– By Simon Pursehouse et al.
“What a difference a day makes” crooned Dinah Washington back in 1959, and if she thought that in a world where we didn’t have rolling news, social media and Donald Trump then one can only imagine what on earth she’d have sung these days. Cast your mind back to 2014 when we asked some of the music industry’s brightest and best minds to finish the same simple statement;
“If I was an emerging artist and I had £1,000 to spend then…”
As we had answers from pluggers, managers, A&Rs, music supervisors, journalists, publishers, labels etc. the spectrum of musings was vast and, hopefully, there was something for everyone. Three years later we posed the same riddle in 2017, resulting in a smorgasbord of other wonderful ideas. It’s fair to say the last two years have been ever so slightly eventful, you know, the world seemingly imploding around us both politically and climatically and all that, so we thought it was about time for a refresh.
Have a read and please feel free to agree/disagree/shout/scream into the digital void etc.
Simon Pursehouse | Sentric Music | @Pursehouse
Given the state of literally everything everywhere at the moment I’m semi tempted to say “buy bottled water and canned food”, but that’d be exceptionally trite given that this is our actual blog so…
Assuming that you’ve followed my advice in 2014 and 2017’s posts (and dear lord, god bless you if you have) then I’d say the best way to spend a £1k in 2019 is on branding, imagery and targeted advertising. Do you know your key demographic? Check out this post from Sprout Social. Where are your fans? Facebook now is seemingly for parents and non-immediate family members with suspiciously right leaning political views, Instagram is full of young people talking about things I genuinely don’t understand enough to make a joke out of here. Twitter is seemingly either people sharing terrible jokes or alternatively wishing death on one another for having the slightest difference of opinion and YouTube is making genuine celebrities/millionaires out of people who have an astonishingly scarce trace of actual genuine talent (but, hey, massive fair play to them, I’m legit jealous I didn’t make a fortune in my teens for talking absolute nonsense into a webcam). Remember that it’s not *the law* to have a presence on all of these platforms, you can just choose the one(s) where you’re most likely to connect with your fans. When I first check out an artist on my social media platform of choice, the quality of their image/brand/content adds a hefty clout to their music. As much as this might make your teeth grind; if you have two artists making music of an exceptionally similar quality, I, and everyone else, is going to be drawn towards the one who have the better looking press shot, logo, music video etc. This is because I, and everyone else, are all victims of having marketing shoved down our throats twenty four hours a day since we were brought into this world so therefore we like shiny things. If you can look as good as (or even better than) you sound then you’re onto a winner. So pick your marketing platform carefully, learn about its foibles, its etiquette, its idiosyncrasies and make them work for you better than anyone else in your genre is making it work for them. And please, please, please remember this mantra; no music video is better than a shit music video.
Nathalie von Rotz | The Great Escape | @Nathalie_von
If I was an emerging artist and I had £1k to spend then I’d firstly make sure I have a timeline and an appropriate plan in place. Knowing where you’re at and where you want to go or what you want to achieve is crucial before spending any money. If you’re still very new and just had a few songs ready (shit hot ones is a must) I’d put the focus on rehearsing and playing live as much as you can – I think it’s very important to have a really strong live show right from the get go. Look for support slots initially, invite some industry folk to your shows (do your research!) and start building a fan base. With the remaining money I’d get a few cool merch items produced that you can take to your shows and hopefully sell. See how the audience reacts to your show and what songs you feel connect the best, that might help you decide what song you can release as a first single in the future. Try to travel to key showcase festivals (or even get booked to play at one of them) and network with the music industry – there are no other places where you can get as much free publicity in one place. Keep writing great songs, have fun and be nice – people are generally willing to give advice if you ask.
