4 Ways to Make Band Practice More Efficient

4 ways to make band practice more efficient

When it comes to band practice, practice only makes perfect if you use your time efficiently.

Many bands get together with the initial intention to practice for a few hours, but get distracted and goof off, resulting in little or no progress. And other times we end up just playing what’s comfortable instead of pushing boundaries and improving as a group.

Maybe you have a show coming up, or are rehearsing your new songs for an upcoming recording session. Either way, you need to use your time together to push yourselves forward as much as possible.

Here are 4 ways you can improve your band practice sessions.

Outline Your Goals

Knowing what you’re getting into before you start can help you jump right in and maintain focus throughout your time with your band members. Getting together for jam sessions or to go over old songs is great, but ask yourself if this is really going to push your band forward.

Know what the point of your practice is before you even get together. Do you have an upcoming show? Are you preparing to record your album soon? What songs do you need to know? Where are you currently struggling? Figure out what you need to accomplish and double down.


Learn more ways to make the most of your time in the rehearsal room and beyond. Download the free ebook: The Musician’s Guide to Getting More Done.


Limit Distractions

A common problem in band practice sessions is that band members get together and lose sight of their goals. Distractions get in the way, and time ends up being used for unproductive tasks.

Here are a few things you can do to limit distractions during band practice:

  •      Turn off your cell phone (don’t turn it on vibrate, but off.  Checking for notifications can lead your mind astray.)
  •      Don’t bring guests.
  •      Don’t try multitasking. It doesn’t work.

Become Good Listeners

There’s a difference between hearing and listening.

If you hear someone, you’re often paying attention to the specific words they’re saying rather than trying to understand what it is they’re attempting to communicate.

Listening, on the other hand, is focusing your efforts on understanding the message of the communicator.

If you and your band members can focus on trying to understand what each other are trying to communicate while speaking, practice sessions will be much more efficient.

If you don’t fully understand what a band member is saying, keep asking questions and dig for more details until you get it.

Take Breaks

Human beings can only fully focus for so long, so it’s important to take breaks.

When you feel that you’re becoming more easily distracted and are more prone to mistakes, maybe it’s time to stop for a while. Take 15 minutes to grab a snack, hang out with your band members, and discuss what you’ve accomplished so far.

Be sure to keep your breaks short. Set a timer, and when your break is over, get right back into practicing. During your breaks, don’t do things like social media or video games that can pull your focus away for long periods of time.

Time management is one of the most important skills you can develop as an indie musician, and deciding where you need to focus your efforts so you can get more accomplished in less time is a big part of the New Artist Model. Check out the full New Artist Model Essential course, or get started for free with a free download of my ebook Hack the Music Business.

How Music Theory Can Improve Your Songwriting

Improve your songwriting

Songwriting is often a mysterious, transcendental experience when it is going well. It can also be one of the most challenging and frustrating creative experiences in music. Often, songwriting seems almost like a spiritual place we must magically arrive at through some sort of weird set of unexpected and inspirational circumstances – but it is also a craft that can be learned and improved on by building the skills to catch the inspiration when it hits and to create inspiration when it seems far away. 

Understanding and being able to apply music theory is enormously helpful in this process and can help you improve your songwriting. Here are a few of the big ways it can help.

Find the Best Chord for Your Song

How many times have you sat down, written inspired lyrics, strummed the first chord, started to sing and then found it impossible to find the next chord you hear in your head? Music theory can save you in this situation by helping you learn to name and identify what you hear in your head so that it is easier to find the right chord. 

A major aspect of music theory is describing the way a chord functions inside a key – or how it interacts with all the other notes and chords. By developing your ear to hear these functions, you can learn to identify what you hear in your head and, in turn, play it on your instrument. You can also find great inspiration and ideas this way by thinking about which chords or chord functions you haven’t used as much and beginning with them when you write a new song.


Start learning music theory and see how the concepts are used in modern music. Download the free ebook – Inside the Hits: The Music Theory Behind 10 Hit Songs


Find the Strongest Pitches for Your Melodies

There is never a substitute for singing as a way to create melodies, but after singing melodies for a while, you may find yourself becoming stuck and not being able to find a new melody that seems “right”. One of the best ways to address this and to improve your songwriting is to understand how melodies fit inside chords.

Without often realizing it, we usually sing melodies made up of notes that come directly from the chords we play. Learning music theory provides a way to identify and describe the way we hear a melody and expand on it. For instance, you might find that a lot of your melodies come from the notes in the first chord of a scale. If that is the case, you can expand your melodic ideas by building melodies from notes in other chords in your song. Exploring theory intentionally like this can open up a huge range of melodic options that work well.

Find the Most Exciting Rhythms for Your Band

Great chords and great melodies often aren’t worth a thing until the groove being played underneath them makes people want to dance. Finding this groove depends on your understanding of rhythm – and music theory can help you with that too. 

Think about how you feel the beat underneath your song. How is it broken up? Are the rhythms you’re playing built out of eighth notes? Sixteenth notes? Triplets? How much space is there? Does it feel very even and straight or does it feel laid back like a heavy hip-hop groove? These are all rhythmic concepts explored in theory as well. Knowing how to identify and talk about them will give you all the power you need to write and communicate what you want to your band and help them play with a powerful groove that supports your song.

Read more here: http://hitmusictheory.com

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Dave Kusek Podcast

Dave Kusek Podcast

I had a chat a couple of weeks ago with my friend Bobby Owsinski that he recorded for his Inner Circle Podcast. I I hope you enjoy it.

We talked about a lot of things in the Dave Kusek podcast including the early days of electronic and digital music, the creation of MIDI, the digital music revolution and the release of ProTools and the rise of online music education.

“Dave has been a pioneer in the digital space in many ways. Dave is the creator of Berklee Online, one of the first online education programs in the world, and now teaches music business at New Artist Model.”

You can listen to the full podcast at bobbyoinnercircle.com,  There is also some news about Spotify creating its own music label in an attempt to dominate certain playlists.

or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Read more here:
http://bobbyowsinskiblog.com/2016/09/06/dave-kusek-inner-circle-podcast/#ixzz4JamVjcPw

Learn more about the New Artist Model online music business school here.

Making Inspiration as a Songwriter

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There’s a concept in music called “making it.”

You know the story. “Making it” could be getting that big publishing deal, it could be getting the chance to perform in an awesome venue or at an event, or it could be a having your own band and recording your first few songs.

It’s interesting that, although we use the term “making it” in the music industry, most musicians and songwriters have this idea that someone else will give them their big break – be it a publishing company, and A&R agent or a booking agent.

The truth is, if you want to “make it,” you need to make it happen – you make your own opportunities.
It’s the same for inspiration.

Writer’s block is a big topic in the world of songwriting. It seems like it’s an impossible barrier that we will all inevitably face at one point or another. The ideas will be flowing, you’ll be on a roll, and then one day you’ll hit a brick wall and words won’t come out anymore. Sometimes the block will last a few hours, and sometimes you can feel like you’re stuck in a rut for days or even weeks.

Just like “making it,” inspiration seems like an uncontrollable force. Sometimes it’s there and you’ll write incredible songs, and sometimes it’s just not. But there are actually some things you can do to make inspiration something you control. If you want even more great songwriting tips, you can sign up for these free lessons.

1. Schedule Your Writing

This may sound overly simple, but the best way to find inspiration is to just write. Set aside a certain amount of time every single day to work on your songs whether you’re feeling inspired or not. Eventually your mind will know that when you sit down at your desk, it’s writing time, and you’ll be able to snap into the right state of mind almost immediately.

2. Always Carry a Journal

Although you can train yourself to get into the right mindset to write, inspiration will still strike you throughout the day when you least expect it. You could be doing something as mundane as sitting on a subway and the perfect song title or lyric line will hit you, and if you don’t write it down, you’ll often forget it before you get home.

With that in mind, always have some way to write your ideas down. You could carry a small journal, take notes in your phone or tablet, text yourself the lyrics, or record a short voice memo. Then, when you sit down in your writing chair, you’ll be able to come back to your ideas.

3. Challenge Yourself

With any activity, you’ll hit plateaus, and songwriting is no different. Even if you’re writing a lot of songs, you get this feeling that you’re not progressing, or that your lyrics seem to be different variations on the same thing.

A plateau is just a comfort zone. You get comfortable writing about certain themes, in certain keys, or with certain melodic phrases or song structures. And the only way to break out of that comfort zone is to challenge yourself. Set yourself little tests like writing a song about an everyday object, writing a song that modulates, writing a song that uses a particular word, or writing a song that’s under two minutes long. These exercises may not go on to be a top 40 hit, but they will help you expand your creativity.

The truth is, songwriting is a craft, and something you can learn to do better with practice and a plan. If you’d like more songwriting tips, you can sign up for these free lessons I created with Kevin Thomas, songwriter, teacher, and founder of Songwriting Planet. In the free lessons, we go through techniques that will help you write better lyrics and melodies, and then protect your songs and start growing a fanbase.

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Network your way to Success

Who will help you succeed in music? There is really nothing more important to your career than the RELATIONSHIPS you develop over time. It’s all about who you know and who knows you – and how big your network is.

Are people taking you seriously? Do you know how to approach them and get their attention? The next person you meet may be the one who will change your life forever. Are you prepared for that? You want to network your way to success.

In this final video of my Mini Series I reveal the secrets of Power Networking. I show you how to engage with people and get on their radar screen. Plain and simple, the reason that artists and writers get famous and develop huge fan followings is that they get out there and network effectively.

Watch this video to see how it is done

studio

I have helped hundreds of musicians cut through the noise and get themselves into positions where they can be successful. Now let me help you.

In the Mini Series I revealed the proven strategies I have been teaching my members and clients including:

  • How to create Communities of Fans and Super Fans
  • How to develop Experiences that your Fans will Crave and Pay You for
  • How to make Money in Music and Monetize your Audience Again and Again
  • How to uncover Opportunities via Power Networking
  • How to unlock Multiple Revenue Streams to support Your Career
  • How to get your audience to go from “Free” to “Paid”
  • Plus much, much more…

If you have not watched all 4 videos, I urge you to watch them soon – while they are still available.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this with them.

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

As an independent artist, it’s frustrating to be stuck and broke. You find yourself wondering why others are successful and where all the money is hidden. Yeah I know, it’s really all about the music, but the reality is you need money to operate your business and invest in your future.

In my continuing Mini Series, I reveal tools and specific strategies you can implement to create multiple revenue streams and cash flow for your music. Discover two crowdfunding platforms you can use to support your art and ring your cash register again and again. 2015 can be your best year ever!

Let’s get to it.

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You will learn about Patreon and Pledge Music and how to use those platforms to increase your cash flow through fan funding.

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement. I absolutely love hearing what you’re thinking, so please be sure to leave a comment or question below today’s video. Someone will be very happy that they did.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from watching this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them. 

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The Changing Face of Music

Two related pieces of content rolled through my email inbox this morning that I have to share. The first is a Apple produced video from 1988 on MIDI, that helped to popularize the use of computers in music in the early days of “desktop music publishing”. Like most things from Apple, the video does not mention any of the amazing products (besides the Mac) that defined this era, including Master Tracks Pro, Finale, Encore, Opcode, Alchemy, and Digital Performer.  But they are all included in the video. It is amazing how relevant this video is even 26 years later. YIKES!  The dawn of MIDI.

