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How to Jam and Play with Anybody

How to Play and Jam With Anybody

Trust Your Ear 

One of the hardest barriers to jumping in and playing with other people is the perception that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to play music. This perception has come from a lot of places, but it is often very misleading. Some of the most common places this perception comes from are:

  1. Growing up in school and only ever being allowed to read the dots on the page in front of us.
  2. Learning some of the “rules” in the world of music theory and feeling forced to follow them correctly.
  3. Joining a band or other musical context with people who are critical.
  4. Being generally surrounded by people critical of you.

All of these places often add up to an enormous burden of self-criticism that makes us afraid to play for fear of playing something “wrong”. But the problem with this way of thinking is that it completely upends the fundamental nature and purpose of music, which is to express how we feel and think.

So – the first thing to do is to find what helps you to let go of any critical voice and start trusting your ear. Your ear is ALWAYS the final say in every musical situation – NEVER anyone else’s opinion. Remember: it is your own self-expression we are talking about – not someone else’s taste in music. You can tell when when what you are playing resonates with what you want to hear. Do that. It will let you play and jam with anybody.

Read more here…

http://hitmusictheory.com

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Stop Guessing and Learn the Language of Music

When you pay attention to everything that’s going on around you, you’ll be surprised what you hear.

Stop guessing what the chords might be

Instead, learn about keys and harmonic function. This will take enormous amounts of guesswork out of the process. You don’t have to try twenty chords if you know that it can only be one of six chords you like in a key.

As we show you in Hit Music Theory, almost all music has a key. Keys are used to organize how we hear sounds and make it possible to quickly find harmonies and other musical ideas that fit with each other.

For instance, if I am playing in the key of A major, I know right off the bat that the chords A, B-, C#-, D, E and F#- will all work very well with each other. Since we usually hear musical ideas inside of particular keys, the more aware of which chords are in which keys, the more you can limit how many chords you need to try to find the sound you hear in your head.

Develop your ear and become a better musician

Believe it or not, you can learn to connect what you learn in theory to particular sounds you hear in music. You can train yourself to do this to such a degree that you can begin to identify EXACTLY what is going on without any instrument at all.

Notice what key you are in.

Training yourself to do this does not require perfect pitch. Instead, you can use things like solfege and other ear training approaches to hear how the music functions. The reason this is possible is that each note in a scale has its own kind of sound (this is why we like some riffs and not others, some chords and not others, etc – we already can hear it all, we just don’t know what to call each thing we hear). If you give a name or syllable to each pitch in a scale, you can start to identify the sound of a particular note in a scale with a particular syllable.

Be aware of the scale you are playing in and what riffs you have that fit in it.

The process of developing your ear never ends, so don’t worry about getting it right all the time. Learn the language of music and make it a priority to sing (singing these notes with syllables is really helpful) and analyse the music you listen to. The more you do it, the better you will become. Once you start being able to hear these notes and sing them, you can tie them into your understanding of keys and chords and identify the chords you are looking for even faster.

Make it your daily practice to identify everything you hear

Many of the best musicians seem to always be analysing everything they hear out of natural curiosity. So many things in our world have pitch, harmony and rhythm. You can practice grooves to your washing machine, for instance. My electric toothbrush hums a middle C when I turn it on. Most pop songs use the same four types of chords inside of a major key (I, V, vi and IV in case you were wondering). Just stay curious and listen actively to whatever is around you all the time.

My electric toothbrush hums a middle C when I turn it on.

Then, when you sit down to practice, take the same curiosity you are developing by listening to everything around you and apply it to everything you play. Notice what key you are in. Be aware of the scale you are playing and the riffs you like to play that fit in it. Name the chords you are using and be aware of how they function inside the key you are playing in. The more you do it, the more natural and second nature it will become to identify, play and write what you hear.

Put it on the page

As you start to get comfortable identifying what you hear, make it your daily practice to take a little time each day to write down something that you hear or are learning to play. It can be a chord progression, riff, rhythm or anything else.

Remember that music is a language. You learned to write by just doing it every day in school. Every language takes time to learn to speak and write fluently. Don’t be afraid of doing it wrong. The only way to do it wrong is to not try.

Enjoy the process and give yourself the time to enjoy and work on music every day. Before you know it, you will find yourself being able to write down your own musical ideas with ease.

 

Learn music theory at http://hitmusictheory.com

 

This is a guest post by Daniel Roberts and first appeared on:

http://hitmusictheory.com/electric-toothbrush-hums-middle-c-better-musician/

 

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The Quest to Become a Better Musician

Time, Tonality and Harmony

We all want to improve as musicians, but it can be hard to identify clear ways to improve. Just starting to practice on a regular basis can help you enormously, but it can also be a real challenge. Many times it’s hard to decide what to practice when you finally sit down with your instrument, right? We are all on the quest to become a better musician.

Part of the challenge is knowing what is most important to practice each time you sit down. How can you use your practice time to improve as a musician on a consistent basis. To address this, we each have to learn to reflect on our playing and knowledge and to turn that reflection into action. But regardless of whether you are a beginner or a really advanced player, there are some aspects of being a musician that always matter and can always be improved on. You can use these areas as a structure to start thinking about and analyzing what you can work on when you’re practicing. Here are some of the most important ones to me.

Your Sense of Time

At the very foundation of all music is time. You can think of time as the heartbeat (or groove) of the music, and rhythm as the dance that happens from that beat. Every rhythm you play is just a way to dress up the heartbeat underneath everything. How deeply and accurately you feel this underlying heartbeat determines how strongly everyone else will respond to the music. When you really know the heartbeat, your music becomes undeniable. You can often know when you have it, because the crowd will feel compelled to get up and dance.

Think of time as the heartbeat (or groove) of the music, and rhythm as the dance that happens from that beat.

The most important aspects of time to develop are your sense of the beat and its subdivision. We all can count the main beats of a song (think of the drummer counting off “One! Two! Three! Four!”) but do you know how those beats are subdivided? You can usually tell by listening to the drummer’s hi-hat part. Are they playing eighth notes? Sixteenth notes? Triplets? Is the subdivision straight, laid back or played on top of the beat? Is it swung?

