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How to steal my job… freelance consultant

In our How To Steal My Job series, we’ll be talking to key music industry players bringing you their top industry tips….

Chantelle Fiddy is an all-rounder in the music industry. Formerly a contributing editor for RWD magazine and Mixmag, Fiddy is also an ex-UD marketing alumni. Having moved into A&R and music management, with a 360-degree view of the industry, Fiddy brings you her ten top tips to make it BIG…

1. Think of yourself like a brand

Imagine yourself as a product. What do you want people to think when they see, hear or read you? Reliability, creativity, originality and social awareness are four of the key identifiers I bring myself back to every time I take on a new client/ project. If you put no value, voice or key messaging into what you are about, you just become one of the faceless many. Remember, you only have one reputation.

2. Don’t be a jack of all trades and master of none

My degree is in journalism but I initially applied to do advertising and fashion promotion. While I’m not here to advocate university as the key route in, my degree did give me a foundation as a studied specialist. Honing my skills further throughout my career, I’ve learnt how to take these skills and apply them to other areas of existing knowledge and areas I wanted to grow in, marketing being one of them.

3.  Take a positive from a negative

Whether it’s a failed project, an editor trashing your work or an epic fail on your part, take ownership in the mistake or your role in it. Humbleness will get you everywhere and some of my best achievements have been born of a negative situation.

4. Use your words wisely

Do not be bent over by pressures of your employer, record companies or press officers.  While the nature of journalism – music especially – has changed considerably in the last decade, it’s important to respect the rules of the NUJ. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then click here (http://media.gn.apc.org/nujcode.html).

The money may be down and the jobs harder but you are in a privileged position to spread the trusted word to the wider public, respect that.

5. Read and weep

If you don’t read (properly) you’ll never surpass your current standard or expectations. Read books and articles you find challenging, aim to find new words to boost your vocabulary and develop ‘your voice’. My aim is always that somebody reading my work should hear me in it. Reading your work out loud should let you know if you’ve hit the nail on the head.

6. Get out of the box

Make your own formula. So what if everyone else thinks a certain route or method is applicable, do what works for you. I tailor myself to a job accordingly and also recommend sitting on the floor when it comes to getting the best ideas (others claim a hot shower provides equal inspiration).

7. Freelance v staff position

You might not actually have a life – cutting it as a freelancer in the music industry isn’t easy. If you don’t have the self-discipline to be up of your own accord and working at 9.30am then forget it. A white board, 10 calendar-deep iCal, a daily to do list and coffee are just some of the things I need to survive.

8. Don’t think you know it all

Listen and learn. Being able to predict future stars in music, whether as a journalist or A&R, isn’t just about hearing a record you like. A record you dislike could be just as worthy for the top 10. As well as taking notes at seminars (something I wish I’d done more of now I’ve branched into other aspects of the music industry) it’s worth doing some case studies and seeing how different artists have successfully be taken from zero to hero. Also look at those who’ve failed. The tipping point isn’t guaranteed.

9. Be nice on the way up

You don’t know who you’re going to end up working with and where, so remember at all times that you’re a business.  Attempt to smile where possible and mind your mouth. I’ve never had a CV or a formal job interview – being connected and respected is vital to your success when going it self-employed.

10. Diversify with pride

Funnily enough, I didn’t set out intending to write soley about music and as a result realised a long time ago that I didn’t have the heart or desire to cut it as a full-time music writer – I’d rather write less but put my name to the publications I respect and articles I long to write.  The path I’ve taken has led to me managing a number of websites and social networks for artists. Redefining how I apply my creativity and written word has been a fresh challenge and it’s an ever-changing landscape that I enjoy being a part of.

This article was originally published online by UD in 2011

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