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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! 

New Artist Model Winners

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nNt72v

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nNt72v

Congratulations to our winners!

Winner of the Master Class:

Sara Azriel | @saraazriel

Winners of the Essential Class:

Dave Pettigrew | @davepettigrew

Andrew Witmer | @arwitmer

Tori Gandy | @rpgeez

Diogo Faim | @DiogoFaim

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the New Artist Model online course. We are very excited to have you joining this journey with us. Welcome aboard and keep on rocking!

Your names are also posted on the New Artist Model videos here.

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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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Full Steam Ahead

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

As the music industry moves forward, revenue streams are expanding into territories we would never have imagined. The live show can now be streamed over the internet, music fans can listen to any song they want with streaming services like Spotify, lifestyle companies like Red Bull and Converse are getting into the record label business, and new publishing opportunities are popping up everyday.

One industry that just keeps growing is the gaming industry, and its presenting more and more opportunities for musicians. Rock Band and Guitar Hero really started the ball going for customizable game music, and since then, many platforms have been integrating in their own streaming or local music players. This definitely presents a great way forward for music. Integration with Spotify could mean more paying customers, and in-game purchases could evolve to include music packages. I really think this segment of the music industry is wide open for innovation.

Last week, Steam announced the beta of Steam Music. Check out the article below from Billboard for more information.

Steam, which passed its tenth birthday last year, operates as both an online marketplace and a media hub for video game players worldwide, keeping their game libraries in a central location and storing game information and their purchases in the cloud. Similar to iTunes with music, Steam makes money the same way, taking a 30% cut of purchases. That structure keeps Steam’s marketplace a click away and Valve’s brand ever-present. While most video games are too complex to be played without having their files stored on a local device, Steam users are able to install the client on a new computer and bring their software with them, along with save game files and similar information. As of last October, Valve put the number of Steam accounts at over 65 million.

As it stands now, Steam Music simply allows its users to listen to tracks from their local digital libraries while simultaneously playing video games — as long as they are in “Big Picture Mode,” a user interface designed to mimic the living room-based functionality of the Xbox and PlayStation’s operating systems. But what if the service integrated a streaming service like Spotify? The result could be a boon for that streaming service as well as music rightsholders; recent revenue gains in Norway’s music industry have been directly attributable to streaming services’ pervasive scale in that country, accounting for 65.3% of recorded music revenues and driving industry-wide growth.

But there are strong indications that Spotify could eventually arrive on Steam. Martin Benjamins, one of two people behind the website SteamDB, a website — unaffiliated with Valve or Steam — dedicated solely to investigating the underlying code of Steam and its attendant programs, found something interesting inside Steam’s guts. “Valve has already done quite a bit of work on Spotify integration in the Steam client, and appear to be using… Spotify’s official API for [placing] Spotify functionality into third party applications.” If you need a translation: Steam is already testing integration with Spotify into Steam Music. Benjamins says that it appears as if Spotify Premium users would be able to utilize the feature.” It’s important to note that, while such digital sleuthing is a worthwhile exercise, unreleased or unactivated code doesn’t mean that a feature will see the light of day.

Valve declined to comment on upcoming or requested features, and Spotify did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Steam Music’s beta page does state that “we see an opportunity to broaden Steam as an entertainment platform, which includes music alongside games and other forms of media.” The company has taken significant steps to this end recently, developing SteamOS which allows users to all but replace their gaming consoles with a home-built computer intended to be always connected to the living room television, as well as Steam Machines, a prefab console intended to serve the same purpose.

Neither Xbox or the Playstation have a Spotify app available on their platforms, each preferring to push its own products — Sony’s paid Music Unlimited and Microsoft’s Xbox Music., which, like Spotify, offers a free and paid tiers.

As far as their plans to sell music, the company says, alluringly, on its site that “Steam currently offers a number of game soundtracks for sale. Your feedback will help guide where we take things next.” It’s also emblematic of a company well-respected by its customers, largely on how closely it listens to user feedback.

A quick glance at the Steam users online at the time of this writing showed 6.5 million — about 500,000 more than currently pay for a Spotify subscription. If 10% of Steam’s 65 million-strong user base subscribed to Spotify as a result of a trial or bundle deal, it would raise Spotify’s paid subscriber base by over 100%. Playing with games may just mean serious business for music.”

What do you think? Do video games present a huge opportunity for the music industry?

 

We discuss music placement in video games in the New Artist Model online course, but you can also get access to some free lessons by signing up for the mailing list

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The Musician Career Plan

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So we’ve covered the fact that many musicians don’t know the next steps they should be taking in their career and many more don’t have enough time to get everything done. Now, we’re going to address both of those problems with a method commonly used by entrepreneurs – a business plan, or in this case, a musician career plan.

