Part of my thinking behind the New Artist Model online music business school was that I knew that a music degree or college certificate program was financially out of reach for far too many people looking to develop a healthy future in music for themselves.

A reporter interviewed me a couple weeks back and here is the story from the Boston Globe.

Boston Globe Header

“So there was a need, a very clear need, that folks around the world wanted to acquire a high-quality music education,” said Kusek, a former vice president at the Berklee College of Music.

By the time the Cohasset resident left Berklee in 2012, he knew he wanted to create an alternative to costly music degrees that would embody the new landscape of self-marketing through social media.

Kusek invested his own money in 2014 to launch an online music school, New Artist Model, that serves as a one-stop platform aimed at teaching independent artists to think of themselves as startups, not students. He runs the company from Cohasset and has a staff of three people.

“You no longer get picked by a record company to have a career; you have to create your career yourself, develop your audience, create a business around yourself in order to move forward with your art and your music,” Kusek, said. “I wanted to focus on how can I help people create a business around themselves that would allow them to pursue their dream of being a successful musician, however they define that.”

New Artist Model does not award degrees. Instead, it offers students the option of completing two education tiers, Essential and Master, that teaches artists to be better entrepreneurs, develop a fan base through social media, and ultimately turn those fans into their marketers, Kusek said.

“I think it’s very true today that you don’t need a degree to have a career in music,” he said. “What you need is talent — that’s number one — and the business savvy to be able to pull it off in this environment. . . . If you do have the talent and you understand the business side, you have a chance of creating a meaningful career for yourself.”

In the two years since New Artist Model was launched, enrollment is approaching 1,100 members from 60 countries, with another 1,000 or so expected to enroll this year, he said. The two programs cost $500 and $2,000, respectively, and offer a year’s worth of material, including webinars, live workshops, and downloadable guides that students may consume at their own pace.

The one-time fees also give students lifetime access to teaching content on the site and a forum where they can share ideas with other artists on anything from music licensing to creating merchandise, Kusek said.

“The worst thing you can do as a musician is pay $100,000 for education and then have no money left in the tank to invest in your career,” he said. “It’s not our goal to get you a degree you can hang on your wall; it’s to get you the skills and the connection with people in the business that can help you move forward.”

See the original story here.

Making a good impression at gigs

Guest post by Jonathan Sexton | CEO Bandposters

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

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

1. Don’t Be Late for Your Gigs

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

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

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

3. Master Stage Volume­

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

4. Talk to the Crowd

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

5. But Don’t Talk too Much­

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

6. Don’t Get Wasted­

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

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

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

8. Thank the Venue­

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

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

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

There are a lot of musicians who dream of scoring a sync license. I mean, who wouldn’t want their music on the big screen in front of tons of people? But once you start seriously looking into it, you discover just how much there is to learn, especially if you’re going at it as an independent artist.

If you’re ready to start pursuing sync placements for your music, you want to make sure you understand the copyright behind the sync license first, and that is what this article is all about.

After you master the copyright side of it, you can take the next step towards getting a sync license for your music.

What is a Sync License?

When you write or record music you automatically get copyright protection and are granted exclusive rights. No one else can use that music unless you give them permission. If you do choose to allow someone to use your music, you’re giving them a license.

Why would you want to give someone a license? By allowing someone else to use your music, you’re reaching a new audience that you probably wouldn’t have been able to reach on your own. Simply getting your music in front of new people can be enough to grow your fanbase. On top of that, licensing your music is a great way to make some extra revenue.

A sync license gives someone permission to synchronize your music with some kind of visual medium like TV shows, advertisements, movies, or video games.

It’s important to remember that when you grant someone a sync license, you are not giving your rights to that song away. You are basically renting the rights to them for that specific use. Ultimately, you own the copyright and you can use that song elsewhere or even license it for a different movie or advertisement if you should choose.

Negotiating Your Sync License

To understand how sync licenses are negotiated, we have to go a little deeper. There are actually two different kinds of copyright. The “composition” copyright protects the song, or the melody and lyrics, and is usually owned by the songwriter. The “sound recording” copyright protects the recording of the song, or the master, and is usually owned by the performing artist. As an indie artist, if you write and record your songs, you end up with two different copyrights for each song.

If someone wants to use your song in a movie, they need permission to use both copyrights.

With that in mind, indie artists actually have a distinct advantage in the world of sync licensing. If you own both copyrights – without any label or publisher involvement – sync deals can be pretty straightforward to negotiate. And for that reason, music supervisors will often specifically seek out indie artists.

On the other hand, if there is a songwriter, their publisher, a recording artist and their label, a lot more people are involved in the negotiation. If just one of those parties decide they don’t want to grant the license, the entire license falls through.

On top of that, there is no standard payment for a sync license. The rates are negotiated on a case by case basis and it will depend on the production’s budget, your influence as an artist and negotiator, and how important it is to have that particular song.

Some artists will license their music for free just to get the exposure (but we wouldn’t recommend that), while other artists get tens of thousands of dollars for a single sync license. 


Alright, now that you have a basic understanding of what a sync is all about, it’s time to learn more about actually finding placements for your music in movies, TV, games, and YouTube. And it’s not as difficult as you may think. We’ve broken it down to 4 simple steps for you right here

Since the beginning, the way we consume and experience music has changed time and time again. In fact, a lot of us have seen at least a few major shifts in musical medium in our lifetime.

From vinyl to radio to digital and streaming, one thing we know for sure about music is that the method of consumption won’t stay the same for long.

But I want to take this opportunity to talk about an important issue in the music industry. Shifts in the way music is consumed doesn’t spell doom for the entire industry. Some companies who can’t adapt may suffer, but the underlying need for music will ALWAYS  be there.

If you want to learn how to adapt to the changes in the music industry, you need to learn how to think like an entrepreneur, and I take you through the process of starting to think like a musical entrepreneur in this free ebook. But in the mean time, check out this infographic from YDT on the history of music listening.

History-of-music-listening-infographic

 

New-ArtistModel-Youtube

When we think of YouTube, we think of covers, viral videos, and music videos. But, while a lot of the content on YouTube is primarily entertaining, you can also find and learn almost anything from YouTube videos. There’s a wealth of information for musicians from Pro Tools tutorials, song playthroughs, and gear reviews, to presentations, marketing strategy breakdowns, and interviews.

As musicians today, we live in one of the most incredible music environments. You can literally pick up a new instrument or program, watch a few videos, and be well on your way to becoming proficient. If you want to try out Twitter ads to promote your music you can probably find a video tutorial on YouTube. You can watch interviews with your favorite songwriters to learn some of the secrets behind their incredible songs. And you can watch your favorite band go through their gear and learn how they get their signature sound.

“I don’t know how,” isn’t much of an excuse anymore, and that’s a good thing. I’ve said it before, but as a musician, you should never stop learning, and today, free resources like articles, music blogs, and YouTube are really enabling you to reach your dreams.

A lot of you have found the free lessons that I have been releasing really helpful, so I wanted to let you know that you can get even more free content over on the New Artist Model YouTube channel. Learn quick marketing strategies that you can apply to your music career immediately, learn more about copyright, publishing, or gigging, and get tips from some of the most successful musicians and music industry folks out there.

I’ve posted a lot of the webinars I’ve hosted over the past year or so on the New Artist Model YouTube channel as well including my interviews with Benji Rogers of Pledge Music, Alex Mitchell of Audiokite, Shamal Ranasinghe of Fluence, Kevin Breuner of CD Baby, Jack Conte of Pomplamoose and Patreon, DJ Hapa, and house concert master Shannon Curtis.

indie-musician-promote-your-music

Image via Paul Katcher on Flickr

There are a ton of music strategies out there that will help you grow your fanbase, get more gigs, sell more music, sell more merch, and grow your social media following. I’ve even shared a lot of them on this blog. However, I know a lot of people get frustrated when these music strategies don’t result in the amount of growth and progress as they expect.

