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

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

“Why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment?”

I wake up every day fascinated by this question. There are plenty of articles written by people looking into the music industry from the outside proclaiming the end of an era and the doom of indie musicians. Many ask this question and simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to spend so much time and creative energy on something that may never bring in any real money. And who can blame them given the industry’s overall decline.

Within the business however, some musicians have a completely different outlook. For them, music is just what they do. It’s not about making a ton of money, or trying to impress anyone – its just a way of life, a dream to live.  It’s like breathing.  These people believe that they have the privilege to create. Almost the obligation to do so.

The question these musicians ask  is “How could I not be a musician?”

As we talk about in the New Artist Model course, the love of music is a prerequisite to a life as a successful musician. If people went into the arts to with a sole purpose to make money – there would be no magic – and that creative spark and passion that drives so many people to create would not be present. Music goes beyond money and economics, and isn’t that why it’s so powerful?

Some people are musicians because they just have to be.  The truly great ones.  So there’s my answer.   Are you one of those people?

I’d love to know what you think.

I posted the question “Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician in this Environment?” to Twitter and this is what I got in the first hour.

musicadium@davekusek I would want to be a musician no matter what environment we were in. The desire to create would override, methinks.

andreakremer@davekusek Isn’t that like asking why anyone would want to play tennis? Do people who play tennis give up because they can’t make a profit?

timothyeric@davekusek fascinated that people still want to be musicians or by the environment and its challenges?

kmsolorio@davekusek passion is the only reason I could come up with. btw, very interested in learning more about your tools for musicians.

marjae@davekusek I am a musician because I love music and, more importantly, sharing it with people. This sharing gives a high unlike any other.

marjae@davekusek Great question! It would be great if you could share some of your replies with us. . . the questions certainly made me think!

Lars_Christian@davekusek I think that if “he environment is a factor on whether you become a musician or not, you probably won’t “make it” either way.

tigerpop@davekusek it’s not always about want.

Pattyoboe@davekusek Being a musician is just who I am … no matter the environment. Maybe like I was still a mom when my kids acted up, I guess ..?

gah650@davekusek it’s an inexorable artistic need to create; thank God.

melbahead@davekusek If being a musician is anything like being a visual artist then it doesn’t matter what one wants. It’s a compulsion, a calling

_willthompson@davekusek it’s extremely hard and counterintuitive to hold back from doing something you have natural predisposition for.

kimpwitmanRT @davekusek: why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment? can someone tell me? i wake up every day fascinated by this.

manishamusic@davekusek Being a musician is not particularly easy in any market-based economy. Something deep inside steers the wheels. Is it insanity?

PtbTrees@davekusek perhaps the love of music is enough to make it worth it. at least thats how I feel

atomicdacia@davekusek because its like a drug. Once its in you you just can’t get enough

Kalajdame@davekusek it seems like an easy way to make money i guess..i do it cuz i love to make music and if i could get paid for it ..u kno the rest

You can love what you do and be successful.

Tell us what drives you.

 

musician-opportunity

In music, and in life for that matter, opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and it’s your job to be ready. These opportunities could be anything from a pick up gig, to a publishing deal to a chance to collaborate with a local musician. Either way, the artists that can react quickly are the ones who succeed.

It’s good to think about the possible outcomes of your actions before you do something. After all, you can’t fit everything in your busy schedule and no one wants to do something they will regret later. Learning how to pick your chances is very important.  But over thinking an opportunity can be just as bad as under thinking. There comes a point where you need to just decide to take the leap or not!


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Let’s take a look at Amanda Palmer, a very famous indie artist and avid social media user, who made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. And this was well before her celebrated crowdfunding campaign.

Palmer was tweeting with her followers about how she was once again alone on her computer on a Friday night. Fans joined in the conversation and a group was quickly formed – “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda Palmer created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation. In fact, it became the #1 trending topic on Twitter.

When a fan suggested a t-shirt be made for the group Palmer ran with the idea, sketched out a quick shirt design and threw up a website that night. The shirts were available for $25 and two hours later Palmer had made $11,000! It would have been very easy to just disregard the fan’s comment and sit on the couch watching Netflix for the rest of the night. Nothing bad would have happened if she hadn’t designed the shirts in the spur of the moment and commited to the project, but nothing good would have happened either!

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  9. You Overuse Free Music

New-Artist-Model

In the New Artist Model online course we will help you set goals for your career so you can better judge the value of an opportunity. You will learn about the power of your fanbase and collaboration and the opportunities that come with them.

 

value-of-music

Your music is valuable. I think a lot of musicians forget this or are afraid to admit it for some reason. You can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Lets take a look.

Today, many indie musicians find themselves stuck in a seemingly impassible rut. You are giving your music away for exposure and can’t seem to get to the point where people actually pay you.  You think if you don’t give your music out for free you’ll never be able to grow your fanbase.  But if you continue down the free music route bills won’t get paid and no one in the industry will take you seriously. It’s a paradox that plagues most indie musicians, and you’re not alone!

Free music is great. It is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase, which is why it’s probably a huge part of your marketing efforts right now. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. Now granted, they were already well known.  But for most artists, the key is to find the right balance between free and paid content.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Let’s start with your fans. Different fans are willing to pay for different things. Some fans will not pay for music and will not attend your shows. Others will only pay to come to your shows. Others will pay for music, buy merch, go to your shows, and still be willing to throw more money at you if you only asked. It’s important to differentiate between these fans so you can target your offers.

In this context you need to consider the purpose of “free” music. Think about your fanbase in terms of a pyramid. Potential fans are in bottom third, casual fans in the middle third, and superfans at the top. One purpose for free music could be to move fans up the pyramid. Fans at the bottom of the pyramid will probably not give you cash, so trade free music for an email address so you can stay in touch with that fan. For those in the middle, give them some free songs when they buy something from you – a ticket or merch or a bundle of other songs.  For fans at the top, make special limited run products for them and charge them, but give them something exclusive for free to seal the deal.

Matthew Ebel is a Boston-based “piano rocker” who has struck a balance between paid and free with his membership site. He offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list, paid albums and merch, and an exclusive subscription site for his super fans. Matthew isn’t a superstar artist – he has a humble 1,684 Facebook likes (2014) – but he works as a full-time musician and makes almost 30% of his net income from only a few hardcore fans.

The subscription site has a few different levels ranging in price from $4.99 per month to $499 per year. Matthew’s offers include exclusive live show recordings and videos, discounts, early access to material, access to member-only parties and concert seating, and even a custom-written song. These are things that a lot of indie artists just give out for free. The trick it to trade your music for something else of value to you. There are many forms of tender.

When trying to navigate the realm of paid content don’t let yourself be restricted to the typical music products like the CD and tshirt. Services like BandPage Experiences allow you to sell unique products and experiences to your fans. The sky’s the limit, and the more personal the products and experiences, the better. Rock Camp used a BandPage Experience to host a contest, allowing guitarists to purchase entries to win a spot at the Ultimate Musician’s Camp. Anberlin used a BandPage Experience to sell all access passes to their tours.

Remember that money isn’t the only form of payment that has value. Information can be just as valuable or more than cash in many instances. As an example, Matthew Ebel offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list. The purpose here is to move potential or casual fans up the pyramid to more serious fans. To do this, he gives them a taste of his music – a try-before-you-buy if you will – and in return gets the ability to contact them through email. He can now send these casual fans information on his live shows, new material, and life.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Matthew’s strategy may not work for everyone exactly as it did for him. You need to take some time to look at your career, music, and goals to find the right balance between free and paid content. The important takeaway is that you need a solid plan. In the New Artist Model online course we will teach you strategies for marketing and promotion. You’ll create a personalized career plan for your music.

Dave-Kusek-Studio-1-660x330

This interview is from CMJ. Check it out here.

Dave Kusek has spent a lifetime working in the music business as a marketer, hardware and software developer, teacher and author. The meat of his career was right in the middle of the transition from the old analog world to the digital blur we’re all still transitioning into. So he has the experience of an old school sage and the knowledge of a cutting edge electronics whiz. After imparting all that as a longtime teacher at Berklee, he’s developed a new online music school, Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model, that aims to clear up the often fuzzy world of the constantly morphing music biz for striving musicians everywhere.


Give us a little of your personal history, and what makes you uniquely qualified to be able to explain this brave new confusing digital music world to green musicians everywhere, via your New Artist Model course?
I have been working in the music business all of my life, as an entrepreneur, teacher, author and marketing guy. I’ve seen a lot of change over the years having lived through the rise of technology in music and in life, and seeing the transformation that has occurred in how music is produced, consumed, and marketed.

 

I started one of the first synthesizer companies, Star Instruments, where we developed Synare electronic drums. That was around the birth of the disco era and during the time when electronic musical instruments started making their way into the vocabulary of musicians and producers. From there I founded Passport Music Software where we helped to develop the MIDI standard, MIDI Interfaces, sequencing software like Master Tracks Pro, and music notation software like Encore and MusicTime. We sold hundreds of thousands of units and worked with musicians all over the world to create software and help them with their careers.
From there I went on to start Berkleemusic at Berklee College of Music where I taught and worked for over 14 years. Berkleemusic became the world’s largest music school. And we taught online and worked with tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and business people.

I co-wrote the book The Future Of Music with my friend Gerd Leonhard which predicted a lot of the change that happened in the music business. That became a best seller. That work led me to collaborate with lots of musicians, labels, publishers and artist managers coping with the changes in the marketplace that started with Napster and continued through the iPod emerging, iTunes, file sharing and all that has transpired since. At Berklee I set up a partner network of hundreds of companies like CMJ, Topspin, ProTools and many others to collaborate on digital marketing tools, online courses and strategies for independent musicians trying to navigate the changing marketplace.

I’ve worked with big artists and small artists in almost every genre and have coached many people who have been dropped from labels or just wanted to pursue an indie career from the start. I’ve had to learn what is working today and what is not, what tools you can employ to drive your career and what to avoid. It’s been a really fun ride so far, and this next chapter with the New Artist Model is going to be even more fun as we help a new wave of musicians deal with the realities of the market today.

What is the basic difference between the “Essential Class” and the “Master Class” that you offer?
Both classes teach the same material, with the same videos, presentations, interactions, animations, reading and case studies. The Essential Class is a self-paced course, so you drop into the course and go through the eight weeks of lessons on your own or with your band at your own pace. You move through the material and develop your strategy, you develop a brand strategy, publishing plan, touring and booking plan, a recording strategy and a marketing plan by going through a step-by-step process. We take a look at your finances and explore crowdfunding and various ways for you to get organized, set goals and create plans to reach those goals. That’s the essential course.

