Teamwork For Songwriters And Musicians

Teamwork For Songwriters And Musicians

Teamwork In Independent Music

When it comes to teamwork for songwriters and musicians, working together goes far beyond simply being in a band. What many musicians remain ignorant of, is just how much they can really benefit from working together with other musicians, bands, songwriters, and other music professionals towards achieving common goals. The difference is massive.

Think about it for a moment.

Teamwork For Songwriters And Musicians

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One major advantage that large record labels and publishers have over the many independent bands, is their ability to pull together a team of people, all working in a coordinated way, towards a focused, agreed goal. Don’t trivialize the importance of working to a schedule. The team is where a major part of their costs lie. People cost. Their big budgets pay for lots of people.

Independent Music? You Don't Need To Go It Alone

Individual musicians, or even bands, are but a tiny speck in the music universe. The internet may have provided you with the ability to get your music to untold millions, unfortunately, the huge number of bands and artists who are using those same tools to reach fans has gone through the roof. When I say huge, it is difficult to get a hold of just how many bands, artists, and musicians there are out there. Take a look around MySpace, Twitter, or Facebook and the number of bands out there is staggering.

Top music industry commentators and music industry insiders now actively recommend bands to “do it themselves”, rather than going looking for record contracts, etc. There are many professional-level bands competing for the attention of fans on the internet. The challenge of getting noticed has never been harder. Only the best and most informed get anywhere. This is your competition.

The fact of the matter is, that with so many bands trying to get the attention of fans, it is becoming harder and harder to get fans to listen to your music. There are several ways to do this but doing it on your own reduces your chances greatly.

Being a tiny speck is all well and good, but when you dream of being something more, why not improve your chances? In fact, why not make your chances of getting noticed as good as they can realistically be?

I could explain the benefits of a team, but seriously, pretty well everyone does understand that a properly coordinated team can achieve great things. The problem within the music business is that too many try to make a stand on their own (as an artist –  band or individual). Madness. Each artist is an island, fighting over getting fans. Additionally, too many bands stumble along with absolutely no plan and no direction. Even for many who do plan, planning tends to be limited to “getting some gigs” and the occasional push towards something more out of their comfort zone.

The thing is, if the same old thing is not working… why keep doing it?

Try Something New

There is no super secret. Collaborating with other writers, musicians and producers are commonplace within the music industry. What we are talking about is working collectively towards common goals. Use the strength of numbers for your benefit. Harness the skills of individuals within that group.

Why not apply this mechanism to your marketing and promotion, graphics, video editing, mixing, mastering, session work, and more?

They are all easy skills to trade.

Mechanisms already exist to help group management and to help ensure all group members get treated fairly, including any financial implications. You could, for example, work on a credit-based system, or use a financial system, quid pro quo, or use something completely loose and informal. It’s up to you what arrangement works best for you. The overhead in setting it up depends on which you choose but it doesn’t need to take a lot of effort.

Often what works best is some form of credit system combined with a basic tracking of what is done and by who. Neither takes much to put in place. A set of rates, a credit usage spreadsheet, a task spreadsheet, and an action spreadsheet are all that is essential.

The reason for doing this is:

  • to save you time and effort
  • to allow you to play to your strengths
  • to allow you to trade those strengths with others

A small investment of time will allow you to do that and give you a net gain in what you achieve.

Example: Promotion Trade

How many websites are you active on? How long has it taken to grow friends or fans or other connections on those websites? How long has it taken to get to know those people? How long has it taken to build skills and know-how in each network?

Why not work with some other individuals or bands? Importantly, this allows you to leverage their connections and their skills. Those bands would perhaps love to get their music exposed on those networks, and likewise, you might want to get your music exposed to people on websites those individuals and bands hang around on. In a matter of moments, you could multiply your web footprint, the amount of reach you have (the number of people you can touch).