Trick #1 – When you sit down to practice, try to think about the subdivisions happening in the music you love and create exercises that help you play them. Start simple. Play your scales or strumming patterns with quarter notes, then with eight notes. Do that for a week and then try sixteenth notes. Start with a slow tempo and ease into it. After a month or two of exploring subdivisions by twos, try exploring subdivisions by threes. Try some triplets. Take your time, have patience, be in the moment and try to think systematically as you create various exercises for yourself. You will probably find that you will stumble on musical ideas you like as you do this. Enjoy exploring them as soon as they come up. When they bore you, go back to your exercises.

Your Sense of Tonality

I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a rehearsal with someone who does not have a clue what key they are in. It’s critical that you know this, because everything you play comes from a key whether you know it or not – and if you don’t know, you may find yourself being that guy in the band who seems to have five heads.

Don’t be that guy in the band who seems to have five heads.

There are two things to know about the key you’re in. First is the tonal center. This is the note everything is organized around. When someone says “let’s play in A major” – they are telling you that everything they are about to play is organized around the pitch “A”.

Second, when they say “major” they are telling you the particular type of organization they are using around the pitch “A”. In this case, they are using the major scale (which is a series of whole and half steps) as a pattern for organizing pitches. The result is a tonality – a set of pitches organized around a central pitch (“A” in this example).

Incidentally, this is why scales are so important. It’s not enough to understand the idea of tonality – you need to be able to play it on your instrument. Scales are just specific instances of tonalities.

Trick #2 – When practicing, consider killing two birds with one stone by practicing your scales with specific subdivisions you want to improve on. For instance, you might choose one scale a day to practice with eighth notes for a week. If you practice every day of the week, you will be much more comfortable with seven new scales and your sense of eighth note rhythms will be much deeper.

Your Sense of Harmony

Once you know the tonality you are in, you can use the pitches and interval relationships inside it to create harmony. Harmony is created anytime you make the listener hear two or more pitches at the same time. You can combine pitches however you like, but we all tend to hear these pitches in similar ways (which we call harmonic function). The ways we hear groups of pitches and how we name them varies. I recommend starting with roman numerals or nashville numbers and the triads associated with them inside of the tonality you are working in.

Trick #3 – In any major key, there are seven basic types of chord function (since each basic type of chord in a key is built on a note in the scale). These chord functions are described with numbers that correspond to the pitch in the scale they are built on (if you build a chord on the first note in the scale, it’s called a 1 or I chord – but if you build it on the second pitch in a scale, it’s called a 2 or ii chord). If you are in nashville you write this function with arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), but they are called “Nashville Numbers”. In most other music contexts, we use the classical theory system that uses “Roman Numerals” (I, ii, iii, IV, etc.).

You can use these naming conventions to identify and make chord progressions. In C major, chords 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, respectively are C, D-, E-, F, G, A- and B diminished. Once you learn these chords in C major, see if you can find them in other major keys you know.

A Final Thought:

Once you have found a few things to work on in each of these categories, take the time to practice them each time you pick up your instrument. Organize your practice sessions into a routine so you don’t have to decide what to work on each time you sit down. If you can get into regular routine that address each of these three areas, I guarantee that you will find yourself improving and be well on your way on The Quest to Become a Better Musician.

Guest post by Daniel Roberts. This piece was originally published here http://hitmusictheory.com

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Séan McCann becomes a musical entrepreneur

After two decades and a turn to sobriety, Séan McCann took a good look at his life in the music industry. He wanted a change.

It had been a good living for a while. As a founding member of Great Big Sea, Mr. McCann spent nearly half his life playing and touring with friends. But the road’s familiar rhythm belied the shifting world around them. People weren’t buying records as much, and some years, making payroll for the band’s support staff – let alone the members themselves – could be a tenuous feat.

The Newfoundland-born singer-songwriter had gone sober, too, making tours soaked in the old black rum less enticing. He also wanted to play by his own rules, performing different styles of music and in smaller rooms. In 2013, he announced he’d leave the band at the end of that year’s tour.

Then he started over, alone.

Mr. McCann has retooled his music career for the 21st century. He has brought new meaning to going solo: He is his own manager, booking agent and sound technician. Stripped of the support system of a major-label band, but determined not to give up a career in music, Mr. McCann took a new tack. He became an entrepreneur.

“Right now, the cash flow allows for me and a guitar,” he says. “No tech, no roadies, no agents. That’s what I can sustain financially. And I love it.”

Even for artists who want to break into the major-label mainstream, an entrepreneurial mindset is the price of admission, says Dave Kusek, who founded the Berklee College of Music’s online program and now oversees New Artist Model, a digital music-business school.

“Labels and publishers are generally not making investments in anything that isn’t already proven,” he says.

“You need to be able to find your audience, you need to be able to communicate with that audience and build it.”

Mr. McCann grew up in Newfoundland’s Gull Island and later St. John’s, where he began playing music with Alan Doyle, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power.

In the shadow of the cod fishery collapse, “the economics were bleak,” Mr. McCann recalls. Even as university graduates, “we were functionally unemployable,” he says with a laugh. The quartet began performing as Great Big Sea in 1993.

The band signed to Warner Music in the industry’s cash-flush 1990s and released a bevy of bestsellers including the quadruple-platinum album Upand triple-platinum Play. Their pop-rock take on East Coast traditional music made them darlings on the Canadian scene, and they flooded radio and MuchMusic with songs such as When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down), Ordinary Day and Consequence Free.

But recorded music has undergone a remarkable change since Napster sunk the business’s sales-centric model in the early days of this century. While streaming-music services have introduced year-over-year industry revenue growth for the first time in nearly two decades, the continuing decline in sales of CDs and downloads has radically reshaped income streams for musicians, in many cases forcing them to depend more heavily on concerts.

Touring helped sustain Great Big Sea through the early part of this decade, but complications arose, Mr. McCann says. After coming to terms with being an alcoholic, he went sober in 2011; following that, playing in one of Canada’s biggest party bands became difficult.

“Every night for us was Saturday night on tour. And going to work, our rider was extensive: a bottle of Scotch, four bottles of wine, 48 beers. That’s our daily allowance, with 10 dudes on a bus.”