I know, most of you probably didn’t get in to music to write a business plan, but if you’re really serious about making a living off your art, it’s an invaluable resource that will help you succeed. Think about all those choices you face everyday. How long should you spend on social media? Which social media channels should you be on? How much time should you dedicate to touring? Is crowdfunding the right way to fund your album? If you have a plan in place that states where you are, what you’re focusing on, and where you want to be in the future, these choices become a whole lot simpler.

 

Here are some of key points of a musician career plan. To see all 10 points, check out the video. By signing up for the mailing list, you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online course.

1. Business Structure

You probably don’t think of your band as a business, but that’s exactly what you are. A lot of the professional bands and musicians out there even go so far as to organize themselves into a Partnership or even a Corporation. You don’t have to go that far quite yet, but you need to think about what everyone’s roles are within your business and how each moving part works together to make one whole unit. How do you communicate with each other? Is one person responsible for decision making or does the whole group vote? Talking about these things up front will make everything run a lot smoother and more efficiently.

2. Revenue Streams

There’s more revenue streams out there beyond just selling albums and singles. Of course, the revenue streams you draw on depend entirely on your career focus. A songwriter will pull from different revenue streams than a recording artist. The main point here is to be creative with it! The music industry is ripe for innovation. Sponsorships and brand partnerships have grown exponentially lately. Some musicians even make money from exclusive membership sites.

3. Booking Strategies

Playing gigs shouldn’t just be something you do on the side. It should be part of your overall strategy. Depending on your goals, you can use your live show to forge a deeper connection with your fanbase, spread awareness for your music to a new city, or meet new collaboration partners.

What’s your plan?

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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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In Defense of 1,000 True Fans

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Despite being published back in 2008, the concepts in the article 1,000 True Fans are still true today. Musicians today can be independent and successful, but you can’t wait around and hope for some big time success to just hit you in the face. You need to take the time and really build up a strong group of people who really believe in you and your music, and that group doesn’t need to be as large as you may think. 1,000 true fans is all it takes to be able to live the life in music you deserve!

If you haven’t given 1,000 True Fans a read through yet, be sure to check it out. However, sometimes big ideas and theories can be difficult to grasp and apply to your own career, so here’s an interview with Cyber PR campaigns manager Andrew Salmon (@andrewgsalmon) and Canadian singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto so you can see how the 1,000 true fans model is working for a real indie artist.

Andrew Salmon: How long have you been an active musician for? You’ve been making music and performing for a long time, but do you think there was a defining moment when you became officially “active”?

Robyn Dell’Unto: I played through high school but tried VERY hard to stop as I made my way into university [McMaster University]; I wanted to be a psychologist or something else really respectable to grown ups. But the local music scene in Hamilton, Ontario was so incredibly conducive to collaborating, getting on stage, just being around other musicians, and I cracked pretty quickly. There were so many talented people just hanging around town, and great music venues. I got hooked, started playing a bunch, recording singles here and there. I moved to Toronto after graduating, and about a year later I entered this competition with a local independent record label, and “won” a record contract. I felt sort of validated by that, because out of nowhere I suddenly had funds and support. While I’m loving running my own show these days, I’m so appreciative of that experience.

AS: What would you estimate your percentage breakdown of music-related income to be?
– Shows
– House shows / club shows
– Music sales / streaming
– Publishing / sync licensing

RDU:
– Shows (including house/corporate/public venue/college): 30%
– Music sales: 5% (ha!!)
– Publishing/licensing (including residual royalties): 40%
– Other (workshops via my songwriting program A Song Of My Own): 25%

AS: You have a strong presence on Twitter, and you clearly have a special bond with your fans in this space. How have you gone about building your tribe?

RDU: Ha! I didn’t realize I had a tribe. Could I please be called Chief? Twitter is fun and direct and I guess I just try to be myself while putting info out there as much as possible. I’ve gained a few real fantastic fans through licensing and touring, and I find people stick with you if you’re responsive, or a bit funny, or just generally not a dick. Everybody’s in love with music, and it’s incredible to think that someone could be in love with yours.

AS: How would you say you’ve been able to win your fans over? What additional value do you bring to the table in terms of your relationship to your fans beyond the music?