Vic Galloway | BBC Radio Presenter, Musician, Journalist & Author | @VicGalloway
To me, the most important thing for any emerging or new act is to have original and unique musical ideas, and then to be tight, focused and well rehearsed. There’s a lot of music in the world now, especially with the growth of cheap and high-quality home-recording and ubiquitous streaming platforms. Now you can write, record and release something almost instantaneously. However, there’s little point in a manager, label, publisher, live agent, PR company or even an audience getting involved with a new act, until they are as good as they possibly can be in the own skin. Remember that as a new act you are not only competing with every other new act, but also with heritage acts and the history of recorded music. No pressure! So with that in mind… I’d spend £1000 in the band kitty on rehearsal room time, transport and petrol, little bits of necessary equipment such as strings, leads, plectrums, guitar-strap locks etc and also some handy digital recording gear that allows you to monitor your progress. Bond as a band, write and rehearse like crazy, then listen back to yourselves to judge how strong the lyrics are, how good the melodies sound and how well you’re playing them. Can you tweak, edit and improve things? Are your tunes and words as good as those you love by other bands? If not, then keep on developing and improving. There’s no rush. This all takes time and money obviously, but is also lots of fun and part of the process of becoming a quality act in the long run. £1000 may sound like a lot initially, but it will dwindle away quickly once you start spending it. As far as I’m concerned those hours hanging out, writing and rehearsing are the most important years in the life of any musician… so it’s money well spent!
Hayley Smith | Music Supervisor for Love Island | @Hayleymartine
Recording. If I hadn’t already, I’d spend a significant chunk on getting at least a couple of tracks recorded, mixed and mastered properly with a reputable producer. We are so fortunate in this digital age that there are multiple free platforms to get music out there and in as many people’s ears as possible. I was speaking with an artist last week and he said that he managed to get a sync when he was just starting out by hassling the music supervisor about 20 times until she eventually conceded and used the song – but that would have never worked with an amateur recording.
Additionally, I’d sign up to PRS/MCPS so I could start earning money back from downloads, streams and any physical products I may or may not have produced (vinyl revival, right?!). As an emerging artist where you’re earning a minimal fee for gigs – it can at the very least assist with recouping a small amount for each performance.
Joseph Lever | MMF | @JoeLever
Firstly I would put the £1000 away until I knew sure I had at least 5/6 really, really good songs. Once I was sure I had something awesome I’d record some demos, get out there to some music industry networking events such as the FAC events (free for artists to join), Tileyard’s networking night or BBC Introducing Live (costs about a tenner) to try and meet some likeminded people to collaborate with (hopefully an up and coming producer cutting their teeth!).
I’d record a bunch of really good songs at the best deal I could cut with an emerging and talented producer. I’d then get out to some art Uni college gallery type shows and get talking to people making unique visual art that I really liked. I’d pay a student a few hundred quid to create as many cool visual assets (teasers, lyric videos, track visualisers, artwork etc) and bits to create a world around the music. I’d make sure it was all a bit bonkers and different to stand out from the crowd and attempt to cut through the noise.
I’d then get rehearsing till I knew the live show was brilliant, put a few hundred quid on hiring a venue to put on a free show and beg all my friends and family (and their friends/family!) to turn up, put on a party and borrow a film camera from someone to capture it. I’d give a friendly person a couple of beers to stand with a laptop at the door encouraging people to sign up to my fan mailing list (set up for free via MailChimp).
Meanwhile I’d be familiarising myself with Facebook advertising/paid digital marketing via some of the great free online resources available.
After that show, I’d release one of my best songs and put as much money as I had left into pushing out the song through paid Facebook advertising (using the knowledge I’d learned for free!) with the various bits of cool content I’d made over the next month, along with photos from the gig.
I wouldn’t pay a PR, but do some digging myself on key contacts I should be sending stuff to with a short, well put together email summarising why they should pay attention. I’d also utilise my new fan mailing list to get the track link out to them and encourage everyone to tell their friends…
Finally, I’d make sure I was using all the free services available via the internet – BBC Introducing Uploader, Sentric to name a few. The best things in life are free!
Joe Frankland | PRS Foundation | @Joe_Frankland
Assuming I’ve already written it, I’d spend the majority of the money working with a good producer to fine-tune and make the most of my best song – anything that sonically and structurally helps the track to stand out from all the other tracks being churned out, and ideally someone with a strong reputation who would stand out in a press release/biog. I’d promote or co-promote a launch-show and really own that gig, creating a buzz around the track and that show while spending the rest of the money covering the losses from support slots and touring. I’d spend plenty of time inviting people to that launch gig and using my networks (online and IRL) to increase the chances of being playlisted and played on the radio so that next time around, I’m in a better position to attract funding and support from the industry.
