Every musician today needs a great website. Each week someone asks me what platform is the best band website builder for musicians to create a killer website. There are many choices to be sure.

Bandzoogle has what appears to be the best balance of features and performance at an affordable price. Their monthly packages start at $8 per month and they do not charge any commission on sales of music or merch or tickets of any kind. As of the date of this post, Bandzoogle artists have generated over $21 million in sales of music, merch and tickets using its proven cloud based platform. Don’t you want to do that too?

best band website builder for musicians

Over 25,000 musicians have signed up for Bandzoogle, including many New Artist Model students. These guys have the best solution for presenting yourself online as a musician or band. And they have agreed to give you a 90 day free trial so you can check it out. This is a no brainer if you need a website or want to update the one you have.

Click here for a free webinar on building the ultimate musician website

Bandzoogle is easy to use with a step-by-step system that will get you up and running in minutes with a custom site that can grow along with you. With over 100 different mobile themes you can easily customize a site to really stand out.

Move your existing domain over or setup a new one.

Here’s what you get with your Bandzoogle website:

• Sell music, merch & tickets commission-free.
• Stream your music and setup downloads.
• Built in email list to send professional newsletters.
• Integrates with all online musician services.
• Reports and analytics to target your fans.
• Unbelievably great customer service.

Pull in content from all of your online services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Pledgemusic, CDBaby, Gig Salad, Bandsintown, ArtistData, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, Amazon and more.

Add a store to your site in two clicks and start selling music, downloads, tickets and merchandise without having to pay any sales fee.

Create a blog and EPK. Post music, videos and photos. Setup your events calendar and a lot more. Everything you need is built-in and just a click away.

Try it for 3 months for free. After that, plans start at less than $10/month. Or you can simply walk away and pay nothing.

What’s the best band website builder for musicians to use to create a killer musician website? Check out Bandzoogle.

Just last week, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle and I did a webinar.

Build the Ultimate Musician Website

  • BUILD a high converting musician website.
  • LEARN exactly what features you need and why.
  • GROW your email list and expand your fanbase.

Click here to watch this recorded webinar – all free.

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

For more info on the New Artist Model visit https://newartistmodel.com

I had the good fortune of being part of a great article on managing your own music career that the fine folks at Music Connection Magazine just published written by Bernard Baur.

Managing Your Own Music Career

MC: You are a big proponent of artists managing themselves. Why is that?

Dave: Because artists should take control of their lives and careers. Although talent is important, the more artists know about the business the more successful they will be. If you’re serious about a career in music, there is no one who will take care of you like you would.

So, do artists need a manager?

I’m not saying artists should never have a manager or sign with a label. Both can be incredibly helpful. But, in order to attract either one you have to prove yourself and get results. And, most artists today have no choice but to manage themselves.

What approach should artists take when managing themselves?

They should realize that business and art are two sides of the same coin. If they apply the same creativity to the business side (as they do to their art), it can be exciting and productive. And once they start to see progress, motivation really kicks in.

You advise artists to form a plan. Can you explain the process?

They should ask themselves what they want to accomplish, what they like to do and what their definition of success is. The answers to those questions will help formulate a plan to reach their goals.

That’s a very business-like approach. Why should artists go down that road?

Today, artists need to be musical entrepreneurs. They need to develop their image and brand and know how to raise money and market their art. Often, if they don’t do it––it won’t get done. Artists have to realize that times have changed and they are responsible for their own success.

What common mistakes do you see artists making?

Not knowing about the business, and thinking that someone is going to discover them and make them a star is the most common mistake I see. Additionally, not asking for help when they need it can hurt their progress. Lastly, not connecting with the right people. You know, DIY (Do It Yourself) isn’t realistic anymore––there’s too much to do. Today, you need a team…I call it “doing it with others.”

How successful can self-managed artists be?

Well, we have artists in our program who are making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. It’s not millions like a superstar, but it is possible to make a living with your music, as long as you work at it and keep moving ahead.

Managing Your Own Music Career - Music Connection Interviews Dave Kusek

Read the complete article here including interviews with Ben Mclane, Dead Rock West, Eesean Bolden, Epic Records, Gilli Moon, Mclane & Wong, Mitch Schneider, MSO RP, The Creative Warrior Academy.

Managing Your Own Music Career

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

For more info on the New Artist Model visit https://newartistmodel.com

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

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

Music is a family affair for manager Margaret Dombowski.

