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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Declan O’Shea / Mako

New Artist Model member Declan O'Shea
New Artist Model member Declan O'Shea

New Artist Model member Declan O’Shea

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model Essential Power PackTurn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Keep moving or die

If you’ve ever been near the ocean, chances are you’ve heard that sharks need to keep moving or else they die.

In his own unique way, singer-songwriter Declan O’Shea is taking that knowledge to heart.  

A member of the edgy alt-rock band, Declan is on the move as he puts together a social media campaign for the band’s upcoming album “The Runner.”

A single from the album entitled “World Set Alight” dropped early this year just in time to be nominated for a Grammy for best rock song and best music video. “The Runner” will be released in its entirety by the end of 2016.  It will feature songs mixed by Tim Palmer (U2 and Pearl Jam) and Bill Appleberry (Stone Temple Pilots, The Voice).

“I am using the New Artist Model to learn how to market the new album properly,” says Declan, who is very active in the Indie Artist Network group.  “I neglected all of this stuff before but am figuring it out.  I am putting a lot of time into Facebook and getting very good at Twitter.  Email marketing starts next month.”

The band, which includes Declan and Christian Montagne, is hoping to build on the buzz generated by its first album “Living on Air” released in 2011.   The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognized the band that year, placing MAKO on its Official Ballot.  Nominations included Best Rock Album, Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocals for the song “Unstoppable,” ;  Best Rock Song for “Miss Alison” and Best Short Form Music Video for “Unstoppable.”

Before launching MAKO in 2010, Declan and Christian were part of Cyclefly.  The iconic Irish/French rock group toured Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe and the U.S. sharing the stage with artists including Iggy Pop, Bush, Live, Linkin Park and others.

Cyclefly released two full length albums.  “Generation Sap” was produced by Sylvia Massy and released in 1999 by Radioactive Records, a division of MCA.  Its second album “Crave,” released by Proper Records in 2002, features a guest vocal spot on “Karma Killer” from Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington.

“We played the main stage at Oz Fest and also toured with Bush.  We did the Redding and Leeds festivals.  We did the Woodstock 50th anniversary.  It was all about live then,” Declan says.  “Social media only started kicking in 2000.  Now it’s about downloads, not sales.  Everything’s become ‘game-ified.’  People want to visually see stuff and listen at the same time.”

Declan is using a variety of social media tools to spread news about MAKO and its music.  Email, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other channels are all part of his marketing mix.  Currently, Twitter is his most powerful tool.

“We get a lot of airplay through Twitter,” he says, adding that he identifies bands with a sound similar to MAKO and connects with their fans and the radio stations that play their music.

Using auto responders on Twitter is a great way to attract more followers, he adds.  People who follow MAKO automatically receive a message offering a free download of their first album in exchange for an email address.  The message includes a link the MAKO’s website.      

In addition to finding new fans, Declan uses Twitter to collaborate with other musicians, get feedback on singles and find help with marketing.

“I read Dave Kusek’s e-book on Twitter marketing and started sending out tweets and emails to ask for feedback on the new single.  I got lots of positive replies and one fan is helping me with marketing in the States with Spotify,” he says.  “Another is doing photos for the new album and a guy from Germany wants to help find opportunities in Berlin for the band.”

Emailing is an essential part of the band’s marketing strategy, Declan says.  He reaches out to fans on a regular basis with offers of free music and other incentives.  MAKO also gives away its first album for free on NoiseTrade.  

Declan’s day typically begins with meditation and a run.  Then he gets down to work, spending most of each day writing and recording music in his home studio.  He usually turns his attention to marketing in the evening.

He makes it a point to read books that inspire and motivate him.  “Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” by Greg McKeown — a book recommended by New Artist Model — is one of his favorites.  The bestseller shows readers how to simplify their lives, identify goals and achieve them.

“Every night, I’m reading 10 pages of something. I am going through one after the other.  Lifestyle and business.  Through New Artist Model I’ve gotten many recommendations and blogs to read.  Right now, I’m reading “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People,” Declan says.  

Additional titles he’s found useful include “The Richest Man in Babylon,” by George Samuel Clason,  “The Lean Start Up,” by Eric Ries “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Rich as well as spiritually oriented volumes like “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.

MAKO is playing the occasional acoustic gig these days.  Once “The Runner” is released, the group will tour in support of the record.  MAKO has played throughout Ireland and toured Brazil twice where they recorded a song and music video with the popular band Medulla.   

Declan has lots of plans that will keep MAKO moving forward — a tour to support the album, continued outreach through social media and a foray into the world of licensing.  If he works hard, Declan figures, things ought to go swimmingly.

“I am working to focus my energy towards my goal and know who I am as an artist,” Declan says.  “Treat your music like a start up business.”

 

To see more about Declan O’Shea and Mako look here http://www.makotunes.com/                    

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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