Motive Unknown | @MotiveUnknownCo
Tom (Packer, Director): “I’d consider spending some on getting your visual presence sorted, as in press shots, logo/typography of some kind. Something that will live on through all your activity. Maybe work with a graphic designer to come up with a simple, ongoing idea – think the XX, Disclosure etc. Something that can be extended across multiple formats – socials, website, press shots, live, postering, stickers, merch etc… joined up branding essentially.”
Hugo (Laing, Marketing Manager): “I’d probably say content first and foremost. “A great video. Bandcamp deffo too, but only if the genre suits. I still think YouTube is the platform where the chance to break an artist is the biggest. Look at someone like Octavian, that first video started everything for him. Same with Slowthai.”
Matt (Cheetham, Director): “Agreed, mailing list, Bandcamp and make some good content.”
Clare (Ferris, Digital Marketing Assistant): “In my last job we had this accelerator programme for musicians that were just starting out/didn’t have the means to avail of all top tier tools/equipment and it was heavily centric around the idea of having everything of one thing instead of something about everything. A lot of it was (as you guys said) having something weighty that you could present to press/radio etc without getting laughed out the front door. The most feasible things were getting good quality press shots sorted, the beginnings of building a brand with a distinguishable logo and an artist/band blog. The end goal – which was usually achieved – was to turn early-on music makers into busy, professional, creative operations with expanded teams and elevated output. Especially when you’re starting out and don’t have the people to do it for you, you need to be au fait of the business side of being a successful artist, whereas a lot of people at that stage just think “I just make the music” – so visual I’d say is a key investment for the in for a penny out for a pound realm of things”
Claire Mas | Platoon & Dream Team | @MasMusicMadness
Over the years I’ve realised that there really isn’t one approach. It really depends what the artist is good at and you need to play to your strengths.
Firstly make sure your music is shit hot. If it’s not – spend all your money on that. Instruments, rehearsal, recording, mixing and mastering. Until you have three shit hot songs (and that should not be judged by you or your mom but people who hardly like you) keep rehearsing and spending.
If that’s already done then work out what else you are really great at.
Killer at playing live? Secure an agent and spend money on tour support and tour the UK. If you’re a band maybe rent/buy a van. Make it your mission to get in front of many people as possible and make sure you capture email addresses on the road.
Take sick selfies and find it easy to make people laugh? Make sure you follow some artists that are great on socials and steal their ideas and best practises. Then maybe you want to invest the cash in making great content and then spending behind it with Facebook and Instagram ads. Make sure at least a few pieces are of you preforming. You don’t want to just establish yourself as a pretty funny face (like Simon).
Really good at socialising? Then maybe spend a good portion attending all types of networking events such as The Great Escape. Be nice. Ask for advice. Don’t ask questions off the bat that people will say no to (e.g. do you want to sign/hire me?). Follow up and thank everyone. Follow up every few months.
Music undeniable enough that you could be a press darling. Have some pretty strong opinions about buzzy topics? Well maybe then get a PR, but watch out many will take your money and give you not much in return in the early stages and there is a fair amount you can do yourself.
No matter which of these you are. You really need to sort out one really decent music video and spend 100-200 on YouTube ads to get that rolling. So make sure you put time and resources into that. Minute people hear your name they’ll be searching for you on Google/YouTube so they got to find something impressive.
And little by little you might make it. Fingers crossed.
Alex Kennedy | Music Glue Manager | @AJKendo
£1,000 is a hell of a lot of money to an emerging artist but unfortunately not a lot at all to the commercial side of the business you are trying to break into. Recording studios, rehearsal studios, touring, advertising, promo and instruments all cost a comparative fortune. So the conundrum becomes how best to spend these precious funds to help you progress the best. Before you spend even a single penny, I firmly believe in rolling your sleeves up and learning to do as much as possible for yourself so you are only spending money on specialist services that will add real value. In a world where c.50,000 songs a day are uploaded to Spotify you have to stack the deck in your favour as much as humanly possible so don’t spend money on things you can do yourself.