I love the big hair and seeing lots of my friends again including David Rosenthal, Frank Serafine, David Mash, Tom Coster, Bryan Bell, Herbie Hancock, musicians Chick Corea, Carlos Santans, Laurie Anderson, Tony Williams, Chester Thompson and others. Thanks to Denis Labrecque for sharing this with me.


SECOND PIECE of content is this great graphic from Digital Music News showing how music formats have changed from 1983 (the year both MIDI and the CD were released) and 2013. You can easily see how the business has morphed, shrunk and completely re-invented itself over the past 31 years. If you don’t think “the music business” has changed much over the last 3 decades – take a good look at this. Thanks to Charlie McEnerney and Paul Resnikoff for this.

30 Years of Music Format Changes

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Make Your Gig Memorable

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There’s a few ways to approach your gig. You could lug your gear up on stage, play a few of your best songs, lug your gear off stage, and go home. This is the tried and true method for indie musicians playing smaller venues and trying to build up their audience. It works, but because it’s tried and true, everyone is doing it. From the audience’s perspective, it’s easy for your music to blend into the music of the band before you.

The other route you could take is to make your gig an experience. This means you need to go beyond just playing for your audience – you need to get them involved. There are plenty of musicians who have done this is the past and tons who are doing it today. Frank Zappa, KISS, Phish, EDM DJs, and the Orion Experience are just a few who have turned their live show into an experience. Zappa’s audience never knew what antics were coming next, Phish fans reacted in certain ways to certain songs, EDM DJ’s change up their set depending on the mood and energy of the room, and the Orion Experience turned their live show into a full-on production with dancers and lights.

You don’t need to be at the point in your career where you can afford to hire a team of 30 dancers to be able to turn your gig into an experience. Get your fans clapping during certain songs or singing during others. Bring out funny props or throw a beach ball into the crowd for your fans to throw around. Get creative with it!

This article is by Chris Robley from CD Baby. This is just a short excerpt from the interview, but you can check out the whole thing over on the CD Baby blog.

What led you to creating an off-Broadway show featuring your band and music? 

The Orion Experience as a band has been together since 2007, and we’ve played all over the country, mostly in indie rock venues. I think there comes a point when, as an artist and a performer, it becomes a bit routine. I’m not trying to disparage the live music experience at all, but in other forms of entertainment i.e. a Movie, or a Theatrical show, there is a suspension of disbelief that the audience participates in… And by that I mean, the lights go down, the orchestra plays the overture, there is the feeling that something magical is about to happen… A lot of times at an indie rock show, the sound guy says you have 5 minutes to set up as the audience watches you lug your amps onto the stage and tune your guitars… I think we just got tired of that kind of performing, and that was the impetus to start approaching our live show in a different way.

I’ve heard that when you were playing shorter sets in clubs you employed someone to simply dim the lights after every song. Can you talk more about some creative solutions your average indie band could use to liven up a typical club gig?

That was one of the first steps we took towards adding some theatricality to our shows. Even the simple act of having the lights go dark before we take the stage, or after a song ends can have a big effect on how the audience perceives the show. You know, look at your stage the way a painter looks at a canvas… What kind of picture are you trying to paint with your band? It’s important.

Can you tell us some of the details of taking your songs to an off-Broadway setting? What was the process like working with a director? How long did it all take? How large is the crew, and what are the different teams that play a role (dancers, lighting, sound engineers, etc.)? 

I went to school for Musical Theater, so the process wasn’t completely alien to me, but that being said, it was unlike anything we had ever done before. The whole show was up and running in a month, which is an insanely fast pace. Fortunately we had an amazing team of people. Travis Greisler the director is a crazy genius, he’s just non-stop ideas, and he just knows how to pace a show’s development. Ryan Bogner, the shows producer worked his ass off coordinating the venue, the PR, and raising money. All told we had a cast and crew of about 30 people. It was really exciting, i’m not gonna lie.

How do you encourage audience involvement? Why is interactivity important? 

When we we’re coming up with the concept of the show, we thought it was important to have the audience participate in the show the way they do at a “Rocky Horror Show” screening, or a KISS concert… I love the idea of getting dressed up, like REALLY dressed up for a show, so we came up with the idea of the STAR CHILD, it’s kind of like your inner most fantastic self. We strongly encourage people to come dressed as Star Children to our shows, and they do, and it’s the best thing ever! The interactivity is important, because the energy is shared with everyone in the room. It becomes more about the sum of the experience instead of just the band’s experience.

 How can you turn your gig into an experience?

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

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Lessons From Macklemore

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

It’s the success every musician dreams about – making it big on your own. But you know what? It’s no fairy tale. The career of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has been a long, hard road – one that a lot of people would have turned away from a long time ago.

The duo brought home four Grammy’s in January and, although Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is helping them with distribution, they’re still not signed to a major record label. So how did they get here?

Here are some key lessons to learn that helped Macklemore and Ryan Lewis find their success.

1. Say something with your music. Embrace your brand.  Be different.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love,” a song with a more than an obvious nod towards the gay community,  is not commonplace in hip hop. By pushing this issue and standing behind a controversial topic, the duo probably got a lot of haters. But you know what, they also got a lot of people behind them. They stood out.  They were different.  Know who you are, know what you believe in, and say something meaningful with your art. Of course, timing is important too.

“I wrote the song in April [2012]. Shortly after Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Then Frank Ocean came out. It seemed like time was of the essence. It was never about being the first rapper to publicly support the issue, but at the same time you don’t want the song’s power to become diluted because all of the sudden it’s a bandwagon issue. 

The fact that there [was] an election coming up in Washington [was] huge. I know that a large portion of my fan base is 18-25, many of whom have never voted. If the song can get people out to the polls to pass same-sex marriage in Washington, that is a very beautiful and exciting thing.” (Source)

In the same way, the smash hit “Thrift Shop” (500 million views and counting on YouTube) is definitely not what you’d expect from hip hop. There’s no gold teeth, big brand names, or flashy bling pointing towards an extravagant lifestyle. Macklemore isn’t trying to fit into the typical hip hop mold. The duo has stayed true to their own ideas and because of that, have stood out. So what do you have to say?

2. It will take time.

There’s no such thing as overnight success. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met in 2006, released The VS  EP in December 2009, and didn’t get crazy success until The Heist in 2012. Before there was a duo, Ben Haggerty released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in September 2009. It was a long road. Do you think you would have continued to press onward?  8 years and still rolling.

Aside from albums, Macklemore and Lewis took years to build a local audience before expanding into a nationwide movement. The first national headlining tour was in 2011. Before that, Macklemore and Lewis focused locally playing at a Colorado College house party in 2010 and Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2010. The Agency Group’s Zach Quillen became the booking agent and began testing the duo’s reach by booking small gigs along the West Coast. The duo continued to grow, playing the Seattle Mariners opening day in 2011, and then moving on to festivals like Outside Lands, Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza later that year.

This train is still going. The duo is still operating independently with a relatively small team and being strategic about their plans. As we know so well, a huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

“We are a small business that’s becoming a medium-sized business. With that, there is a learning curve and there are times when you feel like you don’t quite have the manpower to operate the business to the best of your ability. But we’re growing and we’re adapting to the best of our abilities.” (Source)

3. Keep moving forward.

Even if you feel like you’re further away from your dream than you’ve ever been, keep moving. After some local success with the 2006 EP The Language of my World Macklemore hit a low point, struggling with addiction.

“I was close to giving up. I was broke, unemployed, freshly out of rehab, and living in my parents’ basement. It was a “If this doesn’t work, I gotta get a real job” time in my life.” (Source)

You’re low point may look different. Maybe you feel like you’ll never break out of your home city or state. Maybe you just can’t seem to get to the point where you can quit your day job. The key is to keep moving. Take a small step forward, or even a few steps back. Keep yourself moving instead of lingering in that low point. Everything we perceive or appreciate in the world is based on motion. Stay in motion.

4. Find people who believe in you and build a team.

Having a team behind you is one of the best things you can do for your music. A “team” doesn’t have to be top industry veterans. More times than not, when we’re talking about indie artists, a team of top execs isn’t the best option. You want people who believe in you and your music, not someone looking to make big bucks fast.

Macklemore has shown us time and time again how valuable a team of “amateurs” can be. Ben Haggerty met Ryan Lewis, then 17 and a dedicated producer, guitarist, and photographer, in 2006. He wasn’t an industry veteran. He was another passionate creative out there with the same cause.

“Ryan is one of my best friends in this world. He’s my producer. He’s my business partner. And he’s probably one of my toughest critics, which is an imperative trait of a teammate… Ryan doesn’t make beats, he makes records. I needed that in a producer… I trust Ryan. I trust his ear and his eye. His creative aesthetic. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for him. I spend more time with Ryan than anyone else in my life. We’re a team, and I’m extremely blessed because of it.” (Source)

There weren’t any household names on The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis drew on local talent. Ray Dalton, a Seattle singer-songwriter is featured on “Can’t Hold Us,” Wanz, another Seattle singer was featured on “Thrift Shop,” and Seattle singer-songwriter Mary Lambert is featured on “Same Love.” In addition to that, Macklemore’s finance, Tricia Davis, is their tour and merch manager.

5. Create an authentic connection.

When Macklemore stepped on the stage at the Grammy’s the first thing they talked about was “Wow, we’re on this stage… And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis connect with their fans in a very humble and authentic way. You just have to take a quick trip over to their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean. The tone isn’t pitchy. It’s kind of funny how we almost have to relearn how to be human when it comes to social media in the music industry.

“For me, being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.” (Source)

The slogan to remember is that things don’t make things happen – people do. If you want to find your own success in music you need to get people behind you – this means both fans and a team. Create a relationship – and that means two-ways. Give and receive.

Being a musician is a tough gig. You have to be incredibly gifted and ridiculously dedicated all at once.  But that dedication can pay off! It’s been proven time and time again that independent musicians can be successful their own way, and you can continue that trend. The music business was built on that ethos.

Check out the New Artist Model online music business school for more ideas and analysis like this. You can also sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Sources:

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/macklemore-ryan-lewis-the-heist/#_

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2014/01/7-lessons-anyone-you-can-learn-from-macklemore-ryan-lewis/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/474720/macklemore-reps-talk-the-heist-debut-diy-marketing-plan

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1562815/macklemore-ryan-lewis-billboard-cover-story

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The Creative Album Release

 

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1qqoLm3

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1qqoLm3

There’s more to the album release than just the date you release the album. There are so many awesome opportunities to engage your fans along the way! Try releasing songs early if your fans do something for you like share a Facebook post. You could give your mailing list early access to the album to fuel email sign ups. The strategies are endless so get creative with it!

This article is from the Nielsen Newswire and originally appeared on Hypebot. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can check out the full article here.

NONTRADITIONAL RELEASES

Although New Music Tuesday has been famous for decades, the tradition is shifting, with the most obvious example being a recent one: Beyonce’s self-titled visual album released last year. Released at midnight on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 as an iTunes exclusive digital release, the surprise album sold an impressive 617,000 units in its first three days without any radio airplay or pre-release promotion. It was available only as a digital release until Tuesday, Dec. 18, which is when brick-and-mortar stores began selling the album. Beyonce’s album continues to perform very well digitally, with almost 50 percent of the album’s sales in 2014 being digital.

