Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 41

tronic artist and 90 per cent of your fans stream your music (you can check through your analytics on almost any platform!), don’t go into debt just because you or one of your band members thinks you need some coloured vinyl. It’s about making wise, well-researched business decisions so that you can focus on the art, not clearing out your parents’ garage of the four boxes of t-shirts that never sold. BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED If you are offered an opening slot for a big band like Arkells or are added to a notable festival like Montebello RockFest, expect traffic. That means having a nice website that won’t crash, lots of band merchan- dise available, ticket links up, and time to commit to managing online promotion. If you are not present beyond your perfor- mance, there could be little to no return on investment. You may see a major spike in your traffic, but if you have not proactively planned ahead of time to take advantage of the attention, you’re missing out. Think of it like a viral video: something made you click on it. If the website doesn’t work or there is none of the product you were drawn to, you’ll close that window and never return again. Having a call to ac- tion like a newsletter sign-up or invitation to follow on social media does wonders if you do receive an onset of unexpected attention. If people have never heard of you before, you have to have the best representation possible to win them over. Which brings us to our next lesson… KNOW THAT BIDDING WARS HAPPEN Watching industry members compete for a client contract or sponsorship is like watch- ing the Dragons try to one-up each other’s offers to the pitchers. They may sweeten the pot or combine forces. They may bring social media savvy and territory expansion instead of just a lump sum of money. Bid- ding wars are common in the music indus- try – just look at Half Moon Run or Lorde. Things happen fast and offers can be made and revoked just as quickly when the in- dustry senses a hot new act or opportunity to make money. All this said, major labels like Warner Music Canada sign one to three new Cana- dian acts a year, so your chances can be the same as being able to pitch on TV. You have to wade through the shitty auditions, listen to a lot of garbage coming out of other as- piring acts’ mouths (and even worse music), then finally get into the spotlight and give a shining performance or pitch. As on Drag- ons’ Den, multiple offers can be tempting but different investors bring different things to the table that you’ll need to consider. Be prepared for joint offers; you could get an offer from one organization but sign a distribution agreement with a partner agency of theirs for licensing in another territory like Australia. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SIGNING – A HANDSHAKE IS NEVER ENOUGH! Deals made on Dragons’ Den often fall through after the taping. Flaws may be revealed, another larger investment may come in – you just never know. Back to what we were talking about with regards to knowing your worth, a potential team member must know what they’re getting into. As a manager or label representative looking to take on a new client, they would need to know about oth- er contracts or obligations. They couldn’t sign you if you have a two-album deal with another company or a licensing deal that locks in a higher royalty than the label. If an investor sees that a potential client has $20,000 worth of debt from a deal that went sour or is in a legal battle with a former manager, those hidden costs may kill a deal. ACCEPT THE DEAL Getting an offer from the Dragons is very much like getting a recording contract, licensing deal, or signing with an agent. You’re agreeing to trust someone else to manage a part of your career in which they specialize and can open up new territories, markets, and previously unreachable op- portunities. They will take equity in return, so just as you would for any business deal, you must have a lawyer involved (an enter- tainment lawyer, in this case). All of these lessons can easily be applied to writing music grant applications and arts business plans; it doesn’t have to be limit- ed to outside investors or labels. In closing, follow these steps: reach for the stars but do your research well in advance, make awesome music, be pro- fessional, prepared, and be realistic about your identity and goals. Do this, and you’ll avoid being singed by the fiery breath of industry dragons. DRAGON’S BREATH: MANJIT MINHAS CM: Name a trait you’ve seen in strong pitchers in the Den that musicians should keep in mind when pitching to potential partners or collaborators? MM: Successful entrepreneurs, pitchers, and musicians have common traits in my experience: confidence, hard work, practice, grit, and creativity.” Samantha Everts is a Toronto-based artist consultant and grant writer at YouRockRed, with over 10 years of music industry experience. Her proven skills in artist development have led her to speak at a variety of conferences and festivals, including Iceland Airwaves and Canadian Music Week, and teach artist management at the renowned Trebas Institute. She never misses an episode of Dragons’ Den. For more info, visit: C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N • 41