The truth is, most of these music strategies just cover the first few steps. Using great hashtags, posting regularly, releasing great content, and following relevant people on Twitter and Instagram will definitely grow your following. But if you’re not converting those followers to email subscribers or driving them to your website you may have a hard time making more money.

Adding a clickable cover photo to your Facebook page that links to your email collection page will certainly grow your email list. But it’s only the first step. An email list is just a number unless you follow through, send relevant emails, and drive those subscribers to take action and purchase your music, merch, or tickets.

In the same way, collaborating with other musicians and bands to get gigs in new venues and cities will certainly get you in front of a new audience, but if you don’t find some way to connect with those people online via email or social media, they may never hear from you again.

Releasing awesome YouTube covers and drawing in a huge audience from organic search is great. But even if your video goes viral and gets millions and millions of views, it’s not worth much unless you use the video to funnel those viewers to connect with you on social media, via email, or buy your music. After all, they could just click off and never find you or your music again.

As you can see, it’s all connected. Your live performances, your social media growth, your email list, your music sales – it all funnels into and loops back to one another.

I want you to start thinking of all the different aspects in your music career as a seamless flow rather than a bunch of unconnected music strategies.

Avoid thinking, “If I get more followers on social media I’ll be successful,” or “If I work on writing better emails I’ll be successful.”

If you want to be successful, you need to think about the flow between all these different strategies. “How can I get more gigs,” funnels into “how can I grow my following on social media,” which funnels into “how can I drive more traffic to my website,” which funnels into “how can I grow my email list,” which funnels into “what can I send my email list to drive sales,” which funnels into “what products can I offer my fans.”

It’s not a strategy, it’s a process. I recently created a social media guide that covers this same concept, but focuses on promoting your music in the online world. In the guide, we go through the flow from fanbase growth to making sales. If you’re interested, I’m giving this How to Promote Your Music guide away for free. You can download it here.

PromoteGuideSocial

Our good friend Bobby Owsinski has a lot of great training resources for aspiring musicians and producers. Check them out here:

101 Mixing Tricks

His Blogs

YouTube Channel

His Site

Bobby on Forbes

 

 

There’s an interesting divide among musicians. For some, music is just a hobby, and that’s fine. But others need more. Everyone starts as a hobby musician, but eventually some want to take the next step. Unfortunately, moving from a hobby musician to a career musician is no easy task.

You might be surprised to hear this, but what really separates the professionals from all the other musicians isn’t their skills. It’s not their mastery of guitar picking techniques, the number of songs they’ve written, or even their ability to play a killer show. It’s how they think about their music career that really sets them apart. It’s a shift in mindset.

Anyone can practice for hours and hours on end and get their chops really tight, but no matter how good you are, if you’re just playing or writing in your room or rehearsing in your garage, no one will ever know about you. If you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure of how to make music your career, try out these 5 tips:

1. A professional musician finds their own path
A big motivator for a lot of musicians just starting their career is the hugely famous artists playing in huge venues for crowds of thousands of people. Naturally, we all want to be like them. However, the common approach is to try to do exactly what they did – follow their steps to the tee – to get to the big league.

But in reality, this is probably the worst approach. Professional musicians know that they forge their own path every step of the way. Every artist’s career is SO unique and there’s really no single path to success. If you have your blinders up and are completely focused on one thing, you’re probably going to miss other opportunities that are right in front of you.

2. A professional musician makes a plan
Although a lot of the stories make it seem this way, all your favorite musicians and bands didn’t just wake up one day in front of a crowd of thousands of people. They spent years and years practicing, rehearsing, and above all, making a plan for themselves.

Set yourself goals to accomplish in one year, six months, one month, and this week. Having something clear and tangible you’re working towards will help you focus your efforts. You’ll have an easier time knowing which opportunities you should really push for, because you’ll know where you ultimately want to be in the end.

3. A professional musician understands that collaboration is key
In some ways, musicians are competing against each other – competing for gigs and the attention of an audience – but the professional artists always make it a point to teach, learn, collaborate, and give out opportunities when they can.

If you’re just focused on you and what you want to accomplish, you’re going to miss out on a ton of opportunities that could come to you in the form of your connections with other musicians. Even if you’re just starting out, everyone has something to offer. You could bring some of your fans to a collaborative show, you could send out a tweet or two about how awesome another band is. If you always try to contribute to a relationship instead of just taking, others will remember you and give back.

4. A professional musician knows that this is a people business
As important as social media is, the music industry is still a people business. You could have thousands of followers on Twitter, but that doesn’t always convert into real gigs or real album sales. For the most part, venue owners, booking agents, managers, and other artists work with people they know, so you need to make it a point to know as many people as possible.

Now, this might seem like a big barrier, especially if you’re just starting out. After all, you probably don’t know the guy in charge of local bookings, or the indie publisher that works with your favorite indie artists, or the producer in the local studio. But everyone has a network of connections that you can start building off of, and each new connection, no matter how insignificant it may seem in the grand scheme of things, exponentially increases the size of your network. Remember this: there is no such thing as a bad connection in music.

5. A professional musician never stops learning

Another habit of professional musicians is that they never stop learning. Music is a lifelong journey. You will never get to the point when you can say “Okay, I’m a master musician.” There’s always some new technique that you can learn, something you can improve, something you could be doing better or more efficiently.

Don’t get discouraged by this. It’s one of the things that makes being a musician so exciting. The thrill of waking up and knowing that there’s more to explore in music is the drive that keeps all of us going – it’s one of the beauties of creativity.

Not only should you be striving to improve your playing and your writing, you should also be working towards a better understanding of the music business and a closer relationship with your fans. In the New Artist Model online music business school you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – one where you are the CEO. You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

If you’d like more strategies like these, you can download this ebook for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

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/

Inside Abbey Road

If you like the Beatles you have to check this out. If you are into recording or music production you have to check this out. If you love music you have to check this out. Am I making myself clear?

http://g.co/insideabbeyroad

Extremely well done multimedia tour of the infamous studios. Google produced it and it is awesome. Virtual tour, tons of videos, interactive exercises including re-mixing and bouncing track on a 4-track. A fitting tribute to one of the most famous recording studios on the planet.

WARNING – massive time suck!  Enjoy!

http://g.co/insideabbeyroad

DUH! This just in…

frequency and repetition

Researchers find most popular chart songs repeat same words over and over again. They claim the secret to a smash hit single is the frequency and repetition of the lyrics and found songs that repeat phrases are more likely to be smash hits and successes. Hit singles at the top of the charts repeat their lyrics more.

The study reports that songs which repeated entire phrases and individual words more often were likely to be commercially successful.

The study from USC Prof Nunes concludes that the secret to the hit single might help marketers and advertisers.

‘We believe these results have important implications for consumer research involving information goods and diffusion as they suggest fluency helps accelerate adoption. It would be reasonable to expect repetitive messages to spread faster, as they would be expected to be easier to process and therefore more fluent. These results may also have strategic implications for marketers, especially when it comes to advertising text and product jingles.”

This should be no surprise to the hit makers and the king makers of the record industry, but is something that every artist needs to understand. The whole business is built on frequency and repetition. As David Geffen famously said in 2012 when asked by Billboard about the opportunities and challenges of entering the music business again he deadpanned: “I’d kill myself.”  It’s no easier to break in as an artist now, he notes, attributing the difficulties to the absence of Top 40 radio and an outlet like MTV to air music videos on a loop. “You need repetition,” he said of what he describes as a crucial element of discovery. “You need to be able to hear things a lot.”

Frequency it seems, is important on every level of the music business.

Read More Here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3054823/Broken-record-hit-single-Research-finds-popular-chart-songs-repeat-words-again.html

And here: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/tv-film/1084534/david-geffen-id-kill-myself-rather-than-get-into-music-business

“How do I reach new audiences and grow my fanbase?” is a question I get all the time.

It’s easy to stay in contact with your current fans – there are amazing tools to sell your new music, create engaging fan experiences, and send direct and targeted promotions. The problem was always reaching new fans, but now I’m going to let you in on a little secret and show you exactly how it’s done.