RDU: Hmm…I guess I’d have to ask them. I really like posting photos, and I think people like to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I like posting ridiculous photos of animals, particularly pugs, they’re just so damn ugly and everybody love-hates them. People send me links to fantastic ugly pug pictures and I’m always extremely grateful. I talk about food a bit… who doesn’t love food, right? I’ve had a few proposals, which I’ve been receptive to. Nothing wrong with that. I LOVE getting cover-performance videos of my songs, and try to always repost them. I recently saw a sign language performance of my song ‘Astronaut’ on YouTube. It made me weep. Like, honestly weep. That was awesome.

Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophmore record “Little Lines” is available now! Learn more about Robyn on her website and follow her on Twitter here.

New-Artist-Model

Do you have 1,000 True Fans?

Learn how to harness your fanbase! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Overuse Free Music

value-of-music

Your music is valuable. I think a lot of musicians forget this or are afraid to admit it for some reason. You can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Lets take a look.

Today, many indie musicians find themselves stuck in a seemingly impassible rut. You are giving your music away for exposure and can’t seem to get to the point where people actually pay you.  You think if you don’t give your music out for free you’ll never be able to grow your fanbase.  But if you continue down the free music route bills won’t get paid and no one in the industry will take you seriously. It’s a paradox that plagues most indie musicians, and you’re not alone!

Free music is great. It is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase, which is why it’s probably a huge part of your marketing efforts right now. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. Now granted, they were already well known.  But for most artists, the key is to find the right balance between free and paid content.

Let’s start with your fans. Different fans are willing to pay for different things. Some fans will not pay for music and will not attend your shows. Others will only pay to come to your shows. Others will pay for music, buy merch, go to your shows, and still be willing to throw more money at you if you only asked. It’s important to differentiate between these fans so you can target your offers.

In this context you need to consider the purpose of “free” music. Think about your fanbase in terms of a pyramid. Potential fans are in bottom third, casual fans in the middle third, and superfans at the top. One purpose for free music could be to move fans up the pyramid. Fans at the bottom of the pyramid will probably not give you cash, so trade free music for an email address so you can stay in touch with that fan. For those in the middle, give them some free songs when they buy something from you – a ticket or merch or a bundle of other songs.  For fans at the top, make special limited run products for them and charge them, but give them something exclusive for free to seal the deal.

Matthew Ebel is a Boston-based “piano rocker” who has struck a balance between paid and free with his membership site. He offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list, paid albums and merch, and an exclusive subscription site for his super fans. Matthew isn’t a superstar artist – he has a humble 1,684 Facebook likes (2014) – but he works as a full-time musician and makes almost 30% of his net income from only a few hardcore fans.

The subscription site has a few different levels ranging in price from $4.99 per month to $499 per year. Matthew’s offers include exclusive live show recordings and videos, discounts, early access to material, access to member-only parties and concert seating, and even a custom-written song. These are things that a lot of indie artists just give out for free. The trick it to trade your music for something else of value to you. There are many forms of tender.

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.

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. As an example, Matthew Ebel offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list. The purpose here is to move potential or casual fans up the pyramid to more serious fans. To do this, he gives them a taste of his music – a try-before-you-buy if you will – and in return gets the ability to contact them through email. He can now send these casual fans information on his live shows, new material, and life.

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Matthew’s strategy may not work for everyone exactly as it did for him. You need to take some time to look at your career, music, and goals to find the right balance between free and paid content. The important takeaway is that you need a solid plan. In the New Artist Model online course we will teach you strategies for marketing and promotion. You’ll create a personalized career plan for your music.

What are you waiting for? Learn how to actually grow your audience with free music! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get free sample lessons.    

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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 Don’t Build a Brand

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“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Beethoven’s music and personality can be described as moody, and Liszt was the showy star of the 1800’s. What makes you unique? 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. This just confuses the audience. You end up with something like “We are a psychedelic reggae metal band. We also look to funk, bluegrass, and classic rock for influence and you can really hear it in our sound.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. Either they feel their music cannot be defined in a sentence or they are uncomfortable waving their own flag and would rather just play music.  No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. In fact, the more personal you can make your brand the better! Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. If you are passionate about something, chances are other people share in that passion. Use it as a connector!

Let’s look at a fairly well known band, Sum 41. Before they 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.

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Everyone’s brand is unique, and every musician has a unique journey to discover their brand. In the New Artist Model  online course you’ll go through this process with founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek. You’ll take a look at more examples like Sum 41, define your own brand, and learn how to really harness that image to connect with fans.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and discover your own unique brand! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get free sample lessons.

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Let Your Fans Market

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As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. You probably don’t have a record label planning your releases or scheduling your social media for the week, and you certainly don’t have any spare cash for a big marketing campaign. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you and maybe a manager 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. On top of that, new technology has enabled just about anyone to get online and call themselves a musician. 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. Think about how you found some of your favorite artists. How many of them did you discover from a friend’s recommendation? Or someone you trust?