ANTICIPATING THE ALBUM

Sometimes artists choose to sell an EP or make their music available for streaming before a formal album release. For example, New Zealander Lorde released The Love Club EP and Tennis Court EP in March and June 2013, respectively, before offering fans her Pure Heroine album in September 2013. Pure Heroine has sold 1 million albums to date.

Streaming previews are another way for artists to build anticipation for upcoming albums. Last year, after a seven-year hiatus, Justin Timberlake made part 1 of The 20/20 Experience available for streaming in its entirety via the iTunes store for free before the official release. Upon release, the first part sold 968,000 albums in its first week and remained in the top spot for three consecutive weeks. Furthermore, it was the top selling digital album of 2013. Songs from both parts of the album have totaled 234 million streams to date*. Daft Punk used a similar strategy for its Random Access Memories album, which the French duo released for streaming a week before it was available for purchase, and the majority of album sales to date have been digital albums. Furthermore, songs from the album have been streamed over 232 million times to date*.

Digital providers aren’t the only ones playing exclusives. Online music blogs like Stereogum and Okayplayer are amplifying their sites with streaming music—including exclusive previews. For example, Schoolboy Q’s recently released Oxymoron album was made available for streaming on YouTube three days before it was available for sale. He also performed the entire release for NPR Music’s debut First Listen Live concert series. The album debuted at the top spot with 139,000 albums sold and now has accumulated over 29 million streams*—evidence that retail exclusives and previews remain successful promotional strategies.

What are some creative album releases you’ve seen? How have you released your albums? Share in the comments below!

If you want to learn more creative album release strategies, check out the New Artist Model online course. Sign up for the mailing list and get access to 10 free lessons.

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10 Social Media Secrets

10 Social Media Secrets

Today, social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans and easily notify them with exciting news. With all the social media guides out there, you’d think no one remembers one of the key behavioral aspects to being human – socializing. I know, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – afterall, you still need to sell your show or record. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.

I’d like to know what problems your facing with social media. Let me know in the comments below.

1. Listen!

Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and @messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.

2. Leverage online and offline.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists, like Alex Day have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.

3. Write posts yourself.

Don’t completely outsource Twitter or Facebook to a third party. Fans can tell the difference. Keep it real and learn. If you have a band, have members sign their posts with their name so fans can get to know everyone’s personality.

4. Be conversational.

On Twitter, make your tweets two-way. If you just make a statement, there’s no where for the conversation to go. Think about how you would approach starting a conversation in real life. Instead of saying “We have a gig tonight at this place,” try “We have a gig tonight at this place. What songs do you guys want us to play?”

5. Be genuine.

Talk about your life and what you believe in, as well as your music and career. Open yourself up, so that people can get to know you. It’s amazing how much interaction you can generate by posting a funny picture of your dog.

6. The 80/20 rule.

So exactly what is the balance between personal/interesting content and marketing content? I don’t like putting a formula to something as spontaneous socializing, but a general rule of thumb is that 80% of your content should be personal, funny, interesting, and entertaining, and 20% should be reserved for marketing pushes. Go beyond 20% and people start ignoring you. Keep it social. Keep it fun.

7. Drive interest.

Just like the flow between social media and the offline experience, you should also create a flow between your social media channels and your website. Your website is the hub of your career online. It’s where you make sales and have more detailed information for fans. Link creatively to your website, so that you give people fun and interesting reasons to visit.

8. Don’t over-invest yourself in every social media platform available.

A lot of musicians I’ve talked to find themselves completely consumed by social media. As a result, they don’t have much time left over for their music. You are only one person and can only do so much. Pick a few social media platforms and really focus on creating strong interaction and engagement on those platforms.

9. Pick platforms that are relevant to your image and brand.

If your target fan is a young teenage girl, Twitter and Instagram are your best bets, as these are the platforms where these girls spend the majority of their time. If you are a improvisational jazz band whose target fan is a forty-year-old working man, Facebook and email would probably be your best bet.

10. Make your channels unique. It’s also a good idea to use each social media channel slightly differently. Give your fans a reason to follow you on all platforms. While you can and should push important information out across all your channels, try to give it a different spin. If your announcing a gig try this approach: Take a picture of yourself in front of the venue and push it out to Instagram and use Facebook to drive engagement, asking fans what songs they want you to play. Get creative!

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Ready to get a better handle on your social media? We go into even more depth in the New Artist Model online course. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for the mailing list to get access to 10 free lessons.

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 2)

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 6-10.

6. Find Your Niche

The best way to get a really dedicated fan base is to start small. Start local and move up from there. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are!

Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. She targeted a market that isn’t already saturated with music – the sailing market – and was able to really be the star. It may seem like she limited themselves in terms of audience, but in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however she was able to really stand out!

7. Get Your Fans Talking

As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend.

The Wild Feathers are a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend. (Source) By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share.

8. Develop a Brand Strategy

“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Especially today, there are so many people out there trying to make it as a musician that you really need to consider why people would buy your album or go to your show instead of someone else’s.

There are two common approaches when it comes to defining a brand. Some musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Before  Sum 41 made it big, they had a hard time getting a record deal because many labels thought they were just another Blink 182 imitation band. The labels only heard one dimension of the band – their sound. It was their image, personality and attitude that really set them apart and got them the deal in the end. The band took camcorder footage of them goofing around and edited it into an audio-visual EPK. The resulting seven-minute hilarious video showed the labels that they were more than just punk music. They were characters and they were very good at projecting their character through media.

9. Find a Balance Between Free and Paid Content

Your music is valuable, and you can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Remember that money isn’t the only form of payment that has value. Information can be just as valuable or more than cash in many instances. Free music is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. The key is to have a reason for free.

When trying to navigate the realm of paid content don’t let yourself be restricted to the typical music products like the CD and tshirt. Services like BandPage Experiences allow you to sell unique products and experiences to your fans. The sky’s the limit, and the more personal the products and experiences, the better. Rock Camp used a BandPage Experience to host a contest, allowing guitarists to purchase entries to win a spot at the Ultimate Musician’s Camp. Anberlin used a BandPage Experience to sell all access passes to their tours.

10. React to Opportunity

In music, opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and it’s your job to be ready! These opportunities could be anything from a pick up gig, to a publishing deal to a chance to collaborate with a local musician. Either way, the artists that can react quickly are the ones who succeed. While you want to take the time to weigh your options, remember that overthinking an opportunity can be just as bad as under thinking. There comes a point where you need to just decide to take the leap or not!

Amanda Palmer made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. (Source) Palmer was tweeting with her followers about how she was once again alone on her computer on a Friday night. Fans joined in the conversation and a group was quickly formed – “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda Palmer created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation. When a fan suggested a t-shirt be made for the group Palmer ran with the idea, sketched out a quick shirt design and threw up a website that night. The shirts were available for $25 and two hours later Palmer had made $11,000!


To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your music career right now, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons! 

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 1)

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 1-5. We’ll be publishing the second half later this week.

1. Make a Plan from the Start

Making a great plan is one of the best ways to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.

Try to make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.” Break down your lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.

From the start Karmin knew they wanted to be a pop duo targeting a young teen audience. Manager Nils Gums suggested the duo cover current popular songs to get in front of their target audience. They followed the charts and consistently covered the most popular songs every week. The important takeaway here is that Karmin knew their goal, they made a plan to get there, and they stuck with it. If they had given up on the cover strategy after only a few weeks, they would never have gotten to where they are today.

2. Leverage Your Copyrights
Your copyrights are your business. They are your assets and your products, so it makes sense to take some time to understand them. You don’t need to be on the same level as a big-shot entertainment attorney, but it helps to have a general understanding of copyright law.

There are two kinds of copyright: composition and sound recording. Copyright is created when a musical idea is put into tangible form. So when you write that song down (composition) or record it (sound recording) you own the rights!  All those rights are exclusive, meaning you, and only you can leverage your song. Remember that copyrights are power! You own the copyrights, so you have the power. Think about it, without your copyrights would labels or publishers have anything to sell? Lots of musicians have been realizing this and have figured out cool ways to leverage their copyrights.

The Happen Ins are an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People, a corresponding video, many blog posts, and played at the catalog release party. In order to grow their fan base, the Happen Ins offered a free download to Free People’s customers. In many cases this exposure can be far more valuable than money.

3. Focus on Time Management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, and the business professional, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. It’s great that artists today can be 100% in control of their career, the problem comes when you can no longer find enough time for what matters most – your music!

If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a closer look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, postpone, or delegate to your team members. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!

Michael Shoup is a musician and entrepreneur who turned his career around and started making profit with time management. After graduating college with a Bachelors degree in music, Shoup started his career as a musician and effectively gigged himself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt. Time management has helped Michael Shoup become debt free. On top of that, he’s managed to self-fund an album, started a music marketing agency, 12SouthMusic, and created a social media app, Visualive.

4. Build a Team that Grows with You

DIY may not be the best option for indie artists. There are a lot of artists out there with excellent business chops, but they’re still not experts. And that’s okay, because you have more important things to do like creating music! The key is to find a team who is motivated and passionate. Instead of DIY, move towards a do-it-with-others (DIWO) strategy.

Your team doesn’t even have to be seasoned pros. If you have a band you’re already way ahead of the game. Everyone has their own unique skills, so take advantage of that!

Pop singer/songwriter Betty Who was able to be really successful with a team made of college classmates. Producer Peter Thomas and manager Ethan Schiff attended Berklee College of Music with Betty Who. With Peter Thomas she was able to find and really latch onto her signature pop sound, and Schiff helped set her up on the business side of things. Betty Who’s “Somebody Loves You” began drawing the attention of the pop music world after the release of her first EP The Movement in spring of 2013. In September 2013 the song was featured in a viral gay marriage proposal video and just a few days later she was signed to RCA Records.

5. Get out There and Network!

Networking is really important to success in music, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with internal tasks and forget to take the time and introduce yourself. You don’t need a big speech or a prepared pitch. Just get into the habit of introducing yourself to one person at every show you play or at every studio you record in. Talk to the guy in charge of the soundboard, maybe he loved your show and wants to produce your next album.

Remember, networking is a two-way relationship, and collaboration is usually the best way to promote this win-win situation. If you collaborate on a show, a song, or a recording, both of you will be exposed to the other’s fanbase!  Always remember to give before you ask. Do something for someone and they will remember you.

Vinyl Thief used their extended network to find success. The band released their first EP, Control, in 2010 but were disappointed in the results. They called on a former high school classmate, now music marketing graduate, Wes Davenport who started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill. (Source)

 To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your career RIGHT NOW, sign up for the New Artist mailing list and get access to free lessons.

 

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X Factor Cancelled: Is Instant Success Possible?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nplFKO

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nplFKO

A recent article from Bob Lefsetz made a lot of good points about the music industry which I wanted to reiterate here. The fourth season of X Factor was cancelled here in America after Simon Cowell announced that he would be returning to the UK version of the show. On top of that, American Idol ratings and viewers have been going down.