The Master Class is the exact same material but you’re working with me as a teacher and getting feedback directly from me. You are also working with a group of students from around the world. There are homework assignments, projects and class discussions that I lead. There is also a live chat once a week that you participate in where you can ask me any questions you want. You also receive feedback from the other students in the class which is a huge value. By working with people from different parts of the world you get a very unique perspective on the music business and get to share ideas and learn strategies that are working in different environments.

So basically, with the Essential Class you work at your own pace, and with the Master Class you get me as your teacher and a group of other students to learn from.

Can you give us a quick list of the basic areas of the music business that you hope to illuminate for your students?
The New Artist Model is an online music business course for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. The course teaches essential business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. The course is designed to give musicians a strong understanding of the current music industry and to provide the tools and techniques necessary to make a meaningful impact in today’s music market. Students will:

• Understand the dynamic music business ecosystem and your place in it.
• Build a team to support your goals and create opportunities for you in the marketplace.
• Leverage multiple revenue streams: publishing, touring and merchandise and recording.
• Develop an online presence and strategy to grow and monetize your relationship with fans.
• Understand the impact of copyright law and protect yourself and your music.
• Figure out how to budget, crowdfund and finance your projects.
• Get access to resources and people that can help you grow your network.
• Develop a custom and personalized Career Map and Budget for you.

Would you say that the New Artist Model online course is an extension of the guidelines you set down in your book, The Future Of Music: Manifesto For The Digital Revolution? Or do things move so fast in this world that you’ve got yet newer information to impart?
Well, in the book we did talk about a new artist model, and there has even been at least one song written about that approach, called Download This Song by MC Lars. But honestly, things have changed so much and are changing so fast that an online resource is really the only way to keep current. There are tools and technologies available today that were not around when The Future Of Music was written, most notably the iPhone and streaming services like Spotify—both of which we predicted in the book. So yeah, the New Artist Model course is a fresh and dynamic take on the current state of the music business and where things are headed today.

The general consensus is that touring is increasingly the most reliable way for bands to make money. Do you agree with that consensus? Or can touring be one more thing that gets in the way of an act developing their songwriting and marketing skills? 
This question gets at the central themes of the course, which are what kind of musician are you, what does success look like for you, what are you good at and where do you focus your efforts? I agree that touring can be a money maker for many artists if that is what you are good at and want to do. Performing live takes real skill to entertain an audience and build a fan base on the road, and if that is what gets you going, then yes, you should focus on that. But publishing and licensing are also great revenue drivers if you can write well and can plug into the music supervisors and agencies that pick songs for the media.

Another growing consensus is that musicians today cannot be “just” a musician, that they must be very proactive and entrepreneurial. But we all know musicians—is it realistic to expect musicians to run every business aspect of their career?
No, I don’t think that it is realistic that a single person can run every business aspect of their career. The whole idea of DIY is, in my opinion, a real disservice to the independent musician community. You can’t do it yourself, it’s impossible. You need a team and you need a strategy and focus so that you can move your career forward. It is more like DIWO, or “do it with others.” And to be effective doing so, you need a clear plan that you can communicate to your team members and that you can use to make decisions and figure out where to spend your time and where to invest your energy and resources.

Every artist needs a good manager and business partner to really get ahead. Someone to help with marketing and booking or plugging songs and providing a balance so that the artist can spend time being creative. But, I know and believe that in order for a musician to be successful in today’s environment, they need to have a very solid understanding of the business, even if they don’t do everything themselves. As a musician today, you are an entrepreneur and you better be fluent in the dynamics of the music business so that you can see where you are going and know how to get there.

Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free lessons!

music brand strategy

“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Beethoven’s music and personality can be described as moody, and Liszt was the showy star of the 1800’s. What makes you unique? Especially today, there are so many people out there trying to make it as a musician that you really need to consider why people would buy your album or go to your show instead of someone else’s.

There are two common approaches when it comes to defining a brand strategy. Some musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. This just confuses the audience. You end up with something like “We are a psychedelic reggae metal band. We also look to funk, bluegrass, and classic rock for influence and you can really hear it in our sound.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. Either they feel their music cannot be defined in a sentence or they are uncomfortable waving their own flag and would rather just play music.  No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. In fact, the more personal you can make your brand the better! Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. If you are passionate about something, chances are other people share in that passion. Use it as a connector!

Let’s look at a fairly well known band, Sum 41. Before they made it big, they had a hard time getting a record deal because many labels thought they were just another Blink 182 imitation band. The labels only heard one dimension of the band – their sound. It was their image, personality and attitude that really set them apart and got them the deal in the end. The band took camcorder footage of them goofing around and edited it into an audio-visual EPK. The resulting seven-minute hilarious video showed the labels that they were more than just punk music. They were characters and they were very good at projecting their character through media.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Everyone’s brand is unique, and every musician has a unique journey to discover their brand. In the New Artist Model  online course you’ll go through this process with founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek. You’ll take a look at more examples like Sum 41, define your own brand, and learn how to really harness that image to connect with fans.

 

fans-as-marketers

As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. You probably don’t have a record label planning your releases or scheduling your social media for the week, and you certainly don’t have any spare cash for a big marketing campaign. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you and maybe a manager trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. On top of that, new technology has enabled just about anyone to get online and call themselves a musician. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend. Think about how you found some of your favorite artists. How many of them did you discover from a friend’s recommendation? Or someone you trust?

The key here is authenticity. Making it real and transparent and interesting. More people will check out your new album after a friend recommends it than would after a flashy TV commercial. This means you don’t need to dish out thousands for a big marketing campaign. The most effective form of marketing is completely within your reach financially!


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Let’s take a look at The Wild Feathers, a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows exclusively for their superfans. This strategy gave superfans an incentive to go to their live shows and get excited about the release. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend.

This strategy is genius for a couple of reasons. By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share. They turned their superfans into marketers!  And they also brought them into the club early, which made the promoter happy.

Paramore also harnessed their fans as marketers in June 2013 for their song “Still into You.” Paramore launched a contest – “Paraoke” – asking fans to submit their best cover of the song. The winner would receive the bike featured in the video, two concert tickets, and a merch pack. As a result, YouTube was flooded with new Paramore covers. They didn’t need to spend thousands on a big marketing campaign. Their fans spread the word for them.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Chances are your fans are already out there talking about your music, but with a great marketing plan you can really harness your fans’ marketing efforts. In the New Artist Model online course we look at all your fans and help you create a plan to grow and energize the power of your fan base.

musician-niche

We all want everyone to like us, but in the music industry especially that’s not always possible. People have such specific and opinionated tastes in music that there’s always going to be someone out there who’s just not a fan of your sound. But don’t let that discourage you! On the flip side, because music is such a personal thing, there will also be people out there who think your music is amazing. The key is to focus your efforts on these people. It’s easier to turn a fan into a superfan than it is to turn a hater into a fan.

Start local and move up from there. Don’t try to tour the country, or even the “East Coast”. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following there. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Something extra. Draw them into your scene.

Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.  Think about this a concentric circles. You start in the middle and move out over time. You have your current circle, so you work within that and then move out one ring at a time.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Take for example the band Phish. They are a notorious touring band, but they weren’t always as well known as they are now. Phish is from the northeastern US, and they stayed in that area playing gigs and building up a fan base for years after they formed. They were able to sell out some of the biggest venues in their local area before they were even signed to a record label.

The vastness of the internet’s reach has a lot of musicians today convinced that they need to rush to larger tours. The logic is that if they tour more in an increasingly large area they will get more fans and make more money. However, it takes more than one show to make a true fan. If you repeatedly play your local music scene, music fans will really get to know you and feel a connection with you and your music. This is what you should be striving for – the deep connection, not just awareness.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief – what your brand is all about. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are. And your niche can transcend music and  connect you over time with other people.

To consider an extreme example, let’s look at the “Gluten-free rock star,Darius Lux. After going through a diet change, Darius Lux began targeting gluten-free and health blogs for coverage of his music. Health and food has little to do with music, but the key here is that he was in a space with little to no competition from other musicians. Rather than having to differentiate himself from the thousands of other pop-rock musicians out there, Lux went to a different market – one where he was the star.

Another musician, Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. Like Darius Lux, she targeted a market that isn’t already saturated with music – the sailing market – and was able to really be the star. It may seem like these two musicians may have severely limited themselves in terms of audience, and in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however they were able to really stand out.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Everyone has their own specific niche, be it a geographic area, a lifestyle, or a belief. It will take a little thought to discover your niche, but once you do you can create a really targeted plan to conquer that niche! In the New Artist Model online course, you’ll go through this soul-searching process and build a plan from there with the help and guidance of founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek.

musician-networking

I’m sure you’ve heard someone emphasizing the importance of networking in the music industry. Well, it’s true – most opportunities come from personal connections that you cultivate. So before you bulk email the A&R reps at every major label, try to put the importance of networking into perspective. The big labels and publishing companies may have the resources to promote you, but they probably won’t even see your email among the thousands of others they receive. Instead, start local and personal and work up from there.

As an indie musician, networking is your ladder to success. At the top of the ladder are the big-shot sponsors and music business professionals that work at major labels, large management firms, and publishing companies. At the bottom of the ladder is you and your local club owner, a small business in your city looking to run a TV or radio ad with music, and the producer who works in the local studio. You cannot reach the big connections up top unless you first develop your local connections. And many time these seemingly small connections can end up being far more valuable than you would think!

No matter how many times the word networking is driven into our heads, we sometimes get overwhelmed with internal tasks like posting to social media or playing a great gig that we forget to take the time and introduce ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. You don’t need a big speech or a prepared pitch. Just get into the habit of introducing yourself to one person at every show you play or at every studio you record in. Talk to the guy in charge of the soundboard, maybe he loved your show and wants to produce your next album. You can introduce yourself to a filmmaker or photographer at a local film festival or convention. In the future you might go to them for help with a music video or a band photo shoot or even work with them on a film score.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Your networking also shouldn’t be reserved for industry professionals like managers and agents. Take every opportunity to introduce yourself to other bands and other people and begin what could become a long-term connection. Remember, networking is a two-way relationship, and collaboration is usually the best way to promote this win-win situation. If you collaborate on a show, a song, or a recording, both of you will be exposed to the other’s fanbase!

