Saturday, October 31, 2009

Are Subscriptions the Future?

~ Here is an excerpt from an interview I found on Music Think Tank with indie artist Matthew Ebel. I have been thinking for a while now that the subscription model for bands is going to be the future. No one has a crystal ball, so who knows, but it seems to be working for Matthew. What do you think?

AH: If you could give a band or artist any type of advice on how to start in social media, what would you advise them to do?

OK, so, six things that have made a difference for me…

1. Stop the Musical Masturbation
I wasted so much time playing open mics and writer’s nights in Nashville and Boston. The same is true of all the “hot new music sites” that spring up every 20 minutes on the Internet. The fans do not go there, you’re only entertaining yourself. Every open mic I’ve ever seen is a room full of musicians politely waiting for their turn to get on stage. These events only introduce musicians to other musicians and offer some live performance practice. Trying to sell CD’s at an open mic is like trying to sell timeshare condos at a telemarketing convention. Fans go to Facebook or iTunes, not Stereofame. I could waste all my time playing for a crowd of other broke indie artists or I can spend my efforts approaching fans where they’re already congregating.

2. Shove Yourself Into A Niche
Music fans aren’t found on sites for music fans. I’m inspired by certain things– technology, animals, politics, sci-fi/ fantasy –and so is every other artist. Whatever I’m writing about, there’s a community based around that topic. Instead of going after generic “music fan” crowds, I chose to focus on specific niches that share MY interests. Since I’m into podcasting and new media stuff, my music has been resonating particularly well with the geek crowd. That is where I focus my efforts. I’m also a big sci-fi/ fantasy nerd as well, so I hit conventions and gatherings of that nature. Not only is my music relevant to them, I can relate to them on a personal level.

3. Get Personal
I imagine this advice won’t apply to “concept bands” that have a specific theatrical act or image, but getting personal with my fans is what keeps me alive. Good music is barely enough to get fans to hand out 99¢ anymore; they have to be emotionally invested in the artist if that artist wants their loyalty. Don’t get me wrong, there can still be a “fourth wall” during a live concert or video, but real, meaningful connection with the fans is what keeps me in their heads after the show’s over (heck, even your “character” can interact with fans in-character). I chat with my fans via Twitter, Facebook, and, and as many other channels as possible. The more I interact with them between performances, the more I stay fresh in their minds and the more inspiration I draw from them.

4. Keep Them Screaming Your Name
In October of 2008 I started my own subscription service– –with no clue whether the fans would like it or not. Part of the offerings were two new songs and one live concert recording every month. It seemed like a tall order to me, but something I could accomplish. Little did I realize that new releases every two weeks would be better than any good album reviews or press coverage. Giving my fans something new to talk about every two weeks meant exactly that: they talk about me every two weeks. They’re not buying an album, raving about it, and losing interest after a few months, they’re constantly spreading my name to their Twitter followers, coworkers, pets, etc. Regular delivery of quality material is damn near my one-step panacea for the whole industry.

5. Don’t Suck
No amount of marketing can make up for a total lack of talent– this is why people don’t want to spend $20 on major label CD’s anymore. 25 years of piano and a music degree doesn’t guarantee I’ll be a success, but it gives me one hell of an advantage. I try to keep myself sharp and never assume I’m good enough. Even long-time pro football players go through spring training every year. If nothing else, I find that surrounding myself with talent raises the bar for my own ambitions. I listen to Ben Folds to inspire my production and piano abilities, I follow people like Ariel Hyatt and Amanda Palmer to improve my outreach, I keep a steady stream of Pat Monahan on my Pandora list to hear what kickass vocals sound like. I always want to be on my toes.

6. Experiment In Public
Speaking of being on my toes, I try to push my comfort level in plain sight. Sometimes I’ll produce a song in a style I’ve never really attempted before and release it to my subscribers at –sometimes it flies, sometimes it doesn’t. My first attempt at Trance, a song called “Night Train”, has become one of the most requested songs I play at live shows now. It’s the first one people have openly talked about pirating. For something I originally downplayed as “just an experiment”, it’s now one of my biggest hits. I experiment onstage as well, trying new arrangements or even lyrics. My fans love knowing that they’re part of something spontaneous, that they’ve got a hand in shaping the very future of my music. Happy fans are vocal fans.

See full article here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Action Not Words!

