We all want to book bigger venues, right? It’s the natural progression in any performing musician’s career. Not only does a bigger venue allow you to get in front of more people and grow your audience, it also increases your income potential.

But how do you actually take that step up to playing larger stages? If you’ve ever tried transitioning to bigger venues you probably know that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. The difference between a 200 and a 500 seat venue may not seem significant on paper. But the reality is that you’ll have to sell an additional 300 tickets if you want to fill the room. That’s 100 MORE than you currently sell at your 200 seat venue. It’s a big step.

So how can you gracefully transition your way up to bigger venues? The key is to avoid moving up to bigger venues too quickly and to approach it with a strategy. This is exactly what we cover in the How to Book Gigs and Tour Profitably online training. In the course you’ll learn from veteran booking agent Jeri Goldstein and discover how to book your own gigs and make good money from your performances.

But for now, let’s go through the strategy step by step.

Before You Try to Book Bigger Venues

Your interactions with bookers are a relationship – one that requires nurturing and time from both sides. As a musician building a career, you need adventurous bookers willing to risk a night in their venue with possible low ticket and/or bar sales. And once you find a venue willing to work with you, it takes multiple shows over months, or even years, to build an audience.

When your audience starts to grow, the venue finally begins to reap some of the rewards of their initial interest in you. Together you’re selling out the venue and doing well on bar and merch sales.

The next thing you know, you’re too big for the venue. At this point, most artists begin to seek larger venues and bigger bookers to keep pace with their growing audience (we have a whole guide about booking gigs for yourself right here). Growth is good but make sure you grow strategically as you move to the next level.

The sad truth is, most acts move too fast. They believe they have achieved a level of success that they simply have not. And leave that adventurous booker and the smaller venue far too early without exploring other options. So, I suggest that you carefully assess before charging ahead thinking you are ready to move on.

How to Make More Money from Smaller Venues

Getting booked as an opener is a great way to step up to bigger venues. But let’s look at another example so you can see how you can continue working with a smaller venue to make the step up to the next level easier.

Let’s say an act works with a promoter at a 150-seat venue. They have played there often, and now they always pack the room. The act begins to think the venue is too small and they need to move up to a 500-seat venue. But, that 150-seat venue booker has helped the act nurture and build their fan base. They also know how to reach the act’s audience with the right media and promotional outreach.

A different promoter books the 500-seat venue. Since the act has only played 150 seat venues, the booker doesn’t know for sure if they are ready to sell 500 seats. There just aren’t any numbers proving they are capable, and that’s a hard sell to a venue.

So, before attempting to move to the new venue and take your chance working with a new booker, let’s examine some additional options.

Continue to work with the original booker in the 150-seat venue. Try increasing the number of dates per month. If you’re still able to consistently fill the room without exhausting the local audience, try taking the next step and do TWO shows in one night or two shows on two consecutive nights.

A late-night audience would respond well to two shows on the same night. If your audience is more of the 8 pm crowd, work out a good deal for two consecutive nights in the venue.

A big part of successfully booking gigs is contacting the booker at the RIGHT time when they are putting together their gig schedule. Here’s a fully comprehensive break down of when different types of venues book their gigs and when YOU should be contacting them:

 

Give Back to the Venues that Invested in You

So, why does this approach work better than just moving up to a bigger venue?

The booker knows how to market your act to your audience. They have proven themselves over time as your audience has grown.

Your audience is used to seeing you in this venue. This is not to say you will never outgrow the venue and that your loyal audience won’t follow you as you move up. BUT, until the time is right, your audience appreciates the familiarity of the known venue. Often when you change venues, it may take some time for the audience to make the switch. If it is the wrong venue for the act, the audience may not follow you there.

By playing two consecutive shows, you’re reducing the cost for advertising and overhead. That means larger profits for both you and the booker. Whereas the costs and risk factors at the larger, 500-seat venue would greatly reduce profits to both the new booker and the act.

By doing two consecutive shows in the 150-seat venue, there is a perception of a growing demand for the act. If the act can truly document their established track record of sold-out double shows, the risk to a larger venue is much less. That makes it much easier to negotiate a more favorable deal when they move up to the 500-seat venue.

Right of First Refusal

I also want to talk briefly about the “right of first refusal.” This basically means that before you move on to a bigger venue, you should give the booker of the smaller venue the opportunity to do consecutive shows. If they refuse to do the consecutive shows, you can pursue other venues with a clear conscience. You did not go behind their back or leave them out of a potentially lucrative opportunity. You offered them a chance to be part of your next move. This demonstrates your respect and appreciation (remember, a positive indie attitude is key to being successful) for their previous commitment to the growth of your act.

Why is this important? Remember, your connections with bookers are relationships. And relationships should be nurtured and treated with respect.

As emerging artists, it’s tough to find venues that will take a chance on you. When a booker finally catches on to your act and gives you a chance, it is important that you recognize that promoter’s efforts. If success finds you, make sure you return the favor to those who have invested their time, belief and money on you back when first started.

I believe in leaving doors open as you move through career changes. If you burn your bridges as you go, you may be left with very little support when you need it. This business is built on relationships maintained over the years, connections made and nurtured. The first promoter you work with in any city helps build your foundation for growth. I believe it is important to maintain strong ties with past promoters as you build toward your future.

Conclusion: How to Book Bigger Venues

Hopefully now you can see how you can strategically make the step up to bigger venues. Remember, it’s not always about getting to the bigger venues faster. It’s about booking bigger gigs when you’re ready so you can get a good deal, progress your career, and make good money.

By Jeri Goldstein 

Jeri Goldstein was an agent and manager and now an author and music business and performing arts career coach, key-note speaker and seminar presenter. She provides valuable resources, instruction and coaching to those navigating their way to creating a successful touring career. Having worked with some of the top touring acoustic artists on the circuit for 20 years, she booked national and international tours for artists performing in music, theater, and dance.

As a touring musician, you encounter a variety of situations that have the potential to disrupt your day’s plans. The attitude with which you meet these daily challenges can influence your success or failure as you move through your career. There are plenty of obstacles thrown in your path. You may choose to approach them with a positive indie attitude or a negative, “why me” attitude. The method you choose of course affects those around you. But it may even be partially responsible for getting or not getting some of the breaks you think you deserve.

I’d like to examine some of the situations that may arise where your positive indie attitude may make a huge difference. I’ve worked with many artists over the years, as manager, agent, promoter and consultant. The one thing that stands out about each performer, above all else, is their attitude about their life, their music, and how they approach each day and every situation. Attitude can be infectious both positively and negatively. If you want to be successful in the music business, be sure that when you leave a situation, your reputation of having an upbeat, positive indie attitude is one of the highlights.

Making Phone Calls with a Positive Indie Attitude

As you book each date, the first place that your positive indie attitude plays a major role is in your phone conversation.

Prepare for your phone sessions. Don’t just pounce on the phone with vengeance determined to book the whole tour. Get yourself in the right frame of mind – calm yet enthusiastic. If you are tired or are having a bad day, DON’T make booking calls. This will not win you many friends nor land you many gigs. Booking calls are a sales pitch. Present a positive attitude and you are more likely to get a positive response.

That said, it isn’t always easy to maintain when phone call after phone call gets little more response than “call me next week.” When multiple calls become frustrating, and you feel your upbeat attitude begin to fall, stop making calls and do some paperwork, take a walk or practice. Change gears before you say something you’ll regret.

The way you leave your last call with a promoter or club owner is the way you will be remembered. If they had a pleasant conversation with you, they would welcome your next call. If not, it may be weeks (or never) before they answer your calls. So set yourself up for success. This is especially true in your local market. News travels fast and there is nothing like a bad attitude to completely kill your strategy of owning your home town market.

Arriving at the Venue

When you arrive at the venue, first impressions make a difference in how the rest of the gig will go.

It’s not unusual to hit traffic on your way to the venue or have various travel delays that can unnerve anyone. It isn’t anyone’s fault, so don’t take it out on those that greet you at the venue. They have been anxiously awaiting your arrival and are probably looking forward to helping you settle in and assist in any way they are able.

Check your attitude before opening the door. Make sure the first thing out of your mouth is, “Great to meet you!” or some other pleasant greeting. You must set the tone for the rest of the event. If you are the opening act, this is paramount to your success that night. If you want those at the venue to help you put on the best show you can, you need to set the stage and offer your winning attitude.

Need more tips on how to get your first gig?
Download this free ebook to get a 3-step strategy for booking your first gig

Dealing with Technicians

Once settled, the next challenge is sound and light check. This task can be fraught with one obstacle after another. From inadequate equipment, the wrong equipment, inexperienced technicians and unhelpful technicians, not enough time and anxious stage personnel, it’s easy to get frustrated.

If you want to accomplish an effective sound and light check, stay upbeat, be very clear about your needs, express them succinctly, and be respectful of those who work at the venue. When you run into a technician with a bad attitude, there is nothing you can do or say to change them. But you can keep your positive indie attitude in check and remain pleasant. Step outside to blow off steam where no venue staff can see you, and return refreshed and ready to work.

When it comes to setting your sound, you know your sound best. Be persistent with the engineer until you achieve the sound you like. Don’t badger, just be clear and attempt to win them over. Sound is a particularly sticky issue for all artists, as it should be. This is certainly one area to maintain your cool if you want to have a good show. Unless you travel with your own sound engineer, you are at the mercy of those on the board. This is one person you do not want to piss-off. Again, your attitude can make or break the show.