Sobriety, too, made touring life seem stale and unsustainable. “Our setlist hadn’t changed in 15 years, and I couldn’t drink enough to continue doing it.” He decided to reel it in.

He’d been writing songs that didn’t quite fit Great Big Sea’s optimism, in some cases confronting his drinking and the reasons behind it – including sexual abuse by a priest as a teenager. As he wound down his time in the band, he took dozens of songs to his friend Joel Plaskett. The Halifax musician and producer sifted a solo album, 2014’s Help Your Self, from the pile.

“He’s got an edginess about him, where he wants to stir the pot,” says Mr. Plaskett, who also produced Mr. McCann’s follow-up, You Know I Love You. “He wanted to push into something more independent, and without rules.”

Walking away from the life and money of Great Big Sea was “brave,” says Mr. Plaskett, who himself runs his career like a small business, with a studio, record store and various touring band configurations. “He’s taken what was a large business and took a small, independent approach. … It becomes about being accessible to your audience, and doing unique things, so the people who care about you can connect with you.”

In 2015, Mr. McCann and his family made another crucial decision: They moved to Ottawa. Newfoundland might offer hundreds of kilometres of highway, he says, “but there’s only three gigs.” (His wife also likes the inland weather better.) In Ontario, Mr. McCann can travel alone by car, visiting two or three new cities or towns for concerts each weekend.

He books the gigs himself, eschewing the cost of an agent. For as much guff as he’s gotten for leaving the East Coast, it has allowed him to build a fresh, growing audience for his solo work.

This is the kind of entrepreneurial groundwork that all bands need to do to sustain themselves, says Mr. Kusek. While Mr. McCann has an existing reputation through Great Big Sea, younger bands need to hustle like this to sustain their work – and doubly so if they lack the financial backing of a record company.

“It’s like in the venture world,” Mr. Kusek says. “Labels are the Series B and C money. You’ve gotta find your angels and Series A.”

Mr. McCann doesn’t want to dip back into big business anytime soon. He’s seen it all, and, at least for now, he doesn’t mind the change. He’s seeing fans – and a whole new side of the country – close up.

“I realized that I’d been all over Ontario a million times, but in the middle of the night, asleep on a tour bus,” he says. “I don’t ever wanna get on a tour bus again.”

This article was written byJosh O’Kane and originally published in the Globe and Mail

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How to make it in the new age of music

There’s no question whether or not the music industry has changed. Some say it’s for the worse, but others see opportunity in the new age of music and are helping others do the same.I has a chance to talk with Nick Ruffini of Drummer’s Resource a few weeks ago about the realities of the new music business and strategies for success that I see working in the New Artist Model online music business school.”Dave has been in the music industry for over 30 years, starting in music technology, then founding Berklee Music Business School online and his most recent venture, New Artist Model. New Artist Model is an online school to teach independent artists how to navigate their way through the music industry.”

new age of music

In this Podcast Dave Kusek talks about:

  • Being an early trendsetter with MIDI
  • Founding Berklee Music Online
  • Mistakes people are making as independent artists
  • Advice for getting gigs as a sideman
  • Networking advice
  • The future of music
  • The new age of music
  • Much more

 

Eight ways to start your next song

What is the best way to start writing a new song? Opinions differ but sometimes all you need is a new idea! Here are eight ways to start your next song.

New Artist Model member Lee Pat asked a number of songwriters and teachers 2 questions:

1. What is YOUR favourite way of starting a song?

and

2. What is the BEST way to start – lyrics, melody or chords?

You’ll notice no.2 is a trick question. So it’s even better that experience does the talking:

songwriters kickstart

Matt Blick

1. I usually start with the germ of a lyric idea – a few lines, a concept, occasionally a title. Then I’ll brainstorm or free write trying to come up with as much raw material as I can, not attempting to make it rhyme or fit into any particular structure. When I’ve totally exhausted that, I’ll begin to try and work it into musical shape. So the answer is I begin with a few pages of lyrical raw material.

2. The best place to start is with the most important element for your musical style. If you’re a rocker – it’s riffs and chord sequences. If you’re a folk troubadour, a praise and worship musician, a political protestor or a rapper – it’s lyrics. If you’re a dance or pop artist, it’s probably melody.

What I think is more important is not to let the initial element get too developed before your start to bring in the other things. Generally, the later one element is added, the worse it will be – sometimes to the detriment of the whole song. Or at least your options will be severely limited. For example, some bands (Rush, Manic Street Preachers) write an entire track without vocals while one member writes an entire lyric without melody. It’s then left to the singer to fit together. This often has an effect of the lyrics feeling shoehorned into the song with uncomfortable rhythms and melody.

Other bands (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin) write and record an entirely finished track and then leave the singer to write lyrics and a melody over the top. But having everything set severely limits the singer in terms of keys, tempos and arrangement. It can also have the side effect of a band having to guess from the backing track whether the song is going to be worth recording.

Writers who produce complete lyrics before music (like Dylan) could fall into a similar trap. The reason Dylan generally doesn’t is because he is aware of poetic structures etc. and writes with specific patterns in mind. However, this still limits you to a few standard schemes where a particular melody might push you in a new direction.

Key insights: start with the most important element for your style, brainstorm for raw material, don’t overdevelop one element before you bring in the rest.

Matt Blick is a songwriter and musical educator from Nottingham, England, and the founder of Beatles Songwriting Academy. Check out his Tickets to Write and his podcast!

 

The Dust Warrior

1. My favorite way of starting a song is with the bass.

In the genres of music I work in (post hardcore, indie, alternative), the bass is a critical part of driving the lyric. It sounds counter intuitive, but listen to anything by Stevie Wonder and you’ll see what I mean.

The bass is also the least complicated instrument on which to develop a vocal melody.  If you can work out the chord progressions on a bass (the root notes under a melody you are singing), it makes it a lot easier to work on where else the melody should go. The bass is monophonic and you can better sense where the vocal melody wants to go, because you are not jamming yourself up with the bazillion voicings you can play on a six string guitar or on the piano.

This is by no means the only way that a song gets written, but it’s my favorite way to start.