Always remember to give before you ask. Do something for someone and they will remember you. If you want people to care about you, start by helping them in some way to get a relationship started.

To see some real networking in action, let’s look at Nashville-based indie rock group, Vinyl Thief. The band released their first EP, Control, in 2010 but were disappointed in the results. They called on a former high school classmate, now music marketing graduate, Wes Davenport, who reconnected with the band and offered his assistance. Davenport was brought on to the team and started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped the band set trackable goals and helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill.

Valuable connections in the music industry can come from places you least expect. More times than not, the connections that will really progress your career are the ones you don’t even notice at first – the friend from high school who majored in business, the local club owner, or the soundboard guy at your local venue. These people are the people who may be passionate about you and your music – and you never know how their careers are going to progress.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Don’t disregard the seemingly little connections! People you meet may work their way up the ladder and you may run into them in the future without expecting it. In the New Artist Model online course we show you the power of networking and teach you ways to get yourself out there. You will learn how to use collaboration in gigging, songwriting, and recording to grow your fanbase and your career.

music_team_building

We’ve all heard the term DIY – it’s been in practically every single indie music business article since the dawn of the 21st century. There are more tools available today than most artists know what to do with. You can be your own publisher, distributor, label, engineer, producer and marketer, and you can do it all from your room.

While it’s great that artists no longer have to do-it-with-a-big-record-label, perhaps DIY isn’t the best option either. There are a lot of artists out there with excellent business chops, but they’re still not experts. And they have more important things to do like creating music. You can’t be an expert in everything – there’s just not enough time in the day.  The key is to find and motivate people who are! Instead of DIY, move towards a do-it-with-others (DIWO) strategy.

Your team doesn’t even have to be seasoned pros. If you have a band you’re already way ahead of the game. Everyone has their own unique skills, so take advantage of that! One band member may be a math wiz. Put them in charge of the budget. They will keep track of the band’s income and expenses in a spreadsheet and be the voice of financial reason when it comes to spending money.

Another band member may be a people-person – they’re outgoing, confident, and not afraid to pitch your music passionately and enthusiastically. This person could be the face of the band when it comes to business and networking. It’s their job to call up the promoter, pitch your music for a publishing placement of sponsorship, and talk to the soundboard guy after the show.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Let’s take a look at recent pop sensation, Betty Who.  Betty Who’s “Somebody Loves You” began drawing the attention of the pop music world after the release of her first EP The Movement in spring of 2013. In September 2013 the song was featured in a viral gay marriage proposal video and just a few days later she was signed to RCA Records.

Betty Who didn’t get where she is today on her own – she had a great team behind her the whole way. Producer Peter Thomas and manager Ethan Schiff attended Berklee College of Music with Betty Who. With Peter Thomas she was able to find and really latch onto her signature pop sound, and Schiff helped set her up on the business side of things.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

The key take away here is that your team doesn’t have to be made up of top-of-the-line professionals that charge thousands of dollars for their time. Your team can start out as friends, classmates, and band members. These are the people who are really passionate about you and your music, and often passion is more important than money or connections. In the New Artist Model online course we teach you techniques to build a strong team to efficiently run your business and much more.

 

music-time-management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, the business professional, and sometimes way more, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. Now it’s all well and good that artists today can be 100% in control of their career. The problem comes when you can no longer find enough time for what matters most – your music! Think of it this way: if you don’t quality music to build your business around, how can you build a musician business?

How do you find time to practice, create, and refine your craft while also running the business side of things, staying on social media, strategizing launches, and making important industry connections? The first step is to streamline. This really ties back to goal setting. If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a close look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, or postpone.

The next step? Delegate! Many artists are defensive and controlling when it comes to their art. And with good reason – it is a very personal statement. However, you can delegate tasks to team members to get things done and really clear up a lot of your personal time. Your team doesn’t have to consist of big-shot business people – your band will do just fine. Just get in the habit of dividing up tasks instead of taking the whole load on yourself.

Each person should have a list of tasks that they need to complete. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. For those high-priority jobs, break them down into smaller tasks. Accomplishing these small stepping stones will help you feel like you’re accomplishing things and keep you in a state of forward momentum.

AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!  It’s easy to get sucked into answering emails or managing social media, or making a website – but without your music, you don’t have anything to build a business on.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Michael Shoup is a musician and entrepreneur who turned his career around and started making profit with time management. After graduating college with a Bachelors degree in music, Shoup started his career as a musician, funding his tours with money made in freelance web design. After three years he had effectively gigged hiself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt with little to show for his efforts. He gave up his professional music career and went into web design full time.

It wasn’t until he organized his time that he was able to succeed in music. He prioritized his tasks to free up more time, and delegated other tasks. He automated and scheduled anything that could be automated like email and social media, and he made sure he left time for the most important thing – his art!

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Don’t Have a Team
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Time management has helped Michael Shoup become debt free. On top of that, he’s managed to self-fund an album, started a music marketing agency, 12SouthMusic, and created a social media app, Visualive.  In the New Artist Model online course we teach you how to effectively manage the many aspects of your career from playing to marketing. By the end of the course you will have a detailed plan that will get you on track to your goals!

leveraging copyright

Your copyrights are your business. They are your assets and your products, so it makes sense to take some time to understand them. You don’t need to be on the same level as a big-shot entertainment attorney, but it helps to have a general understanding of copyright law.

There are two kinds of copyright: composition and sound recording. Copyright is created when a musical idea is put into tangible form. So when you write that song down (composition) or record it (sound recording) you own the rights!  All those rights are exclusive, meaning you, and only you can leverage your song.

So how does all this translate into actually making money? Other people and companies have to get your permission and usually pay you to perform any of the actions protected by copyright. Think of copyright like property – intellectual property. If you owned a large apartment building other people would have to get your permission to live in one of the apartments. They would sign a contract and money would most likely change hands. It’s the same principle for music. A record label or distributor pays you to be able to make copies of your song and distribute it to online and retail stores. A radio station pays you (through a PRO) to perform your song over the radio. A company pays you to sync your music to their promotional videos or advertisements.

One thing a lot of musicians miss is the fact that copyrights are power. You own the copyrights, so you have the power. Think about it, without your copyrights would labels or publishers have anything to sell? Many more musicians have been realizing this and figuring out how to leverage their copyrights.

Licensing is an obvious option, and there are surprisingly a lot of opportunities out there for indie musicians to make money licensing their music. In fact, there’s just 4 easy steps you need to take to START licensing your music.

Music publishing can be a tricky area to navigate when it comes to payment, especially when you’re just starting out. Many companies don’t have a budget for music and rely on small indie bands to license their songs for free. In these cases, don’t cave in or restrict yourself to just monetary payment. Think about what non-monetary things they can offer you in exchange for your music. Does the company run a blog? If so they could write up a quick feature or interview with links back to your site and social media channels. When done correctly, the publicity could be just as valuable as a check!

The Happen Ins are an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People and a corresponding video in July 2011. In this case, Free People had to get permission to sync the Happen Ins music to their video. Free People is a fairly well known clothing line, so the band most likely got some monetary payment, but we’ll focus on the non-monetary publicity, as it is something most companies can offer even the smallest bands. Members of The Happen Ins were in the catalog, were the feature of many blog posts surrounding the catalog release, and played at the catalog release party. In order to grow their fan base, the Happen Ins offered a free download to Free People’s customers.

If you want to make the most of your copyrights, the key is to find business partners that have a similar image or audience to yours or one you want to reach. In this case, Free People, their customers, and the Happen Ins have a vintage rock and roll vibe. Think about your image, personality, and music when you go out looking for publishing deals. But if you have a solid licensing strategy in place, you can make a decent amount of money licensing your music, even as an indie musician or band.


Want more music licensing tips? We’re hosting a free webinar that will take you through a surefire way to license your music. Everything we’re going to cover is tried and tested by our own Joyce Kettering, who has used everything she teaches to make a full time living licensing her music. Click here to register for free and choose the date and time that works best for you.


Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Skip Time Management
  3. You Don’t Have a Team
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

The New Artist Model online course teaches you specifics of copyright law and creative publishing in detail. By the end of the 8-week course you will fully understand what copyrights you have and can create, what you can do with them, how you get paid, and how to effectively pursue music publishing and licensing.

 

Goal-setting-plan

Running blind never got anyone anywhere, especially not in the music industry. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be. I know, everyone wants to be a rich and famous musician, but as you’ve probably realized, a vague goal like that leaves you discouraged and confused on how to move forward.

Before you set any goals, you’ll need to do a little soul-searching. Figure out what you really want and how much time and dedication you are realistically going to put in. If you have a team, like co-writers, band members, or a manager, make sure everyone is on the same page. The key here is to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.”  Or whatever your number is.

On top of that, you’ll want to start mapping out some milestones or tasks within each goal. Breaking your goals down into small, achievable steps helps keep you motivated and positive. Think about the goal we just set above. Break down a lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.

With so many apps and services available today, many indie musicians suffer from choice paralysis. What tool should you use to build your website? What company is best for digital distribution? What social media sites deserve your attention? The choice is especially daunting when money is involved. No one wants to fork over cash for a service that may not work out as planned. So how do you get past these decisions? While research is your best friend in these situations, keeping your goals in mind will also help. Every single time you’re faced with a choice, ask yourself: “What option brings me closer to my goals?”


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


One band that used goals and planning to their advantage is Karmin. From the start they knew they wanted to be a pop duo targeting a young teen audience. Originally, they were releasing original music but weren’t getting much traction or interest. Manager Nils Gums suggested the duo cover current popular songs to get in front of their target audience – these were the songs that young teens were searching in YouTube. They followed the charts and consistently covered the most popular songs every week.

It took time, and a lot of covers before one of Karmin’s covers went viral. The important takeaway here is that Karmin knew their goal, they made a plan to get there, and they stuck with it. If they had given up on the cover strategy after only a few weeks, they would never have gotten to where they are today.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  2. You Skip Time Management
  3. You Don’t Have a Team
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

In the New Artist Model online course we take you through the process of creating your own goals and building a plan to achieve them.  Amy Heidemann from Karmin studied and worked with Dave Kusek at Berklee and this course will bring YOU the fresh and practical steps and advice that you need for making it in the music business today.

