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Live Webinars this week on Content Marketing!

Content Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

This week we are holding live training on content marketing and how to build and connect with an audience around your creative work.

If you want recognition for your work, or to attract industry partners or create income from your creative passions and pursuits, then this LIVE Master Class is for you.

We’re going to break down the steps and show you how to BUILD and CONNECT with an audience around your creative work.

So you can boost your CONFIDENCE and really amp up your promotions and get your music the attention it deserves.

Join us in a LIVE MASTER CLASS and build your confidence and understanding of how content marketing works.

>> Sign up here – We go LIVE Friday and Sunday

MASTER CLASS: >> Content Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

  • What is content marketing?
  • How to get your content marketing engine setup
  • How to build and connect with an audience around your creative work
  • How CreateBiz can help you reach your goals

>> Sign up here – We go LIVE Friday and Sunday

OR Sign up for the live event or get the recording and watch the replay, all for free.

PLUS we’ll be taking your questions and walking you step-by-step through our system of content marketing for creative entrepreneurs.

We will be giving away a free online CREATEBIZ course to one lucky person during each live event. Will it be you?

>> Sign up here

LEARN MORE ABOUT CREATEBIZ HERE: CreateBiz.com

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5 Easy Hacks to Make Your Cover Songs Stand Out – WEBINAR Wednesday 12 noon EST

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 on Wednesday June 21st at 12PM EST.

Sign up for free here, or sign up to get the replay if you can’t make it live.

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.

We’ll take a look at the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s version of Higher Ground and explore the many ways these concepts are used in the tune and how you can manipulate the rhythm to adapt the song to your style.

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.

We’ll explore this using Get Lucky by Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers.

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. Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues is a timeless classic that illustrates this extremely 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.

We’ll check out what’s going on in Message in a Bottle by the Police to show you how you can use them simply and effectively to keep a song interesting and new no matter how many times you or the listener has heard it.

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 on Wednesday, June 21st at 12PM EST. Click here to sign up for free.

If you can’t make it live, you can sign up here to get the recorded replay.

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.

Details:

Date: Wednesday, June 21st
Time: 12:00pm EST

SIGN UP HERE FOR FREE

Music Theory Tricks Used in Hit Songs

Music Theory tricks used in hit songs

Try out these music theory tricks

Songwriting is often simultaneously one of the most magical and frustrating parts of being a musician. Sometimes, the best songs seem to appear in our heads without prompting and demand to be written down before they disappear, while other times great songs take forever to finish and are nothing but hard work.

Musically speaking, there is another way to write great songs: You can learn the theory behind them that helps make them work. Here are a few common music theory tricks that are frequently used in hit songs.

Magical Chord Combinations

One of the most frustrating challenges when writing songs can be finding the right chords to play. So here’s music theory trick number one: Understanding harmonic function. This is extremely helpful to know because it tells you how chords are related and which chords sound “best” together.

For instance, if you are building a chord progression in C major, knowing chord function tells you that the following chords can be mixed and matched together in whatever order: C, D-, E-, F, G, A- and (sometimes) B diminished. You can know this because the key of C major provides seven notes to build chords on. If you know how to build chords, you can then combine the seven chords in C major however you like.

I can go further and categorize these chords into three basic groups based on how they function in my ear: tonic, dominant and predominant. Tonic is typically the most relaxed, dominant is usually tense, and predominant chords are somewhere in between. This helps me choose chords for my song based on how much tension I want to hear.


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


Harmonic Sequences

One of the most effective music theory tricks you can use to develop strong chord progressions is to create a harmonic sequence. All that means is that you play a set of chords (usually inside a particular key) whose root notes (the notes the chords are built on) follow a particular interval pattern.

For instance, a common harmonic sequence uses the interval of a fourth. if I wanted to create this chord sequence in C major, I might start with a C major chord and follow it with chords that are each a fourth above C (F, B diminished, E-, A-, D-, G, C). Doing this creates a strong expectation in the listener’s ear that can make your chord progressions feel exceptionally strong. Pachelbel’s Canon is a well-known example of this.

Read more here http://hitmusictheory.com

Why You Should Learn Music Theory as an Adult

learn music theory as an adult

Music theory is wonderful, exciting, and enormously useful. But for many musicians who received any kind of music theory education growing up, the experience is usually exactly the opposite. Music theory classes can feel one step removed from strict math classes where the concepts never really seem to apply to “real life.” 