The band she represents — “pop punk” phenom The Magnifiers — is made up of four of her five children. Elliott,16, and Eden, 15, play guitar and sing, Eliza, 12 plays the bass and Everett, 10, handles drums. Together these siblings write and perform edgy alternative music that is winning fans at concerts and online.

The Magnifiers’  EP “Report Card” sells on their website http://themagnifiers.com for $5 and is filled with original songs like “Zombie Raid on America.”  In addition, the group offers individual songs on iTunes and Bandcamp.  he band performs regularly at festivals and clubs in Chicago and beyond. In June 2015, they won the Illinois Teen Battle of the Bands.

This May, The Magnifiers will appear for the second consecutive year at the Hong Kong Pizza Party Music Festival in Piano, Illinois. Then in June they will grace the stage at Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago.

Not bad for a band born in 2012 after Elliott’s musical horizons were blown open when he received a guitar as a present. “All of the kids already played the violin and piano,” Margaret says of her homeschooled brood, so the idea of playing together was realistic.

Margaret made the decision to manage The Magnifiers right away even though she had no prior experience as a manager, booking agent or publicist.

“Initially I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Google Drive was my best friend.,” she says, adding that identifying herself as a manager and not a mother helps her succeed.  “I’ve gone out of the way to be really professional.  If I tell them I am the Mom there is a stigma — that I’m the ‘Mom-ager.’”  

New Artist Model is great,” Margaret says.  “I came across it when I was looking for a degree program in all of this. This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve learned so much.””

Margaret says she decided to have the band do a cover of a Weezer song for its YouTube channel after watching the DJ video on New Artist Model. She also found important information about how to protect The Magnifiers name with a trademark. Recently, Elliott has jumped on board, reviewing New Artist Model lessons and videos as well.    

“You get a lot of information in these hour long videos,” Margaret says, adding that being able to pay for the program in installments is really helpful for artists on a budget.

While The Magnifiers is a band made up of young people, it is not a group in search of a children’s audience, Margaret says. They want to play for everyone — everywhere. That is one of the hardest things to communicate to promoters, producers and others. “The Disney Channel isn’t us,” Margaret says.

“This is the biggest challenge in managing a kid’s band,” she says. Sometimes they are not old enough to play a certain club. That makes it harder for them to develop a fanbase. A major label could give them a bump up but I don’t want them to lose creative control.”

Margaret uses Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reverb Nation and Bandcamp among other social media tools to spread the word about The Magnifiers.  She has even used Periscope to share performances with people out of state.  Recently, Elliott took over much of the social media work, communicating with other bands online and responding to posts on all of the group’s channels.  Margaret handles all booking matters.

Instagram and Reverb Nation are two of the most effective tools she has used to promote the band, Margaret says. Not long after the band was born, Margaret used Instagram to connect with the originators of The Aquabats, her kids’ favorite band.  Margaret struck up a friendship with show co-creators, Christian Jacobs and Jason Devilliers, and The Magnifiers were invited to Salt Lake City to appear as extras on “The Aquabats Super Show” television program.  

Margaret says there have been discussions about the possibility of the band opening for the Aquabats during a future tour. “Their audience is our audience. In our mind, we should tour with them.”

Margaret also used Instagram to establish a relationship with Threadless, a t-shirt company in Chicago. As a result of this connection, The Magnifiers were invited to play at their warehouse and then at the company’s holiday party.  “That is where I was introduced to Brian Keller (aka Brian Killer) who recorded our video for Zombie Raid on the USA,  Margaret says.

Reverb Nation is great for “messages out of the blue,” Margaret says, adding  “Last year, a big time producer contacted us and now we are talking about working together.”

“My mother always told me ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’  Who you know makes a huge different in this business, so I’d tell any parents helping their kids pursue their dreams, make connections, lots of connections,” Margaret says.  “Do lots of online research. Attend lots of local seminars and build relationships with people in the industry.”

Booking gigs takes extensive work Margaret says, and the way to succeed is stay in constant contact with local venues and festivals.

“There are days when I am doing email blasts on my lunch hour at work,” Margaret says, adding that being flexible is good for a young band with a relatively small fanbase.  “We’ve done a lot of shows for free. We’ve done a lot where we have to sell tickets ourselves.”

When they play out Elliott, Eden, Eliza and Everett like to employ the personal touch with their fans. They usually hang out with the audience after they perform and share promotional cards and stickers.  