 

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

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

We’re well into 2014, and if you haven’t made any resolutions for your music now’s the time to do it! Your resolutions don’t have to be anything major like “get a major record deal.” Instead, set little goals to break old habits, focus, or make new connections.

This article is written by Shaun Letang for Music Think Tank.

1. Dedicate At Least __ Hours A Week To Your Music.

If you want to consistently move your music career forward this year, it’s going to take a set amount of dedication on your part. A minimum amount of time and effort if you will.

I intentionally left the ‘__’ space above, simply because it’d be impossible for me to tell you exactly how much time each of you should dedicate to your music. Everyone’s in different situations. While one person who’s a part time student may to able to dedicate 20 hours a week to their music, someone else with two kids and a full time job will understandably be able to dedicate much less time.

Regardless of your situation though, the important thing is you think of a realistic amount of time you should be able to dedicate and stick to it. If one week you miss your target number, make up for it the following week. Miss that TV show if you have to, your music career is much more important! Make it happen.

2. Become More Focused On A Few Social Media Sites.

When I say that, I don’t mean dedicate more of your time there. Instead, what I mean is you should be more focused in one, two, or maximum three platforms of your choice. The thing is, when you start trying to juggle more platforms than that, your time on each one lessens each time. This means you don’t get enough time to make sure each one is a success.

So focus on building up an audience on 1-3 platforms, and don’t diversify this side of things too much.

3. Collaborate With At Least One New Musician A Month.

Collaborating with others is a great way of getting extra exposure, although not one that’s often talked about. By working with other musicians in your genre, you’re opening yourself up to be exposed to their fanbase. If you both promote the song you do together to your own audiences, both of you will get in front of new people, and hopefully both end up with a bigger fanbase by the time the project’s over.

Now the idea is to not only do one collaboration here and there, but instead regularly collaborate with others, and get in front of as many different musician’s audiences as you can!

A good way to go about finding other musicians to collaborate with is is by looking on sites like Soundcloud. They have many talented acts you can search through, and even if they’re not local to you can you have them record vocals and send them over the internet.

Another option is to get in contact with local acts you already know about. Find them online, and propose a collaboration.

To see the other 3 resolution ideas, check out the full article on Music Think Tank.

What are your music-related resolutions for 2014? Share in the comment section below!

For more help setting and achieving goals, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

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

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

“The Buyer and the Beats,” a study unveiled by Nielsen at SXSW 2013, cites between $450 million and $2.6 billion incremental revenue in the music industry.  While the industry has already begun the shift towards models such as crowdfunding and direct to fan, this study suggests a demand for additional experiences, content, and engagement not yet available.  This study presents much-needed optimism for indie musicians trying to make a living off their art.

Nielsen surveyed 4,000 music consumers of different degrees of dedication.  “Aficionado fans” are the big-spending music connoisseurs, dedicated to many genres of music ranging from popular to obscure, with an understanding of the music industry. They are your superfans.  “Digital fans” are fanatic social media users with a tendency to use the free versions of internet radios and other similar services.  “Big box fans” generally associate themselves with pop and country and are strongly influenced by discounts and deals.  Together these groups account for 40% of music consumers, but are responsible for 75% of all music spending!

Despite the groups’ purchasing differences, across the board fans expressed a willingness to pay for content given the opportunity. Nielsen concluded that if music fans were to buy additional exclusive content from one band the music industry stands to make $564 million, but if these fans buy content from all their favorite bands, there is a possibility for $2.6 billion.  The true number probably lies somewhere in the middle, but either way, you can and harness this unmet demand.

According to Chief Analytics Officer at Nielsen Entertainment Measurement, Barara Zack, “Fans want more… There is a desire to engage at a different level than what they have.”  So where are you going to find this untapped revenue?  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms have shown that “fans really want are 55-dollar signed CD’s, hand-written lyric sheets, and access to the making of the album.”

The recent overwhelming success of artists like Amanda Palmer has solidified crowdfunding as a viable fund raising platform, however, it’s related functions as a direct-to-fan platform, presale tool, and exclusive content provider are often overlooked.  Currently, many artists view crowdfunding as a tool to fund the creation of an album, and any presales are just an added bonus.  This is methodology backwards and not sustainable.

CEO of Pledge Music, Benji Rogers believes fans will begin to suffer from “donor fatigue” if donations are constantly requested of them and time sensitive goals are pushed in consumers faces like big flashy advertisements.  If this path is pursued, crowdfunding has the potential to follow advertisements down the road of consumer indifference.  For this reason, Pledge Music does not display any financial target.

Nielsen reported that 53% of aficionado fans and 34% of digital fans are willing to pay for content and access, meaning many indie musicians miss out on potential income when content is given out free.  Additionally, 59% of aficionados and 55% of digital fans want to know more about their favorite musicians.  “What really kills me is that I watch these big artists tell the story, and give it away through Facebook posts and on Twitter, but I can’t buy in and be a part of it,” says Benji Rogers.  While many “aficionado fans” may find this pay-for-content model is perfectly viable, it has the potential to alienate the average music consumer – a balance must be met between free and paid content in order to target and monetize both casual and dedicated fans. Every one of your fans are different, so different products will appeal to each.

Crowdfunding’s true calling lies in its ability to sell many different products at many different price points at an earlier stage than a typical release.  You can target more casual fans and begin bringing in presale money earlier on, while simultaneously offering hardcore fans exclusive access to the making of the album.  Effectively executed crowdfunding not only brings in money earlier, it keeps you at the front of fan’s minds through constant updates and interactions.

Direct-to-fan bundling is also emerging as a viable model for tapping into additional revenue.  Fans have expressed a want for additional content, and in many cases that content exists but fans are unaware.  For example, 35% of aficionado fans and 25% of digital fans were interested in crowdfunding, but unaware of its existence. How can indie artists tie in direct-to-fan notifications for new products and live shows into the platforms their fans spend their time on like Spotify and YouTube?

Since 1999, the music industry has lost billions in revenue, falling from $27.8 billion to $16.5 billion in 2012.  While many blame the internet, it has perhaps added more value than it has taken in the form of exclusive content and more personal relationships between fans and artists.  Today fans have the opportunity to see what goes on behind the album, and fans are proving time and time again that they are willing to pay for this content and information on their favorite bands.  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms are certainly steps in the right direction, but fans are indicating that they still want more, and that is an encouraging thought for the music industry.

(Check out an article from Nielson here.)

How will you harness this untapped revenue potential? What can you sell to your superfans?

 

To learn more about the revenue streams available to you, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Grow your fanbase on Twitter

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1amtI8U

Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool in your music career. However, it can sometimes feel like no one is listening despite there being hundreds of thousand of people on Twitter everyday. Andrew Muller (@TheRealMusicianruns Twitter campaigns for musicians and has a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. He gives some great tips for upping your Twitter game. Here’s a short excerpt from his article. To see all four tips head over to Cyber PR.

Custom background/header/profile image (with photoshop templates)

I can’t tell you how often a band is ready to run a promotional campaign on Twitter, but hasn’t even bothered to create custom graphics for their Twitter page yet. It’s a very simple task, so it always tends to blow me away when I see this.

If you don’t have any of your own ideas, here are some I’ll give you to get you started. If you do have your own ideas, feel free to let those surpass my recommendations.

For your profile photo, I would recommend choosing a picture of your band. Sometimes an album cover or a piece of art you have can be appropriate too. The photo can be up to 2mb in size.

For your header image, create a graphic that’s 1252×626 in size. It can be an album cover, a picture of your band, or maybe even just a background from your album slip. Do your best to make it a cohesive image that fits in with the rest of your band image.

For your main background, I have a special treat for you. Take a look at the Twitter account for “Every Time I Die”. Their background image is a perfect example of professional design, and you can achieve a very similar effect with minimal graphic design skills.

If you follow this link, you can download a photoshop file I’ve prepared for you.

All you need to do is fill in the blanks to get a professional background image. You do need to own a copy of photoshop, or at least know someone who does, but it should save you a lot of legwork when designing your own Twitter background.

With those 3 elements in place, you should be good to go as far as the “look and feel” of your Twitter page goes.

Tweet @ people

Twitter is meant to be a dialogue between you and your fans, so you need to consistently be talking to people.

Using the @ symbol when you reference someone is a great way to show on your public Twitter profile that you’re talking with people. When someone shows up to your Twitter page and sees that you are actively talking with people, they’re much more likely to follow you.

How do you use Twitter? Share in the comments below.

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

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

Goals are really the driving force behind your music career. Musicians, more so than most other people, are familiar with the power of goals. That need to improve – to play better, create better, and perform better than you did yesterday – is what gets you up every morning. It’s what keeps you excited and passionate.

I’m sure you’ve set goals for your art. To finish writing that song you’ve been working on. To refine your technique on the double bass pedal. To find that perfect sound for the violin track. To learn a new song in time for band practice this week. Musicians are constantly – whether conscious or not – pushing themselves towards goals. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the mindset that makes a musician. Musicians are some of the most dedicated people on the planet.

You’re a musician. You know how to set goals and push yourself. Now, you need to put that same dedication into your career goals. You’ve no doubt seen how the goals you set for your art have improved you as a player, a performer, and a writer. After all, there was a time when you were picking up that instrument for the first time. You can experience that same amount of improvement in your career with some smart goal setting.

The following was written by Simon Tam for Music Think Tank.

Specific

Ask yourself the big questions: Who, what, when, where, why, when? A specific goal lets you know what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by, why you are doing it, who will be involved, and where it will happen.

For example, a goal I’ve used before: Tour the continental U.S in August 2013 with at least 18 shows, playing a mixture of all-ages, 21+, and convention shows making an average of $500 per night. Also, see an increase on social media and web traffic by at least 10% and increase online sales by 20% for the month before, during, and after the tour. Those are all specific targets that I can definitely measure against.

Measurable

A goal should have specific metrics so you know if you’re making progress. If you have one larger goal, you should break it up into smaller parts over the course of time. That way, you and your team can always know where you stand against the overall goal. During this time you should be asking questions with how, when, and what: how much do you have left to go? When will you reach your goal? What do you have to do to stay on track?

Using the tour goal listed above, one could easily measure against the goal in a number of ways:

  • How many shows have been booked for August 2013? What kinds of shows have been booked?

  • How much income is being earned per night?

  • What is the average monthly online sales? Have they increased – and if so, by how much?

  • What do I need to do to help increase merch sales, at shows or online?