On Thursday, January 29 at 1PM EST, I’ll be hosting a free live webinar with Shamal Ranasinghe, founder of Fluence.

Join the Webinar2

Fluence is a platform that allows musicians to contact music industry influencers and curators directly and get valuable feedback to improve their craft. These direct connections are way more than just self-improvement – they could end up as serious exposure or opportunities for you and your music.

The key to growing your fanbase is taking an active approach and getting your music to music influencers and curators who have an established and dedicated audience. An influencer can be a music blogger, a radio broadcaster, a journalist, a successful producer or musician, or a music supervisor, publisher, label or industry person. These people have developed a group of dedicated followers – be it on Facebook, Twitter, or their blog – who listen to their ideas and value their opinions. If an influencer recommends your music, the followers are much more likely to take note than if they had seen you pop up on Spotify or Google.

The music business is a really personal industry, and often your opportunities will come from the connections you make. On top of that, opportunities like getting your music played on the radio or featured in a show or movie can put you in front of a new audience of potential fans. Although Fluence influencers are not paid to share your music with their following, if they like your sound enough they likely end up doing so. In the webinar, we’ll be looking at a few Fluence artists who got their music in front of a HUGE audience after sending their music to an influencer on Fluence.

If you’re ready to grow your fanbase in 2015, join Shamal and I in the webinar Thursday, January 29 at 1PM EST. If you can’t make the webinar live, you can still sign up to watch the replay.

 

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

For the most part commentary on the music industry tends to be a lot of doom and gloom. We compare where we are now to business models of the past and we’re constantly looking for a saving model or holy grail for the new music industry. I believe we’re already there. Each and every independent band that is out there succeeding is the model for the future. And trust me, there are plenty of artists out there succeeding.

There’s been a lot of talk about the collapse of Nashville’s musical middle class, but I just don’t see it. A lot of New Artist Model students are based in Nashville and they are doing great. I want to thank Sara Zebley for bringing this article by Josh Collum to my attention. He really hits the nail on the head. This is how we need to be thinking about the music industry. I’ve reblogged the article here, but I highly recommend you check out Josh Collum’s blog.

Tell me what you think in the comments. Where does the musical middle class stand in your eyes?

Did I Miss the Collapse of Nashville’s Musical Middle Class?

First, some context… recently, there’s been some buzz building in Nashville (and beyond) around a month-long blog series that ran in December 2014 in our hometown newspaper, The Tennessean, and an accompanying documentary produced by the paper that’s set to premiere on January 27th here in town.  The blog series and doc, entitled “Band on The Brink: The New Dylans,” tell the story of a band that’s had varying degrees of success over the last few decades, and has decided to make their first record in 18 years.  But, the band isn’t really what the newspaper’s project is about.  The opening sentence clarifies what The New Dylans truly represent…

“There are countless similar bands in Nashville.”

And really, the band is just the vehicle for the true headline… 

“This is a story about the shrinking sector of the music industry – the middle class.”

So you see, the message is clear and precise right out of the box.  This isn’t about one band or even one genre (see: references to Jack White and The Black Keys).  This story is normal and common and represents all of us non-Taylor Swifts. 

And so It’s around this message that the conversation has begun to stir.  I think it’s a conversation that’s going to continue to grow as our city and music industry community move towards the release of the documentary and the events that surround the occasion, which include a panel discussion on the topic.  

And that’s why I needed to write this post.  Because the story that The Tennessean tells isn’t the whole story, and it’s important to get it right.  You see, this is not a story about “the collapse of Nashville’s musical middle class,” as the piece broadly frames it.  This is a story about the collapse of Music Row’s musical middle class.  Which is an incredibly important topic, and a topic that needs discussion. Those struggles are real. But Music Row is just one character in the story of Nashville’s musical middle class as a whole. There are thousands of artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers that consider themselves part of the musical middle class in our city that will read this blog series and watch this documentary, and have the same reaction I did… “That’s not my story.”  The project, simply, and quite amazingly, acts as if they don’t exist.  The result, whether intentional or not, is an incredibly misleading and hyperbolically depressing piece.

“Hyperbolically depressing” Exhibit A: It’s argued in the piece that the musical middle class has not only declined, but it actually doesn’t even exist anymore.  Huh?  On Music Row, I see some truth in that.  And if that’s how it was framed, all good.  I’m listening.  But that’s not how it was framed.  The intentional implication is that there has been an extinction of the musical middle class as a whole.  Remarkable, right?

I would argue the exact opposite.  I would argue there has never been more opportunity to make middle class levels of money, and there’s never been a lower barrier of entry into that middle class.  Ever.  Yes, the money is more spread out.  And yes, you have to think differently to get it.  Like an entrepreneur, even.  But it’s there.  It’s just moved.  The middle classers that are talented enough, forward thinking enough, and brave enough to adapt, are finding it.  Especially, in Nashville.

Just ask Holley Maher, an unsigned, completely independent singer/songwriter who grossed over a quarter of a million dollars last year in synch licensing.  She’s buying a house this year.

Or, Belmont senior, and electro pop artist in her spare time, EZA, who’s already making thousands of dollars in streaming revenue from one of her songs on Spotify.  I don’t know about you, but when I was in college and trying to start my musical career, I had to work at Papa John’s.

Speaking of Spotify, what about veteran Nashville singer/songwriter Perrin Lamb, who had two songs featured on popular playlists last year. His streaming revenues added up to over $30,000.  He’s been at it for a decade, and 2014 was the best year he’s ever had financially in Nashville.  And most of that money was made while he slept.

Trent Dabbs didn’t wait for a publisher to deem him worthy to sign.  He and his wife created their own, well branded, well executed publishing company (and label) and he signed himself.  He bet on himself, did the work, and got into some pretty great writing rooms.  Last year, he co-wrote one of the biggest songs of the year, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys.”

Jessica Frech has built a tribe of over 80,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel, collecting over 18 million video views.  She makes money on every single view, and she’s built an engaged fan base that buys her music, merch, and tickets to her shows.

My band, Secrets in Stereo, hasn’t made a record in 4 years.  But this year alone, the band brought in over $80,000 in revenue just from our songs being used in other people’s Youtube videos.

Or, how about Phil Madeira’s Mercyland projects.  Talk about evolving and adapting to the new music business.  He didn’t wait to win the songwriter lottery and find a slot on some artist’s record.  He built his own slot machine.  And used Kickstarter, to boot.

Or what about the hundred or so Nashville artists that each make thousands of dollars a month through licensing their songs to indie documentary film makers and wedding videographers through Music Bed?  The company had their first Nashville mixer last year, and they had to change venues at the last minute to accommodate the over 250 artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers that filled the room.  The folks at Music Bed told me Nashville artists make up 60% of their total revenue.  I promise you, they see a Nashville musical middle class that’s alive and well.  They’ve built a business on its shoulders.

Why aren’t these Nashville middle classers included in the Tennessean piece?  Shouldn’t we be highlighting, and hopefully learning from, success stories?  And these are just the ones that came off the top of my head.  There are plenty more stories out there in our city limits like these.  They’re actually incredibly easy to find.

The reality is we’re in the most interesting, evolving, challenging, difficult, and historic time in our industry’s history.  Hands down.  Undeniable.  And yes, as The Tennessean piece highlights, we’ve got some fights to wage as we evolve into the digital age.  I’m not denying that.  What I am denying is the notion that the sky is falling.  For some reason that I can’t figure out, that’s the story The Tennessean decided to tell.  It’s disappointing, discouraging to prospective artists, music biz professionals, and investors, horribly un-helpful to those of us trying to tell the complete story of Nashville beyond its city limits, and most of all, simply false.  The truth is, making a living in the music business has always been “a gritty chore” and hardly unique to 2014.  The New Dylans were broke in 1996 too!  