The American Idol craze started in 2002, at the height of the music industry crisis. File sharing was on the rise and people weren’t buying as many CDs, but American Idol rekindled the public’s interest in music.

Looking back, what are these shows really? Lefsetz calls them “an endless parade of great singers.” There’s lots of great singers out there. In fact, some studies have shown that the vast majority of people can accurately carry a tune with only about 10% of the population being truly tone deaf.

Is a good voice really all it takes to make it in this industry? American Idol and X Factor would have us believe that. These shows are really about entertainment, not the music. After all, how many winners from these shows have actually gone on to a really successful career?

Above all, these shows have told millions of singers and musicians all over the world that success can be instant. That you can be catapulted into the public eye with just a good voice.

So what is success in music?

[Success] is a state of mind, not a sound. [Success] is for those who think, who want more than nougat at the center.

But some things never change.

You’ve got to have material.

With hooks.

You’ve got to be able to sing.

And you’ve got to have something to say. Not necessarily in words, but emotion.

Art is a journey. You never know where you’re going, never mind where you’ll end up. You take your chops and woodshed ideas and test them on the public. Sometimes you’re a few years ahead, sometimes you’re on the wrong track, but if enough artists pursue their dreams…

We end up with quality art.

So, if you’re an indie artist, keep on working. Your hard work and dedication is setting the right example for the music industry. As long and difficult as it may seem, you’re on the right road to success. And when you find your place, you’ll own it and you’ll last the test of time because you made the effort from the start. You found your sound and you found your fans.

Do you think true music success can be achieved over night?

Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free lessons. 

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Build a Team for Music Success

Team_building-music-success

Another big problem we know a lot of you are facing is the fact that you just don’t have enough time to get everything done. You probably find yourself spending way too much time on social media, marketing, worrying about digital distribution, blogging, or trying to get gigs. More times than not, these essential tasks push your music aside. You don’t have as much time as you’d like to practice your instrument, write, learn, and create.

It’s the dilemma of the indie artist.

Isn’t the music why you set out for a career in music in the first place? Is it really necessary to push aside the music to be successful in today’s music industry? I don’t think so. Check out this video to learn how to build a team that will progress your music career and give you the freedom to do what yo do best – create! By signing up for the mailing list, you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online course.

DIY has been the phase of the last decade, but I’m here to propose a new phrase: DIWO, or Do It With Others. The truth is, no one has all the skills – or time for that matter – to be successful completely on their own in music. Instead, try approaching your career like an entrepreneur approaches a new startup. Build an efficient team gradually over time. Start lean with the people you have around you already, divide tasks according to skills, and hire in new team members as you grow.

Here’s some of the key steps in building an efficient team around your music. To see all 10 steps, check out the video.

1. Figure out what kind of team you need.

Not every musician needs the same kind of team. Your skills and your goals will influence the roles you need to fill. As a songwriter, you may not need a producer or engineer if you’re writing songs for others to record. Instead, your team may consist of a co-writer and someone who has a good ear and can critique your songs.

2. Assign roles and responsibilities.

This is a key point that many musicians miss out on. If you don’t make a plan that lays out who will do what, you end up with an inefficient mess. Instead, assign roles based on each person’s skills. You may not be able to hire top label executives, but each member of your band has their own unique skills. Your lead singer may be a people person who could be in charge of networking. Your drummer may have a good eye for photography or skills with photoshop or drawing. She could handle your Instagram account or create album art.

Do you have a team?

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The Next Steps for Your Music Career

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Most indie artist we’ve talked to face the same exact problem – they don’t know what the next steps for your career should be. You’re creative and smart. You can write, play, or perform amazing music that really connects people, but, as an indie artist, you might feel like you’re trying to fill a role you don’t understand. Especially today, indie musicians have to understand business, copyright, and marketing to grow their careers. You’re a creative trying to be a business person.

If you’re already out there in the music industry, you’re taking steps to grow your career but you may not know how effective your actions really are and whether they take you closer or further away from your goals. You might have a great group of fans but you don’t know how to get them to actually pay for your music. You might see an endless sea of possibility – from touring to publishing to recording – but now know which will take you to the success you want.

Can you relate to any of these problems? Check out this video to learn about the next steps for your career. By signing up for the mailing list you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model course.

If you really want to grow your music career the next step isn’t to get a record deal or tour the country. The next step is to do a little soul searching. You need to ask yourself a few questions and really think on your answers. Here’s two of the key questions you need to ask yourself. To learn about the other two, check out the video.

1. What do you really love doing?

If you want to turn your music into a sustainable career you need to be doing something that you love. Maybe you’re a really passionate musician but you get debilitating stage fright. Don’t push yourself down a road you don’t want to go down! I know, everyone is saying that touring is the only way to be successful as a musician today, but in actuality the only way for you to be successful is your own way. You won’t attract dedicated fans by hiding behind your amplifier on stage, so maybe take the time and focus on your songwriting and connect with your fans on that front.

2. What does success look like to you?

We all want to “make it” in music. But that can mean different things for different people. Maybe you’re happy just playing weekend gigs in your home town. Maybe you want a major record deal. Maybe you want a publishing deal with a small indie publisher that gives you plenty of attention and creative freedom. Try to be as specific as you can. After all, how will you know when you’ve achieved success if you don’t even know what it looks like?

If you answer these questions you’ll be one step closer to really understanding your career. Knowing where you are and where you want to be will really help you make decisions along the way.

We’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions in the comment section below!

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Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician Today?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

“Why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment?”

I wake up every day fascinated by this question. There are plenty of articles written by people looking into the music industry from the outside proclaiming the end of an era and the doom of indie musicians. Many ask this question and simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to spend so much time and creative energy on something that may never bring in any real money. And who can blame them given the industry’s overall decline.

Within the business however, some musicians have a completely different outlook. For them, music is just what they do. It’s not about making a ton of money, or trying to impress anyone – its just a way of life, a dream to live.  It’s like breathing.  These people believe that they have the privilege to create. Almost the obligation to do so.

The question these musicians ask  is “How could I not be a musician?”

As we talk about in the New Artist Model course, the love of music is a prerequisite to a life as a successful musician. If people went into the arts to with a sole purpose to make money – there would be no magic – and that creative spark and passion that drives so many people to create would not be present. Music goes beyond money and economics, and isn’t that why it’s so powerful?

Some people are musicians because they just have to be.  The truly great ones.  So there’s my answer.   Are you one of those people?

I’d love to know what you think.

I posted the question “Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician in this Environment?” to Twitter and this is what I got in the first hour.

musicadium@davekusek I would want to be a musician no matter what environment we were in. The desire to create would override, methinks.

andreakremer@davekusek Isn’t that like asking why anyone would want to play tennis? Do people who play tennis give up because they can’t make a profit?

timothyeric@davekusek fascinated that people still want to be musicians or by the environment and its challenges?

kmsolorio@davekusek passion is the only reason I could come up with. btw, very interested in learning more about your tools for musicians.

marjae@davekusek I am a musician because I love music and, more importantly, sharing it with people. This sharing gives a high unlike any other.

marjae@davekusek Great question! It would be great if you could share some of your replies with us. . . the questions certainly made me think!

Lars_Christian@davekusek I think that if “he environment is a factor on whether you become a musician or not, you probably won’t “make it” either way.

tigerpop@davekusek it’s not always about want.

Pattyoboe@davekusek Being a musician is just who I am … no matter the environment. Maybe like I was still a mom when my kids acted up, I guess ..?

gah650@davekusek it’s an inexorable artistic need to create; thank God.

melbahead@davekusek If being a musician is anything like being a visual artist then it doesn’t matter what one wants. It’s a compulsion, a calling

_willthompson@davekusek it’s extremely hard and counterintuitive to hold back from doing something you have natural predisposition for.

kimpwitmanRT @davekusek: why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment? can someone tell me? i wake up every day fascinated by this.

manishamusic@davekusek Being a musician is not particularly easy in any market-based economy. Something deep inside steers the wheels. Is it insanity?

PtbTrees@davekusek perhaps the love of music is enough to make it worth it. at least thats how I feel

atomicdacia@davekusek because its like a drug. Once its in you you just can’t get enough

Kalajdame@davekusek it seems like an easy way to make money i guess..i do it cuz i love to make music and if i could get paid for it ..u kno the rest

You can love what you do and be successful.

Tell us what drives you.

 

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Q&A: Dave Kusek Of New Artist Model

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This interview is from CMJ. Check it out here.

Dave Kusek has spent a lifetime working in the music business as a marketer, hardware and software developer, teacher and author. The meat of his career was right in the middle of the transition from the old analog world to the digital blur we’re all still transitioning into. So he has the experience of an old school sage and the knowledge of a cutting edge electronics whiz. After imparting all that as a longtime teacher at Berklee, he’s developed a new online music school, Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model, that aims to clear up the often fuzzy world of the constantly morphing music biz for striving musicians everywhere.


Give us a little of your personal history, and what makes you uniquely qualified to be able to explain this brave new confusing digital music world to green musicians everywhere, via your New Artist Model course?
I have been working in the music business all of my life, as an entrepreneur, teacher, author and marketing guy. I’ve seen a lot of change over the years having lived through the rise of technology in music and in life, and seeing the transformation that has occurred in how music is produced, consumed, and marketed.

 

I started one of the first synthesizer companies, Star Instruments, where we developed Synare electronic drums. That was around the birth of the disco era and during the time when electronic musical instruments started making their way into the vocabulary of musicians and producers. From there I founded Passport Music Software where we helped to develop the MIDI standard, MIDI Interfaces, sequencing software like Master Tracks Pro, and music notation software like Encore and MusicTime. We sold hundreds of thousands of units and worked with musicians all over the world to create software and help them with their careers.
From there I went on to start Berkleemusic at Berklee College of Music where I taught and worked for over 14 years. Berkleemusic became the world’s largest music school. And we taught online and worked with tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and business people.

I co-wrote the book The Future Of Music with my friend Gerd Leonhard which predicted a lot of the change that happened in the music business. That became a best seller. That work led me to collaborate with lots of musicians, labels, publishers and artist managers coping with the changes in the marketplace that started with Napster and continued through the iPod emerging, iTunes, file sharing and all that has transpired since. At Berklee I set up a partner network of hundreds of companies like CMJ, Topspin, ProTools and many others to collaborate on digital marketing tools, online courses and strategies for independent musicians trying to navigate the changing marketplace.

I’ve worked with big artists and small artists in almost every genre and have coached many people who have been dropped from labels or just wanted to pursue an indie career from the start. I’ve had to learn what is working today and what is not, what tools you can employ to drive your career and what to avoid. It’s been a really fun ride so far, and this next chapter with the New Artist Model is going to be even more fun as we help a new wave of musicians deal with the realities of the market today.

What is the basic difference between the “Essential Class” and the “Master Class” that you offer?
Both classes teach the same material, with the same videos, presentations, interactions, animations, reading and case studies. The Essential Class is a self-paced course, so you drop into the course and go through the eight weeks of lessons on your own or with your band at your own pace. You move through the material and develop your strategy, you develop a brand strategy, publishing plan, touring and booking plan, a recording strategy and a marketing plan by going through a step-by-step process. We take a look at your finances and explore crowdfunding and various ways for you to get organized, set goals and create plans to reach those goals. That’s the essential course.