Dealing with the Promoter with a Positive Indie Attitude

From time to time we all run into a club owner or promoter who is difficult. From the first phone call, it was clear that this gig would be a challenge simply because the promoter offered resistance. It didn’t get any easier once you arrived at the venue.

Again, you’re not out to make any life changes in this person. You are determined to get through the gig. So do your best show, fill the hall, win over the audience, sell your merchandise. Hopefully, with all that in your favor, you’ll get paid the full amount agreed upon and perhaps you’ll get another gig there in the future. Maintain your positive indie attitude throughout, despite the vibes that may be coming at you from the promoter. Your goals are clear, ignore his/her distracting demeanor.

Dealing with the Audience

When you are finally on stage, this is certainly not the place to air your problems, or be unkind or disrespectful. These are the people you have worked so hard to stand before. This is the moment when your absolute best is tested.

No matter what happened backstage, in the dressing room, on the phone before the show, in the car driving to the show or during sound check, if you display an ugly attitude here, you are done. These folks won’t forget, and it will be all over social media. The audience deserves your highest regard.

After the Show

After the show, you may be tired. The gig is not over, though. Now you have an opportunity to win over more fans. Meet them at your merch table, sign autographs and greet them. Set aside your fatigue for a little while longer.

When you perform in venues other than clubs, you may be working with volunteers. If you are invited to meet the presenter and some of the workers who spent weeks preparing for this event, take the opportunity! You just might solidify a return gig.

You don’t have to accept invitations to parties you are not interested in attending. But a short meet and greet after the gig will go a long way to creating a good reputation. If you must meet a travel schedule and are unable to stay for a meet and greet, let the venue personnel know that before you arrive so there will be no expectations for you to stay.

Conclusion: How a Positive Indie Attitude Will Advance Your Career

You can be a very talented musician, have a fabulous act, be a savvy businessperson, but if you sport a bad attitude, your successes will be hard won. Remain clear throughout all your dealings with each venue and relationship. Build respect for your group as a testament to your level of professionalism. Maintaining a positive attitude during each and every situation will set you apart from the crowd and make you stand out as someone to work with as you develop your career. Remember, that people hire people they know, so be that person that someone thinks of kindly and you can reap the benefits of a positive attitude throughout your career.

By Jeri Goldstein. Copyright © 2019 Performingbiz, LLC. 

Jeri Goldstein was an agent and manager and now an author and music business and performing arts career coach. She is the author of How to Book Gigs and Tour Profitably a new online course from New Artist Model. Having worked with some of the top touring acoustic artists on the circuit for 20 years, she booked national and international tours for artists performing in music, theater, and dance.

 

There’s something awesome about playing a headlining gig – where you know everyone in the crowd is there to support you. But one of the best ways to expand your audience is to get booked as an opening act. In terms of exposure, when you play as an opening act your music is being exposed to a lot more new people than when you headline on your own. And that means opener gigs carry a lot of potential for fanbase growth.

That said, these are choice slots, and many bands and musicians are vying for them. Sometimes you can get lucky and be in the right place at the right time. But, if you are more interested in process rather than chance, here are 3 suggested methods to landing opening act or support act spots.

1. Contact the Venue Booker to Get Booked as an Opening Act

Most artists have felt the disappointment when they get turned down from a venue they’d really like to play. A lot of things go into whether or not a venue will book a band including timing, the venue’s schedule, fanbase size and draw, and the experience level of your act. On top of that, many venues choose to work with proven bands who have played their stage before. So how do you get your foot in the door?

Instead of trying to book a headliner spot for yourself, ask for an opening act slot as a way of gaining entrance.

Start by finding out which acts have been booked for upcoming shows from the venue booking contact. Take a look at each performer and try to identify a few that may be compatible with you. From there, you can ask the booker to be considered as an opener.

In order to have a shot, you’ll need to send your promotional material. Often, they will have to check with the act’s management or agency and the more information they have to present on you, the better.

Some venues arrange openers for certain acts and sometimes they receive strict instructions from the act’s agent regarding the act’s policy on openers. If you begin to let the venues know about your intentions, they may keep you in mind when appropriate situations arise.

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2. Contact the Act to Get Booked as an Opener

In some instances, if you’re on your networking game, you may know a compatible band personally. This would be the most direct route to getting on a tour or single date as an opening act.

If you do NOT have a direct, personal connection with the band or musician, the next step would be to contact the act’s management.

Check on act’s tour schedule for an upcoming or recently played date. If they are playing locally, check with the venue to find their management.

Once you reach management, tell them you are interested in being considered as an opening act. Tell them WHY you think you would be a good addition to the show. Offer to send your current press materials and latest recording and some support materials detailing your activities. And make sure you represent yourself well by providing information about your local audience draw.

Be realistic with this process. You may be one of many acts attempting to be considered.

It may take some time for your efforts to pay off as you develop a relationship with the act’s management. But be persistent! Keep in touch with your contact. Provide them with updates as your career and tours take shape. The payoff may not be immediate, but it may be well worth a wait if you have selected the right act. I spent months nurturing a manager, and then one call just happened to be at the exact right time. I landed my act 16 dates on a west coast tour with a major country star.

3. Contact the Booking Agency to Get Booked as an Opening Act

If the band you’re looking to open for does not have management, they may very well have a booking agent. They would be the next contact.

Approach the agent in a similar manner as you would management. As you build a relationship with the agency, this may also serve as your first contact if you have been looking for an agent for your act. As you consider logical, compatible acts for which you may open, it is likely that those agency’s rosters would also be logical choices to represent your act.

Search for Appropriate Main Acts

The opening act is so often frowned upon as being a bad slot. However, the opening act can be a very strategic position – IF you plan appropriately. I don’t believe opening for just anyone serves you well. It is important that you consider which act your act is compatible with in order to play to an appropriate audience. You should choose main act whose audience you would like to make your own eventually.

Select an act that is at least one or two steps ahead of you in the market.

If you aim too high you are unlikely to achieve an opening slot. Even if you did get to open for a much larger act, your ability to really use the occasion to your fullest advantage might be hampered by the fact that you are probably not ready to do so. Instead, focus on acts that have a large enough draw and some room in the budget so you can get paid something.

Select an act within your own genre of music.

If you are attempting to gain a country fan-base, select up-and-coming country acts. If you play rock, hip-hop, blues, etc., select the appropriate genre. Remember, you want to be playing for your ideal audience.

Select acts of the opposite sex in some instances.

From my experience, single female singer/songwriters would often select a male opening act. The same would work for male acts. It just adds variety to the show. This doesn’t always have to hold true, especially in situations where many acts who know each other decide to join to create a special multi-act tour. But it’s something to keep in mind.

Select acts that you may have some personal familiarity with or even a friendship.

Start with people you know. If they know and like your music, there is a greater likelihood of them being open to you sharing the bill.

How to Make the Most of Your Opening Act Slot

Landing a support act tour can boost your career a notch or two. So make the most of it! Here are a few tips that will help you come out of an opening act slot strong.

Negotiate your merch fee.

The money for openers and support acts may not be great. In circumstances where the fee is low, negotiate 100% or as high a percentage as possible on all your merchandise. Many openers make up for a low fee with their merchandise sales when they have a large and receptive audience.

Don’t overstay your time on stage as an opening act.

Be clear about your arrangements with the main act. Set your start and end times and be PROMPT. If you get called back for an encore, check with the main act before heading back on stage. Leave the audience wanting more rather than wanting you to get off the stage.

Try to arrange for a welcoming introduction.

If you have any connection to the main act at all, it helps if you can be linked to the main act in some way. For example, “Please welcome the XYZ band, one of ABC’s favorite new talents.” If the audience is made aware of the respect the main act has for the opener, they’re usually be more enthusiastic about you.

Make friends with the main act’s sound engineer.

Unless you travel with your own sound engineer, the house sound engineer usually is the one designated to mix the opening act. If you can get to know the main act’s sound engineer, perhaps they will mix your sound as well. Sometimes you may have to pay them something, but it’s often worth the money.

Be on top of your marketing outreach.

Make sure you are added to the date in time to be included in media promotions and added to any flyers or posters. This will help build your reputation in the areas where the dates are played.

Make sure you notify the media of any support tours by getting your tour itinerary listed in the appropriate trade magazines and online sources. Issue press releases and get your music to as many radio stations along the tour route as possible and social media internet streaming services. This may be the right time to explore hiring a radio promotions company to get airplay.

Conclusion: 3 Ways to Get Booked as an Opening Act

Getting opening act or a support act spot tour should be one of the many strategies used to expand your audience. Begin this process by making a list of acts you might consider appropriate main acts. As time goes on and your act develops, the list will need updating. There is no time like the present to begin this strategic audience development process.

By Jeri Goldstein. Copyright © 2019 Performingbiz, LLC. 

Jeri Goldstein was an agent and manager and now an author and music business and performing arts career coach. She is the author of How to Book Gigs and Tour Profitably a new online course from New Artist Model. Having worked with some of the top touring acoustic artists on the circuit for 20 years, she booked national and international tours for artists performing in music, theater, and dance.

We all want to move on to big regional, national, or even international tours. But, it’s a mistake to rush into touring too quickly and skip out on booking local gigs. I have always been a believer in starting your career in a central place, like your hometown or a town nearby that would be conducive to your career development. Then, you can expand outward systematically from that central point.