2. The best way to start writing a song is to have a deadline for having a song finished. Working backwards from there, go with whatever hook first appeared in your mind (lyric, melody, chord progression) and develop the rest of the song from that. A hook would be anything repeatable that catches the ear – a riff on a guitar (like the opening of Whole lotta love – probably one of the most widely recognized hooks ever stolen and exploited by white guys from the UK), a bass line or a sung melody – the thing that makes you keep going and that you think the listener is going to dig when they hear the song.

Be sure to consider the listener and give them a reason to stick around. In my experience as both a fan and creator of songs, that’s something that’s going to get me to play the song again, most likely a big vocal refrain. But it could be a certain musical riff that repeats really well. I’m a sucker for anything that really grabs your attention and makes you move your body.

For example, Let the rhythm hit em by Eric B and Rakim or Snap your fingers, snap your neck by Prong. Or even better – the “When you’re down, it’s a long way up” part of the bridge in the No new tale to tellsong by Love and Rockets.

Key insights: work to a deadline, start with a hook, write with the bass.

The Dust Warrior is a Los Angeles based producer and artist, previously the driving force behind trip-hop New York duo Subtech, described by Mix Magazine as “Beck with a probation officer”. He also writes and performs with the only known US Citizen French Pop-Punk band Tour de France who will be releasing their third album in 2016.

 

Kevin Thomas

1. Sitting on the couch with an acoustic guitar and a notebook, putting together chords, melodies, and lyrics, is a very familiar way for me to write. So, to break out of the box with my creativity, I will often push myself into other ways to write: creating melodies on the piano, sitting at the park writing only lyrics, experimenting with music notation software, playing bass and singing, searching for unique electric guitar effects, etc.

Having a regular routine for writing is very important to keep you from being unproductive as a writer, but it is just as important to break out of that routine with less familiar ways of writing. This will keep you productive, while expanding your creative boundaries at the same time. Another way to expand your boundaries is to mix solo writing, co-writing, and writing with a band.

2. I think that there are more than three ways to start a song. You could start with chords, lyrics, or melody, but you could also start with a drum beat, a sound effect, an unusual instrument, a concept, and quite a few other methods. There really is no best way to start a song, so long as your final product has all the major components of a finished song.

Key insights: have a routine and routinely break out of it, write with a co-writer or with a band, start with tools you’re less familiar or comfortable with.

Kevin Thomas is the owner of Songwriting Planet, an online education company that teaches the craft of songwriting, and is a renowned singer/songwriter. Check out his new course on how to make your average songs awesome!

 

Ari Herstand

1. I always start my songs with chords and melodies first and then add lyrics to fit the melody. Music is the most important aspect of a song to me and what I listen to first when I fall in love with songs. However, lyrics are extremely important to me as well. I’ll edit and reedit lyrics (and melodies) 100 times before I end up tracking them.

Sometimes, I start songs by listening to someone else’s song I love and play off the vibe and energy of that song. I recently tried something I had never done before which actually worked out well. I cut and pasted one bar of drums/percussion from Bill Withers “Use Me” live at Carnegie Hall and then looped that in Logic. I wrote the entire song based on that drum groove. It brought inspiration I would have never gotten just sitting along at the keys or guitar.

2. Тhere definitely isn’t a “best way” because every songwriter’s approach is different. Even I don’t have a “best.”

Key insights: start with what you love in other people’s songs, get inspired by a vibe or energy.

 

Antony Ceseri

1. My go-to, “automatic” way of starting a song tends to be chords, then melody, then lyrics. It’s less natural for me to do it in a different order.

2.I think the best way to start a song is to keep changing the first part of the song you write as that’s how you’ll improve the most as a songwriter. So sometimes start with lyrics, sometimes with chords, sometimes with a melody.

Key insights: vary what you start with, plan out each section before you write the lyrics.

Anthony Ceseri is the founder of Success For Your Songs, where he shares advice from the most well-respected professional songwriters, producers and performers in the industry.

 

 

Declan O’Shea (Mako)

1. When I write with a partner, I would be sitting with the music I’ve been given for a few days at home or driving to it, all the while singing with it, no finished words, just whatever comes out. As the melody and lyrical idea form and I have a rough idea, I sit and write the lyrics around the feeling of the track and usually around what’s going on in my life at the time. Then, I’ll arrange the track in my DAW, record vocals and vocal harmonies, and any counter-melodies in the instruments I may come up with, if the track needs them.

When the first vocal demo is done, I send it to my writing partner and we discuss possible changes to the music and the vocals and record the next demo version. It’s usually done in 2 or 3 versions, but it can also go on to 4 or 5 !

In the end, we record the final version in the studio.

When I write alone, I sit with my acoustic guitar, whether I want to or not, and I play random chord ideas and sing, not caring what comes out. Once something catches my attention, I follow it and keep going while recording into my phone with a notepad close by for lyric ideas as they pop up. I do this as regularly as possible and then review the ideas in the car as I drive. If something stands out, I sit with it and finish the piece on the acoustic with lyrics and then put it together in the DAW.

I like this approach but have ended up with loads of songs that need to be recorded so that’s going to take good scheduling on my part to get through them all. Having a deadline is really important!

Key insights: start with chords and then melody, base lyrics on the feel of the music, improvise while reconding to find a catchy idea.

Mako is an Alt/Indie rock band from Ireland and France featuring Declan O’ Shea & Christian Montagne both former members of the acclaimed cult band Cyclefly. Follow them on Twitter @makotunes andFacebook

 

Gary Ewer

1. These days, most of the music I write is for choral groups, and most of it has been arrangements of pre-existing folk songs. So in that regard, my writing starts by working primarily with the melody as a first step. I familiarize myself with the tune, then work out chords. And because I’m doing an arrangement, I often find that I use lots of different progressions to set the same melody as the song progresses.

2. Gary’s answer to the trick question is in his recent post on the methods for starting a song, which is actually an excellent summary of the current article and better-structured to boot!

In true teacher fashion, in yet another post he reflects on why we ask this question and I find his reflections nothing short of inspirational.

Key insights: try out different chords for the same melody, start out differently each time.

Gary Ewer is a composer, music teacher and the author of the Essential secrets of songwriting blog and books. Check out his detailed posts on chords-first and lyrics-first songwriting!

