Ten Habits to Acquire

by SaskMusic

August 6, 2009 in Miscellaneous

It’s time to start thinking about resolutions. What are you going to do this coming year to add momentum to your career? Sometimes it’s the little things that get overlooked…so review this list for a start (and if you’re already doing all these things, fabulous)!


Often we put our press kits aside until we HAVE to update them…say, when applying for a grant or an important showcase. But you don’t have to wait until the last minute and then scramble to rewrite everything if you take a few minutes a month to give it a quick brush-up.

We see a lot of bios come in that date themselves immediately - “Our album will be released in May 2009,” for example. It’s now past May, and the person reading is left wondering if the album ever did come out…what it's called…what kind of success it may be having. Maybe you’ve turned over band members. Maybe you need to tweak your stylistic description. Hopefully, you’ll have a few more reviews or cool gigs to add. In any case, your press kit should always be current to reflect the fact that you are constantly doing new stuff in the business (whether that’s writing new songs, performing, adding new gear to the studio, etc).

The same goes for studios and businesses. If you have a brochure or promotional piece, update it from time to time. Add new clients/quotes, or note what new gear or technology you have available. Demonstrate that you're on top of trends with fresh colours and design in your marketing materials. Make sure your contact info is current on everything. Studios, update your demo reel with your best new work.

And then there’s the photo…how old is YOURS?


Once the above is done, post it on your websites! Keeping your web brand up-to-date is important, so make it a habit to update your bio regularly, and then follow up by posting it online - thus everything you send out has a consistent message.

Expand on your website when you can - add those new links, press clippings, and extras. On MySpace and similar sites, bands are getting into the habit of posting new samples of their work and “switching off” old material that fans have probably already heard.

Sites that are constantly being updated give people a reason to come back. A “news” page - where all kinds of updates on the band are the first thing the viewer sees - are the norm. Keep your performance dates page current, including info on where to get tickets and show times. If you have a blog component to your site, add to it regularly. It doesn’t have to be much - just a little note to let your fans feel involved in your career.


You already have a fan contact list, right? It’s easy to get lazy about this and just sit on your current list of names. Keep in mind that people change email addresses with astonishing frequency, and your cozy little list will shrink very rapidly if you aren’t replenishing it with new names or at least updating the old ones.

MySpace and Facebook can be great ways to collect new fans, but don’t rely solely on their sites. People using these sites come and go and you could quickly lose contacts if you don’t have a “real” email address for them.

Include a subscription option on your site and collect names at your shows. It’s recommended that you attach a “where I got this” source note into your subscriber database, in case it’s ever disputed. Don’t add without permission, be diligent about removing people who “unsubscribe” and keep a record of them so you don’t accidentally throw them back onto your subscriber list somewhere down the road. Never, ever “steal” names from group emails you may receive, it’s very bad etiquette - and ALWAYS use BCC when sending group emails or fan newsletters to protect your fans’ privacy.

On that subject, DO you send fan newsletters? They don’t have to be fancy, and they don’t even have to happen with automatic frequency (please please don’t send them weekly unless you have a special reason to!), but you should keep in direct contact with your fans to stay on their radar. (And, get them to update their email addresses before you start getting bouncebacks.)


Nobody likes to admit they need help. Maybe that’s why very few artists turn to a mentor when they’re in need of advice. If you don’t have one, make this your year to find one. You don’t have to start big: why not find a peer artist or business in your community to share ideas with, and set up a monthly lunch date? Fellow artists can help each other promote shows and recommend service providers.

What if you're a little more established? Maybe you’re at the point in your career where you are able to help out by mentoring an up-and-coming artist. The amount of time you choose to commit to such a worthwhile cause is up to you. (For more on this subject, check out the article "Working With a Mentor" online here.

Of course, the staff at SaskMusic can also act as a mentor. You can book a one-on-one, or give us a call when you need an ear. Conversations are always held in confidence.


All you songwriters/royalty earners out there...Have you remembered to report your live performances? You have to do this within 12 months of the show, so once a year is your minimum to get caught up. Not to mention that any longer, and you’re going to start misplacing your posters, ticket stubs or other “proof of” materials.

Have you had any radio airplay or TV licensing that you should be updating them on? SOCAN's forms are online - so it’s quite a painless process.

If you're also a performing artist and are receiving radio airplay, have you registered for Neighbouring Rights royalties? Don't miss out on money you might have coming!


If you’re planning to do any out-of-country performing or showcasing this year, get your passport up to date. It's now required for any entrance into the U.S., and you’ll be prepared for any other international opportunities that come up.


What would you do if you lost all your gear tomorrow - could you play your next gig? How much downtime would your business have?

Basic household insurance does not cover instruments or studio equipment. Talk to your insurance broker about your specific needs and find out how to get coverage for damage from vehicle accidents, theft, fire or water damage, and accidents at the club or home. If you’re bringing a sound system or renting your own facilities for show, you should also check into liability insurance (the kind that covers you if someone trips over your cables and breaks an arm).

If you already have gear insurance, review what’s registered under your plan, and update appraisals or add in new purchases. American Federation of Musician members can access insurance options designed for musicians. For the peace of mind you’ll get, it probably costs less than you’d think (especially if you disperse it into a monthly payment plan).


If you make contact with just one new potential resource every week, that’s 52 a year! Set a goal of speaking to a new media contact, potential licensing source, venue or other industry-type person every week, and start building those important relationships. One call a week isn’t that intimidating, is it? Your first call might simply be to introduce yourself and do some fact-finding; then send out materials where required, and schedule yourself a time for a follow-up call.

For example, if you’re about to release an album or hit the road for a tour, your calls may be focused to media, requesting for some promo space. If you’ve got some downtime, perhaps you want to check out some new venue options and see if you’re a good fit for a club you’ve never played before. Maybe you want to call a few studios and sit in on a session or two so when you’re ready to make your next album, you’re familiar with the options.


You may be so busy planning and playing your own shows that you don’t get a lot of time to see live music yourself. Ironic, isn’t it? It’s important to make time to check out other artists - and not just the same ones you always go to. It can be very inspiring to attend a show in a genre that normally isn’t up your alley. Maybe a friend with different musical tastes can drag you out to a show and be your “interpreter”. You never know - you just might like it!


Whatever conference or festival event is appropriate for what genre you’re working in, you’ll want to plan well in advance and budget how many you might be able to attend this year - whether that’s budgeting for hotel rooms and travel, fine tuning your performance in anticipation of getting a showcase slot or , or reserving the time off work. Each event has a slightly different “flavour”. If you’ve never been to a national event such as the Western Canadian Music Awards, Canadian Country Music Awards, Ontario Council of Folk Festival Conference or Canadian Music Week, you might want to come talk to us at SaskMusic to find out what events would be best suited for your particular style.

And, what type of professional career development do you need to tackle to be at your best? Take advantage of opportunities to increase your education in self-management, performance, networking, or wherever else you need help - some of these will be workshops offered by SaskMusic, and keep an eye out for other presentations offered in your area.


It can be overwhelming when you think about all the stuff you want/need to get done with your band or business. Take small steps - but do keep moving! Ask for help when you need it. Delegate duties among your band members/street team/employees wherever possible. And most of all, remind yourself why you’re doing all this work…we get to play music!

By Lorena Kelly for SaskMusic. Originally Published Winter 2006.

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