Self Possessed Records was set up by Nick Kelly, former frontman with The Fat Lady Sings, as a vehicle to release his debut solo album “Between Trapezes”. The philosophy behind the label is encapsulated in Nick’s 10 STEPS TO SELF POSSESSION – written back in 1997, but still relevant today.
1. DON’T WAIT TO BE DISCOVERED: Making demos to send to record companies is a waste of time: if you’re good enough to be signed, you’re good enough to make records yourself. Understand that you are always completely responsible for your own success, and take that responsibility on.
2. COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY WITH YOUR FANS: If somebody enjoys one of your shows, but doesn’t leave you an address or some other way of contacting them, you lose a valuable asset.
3. PLAN FOR THE LONG HAUL: Set yourself long-term artistic goals, rather than short-term commercial ones, and you’ll be happier – and probably more commercially successful in the end, too.
4. EMOTION BEATS TECHNIQUE EVERY TIME: Technical perfection is impossible to achieve, expensive to attempt, and ultimately pointless. It doesn’t matter how rough the recording is if you manage to squeeze magic into it. And no amount of polish can turn an uninspired recording into an inspired one.
5. BE FOCUSED: The music industry is one of the most wasteful, short-sighted and poorly-organised businesses there is. You’re unlikely to have the financial resources of a major record label, but you can more than compensate by being smarter, sharper and more flexible. Successful careers are built upon imagination, planning and timing, not big bucks.
6. UNDERSTAND MARKETING: Music journalists and radio producers receive hundreds of CDs and press releases every week, most of which never get played or read. So learn to differentiate yourself from the competition. Target your communications. Be clear. Be brief. Be timely. Be polite. Don’t be boastful or desperate. Above all, be intriguing.
7. NETWORK: You’d be amazed how helpful and generous people can be. By the same token, if you can do somebody a good turn, do it. Karma works.
8. DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS: Do you really want to be an MTV icon as well as a serious artist? Find a way of selling just 5-10,000 albums a year – a laughable pittance by major label standards – and you’ll still be making the music you want to make when you’re 70, earning a very comfortable living and completely independent of the insecurities and vagaries of the music industry.
9. DON’T WASTE MONEY INDULGING YOUR EGO: Don’t hire musicians, managers, road crew, etc. unless you’re convinced that (a) you really need them, and (b) they’re able to do the job better than you can yourself. Don’t make videos, release promotional singles or plan expensive tours just because other bands do.
10. BE PROFESSIONAL: Just because you’re small is no reason for you not be efficient, punctual, honest, reliable and courteous in all your dealings. Leave power games and posturing to the insecure.