Don’t wanna miss updates from Indie Cebu? Subscribe to our mailing list today and get exclusive content straight in your mailbox!
I’ll go ahead and say it – music is essentially business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in it for the money or you just want to express yourself and deliver a message, you need to keep busy, put in a lot of work, and make a lot of deals to achieve what you’ve set out to do.
And just like in any business, deals are basically a “value exchange” and you get the best deals when you’ve got value to give. Admittedly, value is a lot more subjective (and definitely harder to build) when it comes to music compared to other industries. Fortunately, there are a few ways to understand and build your value as an artist.
Make Great Music
We have to start with the most important thing in the list. No matter how great your branding is and how many people follow you on the web, it’s just impossible to build any value if your work can’t speak for itself. That means the songs you write and the performances you give are the single biggest factor in how people will value you.
As a musician, the primary thing you should be working on is your music (pretty obvious, right?). Whether your music is good or bad is a matter of opinion, but something that’s unarguably a good thing is making music that suits your message. Whether you want to make people dance or get them crying, are you able to do that with the music you’re putting out?
In addition to the music itself, another thing that matters is how you make your music available to listeners. For tips on getting your music available on major digital platforms, check out my article on music distribution services.
Tell Your Story
The stories you attach to your name and music – from how your band was formed to a funny anecdote from the last gig you did – is a huge addition to your value. Some call it “content”, but content is only really worth anything if it tells a compelling story about you.
There are a lot of ways to go about this in the age of social media. A simple post on your Facebook fan page can go a long way. Complement that with other media – perhaps a vlog of your latest tour or an article someone wrote about you – and you can slowly build up a valuable story. One of the most successful bands in Melt Records’ roster, Loop, does a great job of telling their story through social media. The value it adds is easy to see.
Grow Your Following
When it comes to your following, you can go for quality or you can go for quantity, and you can definitely go for both. It doesn’t matter what you aim for, as long as you are actually aiming at something. Your following is definitely going to factor into your value when it comes to making deals.
You can start with your social media numbers as an indicator of how well you’re doing in this aspect. But the value of your following goes well beyond that. How far would your fans go to watch you play live? Would they actually buy your albums? Do they know your story and do they talk about you? Most importantly, are these the fans you would actually want to be associated with? Engaging them is the only way you can find out.
Expand Your Network
Like in any other business, a good network of collaborators is essential to building value. Being associated with other bands in your local area or co-branding with a popular event production could open up a lot of opportunities for you to book more shows, collaborate on digital content, and even work together on your next album.
The beautiful thing about it is that the idea scales whether you’re an indie music virgin or the biggest star in the world. Big pop acts definitely do it. They collaborate with other big acts and it’s a great way to cross over to other audiences (and possibly help someone new get their great start).
Build Your Reputation
This is more of a supplement to the last two points, but this can be a huge multiplier for your value. Once you’ve built up a good following and a good network, you need to make an effort to sustain these relationships. Keeping a good reputation with your fans and the people you work with is key to achieving this.
If you have a history of skipping gigs without any notice or vandalizing property at venues, it’s going to be no surprise you won’t have that contact for very long. On the other hand, if you make a name for going the extra mile to engage your fans and consistently commit to giving your best to your collaborators, you’re definitely landing word-of-mouth referrals to other great gigs, at the very least.
A lot of artists are afraid that even thinking about value amounts to selling out. I can say with confidence that shouldn’t be the case. Whatever you want to do, knowing your value and working to build it only makes it easier for you to make your best music ever.
At Melt Records, we love helping artists and bands build value. We’d love to see how we can help you. Send us an email via email@example.com or send us a message on our Facebook page, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.