~ Here is an article I found on Music Think Tank by Loren Weisman. The entire post is much longer and you can read it here:
I have just posted some of highlights here. I hope you find it motivating! Enjoy...

So many of the people and artists to whom this is pointed at have shared all their excuses with those around them, “It is the industries fault.” “I can’t do this or I cant do that because it is harder to do in this city, this genre, this time” or a number of other pointless, pathetic excuses that are used to help them justify their bullshit. They point the blame in a different direction in order to feel better about themselves and where they are in their career or where they aren’t, more accurately.

Now sometimes there are reasons why something goes wrong, why something isn’t happening or didn’t happen. There are justifications and reasons within the industry or along a musician’s path that are legitimate hurdles and roadblocks, yet what are you doing about them? And how are you going to shift things to get what you want? This goes for the artists but also for every person that is bitching, whining or complaining about anything. Your complaining is pointless. Your action taken to make real change is what it takes to succeed.

What ever happened to true effort, the desire to learn and develop ones ability? What happened to the problem solvers? Where did the overall proficiency of an artist go? Why does it seem that those possessing the traits to succeed are so much more the minority these days?

I think it comes down to these 12 key deficiencies that many artists, musicians and for that matter a great deal of people outside of the music industry share.

• We are lazy
• We are undereducated
• We do not know how to win and we certainly do not know how to lose
• We do not have the social skills
• We are afraid of confrontation
• We are spoon fed with notions that we “can be anything”, so much so that we don’t put forth the effort associated with being successful
… Then, at the first sign of hardship or challenge…
• We are ready to give up on the drop of a hat
• We think a positive attitude is all it takes
• We don’t think about the details, instead, we just believe in the best case scenario
• Our egos have been boosted but our confidence is walking on eggshells
• We want instant gratification and lack the patience required for true success

Again, so many people are out in the world talking about going after your dreams, yet there is little focus on the fact that in reaching for those dreams the journey will entail a ton of hard work and revisions to your path of success. Positive attitude should absolutely be there, and should be complimented through the tools and methods required to being a success, especially in the music business as it changes face and reinvents it self everyday. Simply having a positive attitude is absolutely not enough. Even those who believe in the “Law of Attraction” recognize that you must put action behind that energy and belief. Drive and determination both require ACTION.

Conclusion: What do you do?

It is one thing to identify a problem, and another thing to actually take action and solve it. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do know it takes effort and execution. It takes taking a hard cold look at yourself, your music, your band and what you are doing, while assessing those things you might need to change and those things that should remain the same.

What are you doing everyday to get you closer to what you want? If you are, keep going. If not, change it. Maybe it won’t be overnight but start with the small steps to assure a brighter future.

What has worked for you or brought small successes? Analyze it, work on it and see if you can apply it to other areas that are not working.

What has to change? If you are not sure how to change the things that need changing, then reach out, find help, educate yourself and empower yourself with knowledge instead of going for that same piece of cheese that is electrified. Hell even rats start to learn not to do the same thing if the result is negative; maybe it’s your turn.

Stay educated on the business of music just like you are staying educated on the music it self. What opportunities are presenting them selves? What new methods are being applied that you can apply to your group? Keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. Just like a lawyer needs to continually stay up to date with the changing laws, a musician needs to stay up to date in the same way to be as effective and as successful as possible.

If something is too good to be true or seems too easy to be real, it probably is. Amazing things can happen, but make sure they are amazing in the way that are good for you today, tomorrow and next year as well.

Try to look at the traits above as a whole. Maybe none of them apply to you, maybe all apply and instead of being defensive, angry or in denial, begin to address elements inside you. The better you can “know thyself”, the sooner you can work to become stronger in the areas you are weak, your dreams and your career. No one is perfect and I have to address issues above just like everyone else.