 

Your Name Here

So, what is YOUR favourite way of starting a song?

Who are YOUR favourite songwriters and teachers you think I should ask these questions next?

Would YOU like to be in Part 2 of this article?

Leave a comment below or write to me at leepat@oneminutesong.com!

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“Eight ways to start your next song” is a guest post from New Artist Model member Lee Pat. Lee plays guitar and sings for Let Bygones and is the founder of OneMinuteSong.com, dedicated to music theory for busy songwriters.

For more songwriting tips check out Songwriters Kickstart.

http://songwriterskickstart.com

 

Recording Music: How to Save Money in the Recording Studio

Recording music recording studio

The world of recording music has changed a lot in recent years, especially for the indie musician. But one thing still remains the same. Whether you’re recording your first album or your tenth, it still costs money.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through some of the expenses you should be budgeting for on your first few albums, and some easy ways to cut costs. Keep in mind, this only covers the actual recording costs. If you’re releasing your album you also need to be thinking about distribution, marketing, artwork, and packaging.

Studio

If you’re trying to record a professional album or EP, studio costs are probably going to be unavoidable. There are, of course, a ton of great at-home recording programs and tools that are quite affordable, but unless you’ve got quite a bit of experience in the home studio, you’re not going to get the best sound.

You don’t, however, have to record in the top-of-the-line studio that your favorite top 40 artists use. There are probably a bunch of awesome, local studios nearby that will better fit your tight budget. The key is to do your research. Take a listen to some of the songs and albums recorded in the studio to make sure it meets your quality standards. Most studios will also let you stop by and take a look at the equipment. Another option is to record the big parts that require a live room in a professional studio and then track the vocals in a smaller studio or a home studio.

If you do choose to go into a studio, they charge by the hour, sometimes by the day, so if you want to save money you’re best bet is to cut down on the number of hours you need to record. And that doesn’t mean rushing and coming out with a sloppy album – it means being prepared.

Make sure you have all the parts 100% figured out before you even step into the studio. Writing in the studio may seem cool, but especially if this is your first album your nerves will probably block any creative ideas. You could also record demos at home on whatever you have available to work out any problems and get a better idea of how everything will fit together. Plus, you can give these demos to the producer or engineer so everyone is on the same page.

Producer / Engineer

Another inevitable cost is hiring a producer / engineer. Even if you think you know your way around the studio, trying to do everything yourself will probably take more time and cost more in the end. Your one job is to give the best performance, leave the recording to someone else.

Think of a producer like a film director. They work with the artist to direct the creative vision, songwriting, and arrangement, they work with the engineers to direct the sound and the mix, and they act as the project manager, keeping track of time and budget. The engineer is responsible for the actual recording – setting up the equipment, levels, mixing, and so on. Both are usually paid hourly, sometimes by the project, though there are other deals you can negotiate if you’re really strapped for cash.

Especially if this is your first album, your best bet is to hire an engineer who also has production experience, or an engineer with a good ear.  If you’re going to forego a producer, make sure you go into the studio with your creative vision fully ironed out. That way, your engineer can give some general advice as a fresh set of ears, but you won’t need any major hand-holding when it comes to the overall creative direction, songwriting, or arrangement.

Without a producer keeping everything on track, it’s your job to do everything you can to make your engineer’s job easier. Record a demo, have reference tracks so they know what kind of sound you’re going for, write up lead sheets, let them know the instrumentation and makeup of the band, and get all this to them before you hit the studio.

Mixing / Mastering

Mixing and mastering are two completely separate things. A mixing engineer will take all the tracks you recorded, find the best bits, combine it all together, and make it sound as good as possible by adjusting the levels, EQing, and adding effects like compression and reverb. A mastering engineer will take those mixes and make a cohesive album. It involves balancing song levels, controlling the dynamic range, and adding space between songs.
Mixing and mastering is generally priced per song. If you want a professional sounding album, it’s advisable to do both, and get them both done well. With that in mind, there aren’t too many ways to cut costs here. Some engineers may give you a bit of a discount per song if you give them more than one or two songs at a time. Automated digital mastering services like LANDR may work if this is literally your first shot at recording your music, but if you’re doing anything professional, it’s well worth spending a bit more on your mix.
If you’d like to learn more about turning your music into a career, you can download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business for free here.  It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

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The Return of Vinyl Records

How Vinyl Records Made Their Comeback.

vinyl records come back

 

Thanks to Liberty Games for this great graphic.

http://www.libertygames.co.uk/blog/how-vinyl-records-made-their-comeback/

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Network your way to Success

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

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

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

Watch this video to see how it is done

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

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

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

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

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

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

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

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

Let’s get to it.

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

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

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

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

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Creating Amazing Fan Experiences

I hope you are enjoying my new Mini Series on the music business. It’s truly amazing how in the first video you saw New Artist Model students Steel Blossoms and Colin Huntley applying my strategies to turn their passions into a career.

These musicians are just like you. They started with a small following and have grown their audience and income by investing in strategies and success one step at a time.

In this second video of the free Mini Series, I reveal ways of creating amazing fan experiences they will crave and actually PAY you for. Discover unforgettable connections you can offer to your fans RIGHT NOW to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Watch this video and get your fans to fall in love and remember you forever:

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

You will meet Shannon Curtis, a recent New Artist Model member who has perfected the art of the house concert and put $25,000 in her bank account in just two months time. See first hand how she did it and exactly how you can do it too.

To get one step closer to your dream, click here.

 

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

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The Changing Face of Music

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

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


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

30 Years of Music Format Changes

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Make Your Gig Memorable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How can you turn your gig into an experience?

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

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Self Publishing on YouTube

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Everyone knows how important the YouTube platform is for indie musicians. It’s a great way to get your music out to fans, grow your fanbase, and provide your fans with great content from music videos to vlogs. There are plenty of musicians out there who have become successful mainly because of their YouTube channel, with Karmin and Pomplamoose being two of the most successful examples. They grew their audience by targeting young teens with covers of popular songs. Other musicians, like Alex Day, have based their career entirely on recorded music sales and a YouTube channel featuring music videos and hilarious vlogs.

