Managers and labels consistently hire independent contractors, including radio promoters, publicists, stylists, creative directors, etc.
It can be challenging at times to find the right fit for the artist’s project. Some of these positions can be a balancing act between the creative aspirations and business needs.
Independent contractors typically need many clients on retainer for their business model to work – they don’t have the higher reward incentive which comes with a commission based business like management or ownership model of a label. For these two reasons, it doesn’t always work out successfully.
In the independent contractors’ defense, not every record or artist can work in the marketplace – the real questions to consider when hiring or evaluating an independent contractor’s work is:
Is the individual/team giving it their best shot at executing for your artist?
Are they the right person/team to deliver your artist’s message?
We expect intense levels of proactivity and reporting from our partners. I can usually tell after a month if the campaign is going to be successful and if the working style is going to be a fit. However, sometimes it can take a couple months to integrate with each other and get in a flow.
At 3B, I’ve noticed we sometimes keep these partners on for too long when it’s clearly not working – It can be difficult to separate, especially if you are still mentally accounting for sunk costs or obsessed with the original vision of the working relationship. I have began to put protocols in place to ensure partners deliver or we stop working with them on that artist.
Your artist also must be ready for the service you are seeking. For example: If you have one mastered song and several demos, you may not be ready to hire a publicist for three months and will likely not get your money’s worth if you do. Your publicist will be more prepared and capable with content in hand – multiple finished songs with confirmed release dates and corresponding music videos, as well as a tour launch and or even a remix or alternate version.
If a partner does great work for a particular artist, it does not mean they will be the right fit for a different artist. The reverse is also true.
Similar to labels, these contractors have priorities – They certainly give more effort to the campaigns on the verge of winning (or already winning).
There may be bonuses for hitting a certain mark at radio, but typically all of the above contractors are paid on retainer. They are usually looking for at least three month commitments.
In general, the shorter trial period you can get (one month or release ideally), the better. However, many of the best in the field require significant upfront commitment, which they may have earned through their success. Prices are usually negotiable.
While the access and quality of relationships a contractor has can define their success, in my experience, the rate we pay or an individual or company’s accolades are not always commensurate with the results, which I believe are best aligned with those two questions above.
Building out the best team for your artist can take time and trial and error. In the end, it’s about finding those as passionate as you are about your artist – individuals who put forth the effort and are the right fit for the needs of the project.