But have no fear – just because you had a bad music theory education (or no formal music education at all) in the past doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a fantastic one now. In fact, if you learn music theory as an adult with the music chops you already have, it means that you’ll be able to actually apply everything immediately. 

There is a beautiful world of music theory you can discover and use. Here are a few music theory secrets from that world.

Theory Is Just a Naming Convention

First, when it comes right down to it, music theory is just a way to name sounds. It isn’t derived from a set of archaic principles. Instead, it is just a way to name and talk about how (in general) humans hear sound. There are no rules – there are only sounds with names to be explored and reveled in. 

For instance, a key is just a pool of notes that sound “pleasing” and are useful for making musical ideas from. A chord is just three or more notes stacked on top of each other. A motif is just a short musical idea – exactly the same as a phrase you might say in any other language. 


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


You Don’t Ever Need Perfect Pitch

Second, you do not need perfect pitch to understand, explain, or play any music you hear. You just need a decent understanding of theory. For example, theory teaches you to name the function of the chords. This gives you a way to train your ear to hear these functions in any music and quickly figure out the exact names of chords being played. You can do this with any sound – chord or not – in music. Developing this skill can give you a huge leg up in all musical situations.

Theory Can Break You Out of Creative Ruts

One of the most common reasons many of us get stuck in creative ruts is that we keep running over the same musical ideas without reflecting on what they are, how to talk about them, or how to use them. Music theory provides a way to name what we are doing and intentionally to reframe and create new musical ideas. 

For instance, if you learn that you are always using major chords, you can shift your focus and throw in a few minor chords instead. If you always play rhythms made out of eighth notes, you can learn about and use triplets. Once you learn music theory and start using it this way, you will never have to be stuck in another creative musical rut again.

Final Thoughts

There are so many more ways that theory can enable and empower your creative work – and it is all something you can start learning and using today. One of the best ways to start exploring music theory is through an online course. There are tons of options out there, but if you want to learn music theory with modern examples from popular hit songs, check out Hit Music Theory.

 

Read more here http://hitmusictheory.com

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Know Your Craft

Know Your Craft

So here you are again. Sitting with your instrument trying to learn or create another song – but the process is taking forever! Every new song you learn or write feels like starting from square one with a totally blank slate. What can you do? Well as it turns out, theory can be a huge help in this situation.. Here are three reasons theory can help you know your craft.

Name the Sounds You Already Use

Theory is in the final analysis, a naming convention. Beyond all its talk about “rules” and “concepts” is a basic foundation of naming sounds. We name and describe intervals, chords, scales, tonalities, rhythms, motifs, hooks, melodies, textures, dynamics, phrases, and everything else under the musical sun. All of these names and descriptions just help us remember and intentionally use specific sounds.

Since theory is a naming convention, are you naming what you play? Are you aware of the function of the chords you are playing? What about the key or tonality you are in? Can you describe the primary rhythmic components you are using? What motifs is this song built on? What is the form of the piece? The more you can clearly identify and name the sounds you already use, the easier it will be to recognize and play them in new music.

Discover New Sounds That Are Exciting to You

In addition to learning new songs with greater ease, digging into theory will help you discover new sounds that are exciting to you and expand your repertoire. A new sound with its own name is invaluable when you are trying to grow musically. We often get stuck feeling like we can’t come up with new ideas because we don’t have a way to think outside of the old ones. Discovering new sounds with their own names breaks us out of our old musical ideas and can make our creative options explode.

Do you use major chords all the time? Consider learning about minor chords. Do you use 7th chords all the time? Consider learning about chord extensions. Do you use a 16th note subdivision when you create strumming patterns? Try using an 8th note subdivision instead. There are always new sounds to be discovered, named and used. You just have to seek them out and use them.

See Inside Hit Songs and How They Work


Discover the Similarities Between Songs

The more you can name what you are playing, the easier it will become to hear, name and manipulate those sounds in your music. This becomes enormously helpful when you are trying to learn a ton of songs. Consider how many blues tunes use the same three chords! Knowing this makes learning blues tunes much easier. The same is true of any other style of music.

As you internalize and use theory more deeply in your creative work, learning or writing new music will become easier and easier. New songs will begin to sound like music you already know in a rearranged form, and pretty soon your repertoire will grow much more easily and effortlessly each time you sit down to work on it.

