Guitar Gabby has self-managed herself and the Txlips for the last five years. In this four-part series, she outlines the basics to self-management.

Read Part One and Two of this series for more information on why self-management might be right for you!

Working with the Right People

Over the years, I’ve learned that working with other people in the music industry can either work for or against you, especially when it comes to self-management. Understanding who needs to know your business and who wants to know your business are two very different things, and distinguishing between the two early on can help set your boundaries.

Here are a few questions I like to ask when finding who I should involve in my business:

  • How do you think you can help me and my business endeavors?
  • What kind of return are you looking to get out of this?
  • Do you believe in what I am doing?

Oftentimes, people with ill intentions will set out to learn the ins and outs of what you’re trying to achieve in order to take it from you. On the flip side, some people enter your life at the right time, seeking to understand who you are, what you’re doing, and ways to truly support you—they may even open doors that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to you. The commonly used phrase, “It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know” is something I’ve come to keep at the forefront of my mind as I develop relationships in the industry.

Many artists find themselves in predicaments with record labels or music executives claiming they can “make them a star” when more often than not, the motive is finding ways to milk the artist for all of their talent and dispose of them when they have gotten all they can. One tip my parents gave me from a young age, that I will always live by, is to “be careful who you allow in your inner circle.” Not everyone wants to see you succeed, but some do. Make sure you are connecting with the right people on your journey. It’s easy to ignore, but our gut will tell us a lot more than we think. Pay attention when you feel ill will, and pay equal attention when someone is sowing positive into your life.

Using Immediate Resources

As an independent artist, finding resources to help build your business can be extremely difficult. When I first started out with the TxLips, I quickly learned to use the resources I had around me instead of chasing those that may not have been completely beneficial to me in that moment.

Here are three resources that are right under our noses:

  • Family support in small ways (any level of family, chosen or not). For me, my parents were a profound part of my first few years of business. Being able to come home when I needed to gave me the flexibility to travel abroad. Genuine support can be expressed in many different ways from different people, but it all can help toward your end goal if you use it wisely. 
  • Libraries. For me, it was and still is 100% necessary to have time where I can be alone to plan, think things out, and create new ideas. I love going to my local library and renting a study room where I can isolate myself and knock out things on my to-do list without being disturbed. 
  • Open dialogue with industry elders. Some things I tend to make difficult are a lot easier than I think. I learn a lot from older people in and out of the industry who constantly school me on how life and human nature typically work. Listening to the advice from people with more life experience can save you years of trouble and heartache.

Here’s an example of using immediate resources: TxLips started off as a backing band for Diamond (former Crime Mob member), and it was often necessary to organize extra rehearsals outside of what Diamond’s management requested of us. Simultaneously, TxLips was born and our own shows started rolling in. The need for rehearsal space quickly grew, so I began looking for a space that was better equipped with instruments, mics, speakers, and, overall, a decent cost. I have an amazing friend who had a waxing studio on the westside of Atlanta. I asked if we could use it for rehearsals—there was no backline, no mics, and it wasn’t even sound proofed—and she immediately said yes, resulting in what would become the TxLips rehearsal space for the next two years. 

It was a lot of work (loading in, setting up, breaking down, and cleaning up 3-4 times a week), and while it wasn’t the most ideal space for us, it allowed me the opportunity to save money and eventually move us to a fully stocked space that we still use to this day. 

Learn to make the most of what you have and who is around you when you can. I promise, it will pay off and come full circle in the end—it always does. Anything good is worth going through the dirt for; many times, it’s a blessing in disguise.

Check back in during April to read the the final part of this series, which will explore the basics of copyright, trademark, and business formation.

And Be sure to read our interview with Guitar Gabby for more information about her work!