The key here is authenticity. Making it real and transparent and interesting. More people will check out your new album after a friend recommends it than would after a flashy TV commercial. This means you don’t need to dish out thousands for a big marketing campaign. The most effective form of marketing is completely within your reach financially!

Let’s take a look at The Wild Feathers, 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 exclusively for their superfans. This strategy gave superfans an incentive to go to their live shows and get excited about the release. 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.

This strategy is genius for a couple of reasons. 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. They turned their superfans into marketers!  And they also brought them into the club early, which made the promoter happy.

Paramore also harnessed their fans as marketers in June 2013 for their song “Still into You.” Paramore launched a contest – “Paraoke” – asking fans to submit their best cover of the song. The winner would receive the bike featured in the video, two concert tickets, and a merch pack. As a result, YouTube was flooded with new Paramore covers. They didn’t need to spend thousands on a big marketing campaign. Their fans spread the word for them.

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Chances are your fans are already out there talking about your music, but with a great marketing plan you can really harness your fans’ marketing efforts. In the New Artist Model online course we look at all your fans and help you create a plan to grow and energize the power of your fan base.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and kickstart your marketing! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free sample lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t Focus on a Niche

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We all want everyone to like us, but in the music industry especially that’s not always possible. People have such specific and opinionated tastes in music that there’s always going to be someone out there who’s just not a fan of your sound. But don’t let that discourage you! On the flip side, because music is such a personal thing, there will also be people out there who think your music is amazing. The key is to focus your efforts on these people. It’s easier to turn a fan into a superfan than it is to turn a hater into a fan.

Start local and move up from there. Don’t try to tour the country, or even the “East Coast”. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following there. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Something extra. Draw them into your scene.

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.  Think about this a concentric circles. You start in the middle and move out over time. You have your current circle, so you work within that and then move out one ring at a time.

Take for example the band Phish. They are a notorious touring band, but they weren’t always as well known as they are now. Phish is from the northeastern US, and they stayed in that area playing gigs and building up a fan base for years after they formed. They were able to sell out some of the biggest venues in their local area before they were even signed to a record label.

The vastness of the internet’s reach has a lot of musicians today convinced that they need to rush to larger tours. The logic is that if they tour more in an increasingly large area they will get more fans and make more money. However, it takes more than one show to make a true fan. If you repeatedly play your local music scene, music fans will really get to know you and feel a connection with you and your music. This is what you should be striving for – the deep connection, not just awareness.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief – what your brand is all about. 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. And your niche can transcend music and  connect you over time with other people.

To consider an extreme example, let’s look at the “Gluten-free rock star,Darius Lux. After going through a diet change, Darius Lux began targeting gluten-free and health blogs for coverage of his music. Health and food has little to do with music, but the key here is that he was in a space with little to no competition from other musicians. Rather than having to differentiate himself from the thousands of other pop-rock musicians out there, Lux went to a different market – one where he was the star.

Another musician, Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. Like Darius Lux, 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 these two musicians may have severely limited themselves in terms of audience, and in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however they were able to really stand out.

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Everyone has their own specific niche, be it a geographic area, a lifestyle, or a belief. It will take a little thought to discover your niche, but once you do you can create a really targeted plan to conquer that niche! In the New Artist Model online course, you’ll go through this soul-searching process and build a plan from there with the help and guidance of founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and build your own success! Subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free sample lessons!

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10 Musician Mistakes: You’re Not Out Networking

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I’m sure you’ve heard someone emphasizing the importance of networking in the music industry. Well, it’s true – most opportunities come from personal connections that you cultivate. So before you bulk email the A&R reps at every major label, try to put the importance of networking into perspective. The big labels and publishing companies may have the resources to promote you, but they probably won’t even see your email among the thousands of others they receive. Instead, start local and personal and work up from there.

As an indie musician, networking is your ladder to success. At the top of the ladder are the big-shot sponsors and music business professionals that work at major labels, large management firms, and publishing companies. At the bottom of the ladder is you and your local club owner, a small business in your city looking to run a TV or radio ad with music, and the producer who works in the local studio. You cannot reach the big connections up top unless you first develop your local connections. And many time these seemingly small connections can end up being far more valuable than you would think!

No matter how many times the word networking is driven into our heads, we sometimes get overwhelmed with internal tasks like posting to social media or playing a great gig that we forget to take the time and introduce ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. 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. You can introduce yourself to a filmmaker or photographer at a local film festival or convention. In the future you might go to them for help with a music video or a band photo shoot or even work with them on a film score.