So, I have two hopes as the conversation builds around The Tennessean project.  One, is that we tell the true story of Nashville’s musical middle class, acknowledging the artists, songwriters, producers, and musicians that are currently thriving, as much as we eagerly spotlight the ones that are struggling.  And two, we elevate the conversation beyond the bitter old music business vs. the naive new music business.  That’s tired, played out, and frankly, embarrassing at this point.  There’s only one music business now.  And it’s different than the one you grew up in, whether you’re 75 or 25.  So, let’s have an educated conversation about who’s having success now and how they are doing it.  That’s the real headline.

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

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

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

Watch this video to see how it is done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to it.

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

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

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

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

 

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

Do have a base of loyal fans for your music? Building a community of fans and super fans is the #1 thing you can do to enhance your music career. This is critical to your success. Let me show you how.

In this new Mini Series I address the biggest problems that independent artists, songwriters, DJs and producers face and walk you through practical solutions that you can start applying to your music career TODAY.

The first video starts with Fan Engagement. I’m going to show you how to create communities of Fans and Super Fans that will support you for years.

Watch this video to see how it is done

I have been helping hundreds of musicians discover what has been holding them back from success. Don’t get trapped by your own frustrations, I can help you break through.

In this video I introduce you to two of my star New Artist Model Members Hayley and Sara from the Steel Blossoms, who are using these techniques to build a community of Super Fans with social media. I also show you how to build a killer online presence for yourself.

Inside this Mini Series I reveal the proven strategies I have been teaching my members and clients.

Discover:

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

This is the best time in history to be a creative person, and I promise to do everything I can to help you eliminate any obstacles that are in the way of you achieving your dreams.

Now it is up to you to join me in this first video.

P.S. PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them. Everyone deserves a chance at success and they will thank you for sharing!

The health of the “music industry” has been in question since the rise of the internet and digital communication technologies, and finding a happy medium between all the parties involved has not been an easy task. Countless companies and artists have risen up with unique business models, but for the vast majority of musicians, their income from recorded music has diminished dramatically.

I have argued as have many others, including my friend Fred Goldring, that we need a plan for reform to create a healthy music industry in which all parties benefit. That means artists, songwriters, intermediaries and the tech companies that have seeming taken over the hen house. Reform in how the digital money gets split up, reform in how inexpensive these digital services can be for consumers and reform in our antiquated copyright law.

The debate continues and this piece below is well worth a careful read. I agree with most of what Fred proposes (not sure the album is dead yet.) Enjoy…

This article below is written by music industry veteran Fred Goldring of Music Aficionado. Fred is a media/tech entrepreneur, entertainment lawyer with Counsel LLP, an Emmy-winning Executive Producer and a Member of The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities appointed by President Barack Obama.  This post “Let’s Be Pigs Not Hogs: How to Thrive in the Age of Digital Music” originally ran on Hypebot:

In 2003 and 2005 after a wave of R.I.A.A. lawsuits, I wrote editorials in Billboard advocating an “eight-step recovery program” for a healthier music industry. Among other things, I proposed the “support [of] initiatives that will allow unlimited access to every piece of music in the MP3 format whenever and wherever someone wants it, with no conditions or restrictions in an easy-to-use interface [as] people will pay for this”.

As one of the first people in our industry to embrace the changes that became the digital music revolution, and in light of the public debate over streaming brought on by Taylor Swift’s decision to remove her catalog from Spotify, I thought it would be interesting to look back on my recommendations eleven years later to see how we’ve done – and offer some new suggestions about where we might go from here.

Let’s start with the obvious: streaming is our future. It will only grow and become more ubiquitous. The advent of on-demand streaming is making it clear to everyone that you don’t have to own something that you can get anywhere at anytime on demand on any device (how many of you have visited your CD collection lately?) How we deal with the financial ramifications of that adoption will determine the future health of our industry. In particular, we need to create a system in which all of the major stakeholders in the music business—artists, record labels, publishers, performing rights organizations, digital music services and consumers—are happy and thrive. And therein lies the problem.

Our industry is entangled in a Gordian knot. On the one hand, artists and songwriters complain they don’t make enough money from streaming. So they are demanding a bigger piece of the streaming pie before they will support it. On the other hand, streaming services protest that they already pay out too much of their revenues back to the labels and publishers (currently over 70%) and that if they had to pay out even more, they won’t be able to sustain their businesses long term (note: Spotify recently reported a 12% operating loss for 2013).

Next we have the record labels grumbling that artists have been overpaid by relying on the 50/50 split of “ancillary income” royalty provision in recording contracts for streaming income. The labels’ argue that since streaming is no longer “ancillary”, they should pay artists their regular contractual royalty rate for normal retail channel sales (translation: record companies would keep more of streaming income which they assert they need to sustain their business and continue to invest in developing and marketing artists as well as new required digital infrastructure).

To make matters even more knotty, Apple will soon to be entering the streaming business (along with YouTube which recently launched their Music Key service). This will inevitably result in more downward pressure on pricing for streaming subscriptions. Unlike the Spotify’s and Rdio’s of the world, companies like Apple (and Amazon and Google), don’t rely on streaming to pay their bills. For the tech giants, streaming is simply a consumer acquisition and marketing tool.

Finally, there’s our outdated copyright laws. They have not kept pace with the rapid change brought on by technology. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been in effect since 1998; and it’s pretty clear that, among other things, the Safe Harbor and Anti-Circumvention provisions of that Act need significant updating now that we have 16 years of actual experience to inform the discussion.

So as we approach 2015, here are a few concrete proposals for how we can make this business we all love work for everybody.

1. As my Dad always told me, “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” The 70% royalty paid out by streaming services to IP holders seems too high from the point of view of the payers and too low from the point of the recipients. In every negotiation I’ve ever been a part of, that’s a good sign it’s a fair deal. The streaming services should stop trying to lower that rate and the artists and labels should stop trying to raise it. Everyone seemed OK with that split on iTunes sales. Let’s just all shake hands and get on with making music.

2. The crux of the problem is not how much the streaming services pay to IP holders, but how that pool of money is divvied up and allocated. Currently, it is allocated like a parimutuel betting pool where all subscriptions are pooled and then allocated based on the number of streams listened to for each artist. This seems fair until you realize that it effectively means subscribers who don’t listen to a lot of music per month are subsidizing subscribers who do. For example, if a streaming service had two users, one who listened to 999 streams by Artist X and another user who listened to a single stream by Artist Y, 99.9% of that service’s royalty pool would go to Artist X even though both users paid the same $9.99. It doesn’t have to be this way. Streaming royalties could be accounted for on a “user-centric” basis: i.e., 70% of each subscriber’s revenue would be allocated amongst the artists that subscriber listened to in a given month. This small accounting change would make a substantial difference in the profitability of streaming for indie, up-and-coming and struggling artists: i.e., exactly those artists that we need to nurture if we are going to have a thriving music scene ten years from now.

1. Record labels need to earn their keep. The 70% payout to IP holders largely goes to labels who then pay each of their artists based on the intricacies and convoluted terms of their contracts with each artist. I should know. I negotiated many of those contracts for artists. It doesn’t really matter whether labels call it “ancillary income” or “development” or “digital gobbledygook.” What matters is that unless labels provide real and substantive value to musicians, musicians will take their business elsewhere. Every day there are more and more alternatives to the traditional big 3 labels for musicians to consider. And many of these alternatives are much more exciting and rewarding to deal with for musicians than a label’s lawyers. Labels need to return to their culture of being musicians’ champions and supporters. Or they shouldn’t be surprised if they get disintermediated, and nobody is crying at their funeral.

2. Digital copyright law is a mess. We need to craft and implement a comprehensive overhaul of the sound recording copyright law to include payment of performance royalties for sound recordings on par with musical compositions. And copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings should also become a federally mandated right, not just a state right. We also need to revamp the DMCA to bring it in line with the realties of a 2015 digital world, and make the restrictions, obligations and payments under the Act sensible for all sides.

