Ahead of the launch of Youth Music's NextGen fund, we asked industry professionals how they would spend £1,000 if they were an emerging creative in 2021.
Shauni Caballero, Music Publishing & Royalties Consultant
Music Publishing & Royalties Consultant, Founder of The Go 2 Agency
A PRS Membership is essential
Providing you are an up-and-coming artist, firstly you 100 per cent need a PRS membership, that is just non-negotiable! Make sure you have that, because most of the feedback I hear is that people can't actually afford the £100 membership, but that is a totally separate conversation.
Don't spend it all on studio time
It's very easy to spend minimum £300-400 on sessions for about 10/11 hours at a decent studio. I would suggest not doing that. Instead maybe book a studio for three or four hours, but don't spend any more than £200 of your money for that.
Invest in an at-home studio
I would also invest in some studio equipment; a decent mic in your house, sound boards to make sure you don't get those outside, noises, and then the software for your laptop as well (and a laptop if you don't have a laptop). Just download the engineering software and teach yourself how to use it.
A few months from now you might not be able to afford a studio, but you would have a home set up and that's where some of the best music demos are recorded. And then providing you get some money, you can go and re-record it if you need to.
Pay for mastering and marketing support
I would put some money aside for mastering. There are some really, really decent engineers that won't charge you any more than £100 or so to mix and master your records.
All the money really should be reinvested right into yourself, whether that's development or if you've done a really cheap video or cover video, there are great companies like Plug and Pattern. A good friend of mine called Luke Pascoe works there - he does digital marketing, his service fee is really cheap and he can give artists a budget for anything from £500 to a grand, and he can run social media ads as well as YouTube ads.
Freelance Music Journalist
Ok, so, here's how I would spend the £1,000 (tinged, of course, with the glorious benefit of hindsight - I only did some of these things very recently).
Build an online presence
Firstly, get yourself a website of some kind (roughly £80 a year if you want a specific domain name that isn't super convoluted, but there are definitely cheaper options). This can either be to celebrate your work and outline your areas of interest and expertise, or just have your contact details prominently displayed (as an editor looking to commission freelancers you wouldn't believe how hard some people make it to find a working email).
Or, if you have a specific interest, you could use the website to practice your writing, filling it up with musings on whatever aspect of music you find interesting. (I have one called Maxopedia dedicated to the work of Max Martin and it brings me no money but a lot of joy). This will get you used to writing blog-sized pieces and help your ability to hone an argument quickly and concisely.
Get the right equipment
I'd also spend it on getting my office set-up sorted because bad backs aren't cute. Obviously if you need a new laptop too then I would invest early because it's your main tool and one crashing on a deadline is not fun. Also get a good Dictaphone, because sure you can use your phone but phones run out of battery when you least expect it, so it's good to have a backup. PLUS it makes you seem super professional!
Get some nice stationary too, actually, because nothing screams organised mind then a lovely notepad and a detailed to-do list at the start of a new week when you're scrambling to find all the emails you need.
Invest in industry subscriptions
Why not spend some of the cash on buying a good selection of magazines and weekend newspapers as well, just so you have a good idea of who covers what and any regular features you could pitch to. Same with any online avenues that have started using a paywall model - some are super cheap and you get to access stuff that maybe not everyone is seeing.
Artist Management, Founder of Verdigris Management
Assuming that I was already managing a relatively small, upcoming artist, I would focus on the areas where spending would provide the greatest value for money.
Develop the artist's sound
The aim at the early stages of an artist’s career would be to develop an interesting and unique image and sound which would then lead to the development of a fanbase. It is important to produce a good initial repertoire of music which can then be built upon.
This music may have already been written by the artist, and the money can be spent on high quality recording, production, mixing and mastering. This is crucial in helping the artist develop their sound, whilst putting out music of a high, professional quality.
Once the music has been produced, the focus would turn towards release, marketing, and advertising. Marketing spend is crucial to get new music heard and the new artist seen. Visual assets, both in photographic and video form are key when promoting new music, as these social media sites work with primarily visual media.
Assets can be used, with advertising spend behind them to expose the music to an audience, which can point towards streaming platforms. This would help to develop streaming figures, encouraging the development of a fanbase.
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