However, there is another aspect of YouTube that is vastly underutilized by the musician community on the platform – publishing. You don’t need a publisher to get your music placed in YouTube videos. You just need to be proactive with social media and reach out to YouTubers you think would be interested in using your music with their creative content.

There is a huge community of amateur and professional video makers on YouTube with topics ranging from beauty and fashion to gaming to health and fitness. There is also a big surge of professionalism among these YouTubers and many of the more popular channels act as full-time jobs for their creators. As a result, many YouTubers are investing in better cameras and lenses to make their channels more professional and entertaining for their viewers.

Many are also looking to music to differentiate themselves from the masses of other channels on the platform. As you probably know, YouTube has a tough copyright policy and videos illegally featuring copyrighted material can be taken down. As a result, many YouTubers seek out free music they can use without violating copyright. There are plenty of royalty-free music tracks out there, but many sound generic and repetitive. Another popular option is to find remixes or original tracks by amateur and indie musicians and get direct permission to use the music – usually in exchange for a link back to the musician’s website or soundcloud page or a shout out in the video.

So why try to get your music in YouTube videos if you won’t get paid? It’s another form of marketing and a great way to reach a potentially huge subscriber base in a really authentic way. Think about how you find new music. More times than not you get recommendations from your friends or another trusted source, not a big flashy advertisement.

YouTubers are tastemakers. People subscribe to their channels and watch their videos because they trust their opinions. When they recommend a product or brand their viewers will be more inclined to try it out, and the same is true with music. When YouTubers feature really great music in their videos, either by mentioning the band or by syncing the music with their videos, tons of their subscribers will go listen to more or even buy the album.

Let’s take a look at a few examples. Day[9], whose real name is Sean Plott, is an ex-pro-gamer, a game commentator, and a host of an online daily Starcraft show, the Day[9] Daily. While he doesn’t sync music in his videos, he often chats with the audience telling them what bands he’s been listening to lately. During one of his videos he mentioned a Blue Sky Black Death song and as a result, the comment section on that song’s YouTube video was inundated with people saying “Day[9] sent me!” A lot of new Blue Sky Black Death fans were made that day because of Sean Plott.

There is an enormous fashion and beauty community on YouTube and some, like Jenn Im of Clothesencounters, are getting really creative with the music they sync with their videos. Instead of using repetitive royalty-free tracks they seek out remixes on Soundcloud, get permission from the artists, and edit their fashion videos to really fit with the track. Other beauty YouTubers, like Michelle Phan, will seek out indie musicians, use their music as a backing track to their tutorials, and link to their channels in the description box.

So, how do you approach YouTubers? First you need to do your research. Know what kind of videos they upload, their personality and style, and what kind of music they have used in the past. Gaming YouTubers may have completely different musical tastes from the beauty gurus. Next, figure out which track would be best-suited for their purposes and contact them directly. You can do this through Twitter, a YouTube message, or an email. Most YouTubers list their email addresses in the “About” tab. Make sure you keep their audience in mind. Try to target YouTubers whose subscriber base shares traits with your fanbase. The key here is to start small and work your way up. You won’t get much traffic coming to your site from the smaller YouTubers, but it’s just one step on the ladder.NAM_FINAL-horizontal-dk.png

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

 

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7 Career Tips for Musicians from Dave Kusek

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Check out these great tips from Dave Kusek. This article is from DeliRadio. Be sure to check out the full article over on the DeliRadio Blog.

1. Run Your Band Like A Business
“That’s a big challenge for a lot of people. Creative people tend to be creative, and want to write music and play, but they often ignore the business side of things. And you do that at your own peril. That’s a challenge for people.

“It’s hard to have a career in music. It’s very challenging and complicated. It’s way more than writing a great song and putting out a great record. You’ve got to get yourself organized, you’ve got to have goals. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to finance things. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to promote. And figure out what’s effective in your marketing and promotion.

“So there’s all those things on the business side that I’m trying to help people with through the (New Artist Model). Whether you do that on your own, or with management or a team member, somebody has to be paying attention to business.”

2. Careful Working With Friends
“Working with your friends is always problematic. If you’re in that position, have open communication with your bandmates and team, regular band meetings, about: ‘What are we all about? What are we trying to accomplish? How can we split up the work so that we can get more things done? Who’s good at what, and can you combine what you need to do with that interest or skill?’…

“It’s all about regular communication, being open about what you’re trying to accomplish, and calling people out when they say they’re going to do something and they don’t.”

3. Streaming Music Is Marketing
“Listening to recorded music is very hard to monetize in the way we used to. Yes, you do want to try and sell CDs or get money from downloads or streaming, but I don’t know you can rely on that as your number one source of income, or even your top five, given the environment. So (streaming) is a form of marketing. There is some potential to sell music to people, sell recordings to people, but it’s not going to be your number one source of income. Certainly not in the early stages of your career.”

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

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Crowdfunding the Right Way

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In the past, money was a huge barrier for musicians, and one of the main reasons many were forced to tie themselves to a record label. Today, many musicians are finding their own ways to creatively fund their albums and tours, with the most popular option being crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking, but, if done correctly, you can come out of it with a whole lot more than just money. It also presents dedicated and creative artists a chance to connect with their fans in a whole new way.

Learn how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign with these 5 tips:

1. It takes a crowd.  

I think a lot of people mistake crowdfunding for an endless well of money, but, the sky is not the limit. The amount of money you can raise is entirely dependant on the size of your fan base – your crowd. Generally, the more fans you have the more money you will be able to raise, although there are other variables like fan dedication and income level. Amanda Palmer was able to raise upwards of a million because she has a huge, dedicated fanbase with spare cash to throw around. Pretty much the perfect scenario.

There’s no way to tell exactly how dedicated your fans are and how much money they would be willing to donate, but you can look at some figures to get a better idea. Look at how many people you have on your email list, how many people come to your shows, and how many people you have following you on social media. Don’t assume that every one of your fans will donate – even the most amazing musician in the world couldn’t accomplish that.