The Master Class is the exact same material but you’re working with me as a teacher and getting feedback directly from me. You are also working with a group of students from around the world. There are homework assignments, projects and class discussions that I lead. There is also a live chat once a week that you participate in where you can ask me any questions you want. You also receive feedback from the other students in the class which is a huge value. By working with people from different parts of the world you get a very unique perspective on the music business and get to share ideas and learn strategies that are working in different environments.

So basically, with the Essential Class you work at your own pace, and with the Master Class you get me as your teacher and a group of other students to learn from.

Can you give us a quick list of the basic areas of the music business that you hope to illuminate for your students?
The New Artist Model is an online music business course for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. The course teaches essential business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. The course is designed to give musicians a strong understanding of the current music industry and to provide the tools and techniques necessary to make a meaningful impact in today’s music market. Students will:

• Understand the dynamic music business ecosystem and your place in it.
• Build a team to support your goals and create opportunities for you in the marketplace.
• Leverage multiple revenue streams: publishing, touring and merchandise and recording.
• Develop an online presence and strategy to grow and monetize your relationship with fans.
• Understand the impact of copyright law and protect yourself and your music.
• Figure out how to budget, crowdfund and finance your projects.
• Get access to resources and people that can help you grow your network.
• Develop a custom and personalized Career Map and Budget for you.

Would you say that the New Artist Model online course is an extension of the guidelines you set down in your book, The Future Of Music: Manifesto For The Digital Revolution? Or do things move so fast in this world that you’ve got yet newer information to impart?
Well, in the book we did talk about a new artist model, and there has even been at least one song written about that approach, called Download This Song by MC Lars. But honestly, things have changed so much and are changing so fast that an online resource is really the only way to keep current. There are tools and technologies available today that were not around when The Future Of Music was written, most notably the iPhone and streaming services like Spotify—both of which we predicted in the book. So yeah, the New Artist Model course is a fresh and dynamic take on the current state of the music business and where things are headed today.

The general consensus is that touring is increasingly the most reliable way for bands to make money. Do you agree with that consensus? Or can touring be one more thing that gets in the way of an act developing their songwriting and marketing skills? 
This question gets at the central themes of the course, which are what kind of musician are you, what does success look like for you, what are you good at and where do you focus your efforts? I agree that touring can be a money maker for many artists if that is what you are good at and want to do. Performing live takes real skill to entertain an audience and build a fan base on the road, and if that is what gets you going, then yes, you should focus on that. But publishing and licensing are also great revenue drivers if you can write well and can plug into the music supervisors and agencies that pick songs for the media.

Another growing consensus is that musicians today cannot be “just” a musician, that they must be very proactive and entrepreneurial. But we all know musicians—is it realistic to expect musicians to run every business aspect of their career?
No, I don’t think that it is realistic that a single person can run every business aspect of their career. The whole idea of DIY is, in my opinion, a real disservice to the independent musician community. You can’t do it yourself, it’s impossible. You need a team and you need a strategy and focus so that you can move your career forward. It is more like DIWO, or “do it with others.” And to be effective doing so, you need a clear plan that you can communicate to your team members and that you can use to make decisions and figure out where to spend your time and where to invest your energy and resources.

Every artist needs a good manager and business partner to really get ahead. Someone to help with marketing and booking or plugging songs and providing a balance so that the artist can spend time being creative. But, I know and believe that in order for a musician to be successful in today’s environment, they need to have a very solid understanding of the business, even if they don’t do everything themselves. As a musician today, you are an entrepreneur and you better be fluent in the dynamics of the music business so that you can see where you are going and know how to get there.

Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Skip Time Management

music-time-management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, the business professional, and sometimes way more, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. Now it’s all well and good that artists today can be 100% in control of their career. The problem comes when you can no longer find enough time for what matters most – your music! Think of it this way: if you don’t quality music to build your business around, how can you build a musician business?

How do you find time to practice, create, and refine your craft while also running the business side of things, staying on social media, strategizing launches, and making important industry connections? The first step is to streamline. This really ties back to goal setting. If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a close look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, or postpone.

The next step? Delegate! Many artists are defensive and controlling when it comes to their art. And with good reason – it is a very personal statement. However, you can delegate tasks to team members to get things done and really clear up a lot of your personal time. Your team doesn’t have to consist of big-shot business people – your band will do just fine. Just get in the habit of dividing up tasks instead of taking the whole load on yourself.

Each person should have a list of tasks that they need to complete. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. For those high-priority jobs, break them down into smaller tasks. Accomplishing these small stepping stones will help you feel like you’re accomplishing things and keep you in a state of forward momentum.

AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!  It’s easy to get sucked into answering emails or managing social media, or making a website – but without your music, you don’t have anything to build a business on.

Michael Shoup is a musician and entrepreneur who turned his career around and started making profit with time management. After graduating college with a Bachelors degree in music, Shoup started his career as a musician, funding his tours with money made in freelance web design. After three years he had effectively gigged hiself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt with little to show for his efforts. He gave up his professional music career and went into web design full time.

It wasn’t until he organized his time that he was able to succeed in music. He prioritized his tasks to free up more time, and delegated other tasks. He automated and scheduled anything that could be automated like email and social media, and he made sure he left time for the most important thing – his art!

New-Artist-Model

Time management has helped Michael Shoup become debt free. On top of that, he’s managed to self-fund an album, started a music marketing agency, 12SouthMusic, and created a social media app, Visualive.  In the New Artist Model online course we teach you how to effectively manage the many aspects of your career from playing to marketing. By the end of the course you will have a detailed plan that will get you on track to your goals!


So what are you waiting for? Join the revolution and take control of your time. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for free sample lessons.

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t have a Plan

Goal-setting-plan

Running blind never got anyone anywhere, especially not in the music industry. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be. I know, everyone wants to be a rich and famous musician, but as you’ve probably realized, a vague goal like that leaves you discouraged and confused on how to move forward.

Before you set any goals, you’ll need to do a little soul-searching. Figure out what you really want and how much time and dedication you are realistically going to put in. If you have a team, like co-writers, band members, or a manager, make sure everyone is on the same page. The key here is to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.”  Or whatever your number is.

On top of that, you’ll want to start mapping out some milestones or tasks within each goal. Breaking your goals down into small, achievable steps helps keep you motivated and positive. Think about the goal we just set above. Break down a lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.

With so many apps and services available today, many indie musicians suffer from choice paralysis. What tool should you use to build your website? What company is best for digital distribution? What social media sites deserve your attention? The choice is especially daunting when money is involved. No one wants to fork over cash for a service that may not work out as planned. So how do you get past these decisions? While research is your best friend in these situations, keeping your goals in mind will also help. Every single time you’re faced with a choice, ask yourself: “What option brings me closer to my goals?”

One band that used goals and planning to their advantage is Karmin. From the start they knew they wanted to be a pop duo targeting a young teen audience. Originally, they were releasing original music but weren’t getting much traction or interest. Manager Nils Gums suggested the duo cover current popular songs to get in front of their target audience – these were the songs that young teens were searching in YouTube. They followed the charts and consistently covered the most popular songs every week.

It took time, and a lot of covers before one of Karmin’s covers went viral. The important takeaway here is that Karmin knew their goal, they made a plan to get there, and they stuck with it. If they had given up on the cover strategy after only a few weeks, they would never have gotten to where they are today.

New-Artist-Model

In the New Artist Model online course we take you through the process of creating your own goals and building a plan to achieve them.  Amy Heidemann from Karmin studied and worked with Dave Kusek at Berklee and this course will bring YOU the fresh and practical steps and advice that you need for making it in the music business today.


Create your own plan for success! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for more free lessons.

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Harness Your Untapped Music Revenue

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cZVSGs

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cZVSGs

“The Buyer and the Beats,” a study unveiled by Nielsen at SXSW 2013, cites between $450 million and $2.6 billion incremental revenue in the music industry.  While the industry has already begun the shift towards models such as crowdfunding and direct to fan, this study suggests a demand for additional experiences, content, and engagement not yet available.  This study presents much-needed optimism for indie musicians trying to make a living off their art.

Nielsen surveyed 4,000 music consumers of different degrees of dedication.  “Aficionado fans” are the big-spending music connoisseurs, dedicated to many genres of music ranging from popular to obscure, with an understanding of the music industry. They are your superfans.  “Digital fans” are fanatic social media users with a tendency to use the free versions of internet radios and other similar services.  “Big box fans” generally associate themselves with pop and country and are strongly influenced by discounts and deals.  Together these groups account for 40% of music consumers, but are responsible for 75% of all music spending!

Despite the groups’ purchasing differences, across the board fans expressed a willingness to pay for content given the opportunity. Nielsen concluded that if music fans were to buy additional exclusive content from one band the music industry stands to make $564 million, but if these fans buy content from all their favorite bands, there is a possibility for $2.6 billion.  The true number probably lies somewhere in the middle, but either way, you can and harness this unmet demand.

According to Chief Analytics Officer at Nielsen Entertainment Measurement, Barara Zack, “Fans want more… There is a desire to engage at a different level than what they have.”  So where are you going to find this untapped revenue?  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms have shown that “fans really want are 55-dollar signed CD’s, hand-written lyric sheets, and access to the making of the album.”

The recent overwhelming success of artists like Amanda Palmer has solidified crowdfunding as a viable fund raising platform, however, it’s related functions as a direct-to-fan platform, presale tool, and exclusive content provider are often overlooked.  Currently, many artists view crowdfunding as a tool to fund the creation of an album, and any presales are just an added bonus.  This is methodology backwards and not sustainable.

CEO of Pledge Music, Benji Rogers believes fans will begin to suffer from “donor fatigue” if donations are constantly requested of them and time sensitive goals are pushed in consumers faces like big flashy advertisements.  If this path is pursued, crowdfunding has the potential to follow advertisements down the road of consumer indifference.  For this reason, Pledge Music does not display any financial target.

Nielsen reported that 53% of aficionado fans and 34% of digital fans are willing to pay for content and access, meaning many indie musicians miss out on potential income when content is given out free.  Additionally, 59% of aficionados and 55% of digital fans want to know more about their favorite musicians.  “What really kills me is that I watch these big artists tell the story, and give it away through Facebook posts and on Twitter, but I can’t buy in and be a part of it,” says Benji Rogers.  While many “aficionado fans” may find this pay-for-content model is perfectly viable, it has the potential to alienate the average music consumer – a balance must be met between free and paid content in order to target and monetize both casual and dedicated fans. Every one of your fans are different, so different products will appeal to each.

Crowdfunding’s true calling lies in its ability to sell many different products at many different price points at an earlier stage than a typical release.  You can target more casual fans and begin bringing in presale money earlier on, while simultaneously offering hardcore fans exclusive access to the making of the album.  Effectively executed crowdfunding not only brings in money earlier, it keeps you at the front of fan’s minds through constant updates and interactions.

Direct-to-fan bundling is also emerging as a viable model for tapping into additional revenue.  Fans have expressed a want for additional content, and in many cases that content exists but fans are unaware.  For example, 35% of aficionado fans and 25% of digital fans were interested in crowdfunding, but unaware of its existence. How can indie artists tie in direct-to-fan notifications for new products and live shows into the platforms their fans spend their time on like Spotify and YouTube?

