Manage Me? Manage What!


" You need a great team if you want to win" - 9th Wonder 


   In it to win it. Music is a team sport. Achieving whatever goals for success you have put in place for yourself as an artist is winning. Although we are constantly presented the idea of DIY these days, having the right team in place is crucial to artist's success in today's environment. 


 Recording, distributing and marketing your product can all be done for almost nothing. And because of social media and streaming service fans have access to infinite music and an unlimited amount of bands. This new playing field creates the challenge of setting yourself apart and building a sustainable career. Starting off you will fill most of these roles yourself which will help you understand the importance of each position.


" At a certain point you have to realize that you cannot do this alone. Being able to focus on specific tasks and having others to do the same, whilst working towards a common goal, is not only more efficient but expedient" - Jean Grae


The American College Dictionary defines "team" as: "a number of persons associated in some joint action."  We all have limitations, we strengthen our limitations when we partner with people who are skilled in a spcific area. Tasks are completed faster when you have more people working together. In today's entertainment market, fans expect artists to be engaged with them, they expect constant content and dialogue across all platforms. Fans demand more music, more videos and personal contact. Building a team is imperative to meet the demands of entertainment fans today.


How do you determine if you need a team at this point in your career? I am a huge advocate of list making. Make a list of everything that needs to get done on a regular basis: social media, networking, creating email lists, newsletter, contacting promoters, sending music to blogs etc. Make a second list of your sources of revenue: shows, merchandise, music sales etc.


"It is important to have a great team behind you because winning in any facet is all about team work. From sports to politics the brains behind a successful campaign usually see's things differently from the candidate. The coach or manager of a successful team 9 times out of ten has a broader perspective than the athletes themselves. Everyone needs to search hi and low for the Phil Jackson of their specific needs when it comes to building a successful team."- Pharoahe Monch


So who do you need on your team and how do you find them? Depending on your particular situation but generally a Manager is the first draft pick. Kinda like the Quarterback - he/she will run the plays. A good manager will help you navigate your career as well as help build the rest of the team you will need as your brand grows. Many start up artists find themselves utilizing a supporter such as a friend or close associate as a Manager since the 15-20% payouts may be few and far between while buzz is still growing. Having an effective Manager on your team will allow you to focus more on the creative side of things while he/she advises you on business manuevers that will enhance your presence and ensure a proper strategy for success is being laid out and followed. As the demand for your product grows a Booking Agent is a great asset to your team. They assist in securing performance opportunities for you. Since they negotiate on your behalf, a reputable Booking Agent with the right connects can boost your visibility nationally by acquiring shows and tour placements. Eventually the need for a Music Attorney and Business Manager may come in to play once you start to earn a significant amount of income. Your Manager will know when the time is right to add those players to your squad.


Today's market is unlike anything the Music Industry has seen before. A social media saavy team is imperative to ensure you can compete in the streaming world and understanding how to leverage your presense on these internets! Hits are not a one person success story. There is strategy behind the song released, the timing of the song, the artwork representing the song, the hashtags to promote the song and so on. Never forget that a strong product is what your team needs to push, though. In the end, as they say, Music goes in your ears and not your eyes. Providing your team with a sound they can get behind makes you the most important person on the team.


Keep in mind.There are many types of teams in music besides the standard operating team I mentioned above. Songwriters may find it more beneficial to first find a Producer or Engineer they want to work with before locating a Manager for instance. A Producer may want to establish a working agreement with a Studio owner before obtaining a Manager and eventually a Publishing company. Establish first your goals, identify your needs and create a strategy for success that you can offer to any prospects you are interested. Discuss those goals for with your team, be open to accepting their guideance and commit to being the best part of the team you can be!

#FAM: Building Industry Relationships

You Are the Product

The question I get asked most often is how to market and brand effectively. My response is generally, "What is your goal?" That question is often met with silence. Surprisingly, many artists haven't thought too deeply about their target audience, their sales goals, or the strategy to reach their goal. In today's market, especially in the underground as well as the up & coming scene, YOU are your own public relations, marketing firm, and sales team. Having a firm goal and personal measure of success is critical in manifesting your dream.

How do I set a goal?

Success is personal. I can't define it for you and you can't define it for me. It could be financial freedom, or personal fulfillment. It could also be radio play, or getting signed to a major label. First you have to figure out what success means to you, and be practical. It is easier to deal with reality, than set yourself up for disappointment.

How do you get to success?

What are the stops along the way that will help you continue to your destination? What are the possible roadblocks? Do you have a support system set up for encouragement and assistance to reach this goal? These are questions you should be asking yourself when planning for success. 

In today's market YOU are your own public relations, marketing firm, and sales team. Having a firm goal and personal measure of success is critical in manifesting your dream.


I generally recommend setting multiple small goals that eventually and collectively amount to reaching the final goal. This is where effective branding and marketing come into play. If you are an artist then you are a product. The whole you. From the hair on your head to the toenails on your feet. You are not just selling your art, you are selling a product. We will use the financial king of the independent world TechN9ne for an example. The critical combo to his success is his image and his art. He realized the importance of providing a product that stands out dynamically. Everything is about BEING the product. Tech N9ne success is over 11 million dollars with no major label nor radio play.

Once you decide what the product you are pushing entails (your sound, your look and the combination of the two) it is time to figure out WHO you are pushing your product to. You need to figure out who your audience is, and how you are going to reach them. Everything needs to be from the customer / fan point of view. Merchandise and performance touring drives Tech N9ne's sales, while his image creates a culture.

Marketing is the strategic method to attract customers / fan base to your product. It's directed towards your target market, and is all about drawing in new business, as well as maintaining existing interests. The development of marketing goals takes brainstorming of your general business goals, AND researching current trends in your market.

