Ever wanted to be an Artist Manager? We caught up with Marcella Smeele from the Netherlands to discuss her experience working in the music industry.
1. Who are you? What’s your background?
My name is Marcella Smeele. Employment-wise, I started as an Artist Manager at the very young age of 13. I began arranging bookings for artists and that grew very successfully by word-of-mouth. I also did other freelance work for artists and musicians, such as setting up websites, running social media accounts, developing marketing plans and everything else that involves the business side of the industry. In 2010 I studied to expand my knowledge and skills in the music business.
2. What do you do now?
I’m still an Artist Manager; working nationally and internationally with ten artists. In addition to this, I give training and advice sessions to artists about the marketing required in order to get gigs. I also sometimes invite special guests who are more involved in the ‘music’ side of the business.
3. Why are you doing this?
I always wanted to do something in the music industry because I went to a lot of concerts, but I didn’t know exactly what, because I can’t sing or play an instrument. It grew out of a passion for music and it always fascinates me why some artists are very successful and other are not.
4. How are artists being spotted right now in the Netherlands?
Artists are mainly spotted through talent shows such as The Voice, events like Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, and the Amsterdam Dance Event. Artists are also spotted when they have a large fan base, have their music used in commercials or as a film soundtrack, and when they do incredible gigs.
5. What must be in place for an artist to be signed to a label?
You need to have a solid and faithful fan base. Everything has to be right: good music, good musicians, good live music and a good live performance. The image of the artist needs to be in line with the story of the artist.
6. What is needed for an artist to be successful in their career?
Being a self-aware person who knows their strengths and weaknesses, and they need to have developed a good business plan, with good partners to help them along the way. And, of course, the music has to speak to those members of the public that the artist is trying to reach.
7. What are the main ‘added values’ an artist must have in order to be successful?
He or she needs to stand out in the market. Why are they different from other artists? And it’s important that they know how the music industry works.
8. How does the business/marketing side of things work with artists here in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands we have an alternative, dance and singer-songwriter market. Dance is still a very up and coming market.
9. What are the main goals/struggles for artists/musicians here in the Netherlands?
The main struggle is that most artists ‘think’ they’re good at what they do. They also think they know everything about the music industry. Later in their career they find out they don’t know as much about the music industry as they thought they did… when it can be too late.
10. How are artists dealing with video, social media, online content and interaction with fans in order to introduce themselves?
Branding is very important these days, so artists need to have some knowledge of this. Some of them think it’s very hard; some don’t – it’s a huge topic! I think you need to have a personal brand identity to be successful. This is the best way to show yourself to the public; you need to get yourself into a position where you can’t be copied, and that will mean you can start to become well established.
11. Do you have any tips for artists/musicians who want to enter the Dutch music market? What are the first things they must do?
It’s important to know where your style fits in and if there are places to go with your genre – so you need to do research on this. Having a website with lots of information about you is a must for reaching people in the music industry. Try to build your own fan base and have a good marketing plan.
Find out about BIMM’s Music Business courses.