Since 1999, the music industry has lost billions in revenue, falling from $27.8 billion to $16.5 billion in 2012.  While many blame the internet, it has perhaps added more value than it has taken in the form of exclusive content and more personal relationships between fans and artists.  Today fans have the opportunity to see what goes on behind the album, and fans are proving time and time again that they are willing to pay for this content and information on their favorite bands.  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms are certainly steps in the right direction, but fans are indicating that they still want more, and that is an encouraging thought for the music industry.

(Check out an article from Nielson here.)

How will you harness this untapped revenue potential? What can you sell to your superfans?

 

To learn more about the revenue streams available to you, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

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Setting SMARTER Music Goals

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dfwQFR

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dfwQFR

Goals are really the driving force behind your music career. Musicians, more so than most other people, are familiar with the power of goals. That need to improve – to play better, create better, and perform better than you did yesterday – is what gets you up every morning. It’s what keeps you excited and passionate.

I’m sure you’ve set goals for your art. To finish writing that song you’ve been working on. To refine your technique on the double bass pedal. To find that perfect sound for the violin track. To learn a new song in time for band practice this week. Musicians are constantly – whether conscious or not – pushing themselves towards goals. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the mindset that makes a musician. Musicians are some of the most dedicated people on the planet.

You’re a musician. You know how to set goals and push yourself. Now, you need to put that same dedication into your career goals. You’ve no doubt seen how the goals you set for your art have improved you as a player, a performer, and a writer. After all, there was a time when you were picking up that instrument for the first time. You can experience that same amount of improvement in your career with some smart goal setting.

The following was written by Simon Tam for Music Think Tank.

Specific

Ask yourself the big questions: Who, what, when, where, why, when? A specific goal lets you know what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by, why you are doing it, who will be involved, and where it will happen.

For example, a goal I’ve used before: Tour the continental U.S in August 2013 with at least 18 shows, playing a mixture of all-ages, 21+, and convention shows making an average of $500 per night. Also, see an increase on social media and web traffic by at least 10% and increase online sales by 20% for the month before, during, and after the tour. Those are all specific targets that I can definitely measure against.

Measurable

A goal should have specific metrics so you know if you’re making progress. If you have one larger goal, you should break it up into smaller parts over the course of time. That way, you and your team can always know where you stand against the overall goal. During this time you should be asking questions with how, when, and what: how much do you have left to go? When will you reach your goal? What do you have to do to stay on track?

Using the tour goal listed above, one could easily measure against the goal in a number of ways:

  • How many shows have been booked for August 2013? What kinds of shows have been booked?

  • How much income is being earned per night?

  • What is the average monthly online sales? Have they increased – and if so, by how much?

  • What do I need to do to help increase merch sales, at shows or online?

Attainable

The goals that you develop should be ambitious but realistic. If you focus on what you can do, it sometimes reveals new opportunities. For example, potential sponsors – many are probably in your own backyard but are often overlooked for the larger, sexier opportunities.

Goals should grow with you. As you gain more resources, abilities, finances, and followers, your goals should get respectively larger. Having them just out of reach helps you stretch. However, having them too far away will only cause frustration.

Relevant

The goals that you choose should matter. They should motivate you and drive your career forward. For example, I’ve talked to many artists who have a goal of playing a large festival like SXSW even though it doesn’t relate to their current state of their music career. Things shouldn’t be goals just because others are doing them. Ask yourself these questions: Is this the right time? Is this worthwhile? How will this directly help me?

Timely

Your goals should have a time-bound deadline. When would you like to reach your goal by? If your goal is shrouded in the idea of “someday,” you’ll have a much more difficult time of reaching it. If you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year, you’ll work more aggressively for it. For example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 records, you would treat it much differently if that was 5,000 someday as opposed to 5,000 by December.

Everyone

Goals in a band should have everyone involved. People should be on the same page, have the right expectations, and the proper work ethic for reaching the goal.

Also, when I saw everyone, I mean everyone. This includes spouses or other people whom we depend on for support. If your band members would like to tour 8-10 months out of the year but their significant others aren’t supportive of that goal, some serious issues could arise – especially when that opportunity presents itself. .

Revisited

Goals should be revisited often. Not only should you be checking on your progress toward your goal, but you should also see if those goals need to be adjusted. Ask: are these goals still relevant? Is this what I want/need still?

How can you make your goals SMARTER this year?

Join the revolution. Learn how to set better goals that will drive you towards success in music. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get free lessons.

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Maintain a Positive Mindset in 2014

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dl2Czp

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dl2Czp

We’re now into the second day of 2014 and I’m sure you have dreams of making it big. What if I told you that something as simple as your mindset can have a huge impact on whether or not you achieve your dreams?

Musicians work in a creative field – and like many creatives they’re often plagued with self-doubt. Questions like “Is this song good enough?” or “Will everyone ignore me when I play live?” are always bouncing around in the subconscious thoughts of musicians. After all, you are putting yourself out there emotionally and creatively when you write, record, and perform. Intentional or not, these negative subconscious thoughts often manifest themselves in your actions. You can become shy and uncomfortable, pushing people and opportunities away. On the other side of the equation, if you work towards maintaining a positive mindset you will project confidence and good things will follow.

Nikki Loy is a singer songwriter who managed to turn her career around by addressing those negative thoughts and making them positive. She wrote this article for Cyber PR. Here is a short excerpt, but if you’re interested you can check out the full article here.

What do you really believe about your music career? If your thoughts about your music were announced to your audience on the P.A. system through which you perform, what would we all hear?

Do you only think great thoughts? Or do you catch yourself thinking ‘I’ll never make any money at this’, ‘It’s too hard!’, ‘There’s too much competition’, ‘No-one notices me’, ‘I wish a major label would sign me and make life easier’, ‘No-one likes my kind of music’, ‘I make Un-popular music’ ‘I’ll be poor forever’ ‘Musicians don’t make money..’ ‘I’m just one in a million other talented songwriters’

If you have negative beliefs about yourself and your career, you will always feel like you are climbing your mountain of musical success with a bungie cord strapped round your waist pulling you back to the bottom. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of that cord and just be free to ascend unhindered?

I suggest you take some time to find a comfy place, where you won’t be disturbed. Take out a notebook or journal, and get really honest with yourself about this. Don’t hold back. Get those thoughts and feelings out. Without judgement, let your emotions take over for a bit and write it all down. Find out what you have been rehearsing in your head that is contrary to the desires of your heart. Ask your self how any negative beliefs are effecting your ability to make money from music right now. Write that down too. And how will they effect you in the long term?

The thing about beliefs is that your subconscious mind will orchestrate your life to reinforce your beliefs. You will unwittingly make choices and decisions, and adopt behaviours and expectations, that re-affirm your beliefs. For example: ‘No-one notices me’ used to be a big one for me. It manifested in audiences literally ignoring me. When I realised that I was subconsciously communicating ‘Ignore me’ to the crowd, through my tone of voice, my body language and my lack of interaction, I saw how I had created my own reality. Then I took action to change all of that behaviour, and it hasn’t been a problem since – Every crowd chants for an encore!

What is holding your music career back?

Join the revolution, subscribe to the New Artist Model.

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Making It In Music

This post is by Bob Lefsetz from the Lefsetz Letter. To read the full article, click here.

1. You have to NEED to make it.

Wanting to make it is not enough. It must be your one true calling. If you’re willing to be broke, with no direction home, you might possibly make it. Sacrifice is the key element. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your home, your relationship, forgo children and sleep on the floor when you’re forty, don’t expect to make it in music, certainly don’t expect to sustain.

2. You have to be great.

Good is not good enough. You’ve got to blow our minds.

3. You can’t do it alone.

That’s an Internet fiction, from a decade past, that if you just posted something online it could cut through the noise. You need a team. The most important team members are:

a. A lawyer

b. A manager

c. An agent.

If you’re not at the point in your career that you can hire a team, delegate the tasks to your band members, or work with a friend who has some music business knowledge. Just make sure these jobs get done!

4. Believers

Sure, you need fans. But all they can do is pay for your Kickstarter record, and have you noticed we hear no more Kickstarter stories, that the outlet is the new BlackBerry, something that used to be that is no longer? If you’re just speaking to your fans, getting money from them, you might be able to survive, but you’ll never be able to grow.

You need people to believe in you. They need to do favors for you, get you on the radio, get you placed on shows, give you a chance to demonstrate your wares. Make connections everywhere you go. With other musicians, the sound guy at the club, the local venue owner, the local film maker or photographer. If you’re totally DIY, you’re gonna be living in your basement.

5. Learning

We live in a country where no one can admit they’re wrong. If you’re not willing to question every choice, do it differently next time, you’re never going to make it. Three years ago, almost everything I’ve said above would be different. You could go viral by your lonesome, social networking worked. But times change. You once used your aforementioned BlackBerry and were thrilled to get your e-mail on the run, now it’s all about apps. People hate change, but those who are willing to do so win. Kind of like in Silicon Valley, where it’s called “the Pivot.” Your original idea didn’t work, so you take the core and go in a different direction. You might think you’re a rocker, but truly you might be a country artist. You might think you’re a singer, but you might really be a songwriter, or a producer.

6. Pay little attention to those who are popular.

By the time you get your chance, completely different people and paradigms might rule. Originality is the key to longevity. Be yourself, not someone else.

7. Popularity.

Means people like you and your music. It comes with haters, because it’s so hard to break through, people are going to be angry that you did. You’ll be told you’re ugly, that your music sucks, that you can’t sing, that you’ve got no talent, but don’t believe it. It’s so hard to make it that if you have, pat yourself on the back and do your best to survive.

8. Longevity.

One hit and you can get royalties forever. Maybe even live dates. But chances are you’ll have to have a day job. The rule is, the harder it is to do, the better the chance of survival. Which is why doctors can always be employed, even if they bitch about their compensation. The barrier to entry to music is miniscule, so there are always others who are eager to take your place. The more skills you’ve got under your belt, the better your chance at lasting. But don’t be holier than thou that you can read music and got a degree, these are just tools, building blocks, a foundation, it’s what you build on top that counts.

9. Be nice.

It’s the key to making it. If you’re a jerk, no one’s going to want to work for you, go out of their way to promote you. Constantly say thank you and go out of your way to be appreciative.

10. Sour grapes.

Are gonna pull you down. The woulda, shoulda, coulda posse can tell an interesting story over a beer, but these people never succeed. Life is full of challenges, if you haven’t been screwed, you haven’t played the game. The road to success is paved with humiliation, you can complain about it or swallow it and realize it’s dues.

Are you ready to make it? Join the revolution. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

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Advice From Music Manager Emily White

The role of the manager has arguably grown over the past decade. Record labels are no longer investing as much money into artist development, and as a result, that task is falling to the musicians themselves and their managers. A good manager can help you navigate the music business, find your voice and your niche, connect with your fans, make connections with industry professionals, and generally make things run more smoothly.

Unfortunately, an amazing manager is not always in the cards financially for musicians starting out, so here’s some great advice from manager Emily White. Emily is a super manager and Co-Founder at Whitesmith Entertainment, which is a full-service talent management firm based in Los Angeles and New York, spanning the music, comedy, film, TV, and sports industries. This interview originally ran on Hypebot. To see the full interview, visit hypebot.com.