3. It may be tough for the streaming services to acknowledge, but Taylor Swift was right: windowing works. The music business needs to adopt a windowed/tiered system for new releases similar to that implemented by the movie and television industries. CD’s and downloads should have the initial window, followed by the paid streaming subscription services and then ad-supported free streaming services. Each window should have a different pricing model so that the fans who are willing to pay a bit more can get access to new music they love first.

4. IP holders and streaming services need to agree on a higher per-stream minimum that applies across the board, both to subscription and ad-supported services. This per-stream minimum must be high enough to generate a fair income to IP holders while, at the same time, not being so high it kills off the ad-supported services (after all, this is provably the best channel for upselling consumers to paying for music).

5. The album is dead. Long live the song. Artists would be better served releasing a new recording monthly, weekly or in a batch rather than waiting until they have a complete album. (Remember: albums only became a format originally due to the physical limitations of vinyl). Consumers don’t have the attention span they once did to listen to an entire album. Web and mobile connectivity now allow for novel ways for musicians to connect directly with their fans and engage them in their creative process.

6. Neil Young is right: the quality of MP3 song files sucks. If we want music to thrive, it needs to sound good. The entire industry—streaming services, artists and labels—should support rapid adoption of lossless FLAC as the new audio standard for paid interactive streaming. Most young people have never known anything but compressed MP3 audio. Introducing them to music in all its sonic glory might make them more passionate about music (note the resurgence of vinyl among young music fans). Higher quality audio would also attract older music fans who can finally get the sound quality they grew up with in streaming format – leading to more paid subscriptions and sales of high fidelity hardware.

7. Finally and most importantly, let’s make great music. We are all in a business built on a passion for great music. Music isn’t great simply because it is automatically installed on 500 million phones without the users wanting it. Music is great when it is brilliant and original and makes everyone with ears want to rush out and listen to it. If we stop making great music, it won’t matter how we divvy up the revenues because nobody will be listening.

What will the music industry look like eleven years from now? I’m optimistic – as long as ­all stakeholders accept that compromise will be necessary and inevitable to sustain long-term growth and innovation. More people are listening to a greater and a wider variety of music than ever before. The barriers to entry are dropping, and improved curation approaches and filters are being introduced regularly. We can get to a place where all participants can feel good about zealously supporting the rapid growth of streaming. But this can only be achieved if all parties recognize that “pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered.”

Follow Fred Goldring on Twitter @fredgoldring.

revenue streams with cdbaby

Being an independent artist is challenging. There’s so much to manage from creation and business, distribution and licensing, to your website and social media. However, being an independent musician can also be rewarding – the key is learning how to effectively manage your time and resources to get the most done each day.

Now there are plenty of resources and tools available for independent musicians. The trouble sometimes is finding the right ones to get the most bang for your buck without driving yourself crazy having to learn every new thing. Instead of picking and choosing individual services from a lot of different companies, it can be cheaper and more efficient to find a few that can do everything you need.  Take CD Baby for example.

You may know CD Baby as a music distribution company, but they also have tools and resources that you probably didn’t even know about – tools that could help you save time and make more money! In this article we’ll go through a fraction of CD Baby’s vast toolkit as a preview to an upcoming webinar.

Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing at CD Baby, will be joining Dave Kusek for a live webinar to discuss the tools CD Baby offers independent musicians.

1. YouTube Royalty collection

YouTube has always been a great place to promote your music and attract new fans, but now you can also monetize it by placing ads in your videos and in videos that use your music. In other words, you can get paid when other people use your music in their videos – even if it’s just in the background. To take it to the next level, you can actively seek out covers and placements for your songs by getting in touch with video content creators.

As an individual artist, keeping track of every single use of your music on YouTube would be impossible, but CD Baby can actually fingerprint your music in YouTube’s Content ID system, automatically tracking whenever it is used in a video. When a use is identified an ad is placed on that video and you get a piece of the ad revenue. If you’d like to learn more about this, be sure to join the webinar!

2. Facebook MusicStore

As an independent musician, Facebook is probably a key part of your marketing and promotional efforts. These social media platforms have really broken down the barriers in the music industry allowing artists to succeed without major label support. You can talk directly to your fans, get instant feedback, and even send them exclusive news or special promotions, so it makes sense to be able to sell your music directly on the platform as well.

The CD Baby Facebook MusicStore allows you to sell your music from a tab on your Facebook page. While this should never replace the music store you have on your website, having multiple funnels through which fans can purchase your music is always a good thing. If you want to learn how Kevin uses Facebook MusicStore with his band, Smalltown Poets, sign up for the webinar.

3. CD Baby Free

While you’re not giving a percentage of your earnings to a record label as an indie artist, a big chunk of your income is probably going to the tools and services you need to keep your business running. Especially when you’re just starting out, having a low-cost or free way to get your music to your fans can really help save money.

CD Baby Free allows you to sell your music on your website, Facebook page, and on CD Baby.com for free. There’s no upfront charges or fees, you keep 85% of the money, and you’ll get paid weekly.

4. Collect Publishing Royalties and License for Film + TV

The publishing industry is becoming more and more accessible for independent artists. In fact, many TV and film supervisors actively seek out independent music for sync licensing. On top of that, you earn royalties every time your song is played on the radio, in a venue, and online. However, it’s very easy to miss out on money you’re entitled to if you don’t have everything organized.

CD Baby will affiliate you with a Performing Rights Organization if you’re not already, register your songs with collection agencies in more than 100 countries around the world, collect all publishing royalties, and distribute it back to you. You can also choose to license your music through CD Baby for use in TV, film, games, and apps.

5. Partnerships with PledgeMusic and Fanbridge

On top of the services CD Baby offers in house, they are also partnered with PledgeMusic and Fanbridge to give independent artists access to tools to help grow and engage their fanbase.

Fan funding platforms like PledgeMusic have emerged to give artists the tools to engage with their audience and draw on their fan base to fund albums while also providing deeper engagement. CD Baby artists can get the support and guidance they need to run a successful Pledge campaign.

Email is also a great tool for independent artists, but just blindly sending out messages won’t get you very far. With CD Baby and Fanbridge you can create customizable signup forms for your website, use analytics to improve your emails’ performance, and run targeted campaigns for your superfans.

To learn more about how CD Baby can help you grow your independent music career, join Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing at CD Baby and me Dave Kusek, for a free webinar

As you can see, success as an independent artist is possible. Not only that, it can be extremely lucrative for anyone if you have the right tools and strategies. To help you, Kevin Breuner will be joining Dave Kusek in a FREE webinar. He’ll be sharing some of the best tips he’s learned from his time as a CD Baby employee and artist. We hope you’ll join us and get the strategies you need to start your successful independent music career.

If you are interested in learning more about how you have create a plan for success for your band or career, check out the New Artist Model, the alternative online business school for independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new businesses.  You can see a free video mini series here on musician strategies, team building, booking gigs, copyrights and setting up multiple revenue streams.

 

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

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

This is from Jack’s post:

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

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

Expenses

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

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

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

$5445 – Insurance.

$48,094 – Salaries and per diems.

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

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

Income

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Robyn Lee http://bit.ly/1oq4c66

Photo credit: Robyn Lee http://bit.ly/1oq4c66

Scott Hansen’s rise to music success wasn’t a fairy tale story of the music industry. He was in his 30’s, working in various tech jobs, and quietly honing his music and graphic design skills in his free time for a good 10 years. On top of that, his music isn’t top 40 pop fueled by the supply and demand of the current industry. He creates electronic music with no lyrics and a slowed down tempo and free-form structures.

Creating music under the name Tycho, Hansen’s story shows that indie musicians can make a career in music with enough time, patience, and dedication. It’s no longer about getting discovered by some big label – it’s about taking the time to hone your craft and find your unique voice, putting in the work and understanding that a life in the music industry isn’t non-stop parties. More than ever, being a musician means being an entrepreneur, and your music career is a startup company.