Think about how much your average fan would be willing to spend to help your cause. If your fanbase is generally high schoolers or college kids, they may not have as much spare cash as working adults in their 30’s. Think about what your super fans may be willing to spend. If you offer any higher-end products on your website – like VIP passes – look at how many of those typically sell to gage the amount of dedicated fans you have. Use all of this to set a reasonable goal. Setting a goal too high and not meeting it is a depressing thing no one wants to face. Not to mention it definitely has a negative effect on your brand.

2. Choose the right platform.

There are tons of crowdfunding platforms out there, each with it’s own unique features and benefits. Don’t just use Kickstarter because it worked for Amanda Palmer. Have a reason for your platform choice.

Pledge Music is a music-specific crowdfunding and fan engagement platform with options to set up a crowdfunding or pre-order campaign. They have connections with music companies that can help you with things like manufacturing, marketing, and distribution and may be the best choice overall for music projects. Kickstarter has a huge profile, with hundreds of thousands visiting the site each day. On the downside, you only get the money if you meet your goal and you could get lost in the crowd. Depending on what kind of campaign you set up, Indiegogo can allow you to keep the money you raise even if your goal isn’t met. However, Indiegogo takes a higher fee from these kinds of projects.

3. Make a budget.

Your budget isn’t just what you want to fund. If you ask for exactly what you need to fund your recording or tour, you’ll find yourself in debt. Each platform takes a percentage fee from successful projects.

Taxes are another issue. Technically, the money you raise from crowdfunding is income and needs to be reported. This probably won’t be hugely significant for smaller projects, but all these costs can add up and you should take it into account.

On top of that, rewards cost money as well. People are paying for that t-shirt or vinyl, but you still need to make it (and ship it to them). Figure out exactly what each reward will cost you and how much they will cost to ship. If you have international fans, look into international shipping costs. The worst situation you could be in is not being able to get the rewards to your fans who took the time and money to help you out.

4. Think about your rewards.

On top of just budgeting, you need to think about your rewards creatively. Make your rewards relevant to your project and your fans. Teenage girls may love magnets made from secret, Instagram photos of the recording process. A slightly older fan base may really appreciate vinyls and even some higher-end custom vinyls with artwork. Think about the project itself. Having a signed electric guitar as a rewards for an acoustic album doesn’t make much sense. Get creative with it.

Make sure you have rewards that take different levels of fans into account so as not to alienate anyone. Digital downloads, physical CDs, posters, magnets, and other little things like that are great lower end options. These are great for your more casual fans who may not be willing to or have the means to donate very much. Mid-priced rewards like vinyls, a t-shirt, or personal things like signed copies or special notes are great for your more serious fans and those that crave personal interaction. Have a few higher-end options. A private house concert or VIP pass is a great way to get your super fans involved.

Keeping all that in mind, make sure you don’t over-invest yourself in the reward process. You need to make sure you have the time to create the rewards. Handwritten lyrics may seem like a good idea, but keep in mind that you could be writing hundreds.

5. Continuous content.

Crowdfunding isn’t just a beginning and an end. Mass pushes at the beginning and end of the campaign won’t get you very far. You’ll be left with an unmet goal and a bunch of annoyed fans who had to block your hourly updates from their social media news feeds.

Statistically, most pledges to crowdfunding campaigns come in at the beginning and end. People are motivated by new content and a deadline. You can use this to your advantage to drive more pledges in the middle of your campaign. Release a new, special reward halfway through your campaign. Keep in mind that the entire process is an opportunity to engage your fans in a new way. Release update videos showing your fans the progress of the album they are helping you make. Release short teasers or rough drafts of songs. Ask your fans’ opinions on your lyrical work-in-progress. Try to make the content exciting and engaging. You want to keep awareness for your campaign up but you don’t want it to feel pitchy.

Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking. If you’re looking to start your first crowdfunding campaign or want your second one to be more successful, check out the New Artist Model online music business school.

Dave Kusek

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

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Create an Emotional Connection With Your Super Fans

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Article by  of CyberPR. Check out the full article here

Newsletter

Before the internet, newsletters were used as a way to connect a world-wide community of fans. However, even now with the existence of social networks, newsletters are a personal and direct interaction that can connect not just you to your fans, but your fans to each other.

One excellent examples of community newsletters are the Grateful Dead’s ‘Almanac.’ What made this newsletter work so well is that it covered more than the music; it covered the scene as a whole.

The ‘Almanac’, typically spanning 5 or 6 pages in length, spent much of the first few pages showcasing original (and exclusive!!) artwork, discussing side projects and music as a whole that the community would be interested in, as well as updating the community about the charitable foundations started by band members (more on sharing passions below). The second half would be band news, announcements of upcoming tours or album releases and finally, mail order music/ merch and tickets.

Video Tour Diary

A concert is more than just music. It is an event. An experience.

A well-delivered concert experience is THE best way to connect with your fans on an emotional level. Because of this, video tour diaries are an extremely effective way to increase that emotional connected established through the concert experience, by giving the attendee’s a deeper look into the behind the scenes happenings before, during and after the concert. Ultimately this gives attendees the chance to grab on to, and re-live the event any time they want to.

The idea of a video tour diary has become quite popular in the emerging hip-hop world, as many of these upcoming artists give their music away for free through mixtapes and focus on making money from the live show; a business model similar to that made famous by the Grateful Dead and Phish.

These videos not only act as a way to offer additional value to those who attended the event, increasing the emotional connection within, but can function as an emotional marketing tool as well. Giving your fan base the opportunity to take a sneak peek of your recent live shows is a fantastic way to drive further ticket sales…

Always remember that a concert is more than just the music. It is an event. If you can convey that your shows are a must-see experience, then you’ve already begun to establish an emotional connection with fans before they’ve even bought the ticket.

Name Your Fans

This is THE first step to creating a tribe, which is the most ultimate form of emotionally connected fan base you could have. This gives your fans away of identifying themselves as apart of a group, and ultimately this creates insiders and outsiders which helps to strengthen the loyalty of those within.

Like her or not, Lady Gaga has done an incredible job labeling her fans as her ‘Little Monsters’.

Even emerging hip-hop artists are starting to understand the power of naming the fan base, such as CT-based Chris Webby, whose ‘Ninjas’ (Webby is an avid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan) have lead to the over 13 Million youtube views. His latest mixtape  garnered over 23,000 downloads in under 24 hours.