Attainable

The goals that you develop should be ambitious but realistic. If you focus on what you can do, it sometimes reveals new opportunities. For example, potential sponsors – many are probably in your own backyard but are often overlooked for the larger, sexier opportunities.

Goals should grow with you. As you gain more resources, abilities, finances, and followers, your goals should get respectively larger. Having them just out of reach helps you stretch. However, having them too far away will only cause frustration.

Relevant

The goals that you choose should matter. They should motivate you and drive your career forward. For example, I’ve talked to many artists who have a goal of playing a large festival like SXSW even though it doesn’t relate to their current state of their music career. Things shouldn’t be goals just because others are doing them. Ask yourself these questions: Is this the right time? Is this worthwhile? How will this directly help me?

Timely

Your goals should have a time-bound deadline. When would you like to reach your goal by? If your goal is shrouded in the idea of “someday,” you’ll have a much more difficult time of reaching it. If you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year, you’ll work more aggressively for it. For example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 records, you would treat it much differently if that was 5,000 someday as opposed to 5,000 by December.

Everyone

Goals in a band should have everyone involved. People should be on the same page, have the right expectations, and the proper work ethic for reaching the goal.

Also, when I saw everyone, I mean everyone. This includes spouses or other people whom we depend on for support. If your band members would like to tour 8-10 months out of the year but their significant others aren’t supportive of that goal, some serious issues could arise – especially when that opportunity presents itself. .

Revisited

Goals should be revisited often. Not only should you be checking on your progress toward your goal, but you should also see if those goals need to be adjusted. Ask: are these goals still relevant? Is this what I want/need still?

How can you make your goals SMARTER this year?

You’ve no doubt heard that the live show is where the money lies in the music industry, especially for indie musicians. However, it’s not a magic cash funnel, and sometimes just playing won’t drive your fans to your merch table. Today indie musicians need to play the marketer, as uncomfortable as it may be. It will be difficult at first to ask your fans to buy, but it will come more naturally with practice.

This article was written by music business coach and social media strategist, Madalyn SklarHere’s 3 of the steps, to see all 5 check out the full article over at Cyber PR.

Step 1 – Greet Them At The Door

I have rarely seen artists do this but the few that do make quite an impression with fans. The best way to get ahead in this business is networking. There is no better place to network than at the door of your show. For many years I ran a monthly GoGirls showcase event in Houston, TX. I had the coolest job, not just booking and promoting it but running the door and merch table too. I met amazing people. But I wasn’t the talent on stage. I was just the girl charging cover or selling merchandise. The ticket holder is there to see you. It would be so unexpected for them to witness you greeting people at the door. It shows you are approachable and way cool. And in return you will see more sales. Cha-ching!

“Most fans have you on a pedestal. If you didn’t know this, better start believing it.”click to tweet

For those who already know it, don’t be a dick about it. Treat your fans with respect and love. Always.

Step 2 – Mention You Have Merch For Sale From The Stage

“The best way to make money at your show is by simply asking people to buy.” click to tweet

I know this one sounds like a no brainer but I hardly see bands telling their audience they have merch for sale. They always tell me they forget to announce it from the stage. Keep in mind that the majority of people at your show are not mind readers so it’s helpful to let them know that not only do you have merch for sale but you’ll be happy to sign a CD or poster for them. The next time you’re on stage, mention you have a merch table with lots of fabulous stuff. The best way to ensure you don’t forget this is to incorporate it right into your set list. It’s super easy to do. When making your set list, pick two spots and mark it as “Merch Reminder” that way you will not forget once you hit the stage.

Step 3 – Bundle Your Merchandise

Fans like things simple. So why not make it easy for them to give you a $20 bill or swipe on your Square (for credit/debit cards) by bundling two things together. I’ve seen bands put together simple bundles that make the deal look too good to pass up. You can offer 2 CDs and a sticker for one low price or maybe a CD and a t-shirt combo. You can easily increase your earnings just by playing it smart with bundling. Get creative and have fun with it.

Try these steps out at your next live show and let us know how it went!

 

Join the revolution and supercharge your merch! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free sample lessons.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dl2Czp

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dl2Czp

We’re now into the second day of 2014 and I’m sure you have dreams of making it big. What if I told you that something as simple as your mindset can have a huge impact on whether or not you achieve your dreams?

Musicians work in a creative field – and like many creatives they’re often plagued with self-doubt. Questions like “Is this song good enough?” or “Will everyone ignore me when I play live?” are always bouncing around in the subconscious thoughts of musicians. After all, you are putting yourself out there emotionally and creatively when you write, record, and perform. Intentional or not, these negative subconscious thoughts often manifest themselves in your actions. You can become shy and uncomfortable, pushing people and opportunities away. On the other side of the equation, if you work towards maintaining a positive mindset you will project confidence and good things will follow.

Nikki Loy is a singer songwriter who managed to turn her career around by addressing those negative thoughts and making them positive. She wrote this article for Cyber PR. Here is a short excerpt, but if you’re interested you can check out the full article here.

What do you really believe about your music career? If your thoughts about your music were announced to your audience on the P.A. system through which you perform, what would we all hear?

Do you only think great thoughts? Or do you catch yourself thinking ‘I’ll never make any money at this’, ‘It’s too hard!’, ‘There’s too much competition’, ‘No-one notices me’, ‘I wish a major label would sign me and make life easier’, ‘No-one likes my kind of music’, ‘I make Un-popular music’ ‘I’ll be poor forever’ ‘Musicians don’t make money..’ ‘I’m just one in a million other talented songwriters’

If you have negative beliefs about yourself and your career, you will always feel like you are climbing your mountain of musical success with a bungie cord strapped round your waist pulling you back to the bottom. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of that cord and just be free to ascend unhindered?

I suggest you take some time to find a comfy place, where you won’t be disturbed. Take out a notebook or journal, and get really honest with yourself about this. Don’t hold back. Get those thoughts and feelings out. Without judgement, let your emotions take over for a bit and write it all down. Find out what you have been rehearsing in your head that is contrary to the desires of your heart. Ask your self how any negative beliefs are effecting your ability to make money from music right now. Write that down too. And how will they effect you in the long term?

The thing about beliefs is that your subconscious mind will orchestrate your life to reinforce your beliefs. You will unwittingly make choices and decisions, and adopt behaviours and expectations, that re-affirm your beliefs. For example: ‘No-one notices me’ used to be a big one for me. It manifested in audiences literally ignoring me. When I realised that I was subconsciously communicating ‘Ignore me’ to the crowd, through my tone of voice, my body language and my lack of interaction, I saw how I had created my own reality. Then I took action to change all of that behaviour, and it hasn’t been a problem since – Every crowd chants for an encore!

What is holding your music career back?

Join the revolution, subscribe to the New Artist Model.

The internet has given artists the opportunity to connect with their fans any time and anywhere, but how do you convert those interactions into sales? With so much information being pushed into social media, how can you be sure your posts aren’t being lost in the crowd? Founder and CEO of BandPage, J Sider, believes that data and context will be key drivers of fan engagement in the coming years. Check out his article below.

As an industry, we’ve gotten pretty good at reaching our fans, engaging them and driving conversions. There is a general understanding of how to reach them on social networks, traditional online marketing and mailing lists. But now, with the rise of major streaming and entertainment platforms combined with advancements in technology, there are two things that will make it much more powerful to engage and convert fans: data and context. While social networks opened new channels for fan engagement over the past few years, we believe that going forward the biggest untapped potential for artists will be in streaming and entertainment platforms that offer context-relevant channels and data-driven targeting techniques.

Why Streaming & Entertainment Platforms?
Streaming and entertainment platforms, like Spotify, Pandora, Xbox Music and VEVO, have emerged in the last few years as places where hundreds of millions of users are deeply engaged in content. These users, a.k.a. your fans, go to streaming platforms for the main purpose of listening to your music, that’s why these channels are key to increasing fan interactions and your bottom line. These platforms know what types of fans are listening, how many times they’ve listened and the other content (concert listings, pictures, videos, etc.) they perused. This comprehensive picture leads to increased conversions, such as revenue, new fans and a better understanding of your current fans.

Think about it: when you post an update about your latest album on social networks, that status swiftly floats down a real-time stream of content posted from your friends, family and thought leaders about every subject possible. Although your fans may see it, they can easily be distracted by everything else. Page posts organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. The key to reaching fans with content is targeting & context. That same album update will be more impactful when it hits a fan who is currently listening to your music on a streaming and entertainment platform because they are only focused on you.

We already see streaming services that let users know when their favorite artists put out new songs or albums. Now let’s take that same idea and apply some more nuanced targeting to it. We’ll identify three types of fans — Passive, Active and Superfans. You wouldn’t show a Passive fan a $200-VIP offer because it would feel like spam to them, so you present them with your new song or a nearby show instead. Meanwhile, we target the $200-VIP offer to the Superfan. This fan-focused targeting can lead to higher conversion rates and, ultimately, more revenue and a larger fanbase. It’s the most effective “in-context targeting” we’ve had yet.

Why Now?
When BandPage first started, my goal then was, and it still is, to connect artists directly to their fans to increase engagement and revenue. At that point, fans were found on large social networks, and that’s why we started there. Then we looked to where we could help artists expand on other platforms and properties in effective ways. That’s when we began to power musicians’ websites and blogs. But today, the action has grown on major streaming and entertainment platforms.

Social networks are still a very influential part of the puzzle. But looking forward, I believe these new entertainment and streaming platforms will become just as important, if not more important, than traditional social media networks for generating conversions and reaching fans. The aggregated number of fans across these platforms gives artists the unprecedented opportunities to effectively reach hundreds of millions of fans they weren’t able to engage before.

What’s Next?
In the past, artists couldn’t effectively and efficiently communicate on streaming and entertainment platforms. Our bet is that these platforms will become an incredibly powerful way to engage and convert your fans. My company recently started powering musicians profiles on VEVO and Xbox Music via their BandPage profile, and you will see us expanding our platform to help musicians successfully reach their fans.. This is just the beginning of what’s possible for the music industry. And I’m very excited for that potential to become a reality.

J Sider is the Founder & CEO of BandPage

This post is by Bob Lefsetz from the Lefsetz Letter. To read the full article, click here.

1. You have to NEED to make it.

Wanting to make it is not enough. It must be your one true calling. If you’re willing to be broke, with no direction home, you might possibly make it. Sacrifice is the key element. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your home, your relationship, forgo children and sleep on the floor when you’re forty, don’t expect to make it in music, certainly don’t expect to sustain.