Google is your friend – all of the following can be learnt: 1) Teach yourself to create and place Facebook/Instagram ads 2) Teach yourself to edit video and create your own visual content. 3) Learn audience building tips on Social Media 4) Learn how to interpret your Spotify, YouTube and Apple play data so you play gigs in places that you have listeners. 5) Mailing list – capture every email you possibly can and learn the best practices of how to interact with your fanbase. 6) Set up your own store (on Music Glue!) so you can sell music, merchandise and tickets to fans on a pre-order so you don’t have to outlay cash up front. 7) Research blogs/magazines/music journalists and send your music to them 6) Use your existing network resources – have you got a friend of a friend who is in digital marketing? Can they help in return for a guest list spot to a gig. Can your cousin who is a pro tools ninja help record your next single to save money at recording studio? Draw up a list of everyone you know who could help and just be humble and ask for help!
Once you have done as much as possible to save money, then spend that £1,000 on rehearsal studios to hone your music and a small amount on FB/Instagram ads to start getting your visual content and tunes out there.
Chris Dampier | Tunecore | @chrisdampier
Can I point out what not to spend it on? I’m seeing and hearing of more and more people throwing significant amounts of money into the practice of “play-o-la”. Essentially, services promise thousands upon thousands of streams by getting songs into playlists on Spotify and Apple. For starters, it has to be pointed out that the Spotify editorial playlist submissions are free via the Spotify For Artists tool so you shouldn’t ever be paying for those services anyway. There are some legitimate third party playlist curators out there who it makes sense to target. However, simply throwing money at some random service isn’t going to get you in those playlists. If you are simply trying to get streaming numbers and you’re happy with your song being dropped into an entirely irrelevant playlist or simply having your song visit a streaming bot farm for a few days, then by all means part with that cash. However, if you’re looking to gain real human fans you’d be wiser to spend that same money on some targeted advertising on Facebook/Instagram. In no time at all you can read up on best practices for targeted ads and all of a sudden you’re targeting real humans. These people may give you a follow, a listen or signup to your mailing list and then go back for a re-listen. They might attend your show and even buy a piece of merch when you roll through their town. You could even end up targeting a music supervisor and end up with a placement. Point is, don’t pay for streams before for potential fans.
Tom Satchwell | Live Nation | @TomSSatchwell
If I had £1,000 to spend and assuming as an emerging artist I’d have sorted out the fundamentals; quality songs, quality recordings, PRS and PPL reg and socials. My £1,000 would go on building a fanatic fan base. Putting money into creating buzz around myself or the band, using content strategically over socials to build an engaged audience and database.
Best place to do that would be on tour, so I’d get on the road with the money. For the people in those rooms the aim is to connect with the crowd, stick around after the show, stay for the headliner, be there for the supports, chat to the bands, chat to the band’s team, chat to the crew, chat to the venue staff. For those not in the room, capture your moments with your fans, new or old, create recaps of shows, tour diaries, live shots, live streams – it can all be done on a shoestring.
Take what time you have and educate yourself on digital marketing, the literature is out there FOC a lot of the time, find what works and what works for you. Apply that knowledge with the content you’ve captured and find out what/who your fans are and what else they like and then target those audience pools with the relevant ads.
If you’ve got anything left over identify your top fans, engage with them and reward them where you can. Bespoke, personalised merch, early access to music (use of your database), use the available D2C platforms to get some return on your £1,000.
Brendan Walsh | Universal Music Group | @BWalsh
If I could give any new artist £1000 and some advice on how to spend it, it would have to be to invest it into something that makes you more independent.
Buy a laptop and some recording software so you can demo/write at home. Buy video editing software or photoshop so you can learn to make your content or artwork. Buy a camera maybe for the same reasons. Buy some driving lessons or a really crap beat up old van so you can make touring cheaper and travelling easier.