How have you built an emotional connection with your super fans? 

If you’re ready to take your music career to the next level, check out the New Artist Model online music business classes. You can also sign up for access to free lessons.

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The Creative Album Release

 

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

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

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

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

NONTRADITIONAL RELEASES

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

ANTICIPATING THE ALBUM

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

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

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

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

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

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YouTube Strategies You can Start Right Now

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There’s been a lot of success stories on YouTube with artists like Karmin, Psy, and Baauer getting seemingly instant popularity with viral videos. Because of this, there’s a lot of misconceptions about YouTube. It’s not a platform for instant fame, and, like many other aspects of the music industry, requires a good deal of dedication and hard work.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a YouTube strategy today! YouTube is one of those platforms that you can make something really great with a limited budget if you take the time to plan and put in the creative effort.

This article was written by Matt Sandler, musician and founder of ChromatikYou can follow him on Twitter @mattdsandler. This is just a short excerpt. You can check out the full article on Hypebot.

1. YOU NEED TO START

Failure isn’t your biggest obstacle to success, it’s not even starting. Most people talk the talk, but never actually walk the walk. You want a great YouTube presence? Start making videos…today.

I know that there’s a tune you can crush. Maybe it’s Classical Gas, maybe it’sTwinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Perhaps 15 seconds of a popular chart? It doesn’t matter. Spend 30 minutes recording and uploading it to YouTube…today.

Start viewing YouTube as a sandbox for playing, performing, and sharing. Not everything you upload to YouTube needs to be perfect or professional quality initially. We’ll get there. But as a relative unknown in the YouTube ecosystem, you’ll want to just get comfortable with the recording and upload process first.

2. BE PROLIFIC, ON A SCHEDULE

One of the YouTube myths I hear all of the time is – “I just need ONE video to strike it big.”

So what do folks do? Pour a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into producing an incredible video. Cool. Assuming that you rocked and it miraculously went to the front page of Reddit, you now have 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers. Now what? Can you replicate that?

The unfortunate reality is that 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers doesn’t get you very far in the YouTube ecosystem. Not to mention, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there’s a 1/1,000,000 chance of you achieving that result.

The myth is dangerous because it forces you into an assumption that “if you build, they will come.” Which, as many creatives – from musicians to tech startup founders – learn quickly, just isn’t the case.

So let’s focus on starting small and building a community. Without a miracle, the only replicable way I’ve seen to build a successful YouTube channel is by being prolific and regimented with content production. One of my favorites, Gabe Bondoc – now with 272k subscribers and 48 million views! – was phenomenal at this early on.

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? Check out the New Artist Model YouTube channel for tons of interviews with music industry greats.

 

 

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Crowdfunding for Musicians

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Crowdfunding isn’t being talked about as much as when Amanda Palmer ran her famous Kickstarter campaign, but it’s still going strong. It’s still a great way to fund your projects. However, we’ve all learned a few things about the process along the way. Crowdfunding is more than just a funding tool. It’s a way to connect with your fans, build a deeper relationship, and get people interested and buying your music before its even created. Pre-sale and marketing are just as much a part of crowdfunding as funding.

Here are 5 tips that will set your crowdfunding campaign on the right track. These tips come from the CD Baby blog. This is just a short excerpt, but you can check out the full article here.

1. Build your crowd and then fund: Although there is a discovery element to most crowdfunding platforms, you’re gonna end up very disappointed if you launch a campaign without an existing fanbase.

2. The number isn’t as important as loyalty: If you buy followers or email subscribers, it doesn’t mean they’re gonna buy your crap. You don’t need a huge fanbase to run a successful campaign; you just need an active group of loyal fans, the kind you earn one at a time and interact with regularly.

3. Give your fans an experience: You’re not just selling downloads and t-shirts. You are including your fans in the creative journey. More on this in the next section…

4. Over plan for the fulfillment process: Make sure to get all the pertinent information you’ll need when fulfilling all the orders, rewards, perks and exclusives you’re offering. One of the most commonly overlooked pieces of information is the size preference for t-shirts. But also, make sure not to offer the house concert option to people in Thailand if you’re not going to be able to follow through.

5. Keep updating after you hit your goal: There is often a gap between when all the money is collected and when the final product is released. Don’t leave your fans hanging like a prom date that might not show up. They spent a lot of money on that dress. Make sure they know you’re still taking them to the dance. Keep them updated as to your progress.

There are a lot of great crowdfunding tools out there, but one that stands out for musicians is Pledge Music. Because the platform is specifically focused on musicians, they have a lot of tools in place to help you keep on track and follow the tips outlined above. Here are some stats from Pledge Music:

* 22% of PledgeMusic site traffic comes from fans sharing pledges-only updates.

* 75% of pledgers contribute to a campaign without knowing the band personally. Ergo, they are the email subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.

* The average pledge is $55-$70.

* 37% of pledges are over $250.

* 37% of the income comes after the 30-60 day campaign on other platforms would have ended.

* PledgeMusic boasts an 86% success rate of reaching funding targets.

* On average it takes 17 pledges-only updates to hit your financial goal.

If you want to learn more about crowdfunding, CD Baby has a free guide available.

Ready to start funding your own career? The New Artist Model online course has an entire week dedicated to crowdfunding and finance.

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 2)

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

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

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

Here’s strategies 6-10.

6. Find Your Niche

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

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

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

7. Get Your Fans Talking

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

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

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

8. Develop a Brand Strategy

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

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

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

9. Find a Balance Between Free and Paid Content

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

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

10. React to Opportunity

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

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


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

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

1. Make a Plan from the Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Focus on Time Management

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

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

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

4. Build a Team that Grows with You

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

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

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

5. Get out There and Network!

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

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

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

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

 

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X Factor Cancelled: Is Instant Success Possible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is success in music?

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

But some things never change.

You’ve got to have material.

With hooks.

You’ve got to be able to sing.

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

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

We end up with quality art.

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

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

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

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Build a Team for Music Success

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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 Step in 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 in their music career are. 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 you need to take to progress your music 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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Q&A: Dave Kusek Of New Artist Model

Dave-Kusek-Studio-1-660x330

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.

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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

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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.

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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.


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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!

 

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