What was it like starting out for you? Did you always know that you wanted to this from the beginning? If not what was the happy accident or moment of clarity that got you where you are today?

Emily White: I absolutely set out to do what I do. I studied music and business in college. I went to a school called Northeastern University in Boston. I know they’re quite a few music business programs out there now. But when I was in school in the early 2000s, there was kind of like 3 to 5 that I really narrowed in on. Doing a lot of internships while I was in school really paved the way for my career. I did about 8 internships as an undergrad all over the industry; in Boston, New York, and London. Probably most significantly I started working with the Dresden Dolls when I was in school because they were an up and coming Boston band that I was a fan of. I started as their intern, and merch girl. Then tour manager and day-to-day manager and eventually became their manager. The day that I was supposed to walk in the commencement ceremony, I was at Coachella starting a 3 continent tour with [Dresden] Dolls and Nine Inch Nails. Around that time I also worked out a deal with Madison House who became the bands management company and I tour managed the band for a couple of years from age 20 to 23. When I wasn’t on tour I worked at Madison House. So Madison House is really where I learned my management skills and I was really lucky to work for Mike Luba and Kevin Morris, who are really wonderful music loving people. Whether they realize it or not, they really built businesses around the artists, and that was always their strategy, kind of not relying on outside partners. Madison House had an in-house label, and publicists and travel agency and merch company and PR firm and all these things. So that was the kind of mindset I came from, and I definitely apply those tactics on just about everything I’ve done since.

Vincent: How have you found that technology and the internet has improved music business for you personally? How about everybody else? Also, what is your favorite digital resource?

Emily: Technology and the music business has extremely benefited me both personally as I fan and absolutely professionally because it really allowed artists to be able to make world class recordings from their bedroom, and also eliminated the gatekeepers of distribution. So for 40 or 50 bucks an artist can distribute their music worldwide on TuneCore, and be on every iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, and Rdio, and Rhapsody store and platform in the world. What it did is it leveled the playing field for artists, which is awesome, because they didn’t have to sit around and wait for someone to pay for a recording studio and then manufacture plastic CDs, and get their music out to everyone. So for me it’s been very exciting. I’ve always really understood the internet and technology. I love Rdio, Spotify and all the streaming platforms because this is what I wanted to happen when Napster existed. I remember being a teenager in the 90s and in my head I was like ‘I’d pay $15, $20, $25’ [for a streaming music service]. I thought I’d pay $50 a month for the service. So it only took the music industry 15 years to get it together, and offer a legal, viable alternative to Napster, but I think that’s really cool. However, there are obviously plenty of people that made a lot of money back in the day, and they’re not all necessarily evil… that are griping that their income has gone down. That’s something that really hit home for me at MIDEM one year. Because where I see nothing but opportunity in the new music business, and my young bands who are making money, and any sort of income are really excited because they are making a living playing music, they don’t have anything to compare it to. If you are the heirs of famous songwriters, and have multiple homes to keep up. Suddenly those revenue streams do go down. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if you are a person, that’s your experience. That’s your perspective. I know for a lot of people their incomes have changed, but ultimately I think technology has just been great for the music business. Like I said it is made in a level playing field for artists, which means hopefully the best art really wins. I think it’s also weeded out industry people that weren’t in it for the right reasons.

Vincent: When artists are just starting out, do you happen to have a best strategy for getting content, be-it songs, videos, or memes to blogs and social mavens? So in other words what are your methods for forming relationships with these people to break the “stone wall” of silence and to get them to actually react to you?

Emily: I love starting from scratch, because when that’s the case I’m not cleaning up messes and you can just be really organized from day one. So we start with the fans. A lot of times you can ask artists to add email addresses of their friends and family members. I looked after a 6-piece band once. When they all did that, there were 700 people on their email list from the get-go. So that’s pretty powerful. I’m kind of a spaz who likes to know everything that’s going on. I’m really aware of pretty much every email address that is added. What we do is start building out, just a Google spreadsheet called Fancy Friends, and in that we put tastemakers and industry people and things like that. You can also grab those email addresses and see those people based on who is tweeting at, or about the artist through their Google alerts, because if they are blogger. When we get our first piece of press, even if it’s just a local piece of press, it’s so easy to look at that article and grab that journalist’s email address. So the artists/me can contact them directly in the future. If you’re not able to, or don’t want to hire a publicist. You kind of build out your own roller deck and make it really targeted. Which can also be the case if, maybe you did just come up with a video or something, I mean a video is kind of a big deal, but you just have something simple that you want to spread the word on. It might not be like an album, or a big campaign or whatever, that way you have a list of 3, 4, and 500. Hopefully 1,000 tastemaker type of people that you’ve built up over years. So those are the kinds of tools we do from day one, whether it’s a new artist or someone established we’ve taken on.

Vincent: When you’re talking about bands/songwriters relying on the getting the publishing, do you have recommendations for songwriters who are just getting going, trying to get their songs… or that might already have great songs recorded, but want to get them to the music supervisors, so that they actually hear the music when their ears are bleeding?

Emily: Sure. I’m about to write an article on this because I’m very methodical about it. I think when you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid to work with kind of like a re-titling company like Music Dealers or Jingle Punks. I’ve had a lot of success with those companies in early days. Sometimes industry people just gasp at how big a cut those companies take on top of the fact that they are re-titling. But it can be a really good foot in the door. What you need to remember is that even though they’re taking a 50% commission, I can see it in backend in royalties and hundreds of thousands of dollars through the artist’s PRO. You know when a proper sync is landed. I’ve also had every publisher in the industry calling me after that happens. So I don’t think an artist should really be above that, even though it’s not the best deal out of the gate. The real key there is finding humans at those companies. So not just being their system, not being annoying obviously, but really having a relationship with your rep. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they have offices, maybe playing parties at their offices and showcases. And even writing and recording when they have specific briefs come in. So that’s a great way to start to establish an initial relationship for yourself. At the same time I would definitely send your music, if you really think it’s ready to go and it’s the best it will ever be, send it to a Terror Bird music and Zync and Lip-Sync. Those companies are really great, because they are so selective. They totally know what they’re doing. They also don’t take any ownership. So that’s really nice. So if they’ll take your music on, that’s awesome.

If you could ask a successful manager one thing, what would it be? Share in the comment section below.

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Music Goal Setting for 2014

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1gBphdZ

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1gBphdZ

The new year is almost upon us, and that means it’s time to start fresh with new goals and a clean slate. I know we all set goals each year only to fall off them before the year is halfway through (as is evident by the huge surge and then sudden drop off of gym memberships.) However, if you learn how to set your goals in a more positive way it can actually help you stick with it. Your goals should be specific as possible, and big, lofty goals should be built with smaller milestones to keep up your forward momentum.

I have seen a huge difference between artists who set goals and those who don’t. It is essentially the first step towards your success in music. So what will you do in 2014? This is YOUR year!

This guide is from Cyber PR. To read the full article, check out the Cyber PR Blog.

Mapping Out Your Goals

Many studies have proven that long-term perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility in America. And it has been proven that people who have goals written down are much more likely to achieve them.

Focus Areas – Creating Order

STEP 1: Write Down Your Focus Areas

Here is a list of some areas you may want to focus on. Skip the ones that are not for you and write out each focus area goal.

Branding – Your look and feel your image and health or your pitch and overall messaging.

Marketing – What will you do this year for your marketing plans.

Newsletter –  It’s still the #1 way to make money!  What will you do to create and send yours 12 – 24 times this year & how many people can you add to your e-mail list.

Website  – Building a new one or diversifying your online presence?

Social Networking  – How’s your Facebook Fan Page looking? How many tweets do you send each week?

PR – Getting covered on radio, print, or online.

Booking – Touring or local gigs this year or a combination?

New Music – How much will you release?

Money – How much money you would like to earn?

Film & TV Placements – Will you work towards them this year?

Expanding Your Fan Base – How will you do this?

Team – Will you be trying to get a manager or a booking agent?

Time – How will you manage to balance your time this year to make sure you can focus on your musical goals?

Songwriting – Recording an album or EP this year or just releasing singles as they come?

Instrument – Buying a new instrument or taking lessons?

Personal Health – So your performance is better – exercise, eating  etc.

STEP 2: Write Your Goals Down

  • Write each goal as if it is already happening – use the present tense
  • Give dates by when you want to achieve each one
  • Your goals should involve you and only you (they can’t be contingent on someone else)
  • Make them so they are realistically achievable
  • Start with small goals so I can get them checked off the list and get in momentum fast!
  • Make sure they make you FEEL MOTIVATED to complete!  Derek Sivers wrote great commentary on this: http://sivers.org/goals

STEP 3: Look At Them Everyday

I highly recommend writing your goals neatly on paper or creating a vision board that illustrates them. Use colored pens or make a collage that brings them to life and hang them in a place where you can see them everyday.

Keeping them within your sights will keep them in your mind.

Carla Lynne Hall at Rockstar Life Lessons has a fabulous guide on how to create a vision board on her blog: http://bit.ly/CarlasVisionBoard

Techniques For Achieving Goals

1. Start With An Easy Goal And Complete It

One of the main reasons people don’t end up achieving their goals / keeping their new years resolutions is they set themselves up for failure by choosing goals that take a lot of discipline and time to achieve. There is nothing wrong with having big goals however, here’s what I recommend to overcome this issue…

Choose a simple goal and get it achieved within the next two weeks. This will start your momentum and get you feeling like you are in full forward motion.

Think of a small, achievable goal that only takes four to five hours to complete.

Choose something like:

  • Organize cluttered studio
  • Clean off desk
  • Delete unwanted files & emails from computer
  • Recycle last years unwanted papers
  • Write one new song

Next, set a date when you will get your chosen goal done by and go for it.

Now that you have achieved a goal within the first two weeks of the new year, the rest of your goal setting will seem a lot easier to accomplish, and you will be able to get things off your plate.

2. Make Lists To Stay On Track

  • Make daily lists of what you need to do to get your goals met – the night before! Do the hardest thing first in the morning – don’t procrastinate
  • Do something everyday that moves you towards your goals
  • Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people (you would be amazed what you could do with 4 hours it takes to clean your house).
  • Don’t overload yourself – studies show that 6 tasks is the maximum you can achieve in one day!

3. Write Down 5 Successes Each Day

I’m inviting you to write down five little victories a day for this entire year.
I learned this powerful technique years ago from T. Harv Eker.  Once you start getting into this habit, you are training yourself to put the focus on the positive and get your brain to stop being so critical.

So put a notebook in your gig bag or next to your bed and each day write down 5 things. Make one or two of them music or band related.

Here are some examples:

1. Went to gym.

2. Wrote lyrics for a new song.

3. Called three clubs for potential booking.

4. Did the dishes.

5. Posted a blog.

4. My Final Piece of Advice – Go Easy On Yourself!

This is a process intended to take a whole year and you will have your days where you may get frustrated, and you will start to beat yourself up (sound familiar?).

Self-criticism will interfere directly with achieving your goals and dreams.  So, the next time you are making yourself wrong, take a step back and instead acknowledge the good, and celebrate your achievements.