Take the assertiveness and confidence you have inside with the things you are sure of, and work that to your benefit. Watch for teaming up or pairing with others who are not ready to do the work that has to be done. Surround yourself with the hardest working, strongest communicating and best musicians you possibly can. Respect the business side just as you respect the art side, and you will have a bigger chance in an industry where the chances of success become slimmer and slimmer day by day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spider Speaks

~ Here are some excerpts from an interview I found by my buddy Spider from Powerman 5000. He is a guy who has rode some waves and weathered some storms in this biz. I think you can learn a lot from other peoples experiences sometimes. Follow him on Twitter @therealSpider1

Chad Bowar: Since your last album you have a whole new backing band. How did the new guys come to join the group?
Spider One: It seems like I’ve installed a revolving door in this band. It’s weird. When you grow up and start a band, you assume it’s going to be the same four or five guys for life, and you’re brothers. For whatever reason, this band is almost the opposite of that, and I’ve come to terms with it in a way that’s kind of cool. I think of it as more that the band is an idea that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

How did you go about finding a new record label for this album?
We were with Dreamworks for a long time, and it was great. Then very quickly they dissolved. In was 2003 or 2004 and we were on the road, and asked to come home. The album came out and debuted at number 25 on the chart, and we were on a successful tour. Little did we know what was going on behind the scenes. Everything sort of crumbled. But we’re really fortunate to have benefited from that time. That led us to the point where we can do what we want to do. Enough people know the band where we can exist on more of an indie level. We maintain our distribution through Universal. A lot of people love to complain about how terrible it is now, but with those bad things are equally as many good things you can advantage of as a band, and I like to look at those things.

Read full interview here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fans are Necessary!

~ here is an informative article I found at the Creative Deconstruction blog. Hopefully you are already aware of the 1000 true fans concept. If not I highly suggest you google it, or read my "You Should Have Already Read This" post. The following is in relation to some of the building blocks associated with cultivating those 1000 true fans. Enjoy!

I’ve put together a series of posts with some practical tips intended to get you started in finding fans and moving them up through the pyramid. The goal of course is to cultivate as many true fans as possible so that you can eventually quite that day job (if you haven’t already) and develop a self-sustaining career in music.

Start Local

The hardest part of building a fan base is often finding an audience in the first place. The best place to start looking is in your hometown. You don’t have to travel, which means you have little to no expenses. You probably have a decent idea of where bands play and what kinds of bands play there.

If you can get to the point where you can consistently sell 300 tickets in your city then chances are you’ve got a strong enough base to begin exploring the surrounding region. Find bands that are selling those same 300 tickets in neighboring cities and ask them to gig swap. You open for them in their city, they open for you in your city. You expand your reach and build your network in the process.

Utilize Online Tools

Beyond conquering your local scene you also have access to the entire world online. The internet has made it easier than ever to target the potential fans at the bottom of the pyramid. People wear their musical tastes like a badge of honor online. If you find people who listen to music similar to your own you’ve got a great place to start making inroads.

Search Twitter, join relevant Facebook groups. Set up Google alerts and TweetBeeps for not only your band name but the names of your influences as well. Figure out where these people are and go after them. Send them free tracks and if enough respond from one particular place, make sure you can set up a show nearby to invite them to.

Live Performance is Key

Notice that both of these examples revolve around live performances. Yes, you can distribute your music online and acquire new listeners and potential fans that way. And you should – maybe it will cause a few sparks to spring up in unexpected places. But the live performance is where the connection happens. Potential fans become actual fans at the show.

See original article here:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

You Can't Afford to be Bitter!

~ I found this article on The Music Industry Report (link below). I think you will find it very interesting. Do you treat your band as a business? How many of these listed items are you already doing? Hit me up, let me know what you think!

What do artists and songwriters have to do today to increase their prospects of making a living — if not a killing?

Today, artists and their managers have to do it all. They have to be their own promotion and marketing team. They have to network, build relationships and nurture their fans.

Most of all, they must come to terms with the fact that no one is going to invest their time and money into the artists’ music and careers unless they can see a path to getting a return on that investment. That path is still taking shape in the new music landscape; often referred to as Music 2.0. It’s still called show business and not show friends so investors have to have a stomach for risk. Artists can’t afford to be bitter about having to do it all themselves and I speak to many who unfortunately are. Artists and their managers have the most to gain in today’s business models and they get to keep a lot more of their rights and income than ever before. So, if they are diligent and their music is good they can earn a very decent living.

Nothing can replace good music, charisma, playing lots of gigs, having a good street team of fans who help artists spread the word and nurturing a growing fan base. However, there are so many tools now directly available to artists to help them do even these things that didn’t exist just a few years ago that leveraging them is a must if artists are going to succeed in the new landscape.

I’ll leave it here for now, but for good measure I’m throwing in a list of things artists should be doing and if you know any you can pass this list along:

First, they must get attention. Money will follow.