If you spend a little more time booking local gigs and really growing and nurturing your connection with the fans, venues, and community locally, you’ll be setting yourself up with a solid foundation to grow regionally and nationally.

So let’s examine some of the benefits of developing a home base of support.

1. You Build Performance Confidence When Booking Local Gigs

Your home base provides a supportive environment to test new songs and performance styles. Over the weeks and months of booking and playing local gigs, you really build a special close relationship with hometown fans. They want you to succeed and will be there to support all your new efforts. And this is exactly the kind of environment that will help you build confidence in your performances. You’ll be more comfortable to experiment and push yourself creatively as a performer when you’re in front of an audience that feels familiar.

Most artists will be quick to say, “There is nothing like playing a CD release concert for their hometown fans.” And that’s absolutely true!

As you network with other artists locally, open mic nights and songwriter’s groups also offer avenues for creative growth, testing, and critique. These other local artists will often become your very first fans. They will come out to gigs once break out of the open mic scene. They may even share your music with their audiences. This is organic word-of-mouth marketing at it’s very best.

Need more tips on how to get your first gig?
Download this free ebook to get a 3-step strategy for booking your first gig

2. You Build a Local Reputation

Creating that all-important “buzz,” needs to begin somewhere. And some of the most fertile ground to begin that process is in your home base.

As your performance confidence grows and you being to play more often, a solid foundation of fans forms. And when you work within a concentrated area such as your hometown, the word about a great, unique performer can spread quickly among friends and communities. From there, you’ll begin to build a loyal audience – fans who will consistently come out to local gigs and support you.

The cool thing about a loyal audience is that they will often follow you as you move to bigger venues or even nearby towns. A local reputation tends to filter out beyond the home base as fans share their excitement about newfound acts.

There are so many examples of major recording artists touring today that started by booking local gigs and developing a loyal home base of support. One great example is the Dave Matthews Band. He grew a solid home base foundation before moving into other parts of the southeast region. We all watched as his solo gigs at the local bar moved to a regular Tuesday night gig at the local club with his band. He expanded strategically around Charlottesville and throughout the southeast region—and the rest is history!

He remains committed to Charlottesville today as his entire organization still lives and operates out of Charlottesville. They consistently pump funds back into the community to support local businesses and charities. And all of this grew out of their original development of Charlottesville as his home base. The community offered their loyalty as fans helped the band gain a local, then regional, then a national reputation. And now the DMB supports the community in return.

3. Booking Local Gigs Keep Costs Down

It’s no secret that touring is expensive. And touring long distances can wither an already slim budget. When guarantees are low and sometimes nonexistent, additional travel costs can deplete your motivation as well as your budget.

But when you concentrate on booking local gigs and performance dates, you’re not spending unnecessary money on hotel, meals, and gas. And that means more profit in your pocket rather than getting eaten up by expenses!

4. Daily Routines Remain Familiar

No matter how fun life on the road may be depicted, we all love the comforts of home. And when most of your gigs are home-based, you can comfortably go about your business in familiar surroundings.

Even short tours can take days (or weeks) of preparation and being on the road. But with local gigs, the interruption to your daily routines is only for the brief time when you pack up and go to play the gig.  And that means, you can continue working on larger plans and projects within your normal, supportive environment. You’ll be a lot more efficient and get a lot more done when you stay local.

5. You Can Develop Business Skills

Just as you seek to practice your performance skills in a supportive environment, you need the opportunity to practice your business skills and become proficient. And booking local gigs allows you those golden opportunities!

You can work on your booking, phone techniques, and build your confidence as you negotiate with local promoters and draw upon your network of musicians for gig information. There is less at stake locally compared to those of intense long-term touring situations. Which means you can ease your way into better venues as you develop the various aspects of your performance career and business savvy.

While home-based, you can also begin to create a network of potential financial supporters or sponsors. You are constantly in touch with local businesses and organizations that are becoming familiar with your act. And that means you can take the first steps to contacting some of them with proposals.

Once you have success on the home-front, it will be much easier to attempt a proposal to a regional, statewide or national business or organization.

7. You Can Develop Marketing Know-How

What better way to become familiar with the marketing game than to practice in your home base? I’ll bet you are already aware of the various print media outlets and probably know each of the radio stations intimately. Which means you won’t have to spend much time researching in order to begin any marketing campaigns.

If anything is unfamiliar to you, turn to one of your musician friends in your now growing network for help or information.

8. You Make Networking Contact

Once you have a working system for the home base, it can easily be applied to distant touring markets. With a bit of research thrown in for each new market, of course.

You can use your home base media contacts to begin networking with those markets nearby. It’s very likely that the Entertainment editor at your daily paper knows the name of the Entertainment editor two towns up the road. Similarly, your hometown radio and television contacts can toss you some names to help get your foot in the door in nearby towns.

Conclusion: Why Booking Local Gigs Will Set You Up for National Success

Your home base of support is the launching pad for your expanding touring career. Take your time to develop your fans, media contacts, industry network or other musicians and local venues before venturing beyond your surrounding region. All lessons learned in your home base will serve you well throughout your touring career.

By Jeri Goldstein. Copyright © 2019 Performingbiz, LLC. 

Jeri Goldstein was an agent and manager and now an author and music business and performing arts career coach. She is the author of How to Book Gigs and Tour Profitably a new online course from New Artist Model. Having worked with some of the top touring acoustic artists on the circuit for 20 years, she booked national and international tours for artists performing in music, theater, and dance.

by Jeri Goldstein

You called the venue and they were already booked… How many times have you had that happen? Wouldn’t it be great to know the best times to call to at least have a fighting chance of getting booked? Well today I’m going to show you how to book club gigs and specifically focus in on timing your calls to club bookers. Do this, and you stand a much better chance of getting the gig.

When to Book Club Gigs

Clubs are likely to be filling their calendars 4, 6, or 8 weeks prior to the play date. This can be great for filling in last-minute gigs. But it can also be incredibly frustrating if you are planning your tours farther ahead.

When is the best time to call a club? As soon as you know you are planning a tour in the area. Give them a call and let them know about the tour plans. Try to get them to place a hold on your preferred date. After that, it’s your job to get back to them, check on that date, and find out if they are ready to firm it up.

Check with each club to see when they finalize their monthly calendar, prepare any strip ads, or start monthly promotions. This will give a clue as to how far out the booker plans and at what time in the month they actually start firming up dates. Once you know the deadline for the booker to have their marketing ready, then you can make plans to call prior to that deadline.

What to know the best time to book your gigs?

Check Back with the Bookers

As bookers start filling their dates, they look for hot tours that may have just announced their schedules. If they can book a hot act when they are coming through, it will take priority over any holds on the calendar. In other words, it’s important for you to keep checking back with the booker to make sure they are still holding your desired date.

If a larger act is vying for your date, that’s okay too. By keeping in touch with the booker, you might be able to score an opening slot!

Once you are in contact with the club, ask them for other referrals to clubs in the area. Look for clubs that would be far enough away to not interfere with their date but close enough to help build your regional following. These extra gigs could help solidify your tour in case the desired venue isn’t able to confirm their date.

As you can see, club dates are more of an ongoing process. Your tour schedule, your tour routing, and the club’s monthly calendar will be the determining factors, suggesting the proper time frames to begin your calls.

Getting into the Mind of Club Bookers

A few years ago, I wrote a column for Gig Magazine that was a series of interviews with club bookers across the country. My goal was to get into their thought process around how they select their acts and what kind of marketing materials helped them make their choices. As a result of that research along with my own booking experience, I have some helpful insights on how to book club gigs I’d like to share with you.

Be Aware of the High Money Nights

Since many clubs have multiple shows each week, they need to make sure their “money-nights” (Thursday-Saturday) are winners. They use these nights to help pay their bills. These are NOT nights they are willing to take a chance on an untested act.

Now you don’t necessarily have to be a national touring act to get a Thursday through Saturday gig. Regional or local favorites are fine, as long as you can sell tickets, food and bring in healthy bar revue.

Keep in mind, that for many clubs, they make their money from the bar and possibly the food. So they are interested in getting a crowd but are not wedded to the specific group. This sets up a dynamic where the competition for gigs is at a fever pitch, driving band fees down.

How to Book Club Gigs: Not too Early, Not too Late

Filling the calendar in a timely manner to meet deadlines is a driving force for the booker’s schedule.

That said, you may find they are more willing to “see who’s coming through town” toward the beginning of the month. And then, they set their dates rapidly as the calendar deadline approaches. You may find them more non-committal during the early part of the month because of this. But if you wait until the later part of the month, you may just find them booked!

It’s a balancing act. But again, here’s where placing a hold on specific dates may prove to be a very valuable tool.

Start with Weeknight Gigs

Many clubs look to the weeknights as a place to test new acts, so if you want to book club gigs, that’s a good place to start. If you have a growing following, you are more likely to get a more favorable night. And you may be able to work your way into one of the “money nights.”

Developing local talent tends to be something that many club owners and bookers love to do, especially when they can see the potential of future success for the act. If you fall into this category, you could discuss a regular night, multiple times a month with a club to foster this audience-building process.

Be Ready to Promote Your Gigs

Clubs want to know you have marketing tools and plans in place to help with any shows you do in the area. Most clubs do minimal marketing for individual acts. If you have a good mailing list, put it to use! That will be a plus for consideration and help you stand out from the competition!