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Example 2: Skills Trade

Imagine you have an agreement with 16 individuals to work as a team. You plan to release a new album, perhaps graphics and video work have been carried out by or via the team, in exchange you have carried out some session work and carried out a small amount of song promotion. In addition over the last few months, you have helped promote some of the others in the network. Sometimes this was within the forums and social networks you are a member of. Sometimes by following exact promotion instructions detailed by other members of the team and once by sticking up some posters in your neighborhood. All this has gained you credit with the team.

The moment arrives, and your release is ready to roll. You have a promotion plan to help get the message out there quickly. The peak of traffic as people are exposed to your music will help push you up the download charts, which in turn exposes your music to a higher number of people. You prepare the team members to be ready. They have links and promotional materials. They know where and how they will promote.

On the release date, you call in your promotional credit. 16 people are available to promote on that date and for 7 days after that, Perhaps only 30 minutes each on each day. So each day 8 hours of dedicated work is collectively carried out on your behalf, reaching people you wouldn’t have otherwise reached.

Example 3: Collaborative Products

You create a team with a graphics artist, a video producer, and a music marketer. None of them are currently known for their work, but they are all talented individuals, each trying to make a name for themselves.

Each individual wants to be noticed. As a team, each member can benefit by working together with others, allowing them to focus on the bits they do best (and perhaps giving them opportunities to learn from others).

The graphics artist does an album cover, logo, etc for an album he knows will be promoted.

The video producer is at college and needs a video to submit as accredited work. That video needs music. In producing that video together (they do the video and editing and you supply the music) you both get what you want.

The music marketer has a quality product she can promote, plus a team she can direct to carry out specific tasks.

You get graphics for your album a video and a professionally designed marketing campaign all in exchange for those individuals being named as part of the team.

The team members get to add it to their work history/achievements which in turn gets them some paid work.

Building Your Team

It may take some time to find the right people with the right attitude. Be patient. Part of the time to find them may simply be learning where to look. Time and determination will get you there.

Teamwork for songwriters and musicians doesn’t just happen on its own. In other words, don’t wait to complete your team before putting structures and processes in place that will encourage effective teamwork. Incentivise working together. Set goals. Provide assets and tools. Anything that motivates your team to work together. That means an emphasis on team goals over individual goals. It doesn’t mean don’t set individual goals, more that when you set rewards to incentivise your team, that you have significant team rewards and less significant individual rewards. If you have sub-teams, don’t set up conflicting goals or rewards.

What Sort Of People Should Be In My Team?

The needs for teamwork for songwriters and musicians are not that different from the needs of teams in any sphere. Even more so when you compare independent music teams with voluntary teams. 

Ideally, you want your team to be:

  • motivated
  • skilled/talented
  • prepared to work hard
  • prepared to learn
  • reliable
  • friendly
  • prepared to work for nothing or at a cost


Look into local art and music schools and colleges to provide potential team members. Students tend to be cutting-edge, have low overheads, and often have access to quality, professional tools. They also want experience!

Visit our Music Industry Community now to help you get started with finding some potential team members. Songstuff has thousands of members with many willing to collaborate. Most have valuable creative and business skills they may be willing to trade.

Conclusions About Teamwork For Songwriters And Musicians

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how useful teamwork can be to your music career. It doesn’t need a lot of effort to set up, and your ongoing contribution will either educate you or be built on your strengths and easy to do. Financially it doesn’t need to cost you a cent.

The only real risk with this is the time you spend on tasks for other team members in a trade, however, that time will be at a minimum if you are using skills you know well, or in the case of new skills you are learning, it is giving you a chance to build experience working on a project without the ongoing complication of the overhead of it being your project, with you organizing the work of others. When working in collaboration there isn’t a huge risk at all, assuming you have high standards when selecting team members.

This is a very workable, realistic solution for bands and individuals that can work with both the real world and on the internet. As a strategy, it can allow you to achieve far more than you could otherwise achieve, allow you to work faster, cover more ground, and more intensely.

Discuss this article in our Music Forum.

Related Articles

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