I think a lot of artists try to run before they can walk because people only see the successful stories and don’t understand there was 4/5 years that a fan never saw. Where you as the artist will probably sitting on your instrument in the back of a hatchback whilst you drive to a show in the arsehole of nowhere to play for nobody. Those are important steps sadly and experiences that you will draw on for the rest of your career. There also steps that so many artists/bands never outgrow for many reasons but one too often is financial. There are years where you wont make any money from music and any penny you do should go back into it. So if you had £1000 to start with, use it to make sure you have more control over your circumstances and become more economical. I’ve worked with a lot of artists that aren’t worth 500 tickets and you see their budgets and what they’re spending insane amounts of money on. Still blows my mind! A lot isn’t hard to do or teach yourself but they’ve never bothered, they become comfy spending a lot of money, relinquishing more control and getting themselves further in the hole.
When you get to somewhere else in your music, maybe you’ll not mind paying someone 1000s for these jobs but in your early stages it just seems crazy. You’ll have more control over everything and could even offer your services to other artists, generate more income, meet more people, get more exposure as well as being able to take ownership of more of your career. That’s my 2 cents anyway!
Michael Lambert | A Modern Way | @AMWmichael
I’m going to work under the assumption you’ve already managed to record a few songs to put out and you’ve got somewhere to rehearse. If you don’t, then pile the £1k into as much rehearsal & pre-production as you can, then find somewhere to record a couple of tracks.
If you’ve got that stuff sorted already, here’s what I’d do.
£150 – Sort your shit out. Buy yourself some proper working guitar leads, get a power supply that doesn’t make weird noises and get a tuner pedal. That’ll ensure nothing goes wrong when you’re playing that important show.
£250 – take care of the basics. Get a good photographer to take some proper press shots. Without them, you’re going to struggle to get media coverage and you need them to promote your shows. Pay a local journalist to help you write a short biography. You’ve no idea how helpful it will be.
£400 – Make some cool stuff to post online. It doesn’t need to be a music video – a cool audio video, a lyric video, some behind the scenes stuff is all great for engaging people. The more creative the better.
£150 – Take out some very targeted digital ads to drive the right people over to the cool stuff you’ve made. You don’t need to pile loads of money into this, but a little can go a long way if you’re specific about how you target.
£50 – take your manager/sound engineer/driver or whoever is helping you get this show on the road out for dinner (get yourself a pizza express voucher code). They’ve been working bloody hard for no money for ages and they’ll appreciate it like you wouldn’t believe.
Liam Keightley | ITB
If I wasn’t buying a van or getting the best recordings made thenI think I’d spend it on equipment. You’re going to be at many different levels of ‘emerging’ as an artist, but one thing that will be with you throughout that initial stage are the tools you’re using. Whether that’s in the studio or live, having decent instruments/microphones/laptops etc whatever you use to make your music, it needs to be of a certain quality.
It’s harder to get noticed if you have poor equipment (shit bands with good equipment don’t do any better), but if you’re good players with good songs, you should give yourself the best chance, rather than hampering yourself with a piece of wood and paper strings.
Yes, I know, if you’re a band with 6 members it isn’t going to go very far…
Mike Burgess | Sound With Mike | @soundwithmike
At present, creatives are largely operating in an era where to generate industry ‘investment’ (which I generally categorise as time, energy, money and resources) I firmly believe one needs to stick to a ‘build it and they will come’ approach. For the industry to come across you and want to ‘invest’, my opinion is that a creative needs to be focusing on 3 key things: generating progressive streaming numbers (however small – 300 first single, 500 second single…), increasing their live show attendance (can you sell 30 tickets in your home town? Then 50, then 80, then 100?) and being able to sell something (again, however small – £2 sticker packs, lighters, etc) to said audience… so, where does one spend £1000!?
If an artist came to me with £1000 and they already had 6-7 great songs, produced and mixed to a great standard, I would initially recommend they invest it into 3 single releases, picking 3 of their songs that would allow their slowly growing audience to gain a further understanding of their sound and visual aesthetic.