Margaret and The Magnifiers are focusing on their goals for the future. They are actively seeking a booking agent and a record deal that will allow them creative control. They hope to to fulfill their dreams of opening for the Aquabats and playing Lollapalooza. They are working on their next EP which will include a track called “Trump.” And they may have a new member of the band before long. Little sister Evie, 6, is already talking about playing keyboards.

 

Check out the Magnifiers here http://themagnifiers.com

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

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

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

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,“ according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

“Our goals are to support our families by doing what we love while performing and touring on a national and global level.  We also want to continue to grow our subscriber base to over 100,000 and get our music licensed for TV and film,” he says.

Cali Conscious plays 25 shows a month in the summer and 15 in the off season.  The group is currently hard at work on its second album which will be released in 2016 and supported by a tour.  In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

Cali Conscious puts almost as much work into activism as it does into music.  The band has organized monthly community beach clean ups in Huntington Beach and funded construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia by donating live performance tips to charity:water.org.  Cali Conscious doesn’t sell plastic CDs at its shows and created a plantable paper download card embedded with carrot, lettuce, and tomato seeds to celebrate the release of its first album “High Times.”

The group is making the website Noise Trade a centerpiece of its current social media campaign, Justin says.  The music distribution platform lets the group trade their music to anyone who shares their email and zipcode on the Cali Conscious website.  http://caliconscious.com/  Currently, the group gives followers a download of “High Times” as well as an EP featuring acoustic versions of four songs from the new album.  

“You should use your social media platforms and the real estate on your website, to give away songs and build that relationship with your fans to gain trust and turn them into superfans,” says Justin, adding that “superfans” to him, are people who share news about the band with their followers.

Justin believes that developing 1000 superfans will enable Cali Conscious to have a sustainable music career — one that includes adequate support for crowdfunding, merchandise sales, touring and live shows.

“With Noise Trade, we get email and zip codes and fans get to download and share on Twitter and Facebook.  It lets you encourage your fan base to become part of your marketing team,” he says, adding that the service also allows fans to “tip” musicians.  “Noise Trade charges 20 percent of the money that comes in but we are still getting revenue from that every month.”

Raising awareness about the group and its music will help the band complete its newest album.  The offering will be paid for, at least in part, with a crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

“This next album will put us out there as an Orange County band starting to break through.  We believe in our producer and the message,” Justin says.  “We already have 30-40,000 listens on Pandora or Spotify.  I think when our next album comes out and we step up our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more organized and put up our video, I’m hoping we can reach 100,000 subscribers. “

Gigging is the main source of revenue for Cali Conscious. On May 21, the group will play the Concert for the Coast in Santa Barbara where they will feature “One Love For You,” a song about homelessness written by percussionist  Dig Gbye and the first single from the new album. The band will make a music video for the song that includes an informal “jam session” with local homeless men and women.  

During their visit to the city, the band will also provide blankets, clothing, food, water and socks to people in need with the help of online sock retailer Bombas http://www.bombas.com

“Water,” the second single from the new album, will also get its own video. All proceeds will benefit Gravity Water, a nonprofit dedicated to providing filtration and storage systems to poor communities around the globe.  http://www.gravitywater.org/  Both of the videos for the singles will be included in a pre-purchase crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

While using social media can be exciting and productive, it is essential for musicians to stay up to date on each service’s policies and guidelines, Justin says.  Early in his career, he gave away music from his own CD “Enjoy the Sunshine” to users on Facebook and got blocked by the company for a time. “They thought it was spam,” he says.  

“Be aware of limits on how many people you can contact each day and how different social media systems work. Their policies are always evolving,” Justin says.  “At this point, the main reason we are using social media, besides putting out photos, is to try to get people to go to our website. I want to get as much exposure for our website as possible. This is also something we learned from the New Artist Model.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools can really help musicians advance their careers — but players should never forgot about the importance of personal connection. Justin knows from firsthand experience that it is impossible to predict when opportunities will appear.

A local entertainment lawyer introduced the band to renowned recording engineer and producer Sjoerd Koppert who has worked with Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Doobie Brothers and other bands. Out of nowhere, this chance meeting from a mutual connection turned into an incredible opportunity to record in a top studio.   

“I went from busking to a million dollar studio,” Justin says. The result?  His first EP “Enjoy the Sunshine.”

