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7 things we learned at Connect Sessions Brisbane

Tip Published Wednesday 20 December 2023
Watch the full panel video with artist Hope D and managers Dom Miller and Ruby-Jean McCabe

Connect Sessions took place all over the country in 2023 and we are looking forward to another round in 2024.

Those details will be forthcoming, but for now, we unpack the seven things we learned at Brisbane’s session.

On the panel are artist Hope D and managers, Dom Miller and Ruby-Jean McCabe of Sunroom Management Group.

Watch the full video above to learn more!

1. "Walk before you can run"

While an artist’s success may sometimes seem to arise overnight, chances are it’s the result of years of work. Sunroom’s Dom Miller reckons: “You’ve got to walk before you can run, but you’ve got to crawl before you can walk…If you speak to the media or the radio they’d say ‘brand new emerging sensation Hope D’…it’s like, she’s been slogging it out since 2016, 2017. Hope started small. She learned the craft, she did the cover gigs.

2. “Use your time as a self-managed artist to learn your trade”

Dom continues, “The way we [in the music industry] learn, is going out and doing it. Making mistakes, or kicking goals, and being like, ‘ah ok, cool. I get it now.’ Use that time and enjoy that time to learn, so that you know, whether or not [potential artist managers] are doing the right things. You’re the boss, so you need to be able to say yes or no.”

Ruby-Jean agrees, adding, “Do your research, look at other artists you might admire or want to follow their career path and see who they’re working with.

3. “The song is everything”

Underneath social media campaigns, the brand and the stats is the song. From Dom: “The song is everything. It doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t matter how you’re dressed… in the end, your songs are all that matter….focus on getting the songs right first, because everything else will follow. Because a great song is going to be a great song forever.

4. Set your goals

The first thing Sunroom Management does when it signs a new artist is to write down the artist’s goals. Ruby-Jean McCabe says “we plan out exactly what their goals are, from huge giant goals to really tiny ones.”

Dom Miller agrees, saying “it’s really important to have those goals and be able to express them, because it actually defines the kind of artist you’d like to be. If you’re a self-managed artist, write down those goals yourself, so it gives you a direction to be able to go, ‘these are the things that I actually need to achieve. Here are the steps to get to those goals’… You’re the boss. It’s your business, and it’s your career, we are just here to help you achieve what you want to achieve.”

Hope D agrees, saying: “it’s so important to actually think about those [goals] every day, cause when you look back at yourself achieving them it’s super magical.”

5. Know when to bring in a team

Ruby-Jean says timing is important. “Take stock, and think, ‘Do I actually need this?’ A lot of people get managers too early in their career…when there’s not enough momentum, or strategic stuff, which is what a manager does.

“It’s imperative for you to know exactly what a manager does, so that when you get a manager, you can check up on them and be like ‘Hey, that’s not right’, or ‘I feel weird about that’. There are a lot of people out there that will approach you and will just want to take advantage.”

Dom says: “There are a lot of people that look at music and go: ‘That looks fun, I want to have fun, I want to have a really good time.’ What Ruby and I do is really fun, but it’s also really hard work. We are taking someone’s business and art in our hands, and trying to raise the profile of it, to create a sustainable long-term career for them. That’s our goal.”

6. The artist is the boss

Dom follows on, “Always remember, you’re the boss. Hope is our boss. It’s Hope’s business. If we don’t want to do something that she wants to do, well too bad for us. We can give her the advice ‘This is the reason we don’t think this is going to work’, but if Hope says ‘I don’t care, this is important to me,’ then it’s our philosophy that if this is what the artist wants, we’re going to do it.”

Ruby-Jean continues, “We’ve taken a lot of responsibility out of Hope’s hands. But she’s also across anything and can ask questions at any time. And I think that’s really important for the self-managed artists…when you get a manager and if they don’t want to tell you everything that’s going on, while it’s going on, that’s a red flag…You’re the CEO of your own music. This is a business at the end of the day, when you want to make money from it.”

So how do you know if it’s a good fit? Hope D says “For me it’s more ideal and appealing if someone comes to you and wants to work with you, because that means they like what you do.”

7. Get your agreements in writing!

If you do want to formalise a management agreement, make sure you’ve got it in writing! Ruby-Jean also recommends getting a rep from the Arts Law Centre of Australia to go over it with you to make sure you fully understand everything that is being agreed to. Head to the Arts Law website to access contract templates or to book a one-on-one consult with a lawyer.