1. Artists should sign up to as many online social networks as possible where they can post theirs or their band’s profile and music. They need to network with fans and similar bands on those sites. They include but are not limited to:

a. MySpace
b. Facebook
c. iMeem
d. Broadjam
e. Mog
f. Reverb Nation

2. They need to get valuable feedback and analytic information on their music from focus groups and real industry professionals

a. SoundOut
b. Music Xray (my company)
c. They should use Google Analytics to measure activity on their website

3. They should submit their songs to real industry opportunities, song contests and gigs

a. SonicBids
b. Music Xray (still my company)
c. Great American Song Contest
d. International Songwriting Competition
e. John Lennon Songwriting Contest

4. They should distribute their music to all digital retail outlets

a. TuneCore
b. The Orchard
c. IODA Alliance
d. Reverb Nation

5. They should consider “pre-clearing” their music for sync licensing (like Getty Images but for songs)

a. Pump Audio (actually owned by Getty Images)
b. AudioSocket
c. Sir Groovy

6. They should consider placing their songs on sites that enable their fans to “pitch in” to fund their recording and marketing.

a. Sellaband
b. SliceThePie

7. Especially they should stay up to date on the new music space. There are some very good blogs and newsletters they should be reading.

a. Music Think Tank
b. Hypebot
c. Mog
d. Lefsetz Letter
e. MI2N


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Playing Live: The Catch 22

Here is an excerpt from a more in depth article on getting and playing your first gig(s). I suggest you check it out here:

Most new bands approach the first part of their careers like this: We need to find an audience, but in order to find an audience we have to play shows. If we want to play shows we have to get a talent buyer to book us, but talent buyers are going to want to know we can draw an audience before they’ll ever consider letting us play. It’s a frustrating catch-22.

The most important concept that I want to get across is that the only person who can hold you back from launching your career is yourself. Booking agents, talent buyers, club owners – none of these people owe you anything. They are never going to care as much about what you are doing as you do, and you shouldn’t expect them to. If one of these gatekeepers is standing in your way there is no reason why you shouldn’t simply find a way to go around them. Independent artists live and die on their ability to find creative solutions for difficult problems. So get creative.

View full article here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Invest in Your Career

~ I pulled this excerpt from a considerably much longer article by Ariel Hyatt. I encourage you to check it out at the link below, but in the meantime I found this to be a very simple yet effective way to look at your future career in this nu-music biz...

I’ve discovered 3 key crucial elements to figuring out the new music industry.

1. Run your career like a business, but ditch the myths: there is very little money in the music industry, there never was much to begin with and there’s less now. Record labels are not going to rescue you.

2. Quality Matters.

3. All careers take time!

The three rules generally work together: Setting appropriate expectations, focusing on your art, and connecting to your fans as you develop over a long period of time. Your career is an investment by you, and anyone who wants to pay you to be you. And for a return on your investment, your goal is to make it a desirable investment to your most beloved fans.

View original article here:

Don't be Bullshit!

“I will make it in this business because I believe in myself. I have the drive and determination to be a success. Plus, I have great songs and an amazing band!” Hey, while we are here, let’s add, “I’m smart, talented and, gosh darn it, people like me.”

Reality check, people: it takes a lot more than drive, determination, a positive attitude and believing in yourself to make it in the music business. I’m not saying you don’t need those things. They’re helpful, but they are only one small piece of the whole.

Talk is cheap

If song or artist is good enough, they will be found. Bullshit.

If you just believe it will happen, it will. Bullshit.

If you just know it’s going to happen, it will. Bullshit.

Talk is cheap and, unfortunately, talk is currently taking the place of action. Many artists put all their energy into the determination, the drive and the attitude while they forget to do the actual work to make their dreams real. I am all about positive attitudes and believing in yourself, your dreams and your goals, but you have to do the freaking work in order to achieve them. Too many, and I mean WAY too many, seem to forget that. Without doing the work, you’re just living in a dreamland.

Mixing the drive with the direction

You want success? Then do the work and make it happen. If all you got is talk, determination and belief, then keep your day job. Stop talking and start acting on your dreams.

Think of the positive attitude and the determination as fuel. All those nice happy elements have their place, but without the action, they’re like gas in a parked car. It takes clear direction, it takes a solid plan, it takes consistent work and it takes an engine and a driver to turn the key and move forward. Gas on its own is just fuel. A dream on its own is just a dream. It takes commitment and effort on the worst and hardest days, not just the easiest, to work your ass off in order to make your dreams the reality.

