A lot of bands are in a place where they need advice. They’ve gotten their music recorded, they’ve got their band together, great achievements to be sure, but they don’t seem to know where thy need to be moving next. At this point, a lot of artists would say that they need a manager, but the fact of the matter is that most managers who know what they would need to do to reach the next level would essentially be working for free. It doesn’t make sense for effective managers to be doing five hours of work a month for a band every month with the hope that two years down the line it might start to pay off. But what if there was another way? Something people could do in order to find out what they need to do but keep things financially realistic and practical for everyone involved? It seems like a solution from the business world has presented itself to us.
The answer seems to be consulting. Bands need people who can help them construct a narrative, find the correct PR solutions for them, help them hook up with fitting record labels and booking agencies and generally guide them forward such that they can find a way to grow their brand. As we’ve discussed time and time again on this site, the music industry is all about establishing a brand these days, so why shouldn’t we be willing to hire people to help us to establish that brand? What a consultant can do for you, is allow you to identify ways to save money and drive your career forward in a way that is actually meaningful. Instead of the meandering process that seems to dictate so many bands careers a consultant can help to make sure that every dollar made is going to pay for the best possible next step.
Of course this doesn’t mean that your work as a band is done. You still have accounts payable and tasks that need to be completed if you want to keep moving forward. The role of the consultant is merely to tell you where you need to be putting your money and how you need to be moving forward with those funds. In the long run, this will actually save you a ton of time and money because it will stop you from making the beginner mistakes that most of your peers are going to have to learn the hard way. This isn’t because they are stupid, but because the music industry is a nightmare and quite frankly more twisted than the legendary Gordian Knot. You simply are not going to be able to find all of the most effective solutions, and a consultant just might actually be able to. After all – if you’re constructing a team, doesn’t it make sense to have someone directing it for you? Of course it’s the implementation that really matters.
So how does this work? I keep saying how great this partnership can be, but I haven’t clarified how it should organize itself. It seems to me that the best way to organize it is a monthly pay structure. This guarantees that you are going to get the attention of your consultant, and of course, the more you pay him the more accessible he will be for you. While a billable hour system might not be the most effective, expecting to pay $20-40 an hour in addition to a retainer (Depending on the privileges you are seeking) seems like it would be a reasonable introductory level. This should translate to at least a few hundred bucks a month, a consultant can only get so much done per hour. Of course – this is a lot to invest, so you want to be sure that you are working with someone who you can trust. This has always been the case in the music industry though, and making sure that the person you want to pay to help you out is not scamming you is a story for a different day.
The other way that the pay structure can work is on a per project basis. This might make more sense with a band who has direction but would like some guidance to move forward with their album release or tour schedule or something along those lines. That being said, there are a lot of issues with this kind of model, largely because you’re probably paying less than the consultant might charge as a monthly fee and asking for something that often requires a several month commitment. This could end up with you getting burnt a little bit in your development process because the consultant may be less interested than he otherwise could be. The problem being, if you didn’t take his advice leading up to this point then you probably are going to be in a difficult place for him to start from scratch. Still if you’re operating on a budget, something like this might be helpful for you to start getting things moving forward in the right direction for your band in order to guarantee a more successful album release.
This is not necessarily a system that is going to work for everyone. A lot of bands tend to have a strong understanding of the industry and a lot of connections o their own – they can figure out their own path whilst periodically asking for advice from old friends. But for a majority of acts, there are some things that music industry professionals understand that your peers in bands might never get. That’s not an indictment on any specific groups, but simply a reflection on how this whole thing works. You’re going to need to find your own path forward as you navigate this industry of broken hearts and fall aparts and having a consultant who has seen it all before can be very helpful.