I’m a big fan of having the right mastering engineer finish off your masters, so I would look into who is the leading engineer in your genre who has mastered records that you love the sound of. For example, if you love how Jorja Smith’s songs sound, work out who her mastering engineer is, send them your pre-master and get a quote for mastering 3 singles. Ensure you tell them that you’re unsigned, as some engineers will give you a discount, as they know you’re on a budget. If one isn’t offered, ask anyway! Also, ensure they’re feeling the mixdowns and ask for feedback on anything that could be tweaked before they go to work. Let’s put £200 aside for mastering three songs to a great standard.
Once you’ve got your masters, I would find a great local videographer and commission them to make a series of three shit hot 30 second video trailers (one per song). Consistency is important in your visual assets, as an audience’s perception of these helps them to form an understanding of your brand, but also most teasers get better engagement than the full video in terms of numbers. If you can’t afford a full video, get multiple teasers cut – say allocating £400 to this work. My main take-away from thinking about video is make sure you find someone who really understands your vision and where you’re trying to take your brand, visually.
Now we’ve got some great sounding audio and swish looking visual teasers, I’m going to try (in very words!) and wrap up the other necessities you’ll require: You need to be able to distribute your music to Spotify, Apple Music etc, so do your research and find an online distribution service that will charge you around £20 per year to upload your singles via their service. Hold back £50 per release for advertising the teaser video (with an embedded/swipe up fanlink to the audio release on Spotify, etc) to your target audience via your respective social channels. Additionally, as I wouldn’t recommend hiring in PR services with such a limited budget at this stage, I’d look to drop £20-30 per release on Submit Hub credit to reach bloggers (many of whom have their own Spotify playlists). Don’t forget, after your first release, claim your Spotify for Artists page too, so you can submit to internal Spotify playlists going forward too – as this is a free service for artists.
To fill any gaps and to ensure that you set some clear measurable outcomes for your releases and are supported in your journey through these releases, I’d also be tempted to seek out the help of a marketing professional (hello!) who should be able to put you together a well considered 6 month strategy for your releases, so you’ve got a blueprint to work from throughout this period. Whilst I can’t speak for others, I generally charge £150 (the remainder of your £1000 budget!) for such a plan – and whilst it’s rather boring to be reminded of, don’t forget that on the whole, failing to plan is planning to fail!
Sunny SJ Winter | Phoenix Music International | @sunnysjwinter
I would call in ALL the favours I could to make that grand go as far as possible. Need a videographer? Work as their assistant on a shoot in exchange! Want artwork? Offer something in return! Desperate for a plugger? Ask to pay in instalments! As long as both parties don’t feel like they’re being taken for a chump, you’ll be alright. Build a creative community that’s bigger than the sum of its individual parts and grow together.
An artist is nothing without good songs so I would focus on getting a couple tracks recorded, mixed and mastered to a good standard. Squeeze everything you can out of those songs. Acoustic versions, live versions, get friends to film a cover of it, ask around for remixes, think of quirky social media content that others might be curious to get involved in. Who knows, maybe it’s time for a music equivalent of the Daz doorstep challenge to promote the single in vertical format?
Then get out there and gig. Network (Tileyard, Sandbox Social), make friends with other musicians and promoters, meet EVERYONE and you might just have a chance!
Dan Smith | Kobalt | @kebabfingers
Step 1: Find a local pub where a pint costs less than the PRS for performing there. Play there every day until they tell you to naff off.
Step 2: MAKE SURE YOU CLAIM YOUR PRS.
Step 3: Profit.
Charlie Arme | Tileyard Music
So this is assuming you already have your music recorded, you get to the point that you’re like wow – I need to release and boy it’s competitive out there, so how do you work out what really cuts through, every artist is totally different, there’s no solution that fits all. My advice is to spread bet and work out what delivers YOU success. Split your £1000 up into tranches of £200
- Spend £0 on releasing, find a great distributor, manager or someone to help you execute your plan, someone with access to playlists. They will take a % but that encourages them to make you more successful, don’t sweat the distributor or labels cut if it is a short term deal and you are not yet successful (but always seek legal advice, you can do so via the musicians union).