We have covered a lot in this article,  the follow up article will be about how to use social networking to help accomplish these goals. 

Satori Ananda is Chief of Staff at W.A.R. Media,LLC , personal assistant to CEO's Guy Routte & Pharoahe Monch and responsible for artist operations under the W.A.R. Media Roster of managed artists : Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Big Rock (Rock of Heltak Skeltah), Da Dreak and more. Founding member of The Community Centre (The CC8), and Production Assistant on Jean Grae's Life With Jeannie sitcom. In addition to community activism and social justice organizing, Satori has worked with names like Brand Nubian, dead prez, Erykah Badu, Wutang Killer Bee's, Homeboy Sandman, J-Live and is a frequent collaborator with Duck Down Records. 



Satori Ananda is Chief of Staff at W.A.R. Media,LLC , personal assistant to CEO’s Guy Routte & Pharoahe Monch and responsible for artist operations under the W.A.R. Media Roster of managed artists : Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Big Rock (Rock of Heltak Skeltah), Da Dreak and Mystic. In addition to community activism and social justice organizing, Satori has worked with names like Brand Nubian, dead prez, Erykah Badu, Wutang Killer Bee’s, Homeboy Sandman, J-Live and is a frequent collaborator with Duck Down Records.


#Fam. That word is often used to demonstrate how cool two people are or to attempt to ease a person into a casual setting. #Fam is the reminder that It's not just who you know, it's who knows YOU. defines a relationship as a connection, association or involvement. I know I might have just scared a bunch of commitophobes with those kinda words but I can’t emphasize enough that turning contacts into functioning relationships is crucial in developing a successful music career.  


"This relationship shit is complicated" Jay Z "Jay Z Blue"


There is value in strategic relationship and by meeting people, and creating connections with intentions you are leveraging yourself for success in a convoluted industry. Experts say 30% of our designated work time should be dedicated to enhancing relationships with people who can assist you presently or in the future. The problem is some of us aren't good at relating or don't know how to begin these relationships. I've decided to help. I like to think of myself as a professional social worker, it's work and it's social. So, let’s get this work!


#Flare (camouflaged for swag)

I have to call it flare cuz ya'll done over used swag so much I risk losing my relationships even using that word. What I mean by flare is your contact info. This is the first step to take before building relationships. Get your presentation together. Do you have business cards? Do you have an EPK on Sonicbids with the link listed on your cards? Do you have your logo on anything you hand out for contact that demonstrates a sincerity in your branding?




Identify who you want to engage with and where they are likely to be. You have to have a plan. Strategize everything like a battle, YOU are a relationship warrior. LOL well, whatever you need to tell yourself to get prepared. 


The promoters. These guys. You need them. They need you. It's mutualistic, a symbiosis if you will.  Start here. Find out who is putting on the shows you want to be on. Research the company and then reach out.  When possible, introduce yourself at the show so they know you have experienced their product first hand when you contact them at a later date.


The writers. Bloggers have the megaphone! You should get to know as many bloggers, Instagram champs, twitter fames etc. as possible. The social media darlings are allies that can help grow your name at a very rapid pace. 


The tools. There are companies like Sonicbids that have already successfully invested in establishing relationships with venues, festivals and promoters all over the world. You can benefit from their contacts and build a relationship with them which in turn gives you access to their Rolodex. Look into services like theirs for maximum time management in building show opportunities while you work on other areas.


Workshops, panels, and professional events where industry greats are scheduled to speak are some of the best places to make contacts that can potentially turn out to be productive relationships. A3C is my favorite networking event. Make plans to get there. 




So you have managed to find yourself in the place and spaces you need to be, around the people you planned to build with. Personality matters. Reciprocity matters and the ability to maintain and sustain these new involvements is your focus. Knowing how to take it from introduction to the next step is a skill!


Don't be a conversation hog. It's rude. If you approach someone you find interesting and want to continue building with them exchange information and follow up in a few days. Holding someone hostage at events is just not cool or a good start in forging any sort of connection. Keep it G after a few sentences, and by G  I mean going. 


Don't be so quick to give cd’s away if not solicited for one. For instance, if I am at a show or some other event, especially if I am there to enjoy myself when people hand me cd's IT SUCKS. I don't want to walk around with your cd in my hand all night. The truth is when I pick up a drink, I am putting down your cd, and it is now a coaster. To be honest, almost every professional artist I have been with discards the ones that are handed to them as well.  Hand out a card with a link to your EPK or site. This is what is appropriate when you are just out networking. 


Photos. I know you want to take pics with people so do I. But if you are trying to do business don't turn into a fan and ask for a picture. This puts you on an equal playing field with a person you are trying to do business with in the future. If you must have this pic, have a predetermined person on hand that can say, " hey can I get a pic of ya'll". 




When you follow up with someone always mention something they are working on or are a part of as an introduction. Avoid sentences like I am such a fan if you are trying to establish a working relationship with someone who is unfamiliar with your services or talents.


Offer your services to people you want to do business with. For instance, if you are a studio producer and have access to recording equipment offer trade for services. This is the best and fastest way to building great relationships! There are all types of combination scenarios this works well with. Be creative in how you can benefit someone while they benefit you. 


Reciprocate. At some point you may be on someone else's list of people they need to build a relationship with, remember what it was like trying to establish relationships with people in the industry and be open to giving them same consideration you desired.


And never forget there are only 6 degrees of separation and everyone knows everyone. That can be great and terrible at the same time. Maintain yourself as a professional and it works in your favor every time!


Opportunities will arise out of successful relationships. Research, reach out and relate!