It’s incredible how much goal setting and being organized will, like any business, help a band get to where they want to go” – Heather Kelly
What’s the story behind Musi Artist Development? How did it come together?
I began to see this gap between emerging talent and the education and support to help such artists succeed. Bands lacked planning. They lacked the mentality that ‘a band is a business’ and the know-how to implement their project as such. They were in need of someone/something with a strong business sense and knowledge of the music industry to help set them straight, put their goals on paper and provide them with the tools to leverage their careers on their own.
And so began the evolution of MUSI – a three-phase program dedicated to helping emerging musicians reach their goals. We help bands develop a plan, we help them implement that plan over a duration of months and eventually build bands to a point where we manage their career.
What do you think the greatest challenge is to artists trying to build a career in music?
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]The fact that literally anyone can produce and promote his or her own music results in a hell of a lot of noise.[/pullquote]
Standing out amidst the noise. It’s such a DIY industry now – we can each go home today, write/record some songs on our Macbook, put them up on a website we built in half an hour, book a couple of gigs and even a small tour across the country.
The fact that it’s that easy and that literally anyone can produce and promote his or her own music results in a hell of a lot of noise. It’s become such a competition to stand out and be heard.
While I believe a great band will eventually find their way through it all with the right amount of hard work and exposure, it’s one hell of a struggle to get there. And once you’re “there” it doesn’t mean it’s easy to stay afloat for long.
The biggest question is probably something along the lines of, “we’ve done A,B & C to get us to where we are. Now what?” My advice: PLAN. Sit down as a group (or with a MUSI consultant!), discuss where you’re at now, where you’d like to be and write down the steps you need to take to get there.
Be thorough. Set deadlines. Gain some perspective on the next few years of your band’s career – it’s incredible how much goal setting and being organized will, like any business, help a band get to where they want to go.
At what point do you suggest to a band that they’re ready to head into the studio?
Experience in the studio and a well-produced record is invaluable at any stage in a musician’s career. I’d suggest a band heads to/returns to the studio if they don’t have any decent quality recordings at all, the last recording was poorly produced or they’ve worked their last album to its full potential.
Sadly, albums have a limited lifespan these days when it comes to marketing the material. It’s important to consistently produce new material to keep fans and industry talking and listening.
How important of a role do you think audio quality plays into the success of a song, album, or band?
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]Don’t mess around with poor audio.[/pullquote]
It’s huge. Assuming the band makes great music, poor audio won’t do the songs justice. A band’s recorded work can often be the listener’s first impression – it can ultimately make or break potential fans and opportunities. Don’t mess around with poor audio.
What are some ways bands can better prepare themselves to attract management or label attention? What tools are a “must-have”?
I created MUSI because there was so much talent in this city but a serious lack of some “must-have’s.” Before building any team around them, a band should have: experience (performing, touring, sharing the stage with higher profile bands), a strong industry presence (website, social media, videos, press, reviews), a decent audience draw (especially in your home town), a sense of longevity (Have they been together for awhile? Is this a hobby or a full-time project? Does their music have staying power?) and, most importantly, have produced GREAT music and have a solid live show to back it up.
You can (and should) build strength in each of these categories without the help of management or label – and I assure you, should you have built up most of this on your own, garnering that industry attention will come easily.
How do you find the role of artist management/development has changed as the music industry gets increasingly digital?
As mentioned earlier, with digital innovations a band nowadays can (and should) take their development into their own hands. They can write, record, promote, book, fundraise, network, etc. without the help of any third party.
It’s an exciting time to be an independent musician – there is the freedom and opportunity to take your career into your own hands and really make something of yourself without hiring out.
That being said, the musician now has to be a jack-of-all-trades – a business consultant, a lawyer, an accountant, publicist, fundraiser/grant writer, booker, promoter – and still find time to write, record, rehearse and perform good music, all while usually holding down a full or part-time job.
The need for artist management and development is still very prominent now but needed differently than it ever used to be. It’s far less about getting your artist signed or acting as the liaison between label/band as it is business development; heading up the business side of the project, building strategies to increase visibility and leveraging the band to create numerous sources of revenue.
As a manager, who would be your dream client?
I’d love to experience what it’s like to work with big budgets, large scale productions, manage a huge team, travel, negotiate hefty contracts, etc., with a band… and I’d probably pick Bon Iver. I could watch and listen to Justin Vernon every minute of everyday until I die.
Head over to Musi Artist Development for a more in-depth explanation of their 3-step development program. You can check out some of the artists Heather manages at their upcoming shows:
Friday May 25th – Royal Ontario Musem, Toronto – 8:00pm
Friday May 25th – NOW Lounge, Toronto – 9:00pm
Friday May 25th – Babylon, Ottawa