Five Mistakes Independent Artists Make, or Is That Your Mother On The Phone?


Industry expert and CMW alumnus, Daryl Berg, sheds light on five mistakes independent artists make. Read more of Daryl’s writing on his blog, Drive-By Blogger.

1. If your father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, do not have any previous music management experience, if you are in need of a manager, do not let them manage you. It's only going to make you look far less professional than you need to show.  Yes, I know Matthew Knowles needed to start somewhere, but that's a lightning in a bottle situation. Also, do not let any in-law be your business manager. That usually ends up in court, divorce or otherwise.

2. If you need a lawyer, hire a lawyer with experience in music transactional law.  I can't tell you how many times I hear back from an indie artists that they are going to let their lawyer take a look at a contract, only to find some very bizarre comments that clearly show a lack of experience in music contracts. After a brief conversation, said lawyer usually turns out to practice family law, or commercial real estate litigation.  And they're usually some sort of family friend/relative.

3.  Don't negotiate fees on your syncs.  As long as they aren't asking you for publishing, say yes.  The reasons music supervisors come to indie artists is because they don't have much budget, so say yes, grow your story, and hope there is good back end from ASCAP/BMI.  Supervisors have long memories and usually will remember how easy it was to get things done with you.

4. Don't wait to join ASCAP/BMI.  Do it as soon as you can.  It's easy and incredibly effective and if we need a song from you right away, it will get your proper information on our cue sheets, which can lead money.  Money is good.  You like money. Money helps you buy things like guitar strings and gas for your van.

5. Ignore your business and just want to "be an artist, man."  YOU are your business, so if you ran a store, would you refuse to learn about your inventory? The most successful artists usually are the most informed, so educate yourself about the business, set realistic achievable goals for yourself and even create a business plan.  You'll avoid some painful "lessons by mistakes" and maybe even save yourself 20% commission until you can't handle your business on your own any more.

____________________________________________________________ de77bb2742b560fb-soundcanyonlogo Daryl Berg launched Sound Canyon in Summer of 2013, after serving as Vice President of Music for Shine America from 2011 to 2013, where he was responsible for Shine America's music strategy, expanding the company's music portfolio, helping to develop music-based productions and building licensing properties across scripted, unscripted and digital productions.
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