- Put £200 on digital marketing, making sure you are seen is important, and online it is loud, noisy and like the wild west, nobody is going to hear you if you don’t put some spend on marketing online. You can sign up to free webinars and learn how to target social adverts yourself, and then play around with £25 shots each time, by the point you spend your first £100 you should know what is working and what is not, retarget and refocus thereafter.
- Put £200 on content – you need great photos, an acoustic video, something beyond just the music, you will know a friend, or a friend of a friend that can help you as part of a project, or just because they like you with your first bits of content. Assuming all goes well you need to encourage that they are going to be involved with you for the long haul. Fair is fair, keep the people with you that help at the start.
- Put £400 on Online PR – PR is expensive, it always been and always will be, approach relevant PR companies and say you have £400 – don’t expect the full service, but just something to get you going, ask if they will do an initial service for that fee, and if they like the music they will take a long term view and know that their good work, will deliver you success and everyone is a winner (hopefully!)
- Save £200, you just don’t know what you might need it for when you are promoting, it could be a poster campaign, could be more online spend, it could help you with some more content, it could be a remix.
Shiv Kalaria | Sky Sports
Assuming that you already have some amazing songs professionally recorded, are shit hot live and have a half decent online PR company onboard. I’d spend the rest on a compelling music video and a designer to help create a professional brand/band identity. Anything leftover I’d spend on some EuroMillions tickets.
Vanessa Higgins | Regent St Records & BPI
I would apply the “give a man a fish” principle. Just in case that answer on its own isn’t self explanatory, have a little context…
£1k could easily be swallowed up in so many things – studio time, videos, PR, plugging etc. As an emerging artist I would invest in myself; which of these skills do you need to learn? If you invested in quality home studio gear, would you be able to put out ten times more (quality) songs? If you took a marketing course, would you be able to put together multiple kick-arse marketing campaigns yourself? Always, always learn as much about every aspect of the business yourself, money spent on that will serve you well in the future. As you progress through the industry you will be able to bring people into your team to take over these roles, but if you understand the value of each aspect, you’re much more likely to make better decisions about who to work with. What do you spend £1k on? Your skills. Not fish.
Louise Dodgson | The Unsigned Guide | @unsignedguide
£1,000 to spend! There are so many possibilities, but depending on your goals £1,000 may not go too far. The first port of call is making sure you have a few great tracks which are professionally recorded, mixed and mastered. You also need to be outstanding live – so make being well-rehearsed and tight a priority.
If you’ve already you’ve got all this in the bag, then I’d suggest splitting the money over a few areas to help promote yourself. And stretch that money as far as you can – there’s still plenty you can do for free, do for yourself, or favours you can pull in from talented mates – so don’t just chuck a load of cash at something because you have it if there are creative, cheaper options.
Getting some good professional photos, branding, a decent video together is a splendid idea. It can give you the edge, especially when it comes to features in press and on blogs, where aesthetics need to be considered alongside killer tracks. It can also help grab the attention of managers, labels, agents too – obviously your music and live performance will always be the priority, but presenting yourself well is also an important factor in standing out amongst the competition.
Get your admin in order – make sure you’re signed up with PRS/PPL, Musicians Union, and get a subscription to Mailchimp or similar to keep building that mailing list!
Dabble with some digital marketing to push yourself on social media and YouTube. There is plenty of free online guidance so you can get a handle on how to do this effectively. Just make sure you have some good content to promote.
Invest in some nice merch to sell on your site or at gigs, where you can hopefully make some income back.
Treat yourselves to a lovely day out a Sound City or The Great Escape to do some valuable networking.
Oh yeah, and I’ve seen so many horror stories from bands of late who have had gear nicked. Spend a little fraction of that £1,000 on getting insured so you don’t wind up in a nightmare scenario.
In contrast to all of the above, my non-sensible answer would be to blow it on new gear, and get a track pressed to glittery pink vinyl. But that’s just me! I certainly won’t judge you if you do that!