That recording is at the heart of another story about the power of networking. Music from “Enjoy the Sunshine” can be heard in the new documentary film “Return to Cape St. Francis” created by Robert August. August starred in the iconic surf documentary “The Endless Summer” which was released in 1966. Justin performed at the Newport Film Festival this April when the documentary premiered.

Justin has played the Huntington Beach High School Surf Team’s annual banquet for the the past six years, and the coach of that club just happened to be the director or “Return to Cape Francis.” That connection ended up getting his music in the hands of Robert August.

Justin and his bandmates are excited about what lies ahead for Cali Conscious. A bigger fanbase, new album and tour all point to great things for the band. While Justin is looking to the future, he emphasizes the importance of never losing sight of the values that define the group.

“The most important part of our music is the message we have in our lyrics, that’s how we want to connect with our fans. We strongly feel we have this musical ability and we are purposefully using a positive message to help bring the world together through our lyrics,” Justin says. “We want to be a catalyst for our fans to inspire change. If we can create an easy avenue for them to be able to support our music but also support causes we believe in — like getting water to the world and making sure that people on the streets have warm feet — that’s where we want to be.”

Embracing these values have encouraged the group to do benefit shows for The Walk for Arthritis which drew an audience of 4000 to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Surf’s Up for Down Syndrome and Walk On Water, a nonprofit that offers sports therapy for children with disabilities including autism, among others.

“It is important to use our gifts as musicians to make the world a better place and encourage others,” Justin says.  “I am glad to use my talent as a vessel to do good in the world.”

To learn more about Cali Conscious visit http://caliconscious.com/

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

New Artist Model member Shannon Curtis

New Artist Model member Shannon Curtis

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

Ask singer songwriter Shannon Curtis about the key to her success as an independent musician, and she’ll tell you — literally — to hit the road.  She’ll encourage you to start touring with the help of your audience.

Shannon knows from experience that touring is the best way to interact with your audience and build your fanbase.  She also knows that performing live can bring in more money than recordings, publishing and merchandise combined.

Each summer, Shannon spends more than four months on the road performing house concerts.  In 2014, the Los Angeles-based artist performed at more than 70 homes around the country for audiences averaging 35 people.  

The idea for an annual house concert tour was born in 2011 when Shannon was struggling to attract new fans.  Her career growth had been “incremental” since she hit the scene in 2006, she says.  So to break through to new audiences, Shannon began working on booking a series of solo club dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle.

Then something unexpected happened.  A fan called and asked if she would come and perform in her living room.  The gig would pay whatever audience members wanted to donate and her fan lived right in the middle of the circuit she was planning on covering.

Shannon said yes.  She had played the occasional house concert through the years, always booking them as “filler dates” between what she considered more important club engagements.  But this concert convinced her that she might have gotten things turned around.

“I had no idea what kind of success it would be,” Shannon says, adding that she didn’t use a microphone or amplifier.  “In a club you are always competing with noise from the bar or a latte machine or something.  But this show was 100 percent connection.  Someone started crying.  People’s reactions were palpable.”

Palpable and profitable.  By the end of the night, Shannon made more money and sold more merchandise than she would have at a Los Angeles club show. “It was way more than gas money. That was the lightbulb that went off for me.”

Shannon and her husband, music producer Jamie Hill who travels with her when she tours, worked up a financial analysis and realized she could win over more fans and make more money playing houses rather than clubs. Today, they use a simple system to create their annual summer tour.

Shannon typically announces the house tour on her website in March.  She encourages people who want to host a concert to apply on her site and in her emails.  “This year, 85 people signed up within 48 hours of the announcement” says Curtis.  

Requirements for hosting a concert are simple but specific.  Hosts must be able to guarantee an audience of at least 30 people and need to have a backyard, garage, living room or some other space big enough for a “focused listening event.”  “This isn’t a party where there is also some music,” Shannon says.

Once a request for a house concert is accepted, things can fall into place easily if you are organized, according to the artist.  People who host concerts don’t have to worry about having special insurance because their concerts are not open to the public.  Instead, they are gatherings of friends.  Hosts don’t receive any kind of financial compensation for providing the venue or bringing in the audience, Shannon says.  Most often, they simply enjoy the chance to have a fun event and get to know to know the artist better.

“We really leave the structure of things up to the hosts,” Shannon says.  “Lots of times they turn into potlucks.  Our shows become these really connective community events.”