2. You have to be great.

Good is not good enough. You’ve got to blow our minds.

3. You can’t do it alone.

That’s an Internet fiction, from a decade past, that if you just posted something online it could cut through the noise. You need a team. The most important team members are:

a. A lawyer

b. A manager

c. An agent.

If you’re not at the point in your career that you can hire a team, delegate the tasks to your band members, or work with a friend who has some music business knowledge. Just make sure these jobs get done!

4. Believers

Sure, you need fans. But all they can do is pay for your Kickstarter record, and have you noticed we hear no more Kickstarter stories, that the outlet is the new BlackBerry, something that used to be that is no longer? If you’re just speaking to your fans, getting money from them, you might be able to survive, but you’ll never be able to grow.

You need people to believe in you. They need to do favors for you, get you on the radio, get you placed on shows, give you a chance to demonstrate your wares. Make connections everywhere you go. With other musicians, the sound guy at the club, the local venue owner, the local film maker or photographer. If you’re totally DIY, you’re gonna be living in your basement.

5. Learning

We live in a country where no one can admit they’re wrong. If you’re not willing to question every choice, do it differently next time, you’re never going to make it. Three years ago, almost everything I’ve said above would be different. You could go viral by your lonesome, social networking worked. But times change. You once used your aforementioned BlackBerry and were thrilled to get your e-mail on the run, now it’s all about apps. People hate change, but those who are willing to do so win. Kind of like in Silicon Valley, where it’s called “the Pivot.” Your original idea didn’t work, so you take the core and go in a different direction. You might think you’re a rocker, but truly you might be a country artist. You might think you’re a singer, but you might really be a songwriter, or a producer.

6. Pay little attention to those who are popular.

By the time you get your chance, completely different people and paradigms might rule. Originality is the key to longevity. Be yourself, not someone else.

7. Popularity.

Means people like you and your music. It comes with haters, because it’s so hard to break through, people are going to be angry that you did. You’ll be told you’re ugly, that your music sucks, that you can’t sing, that you’ve got no talent, but don’t believe it. It’s so hard to make it that if you have, pat yourself on the back and do your best to survive.

8. Longevity.

One hit and you can get royalties forever. Maybe even live dates. But chances are you’ll have to have a day job. The rule is, the harder it is to do, the better the chance of survival. Which is why doctors can always be employed, even if they bitch about their compensation. The barrier to entry to music is miniscule, so there are always others who are eager to take your place. The more skills you’ve got under your belt, the better your chance at lasting. But don’t be holier than thou that you can read music and got a degree, these are just tools, building blocks, a foundation, it’s what you build on top that counts.

9. Be nice.

It’s the key to making it. If you’re a jerk, no one’s going to want to work for you, go out of their way to promote you. Constantly say thank you and go out of your way to be appreciative.

10. Sour grapes.

Are gonna pull you down. The woulda, shoulda, coulda posse can tell an interesting story over a beer, but these people never succeed. Life is full of challenges, if you haven’t been screwed, you haven’t played the game. The road to success is paved with humiliation, you can complain about it or swallow it and realize it’s dues.

Are you ready to make it? Join the revolution. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

Crowdfunding has no doubt been a continuing hit this year. Not only does it help the dedicated musician secure funding, it also acts as a marketing tool bringing artists and fans closer – more specifically targeting the super fans than any other platform. One platform has really brought crowdfunding to the next level in the music industry. PledgeMusic’s services are laser-targeted to the music industry and the needs of musicians. Check out this interview from PledgeMusic co-founder Jayce Varden to learn more about the company and what they have to offer you.

This interview, by Kyle Billings, is from the Music Business Journal. It presents a great overview of Pledge Music and the value it provides artists. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full interview here.

MBJ: Would you please share with us your vision for PledgeMusic?

Jayce Varden: Increasingly, and as a result of access to social media, the creative experience has become the value point around music. The recorded product could be considered devalued from a commercial perspective. But fans want to be a part of the process. What we do at PledgeMusic is give access to a creative project, a video, or the experience of a tour. Our focus is on creating an experience in inclusion—the time on the bus, the in-studio time, and the moments backstage. PledgeMusic provides the fan an ability to be a fly on the wall and to feel even closer to the artist than they already do. In fact, we take all of the social media content that artists would normally not monetize and contextualize it, and then build an interactive community around this. On the one hand, we empower fans to experience the making of an album, a tour, or a music video. On the other hand, we enable the artist to monetize content that would otherwise go to waste.

MBJ: Could you tell us about PledgeMusic’s origins?

JV: [Founder] Benji Rogers and I are best friends and he was the best man at my wedding. We met as students at the Berklee College of Music in the early 1990s, lived together in the Commonwealth Ave dorms, and played in the same bands. Then Benji moved to New York. I came back to Boston and got a Corporate Systems degree from Boston College. I was playing in bands, working in restaurants, and living the musician’s dream for a while too.  Benji had been doing the same in New York. But he came up with the idea of PledgeMusic after I finished at BC, and I remember we sketched it together on coffee shop napkins. We thought it could work, brought in some friends and advisors, and then came up with a proper business plan. We quickly got the initial investment to build PledgeMusic in the summer of 2008 and launched in July 2009. Benji’s last EP was the first project we ran. We wanted to make sure that the payment mechanisms worked, and see how the updates of the project looked when posted. A large amount of the money he raised went to Amnesty International. As crowdfunding and Kickstater became ubiquitous, we realized there was little follow-through from project managers; rewards were not being delivered. We knew we weren’t going to be a Kickstarter and, by nature, we had customer service mentality.  This is the area that we are in the process of growing right now tenfold. We want to make sure that people feel secure using PledgeMusic. Our success rate with A&R projects is 91%, which is unheard of in the crowdfunding industry. A large part of that success is explained by our curated approach to each project. We are still music geeks at heart, constantly going after our influences and trying to sell them on the platform. We always knew our job was to fill that platform with the work of musicians we absolutely love. And four years later we are still around.

MBJ: PledgeMusic is considered mostly a crowdfunding platform. Is this right?

JV: Crowdfunding is the payment mechanism. We absolutely have ties to crowdfunding, but when you shift the focus from the transaction to the experience, it becomes more a direct-to-fan business. We emphasize that crowdfunding is just another way to directly engage fans, and this is the point we often make to our artists. People who are quick to say that crowdfunding is an answer [for marketplace success] should be aware that they better have answers themselves to a litany of questions and issues that will likely crop up during the campaign. You really need a thought out communication and content strategy. As a marketplace brand, PledgeMusic is focused on getting more out of the artists we launch on our platform—drawing out their creativity and working with them to create a fuller experience for their fans. So it is a much more customer intensive business model than Kickstarter or IndieGogo because our artists are never alone and we work very hard with them from start to finish.

MBJ: How else does PledgeMusic create value for artists?

JV: The biggest value of PledgeMusic is our human capital. We treat these projects as marketing plans; each project has a dedicated representative. We offer artists several platform tools as well. For example, our data-capture widgets are buttons that offer a .zip file or audio track in exchange for an email address, Facebook like, or follow on Twitter. We also offer an email program for artists that have yet to understand the basics of email marketing. We aggregate subscribers in a PledgeMusic system and facilitate direct to fan communication. The proof of concept is the community we build for the artist—that is what pushes these campaigns. Social media integration is part of the package. We also become a viral marketing tool for the record labels. Instead of constantly asking fans to come back to the platform, we can automate the process of exposure for labels.

MBJ: How does a PledgeMusic campaign benefit artists in the long-term?

JV: Provided they have run a truly engaged campaign, and also that they have fulfilled their deliverables, our artists leave PledgeMusic in a very strong position. In fact, we’ve seen returning second or third time campaigns. PledgeMusic is much more than a fundraising well. If an artist has created an experience, that is repeatable. PledgeMusic does not just fund something, it grows fanbases. We continue to promote the artists in our ecosystem. For example, we promote the Ben Folds Five playing at the Barclay’s center or Will Daley, a local artist who’s going to France. That’s fun—being able to carry them all along the way with us. Because we allow the artist to own the data, and because we are there to help them understand what it means, it becomes a sustainable proposition for artists.

The role of the music manager has arguably grown over the past decade. Record labels are no longer investing as much money into artist development, and as a result, that task is falling to the musicians themselves and their managers. A good music manager can help you navigate the music business, find your voice and your niche, connect with your fans, make connections with industry professionals, and generally make things run more smoothly.

Unfortunately, an amazing manager is not always in the cards financially for musicians starting out, so here’s some great advice from artist manager Emily White. Emily is a super manager and Co-Founder at Whitesmith Entertainment, which is a full-service talent management firm based in Los Angeles and New York, spanning the music, comedy, film, TV, and sports industries. This interview originally ran on Hypebot. To see the full interview, visit hypebot.com.

What was it like starting out for you? Did you always know that you wanted to this from the beginning? If not what was the happy accident or moment of clarity that got you where you are today?

Emily White: I absolutely set out to do what I do. I studied music and business in college. I went to a school called Northeastern University in Boston. I know they’re quite a few music business programs out there now. But when I was in school in the early 2000s, there was kind of like 3 to 5 that I really narrowed in on. Doing a lot of internships while I was in school really paved the way for my career. I did about 8 internships as an undergrad all over the industry; in Boston, New York, and London. Probably most significantly I started working with the Dresden Dolls when I was in school because they were an up and coming Boston band that I was a fan of. I started as their intern, and merch girl. Then tour manager and day-to-day manager and eventually became their manager. The day that I was supposed to walk in the commencement ceremony, I was at Coachella starting a 3 continent tour with [Dresden] Dolls and Nine Inch Nails. Around that time I also worked out a deal with Madison House who became the bands management company and I tour managed the band for a couple of years from age 20 to 23. When I wasn’t on tour I worked at Madison House. So Madison House is really where I learned my management skills and I was really lucky to work for Mike Luba and Kevin Morris, who are really wonderful music loving people. Whether they realize it or not, they really built businesses around the artists, and that was always their strategy, kind of not relying on outside partners. Madison House had an in-house label, and publicists and travel agency and merch company and PR firm and all these things. So that was the kind of mindset I came from, and I definitely apply those tactics on just about everything I’ve done since.

Vincent: How have you found that technology and the internet has improved music business for you personally? How about everybody else? Also, what is your favorite digital resource?

