value of manufacture, then you’d sell the merchandise for £10. This economic shrewdness allows you to reinvest into additional merchandise while making a profit. Be inventive, and create your Merch like you create your music, with care and detail. If you create something cool, I guarantee it will sell.
Don't forget to consider supply and demand. How big is your following and Gig attendance? If you are starting out and the following is low, your efforts should be on creating a market to foster demand.
Right, you now have some assets to market. You have your release, you have merchandise, and you need a way of getting it out to an audience.
There are many factors to consider, how established is your project, your pre-existing channels and the demographics of your primary audience. Where do they exist? Is it Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? This is a deep subject, with infinite nuances along the way. And in it that, plenty of scopes to get lost and not achieve your objectives.
Herein lies the first part of clarity, what are your goals in the marketing campaign? Are you looking to sell t-shirts to a fan base? Do you want to extend your reach? Or is it Spotify playlisting that is the essential metric? In all honesty, a successful campaign will incorporate a mixture of these things - and will have multiple goals.
To reach all your aims, allow yourself the time to do. There is no point contacting journalists to review your work 24hrs before its release. You need lead times, and you need to organise your campaign as such.
Get out Excel, Numbers or even simple to-do list - start by writing it down, assign durations of the task and plot this into a visual representation of your work. Gantt charts/pie charts / Kanban work boards - use whatever works for you, but make sure you organise your career this year and achieve your potential.
Today, I want to talk about how to make £100 a day on Merch. Having a career in music is dependent on sustainability, and in my book, this is the key to professional freedom.
The thing is we live in an age where music is essentially free, streaming royalties are very insignificant and people are still using P2P file sharing. This is why merchandise is incredibly important, it makes your performance career and studio output sustainable. Suddenly, your recorded music that normally has very little commercial online value, is worth £10 again on the merch stand. It’s a high margin and a serious product. Let's find out how to make the absolute most out of your merch table’s potential.
Whilst it’s tempting to be creative with potential formats of merch, the big sellers are still going to be your t-shirts. As attractive as vinyl is, it will sit there, and you will still sell more CD’s. This is not due to playability but it’s a handy thing to get the band to sign.
By all means, if you want to create lighters, cigarette papers or more novelty items and have them on the stand, do it! They are good talking points and you may sell a few. However, when you look at the tour accounts, you’ll see the big sellers are t-shirts and CDs.
So, that’s the gig, however this video is all about making £100 per day from merchandise. The stand works on the road. You only need to sell ten t-shirts for £10 and you have made the one hundred. What about the days where you are not touring?
On your downtime you can sell an awful lot of Merchandise from the band website, or if you must, a digital distribution platform. There is a different headspace here, you’ll see more exciting merchandise with higher prices playing a part. People in bands can take a few tips from Youtubers, who are putting out items with much higher design quality, higher prices, and a larger margin.
At the end of the day, what you are selling, is cool. People will spend anything to buy in a bit of cool for themselves. This is an opportunity to take YouTube standards, apply it to band merchandise and elevate your product. Consequently, this could lead you to sell £100 of Merch a day. It’s just a question of the design being good enough and providing value.
While it can be attractive to take an advance from a merchandise company, you will lose control of your item's price points. Nobody can look after fans like the band can. If you are swayed by that advance, get the calculator out and work out how much that money is costing. Common sense will take you back to the point of doing it yourself. A direct relationship with your fan is the key to financial security.
That also goes for distribution, fans usually prefer to buy direct from the band. If you farm this out to a digital distribution platform, you’ll make less, and the customer service cannot be as good. They will also charge you 15% of the gross, so you will lose money.
There is an opportunity here, if you are sending out most of your merch directly and making the most out of the financial side of the deal, you can go the extra mile and demonstrate value with small touches such as sending a nice little handwritten note from the band. This is a very different transaction than doing it through a third party. The bands I have spoken to say that they have sold an extra 25% from their site as opposed to a digital distribution platform because of the direct fan relationship. Loyal fans will come back time and time again, you’ll get a rebound effect and your sales will stack.
Your only limitation here is energy and creativity. This could easily be developed into a clothing brand, why have one t-shirt when you could have twenty? You can develop a back catalog - remember you cannot download t-shirts. A T-Shirt is still an item with real physical value, so let’s make the most of it.
Even a mid-level band could easily shift a few thousand CD’s and five hundred t-shirts with an album launch. That’s £25,000 gross with a relativity high margin. This type of money will keep your band in rehearsals, it will pay for the design and a couple of videos and that’s just in the first week of sales.
There is still money in music, and there is still money in DIY music. There is a long-term future in that direct relationship with a small group of superfans. A great quality merch stand that is pinned is a really good investment at this point. To keep you going, here is a list of recommended merch manufacturers;
You now have an understanding of the core business, products and figures, you have a great design, you have established a distribution network, and perhaps even an overarching clothing brand. You may be getting excited as this is where the money is. Merchandise is not just part of the game; it is THE game.
Now is the point where you can be creative, bands have produced merchandise that ranges from teabags to tea towels to coffee to beer and to the more bizarre. Put any suggestions you have seen in the comments below and do let me know what sold well for your band.
Thanks for reading, if you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus
- ‘Water bear’ is the common name for a Tardigrade.
- Tardigrades are micro creatures, found everywhere on earth.
- They are the most resilient creatures known.
- They can survive and adapt to their surroundings, even in outer space.
- Their resilience and ability to adapt and survive inspires us in everything we do. We love them.