Here’s 6 key takeaways from Tycho’s success. These points are from the article “How to make it in the new music industry: The long slow ascent of electronic star Tycho” by David Holmes. In the article he gives a lot more back story to Hansen’s career and breaks down some of his top revenue streams, so you should definitely check it out.

1. Do as much as you can yourself

Or, delegate tasks to people you trust in your inner circle. Whether it’s recording, artwork, promotion, or lighting, self-sufficiency gives artists more control over their destiny while lowering the number of stakeholders expecting to get paid. Most of all, this “one-stop-shop” mentality puts artists in a strong negotiating position when it comes time to sign a label deal. “You can say, ‘I’m already doing this,’” Hansen says. “‘I’m already building this brand. And I want to have a lot of control over this thing.’ So it’s more of a partnership [with the label].”

By the time the Tycho team joined Ghostly, they may not have had viral success, but they had something just as important: self-sufficiency. Hansen, as accomplished a graphic designer as he is a musician, handled the video production and artwork associated with live shows himself. He’s also a seasoned technician who understands the nuts and bolts of his equipment and is savvy at promoting his work on social media. “Understanding and mastering your tools is a big part of getting anywhere with any kind of creative thing you want to do,” Hansen says. The days of lackadaisical rock stars, sitting around in a haze of smoke and whiskey vapors while a team of roadies tunes and sets up their instruments, is a luxury modern musicians can no longer afford.

2. Give people something of value other than your music

Vinyl collector’s items, posters, and T-shirts that are cool enough to show off regardless of their association with your music not only drive sales — they make fans feel like part of an experience encompassing more than just music. The digital age has brought with it an overabundance of media, stored in the cloud and thus at a distance from our hard drives and CD racks. That’s turned music into more and more of a commodity, and so giving people a way to express their fandom beyond hitting “play” on Spotify is crucial.

Physical products, like Vinyl, t-shirts, and prints, is actually the second biggest revenue generator for Tycho. Hansen has used his passion for graphic design to give his audience something really unique.

3. Make the live show memorable

This has always been true, but the Internet offers so many rich media experiences that can be consumed at home that it’s more important than ever to make the live show a unique event. This can be accomplished through multimedia and visual accoutrements that are interesting enough to stand on their own (like at Tycho shows) and by building a sense of community within your fanbase by talking to listeners on social media or in emails.

4. Understand the business

Or if you don’t, find someone you trust who does. Even record labels with the best intentions have a business to run and are not going to give artists anything unless they demand it. Every case is different, but don’t be so ready to sign away rights to your art just because a label asks for it.

“I didn’t act on the business side of things accordingly,” Hansen says. “I thought of it as a side project — make a few bucks, always have a day job. That came back to bite me. I gave up the masters because I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t even know what publishing was. I didn’t know what masters were. I blindly signed on the dotted line. It was the one of the stupidest things I’ve done in my career.”

5. But don’t get too greedy with fans

It’s okay and even advisable to behave like a cutthroat capitalist with labels, but not with fans. If someone uploads one of your videos to YouTube without permission, it’s usually not in the fan’s nor the artist’s best interest to have it taken down. Out of all of Hansen’s attempts to build momentum on social media, the most effective promotion is carried out by fans’ themselves.

“The big thing that works best is out of our control — YouTube videos, people just posting songs that got a lot of plays.”

6. Finally, be patient

“The arc of how this all came together is 14 years,” Hansen says. “I can look back, and look at all these points and say, ‘That went well and that was a good move,’ but it was just slowly trying things that didn’t work and trying things that did.”

That may not be the most reassuring advice. But like in so many other industries, from media to technology, there’s no longer a clear playbook for success. Making in it music has always been hard, but at least there used to be a career path — learn your instruments, write great songs, tour constantly, and, if you’re a lucky, a label comes knocking with a big advance for recording and the opportunity to get on the radio. Now the work of a musician is closer to that of an entrepreneur. Try something. Fail. Iterate. Get lucky. And of course, be a little nuts.

Jazz Spotlight Podcast

I recently had the honor of being interviewed for The Jazz Spotlight’s Podcast. The podcast is a great resource for indie musicians, so I recommend you check it out.

In the interview we discuss my new book, Hack the Music Business, New Artist Model, and some great strategies for indie musicians including:

  • Today’s music business model
  • Why you should stop thinking exclusively like a musician and start thinking like a musician-entrepreneur
  • The online music business school New Artist Model and what he can do for you
  • Mistakes that are hurting musicians
  • Why you should think in terms of DIWO (Do It With Other) rather than DIY (Do It Yourself)
  • Gigs as an opportunity to create a community, promote and drive sales
  • How having an email list can get you your next gig
  • Marketing tip for musicians

You can also check out the entire podcast series in iTunes.

Taking the leap from a day job to a full time career in music can be scary, after all, you’ve got bills to pay. However, not only is a career in music possible, there’s also a ton of musicians out there already doing it!

Will Dailey is an independent, Boston-based recording and performing artist. He is a three-time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Male Singer-Songwriter and has released albums with Universal, CBS Records, Wheelkick Records, and JS Music Group. His new album, National Throat, was released on August 26, 2014 debuting in the Top 20 on the Billboard New Artist charts, the highest charting position of Will’s career. The album was made in collaboration with fans through a PledgeMusic campaign.

Will Dailey is proof that a full-time music career is possible. Not only that, music can also be a very reliable and sustainable income stream for the dedicated musician. Dailey has used Pledge Music, an online direct-to-fan community that allows artists to connect with their fans through the entire creative process, to build a loyal fan base while simultaneously raising money to fund his projects.

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If you’d like to learn how make music your full time career, check out this free webinar interview with Will Dailey, and Benji Rogers and Jayce Varden of Pledge Music. They discuss how independent musicians can make music full-time and how to create direct-to-fan relationships to help them build their careers. They also talk about fan patronage and cultivating fans throughout the recording and release process.

The webinar will run September 3 through September 12. Sign up for the webinar here: http://newartistmodel.com/webinar .

 

 

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The music industry isn’t the same as it was in the past. A lot of people have spent a lot of time complaining about this following the rise of the internet, but like everything else, it’s just change. Change isn’t positive or negative, rather it’s what you do with that change that matters. The successful musicians and music business people are embracing that change and running with it as a new breed of entrepreneurs.

In today’s music industry there is no one-size fits all model. We are all free to experiment and find out what works best for us, our fans, and our music careers. This is the true definition of entrepreneurship. Today’s music business approaches would not have worked in the past when technology was expensive and valuable connections were hard to come by.

As an indie musician, I already know you are extremely creative—more so than most business people out there! You may have never thought of it this way, but you have the same mindset, problems to solve and thought process as an entrepreneur. The key is to harness that creativity in your career, capitalize on this new artist ecosystem, and build it into your own model.

Artist ecosystems – Past and Present

In the past, the record labels were in the position of power. Due to high costs, musicians couldn’t record, get to radio, distribute their music, or communicate with their fans without the help of a record label. It just was not viable. The only way to make it was to be picked by some A&R rep and even that didn’t guarantee you success if the label dropped your record, cut your marketing budget, or shelved your project.

Today, your success is largely in your own hands. Forward thinking musicians are acting more and more like entrepreneurs. You are no longer a product for big record labels to sell. You are your own company—and you are the CEO!

The road of the indie musician is very hard. There is no magic bullet. But the potential is there if you know what you are doing and can identify multiple revenue streams and team members to support your career. If you think of your music career as an enterprise or a business, you can put things in place to help you be more successful.

Build Music Careers Like an Entrepreneur

1. Finding Your Fit

So how do you approach your career like an entrepreneur? It all starts with a product, a service or idea—in this case, your music. Think about exactly what it is you are making and how it is different from the stuff already out there, but don’t just think about your music: your personality and image are important aspects of your “product” too. What genre do you most identify with? Are you an emotional songwriter or a larger-than-life performer? Do you stand for any particular attitude or set of beliefs?  What are you all about?