Your networking also shouldn’t be reserved for industry professionals like managers and agents. Take every opportunity to introduce yourself to other bands and other people and begin what could become a long-term connection. 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. If you want people to care about you, start by helping them in some way to get a relationship started.

To see some real networking in action, let’s look at Nashville-based indie rock group, Vinyl Thief. 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 reconnected with the band and offered his assistance. Davenport was brought on to the team and started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped the band set trackable goals and helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill.

Valuable connections in the music industry can come from places you least expect. More times than not, the connections that will really progress your career are the ones you don’t even notice at first – the friend from high school who majored in business, the local club owner, or the soundboard guy at your local venue. These people are the people who may be passionate about you and your music – and you never know how their careers are going to progress.

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Don’t disregard the seemingly little connections! People you meet may work their way up the ladder and you may run into them in the future without expecting it. In the New Artist Model online course we show you the power of networking and teach you ways to get yourself out there. You will learn how to use collaboration in gigging, songwriting, and recording to grow your fanbase and your career.

What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and create connection that will propel your career to the next level. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for free sample lessons.

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10 Musician Mistakes: You Skip Time Management

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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!

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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 Aren’t Leveraging Copyright

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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.

So how does all this translate into actually making money? Other people and companies have to get your permission and usually pay you to perform any of the actions protected by copyright. Think of copyright like property – intellectual property. If you owned a large apartment building other people would have to get your permission to live in one of the apartments. They would sign a contract and money would most likely change hands. It’s the same principle for music. A record label or distributor pays you to be able to make copies of your song and distribute it to online and retail stores. A radio station pays you (through a PRO) to perform your song over the radio. A company pays you to sync your music to their promotional videos or advertisements.

One thing a lot of musicians miss is the fact 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? Many more musicians have been realizing this and figuring out how to leverage their copyrights.

Music publishing can be a tricky area to navigate when it comes to payment, especially when you’re just starting out. Many companies don’t have a budget for music and rely on small indie bands to license their songs for free. In these cases, don’t cave in or restrict yourself to just monetary payment. Think about what non-monetary things they can offer you in exchange for your music. Does the company run a blog? If so they could write up a quick feature or interview with links back to your site and social media channels. When done correctly, the publicity could be just as valuable as a check!

The Happen Ins are an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People and a corresponding video in July 2011. In this case, Free People had to get permission to sync the Happen Ins music to their video. Free People is a fairly well known clothing line, so the band most likely got some monetary payment, but we’ll focus on the non-monetary publicity, as it is something most companies can offer even the smallest bands. Members of The Happen Ins were in the catalog, were the feature of many blog posts surrounding the catalog release, 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.

If you want to make the most of your copyrights, the key is to find business partners that have a similar image or audience to yours or one you want to reach. In this case, Free People, their customers, and the Happen Ins have a vintage rock and roll vibe. Think about your image, personality, and music when you go out looking for publishing deals. If they cannot offer you enough money, think about what else they could offer you that could help grow your fan base. In many cases this can be far more valuable than any money you can get. This is especially true when you are early in your career.

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The New Artist Model online course teaches you specifics of copyright law and creative publishing in detail. By the end of the 8-week course you will fully understand what copyrights you have and can create, what you can do with them, how you get paid, and how to effectively pursue music publishing and licensing.


Make money licensing your music. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for more free 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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Build your Fanbase with Frequent Releases

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1de4Yfe

In the past the standard model was to release a full length album every year or so, and while a lot of musicians today still go by that model, more and more are starting to do smaller, more frequent releases. Especially if you’re an indie artist, this strategy is great for building a fan base and staying in the front of your fans’ minds.

Here CD Baby lists out some of the key benefits to the frequent release strategy. If you want to see all 10, check out the full article.

1. Keep your existing fans “tuned in” – Our attention spans are getting shorter and our entertainment options are increasing. If you disappear for three years without any new music, you can’t expect your old fans to pick right up where you left off. You need to stay on their radar if you want them to continue supporting you with equal fervor. The more frequently you release music, the more chances you have to remind them of why they love you.

2. Generate more opportunities for press – Likewise, the more music you put out, the more chances you have to contact bloggers, music magazines, local weeklies, etc. Pinning all your PR hopes on one album release every few years really limits your chances to get the press talking about your music.

3. Pace your creative and recording workload – It’s very time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to complete a major recording project all at once. Generally to finish tracking and mixing a full album in one stretch, you’re looking at anywhere from two to twelve weeks’ worth of work. But what about one song a month? That sounds more manageable, healthy, and realistic, which probably means it’s more likely to happen!