Shannon brings all of her own equipment and only needs “one power source and an extension cord” to put on a show.  She is paid with donations from the audience and merchandise sales.  There are no tickets, no cover charge and no opening act.  Shannon and Jamie often take hosts up on their offer of overnight accommodations.  

“Every house we go to is a brand new market.  It is the living room Tupperware model of music marketing,”  Shannon says, adding that she is continually amazed by the support audiences offer.  “Most musicians feel self doubt sometimes.  But if you show up and give people a vulnerable performance – they are going to support you.  The moment you put down your shield is the moment you find victory.”

Growing her audience using house tours is helping Shannon break through in ways she never imagined possible.  

In 2015, Shannon released a music video for her song entitled “I Know, I Know” that went viral with more than 5 million hits.  Also in October of last year after being contacted by a promoter, she played two opening sets for Shawn Colvin — one at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg, California and the other in Folsom, California.  They were her first large scale public performances in 4 years.

“I definitely want to do more shows like that, Shannon says.  “But I am not ever interested in playing in a traditional club again.”

Shannon Curtis has launched 6 albums in 4 years and was a featured speaker at a TEDx event in Arlington, Va.   She has reached out to her community to successfully crowdfund albums and videos and produced a handbook on how to do house concerts.  Most important of all, Shannon says, she now supports herself one hundred percent with her music.

“I had a talk with myself years ago about what it would take for me to feel like a success as a musician.  It’s never been on my radar to be famous or on top 40 radio  I wanted to make a living making my music — and I’ve made it,” she says.

Shannon uses social media to stay in close touch with her community, noting that Facebook is her most active channel.  She also uses her email list and newsletters to let people know about her new music, crowdfunding projects, tours and more.  During her busy tour season, she contacts fans twice a week.  During quieter times of the year, twice a month.

“The most important skill I’ve learned in my career is to be able to spin a lot of plates all at the same,” Shannon says.  “I juggle a lot of things that require different skills — talking online, planning albums sales, doing business, writing songs.”

“The New Artist Model is such a valuable tool for me.  Before I spent years researching things like ASCAP and BMI on my own.  NAM explains all that we need to know about how to traverse these waters.  That alone is worth the price of admission,” Shannon says.

“When I first met Dave Kusek I expected that the program would be a lot of stuff that I had already learned, you know, the in and outs of building a career.  But I have been pleasantly surprised many times where something I read or a video I watched sparked a new idea for me.”

“One of the things I am starting to learn about in the New Artist Model is sponsorships.  That inspired me to put together a sponsorship application.  I think there may be some companies that would be really interested.  Nothing has happened yet but it will in time — and I want to make sure I am the one who makes the rules.”

As Shannon gets ready for another summer on the road, she says she feels grateful for all the people who love her music enough to come along for the ride.

“I don’t call my supporters fans anymore.  I have a community.  It is a two way street and we support one another.”

 

Learn more about Shannon Curtis here:  http://shannoncurtis.net/

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

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model
Turn your passion for music into a career

Eric John Kaiser is the “French Troubadour.”  A native of Paris who lives in Portland, Oregon, this independent artist sings in French and plays guitar music steeped in  American jazz and blues.  He calls his style Parisian Americana.

“I am a songwriter and storyteller. That is what I like to do – to connect with people,” Eric says, adding that he supports himself entirely with his music. “I admire the storytelling tradition of American music, the way it combines with everything from the Delta blues to jazz. Being here in the U.S., I get the chance to live it every day rather than see it at a distance.”

Eric moved to the States in 2006.  He has released four albums and played at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco, the Blue Nile in New Orleans, the Solidays Festival in Paris and shared the stage with the Welsh super stars the “Stereophonics.”  

Eric has also toured with French star Tété, “The Lost Bayou Ramblers” in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the French band “Revolver.”

Exploring North America on multiple lengthy tours, Eric has gigged his way up through Canada and down through the South, as far as New Orleans and Washington D.C.

“If you want to go the indie route, learning about marketing is really important.  What I like about the New Artist Model (https://newartistmodel.com) is that it teaches you clearly how to get different sources of income from gigging, recording and publishing,” Eric says.  “There is no excuse not to educate yourself and the New Artist Model is the way to go.”

Before emigrating to the U.S., Eric played out part-time in Paris and did other work in the music industry. He was a programmer for the Fun Radio Network, did public relations at Source Records (a division of Virgin) and co-hosted the live music show “Melting Pop” on French television network Direct 8.