Too many people also claim that they know exactly what it takes to make it in the music industry. But if you have all of the answers, if you have it all figured out, why aren’t you where you want to be?

It takes the right direction. It takes the right approach, a clear plan of action and an approach that will fit you, your situation and your goals. If you are working off of models of artists from 20 years ago, I guarantee that you will not have the same results of those artists. This also goes for all the studios, the producers and the engineers that you talk to that claim you have the best stuff they have heard in years. Now, it may not be all of them, but a lot of them are giving you the compliments you want to hear so that they can get the business and cash they need.

Avoiding the swing set

Avoid the really high highs and the really low lows. Working crazy hours non-stop leads to burn out which leads to neglecting the work that needs to be done. Spread the work out evenly across a number of days maintain your endurance. Of course some days you are going to have to work more than others, but if you have a regular schedule that is easy to keep, the work will easily become habit.

The same goes with the hype. If you spend all of your time talking yourself into how your career is just going to take off and then going around telling everyone how big you’re going to be, you will not only burn out others’ trust in you, but, eventually, your trust in yourself. Talk with confidence and back it up in action. Instead of bragging about how you are “on the brink”, talk about the small steps, like a review you received or how sales are going up, something a little more real and tangible. Otherwise you are just another annoying artist that comes off talking shit and not showing follow through.

Will power, positive attitudes and drive can hurt as much as help

If you spend all your time talking about it and not doing it, you are not moving forward. Be positive, but then use that energy to push you to do the work: call a venue back to inquire about a booking, make sure you get a sample of a song out everyday, etc. That’s showing the drive and determination by applying a plan and executing it.

Plans and workloads

Establish an effective plan and stick to it. If it has to change, then change it for the right reasons and not because you are tired or you don’t want to do the work. Learn from books and other artists who are doing it the right way and getting the right results now. Work on the immediates, such as internet postings, song samples, sending emails or press packs for reviews, posting pictures, doing online sales, giveaways, etc. Reach out to other venues, bands and artists. Research labels, touring companies, booking agents or talent buyers. Divide the work load to take positive steps everyday to ensure that you are being as effective as possible with the allotted time. This is just skimming the surface, but success hinges on a solid plan and continuous execution of that plan.


Instead of talking about what you are going to do, do it. Take small, forward steps everyday. Build the foundation of your music, your product, your branding, your marketing and promotion so that, as you move forward, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Step up and do it right. Don’t cut the corners. These efforts will pay off in the end. You will appear much more professional and together than a lot of other artists who are appealing to the same people.

Stay positive but match that with the planning, the work, the endurance and the effort. Do it the right way and take the right steps to be in as much control as you can while moving forward in the best way possible. Otherwise, your music will only ever be a hobby.

Find original article here:

Attention Broke Musicians...

I know you musicians can be pretty broke, so here’s 5 legitimate ways to make money while living inside of a 15 passenger van or bus. All you need is a computer and to not be a total moron. Now you can use all of those long drives between shows to be productive and not just sit on your ass listening to music while rereading back issues Alternative Press.

Elance - I’d like to welcome you to the wonderful world of freelance. It turns out there’s people that actually believe you when you say you don’t need to be in the office to be productive. Elance is a central hub that connects those needing freelance services with those offering freelance services. Write some one’s resume for $50 or design their website for $50,000. Elance offers short term and long-term projects in diverse fields like writing and translation, design and multimedia, and web and programming. There are varying levels of membership that range from free to a low monthly payment, but with an average of 25,000 freelance jobs posted every month, the earnings potential is worth the investment.

ChaCha – Ok, some of you have probably heard of this. Cha Cha is a free text messaging service, where questions sent from your phone are forwarded to a Cha Cha “guide” that answers your question and has the response forwarded back to your phone. Guides get paid per question answered and average between $3 and $9 an hour. All that’s required are quality search skills and a high-speed Internet connection. I was actually a guide myself for a few months and was able to make a couple hundred bucks a month while sitting on my couch watching tv and drinking beers. The best part is answering questions late at night when teenagers lament about their love lives.

“How come Danny doesn’t like me?”

“Because you’re ugly.”

BAM! I just got paid.