How to Make Your Act More Attractive to the Club Booker?

Participate in Development Programs

Pay attention to any programs offered by the club for developing acts. Some have open-mic nights, others have a hierarchical method of growing the talent by strategically placing new acts early in the evening and as their audience grows, moving them up to more prime-time night slots. Participate in these programs if you are new to the club.

Keep Track of Numbers

Club bookers appreciate a growing fanbase! So take the time to develop your fanbase in each new market and use your numbers to leverage your value and book club gigs. Use your social networks and email lists to nurture your fan base. Make sure you share how many people on your list live in the area around the club. These numbers may mean more food and drinks sold along with tickets.

You can also track and share your numbers from past performances in the area. Remember how much merchandise you sold last time you came through town at this club or any others you’ve played.

Participate in the Promotion of the Gig

Marketing for club dates is often left to the act. If you rely on the club for your marketing, you may be disappointed with the shared strip add listing multiple acts for the month. So share your marketing plan with the booker to demonstrate your commitment to your audience development.

Offer to be on hand early enough to do radio or phone interviews prior to coming to town.

Be creative and willing to share marketing ideas that might create an interesting, unusual performance night. Whatever clever marketing pitch you can add to increase media attention or audience awareness will work in your favor to build your value to the venue and the area.

Be Easy to Work With

Make sure your set up doesn’t require any unnecessary expense or actions on behalf of the club or their technical staff. If you have unusual backline needs, make sure you carry those with you and are pro-active in creating an easy load-in, set up and sound check.

Also remember that club bookers are juggling a lot of dates. Sometimes as many as 6 different acts each night! So there’s a good chance the club booker will seem stressed. If you meet with a harried voice on the other end of the phone, it’s not about you. It’s the relentless pressure from the job. So your best approach is to be prepared and easy to work with. Prepare your pitch, send appropriate materials that are easy to read through and be prepared to make multiple calls to develop your relationship.  Be accommodating, plan your call-back time and be vigilant but not obnoxious. If you don’t land your optimum date the first time around, keep at it and plan for the next tour through the area. Remember, it’s all about building the relationship.

Conclusion: How to Book Club Gigs

By now you should have a better idea of how club bookers approach their timetable. Try keeping everything we talked about today in mind next time you’re booking club gigs and you’ll be much more successful.

If you want more tips on when to contact different venues and performance opportuntities, we have a free ebook for you where I break down the best times to contact bookers for festivals, college gigs, performance arts centers, and elementary schools. Click here to download the ebook for free.

By Jeri Goldstein. Copyright © 2019 Performingbiz, LLC. 

Jeri Goldstein was an agent and manager and now an author and music business and performing arts career coach, key-note speaker and seminar presenter. She provides valuable resources, instruction and coaching to those navigating their way to creating a successful touring career. Having worked with some of the top touring acoustic artists on the circuit for 20 years, she booked national and international tours for artists performing in music, theater, and dance.


how to book gigs as an indie musician

Gigs – before a booking agent will work with you every musician has to start out booking their own gigs and concerts. But, as you’ve probably realized, this is a lot easier said than done.

Especially since there are SO many musicians and bands competing for very limited performance spots. It can feel like a hopeless game of cold calling promoters and venue owners only to get turned down (or ignored).

Venues want to book bands with experience. After all, for them it’s a game of risk management – they want to book bands they know will fill the room. And that means getting the spot as a new or unestablished band can be very tricky.

But NOT IMPOSSIBLE. In fact, today I’m going to go through a bunch of ways you can get on the radar of local venues, get on the stage, and how to get more gigs as an independent musician.

But first…

What is a Promoter?

A promoter or venue owner is someone who buys talent. Depending on the size of the venue, they work independently or with booking agents to book bands and musicians to perform.

So, how do they make money? The venue will usually get a percentage of ticket sales and also make money from food and drink sales.

As you can see, the business of venues is really all about numbers – if they don’t fill the room, they don’t make money. This is where you come in. If you want to get the gig, you need to be able to prove that you can bring an audience and make the night profitable for them as well as yourself.

Having some kind of track record or EPK (electronic press kit that details your gigging accomplishments and experience) will really help you pitch your case.

If you can show them that you can fill similarly sized local venues, that you have an email list of 500 locals that you can use to promote the show, and give them a live video to show how great your performance is, you’ll make a much more convincing pitch.

If you don’t have much experience gigging and performing yet, keep reading. We’ll cover a few strategies for breaking into the gigging scene in just a minute.

Want to know the best time to book your gigs?

The best time to book gigs

1. Finding the RIGHT Venues to Book Gigs

The first step of the booking process is always research. Most venues prefer to work with professional artists, and the best way to prove your professionalism is to show that you care enough to take the time to do some basic research.

Especially with venues, there are SO many variables. Some venues may cater to a certain genre, others tend to serve a target demographic like college students or working professionals, and many have age restrictions you need to consider.

You need to make sure your music and audience matches up with the venues you choose to contact. If your fans are mostly teens, don’t book clubs with age restrictions. In the same way, if you play upbeat country, contacting a venue that tends to book rock and roll gigs is a really good way to make a bad impression.

An easy way to get this information would be to check out the venue’s website. If they have live music, they’ll probably have a page listing some upcoming or past acts. Do you fit in?

With that in mind, the BEST way to get a feel for the venue is to actually go there. Go to some gigs. Get a feel for the vibe and the demographics. Get to know some of the staff. If you’re not involved in your local music scene as a fan, you’re going to have a hard time getting involved as a musician.

2. Make a Spreadsheet

Now, don’t get let your eyes glaze over at the mention of spreadsheets.

It will take a little extra effort up front, but in the long run you’ll be saving yourself time. You’ll be able to come back to this in the future when you’re looking to book gigs and have everything you need right in front of you.

Create a spreadsheet for yourself with information on local venues. Here are some things that would be useful to include:

  • Venue name
  • Website
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • The name of the booker
  • Venue size, address
  • A short description on the type of music and audience they cater to
  • Have you played there before

If you want a free action plan to help you achieve your goals in music, click here.

3. Make a Connection

Personal connections are everything in the music business. And I’m not just talking about your connections with booking agents and venues.

Your connections with other local bands could be your biggest asset when it comes to booking gigs or breaking into new music scenes or larger venues.

Think about all the musicians and bands you know in your area. Where do they play? If you’re interested in playing any of those venues, get in touch and suggest a collaboration. Pitch your band as the opening act or do a collaborative 50/50 set split.

When dealing with more local-level venues, the bands often have more liberty to organize their own opening act, so they can be your ticket to getting your foot in the door. Play there a few times as an opener. Make sure your live show makes a good impression on the bookers and venue staff. Get to know the decision makers. Use these gigs as a chance to grow your fanbase. And eventually you’ll be able to leverage all that to book yourself as the headliner.

Open mic nights can also be a great way to make yourself known. There may not be a huge audience and you may only get to perform a few songs, but they give you the chance to make an impression on the venue booker.

4. Contacting Venues

If you’ve had the chance to play at the venue, the best way to connect with venue owners or promoters is in person. However, if you’re writing an email you want to be short and to the point. Here are some best-practices:

  • Make the subject line clear. If you’re inquiring about a certain date, include that as well as the lineup. As an example, your subject line could read “Nov 7 booking- My Band + Opening Band.”
  • Use actionable language. Seriously. If you’re vague and don’t ask for the gig, you’re not going to get it. Tell them what you want.
  • Address the booker by name.
  • Be brief and stay relevant. They don’t need a novel on your life to book a gig at a local 250 person venue. Only include information that will directly help your cause. Link to a gigging EPK with information like other local venues you’ve played, how many tickets you can sell, the size of your mailing list / social following, and a live recording or video so they can hear your live sound.

5. Make a Promotion Plan

Especially if you’re playing smaller, local venues, you’re going to be doing most of the promotion yourself, so tell them how you will promote the show.

At the most basic level, you can set up a Facebook event, put up some fliers, and share some social posts and emails promoting the gig.

But we can do better than that, right?

  • Come up with some incentive to get fans to buy tickets early (as opposed to at the door). Maybe you can give away a merch bundle to anyone who buys early. Or maybe they will get a coupon that they can use to buy cool stuff at your merch booth at a big discount.
  • Give the show a cool theme. Maybe all the bands in the set will cover one of each other’s songs. Maybe you’ll all cover a song from a particular band that inspires you. Get creative and see what you can come up with. Try to make the show seem special.
  • Let your fans vote on the set list/order. When fans feel involved in something they are much more likely to financially support it.

6. Follow Up and Be Professional

The process doesn’t end after you get the gig. If you want to really connect with the local audience, you need to play the venues regularly. So introduce yourself to the venue’s booker and staff and keep in touch.

On top of that, the best way to build a good relationship with local venues is to be professional. Always be on time for shows – in fact, be early! Make sure all your gear is working properly. Treat any sound or light technicians with respect and follow any venue rules. Above all, be prepared for your set and play well-rehearsed songs.

Sometimes the gigging grind can get tiring, but you need to remember that for the promoter and the fans, this one show is everything.

7. Think Outside the Box

As an end note, keep in mind that you don’t need to only book gigs at traditional venues. Live music is something so embedded in our culture. And that means there are A LOT of opportunities.

