Whoever Cares The Least Wins

The following is an excerpt from our book Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business. To get a free excerpt or learn more, please head to this website. 

I know that phrase sounds crazy, but it’s true. One of the reasons you’re going to build your fanbase–without begging people you’ve never met to get involved–is so that you’re not desperate to get help from anyone who comes along. You need to be exceptional and self-sufficient, so you don’t sign with “professionals” who might destroy your future. There have been countless musicians who signed with the first team member that came around. Even though these team members weren’t good enough to handle their talent, they signed on with them and then had their potential sunk when opportunities were squandered away.

Sadly, that happens everyday. Talk to any musician that had a good buzz and went nowhere. They will usually tell you the reason they failed was they trusted their career to someone who didn’t carry their weight. They trusted a manager or label to do something for them and, eventually, momentum died and they were no longer a rising star–they were falling fast. It’s sad when you see an act you think are amazing that never takes off. Often, the hidden story behind that failure is that they trusted team members who ended up dropping the ball.

You need to gain momentum and make progress promoting your music on your own. This way, when a record label comes along–that you aren’t totally convinced is the right fit–you can say, “I don’t care if we sign with them, we’re doing fine without their help.” Even if you don’t sign with the label, you still win. You’re self-sufficient, raising awareness every day and continually expanding your fanbase. So even if you don’t sign with the label, you are still operating full steam ahead. Eventually, a worthwhile manager or label will come knocking and you’ll be able to work with them, strengthening your team even more.

Additionally, if you’ve been doing the groundwork that comes along with building a fanbase, you’ve become familiar with almost every job that is part of the process. This makes it easier to determine whether a potential team member is competent and a worthy addition.

This is the philosophy I have brought to any group I have worked with. I want the group to work as hard as it can on its own–and if someone worthwhile takes notice and can help us grow, we add them to our team. If not, we keep trucking along, knocking down doors and making sure the world notices how great we’re doing on our own. This always makes potential team members take notice. Instead of begging people to listen to your music, you can demand attention by making them interested in you.

If someone asks to be a part of your team, they have to prove they’re capable of pulling their weight and being on board. On the other hand, if you’re writing people emails and begging them to work with you, they won’t feel the need to work as hard because of how desperate you were to have them on in the first place. After all, you should be grateful they even gave you the time of day. Never be desperate for help. Instead, take charge of promoting your music so that you never waste time begging people for their assistance.

A lot of musicians trust team members who don’t pull their weight and are too short-sighted to recognize the problem before it slows down their momentum and kills their dreams. You want to be able to create momentum on your own so you’re never in the position of having to take on a lackluster team member.

Even if your ultimate goal is to get signed to a label and have a manager take care of everything for you, you have to work hard to build a team to make this possible. You can’t become a rock star who dates celebrities and plays video games all day without promoting yourself and getting noticed early on, making it so you can’t be ignored. Waiting around and hoping to be discovered from an email or half-filled live show is a fool’s game.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.