You’ll put everything you have into one song at a time to get it right; then have a little break from recording until next month — rather than exhausting all your energy or ideas. You can release a single every month for a year (and even do a release party for each one if you want to draw some extra attention to the new music). At the end of the year, compile the best ten tracks into an album.

4. Highlight your best songs in multiple ways – Fans love bonus material: remixes, rough demos, alternate takes, b-sides, etc. You can either release these bonus tracks as singles throughout the year, or include them in a special edition of your next album (which gives diehard fans another incentive to purchase the full album even though they already bought the singles that appear on that album separately).

5. Show off your live chops – Whether you produce your own concert recording or do an in-studio for a radio show, TV program, or music blog — turn those sessions into albums or EPs. People love to hear raw, live performance versions of their favorite songs.

How often do you release music? Share in the comments!

 

To learn more about staying connected with your fans, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to 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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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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Data and Context: The New Drivers of Fan Engagement

The internet has given artists the opportunity to connect with their fans any time and anywhere, but how do you convert those interactions into sales? With so much information being pushed into social media, how can you be sure your posts aren’t being lost in the crowd? Founder and CEO of BandPage, J Sider, believes that data and context will be key in the coming years. Check out his article below.

As an industry, we’ve gotten pretty good at reaching our fans, engaging them and driving conversions. There is a general understanding of how to reach them on social networks, traditional online marketing and mailing lists. But now, with the rise of major streaming and entertainment platforms combined with advancements in technology, there are two things that will make it much more powerful to engage and convert fans: data and context. While social networks opened new channels for fan engagement over the past few years, we believe that going forward the biggest untapped potential for artists will be in streaming and entertainment platforms that offer context-relevant channels and data-driven targeting techniques.

Why Streaming & Entertainment Platforms?
Streaming and entertainment platforms, like Spotify, Pandora, Xbox Music and VEVO, have emerged in the last few years as places where hundreds of millions of users are deeply engaged in content. These users, a.k.a. your fans, go to streaming platforms for the main purpose of listening to your music, that’s why these channels are key to increasing fan interactions and your bottom line. These platforms know what types of fans are listening, how many times they’ve listened and the other content (concert listings, pictures, videos, etc.) they perused. This comprehensive picture leads to increased conversions, such as revenue, new fans and a better understanding of your current fans.

Think about it: when you post an update about your latest album on social networks, that status swiftly floats down a real-time stream of content posted from your friends, family and thought leaders about every subject possible. Although your fans may see it, they can easily be distracted by everything else. Page posts organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. The key to reaching fans with content is targeting & context. That same album update will be more impactful when it hits a fan who is currently listening to your music on a streaming and entertainment platform because they are only focused on you.

We already see streaming services that let users know when their favorite artists put out new songs or albums. Now let’s take that same idea and apply some more nuanced targeting to it. We’ll identify three types of fans — Passive, Active and Superfans. You wouldn’t show a Passive fan a $200-VIP offer because it would feel like spam to them, so you present them with your new song or a nearby show instead. Meanwhile, we target the $200-VIP offer to the Superfan. This fan-focused targeting can lead to higher conversion rates and, ultimately, more revenue and a larger fanbase. It’s the most effective “in-context targeting” we’ve had yet.

Why Now?
When BandPage first started, my goal then was, and it still is, to connect artists directly to their fans to increase engagement and revenue. At that point, fans were found on large social networks, and that’s why we started there. Then we looked to where we could help artists expand on other platforms and properties in effective ways. That’s when we began to power musicians’ websites and blogs. But today, the action has grown on major streaming and entertainment platforms.

Social networks are still a very influential part of the puzzle. But looking forward, I believe these new entertainment and streaming platforms will become just as important, if not more important, than traditional social media networks for generating conversions and reaching fans. The aggregated number of fans across these platforms gives artists the unprecedented opportunities to effectively reach hundreds of millions of fans they weren’t able to engage before.

What’s Next?
In the past, artists couldn’t effectively and efficiently communicate on streaming and entertainment platforms. Our bet is that these platforms will become an incredibly powerful way to engage and convert your fans. My company recently started powering musicians profiles on VEVO and Xbox Music via their BandPage profile, and you will see us expanding our platform to help musicians successfully reach their fans.. This is just the beginning of what’s possible for the music industry. And I’m very excited for that potential to become a reality.

J Sider is the Founder & CEO of BandPage

Join the revolution, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

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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.