Often it can be easier to get gigs if you step out of the traditional venue scene. There are always plenty of community or charity events, store openings, and company parties that are looking for great live music. These markets tend to be much less saturated than traditional venues.

House concerts are also a great option if you want to skip the gatekeepers all together and take your performances straight to your fans.

Another option is college gigs. There’s a whole industry dedicated to booking college performers, and it can actually be an extremely lucrative venture.

While there are a lot of opportunities outside traditional venues, always keep your goals in mind. Doing corporate parties or college gigs ins’t going to be for everyone.

Always ask yourself, will this gig take me closer to my goals? Or is it just a paycheck? Of course, sometimes you have to take those just-a-paycheck gigs, you know, the ones where your heart’s not really in it. But doing too many will get you discouraged and running out of drive.

Conclusion: How to Book Gigs on Your Own as an Indie Musician

Hopefully you’ll be able to use these tips to book bigger and better gigs for yourself both in your local music scene and beyond.

Remember, the most important element to booking great gigs is planning. Click below to get a free ebook on how to achieve your goals today! This planning guide will help you organize yourself and focus in on goals in every aspect of your music career.

When you are promoting a show or a tour or an album you may get the chance to be on TV or the Radio. I’ve been on TV Radio Interviews many times and got media training that really helped. Here are my top 20 TV Radio Interview tips that you can use to get ready to tell your story and deliver a message that the viewer will remember:

  • Make sure you understand the exact takeaway you want the viewer or listener to have.
  • Work on your “quotable take away” and practice giving it in different situations.
  • What is your CTA – what do you want them to know about you or do?
  • Get a simple and succinct set of phrases down to deliver your story.
  • If you can include facts, figures or references in your story it will make it easier to remember.
  • Practice your interview several times so you are prepared and confident.
  • Be early and get yourself ready for the event, hair, makeup, confidence.
  • Wear solid colors, not all black and not all white. No patterns.
  • Smile and be positive. No negativity of any kind.
  • Know where the cameras are.
  • While being interviewed in person, look at the interviewer, not the camera.
  • If you plan to perform, practice before you go in and see what you look like on video ahead of time.
  • Lean forward a bit towards the camera. Let your personality shine.
  • Bring/send any logo or graphic with you so they can flash it on the screen.
  • Be sure to talk with the interviewer before you go live and ask what questions you are going to get.
  • If there is a producer involved, ask where to stand or sit, where to look and what they’re expecting.
  • If you can feed the interviewer part of your story before you go live they can set you up to deliver it.
  • Don’t mumble or use umms, uhhs, wells, you knows, likes. Don’t say “I think”.
  • Don’t refer to any prior conversations you had off air.
  • Avoid jargon and speak plainly so a 12 year old can understand you.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before the interview, avoid milk and carbonated beverages.
  • Have fun with it

make your cover songs stand out

With the DIY revolution and the rise of the music middle class in today’s music industry, it’s really easy to get caught up in all the business and music promotion stuff.

But despite all the tools and resources and services at your fingertips online that can potentially get your music in front of a huge audience… The MUSIC still comes first. Quality music trumps all!

So we’re going to get back to our roots and share some confidence-boosting skills that could help you take your music to the next level so you can really stand out and get people excited at gigs and online.

One approach is to use cover songs. If you take the time to really bend the song and put your own flair on cover tunes, they’ll serve as a transition that will introduce your original music to new listeners. Think of it like a relatable point of reference that new fans can come through to become acquainted to you and your music.

So, to help you make the most of cover songs and turn them into tools that help you grow your audience and raise awareness for your originals – instead of being a big roadblock – Daniel Roberts from Hit Music Theory and I will be presenting a free webinar to explore how you can use music theory to create some killer cover songs.

Click here to sign up for free and choose the date and time that works best for you.

Come join us! During the webinar we will be covering:

1. How to manipulate rhythm and subdivision to keep your performances fresh and interesting and keep fans on their feet.

No matter how good a musician you are, your understanding and manipulation of subdivision, time and groove is always a rich creative well to draw from. This is especially important for live performances – simple shifts in the rhythm or subdivision can add that extra flair of interest to keep fans dancing and rocking through the whole song.

2. How to use your understanding of scales and tonality to create tension, anticipation, and release in your covers, and how to use these techniques to support the mood and lyrics of your songs.

Whether you know it or not, every piece of music draws heavily from at least one scale which is centered around a particular note. Knowing this scale and how you can manipulate it can open up enormous possibilities for how you approach playing and arranging a song.

But beyond just basic tonality, the notes and scales you draw from can very much influence and comment on the mood of a song. The scales you choose can create tension, anticipation, or release to illustrate musically what’s going on in the lyrics.

3. How to use harmonic function to create endless compelling hooks and riffs.

Many of the greatest hooks and riffs we love seem to have been created as if divined by some spirit or given by magic to a special artist…

But, if we break it down, a lot of the most iconic hooks and melodies are taken directly from a very limited set of notes that the artist knows work well.

Once you see what’s going on, you’ll be able to use the same techniques to create your own hooks and melodies or even adapt the greats to create your own unique cover version.

4. How to use modes to add variety to hooks to keep fans listening and excited even in repetitive songs.

“Modes” can sometimes be a scary word, but an understanding of this concept can open up endless musical possibilities for you.

5. How to use voice leading techniques create space in your arrangements so you can improve the sound of your live set and get that huge sound we all look for.

Your live show is where you’ll make the biggest impression on new and potential fans, so getting that perfect sound is really important. Unfortunately, if you’re playing in smaller venues and clubs, the sound system may not be ideal.

So we’re going to go through an easy voice leading technique that will allow you to create space in your arrangement – sonically separating your instrument parts so they don’t muddy each other down. (Hint: THIS is how those 2 or 3 man bands manage to get that HUGE sound.)

Plus, if you can master this, I guarantee every sound guy is going to love you!

We’ll be covering this and a whole lot more during the webinar. Click here to sign up for free.

Oh! And during the webinar we will be giving away a free online course called Hit Music Theory to some lucky person!

About the Speakers

Dave Kusek

Dave Kusek is the founder of Berklee Online and New Artist Model. Since teaching at Berklee College of Music, he’s been working to reinvent the way music theory is taught. The very best way to learn music is to apply what you are learning right away, so we developed a fun way to learn music theory by looking at popular music and finding the teachable patterns that make up the hits.

Daniel Roberts

Daniel has produced, composed, arranged, recorded, mixed, and mastered many music projects through his own record label, Ivystone Records, and he’s been teaching music theory to thousands of students. His radical approach makes understanding theory easy and something that you can immediately apply to your music.

 

tour checklist

Going on tour is a big step in your career as a musician. It’s a great way to monetize your existing fans and reach new fans.

But, it’s also possible that your first tour may not go exactly as planned, so you need to prepare accordingly. Going on tour can be a lot of fun, but worrying about money, lodging, and sales can make things stressful.

Here is a tour checklist of thing to have in order before you head out on tour so you can have more peace of mind and focus on putting on a great performance.

(If you haven’t booked any gigs yet, make sure you read this article first to learn how to book bigger and better gigs)

Bring Enough Money to Make None

When planning any trip, you need to make sure you can afford it. In a lot of ways, touring is the same as a vacation – you need to be prepared for the worst.

While it’s definitely unlikely that you’ll make absolutely no money on your tour, having enough to cover your planned expenses with no income is a great way to be prepared for the unexpected, such as an accident, theft, and canceled gigs.

Getting guaranteed payouts for your gigs is something you’re going to have to work on over time, but there are some things you can do to get more people to buy tickets and show up.


Get strategies and ideas to make your tours more profitable. Download the free ebook: Hack the Music Business.


A Van

If you’re in a 5-person band, it’s probably going to be impossible to fit all of your band members and all of your equipment into a small car or minivan (without everyone hating each other by the end of the tour). With that in mind, your best bet will probably be to rent a touring van.

Unless you’re rolling in cash, it’s probably best to rent for the first few tours. Make sure you can make the tours profitable before you invest too much money. Once you reach the level where you’re touring regularly, then you can justify purchasing one.

Insurance

While it’s mandatory by law to have car insurance, before you hit the road, make sure you have tour insurance. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a lawsuit because someone fell on the ground and got hurt while crowd surfing, or because they failed to catch you properly during a stage dive.

It’s also important to make sure you have insurance that covers theft of your gear. Many artists have their gear stolen and can’t finish their tours – which not only means they aren’t making the money they otherwise could have, they also have to replace their gear.

Insurance is the best way to keep your assets protected against any unfortunate accidents.

Work Out Payments and Lodging

Even with really thorough planning, a lot of artists will lose money on their first few tours, and you’re probably not going to get the venues to pay you any guarantees.

Even if you’re a less known artist, it doesn’t hurt to ask about money and a place to sleep when you’re booking gigs.  The venue owners may be able to help with this – it doesn’t hurt to ask.

While you can sleep in your van, booking a place on AirBnb will let you meet local people, and possibly gain some new fans in the process.

Another option is to book house concerts in between your tour dates. Some house concert hosts will actually offer a couch or spare room to crash in for the night. While this isn’t for everyone, if you’re comfortable, it’s a good way to cut down on lodging costs (and make some extra income from the house concert). Adding just a few house concerts (or college gigs) in the mix can be enough to push a tour into being profitable.