Read more here http://hitmusictheory.com

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Break Out of Your Old Music Habits

Break Out of Your Old Music Habits

One of the greatest challenges any musician faces is the plateau. We all know what it is like. You finally start regularly practicing, you make some strong progress with a few things that you always wanted to learn, and then all of a sudden…you stop improving. Every time you sit down to play, nothing new seems to come out. Try as you will, each practice session starts to feel more and more repetitive, mindless – and definitely not useful.

As it turns out, there some great ways to free yourself from this horror. The approaches vary widely, but there are always four basic principles to break out of your old music habits that all of these ways have in common.

Read more here…

http://hitmusictheory.com

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How to Jam and Play with Anybody

How to Play and Jam With Anybody

Trust Your Ear 

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

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

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

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

Read more here…

http://hitmusictheory.com

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Stop Guessing and Learn the Language of Music

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

Stop guessing what the chords might be

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

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

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

Develop your ear and become a better musician

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

Notice what key you are in.

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

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

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

Make it your daily practice to identify everything you hear

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

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

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

Put it on the page

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

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

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

 

Learn music theory at http://hitmusictheory.com

 

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

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

 

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Dave Kusek Podcast

Dave Kusek Podcast

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

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

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

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

or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

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

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

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The Return of Vinyl Records

How Vinyl Records Made Their Comeback.

vinyl records come back

 

Thanks to Liberty Games for this great graphic.

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

How to Produce a Chart-Topping Music Blog

Today, anyone can make a name for themselves online and more people than ever before are starting music blogs. Music blogs can focus on just about anything, from live music, to a certain genre, to gear and bloggers are becoming an important part of the growth of an artist’s career. On top of that, many musicians have their own blogs so fans can go behind the scenes in the life of a touring or recording artist.

If you’re thinking about starting your own music blog, there a few things you need to think about and get lined up. This infographic from WhoIsHostingThis.com really breaks it all down in a way that’s easy to understand. This infographic was originally posted here. Check it out:

How to Start an MP3 Blog1

 

 

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

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

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

Let’s get to it.

studio guy

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

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

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

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

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Creating Amazing Fan Experiences

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

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

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

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

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

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

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

 

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

Google’s Big Picture of Music

Google’s Research Group has put together this “Big Picture” interactive exploration of musical genres over time. With this tool you can see the rise and fall of genre popularity over time, break down each genre into smaller sub-genres, and even explore the bands, musicians, and albums that make up that musical era.

It is a really fun way to explore musical genre and allows you to actually see how different styles have lead into and adapted into new sounds. It’s interesting to see how jazz and blues lead to the rise of rock and roll, which then brought about other genres like metal and punk.

In the New Artist Model courses, we really emphasize the importance of finding your unique place in the music industry, and this interactive tools will definitely help give you some perspective where genre is concerned.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.22.14 PMOnce you’ve checked out the over-arching landscape of music, you can drill down into a particular genre to see the various sub-genres. It’s interesting to see when they became popular in comparison to the main genre. Drill into Hip-Hop/Rap and you will see its rise and component, east coast, west coast, etc.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.22.45 PMOn top of that, you can go even deeper within a genre to get down to specific artists and how they relate to others in their genre. Once you get down to this level you really get a sense of how each musician’s creativity affects the progression of the genre, and ultimately the big picture we saw at the beginning. Music isn’t just strictly “rock” or “hip-hop.” It’s an ever-evolving, ever-adapting liquid fueled by every single musician’s creativity. Everything you do as an artist is having an impact on this big picture.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.23.06 PMSee what is happening right now in musical trends and developing genres. Where do you think these newer genres will be in a few years?

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 11.27.43 PM

 

The Music Timeline uses aggregated data from Google Play Music to show the changes in music genres over the decades. This visualization shows which albums from past eras are still in our music libraries today. Dig deeper into the chart to highlight key artists in each genre and read their stories, and navigate to Google Play to hear their music.  You can even search for a particular artist to see the trajectory of their career, their releases and their popularity. Happy exploring.

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The Changing Face of Music

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

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


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

30 Years of Music Format Changes

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5 Finance Tips for Indie Musicians

100984911_edit-2

There are many articles out there telling indie musicians about all the cool ways they can make money in today’s music industry. However, all that money that you could potentially make probably won’t equate to very much if you don’t have an understanding of personal finance and budgeting. Without a sense of finance you could see your hard-earned cash going down the drain as a result of impulse buys, unstructured saving, and over-spending for your projects and tours.