Emily: Technology and the music business has extremely benefited me both personally as I fan and absolutely professionally because it really allowed artists to be able to make world class recordings from their bedroom, and also eliminated the gatekeepers of distribution. So for 40 or 50 bucks an artist can distribute their music worldwide on TuneCore, and be on every iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, and Rdio, and Rhapsody store and platform in the world. What it did is it leveled the playing field for artists, which is awesome, because they didn’t have to sit around and wait for someone to pay for a recording studio and then manufacture plastic CDs, and get their music out to everyone. So for me it’s been very exciting. I’ve always really understood the internet and technology. I love Rdio, Spotify and all the streaming platforms because this is what I wanted to happen when Napster existed. I remember being a teenager in the 90s and in my head I was like ‘I’d pay $15, $20, $25’ [for a streaming music service]. I thought I’d pay $50 a month for the service. So it only took the music industry 15 years to get it together, and offer a legal, viable alternative to Napster, but I think that’s really cool. However, there are obviously plenty of people that made a lot of money back in the day, and they’re not all necessarily evil… that are griping that their income has gone down. That’s something that really hit home for me at MIDEM one year. Because where I see nothing but opportunity in the new music business, and my young bands who are making money, and any sort of income are really excited because they are making a living playing music, they don’t have anything to compare it to. If you are the heirs of famous songwriters, and have multiple homes to keep up. Suddenly those revenue streams do go down. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if you are a person, that’s your experience. That’s your perspective. I know for a lot of people their incomes have changed, but ultimately I think technology has just been great for the music business. Like I said it is made in a level playing field for artists, which means hopefully the best art really wins. I think it’s also weeded out industry people that weren’t in it for the right reasons.

Vincent: When artists are just starting out, do you happen to have a best strategy for getting content, be-it songs, videos, or memes to blogs and social mavens? So in other words what are your methods for forming relationships with these people to break the “stone wall” of silence and to get them to actually react to you?

Emily: I love starting from scratch, because when that’s the case I’m not cleaning up messes and you can just be really organized from day one. So we start with the fans. A lot of times you can ask artists to add email addresses of their friends and family members. I looked after a 6-piece band once. When they all did that, there were 700 people on their email list from the get-go. So that’s pretty powerful. I’m kind of a spaz who likes to know everything that’s going on. I’m really aware of pretty much every email address that is added. What we do is start building out, just a Google spreadsheet called Fancy Friends, and in that we put tastemakers and industry people and things like that. You can also grab those email addresses and see those people based on who is tweeting at, or about the artist through their Google alerts, because if they are blogger. When we get our first piece of press, even if it’s just a local piece of press, it’s so easy to look at that article and grab that journalist’s email address. So the artists/me can contact them directly in the future. If you’re not able to, or don’t want to hire a publicist. You kind of build out your own roller deck and make it really targeted. Which can also be the case if, maybe you did just come up with a video or something, I mean a video is kind of a big deal, but you just have something simple that you want to spread the word on. It might not be like an album, or a big campaign or whatever, that way you have a list of 3, 4, and 500. Hopefully 1,000 tastemaker type of people that you’ve built up over years. So those are the kinds of tools we do from day one, whether it’s a new artist or someone established we’ve taken on.

Vincent: When you’re talking about bands/songwriters relying on the getting the publishing, do you have recommendations for songwriters who are just getting going, trying to get their songs… or that might already have great songs recorded, but want to get them to the music supervisors, so that they actually hear the music when their ears are bleeding?

Emily: Sure. I’m about to write an article on this because I’m very methodical about it. I think when you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid to work with kind of like a re-titling company like Music Dealers or Jingle Punks. I’ve had a lot of success with those companies in early days. Sometimes industry people just gasp at how big a cut those companies take on top of the fact that they are re-titling. But it can be a really good foot in the door. What you need to remember is that even though they’re taking a 50% commission, I can see it in backend in royalties and hundreds of thousands of dollars through the artist’s PRO. You know when a proper sync is landed. I’ve also had every publisher in the industry calling me after that happens. So I don’t think an artist should really be above that, even though it’s not the best deal out of the gate. The real key there is finding humans at those companies. So not just being their system, not being annoying obviously, but really having a relationship with your rep. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they have offices, maybe playing parties at their offices and showcases. And even writing and recording when they have specific briefs come in. So that’s a great way to start to establish an initial relationship for yourself. At the same time I would definitely send your music, if you really think it’s ready to go and it’s the best it will ever be, send it to a Terror Bird music and Zync and Lip-Sync. Those companies are really great, because they are so selective. They totally know what they’re doing. They also don’t take any ownership. So that’s really nice. So if they’ll take your music on, that’s awesome.

If you could ask a successful music manager one thing, what would it be? Share in the comment section below.

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

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

The new year is almost upon us, and that means it’s time to start fresh with new goals and a clean slate. I know we all set goals each year only to fall off them before the year is halfway through (as is evident by the huge surge and then sudden drop off of gym memberships.) However, if you learn how to set your goals in a more positive way it can actually help you stick with it. Your goals should be specific as possible, and big, lofty goals should be built with smaller milestones to keep up your forward momentum.

I have seen a huge difference between artists who set goals and those who don’t. It is essentially the first step towards your success in music. So what will you do in 2014? This is YOUR year!

This guide is from Cyber PR. To read the full article, check out the Cyber PR Blog.

Mapping Out Your Goals

Many studies have proven that long-term perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility in America. And it has been proven that people who have goals written down are much more likely to achieve them.

Focus Areas – Creating Order

STEP 1: Write Down Your Focus Areas

Here is a list of some areas you may want to focus on. Skip the ones that are not for you and write out each focus area goal.

Branding – Your look and feel your image and health or your pitch and overall messaging.

Marketing – What will you do this year for your marketing plans.

Newsletter –  It’s still the #1 way to make money!  What will you do to create and send yours 12 – 24 times this year & how many people can you add to your e-mail list.

Website  – Building a new one or diversifying your online presence?

Social Networking  – How’s your Facebook Fan Page looking? How many tweets do you send each week?

PR – Getting covered on radio, print, or online.

Booking – Touring or local gigs this year or a combination?

New Music – How much will you release?

Money – How much money you would like to earn?

Film & TV Placements – Will you work towards them this year?

Expanding Your Fan Base – How will you do this?

Team – Will you be trying to get a manager or a booking agent?

Time – How will you manage to balance your time this year to make sure you can focus on your musical goals?

Songwriting – Recording an album or EP this year or just releasing singles as they come?

Instrument – Buying a new instrument or taking lessons?

Personal Health – So your performance is better – exercise, eating  etc.

STEP 2: Write Your Goals Down

  • Write each goal as if it is already happening – use the present tense
  • Give dates by when you want to achieve each one
  • Your goals should involve you and only you (they can’t be contingent on someone else)
  • Make them so they are realistically achievable
  • Start with small goals so I can get them checked off the list and get in momentum fast!
  • Make sure they make you FEEL MOTIVATED to complete!  Derek Sivers wrote great commentary on this: http://sivers.org/goals

STEP 3: Look At Them Everyday

I highly recommend writing your goals neatly on paper or creating a vision board that illustrates them. Use colored pens or make a collage that brings them to life and hang them in a place where you can see them everyday.

Keeping them within your sights will keep them in your mind.

Carla Lynne Hall at Rockstar Life Lessons has a fabulous guide on how to create a vision board on her blog: http://bit.ly/CarlasVisionBoard

Techniques For Achieving Goals

1. Start With An Easy Goal And Complete It

One of the main reasons people don’t end up achieving their goals / keeping their new years resolutions is they set themselves up for failure by choosing goals that take a lot of discipline and time to achieve. There is nothing wrong with having big goals however, here’s what I recommend to overcome this issue…

Choose a simple goal and get it achieved within the next two weeks. This will start your momentum and get you feeling like you are in full forward motion.

Think of a small, achievable goal that only takes four to five hours to complete.

Choose something like:

  • Organize cluttered studio
  • Clean off desk
  • Delete unwanted files & emails from computer
  • Recycle last years unwanted papers
  • Write one new song

Next, set a date when you will get your chosen goal done by and go for it.

Now that you have achieved a goal within the first two weeks of the new year, the rest of your goal setting will seem a lot easier to accomplish, and you will be able to get things off your plate.

2. Make Lists To Stay On Track

  • Make daily lists of what you need to do to get your goals met – the night before! Do the hardest thing first in the morning – don’t procrastinate
  • Do something everyday that moves you towards your goals
  • Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people (you would be amazed what you could do with 4 hours it takes to clean your house).
  • Don’t overload yourself – studies show that 6 tasks is the maximum you can achieve in one day!

3. Write Down 5 Successes Each Day

I’m inviting you to write down five little victories a day for this entire year.
I learned this powerful technique years ago from T. Harv Eker.  Once you start getting into this habit, you are training yourself to put the focus on the positive and get your brain to stop being so critical.

So put a notebook in your gig bag or next to your bed and each day write down 5 things. Make one or two of them music or band related.

Here are some examples:

1. Went to gym.

2. Wrote lyrics for a new song.

3. Called three clubs for potential booking.

4. Did the dishes.

5. Posted a blog.

4. My Final Piece of Advice – Go Easy On Yourself!

This is a process intended to take a whole year and you will have your days where you may get frustrated, and you will start to beat yourself up (sound familiar?).

Self-criticism will interfere directly with achieving your goals and dreams.  So, the next time you are making yourself wrong, take a step back and instead acknowledge the good, and celebrate your achievements.

Another thing that will stop you is not taking time for YOU so schedule time to reflect and take it all in.  Maybe that’s a walk in the woods, maybe that’s cooking yourself a decadent meal, or maybe it’s spending time with people you love and turning down your power for a few days without the pressure of a holiday or an event….

Here’s to your success in 2014!

What are some of your goals for 2014? Share in the comment section below.

Crowdfunding is one of those things that you cannot fully understand until you do it yourself. You can read up on crowdfunding books and still encounter something completely unexpected during your campaign. This is why it’s so important to pick the brains of successful crowdfunders when you get the chance. If you don’t know someone with a crowdfunding campaign under their belt, search the internet for the next best thing. There are a lot of people blogging about their crowdfunding experience these days. Find some people who funded similar projects to the one you plan on starting and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Jody Quine is a vocalist and songwriter who recently completed a Pledge Music campaign for her solo EP,“Seven.” In the past, she has been a part of some very successful projects, but never had the funds available to do anything solo. She launched her Pledge Music campaign in November, 2012. She wrote this post for Crowdfunding For Musicians.