Make Sure You Have Enough Merch

For a lot of musicians, merch sales are what make what would otherwise be an unprofitable tour profitable, and the more merch you have on your table, the more you’ll sell.

If people like your performance, they’re going to want to support you.  Make sure you have enough albums available for sale, as well as T-shirts, wristbands, stickers, and any other items you have in your inventory.

When planning what merch to bring, try to have some low price and high price options. So a low price might be a $3 sticker and a high price could be a $40-$50 hoodie.

Additionally, talk about your merchandise on stage.  Offer bundles, such as a T-shirt/album deal, to increase the average sale amount.  This can help you generate more cash to help you make it to your next gig.

Gigging and playing live can be extremely profitable, but it’s important to remember that traditional gigs aren’t the only options. You can explore house concerts, college gigs, collaborative gigs, events, and any combination of those. If you want to learn more creative gigging strategies, check out the New Artist Model online music business program. There are two whole modules dedicated to booking gigs, selling merch, and making gigging more enjoyable and profitable as an indie artist. 

better live shows with music theory

Try these music theory tricks at your live shows

Booking a gig is just the first step. NOW you need to focus on putting on a great show that will draw a big crowd and get you booked again.

It’s easy to feel frustrated with your live shows and the sound your band is getting. Nothing seems to be clicking – and musically speaking, everything seems like a mess. When you try to figure out what might help, no one can figure out how to solve the problem. You try to jamming for a while to see if any ideas can pop up – but every jam sounds like the last one and nothing new is happening. What can you do?! You can turn to music theory to save the day! Here are three ways theory can help you address these situations.

Create New Chords and Chord Progressions

There’s a reason there are so many songs that have the same chord progression. Besides the fact that certain chord progressions always seem to sound good, many songwriters just never take the time to discover new ones.

Knowing a little music theory can help you create new chords and chord progressions. All chords are related to each other in some way – usually through a key. Knowing which chords fit in which keys can help you recognize the chord progressions you have been playing and create new ones. 

Often, this process is awkward at first because new chords and chord progressions are not always so easy to play right off the bat – but the process is always worth it, and it will have a big effect on your live shows. Give yourself the time to regularly go through the awkwardness and you will be pleasantly surprised with the music that starts coming out.


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


Create New Musical Statements

Melodies, hooks, and riffs are all made up of “motifs” – a term for a musical idea built from a set of melodic intervals played with a particular rhythm. Motifs are everywhere in music. They make up every melody you sing, every riff you have ever played, and every hook that has ever demanded attention from your ear.

Learning to identify the intervals and rhythms you already use in your motifs can help you intentionally create new hooks, riffs and melodies by thoughtfully altering the motifs you know. You don’t have to create new ideas from thin air – nobody does that anyway. All you need to do is recognize the motifs you already are using and alter them until they become a new statement.

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.

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.

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

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

 

Making a good impression at gigs

Guest post by Jonathan Sexton | CEO Bandposters

Before I ran a company, I played hundreds if not thousands of gigs all over the US. I’ve played to 10,000 people (2 or 3 times) and I’ve played to 10 people (more than 2 or 3 times). As important as learning how to book gigs, I’ve learned 8 things NOT to do when showing up for gigs, especially to a new venue in a new town.

Everyone of these tips come from cringe worthy personal experience. Here are some great ways to make a good impression on your next show or tour.

1. Don’t Be Late for Your Gigs

Everybody is late, be different. This is the baseline of professionalism, if you show up on time, are professional and easy to work with and don’t have a huge crowd your first time out, it is more than likely you’ll get a few more shots at it. Venues and sound teams have a million better things to do than come and find you. If something happens that you can’t help (van breaks down etc.), then call as soon as you can. Then be on time next show.

2. Don’t Hangout in the Green Room All Night­

Your show and your career completely hinges on how many fans you can earn. Fans love your music and they want to know you. If you are new to the market, you need to get to know the sound guy, the bartenders, the regulars; you’re playing gigs to earn fans and build a business.
Don’t hide, get out and talk to everyone, be friendly. Relationships are the key to the music industry and this where those relationships are made. Don’t hide. Get out there with the people

3. Master Stage Volume­

If you play a show, and the crowd can’t hear the vocals, you’ve lost (this includes punk and metal). There are a million scientific reasons that the human vocal cords cannot compete with drums and amps. Some big clubs have the power to get the vocals up over anything, but most small clubs do not. In my opinion, it starts with the drums, you can play great without playing as hard as you can. Then guitars have to get over the drums, and the vocalist is generally screwed, let the PA do the work, so you don’t have too.

4. Talk to the Crowd

­You may have played your songs 1000 times, but that new person in the crowd or in a new city has no idea who you are, what your songs are called, and what your twitter handle is. Tell them, thank them for being there, introduce the band, say something funny. You have to engage the audience. It’s a show and you are earning their interest. The best bands plan when they are going to say something in the set, and what they are going to say. Not scripted, but at least a general idea.

5. But Don’t Talk too Much­

Don’t ramble on before every single song, also, my pet peeve is when people say “this is a new one” it’s like a reverse apology. 9 times outta 10­­ they are all new ones, even the old ones, because most people haven’t heard you before. I prefer to play 3 songs, then say a little something, then play 3 more. It seems to be the right mix. Find what works for you and your audience. In the end it’s a music show, engage your audience, but don’t monologue.

6. Don’t Get Wasted­

This screams amateur hour. It’s not even about acting like a fool, you also lose awareness of how you are performing. No one in the industry wants to babysit you. Have fun, but don’t fall off the stage.

7. Thank the Crowd (even if it’s just the sound guy)

The first 15 minutes after your gigs are your best opportunity to collect new emails, thank fans and sell merch, especially if you are the opening band. Once the next band starts, it’s harder to talk because it’s loud and people’s attention is elsewhere. In my band, we had a deal that we’d divide and conquer. 3 bandmates would get the gear taken care of and 2 of us would immediately hit the crowd or get to the merch booth. That way we could maximize the small window of opportunity and have contact info for the people that we would reach out to when we return.

8. Thank the Venue­

Taking 5 minutes to find the manager or head bartender after your gigs, look them in the eye, and thank them for having you can do wonders for your career. You are building relationships and it’s something that most people do not do. It’s a great way to stand out from the hundreds of other bands that play at the venue around the year. Same with being on time and professional, venues will remember it the next time that you want to play at their spot.

Bandposters lets you design, print, and ship customized posters everywhere in seconds. We make it easy, in just three simple steps. First, use our powerful design tools to create a custom poster. Next, choose your tour dates or other destinations, and we’ll print that data directly on the poster (no more magic markers!). Then we take care of the rest – we print every poster with care and ship directly to the venues or wherever else you’d like. 

Take 20% off your first Bandposters order with code “NAMPOSTERLOVE”

Shannon toured and gigged as a musician through college. She was able to fund her own tours by playing colleges, a venue that’s typically pretty well-paying. However, she wasn’t seeing the exponential growth she wanted – it was more of a very slow build.

During the summer of 2011, she got an email from a friend in San Diego inviting her to play at her house. Shannon’s thoughts were that at least she would make back the gas money. That hour long concert really flipped her thinking. It really presented the perfect performance scenario, free of distractions and full of opportunities to connect on a deeper level. At the end of the night, Shannon made way more than gas money. The light bulb went on.

The house concert outperformed the traditional gigs in every single way – they made more money, sold more merch, and collected more emails

Here are 5 of the main points behind Shannon’s house concert strategy.

1. Don’t get stuck in the box

When you think of gigging and touring, house concerts isn’t what comes to mind. We all have a traditional idea of a tour in our mind, and that kind of box can really hold you back. If Shannon hadn’t been willing to try an entirely house concert tour because it wasn’t the “normal” approach, she never would have stumbled on her model. (A model that has proved to work time and time again.)

2. Learn as you go

If you have a set plan before you and don’t adapt to the changing environment and opportunities that present themselves, you will only get so far in music. Shannon saw the results from the first tour and, on a whim, scheduled out more house concerts in between traditional gigs. If she hadn’t taken the time to notice the results of that initial house concert, she would still be in the traditional gig grind that so many musicians are stuck in.

3. This is a Concert not a Party

A house concert is not a house party. In a house party, the social encounters are the main event, and as a result the music gets ignored or pushed to the background. If you’re playing parties – like college parties or wedding receptions – looking for tips, you will find that you won’t be able to make enough to even cover your expenses. If, on the other hand, you set the event up like a concert – one where you are the main focus – you will see the effect on the bottom line.

This is a physical and atmospheric endeavour. Set chairs up like a concert hall, have a specific set length, a set start and stop time, a professional-looking merch set up, and a real tip bowl. You will find after one show that you’ll make more in donations. You are creating a controlled environment where people can really connect with you and your music, and that connection leads to donations and sales.

4. Start with what you have

Anyone can start with house concerts. Start with the community you have and it will build from there. Because the concerts are donation-based, it doesn’t have to cost hosts anything to host a house concert. All they need is a space and 20 friends to RSVP. If you don’t have much of a mailing list or following on social media, start with people you actually know – your friends and family.

Shannon has found that the process of finding hosts is almost viral. Every single night she gets approached by someone new asking her to play at their house. The number one key is to just take the leap, ditch your pride, and do your first house concert.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Donations

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Shannon’s model is entirely based on donations, and the key is to keep the donations open. As soon as you put an expected donation, you alienate guests that may be going through tough financial times and you prevent the guests with means from providing a generous donation. It may seem easier to just sell tickets, but in the end you’ll be putting a HUGE limitation on your earning potential.