If you’re far enough along in your career, your manager or accountant may take care of budgeting and finance, but, especially in today’s industry, most musicians starting out may only have a friend or classmate acting as their manager. With all the stuff you need to get done, something as mind numbing as finance tends to get pushed under the rug in favor of more glamorous activities like recording, writing, and talking with fans on social media. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not glamorous to throw money away. And that’s exactly what you could be doing with poor budgeting and finance.

So how can you get a better handle on your finances and get the most money out of your music? It’s actually a lot easier than you would think – no boring accounting lecture necessary!  With just 5 quick fixes, you can be more organized and make more money.

 

1. You are a business – Act like one.

The indie musicians who are truly successful think of themselves as a business. Especially when most musicians get paid in cash, it’s really easy to just pocket the money or split it up with your band mates on the spot after a gig. This method is fine if you’re a hobby musician, but if you want this to become your career, you’ll want to get more organized.

Have a secure place to put the cash you get from live performances to ensure the money stays safe and accounted for. No one wants to be in the position of telling their band that they lost the money. Envelopes and small lock boxes are great options depending on how secure you want to be. The key is to make sure that everyone in the band knows where to put the money.

Next you’ll want to set up a separate bank account for your music income and deposit any money you get from your music in there. This will allow you to resist spending all your music income before dealing with the band’s expenses. Have a set time to pay your band members or yourself. This could be once a week, every other week, or once a month. It’s important to remember that you are all part of the business and should be paid in an organized fashion.

 

2. SAVE!

We all want a big pay check, but saving is really important too. You need to pay for the band’s expenses, and pay your band members, but remember to leave something in the bank. Even better, take a little bit off the top and save it. If you’re just starting out and not making very much it can be a very small percentage. The key is to just get in the habit of saving something.

This will be really beneficial when you are looking to record a new song or album or go on tour. Instead of having to ask band members to fork over money for the recording studio costs, you’ll be able to pull some dough out of your business bank account.  The important thing is to start saving.

 

3. Spreadsheets are your best friend.

A lot of musicians (actually a lot of people in general) hate spreadsheets and avoid them at all costs. But keeping track of your income and expenses is one of the smarter things you can do for your music career. As an indie musician, you have an extremely irregular income stream. Meaning you don’t bring a set amount each month. Your income is entirely dependant on the time of year, how often you gig, when you release an album, and a huge list of other variables. If you keep track of everything on a spreadsheet, your income becomes a lot more predictable.

Set up a spreadsheet to track your income and expenses over a full year. Divide everything up into categories like touring, recording, and publishing (you could even get more specific) and separate everything into months. Have total income for each month and another for the full year. There’s no better feeling than being able to look back at your yearly income from a few years ago and see how much better off you are now.

Aside from that, spreadsheets let you notice other trends in your career. You may find out that your average monthly income is $2,000 but it peaks above this in the summer months when you tend to gig more often. With these kinds of insights you’ll be able to avoid over-spending on the good months to compensate for the slower times.

The important thing is to get organized. You can get a bunch of spreadsheet templates for keeping track of your income and expenses and budgeting projects in the New Artist Model online courses.

 

4. Bootstrap.

Don’t wait for someone to come along and lay a big advance on you. Start making and distributing your music now with what you have. Just like entrepreneurs starting a business, musicians need to learn how to make money, even it it is just a little bit every month.  This is one of the good musician habits to get into.

This really goes along with the Lean Startup philosophy. Make your music as good as you can with the resources you have available, release it, get out and gig, make some money, and use the money you gained to create your next recording. It’s a slow process, but in the end it’s better than waiting for some advance that may never come or putting yourself into debt by taking out a big loan to record a full album. The important thing is to start your business by generating some income.

 

5. Budget.

When you’re looking to go into the studio to record some new tracks or hit the road for some gigs, take time to budget of all your expenses beforehand. Make a spreadsheet for each project that splits everything up into categories. For example, an album budget could include rehearsal studio and recording studio costs, equipment purchase or rentals, session musician fees, producer and engineer fees, album artwork and/or photography, and digital distribution costs.

By laying all these costs out before you even go into the studio, you’ll have a better idea of just how much money you’ll need. If you’re figuring out the expenses as you go, you’ll always end up spending a lot more than if you plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to go over budget you can choose to cut out that track that would require you to buy or rent a banjo, you could even record some tracks at home on your computer to cut down the amount of days you have to be in the studio.  The important thing is to plan ahead and develop a strategy for success.