Affiliate Marketing – This one’s a little trickier, but will make you money if you can develop enough traffic. In this day and age of social media anyone looking to develop and maintain a loyal client base (or in your case fans), should have a blog. Fill it with original content (hey that sounds like the blog you’re reading right now!), and keep it interesting (again, I’m a shining example!). Not only will it keep your fans engaged, but it will provide web traffic that companies are willing to pay for. With Google Adsense you get make money from clicks and impressions. WithAmazon Associates you even make commission off the items people buy after clicking through from your site. Use Commission Junction to find a whole host of companies willing to place ads with you.

iStockPhoto - How many of you took photography in high school in an effort to skip out on a harder elective or appear artsy? I know you’re out there! Put those rusty photography skills to use and sell your photos on iStockPhoto. Here the everyday candids from your travels can be sold to advertisers and marketers as stock photography for their ad campaigns. You’re on tour and traveling the country, so take some pictures! Requirements: don’t suck at photography.

Etsy – Can you make anything? Do you have any creative skills at all? Etsy is a craft based website that allows you to sell goods that you’ve created, anything from handmade jewelry to your crappy art. Did you build a birdhouse in shop class? Sell that shit on Etsy. Did your girlfriend secretly teach you to knit? Then knit some slippers and sell that shit on Etsy. If you can make it, you can sell it.

See original article here:

Trent Knows Best?

Trent Reznor:

I posted a message on Twitter yesterday stating I thought The Beastie Boys and TopSpin Media “got it right” regarding how to sell music in this day and age. Here’s a link to their store: [] Shortly thereafter, I got some responses from people stating the usual “yeah, if you’re an established artist – what if you’re just trying to get heard?” argument. In an interview I did recently this topic came up and I’ll reiterate what I said here.

If you are an unknown / lesser-known artist trying to get noticed / established:

* Establish your goals. What are you trying to do / accomplish? If you are looking for mainstream super-success (think Lady GaGa, Coldplay, U2, Justin Timberlake) – your best bet in my opinion is to look at major labels and prepare to share all revenue streams / creative control / music ownership. To reach that kind of critical mass these days your need old-school marketing muscle and that only comes from major labels. Good luck with that one.

If you’re forging your own path, read on.

* Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of mouth is the only true marketing that matters.
To clarify:
Partner with a TopSpin or similar or build your own website, but what you NEED to do is this – give your music away as high-quality DRM-free MP3s. Collect people’s email info in exchange (which means having the infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods. Base the price and amount available on what you think you can sell. Make the packages special – make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU would want to have as a fan. Make a premium download available that includes high-resolution versions (for sale at a reasonable price) and include the download as something immediately available with any physical purchase. Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters… whatever.

Don’t have a TopSpin as a partner? Use Amazon for your transactions and fulfillment. []

Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere. []

Have a realistic idea of what you can expect to make from these and budget your recording appropriately.

The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or not. Every piece of music you can think of is available free right now a click away. This is a fact – it sucks as the musician BUT THAT’S THE WAY IT IS (for now). So… have the public get what they want FROM YOU instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process (plus build your database).

The Beastie Boys’ site offers everything you could possibly want in the formats you would want it in – available right from them, right now. The prices they are charging are more than you should be charging – they are established and you are not. Think this through.

The database you are amassing should not be abused, but used to inform people that are interested in what you do when you have something going on – like a few shows, or a tour, or a new record, or a webcast, etc.

Have your MySpace page, but get a site outside MySpace – it’s dying and reads as cheap / generic. Remove all Flash from your website. Remove all stupid intros and load-times. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO NAVIGATE AND EASY TO FIND AND HEAR MUSIC (but don’t autoplay). Constantly update your site with content – pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and start a community. Engage your fans (with caution!) Make cheap videos. Film yourself talking. Play shows. Make interesting things. Get a Twitter account. Be interesting. Be real. Submit your music to blogs that may be interested. NEVER CHASE TRENDS. Utilize the multitude of tools available to you for very little cost of any – Flickr / YouTube / Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.

If you don’t know anything about new media or how people communicate these days, none of this will work. The role of an independent musician these days requires a mastery of first hand use of these tools. If you don’t get it – find someone who does to do this for you. If you are waiting around for the phone to ring or that A & R guy to show up at your gig – good luck, you’re going to be waiting a while.

View full article here:

Make This Work for You

These are a list of rules for personal branding. A lot of the predictions for the "new music industry" is basically "bands as brands". So... I thought you might be able to take a few of these items and make them work for you.

