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

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

The first few months of self-management are extremely pivotal, as this is the time when outlining your goals and desired destination, as well as making those initial contacts, are very important. During this time your ideas are the most vulnerable, and it can be easy to get sidetracked; however, I learned a few things to help me stay centered until I reached a point where things were sailing on their own. 

Start off by outlining the following reflections before diving into the “to do” of self-management: 

  • What are your long term and short term goals, and how do you intend to meet those goals? Setting your intentions and creating a plan to get there will help you visualize your path on the way to your final destination. 
  • What type of music career are you seeking? Do you want to play behind other artists or do you want to be your own artist? Being specific with your asks will help you cut down on time potentially wasted. If you desire to build from the ground up, time is precious and you want to spend as much time as you can laying the foundation in your formative years.
  • Do you have the desire and capacity to handle as much as possible yourself, and delegate where needed? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important and will come in handy when it’s time to outsource specific tasks when needed. 

Once you lay these things out and decide you want to dive into developing your own career, you’ll get into the nitty gritty of what it takes. Everyone’s path is different, so don’t feel discouraged or compare yourself to others around you. Let’s dive in.

Organization and Self-Management

Organization is key in self-management. I start each day by writing out my goals and tasks, and then I organize them by level of importance and time sensitivity.

When you set out to create a multi-city international tour, oversee a staff of 15+ independently contracted musicians worldwide, run social media accounts, and handle all administrative aspects of running a business, you must make sure you have all bases covered. I utilize tools like Google Drive (to share the details of the gigs with my musicians), multiple calendar books, and apps like Planoly (designed to make social media management easier) to keep myself organized and on track with my goals. 

Here are two tips to staying organized:

  • Time management should be on the top of the list when it comes to keeping yourself on track. Once you have created your to-do lists, it’s easy for anyone to get lost and overwhelmed. Give yourself deadlines for each action item to make sure your subconscious keeps things in mind when you feel tempted to have lazy days. Allocate time per action item and stick to it. 

Remember: What doesn’t get done today can get done tomorrow. Don’t beat yourself up for not completing all items on your to-do list. Take care of your physical and mental well being and start again tomorrow. 

  • Using Google Drive specifically allows me to separate information pertinent to specific gigs into folders. When my musicians click on the folder for the gig(s) relevant to them, they will find all promotional materials, logistics sheet with call time, what other musicians they may be playing with, and the set list with immediate access to the “Master Music” folder where all MP3s and song profiles are housed. This allows information to be separated and easily accessible 24/7 for those who don’t like long emails with tons of information that can be confusing.

Building an EPK

An electronic press kiss (EPK) is what you will send venues when you begin emailing about booking gigs. When building an EPK, you want to make sure you include information that helps the booking agent or talent buyer understand you as an artist, what you and your music are about, and some examples of your accomplishments

Here are a few things an EPK should include:

  • Photos that immediately grab the attention of the booking agent. Live photos tend to look best, as it shows you in action and will give them a visual of what you look like on stage.
  • A bio and/or mission statement. Every business has a bio and/or mission statement. This is a quick summary of who you are, what you do, and why you believe in what your music stands for. What is the message you are trying to get across to fans?
  • Press highlights. You want to include press because it shows that you have the attention of the media. Many talent buyers like to see that you are capable of getting your brand and music to the masses. 
  • Tour and show history. This shows talent buyers that you have the capability to bring fans out to your shows and that you are currently getting booked. You want to give them a reason to book you.
  • Social Media. Let the people know where to find you! Talent buyers love checking out social media to see how you carry your brand and how you promote yourself and your shows.

Booking Gigs

Each venue I have ever interacted and/or booked with has one thing in common: There is someone who handles all bookings and talent contracting, even if they don’t advertise it on their website or social media pages. I gathered this insight by researching cities I desired to tour and contacts for venues.

When I build tours, I start by assessing my analytics on social media to see where I have the biggest footprint and where I have no footprint. The value in this information is that you get to build up areas where you already have some traction, and where none exists. This is key to developing a loyal, long-term fan base.

  • Start by listing cities you have a desire to tour. Use Google Maps, a fabulous tool for venue hunting, to find the city on your desired tour schedule and look for venues in that area. 
  • Head to the venue website or social media account and locate any form of contact (preferably email) and reach out to them with your EPK.
  • Follow up occasionally and begin to develop a relationship with a key contact.  Be direct but humble because, after all, you need to get booked in order to get your footprint out there!

Read Part One of this self-management series, and check back in during March and April to read the next two parts:

Part Three will emphasize the importance of working with the right people, utilizing immediate resources to build onto your brand, and patience. 

Part Four will explore the basics of copyright, trademark, and business formation.

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