Infographic: How We Consume Music

If you want to get your music to your fans, you need to know how they consume music. This infographic below, from Mashable, lays out some general music consumption facts.

It’s important to know how most people consume music so you stay up to date, but you should also look at your specific fan base. If you are targeting an older demographic, you may want to release a physical CD as that format is most accessible to your fan base. If, on the other hand, you’re targeting teens, you could get away with only releasing digital. In the same way, if you have a younger fan base, social sites like YouTube are very important to you. An older demographic may prefer keeping in touch via email and discovering music via online magazines and blogs.

Today, figure out who your fans are and how they consume music.

 SR_Music_Infographic_NEWrevise

 

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5 Common Crowdfunding Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Crowdfunding is one of those things that you cannot fully understand until you do it yourself. You can read up on crowdfunding books and still encounter something completely unexpected during your campaign. This is why it’s so important to pick the brains of successful crowdfunders when you get the chance. If you don’t know someone with a crowdfunding campaign under their belt, search the internet for the next best thing. There are a lot of people blogging about their crowdfunding experience these days. Find some people who funded similar projects to the one you plan on starting and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Jody Quine is a vocalist and songwriter who recently completed a Pledge Music campaign for her solo EP,“Seven.” In the past, she has been a part of some very successful projects, but never had the funds available to do anything solo. She launched her Pledge Music campaign in November, 2012. She wrote this post for Crowdfunding For Musicians.

1. Timeline

All eager to succeed and get my music out there I figured I’d raise the money in less than a month, record immediately and have a finished product mixed, mastered and manufactured in no time.

My campaign went LIVE in November 16th, 2012 and the last of my exclusives/CDs were put into the mail on October 29th 2013.

Keep in mind that when all goes well it’s possible to get your record finished and delivered in no time but things pop up from producers having other better paying projects running long to computer issues when designing your cover. Give yourself time to honestly deliver your product to your fans. They’ll appreciate your honesty and awareness. Also make sure to keep them up on what’s happening and they’ll be pretty forgiving.

2. Underestimating cost and setting the right ‘Posted Goal’ amount

As much money that you might be able to raise keep in mind that you could always use more. With Pledge you don’t get your money until you hit your posted goal amount so keeping it lower to ensure you will get funding is great but then once you hit your 100% people think you’ve raised all the money you need to record and pledges can slow down immeasurably. Remember that one song really could prosper with the use of real strings or that you might have to retrack the piano when you get home from LA and pay an extra $500 for that day in the studio.

It’s a fine balance between how much you think your fans will kick in and being realistic with how much you’ll need to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Between those 2 numbers you’ll find the right ‘Posted Goal’ so you’re able to get your funding as well as afford the record you want to make.

3. Charity

PledgeMusic is a great service and wonderful opportunity in the new music industry model, however they don’t work for free. They take 15% of all the money you raise. Beyond that you can also agree to give a % of your pledges to a charity of your choice. I agreed to give 10% after I’ve reached my posted goal to a charity. As my ‘Posted Goal’ was too low to actually record a full album now I also had to earn an extra 25% to meet my expenses.

I had a friend who pointed out to me ‘Why are you giving it to charity when you’re already the charity’. I had to laugh because he’s right. It’s great to give back for sure but perhaps keeping it to a lower amount or making yourself available to play shows for or at your charity makes more sense. So do give back but again remember your costs of recording, mixing, mastering, designing, manufacturing, and SHIPPING, sometimes to fans who live on the other side of the world, adds up and as wonderful as it is to give to a charity if you can’t complete your project and deliver it to your fans you’re shooting yourself in the foot to really be in a position to give.

4. Exclusives

What is it you really have in you to make for your fans? I offered handwritten thank you notes and lyric sheets as 2 different exclusives. I love that idea! But as the day came to start fulfilling those pledges I was completely reminded of how I fractured my hand at the age of 11 and now decades later all the writing I do is barely legible and only for creative purposes. Anytime I have to write for more than 10 minutes in a way that people can read what I’m writing my hand cramps and the pain sets in. Next time I will keep this in mind and offer only a set amount of them for a larger pledge amount making them more of an exclusive exclusive and offer other items I am more able to create without pain. Lol.

Also I’m more aware now of what it is that I can offer that is exclusive to who I am as an artist as well as a person that my fans might enjoy. Be aware of what you really want to be making for them so you can do it joyfully and in good time.

5. Fun

Have fun!

This is not an exercise in stress or disappointment! You’ve got to be open to go with the flow and trust the unfolding of your record.

There will be challenges and hold ups but all in all your fans are there for you and helping you do what you love to do! So be grateful and enjoy the process because if you’re lucky you’ll get to do it over and over again.