Rule #1: Never give up!

This one is self-explanatory. If you give up, you won’t make it far in life. You’ll also let your competition more successful and you’ll feel like a quitter and lose respect from your peers. Before you start a major project or a company or even a blog, decide whether the concept is something you’re A) passionate about B) have expertise in C) have either the financing or the support system to back you up. Not having A, B or C, is a reason to take a step back from executing on your plan. People who are truly passionate about something tend not to give up and see things through. On the other hand, those that lack that enthusiasm will end up wondering why they even started in the first place.

Rule #2: Believe in yourself so other people can believe in you.

The best way to get other people excited about working with you or being part of your community is to feel the emotion that you want them to feel. You can tell when someone lacks confidence and people can’t fake it either.

Rule #3: Know yourself so other people can get to know you.

This rule is taken directly from Chapter 5 of Me 2.0, which is also the first step in the personal branding process called “Discover.” By discovering your brand and narrowing down your interests, strengths and aspirations, you’re able to better communicate who you are and what value you can contribute to other people. Not taking the time to get to know yourself better will lead to awkward conversations and the inability to stand out.

Rule #4: Your greatest and most unique asset is your personality, so use it!

It’s really easy to cover up your personality and mimic someone else’s. I’m sure there has been a point in your life where you’ve gone incognito during a social event because you didn’t want to be judged harshly by other people (you wanted to fit in). When you go on a first date, you cover up your identity because you’re afraid of putting yourself out there and taking a chance. The girl or guy might be turned off on date one when you tell them you put mayonnaise on your steak. This is why a lot of relationships and marriages fail actually. People wait till they’re comfortable with you to reveal their true brand “colors.” I think there’s a massive opportunity in putting yourself out there immediately. Your brand personality is your ultimate differentiator because it can’t be copied and it can filter out your friends from everybody else pretty quickly.

Rule #5: By copying someone else you are selling yourself short.

Let’s say your friend started a blog on the Red Sox and it became so successful that the actual players started reading and commenting on it. You decide to copy the exact idea and then don’t see the same results. People get sick of the twenty million marketing blogs out there and the thousands of companies with the same ideas, audience and business models. When you break away from the pack, you can form your own pack and get a greater degree of notoriety and respect (for yourself).

Rule #6: Be consistent in everything you do if you want to build your brand.

Don’t tell me that your website looks different than your business cards and that your LinkedIn profile appears different than your paper resume. Start analyzing your actions taken both offline and online and think about how to make them more consistent so people say “oh that’s something ____ does.” The more people can identify with certain habits, clothing, tag lines, colors, etc, the more your name will get out there through word-of-mouth.

Rule #7: You need three things to be successful: Passion, Expertise and a Support System.

I’ve blogged about this before because it’s one of the frameworks I like to communicate to the masses. Passion allows you to never give up (Rule #1), expertise allows you to fulfill job requirements or client needs and a support system is the only way you can progress in your career. You’re probably thinking, “but there’s got to be more to being successful.” The truth is that there isn’t because everything else works itself out when you have these three elements locked down.

Rule #8: Take a stand on a topic because no one is interested in neutral.

Having opinions on topics is very important in a world where there are already a billion resources like the Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. The only way to really get people talking is to be red or green and not yellow (like traffic lights). When you’re neutral, then people will pass over you and not care because they think you’re either afraid to take a stand or you just don’t care enough. The people that get the most attention are those that cite their own views on a topic and don’t back down.

Rule #9: You get out what you put in, so work as hard as you can and you’ll see amazing results.

Working for eight hours a day is only going to get you eight hours of (possible) results. Doing the bare minimum of anything isn’t a great way to brand yourself either. The world praises over achievers, who invest a lot of time in delivering value. The social media world forces all of us to work even harder because there is so many more opportunities out there. Companies aren’t just hiring social media specialists for fun. Know your limits as well.

Rule #10: Imagine your future and then take each day to build it!

Take a good look at yourself. No really, you should. Think about where you currently are (financially, career, family, relationships, etc) and where you want to be in five, ten, fifteen years. If you do one thing each day to get to your long-term goals, you’ll end up reaching them. Sometimes this means setting aside an hour each night to do one thing that will help you move to the next. Neglecting short term work won’t help you achieve long term results.

See original article here:

Licensing... no longer a viable income stream?