Next you should figure out who your customers are. In this case, your customers are your fans. With the internet, this information is pretty easy to come by. Check out who your fans are with tools like Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media channels you use. You should talk to your fans after your shows and get to know them as best you can. How old are they? Do they share any interests? As an example, Karmin is specifically targeting young teen girls interested in popular music. Who is your target audience?

2. Start Lean and Learn

A lot of entrepreneurs get bogged down in the business planning stage. They think they need to plan out every step of the way and be able to predict their revenues five years out to a tee. If you haven’t yet, take a read of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s an easy read and the concepts can be applied to any industry, even music!

As a lean startup, you need to get your product or service to the market as quickly as possible. It doesn’t need to be perfect—just get it out there! This is where the New Artist Model really differs from the past. It’s no longer about spending a year (or sometimes more) and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on a full length album. Release small and release often. Start getting feedback from people as early as possible and listen to what they say.

There’s a couple of methods here. You could release small EPs or single tracks every few months. You could release a traditional album but keep cover songs flowing on your YouTube channel every few weeks. You could also stretch (if you are that prolific) and release one or two original songs a month. One strategy I’m a fan of is the “like for release.” Release one song to your fans via social media and tell them you’ll release the next one if you get x number of comments or likes. Not only does this get fans hyped, it also shares the news with their friends. Just be sure to pick a number that you think is attainable for your current career level!

The key with frequent releases is to learn from them! That way you can fine tune your songwriting, performance, and marketing for releases down the road. Producer and DJ Zedd frequently plays songs he’s working on live before they are released. He gages the crowds reactions to various parts of the songs and if it’s not where he wants it to be, its back to the drawing board—or laptop or console.

You could release rough recordings or videos of song sketches or ideas and ask for your fans’ opinions, or release two songs simultaneously and see which gets the most plays. The whole idea here is to experiment early and often, listen to what people say about you and adapt accordingly.

3. Build a Team

Every successful entrepreneur has a team, but this is something a lot of indie musicians lack. With the term “DIY” pounded into your head for years, its no wonder a lot of musicians still think going at it alone is the best option. On the other end of the spectrum, some musicians think that a “team” means a top manager, a major label, a publisher, and booking agent that cost you a pretty penny in the end.

Most entrepreneurs don’t have teams made up of the top dogs in their field. More often than not, they work with a college buddy or family member who really digs their product or cause. When you’re just starting out, passion trumps experience any day (especially when you’re short on cash).

Think about who among your group of friends and acquaintances would be willing and able to step up to the plate. Do you know anyone passionate about the music industry or in business school? Do any of your friends have a knack for taking good photos or any experience with creating websites and social marketing? Do you have someone who knows the local club scene and can help you network and book gigs?

4. Network

If you’ve ever met a really successful entrepreneur you’ve probably been overwhelmed with their energy and outgoing personality. Not all entrepreneurs are extroverts, but they are all passionate about what they are doing and are eager to spread the word and make connections. Take tips from the entrepreneur and don’t be afraid to tell anyone and everyone about your music, your band, and what you are trying to achieve.

Don’t be that band that plays at a local club and doesn’t talk to anyone before or after the gig. Introduce yourself to the other bands playing or the guys running the lights or sound board. Get a conversation going about music. Who knows, you may find a way to collaborate! Especially in the music industry, your success will come from your connections. It is all about who you know and what you know.

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Of course, there’s a lot more to this strategy than what we covered here. In the New Artist Model online music business courses, you can learn how to run your music career like a real business. You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you turn your music into a reliable income stream.

If you want to learn even more great strategies from the New Artist Model music business courses, be sure to check out this free ebook. You’ll learn great strategies for gigging, recording, and marketing that you can begin using right now!

Earlier this year, Edison Research and Triton Digital released their Infinite Dial Report describing the trends in music, streaming, radio and digital music. They report that:

  • Mobile devices are quickly rewiring behavior, especially with young users and image sharing (Instagram and Snapchat)
  • Internet Audio is growing at a fast rate with Pandora as the #1 player in online radio by far
  • Podcasts are increasingly growing their listener bases

The smartphone either is or will shortly become the dominate way that people interact “online”. If you are trying to break new music, you need to make sure that your presentation is mobile friendly.

Smartphone Growth

This may be old news to many of you, but if you are trying to break music or gather a fan base and you are not on YouTube, you have little or no chance of success these days.  YouTube is absolutely dominating the listening/viewing habits of 12-24 year olds as you can see in this chart from Edison Research and Triton Digital.

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While radio remains the top source for new music discovery, YouTube was the No. 1 source for the very important young listener market aged 12 to 24 years.

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And finally, nearly half the audience in America is listening to online radio (Pandora mostly).

Online Radio

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

There are a lot of musicians out there struggling to pay the rent, grow their fan base, and make a profit on tour. It’s a tough road, but if you’re dedicated you can make music your career. In today’s music business, it’s not about forcing yourself into a one-size-fits-all box, or throwing a dice and hoping for the best. It’s about building the right career for YOU and YOUR music, experimenting, learning, and adapting to change. Today, you are an entrepreneur, not a product, and great success is waiting for musicians with this mindset.

The New Artist Model is all about thinking of your music career like a business and using creative strategies to start growing now with the tools and resources you have available. In the New Artist Model FREE E-book, you’ll get a glimpse at some of the proven strategies we discuss in the full online course. Click the image to download your copy and check out the 10 key points of the New Artist Model below.

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1. Change is an open door.

Don’t view new technology or a new model as a dead end. Look at it like a new opportunity. It’s a chance to try new things, innovate, and maybe find something that really works for YOU.

2. You are an entrepreneur.

More times than not, its the small, agile entrepreneurs, not the big established companies, that innovate and move an industry forward into the future. You can be that entrepreneur.

3. Go lean!

Release small and release often. Don’t wait to record your first album until you can afford a time in a big time studio. Don’t wait to start your publishing career until you have a publisher. Start with what you have and go from there.

4. LEARN!

Take every single opportunity you can to learn. What went great at your live show? What didn’t go as planned? How can you use that knowledge to improve next time? What social media posts get your fans excited? What song do people seem to like the most? You can learn from every single thing you do.

5. DIWO instead of DIY.

You can’t be an expert in everything so find people who are. Your team doesn’t have to be seasoned pros. More times than not, passion trumps experience. For now, recruit friends, classmates, and family to help you out and give your pointers. There are a ton of really successful artists that still work with someone who started out as just a classmate.

6. Each element of your career is a separate moving part to a bigger machine.

Don’t think of recording, publishing, and touring in a vacuum. Think about how you can connect them together into one unified plan.

7. This is a relationship business.

Get out and meet people. Talk to as many people as you can in the studio and at your live shows—promoters, producers, club owners, sound and light folks, other bands and musicians. MAKE that connection that could really start your career as a successful indie artist. Remember that face-to-face conversations will always get you further than emails. And above all, treat people like people. Give and you will receive.

8. Use the process.

Recordings and songs are not just finished products. There are a ton of opportunities to engage and connect with your fans and even make money along the entire process.

9. There is no one-size-fits-all model anymore.

You need to build a career around YOUR music that works best for YOU. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will go the same way in your career.

10. MAKE your big break.

These days no one is going to hand you your big break. You need to be out there working hard, pushing yourself to new limits, trying new things, and connecting with people if you want to make this your career. With a lot of hard work, music CAN become your career.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our free video training series.

 

 

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Photo credit: http://on.fb.me/TJg761

The new music industry is really about finding your own path – one that is unique to your music and career. That’s exactly what Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn did with Pomplamoose and it is the foundation on which Jack’s new endeavour, Patreon, is built.

Recently, I talked to Jack Conte about some of the tips and strategies that have gotten him to where he is today – living comfortably as a musician and CEO. He gave me some really great advice that you could be incorporating into your music career right now. Here’s a few tips, but we’ve got a full hour of information for you that you can check out in this free webinar.