“By the time I moved to Portland, I felt like I had enough knowledge to starting playing out full-time,” Eric says, adding that local gigging at French restaurants and coffee shops helped get his career off the ground and build his confidence.

Eric still plays out a lot in Portland but says dates are getting harder to find.

“The local gigging scene is changing. Portland is saturated with musicians and it is getting harder and harder to find gigs to make a living,” Eric says, adding that many small venues are closing as more condominium and office developments spring up.

As the city has evolved, so has Eric’s business strategy.  While the bulk of his income still comes from gigging, Eric also receives money from fan funding to pay for video and recording costs.  Album pre-orders are also a good source of funds. Eric offers French cultural presentations in area schools and workshops on French songwriting.  He also performs at weddings and plays the occasional house concert.

New Artist Model has shown me the value of getting a bunch of different income streams happening.”

Crowdfunding helped Eric complete two 2014 albums.  A Kickstarter campaign for “Idaho” raised just over $7000 while a RocketHub drive for “Outside It’s America” brought in $5000.  “Idaho” enjoyed pre-sales of 400 and its Portland CD release party sold out.

Eric is about to start a new Kickstarter campaign for an album he will complete in Quebec this June. He does one crowdfunding drive every two years.

“One of the most important things to do when crowdfunding is to keep expectations realistic”, Eric says.  “After all, it is a process based on trust, and trust takes time.”

“It only works if people already know you. Success with this didn’t happen in two weeks.  It is trust that was built over the years.” says Eric. “Build a fanbase first. You can’t just post a crowdfunding project and expect people to support you.”

Understanding the kind of crowdfunding your fans will support is important too, Eric adds.  His Patreon page encourages people to donate monthly or for each new creation. So far, it hasn’t brought in much money.

“My audience is a bit older,” he says.  “It scares many people to do it month by month.  They associate it with paying bills.”

Social media is Eric’s primary tool for staying in touch with fans — and he uses it in a way that embraces his unique musical niche.  Copy on his site http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com  appears in both English and French.  

People who give Eric their full name and email address get three free songs when they sign up.  “It is a worthwhile investment”, he says.

“Lots of people don’t believe in email lists but I do,” he says.  “Don’t just depend on Facebook, don’t let it control your contacts.”

Email is the most important channel Eric uses to keep in touch with fans — with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram close behind.  He reaches out to his fans once a day using his social media channels and sends our an email to his list once a month.  There are more than 4000 people on his email list and roughly the same number of friends on his Facebook page. He does not put much work into creating new fans online, opting instead to let it happen organically in person. “The connection with people at my shows is much stronger,” he says.

While Eric uses social media, he also spreads the word about his work in ways that are decidedly low-tech. He uses flyers and posters to announce his shows and asks French bakeries, restaurants and cultural organizations to help him spread the word. He also contacts local media outlets for coverage. “I’ve learned to make things easy for people who want to talk about you,” Eric says, adding that providing well written bios and promotional materials increase your chances of getting covered. “Be concise, precise and provide links that work.”

Eric spends each day on a combination of creativity and commerce. He rises early, checks his email and then reads marketing articles from the New Artist Model and other sources. He works on songwriting for a couple of hours. In the afternoon he works on booking gigs. Evenings are often spent playing out.

Some of his current projects include beefing up his YouTube channel with more cover songs and booking more house tours — both efforts inspired by the New Artist Model.

“People don’t realize how much work it is.  A labor of love that is almost 7 days a week.  If I don’t work, there is nothing that is going to be handed to me”, he says.  “Art and business have to cohabitate together. Like a brother you kind of get along with but not really — hey it’s your brother!”

Eric finds time to give back to the community in spite of his heavy workload. In the wake of the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Eric organized a benefit concert in Portland to raise funds to aid victims.  Eric and his musician friends raised more than $1800 for the French nonprofit organization IMAD which battles racism.

Eric says he will continue his musical journey through America this year with more dates in Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Learn more about Eric here: http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com/

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

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 or the number of songs they’ve written. Heck, it’s even their ability to play a killer show. What matters is how they think about their music career. That’s what 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. To 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.

Let me guide you step-by-step through creating your own action plan:

3. A professional musician understands that collaboration is key

In some ways, musicians are competing against each other. They are 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

studio

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.

studio guy

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

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

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

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

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.

 

pomplamoose_jack_conte_1920x1080_48482

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.