Indie artists are compelled to be entrepreneurial these days. You’ve probably found yourself hustling to grow your music career solo, or as a team if you’re in a band. Without a team of staff to assist with day to day tasks the workload can get really oppressive.
Fortunately there are some very handy and affordable tools on the market that support you in streamlining and managing operations. Winning.
The more organised you are, the less time you will waste, the more productive you will be and the more success you will have.
Following are 5 essential management tools that I recommend for indie artists:
1. An online calendar
Setting up a functional online calendar is absolutely non negotiable, it’s the most fundamental tool an artist can have. You can manage bookings, PR commitments, campaign rollouts, rehearsals and more.
My hands down number one favourite is Google Calendar. You can create multiple different calendars each colour coded and you can share the various calendars with whomever you choose. You can add gig worksheets to the calendar dates and detailed notes.
Download the app for your phone and you will always have access to your schedule. It’s a godsend. Other options are Calendly, iCal or even Outlook however these are not as widely used as Google Calendar, which consistently appears to be industry standard these days.
2. The mothership
Every artist needs something I fondly refer to as ‘the mothership’. A single platform where all your documents, records and data are stored and utlised. Once upon a time all this information would have been stored on your hard drive, but these days it’s accessible online, making it possible to collaborate with team members in real time.
Google Suite and Office 365 are both robust platforms which offer cloud storage along with word processing, spreadsheets and much more. You would collate data such as logins and passwords, tour routing, gig worksheets, stock inventory for merchandise, accounting information, contact databases, budgets and just about everything related to managing a small business. In a word, essential.
3. Cloud storage
Both the above mentioned platforms provide cloud storage, however they can be a bit clunky for moving files and sharing so Dropbox is a better option. Since you’re working with multimedia a lot, it’s probably worth investing in the paid plan which offers 2TB of storage. It’s easy to sync the folders you use most often with your desktop computer for easy access and workability.
Other options include Amazon S3 which is great value for money if you’re just seeking a place to backup files. For mac lovers there’s iCloud Drive or One Drive for Microsoft users and there are many more if you feel like hunting around.
4. A communication system
Slack, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are all viable tools for communication. If you’re a band you’ll need to make regular decisions as a group and solo artists may want to keep in regular contact with team members such as a manager, publicist or agent working on a release project. Having a chat platform saves time and is more efficient than regular meet ups or conference calls.
A funny story. When managing a band who will remain anonymous, I got to be a fly on the wall in their late-night drunken post-gig conversations via our Facebook Messenger group. Guys if you’re reading this just know that some things can never be unseen 🙂
5. Task management system
Having a task management system is essential for keeping yourself organised for tour planning and release campaigns. I have actual love for the free version of Asana. Quite possibly the most popular task management system on the market today, it has a logical interface and allows you to manage multiple projects, set deadlines, assign tasks to team members and view in calendar mode, which is excellent for promotional timelines. You get so much for free with this app that you almost feel a little guilty.
If for some reason Asana is not your thing, there are some great alternatives such as Trello or Podio. In my experience artists often prefer a simpler option such as Google Tasks which is a very basic to-do list that comes free with Google Suite. Each to their own.
With any of these tools it’s important to do your own research, watch the demonstration videos and try them out. What works for one person is not so great for another so invest the time to find the right business infrastructure for you. Once it’s all set up, you’ll be crushing it like a boss.