 

1. Know What You’re Good At

“For me, I figured out what I was good at. That was music and video. I found a platform that could help me do both of those things. Find out what you’re good at and what you like and enjoy and then find the platform to do that.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

The first step to creating a truly great business is really knowing what you have to offer. Of course you have great music, but I want you to take some time to think beyond that. Today, there are so many ways to make a living off music, from music videos to gigs, and from traditional recordings to cover songs, remixes, and arrangements.

Do a little soul searching and ask yourself what you are really good at and what you love doing. Maybe you’re a performer at heart with a flare for organizing people and tasks. Maybe you, like Jack Conte, love making music and videos. The key is to know your skills and then focus on building a career around them. From here, you’ll be able to identify tools that will help you accomplish your goals. Jack loved making music and videos, so it was obvious to focus his efforts on YouTube instead of Facebook or Myspace.

In the end, you’ll have a career built around things you actually love doing. As you’ll see in the next section, loving what you do will make all the hard work fun and enjoyable.

 

2. Work Hard

To Jack Conte, this is the best time in history to be working as a musician, and he’s right! Musicians today have more opportunities at their fingertips every day than some past musicians had in years. You don’t need to wait for a label to throw money at you to start recording. You can connect with millions of people online to sell your products, collaborate, and perform. It is, however, a lot more work. Gone are the days of the partying rockstar. They are replaced with serious musical entrepreneurs who hardly have enough time to sleep let alone party.

That’s not to say that having a career in music isn’t fun! If you’re truly doing something you love doing you’ll enjoy the work no matter how long the hours. Most of the musicians like Jack and Nataly who have built their own careers from the ground up, love music so much that they are perfectly okay with the hard work. In fact, many of them wouldn’t give it up for the world!

“It’s a lot of hard work. We work 24/7. It’s just lots of toil and labor. It’s fun though! I mean we love making music, we love recording, but it’s not parties and drinking on a bus. It’s like cranking at one in the morning, being absolutely exhausted, looking at a 90-fame shot list, and having covered 45 of those shots and realizing we have 45 left to do, and we have to be done in an hour because the hotel is closing. And that’s like everyday of our lives. If you want to be a working musician, make a living from music, and be in control of your own career, then you have to run your own music business, label, and promotions. You’re the CEO of a company. It’s so hard, but so rewarding.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

 

3. Start With What You Have

“You can start making music in your bedroom for next to nothing and hang some blankets on the walls and reach millions of people nowadays. And I find that particularly inspiring.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

The barriers of entry that once prevented musicians from entering the music industry have been blown down. You can start with almost nothing – some cheap instruments, lower-end recording software, and the internet – and build a career. That’s exactly how Jack and Nataly started. The duo were both living with their parents and recording with gear that found on Craigslist for next to nothing.

The fact is, if you wait until you can afford time in a studio or a regional tour, you’re never going to start. Start with what you have, create the highest quality music you can with the tools available, find some fans, make some money, get better gear, and start the process over again. It’s a slow endeavour, but you’ll be a lot further along than if you never started.

 

4. Hire Where You Need

“Ask yourself what do you need, and then hire that person.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

This really builds off the previous point. When you first start out, you won’t be able to afford a manager, booking agent, and publisher. More likely than not, you won’t even be able to attract their attention until you get your career moving forward and get some traction in the market.

Like everything else in your career, it’s really a building process. When some money starts flowing in you don’t need to jump in and hire a full team. Instead look at what you have going. What do you have under control and what’s working well? What do you need help understanding? What barriers are in your way? What tasks are becoming completely too large and overwhelming for you to handle? If you’re doing really great at keeping up with your finances but are having a hard time getting gigs in the bigger venues you know you can fill, just hire a booking agent. Of course, the people you hire and the order you hire them in really depends on you, and your skills, so it will be different for everyone.

 

5. Balance Music and Business

The musician today needs to play the creator and the business executive, and they need to do both of those full-time jobs in a short 24-hour day. It can be really overwhelming, but with a little time management, it’s totally possible!

The first task is really figuring out how you work best. Some people do their best work first thing in the morning while others prefer to work at night. Some people are pro multitaskers while other would rather focus all their energies on one task at a time and get it done.

“I need unobstructed creating time. That’s just how I work. Everybody works differently and everybody has a different balancing act. I take that time that I need, and I don’t really do much business in those times.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

If you look at Jack’s calendar, he sets off a few days a week as just studio days. He doesn’t take meetings or calls on those days – it’s time for him to just focus in on creating. Try using whatever calendar tool you have available to block out your time – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Set a half hour each day to respond to email, 20 minutes to schedule out your social media with an additional hour to respond to your fans over your lunch break. You could set out a few hours one day of the week to brainstorm marketing strategies for your upcoming release, and a day to record and mix your cover song.

 

6. Build Your Own Model

“One thing that I can’t stress enough is whatever works for you is the right way to do it. Just do what you need to do. It’s funny, I think there’s a tendency to want to be the “real thing.” We wanted to be a “real band.” We felt like, “Oh, we’re just a YouTube band, it’s not real,” despite the fact that we had real fans, we were selling songs on iTunes, and we were making a living off of album sales. There is just this pressure to do it like everyone else is doing it. I think the truth is, if you’re an entrepreneur or an innovator, you do it your own way and make it work your own way.”  – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

There is no one-size-fits-all model in the music industry anymore. More than ever before, innovative musicians like Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn are finding their own success on their terms. Today, your career path really depends on a thousand little factors like your music, your skills, and your fanbase. You can’t just copy a strategy like Pomplamoose’s and expect it to work seamlessly in your unique career. It’s really about know who you are and what you’re good at, trying new things, learning from your experiences, and adapting your strategy.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our free video training series.

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The New Artist Model is all about looking at your music career in the same way an entrepreneur looks at a startup company. You are a music entrepreneur! And there’s no better entrepreneurial book out there than The Lean Startup. I would recommend everyone giving it a read, but Ed Rex, a musician a CEO of Jukedeck, has laid out a few of the main points in this article. This is just an excerpt, but you can check out the full article on Hypebot.

Create Minimum Viable Tracks

It used to be the case that software companies would spend a year or more working towards a big release, moving through various phases of development one at a time and launching into the unknown with a ‘no going back’ approach. This is known as the Waterfall method. It’s now been widely replaced by Agile, which involves building fast, releasing a Minimum Viable Product as early as possible and learning from feedback.

A composer might spend years on a piece, working in complete solitude until the last note is in place. What if, at the premiere, no one likes it? Shouldn’t that have been found out sooner?

Enter the Minimum Viable Track. When you’re recording an album, why not play the first takes to as many people as you can, before you embark on weeks of editing and post-production? If no one’s going to buy it, doing that post-production is a waste of time — time you should be spending writing new tracks. And you need to find that out as early as possible.

Iterate & Pivot

Startups are obsessed with iterating: constantly trying new things and experimenting with new features until one proves popular.

There’s no reason, as musicians, we shouldn’t do the same — that is, once we’ve got the early versions of our music in front of our audience, start responding to their feedback. If there are bits they like, concentrate on those — if there are bits they don’t, scrap them and try something else in their place. I tried this recently with a song I’m writing — instead of spending months working on it on my own, I put together a rough and ready demo on my iPad, sent it to a couple of people, and immediately found out there were a couple of lyrics they thought let the rest of it down. So out went those lines, and in came a series of new ideas, which I kept changing until they had the desired effect — the approval of these early listeners.

What if you find from your early demo that people basically don’t like what you’re doing, full stop? While this is never nice to hear, it’s better to find out early than keep going with something no one will like. In this case, in the tech world, you’dpivot — that is, change course and try something entirely new. Pivoting isn’t a sign of failure — it’s a badge of honour, a sign that you’re willing to take tough decisions to get to a product that people actually want. Indeed, some of the biggest tech companies out there performed early pivots. Twitter? Originally aplace to subscribe to podcasts. Starbucks? Started out selling espresso makers.

So if your early feedback tells you you’re writing music people don’t like, why not try something else? There’s nothing wrong with pivoting.

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TheNew Artist Modelis 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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our mailing list.