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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. 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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Your Marketing Questions Answered

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In this tough music business it can sometimes feel overwhelming. You need to learn how to do so many things on your own and still have time for practicing, writing, recording, and performing your music. Luckily, there are a ton of really smart business people out there sharing their knowledge on the internet.

In this article Ariel Hyatt from Cyber PR answers some pretty big questions that a lot of musicians trying to make it in this industry are asking. This is just a few of the questions she answered. To see all 14, jump over to Cyber PR.

What makes for a good pitch?

Something that’s extremely descriptive and catchy; descriptive doesn’t mean you have to sound like somebody else, though that’s a very helpful context. Catchy could be anything from fun, like hillbilly-flamenco, or poly-ethnic Cajun-slam-grass, or it could be really descriptive like Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit. Those are three of my favourite pitches, they’re in my book because they are really good. If I was in an elevator with Devil Doll and I asked her “what kind of music do you make,” and she answered “it’s Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit,” that’s dead on. She’s a rocker who’s got a really sexy, curvy look. A pitch like that, a short concise piece, is crucial.

Bands are normally terrified, they don’t want to say they sound like anybody, they don’t want to pigeonhole themselves. It really is a disservice to try to invent a new genre of music to explain what you are. It may feel creative, but people don’t understand it.

In today’s music business, how do you think a band can best get through or above the noise?

That’s a tough question. There is so much noise. What I preach, and what I think is really effective is engagement. Engaging people online starts with understanding your audience. People want to feel connected. If you’re just speaking at people and you’re not speaking with people, they’ll go elsewhere for that connection.

So, to rise above the noise… first of all, of course, this is all predicated on having really good music, so don’t suck. Work on your music, don’t just put anything out there. I see that all too often – people think just because they have a home studio, they have a right. Just because it’s easy to post on social media sites, that doesn’t mean you should. Be thoughtful, that’s the first step in rising above the noise. Just because I have a digital camera doesn’t mean I should take 3000 pictures and post them on Flickr. If I take 3000 pictures and I edited them down to 5 that were really stunning, and people saw them and appreciated them, that’s a good start. So, have great music – that’s the cornerstone.

Then the next piece is make connections. How do you do that? That’s really based on understanding your audience and that’s critical. There are million articles and books about how to do that but I also think you can get out there and play live. Connect with people and never squander an opportunity. Every day is an opportunity to connect with people, and that means if you’re playing a live show, get your butt behind your merchandise table and sign. I don’t care if you sign free postcards, or give away stickers – talk with people, connect with them. The most successful artists I know today who are making money and I’m not talking about Mick Jagger, but independent artists that are making it on their own – they take the time to connect personally with their fans.

What are some good ways to get people to sign up for a newsletter?

When people are considering signing up to a newsletter, which most people are not excited to do because we all get too much email, it’s not only about just getting people to sign up, it’s about making sure that when they do sign up, you’re giving them an amazing experience. I think that piece we forget. We’re so busy worrying about “get me names! I want names,” we forget that it was really important to have great content.

First, make sure you’re building a newsletter that has great content, then second make sure it’s going out regularly, consistently, and that it’s trackable (meaning you can pull up statistics on how effective it is). Whenever anyone is thinking of joining a mailing list, they’re thinking “What’s in it for me?” So you have to make sure you’re providing good content for them, make sure that you’re giving away music, make sure you’re doing something that’s interesting. So always think when you’re asking people to sign up, “what can I give?” Be generous. Giving away one track for a newsletter signup is probably not going to get you far. But if you give away three plus a video, then there’s something in that for a potential fan or a loyal fan already.

What’s your number 1 music marketing question? Leave it in the comments below

If you want to get a better handle on your marketing and create a strategy for success, check out the New Artist Model online courses. You can sign up for the full course or just take the marketing module. The courses are enrolling now! You can also check out 5 free lessons from the courses by signing up for our mailing list.

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Make Your Gig Memorable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How can you turn your gig into an experience?

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

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Self Publishing on YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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How to Get Your Break in Music

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

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

There’s no secret formula that will guarantee you a big break in the music industry, but there are things you can be doing right now to increase your chances. This article, written by Ari Herstand of Ari’s Take, originally ran on Digital Music News and has some really great advice for indie musicians trying to build a successful career. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article over on Digital Music News.

Ask any star what his or her ‘big break’ was and most of the time you won’t get a straight answer. It’s not because she is trying to dodge the question or because he is embarrassed about it. It’s because there was no “big break.”