KICK ASS!!
jody

What have you learned from your crowdfunding campaign?

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3 Steps to a More Efficient Merch Table

The live show and merchandise are becoming more important in the music industry. On top of that, there has been a surge in small indie musicians trying to make it on their own. Many think that merch is out of their budget, but with the right planning and strategy merch can become a profitable revenue stream for anyone.

This article, written by Robal Johnson of PUMP Merch, was originally posted on Hypebot. To read the full article, click here. 

1. Decide what to sell

Where to begin? Start small, be patient, and analyze your early merchandise investments. Have an artist friend design your logo: pay them in drinks and guestlist spots. Be conscious of your audience: determine what apparel and accessories are trendy. Understand the demographic: ask how they consume and share music, which can easily be done via social networking. Acknowledge your environment: if its hot, tank tops and ballcaps are essential; if it’s cold, hoodies and beanies are a must. At first, focus on selling more for less: keep designs to 1-3 colors, buy the inexpensive option, and charge fans as little as possible. Remember, you can always upgrade later.

Don’t be afraid to be aggressive. You’re not bothering anybody at the show. I guarantee most of the people there will be excited to meet you and honored you came up to talk to them. They know you’re just doing your job and they actually want to talk to you. I have approached the bar in a small town in Mississippi and sold $10 T-Shirts. I have wandered a club in Nashville asking folks if they’d like to buy $5 CDs. Merch is a souvenir purchased to commemorate a notable experience. Every music fan enjoys the pride that comes with seeing an act “back in the day” and you need to offer them something to take home that night.

2. Convenience

Once you have decided on the right products to sell on tour, your next focus should be on convenience. If you do not accept credit cards while on the road, you are leaving countless dollars on the table. Just ask Laura Keating, Melissa Garcia, and Emily White of Whitesmith Entertainment and Readymade Records: “We have been taking credit card payments in some form or another since 2005 and it always doubles our sales at the merch table.” Now THAT should motivate the hell out of all of you.

Companies like Square and PayPal Here have made it extremely simple for you to accept all major credit cards as long as you have a smartphone or tablet. If you have not already, stop reading this right now and order one of the FREE card readers from either of those companies immediately. It will take you a few short minutes and the results are literally priceless. I can not stress the importance of this enough. In this day and age, you MUST accept credit cards. You will not only sell your merch to more people, you will sell even more items.

At this time Square is only offered in the United States, Canada, and Japan. PayPal Here is available in the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. For acts touring the United Kingdom and Europe, Team Whitesmith/Readymade suggests using iZettle for your credit card processing needs. iZettle is now live in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, and Mexico.

3. Get organized!

Third on your to-do list while gearing up for tour should be organization and accounting for your merchandise while on the road. For decades this was done by either the merch guy or the tour manager in a looseleaf notebook with pencils and a whole lot of mistakes. Then came Microsoft Excel, which we ALL love to hate. But I have seen the future of tour merchandising and it comes to us via Orange County, California in an app called atVenu. These guys are changing the game and every single touring artist needs to take note.

I spoke with co-founder of atVenu, Ben Brannen, and he shared his story of what drove him and his partners to create the service. “While on the road, I experienced first hand the inefficiencies of existing methods by which we track and settle our touring merch. Too much money is lost due to inventory issues, poor nightly settlements, limited analysis, or one broken cell in an Excel sheet. atVenu solves these problems by empowering merch reps with a mobile app designed for their needs which syncs to the artist’s web-based account where merch company and management can login and easily access a robust suite of real time analytics and reports.”

This is a game-changer for many reasons, but most importantly it is something that will save artists time and money on the road. As a merch rep myself, I can attest to the great many headaches that go along with inventory, accounting, and restocking of products while a band is touring. It is all about organization and communication. With a system in place that knows when you’re getting low on the green v-necks in small and medium and your merch guy gets a notification, imagine how much money you’ll save on those rushed deliveries from halfway across the country that will hopefully make it to the venue on time. Envision how much easier it will be to do reorders for the next tour because you know exactly what you sold, when, and where.

My buddy Randy Nichols of Force Media Management, who represents The Almost and Bayside, among others, also works as Strategic Music Industry & Product Advisor with atVenu. He sums up the app perfectly, “A tool like atVenu shows me real time forecasting data for my tour so I can both improve my profit margins and be sure to maintain a healthy stock of my in demand items. This can easily mean the difference between 10 boxes of merch in the drummers garage at the end of the tour vs an extra $10,000 in profit.”

 

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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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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.

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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!