If you’re thinking of using house concerts to connect with your fans and make more money on the road, you can buy Shannon’s book here. She takes you step by step through her house concert strategy, laying it out so you can easily adapt it for your own career.

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.

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. 

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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Pomplamoose just finished a four week tour, hitting 23 cities around the US. They sold just under $100,000 in tickets – pretty good for a duo with no label support. They may not be the biggest name in the music industry, but Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn know what it takes to be independent musicians in today’s industry – a lot of dedication and constant hard work. They just don’t seem to know how to make money at it.

Jack Conte published their tour’s expenses and profits dollar-for-dollar to shine some light on exactly what goes into planning tours as an independent artist. You can check out the whole article here, but below is a quick run down of the expenses and income. I have to say that they did not optimize for profit, they seem to have optimized to have fun and make as big an impact as they could on their audience. This tour seems to be more of a long term audience and reputation builder as opposed to a tour that makes a profit. Check out an alternate view on touring as an independent band here from Nick Woods if you are interested in making some money on the road.

This is from Jack’s post:

Being in an indie band is running a never-ending, rewarding, scary, low-margin small business. In order to plan and execute our Fall tour, we had to prepare for months, slowly gathering risk and debt before selling a single ticket. We had to rent lights. And book hotel rooms. And rent a van. And assemble a crew. And buy road cases for our instruments. And rent a trailer. And all of that required an upfront investment from Nataly and me. We don’t have a label lending us “tour support.” We put those expenses right on our credit cards. $17,000 on one credit card and $7,000 on the other, to be more specific. And then we planned (or hoped) to make that back in ticket sales.

Where did all those expenses come from? I’m glad you asked:

Expenses

$26,450 – Production expenses: equipment rental, lights, lighting board, van rental, trailer rental, road cases, backline.

$17,589 – Hotels, and food. Two people per room, 4 rooms per night. Best Western level hotels, nothing fancy. 28 nights for the tour, plus a week of rehearsals.

$11,816 – Gas, airfare, parking tolls. 

$5445 – Insurance.

$48,094 – Salaries and per diems.

$21,945 – Manufacturing merchandise, publicity (a radio ad in SF, Facebook ads, venue specific advertising), supplies, shipping.

$16,463 – Commissions. Our awesome booking agency, High Road Touring, takes a commission for booking the tour. They deserve every penny and more: booking a four week tour is a huge job. Our business management takes a commission as well to do payroll, keep our finances in order, and produce the awesome report that lead to this analysis. Our lawyer, Kia Kamran, declined his commission because he knew how much the tour was costing us.

Income

$97,519 – Our cut of ticket sales. Dear fans, you are awesome. 72% of our tour income.

$29,714 – Merch sales. Hats, t-shirts, CDs, posters. 22% of our tour income.

$8750 – Sponsorship from Lenovo. Thank goodness for Lenovo! They gave us three laptops (to run our light show) and a nice chunk of cash. We thanked them on stage for saving our asses and supporting indie music. Some people think of brand deals as “selling out.” My guess is that most of those people are hobby musicians, not making a living from their music, or they’re rich and famous musicians who don’t need the income. If you’re making a living as an indie band, a tour sponsor is a shining beacon of financial light at the end of a dark tunnel of certain bankruptcy.

Add it up, and that’s $135,983 in total income for our tour. And we had $147,802 in expenses. We lost $11,819.

The point of publishing all the scary stats is not to dissuade people from being professional musicians. It’s simply an attempt to shine light on a new paradigm for professional artistry.

We’re entering a new era in history: the space between “starving artist” and “rich and famous” is beginning to collapse. YouTube has signed up over a million partners (people who agree to run ads over their videos to make money from their content). The “creative class” is no longer emerging: it’s here, now.

We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.

We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.

We have not “made it.” We’re making it.

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In today’s music industry, there is a lot of hype around direct-to-fan models. You can talk with your fans directly on social media or through email, you can sell directly to your fans, and now many artists are applying direct-to-fan strategies to the live industry and taking concerts right to their fans’ houses.

Shannon Curtis is one notable artist who has been extremely successful in the house concert market. In fact, she’s developed a system that made her $25,000 in just 2 months! Shannon joined me in an incredible webinar where we show you just exactly how she did that, and more.

At first glance, planning a house concert tour may seem overwhelming, but as you’ll see in this article, it’s very manageable and can be very rewarding. If you want to see how to set up a house concert tour of your own, check out this free webinar where she discusses all her best tips and strategies.

1. You Bypass the Gatekeepers

The live music industry is full of gatekeepers, mainly because there are so many musicians competing for so few gigs. On top of that, being a physical establishment, venues have bottom lines to meet and therefore need to be very selective of the bands they choose.

Don’t wait for someone to open the door for you! Go past the gatekeepers and bring the show directly to your fans. In Shannon’s experience, anyone with any kind of fanbase can be successful with house concerts. The costs to you are mainly your travel expenses to get there. Check out the webinar to learn exactly how to make your house concert successful.

2. You Get a Bigger Piece of the Pie

When you play in a traditional venue or club, the money is split between you, the promoter, and the booking agent. As a result, you get a much smaller piece of the pie, and in many cases, no money at all.

When you do a house concert, the only person you need to worry about paying is yourself, and after travel expenses, all the money is yours to keep. With that in mind, house concerts can turn out to be much more profitable than traditional gigs.

3. Booking is Easier

If you’ve ever tried to book a gig, you know it can be painful jumping through all those hoops. You may need to email and call people five times before you can get anything rolling. Believe it or not, from Shannon Curtis’s experience, house concerts are actually much easier to organize.

When you ask some of your Super Fans to host a house concert, they will most likely be excited to host the concert and get into it, instead of ignoring you. This means that it will be easier to connect with them when you’re trying to organize things. Shannon’s had some hosts who really went above and beyond to put on a great event.

4. You Spend Less Time Promoting

As an independent artist, the job of promoting your gigs falls squarely into your own hands. You need to spend weeks getting the word out to your fans through social media and your email list, and even then you’re not always guaranteed a good turnout.

In Shannon Curtis’s house concert model, the host invites at least 20 of their friends and family to attend the concert, and apart from the occasional flop you’re pretty much guaranteed to be playing for a small but attentive crowd. The only promotion you need to do is to broadcast to your fans that you’re looking for house concert hosts at the beginning of the process.

5. You Reach More New Fans

We’ve all experienced the frustration of playing the same venue to the same group of fans over and over. It can feel like your career is stagnant and you’re not reaching the new people vital for growth. House concerts are one of the best ways to get your music in front of new people.

In the two month house concert tour we talked about earlier, Shannon added 500 new names to her email list! These are 500 additional people who may end up buying her albums, songs, merch, tickets or other products.

6. You Build Long-Term Relationships

In addition to just the numbers, house concerts provide the perfect environment for fostering long-term relationships with fans, and the chance to create some Super Fans. Guests are more likely to give your music a chance because the host is a trusted friend or family member. When you add in the distraction free space and the direct social interactions you’ll have with fans before and after the show, house concerts can be a fan-building powerhouse.

 

As you can see, there’s more to planning a truly successful house concert than you may think. House concerts can be extremely lucrative for anyone if you have the right strategy. To help you, Shannon Curtis takes you step by step through her strategy in this free webinar. She’ll be sharing some of the best tips she’s learned by doing hundreds of house concerts. 

If you are interested in learning more about how you have create a plan for success for your band or career, check out the New Artist Model, the alternative online business school for independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new businesses.  

how to get more gigs

In today’s music industry, gigging is a huge revenue for a lot of indie musicians. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of competition for the limited gigs available. Just standing out of the crowd of talented performers can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to grow into cities and towns you’ve never played before.

If, however, you are dedicated and have a strategy in mind when looking for gigs, you’ll have a much better chance of getting noticed. I’ve broken it down into 5 basic tips that you can follow as you’re trying to get more gigs.

After you read through these tips, check out this article for more ways to book your own gigs.

1. Collaborate

Collaboration is the first step to this equation. I’m sure you know how hard it is to get a spot in new venues, especially if you’re not yet at the point where you’re working with a booking agent. Venue owners and promoters just feel safer booking a band that they know can fill the room. If, however, you can connect with the bands the promoter knows, you might be able to get more gigs you wouldn’t normally have access to.

Let’s say you want to be able to play in a new city or even a new country. Make a connection with a band or musician with an established fan base in the area. To make the most of this strategy, target a musician or band with a similar style to you who plays similar size venues. Propose a headline-trade. In other words, you’ll open for them in their home city and they’ll open for you in your home city. This puts both of you in front of a new audience. It’s a win-win!

2. Network

A headline trade also puts you in front of promoters, booking agents, and venue owners in new areas, but its up to you to actually make the connections! Don’t be that band who just plays, takes the money, and leaves. There’s a lot more to gigging than just playing the show! If you really want to make the most of each gig, you need to be networking with anyone you can before and after your show.

Introduce yourself to the venue owner or promoter. This is the person you need to impress if you want to play at that venue again. You want to go beyond this and introduce yourself to the other bands and musicians playing that night, and even the crew in charge of lights and sound. Take the opportunity to meet everybody you can.