Every successful musician’s career is made up of many little breaks.

The overnight success story was really 10 years in the making. Gigging non stop. Touring empty clubs. Hustling music supervisors. “Showcasing” in front of “big wigs” and “performing” in front of “nobodies.”

But once and awhile one of the music supervisors opens the email, listens to the song and has a spot for it in this week’s episode. Or the headliner of the show you were asked to be the local opener for pokes their head out of the green room just long enough to be wowed and asks you to join the tour.

One tour or one song placement won’t make a career, though.

But how do you get that local opening spot to have that chance? How do you get the music supervisor to open your email? How do you do you get a gig at your local club? How do you meet the videographers to create your viral video? How do you find the producer to create your hit record?

You have to be on people’s radars.

I just ran into someone at a show who I hadn’t seen in months. We got to talking and a few days later she called me and offered me a gig.

She absolutely would have not thought to offer me the gig in a town of thousands of fantastic musicians had we not run into each other a couple nights prior.

It was because I was on her radar.

The majority of the opportunities I’ve gotten have not been because someone thought I was the best for the job. It was because we had just had lunch or she had just read my tweet or we just ran into each other at a show.

Comment below and tell me how you got a big break in your music career. 

There are a ton of other things you can be doing to increase your chances for success. We cover this and more in the New Artist Model online music business school. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

 

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7 Career Tips for Musicians from Dave Kusek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Alternative Revenue Streams for Musicians

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There’s more revenue streams out there for musicians than just album sales.

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. You can get access to free lessons by signing up for our mailing list.

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Crowdfunding the Right Way

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

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

1. It takes a crowd.  

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

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

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

2. Choose the right platform.

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

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

3. Make a budget.

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

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

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

4. Think about your rewards.

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

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

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

5. Continuous content.

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

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

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

Dave Kusek

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

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Create an Emotional Connection With Your Super Fans

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Article by  of CyberPR. Check out the full article here

Newsletter

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

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

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

Video Tour Diary

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

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

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

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

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

Name Your Fans

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons From Macklemore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. It will take time.

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

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

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

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

3. Keep moving forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Create an authentic connection.

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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SXSW Website Demolition Derby

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Here’s another post with information and insights straight from SXSW. This one comes from the Cyber PR Team who participated in the Website Demolition Derby along with David DufresneEmily WhiteBrian Felsen, and Michael Schneider. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article over on the Cyber PR Blog.

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

It’s important to know that not all websites fit under one umbrella. While many of our clients for our respective companies look to us to attain fans for their music or their blog, attaining fans may not be the #1 priority if you are a session player looking for work. The important thing to note about websites is that you must know what resources are most relevant to your particular case. A session player’s LinkedIn profile may be a high priority, whereas a band probably won’t have one at all. One piece of advice is to reference somebody who you compare yourself to, and note what they emphasize on their site.

Speaking of Social Media Links…

 

LESS SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IS MORE

Are you actively posting on all of these social media sites? When was the last time you posted on Google+? Has anyone interacted with your MySpace page lately? The only sites that should be included in this list are the ones that you actively maintain. Otherwise, you are driving fans to sites that are either barren, or dead. Not a good look for you!

 

DRIVE YOUR SALES TO ONE SITE

All artists are selling their music digitally through distributors like CD Baby, TuneCore, The Orchard, etc. We don’t need to see all of the stores which we can buy your music from. We already assume that it’s there. The best way to sell your music is to embed a BandCamp page on your website, or another direct-to-fan platform where you can a) retain traffic on your website, b) get an email address for your mailing list, and c) retain 100% of your sale, while skipping the 30% distribution fee.

What’s your biggest website challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re ready to bring your website to the next level, check out the New Artist Model online course. We go into website design in depth. You can also sign up for 5 free lessons from the course to learn more.

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The Creative Album Release

 

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

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

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

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

NONTRADITIONAL RELEASES

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

ANTICIPATING THE ALBUM

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Social Media Secrets

10 Social Media Secrets

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

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

1. Listen!

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

2. Leverage online and offline.

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

3. Write posts yourself.

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

4. Be conversational.

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

5. Be genuine.

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

6. The 80/20 rule.

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

7. Drive interest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New_Artist_Model_Logo-01

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

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Break out of Your Local Music Scene

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 home town, 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? 

If you’re ready to take the initiative and expand your gigging market, check out the New Artist Model online course. Sign up for the mailing list and get access to 10 free lessons.