Want to license your music into a film, television program, commercial, or other production? The Rolling Stones can command millions, as can a range of other well-established groups. But the off-the-street indie is usually looking at a very modest payout - that is, if anyone is calling back.

That was the sobering takeaway from a panel of music supervisors and program producers assembled Friday at New Noise Santa Barbara. "If you have a licensing offer on the table, regardless of what the price is, do it," advised Gerry Cueller, owner of GoBig! "If the price is $200, don't go for $1,000, because they'll just get another band for $200."

Sounds harsh, though the supply of music is simply too great for producers to entertain negotiations. Meanwhile, publishers are pushing more heavily on synch licensing opportunities, simply because mechanicals are slipping so badly. The result is a supply glut, and that means lower payouts for the chosen few. "There's very rarely a song that you absolutely need," commented Daryl Berg, director of Music Licensing and Supervision at Fuel TV.

Instead, producers have the luxury of searching around for similar-sounding content if a particular deal falls through. And, they are usually sifting through a pile of tunes on a tight timetable. "There's infinitely more music than licensing opportunities," Cueller relayed.

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You Are Your Future

Fanscape CEO Larry Weintraub is an industry veteran with 25 years of marketing experience. His extensive work in social media has given him insight into the relationship between the brand and the consumer. He has constructed a start-to-finish scenario of what the record company of the future looks like:

The record company of the future is a one or two person operation. It's the artist and if the artist is not a business person, it's their 'manager.'

The artist finds a way to record their music on the cheap. Whether they record it live at a club or multi-tracked on their home computer, it costs them very little. If they want to spend a little more, they have a job and put a little cash aside each month.

Armed with a finished album and a nice piece of accompanying art, they give their music away to the world. It's available to stream on their MySpace page; it's available for free download in exchange for an email. To the paying world, it's available on a site like that also helps them upload the music to iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and everywhere else.

When the artist plays a show, they sell their "burned" CDs for $5 with a copy of the artwork and a personal letter saying thank you. They give each paying customer three extra burned copies to give to their friends.With the finished product they go to Craigslist and find someone who can help them do their artwork for next to nothing.

Music is free. And they realize this. If people are willing to pay, they may do so. But the music is the gateway to the live show, the T-shirt, the licensing for a movie trailer.

Then they promote their album by managing a fairly simple website; a MySpace page will do. They respond to every single person who makes a post. They blog about what is going on in their lives. They ask for opinions about the music. They respond graciously. They have a YouTube channel for live performances, they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. They communicate with their fans. They let them in.

The chances for becoming a star are slim. But they always have been. Now the artist is in control. They are not indebted to a major company that doesn't really care about them. It's up to the artist to make things happen.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Merch Baby Merch!

For the performing artist, your merch table can be the lifeblood of revenue that keeps your career moving forward. Unfortunately, after all the other tasks (promoting the show, load in, soundcheck, etc.), the merch table tends to suffer from some serious neglect. Many performers treat their merch sales as an afterthought, CDs and T-shirts thrown about haphazardly. And then to top it off, it’s usually manned (or womanned) by some surly character looking like they are waiting to go to a funeral. If this sad description resembles your merch table then it’s time for an overhaul.

5 ways to improve your merch sales:

Double your sales opportunities by accepting cash AND credit with one of CD Baby’s handheld credit card swipers.

Get a fan to sell your merch for you, and preferably one that is smart, trustworthy, and (most importantly of all) good looking. Most artists aren’t very good salesmen when it comes to their own music. A true fan’s natural enthusiasm for your music will act as its own kind of sales pitch. It is always a great idea to hang out at your merch table after the show to meet the fans that came out to your show, but leave the sales duties in someone else’s hands.

Bundle your merchandise to create incentives for fans to purchase more. Have you released multiple albums in multiple formats? Try putting together different combinations (multi-disc pack, LP with disc, CD and T-shirt, etc.) for a slightly reduced price and see what sells most. Also, for your fans that no longer purchase CDs, offer download cards customized with your album artwork. (

Make it unique. Your merch table doesn’t have to be flashy or fancy but it should be uncluttered, inviting, and fit with your overall aesthetic so that people attending the show can get yet another glimpse into what makes you… you.

Don’t be stubborn with price. If you’re charging $10 for a disc and a fan only has $8, don’t let that come between you and the sale. The $2 you lose that night will come back to you when that fan tells their friends about your music and how generous you were for budging on the price when their wallet was light.