3. Be proactive

Unfortunately, the days of getting “found” by a record label in a small club are over for the most part. Unless, of course, you take a proactive role to orchestrate the connection. Industry people may not be hanging around the local clubs looking for artists, but they might be there if you invite them!

This strategy worked for a New Artist Model student Tomas Karlson, and it can work for you too. His band was looking to connect with a booking agent to help them get gigs in new cities. Agents get contacted by hundreds of bands looking for help booking gigs. If you really want to stand out, don’t tell them about your gigs, show them what you can do. Invite them out to the show. They will be able to see first hand how many people you can draw and the energy of your performance and the audience. Tomas’s band now works with a great booking agent who is helping them book other gigs in Europe.

4. Be prepared

First impressions are everything, so you need to make sure you’re prepared. It’s a good idea to have a short “elevator pitch” ready in case anyone asks about your music. This should basically be a few sentence sum-up of your sound and what you’re working on. You don’t want to bore them with your whole life story – just give enough information to pique their interest. Give them a phrase that they will remember and hand out a business card.

From here, you should also be able to direct them to a website or online press kit for more information. This will give them access to a more detailed bio, photos, music, and most importantly, contact information. You shouldn’t leave the contacting completely up to them, though. Ask for business cards or email addresses and propose a meeting over coffee. After all, a great connection isn’t worth much if you don’t follow up.

5. Play your best every single night

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. When you’re in the business of playing small club gigs, you need to be on top of your game every single night especially if you live in a city where there is so much competition for one spot.

You may be playing a similar set every night, but someone out there in the audience is probably experiencing your music for the first time. This person could go on to be just a regular fan, they could go on to be your biggest fan, or they could even be a local booking agent interested in your music. Either way, if you don’t give it your all every single night you will fail to make the great impression that will make that person believe in you and your music.

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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.

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There’s a few ways to approach your gig. Once you book the 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.

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Even with all this new technology floating around these days, the music industry is still completely driven by people. Obviously you have the musicians creating new music, but you also have the club owners, the promoters, the producers, the recording engineers, the session musicians, and even the guys running the sound board at your local club. If you really want to make it in the music industry, you need to make connections with all of these people. They are the ones who will help you move your career forward, not the fact that your music is on iTunes.

As a performing musician it’s easy to get caught up in your live show. You have to plan and remember the set list, get your gear set up right, give a killer performance, engage with your audience, and so much more. However, it’s really important to remember that your sound is one of the most important parts of the show, and the sound guy is completely in charge of that. You also need to remember that the relationship you have with the sound guy goes beyond this one gig. You’ll probably have to work with him (or her) if you come back to that venue in the future. A good relationship could lead to other opportunities. Maybe she is a fiddle player that would be interested in recording a track on your newest song. Maybe he also mixes recordings and can help you out with your new album. The point is that you never know who could provide you with a great opportunity, so be nice, considerate, and respectful to everyone you meet in this industry.

These tips come from Ari Herstand and was originally published on Digital Music News. These are just a few tips, but you can see the full list over on Digital Music News.

Get His Name
The first thing you should do is introduce yourself to the sound guy when you arrive. Shake his hand, look him in the eye and exchange names. Remember his name – you’re most likely going to need to use it many many times that night and possibly a couple times through the mic during your set. If you begin treating him with respect from the get go he will most likely return this sentiment.

Respect His Ears
All sound guys take pride in their mixing. Regardless of the style of music they like listening to in their car, they believe they can mix any genre on the spot. However, most sound guys will appreciate hearing what you, the musician, like for a general house mix of your band’s sound. Don’t be afraid to tell him a vibe or general notes (“this should feel like a warm back massage” or “we like the vocals and acoustic very high in the mix” or “we like keeping all vocal mics at about the same level for blended harmonies” or “add lots of reverb on the lead vocals, but keep the fiddle dry”). He’ll appreciate knowing what you like and will cater to that. He is most likely a musician himself, so treat him as one – with respect. He knows music terms – don’t be afraid to use them.

Don’t Start Playing Until He’s Ready
Set up all of your gear but don’t start wailing on the guitar or the drums until all the mics are in place and he’s back by the board. Pounding away on the kit while he’s trying to set his mics will surely piss him off and ruin his ears. Get there early enough for sound check so you have plenty of time to feel the room out (and tune your drums).

Have An Input List
If you need more than 5 inputs, print out an accurate, up to date list of all inputs (channels). A stage plot can also be very helpful – especially for bigger shows. Email both the stage plot and input list over in advance. The good sound guys will have everything setup before you arrive (this typically only happens at BIG venues). If you’re at a line-check-only club, then just print it out and give it to the sound guy right before your set.

Have your connections in the music industry ever lead to opportunity?

If you’re ready to turn your music into a career, check out the New Artist Model online courses. Networking and connections are huge topics in the courses. If you’d like to learn more, you can sign up for the mailing list for access to 5 free lessons.

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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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There’s more revenue streams out there for musicians than just album sales. Check out some of these alternative revenue streams.

Article by Mackenzie Carlin via Music Think Tank. Check out the full article here.

Offer VIP Packages for Concerts

Critics of social media may complain of young people wasting their lives behind computer screens, but the truth is, music fans still love attending live shows. You still can profit handsomely off of traditional concerts, but if you’re looking to amp up returns on your tour, consider throwing in VIP concert options. These could include special meet-and-greets before or after shows, or even private performances for your most dedicated fans. Many will gladly pay two, three, even four times the going rate for your concert if it means getting up close and personal.

Sell Merchandise at Live Shows

Music fans love showing off their favorites, be it through social media or old-fashioned band tees. The great thing about old school merchandise sales is that they can be incredibly profitable, particularly if you take on a multi-faceted approach including both online and in-person sales. Selling band merch is easier than ever, thanks to useful services such asIntuit QuickBooks, and the various on-the-fly payment systems that are available in the form of an app. Be sure to offer a wide array of products, so as to entice as many fans as possible to invest in the cause. These could include posters, clothing or vinyl records, which still retain a surprising level of popularity among music aficionados. A Music Think Tank post from last year suggests asking fans on Twitter and Facebook for merchandise suggestions, and then holding a poll to determine which options would garner the most interest.

Build a Dedicated Following With Social Media

The greater your social media following, the better chance you stand of benefiting from merch sales and VIP packages. Examples of musicians building dedicated fan bases through social media include Justin Bieber and Lily Allen serving as two of the most successful MySpace musicians. Today, the focus is on Facebook and Twitter, with several musicians also benefiting from the use of Soundcloud, a social network aimed directly at ‘sound creators.’ According to “Tech Crunch,” Soundcloud currently boasts over 250 million users, many of whom share their favorite bands and singers with their friends through the site’s popular social networking setup.

If you’re looking to make more money as a musician, check out the New Artist Model online courses.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. It will take time.

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

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

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

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

3. Keep moving forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Create an authentic connection.

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

EDM is a unique genre in the music industry for many reasons, one being the social behavior of the fans. EDM artists and promoters are really great at using social media to share news about upcoming shows. If you were at SXSW you may have seen Eventbrite’s panel about the social behavior of EDM fans, but if not, here’s a great infographic to sum it up.

Eventbrite partnered with Mashwork, a social media research firm to create this infographic on the social tendencies of EDM fans.  They analyzed “more than 70 million conversations about Electronic Dance Music across the sociosphere in 2013.” Check out the infographic below. You can also check out this report to learn more.

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jdlk

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jdlk

Whether you’re just starting out or a superstar, there’s always a barrier stopping you from performing in new places. Maybe you can’t seem to break out of your local music scene, you want to move from regional to national tours, or maybe you’re a US artist unsure of how to make the jump to performing in Canada. Depending on your career level, your resources will differ. Musicians further along may have an agent or a tour manager to help them out. Either way, the formula is the same.

Check out this article written by Jamie Ford from Music GatewayThis is just an excerpt, but you can read the full article over on Cyber PR.

Research

Do your research: look up different cities, the popular small venues and the promoters within. Once you have this information, there is knowledge of who to contact to get a gig. It is likely that if you are from another city that you won’t be offered the best slot of the night… Be patient with this, the promoter may not have heard of you, and may be sceptical about ticket sales so they’re giving you a fair chance, and hey… if you’re good, you’ll probably be invited back with a better slot. Promoters aren’t only useful for gaining a slot at one of their venues, but they also have a good contact list of the city of which they work. If you’re impressive, there’s no doubt that the promoter will spread the word and help you branch out around the area.

Make the most of the trip

When travelling to another city to play a show, make the most of the trip and get yourself heard more than once! Perhaps arrange another show (depending on promoter terms) but there are other avenues to go down other than booking a show at another venue… Play an acoustic set in a record store, busk in the city centre with some CD’s ready to hand out, be imaginative! It may also be useful to think about taking along some merchandise, such as CD’s, badges/stickers and t-shirts etc. This will look professional and make people in the city remember you whilst also making some money!

There are other ways to get your voice heard in the city you’re heading to, again linking back to Research, find all the local radio stations and contact about a possible interview or play of your song whilst you’re in the city. This is great promotion for your act, people become aware of whom you are and may even come down to your show, pleasing the promoter too! The harder you work and the more promotion made, the more the city will want you back after your show. Engage with the audience and make them excited about your music!

Where do you really want to play? What’s stopping you from playing there? 

Top 10 strategies for indie musicians

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. (You can find part 1 right here.)

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!


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