Artist Development

We went to a fantastic Artist Development Masterclass Day organised by Generator at Roundhouse Rising 2014, designed to promote new talent and give artists support and advice. The event featured top managers, radio presenters, YouTube experts and more and was full of practical tips and quite a few surprises. We’ve pulled out some of the things that stood out for us.



Karim Fanous, Caroline Bottomley, Darren Hemmings, Zac Vibert

How to work YouTube

The day kicked off with a panel all about harnessing YouTube, with Karim Fanous from music business strategists Music Ally, Zac Vibert from dance label Hospital Records, Darren Hemmings from digital marketing consultancy Motive Unknown and Caroline Bottomley from music video network Radar Music Video.

Call to action at the end of videos

Zac showed how Hospital have built up their huge following and gave some great tips that can apply to artists at any level, including making sure there is a call to action at the end of any video - to buy the track, or subscribe for example.

He stressed the importance of interacting with comments and also said that making playlists of other videos is a good thing to do as it keeps people on your channel. The new Fan Finder feature lets you submit a trailer and advertise across the YouTube platform for free.

Tagging is also important and Karim summed up that at least 10 tags are needed.

Mailing lists and marketing

Darren came out with one of our favourite quotes of the day, “Don’t be like a breadcrumb in a skip”. Make a great music video but don’t let it sit there, promote it as much as you can on social media and through advertising. Even £20 on ads helps.

He talked about how remarketing works - if someone watches your video then a cookie goes on their browser and you can send targeted ads to them cheaply.

He said it’s easy to get a free £75 ad voucher from Google that will serve an ad on any Google ad platform, including music websites like Drowned In Sound. Connect up YouTube and Google+ was his other advice - Google favours you in searches.

When you are playing live get your mates to collect people’s email addresses for your mailing list using an iPad and the Chimpadeedoo app from MailChimp that works offline, and you can also hand business cards to people on the way out.

The day also featured artist showcases, including the brilliant Grace Banks from Lèse Majesté.

Grace Banks, Lèse Majesté

Documentary-style videos

There were some new ideas about YouTube content for artists, and Caroline Bottomley had some surprising tips about what to put up online. She said that live performance videos are the least interesting content, and what people really want to see are more documentary-style videos even if it is just a short clip filmed on a mobile phone, a piece to camera, or getting someone else to interview you.

Fan-led interviews, tutorials, and Google hangouts are all good things to do she said, as well as the usual promo videos and lyric videos. For a hangout you can even get funny mates to help you by chatting with you or interviewing you. Treat YouTube like your own TV channel and create a content strategy for 12 months, not just an album launch.

Her full tips are on Slideshare.

Ally McCrae - BBC Radio 1 Introducing

There were some great round table sessions and we went to one hosted by the brilliant Ally McCrae who presents BBC Radio 1’s Introducing show with Jen Long.

He explained how local BBC Radio stations tip tracks and feed in to the show and how everyone works to make sure the show is balanced in terms of musical genre and geographical area. He finds plenty of new music himself too, listens to CDs and links he gets sent, and is also an avid follower of blogs. Ally said that it’s worth putting in some work to get on Hypem listed blogs.

Timing is crucial and a band has to be ready for the kind of exposure a Radio 1 play can provide - be able to deliver live for example. He always gets in touch with an artist he is planning on playing, to make sure the time is right. It can damage your chances of success if industry people see you when you are not ready enough.


Radio pluggers

Artists at Ally’s session included indie-folk singer/songwriter Suntrapp, who’s been featured by Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music, and later played a great set. A lot of artists asked about how to make the next step up, and whether that always means radio pluggers.

Ally said there is no hard and fast answer, but that if you are using one it is good to go with someone who works in a particular genre. He says it is not always a good thing for a very new band to spend a lot of money on a plugger, but that there does come a point when you are looking to go up a level and you have to get some expert help in to get the most out of your ‘impact date’.

Jen Long, Colin Roberts, Jamie Jazz, Joe Taylor

Building Buzz

The Building Buzz panel featured Colin Roberts from Big Life Management (Chloe Howl and London Grammar), Jamie Jazz of Bleach Blood, (ex The King Blues), Joe Taylor from ATC Management who signed The King Blues, and was chaired by the BBC’s Jen Long.

A surprising message from Joe and Colin was to be very strategic about using Soundcloud and take tracks off rather than put them on! Colin said that A&Rs won’t give you a second chance if your first demo is rubbish. Big Life just put one track up for London Grammar and created a huge buzz - 50,000 plays before they sent out their first press release!

When to get a manager

Jen asked when artists should get a manager, and both Colin and Joe said it’s important to get the right person and not rush into it. Joe said the relationship can go on for decades so you “don’t want to get married on the first date” and you should start with a 5-6 month trial, and be wary of anyone who wants you to sign a hefty contract straight away.

On the creative front Jen asked the panel how important it is to know what press and radio are looking for. Jamie was adamant that though you need to know what’s going on, you shouldn’t then tailor your creative process to fit trends.

Remove Barriers - try “tweet for a track”

Jamie’s band Bleach Blood have just launched their first EP, as a free download, and he said the most important thing with music is to get it out there. Colin agreed saying it’s good to remove as many barriers as possible.

Jen said she is a fan of ‘tweet for a track’ when it comes to sharing your music, and Colin said you can use soundcloud apps to make that happen.

Jazz Summers

Jazz Summers - legendary manager

“Artist development doesn’t exist. It used to,” was the stark opening from legendary manager Jazz Summers. He said that the last band he managed that had artist development was The Verve, who broke with their third album when they were £1.2 million in the red. “It wouldn’t happen today”.

He said that people are scared to develop a band, and it is something his management company - Big Life Management - is increasingly doing, with artists such as London Grammar and Chlöe Howl.

“You have to have confidence and give people confidence. As an artist you need support and someone to believe in your music.

As an artist you have to cut your chest open and let your soul out. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

He said you can create your own buzz online, people will come to you. “A great song is a great song and a great voice is a great voice. Send me a link and if I like it I will go and see it”.

Jazz has written a book called Big Life - which is an amazing read and an eye-opening account of the music business. Recommended, we loved it!