Another thing that will stop you is not taking time for YOU so schedule time to reflect and take it all in.  Maybe that’s a walk in the woods, maybe that’s cooking yourself a decadent meal, or maybe it’s spending time with people you love and turning down your power for a few days without the pressure of a holiday or an event….

Here’s to your success in 2014!

What are some of your goals for 2014? Share in the comment section below.

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Career Advice from Women in Music

Some of the most powerful advice in the music industry comes from people who worked hard and found their own success. At one point in their life they were just a musician or music lover with a dream. They learned from their mistakes and are here to tell the tale to the next generation of rising musicians and music entrepreneurs.

This post originally ran on Cyber PR. Here’s a consolidated list of 10 tips, but to see all 49 be sure to check out the full article. This advice comes from women in the music industry, but it can be used by anyone.

1. The Three P’s

Christine Ben Ameh
“The 3 PS- 1. Patience. 2. Perseverance. 3.Practice (Makes perfect).”
Recording Artist/Songwriter 
@CHRISTINE_AMEH

2. Fans First

Louise Dodgson
“Always put your fans first. Too many bands & artists are concerned with attracting the interest of the music industry. But the best way to do so is usually to forget all about it! Concentrate on your fans. Communicating with them and working hard to expand your fan base. Making the music and sharing it with people who really appreciate what you do is the enjoyable part. Your fans will help create the buzz for you and if you’re doing your own thing with a keen and constantly growing following, the music industry will no doubt catch up to you in due course.”
Editor, The Unsigned Guide
@editorunsigned

3. Don’t Fear Failure

Roswitha Bartussek
“Envision your destiny and take small daily steps towards it. Don’t be afraid to fail, the more often you fail the more likely you will succeed. Be your authentic self, don’t try to fit in, carve out your niche.”

Artist, CEO of Queen Rose, Inc.

@queenrose

4. The Truth Will Set You Free

Erin Dickins
“ Tell the truth – in music and life – never sing a lyric that you wouldn’t have as an epithet. Never do anything artistically to please anyone else. It’s all you – be authentically you – in your passion, your joy and your dreams. Shine your light big and bright no matter how big the challenges. Love every minute of the journey.”
(not just a) Jazz VOCALIST – Recording artist on Dot Time Records
@erindickins

5. Find Your Tribe

Barb Morrison
“Work with people (whether it be a manager, a producer, an agent, a publicist or a record label) who GET you. Having someone fully understand what you’re trying to say with your music is crucial. It’s much more important than how connected they are in the industry.”
Record producer & film score composer
@barbmorrison

6. It’s Not All About You

Cheryl Engelhardt
“Your results are not about you- they show up when you create an opportunity of value for someone else. I use this nugget when pitching music-to-music supervisors, getting a film-scoring gig, when talking with a potential coaching client, or even when inviting a friend to a movie. “What’s in it for them?” is the phrase I have running through my head before making a request of anyone.”
Songwriter / Composer / Creative Career Coach
@CBE

7. Listen

Madalyn Sklar
“Passion and persistence will get you far. Don’t be afraid to go big. Surround yourself with smart, motivated, like-minded people (join or start a mastermind group). Listen. Listening will get you further than anything else.”
Founder, GoGirlsMusic
@madalynsklar

8. Respect Everyone

Lauren McKinley
“Realize that this industry is ever changing and relatively small.  Not only should you respect everyone you meet and/or work with, but also you should always offer help where you can.  The people you help today will be the ones helping you tomorrow.”
Owner, Clover Marketing & Management
@CloverMktg or @LFMcKinley

9. Be True To Yourself

Lori Bumgarner
“Never try to do things exactly the way others tell you to do it or exactly the same way they did it. Promotion of your brand has to be done in a way that is true to you. Not every species of flower blooms at the same rate or under the same conditions!”
Image Consultant/owner of paNASH Style LLC
@panashstyle

10. Find Another Door

Laurence Muller
“When a door closes, never stand there like a dummy, find another door!”
Label Manager / Manager

What’s YOUR most valuable piece of advice? Share in the comment section below!

 

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Artistic Efficiency

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cv3FL0

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cv3FL0

As we reach the end of the year, we all look forward to a new year and new resolutions for a better career and better self. But why not get started now and hit the new year running? Next year, I know many musicians out there who will be working towards goals to play more, write more, and be more on top of social media. Set the ground work now for artistic efficiency!

This guide, by Michael Shoup, was originally posted on Hypebot. It really sets out some great, actionable guidelines.

RULE 1: Minimize

Chances are, if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, you’re doing too much. You have a Twitter, Facebook, 4Square, Tumblr account, and maybe more. You may not even realize it, but you find yourself wishing you’d start that business, try for that dream job, or make that record… and you don’t because of “obligations” or “responsibilities”, or worse yet, simple “lack of time.” I’m with you. I’ve been there. Unfortunately for us as humans, this doesn’t get easier as we grow older and add families or children to the mix, so it’s best that we learn how to handle it now. No more excuses. It’s time to trim the fat.

While this may not be the exact first step for everyone, I believe minimalism is key. I challenge you to examine what you do on a day to day basis, and ask yourself (a) do you actually like doing those activities and (b) what would happen if you just STOPPED doing part of it. What are the consequences? What is the worst-case scenario that could happen if you just dropped that activity today? What would the benefits be? What if you only used one social network and built your audience there? Would you suddenly find yourself with blocks of time available to dedicate to your passion or audience? I certainly did.

RULE 2: Delegate

While the term “independent” in the music industry generally refers to running your own career, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it alone. This is one part of the puzzle that I find many creatives miss. I know I certainly did. The beauty of being an “independent” artist is that you’re suddenly the boss of your own career; the CEO and founder of your music, and it’s your job to build a team under you.

Our society, and partially our school system, has ingrained in us that busy is better; that multi-tasking is a necessity, and that Facebook deserves your constant attention. It doesn’t. What does deserve your attention are your goal-driven, well-defined priorities. It’s time to separate yourself from the noise.

This is the rule where I see most creatives lose focus. I personally suffer from the “do-it-all-now!” syndrome, so I can relate, but doing what deserves your attention at the right time creates momentum, and our goal is to feed that energy.

I start this process by taking a pen and paper and writing down all of the tasks that I need to do [Actually, I usually do this starting at rule one and make columns for “minimize”, “delegate” and “prioritize”]. Once I have my list, I’ll give each task a weight based on its urgency, my desire to see it to completion, or the length of time it’s been on the list [longer gets higher priority].

Now, the magic comes in making these priorities actionable. For each item with the top priority rating, I break it down into small steps.

RULE 4: Automate

By running myself through this “5 Rules” process numerous times, I began to notice systems develop each time a similar priority was identified. Perhaps all co-writing appointments could be setup in the same 4 steps. Maybe all my reoccurring payments could be pooled to one credit card that I auto-pay once a month? Could all my booking emails be funneled to an auto-responder that followed up for me and sent a press release? As these systems began to develop, I would ask myself one simple question: Does automating this task make it too impersonal? If the answer was no, I’d set the system in place.

RULE 5: Create!

This is it, folks. This is what you’ve saved up so much time and energy to do. In my personal opinion, this should always be priority and rule #1, even if you do use the first 4 rules to clean out everything else. This is what drives and motivates you. As an artist or content creator, this is what will actually make or break you in the end. This is what you should be funneling the vast majority of your time and effort into as it feeds your authentic ability to connect and engage your audience.

*BONUS ROUND: Take Big Calculated Risks

This last piece I include as a small tidbit to chew on.

At least once a month, I challenge myself to take a big risk with my career; to do something that scares me or toss a Hail Mary with no real assurance that anything will come of it. Though sometimes these amount to nothing, they’ve also accounted for some of my greatest successes and built relationships that I would’ve never dreamed possible.

What are your goals for the coming year? How will you start working towards those goals NOW?

 

 
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The Evolving Musician

One of the most amazing things about music is that it is always evolving. You can alway push the boundaries of a genre or even mash two together to create something completely new. All the genres we have today are a result of this creative evolution and new genres will continue popping up as we move towards the future.

Especially today, it’s easy to feel like everything has been done. With so many creative people out there, developing a unique style can seem almost impossible. But isn’t that challenge one of the reasons we became musicians in the first place? If there wasn’t always some way to improve or grow, would we be as drawn to making music? Maybe you won’t invent a completely new genre, but by continuing to push yourself creatively you’re adding to the infographic below one song at a time.

Today, remember this infographic. We’ve come from classical and ragtime to grunge, post rock, and EDM. Just like the evolution of music, your creative journey as a musician has no final end where you know and have done everything. And that’s a good thing.

Here’s the static version of the infographic. Be sure to check out the interactive version here.

6a00d83451b36c69e2019b015700f0970d-450wi

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Make the Most of Your Music Video Budget

Photo by Mark Thorsen on Flickr

Photo by Mark Thorsen on Flickr

For musicians, video is an extremely powerful media. Many music fans use sites like YouTube to keep up with news from their favorite bands, discover new bands, and listen to music.

Indie musicians with a limited budget do not need to be intimidated or discouraged by the big-money major label videos. You can create great video content on a budget. As a musician, you are creative. Use that creativity to come up with great video ideas that don’t require millions of dollars! Your fans will appreciate the thought you put into the video and the fact that you didn’t follow the default “we’re playing our song in the woods” approach.

Kelley James is a singer/songwriter. This article he wrote for Hypebot is a great example of how real musicians are doing great things on a limited budget. Here’s a short excerpt from the article. You can read the full article on Hypebot

1. When creating content, think outside the box.

Everyone is pretty familiar with the two main standbys that most artists will utilize when it comes to creating videos: the video-blog update and, of course, music videos. One is low budget with the potential to be stale and contrived while the other often seems like too big of an investment for artists who are still growing. That’s why it’s very important to think outside the box when it comes to video content. What are your viewers getting from your videos that they can’t get elsewhere? If the answer is “nothing”, they probably won’t be tuning in any time soon. When I’m creating content for my channel, I like to give my fans something they can’t see at a show or buy on iTunes, so I like to do one of my signature freestyles on-the-spot. Other times, I’ll mash up two songs into one streamlined acoustic performance. Once your viewers realize that they’re getting in on something special when they watch your videos, you can bet they’ll be back again next time.

2. More is less.

There’s proof all over the web that a clever idea can be as valuable, if not more, than a bloated budget. A lack of funds can be a blessing more than a curse in that it forces you to think creatively and work with whatever resources are immediately available. In 2012, I released my single “Summertime On My Mind” and wanted to create a unique video to promote it without spending a ton of cash. I was involved in a campaign for Patagonia at the time called “Repair, Reuse, Recycle” which was aimed at promoting cleaner environmental practices and conserving resources, and I saw one that one of the logos was an acoustic guitar with only one string. Inspiration struck. With the goal of showing that you can create something awesome with only simple tools, I rounded up five friends and six guitars – each with only one string. We played the entire song together, one string per person, and over 13,000 views later, I was able to prove that it doesn’t take more than a few buddies and some ingenuity to make something special. Don’t get caught up in trying to copy the music videos you see on TV, because the average major label video usually has a budget somewhere between $200,000-$500,00. Use your brain and remember, more is less.

For more tips from Kelley James, check out the full article on Hypebot.

How do you make the most of your  video budget? Share in the comment section below!