1. Timeline

All eager to succeed and get my music out there I figured I’d raise the money in less than a month, record immediately and have a finished product mixed, mastered and manufactured in no time.

My campaign went LIVE in November 16th, 2012 and the last of my exclusives/CDs were put into the mail on October 29th 2013.

Keep in mind that when all goes well it’s possible to get your record finished and delivered in no time but things pop up from producers having other better paying projects running long to computer issues when designing your cover. Give yourself time to honestly deliver your product to your fans. They’ll appreciate your honesty and awareness. Also make sure to keep them up on what’s happening and they’ll be pretty forgiving.

2. Underestimating cost and setting the right ‘Posted Goal’ amount

As much money that you might be able to raise keep in mind that you could always use more. With Pledge you don’t get your money until you hit your posted goal amount so keeping it lower to ensure you will get funding is great but then once you hit your 100% people think you’ve raised all the money you need to record and pledges can slow down immeasurably. Remember that one song really could prosper with the use of real strings or that you might have to retrack the piano when you get home from LA and pay an extra $500 for that day in the studio.

It’s a fine balance between how much you think your fans will kick in and being realistic with how much you’ll need to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Between those 2 numbers you’ll find the right ‘Posted Goal’ so you’re able to get your funding as well as afford the record you want to make.

3. Charity

PledgeMusic is a great service and wonderful opportunity in the new music industry model, however they don’t work for free. They take 15% of all the money you raise. Beyond that you can also agree to give a % of your pledges to a charity of your choice. I agreed to give 10% after I’ve reached my posted goal to a charity. As my ‘Posted Goal’ was too low to actually record a full album now I also had to earn an extra 25% to meet my expenses.

I had a friend who pointed out to me ‘Why are you giving it to charity when you’re already the charity’. I had to laugh because he’s right. It’s great to give back for sure but perhaps keeping it to a lower amount or making yourself available to play shows for or at your charity makes more sense. So do give back but again remember your costs of recording, mixing, mastering, designing, manufacturing, and SHIPPING, sometimes to fans who live on the other side of the world, adds up and as wonderful as it is to give to a charity if you can’t complete your project and deliver it to your fans you’re shooting yourself in the foot to really be in a position to give.

4. Exclusives

What is it you really have in you to make for your fans? I offered handwritten thank you notes and lyric sheets as 2 different exclusives. I love that idea! But as the day came to start fulfilling those pledges I was completely reminded of how I fractured my hand at the age of 11 and now decades later all the writing I do is barely legible and only for creative purposes. Anytime I have to write for more than 10 minutes in a way that people can read what I’m writing my hand cramps and the pain sets in. Next time I will keep this in mind and offer only a set amount of them for a larger pledge amount making them more of an exclusive exclusive and offer other items I am more able to create without pain. Lol.

Also I’m more aware now of what it is that I can offer that is exclusive to who I am as an artist as well as a person that my fans might enjoy. Be aware of what you really want to be making for them so you can do it joyfully and in good time.

5. Fun

Have fun!

This is not an exercise in stress or disappointment! You’ve got to be open to go with the flow and trust the unfolding of your record.

There will be challenges and hold ups but all in all your fans are there for you and helping you do what you love to do! So be grateful and enjoy the process because if you’re lucky you’ll get to do it over and over again.

KICK ASS!!
jody

What have you learned from your crowdfunding campaign?

The live show and merchandise are becoming more important in the music industry. On top of that, there has been a surge in small indie musicians trying to make it on their own. Many think that merch is out of their budget, but with the right planning and strategy merch can become a profitable revenue stream for anyone.

This article, written by Robal Johnson of PUMP Merch, was originally posted on Hypebot. To read the full article, click here. 

1. Decide what to sell

Where to begin? Start small, be patient, and analyze your early merchandise investments. Get creative. Have an artist friend design your logo: pay them in drinks and guestlist spots. Be conscious of your audience: determine what apparel and accessories are trendy. Understand the demographic: ask how they consume and share music, which can easily be done via social networking. Acknowledge your environment: if its hot, tank tops and ballcaps are essential; if it’s cold, hoodies and beanies are a must. At first, focus on selling more for less: keep designs to 1-3 colors, buy the inexpensive option, and charge fans as little as possible. Remember, you can always upgrade later.

Don’t be afraid to be aggressive. You’re not bothering anybody at the show. I guarantee most of the people there will be excited to meet you and honored you came up to talk to them. They know you’re just doing your job and they actually want to talk to you. I have approached the bar in a small town in Mississippi and sold $10 T-Shirts. I have wandered a club in Nashville asking folks if they’d like to buy $5 CDs. Merch is a souvenir purchased to commemorate a notable experience. Every music fan enjoys the pride that comes with seeing an act “back in the day” and you need to offer them something to take home that night.

2. Convenience

Once you have decided on the right products to sell on tour, your next focus should be on convenience. If you do not accept credit cards while on the road, you are leaving countless dollars on the table. Just ask Laura Keating, Melissa Garcia, and Emily White of Whitesmith Entertainment and Readymade Records: “We have been taking credit card payments in some form or another since 2005 and it always doubles our sales at the merch table.” Now THAT should motivate the hell out of all of you.

Companies like Square and PayPal Here have made it extremely simple for you to accept all major credit cards as long as you have a smartphone or tablet. If you have not already, stop reading this right now and order one of the FREE card readers from either of those companies immediately. It will take you a few short minutes and the results are literally priceless. I can not stress the importance of this enough. In this day and age, you MUST accept credit cards. You will not only sell your merch to more people, you will sell even more items.

At this time Square is only offered in the United States, Canada, and Japan. PayPal Here is available in the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. For acts touring the United Kingdom and Europe, Team Whitesmith/Readymade suggests using iZettle for your credit card processing needs. iZettle is now live in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, and Mexico.

3. Get organized!

Third on your to-do list while gearing up for tour should be organization and accounting for your merchandise while on the road. For decades this was done by either the merch guy or the tour manager in a looseleaf notebook with pencils and a whole lot of mistakes. Then came Microsoft Excel, which we ALL love to hate. But I have seen the future of tour merchandising and it comes to us via Orange County, California in an app called atVenu. These guys are changing the game and every single touring artist needs to take note.

I spoke with co-founder of atVenu, Ben Brannen, and he shared his story of what drove him and his partners to create the service. “While on the road, I experienced first hand the inefficiencies of existing methods by which we track and settle our touring merch. Too much money is lost due to inventory issues, poor nightly settlements, limited analysis, or one broken cell in an Excel sheet. atVenu solves these problems by empowering merch reps with a mobile app designed for their needs which syncs to the artist’s web-based account where merch company and management can login and easily access a robust suite of real time analytics and reports.”

This is a game-changer for many reasons, but most importantly it is something that will save artists time and money on the road. As a merch rep myself, I can attest to the great many headaches that go along with inventory, accounting, and restocking of products while a band is touring. It is all about organization and communication. With a system in place that knows when you’re getting low on the green v-necks in small and medium and your merch guy gets a notification, imagine how much money you’ll save on those rushed deliveries from halfway across the country that will hopefully make it to the venue on time. Envision how much easier it will be to do reorders for the next tour because you know exactly what you sold, when, and where.

My buddy Randy Nichols of Force Media Management, who represents The Almost and Bayside, among others, also works as Strategic Music Industry & Product Advisor with atVenu. He sums up the app perfectly, “A tool like atVenu shows me real time forecasting data for my tour so I can both improve my profit margins and be sure to maintain a healthy stock of my in demand items. This can easily mean the difference between 10 boxes of merch in the drummers garage at the end of the tour vs an extra $10,000 in profit.”

 

Some of the most powerful advice in the music industry comes from people who worked hard and found their own success. At one point in their life they were just a musician or music lover with a dream. They learned from their mistakes and are here to tell the tale to the next generation of rising musicians and music entrepreneurs.

This post originally ran on Cyber PR. Here’s a consolidated list of 10 tips, but to see all 49 be sure to check out the full article. This advice comes from women in the music industry, but it can be used by anyone.

1. The Three P’s

Christine Ben Ameh
“The 3 PS- 1. Patience. 2. Perseverance. 3.Practice (Makes perfect).”
Recording Artist/Songwriter 
@CHRISTINE_AMEH

2. Fans First

Louise Dodgson
“Always put your fans first. Too many bands & artists are concerned with attracting the interest of the music industry. But the best way to do so is usually to forget all about it! Concentrate on your fans. Communicating with them and working hard to expand your fan base. Making the music and sharing it with people who really appreciate what you do is the enjoyable part. Your fans will help create the buzz for you and if you’re doing your own thing with a keen and constantly growing following, the music industry will no doubt catch up to you in due course.”
Editor, The Unsigned Guide
@editorunsigned

3. Don’t Fear Failure

Roswitha Bartussek
“Envision your destiny and take small daily steps towards it. Don’t be afraid to fail, the more often you fail the more likely you will succeed. Be your authentic self, don’t try to fit in, carve out your niche.”

Artist, CEO of Queen Rose, Inc.

@queenrose

4. The Truth Will Set You Free

Erin Dickins
“ Tell the truth – in music and life – never sing a lyric that you wouldn’t have as an epithet. Never do anything artistically to please anyone else. It’s all you – be authentically you – in your passion, your joy and your dreams. Shine your light big and bright no matter how big the challenges. Love every minute of the journey.”
(not just a) Jazz VOCALIST – Recording artist on Dot Time Records
@erindickins

5. Find Your Tribe

Barb Morrison
“Work with people (whether it be a manager, a producer, an agent, a publicist or a record label) who GET you. Having someone fully understand what you’re trying to say with your music is crucial. It’s much more important than how connected they are in the industry.”
Record producer & film score composer
@barbmorrison

6. It’s Not All About You

Cheryl Engelhardt
“Your results are not about you- they show up when you create an opportunity of value for someone else. I use this nugget when pitching music-to-music supervisors, getting a film-scoring gig, when talking with a potential coaching client, or even when inviting a friend to a movie. “What’s in it for them?” is the phrase I have running through my head before making a request of anyone.”
Songwriter / Composer / Creative Career Coach
@CBE

7. Listen

Madalyn Sklar
“Passion and persistence will get you far. Don’t be afraid to go big. Surround yourself with smart, motivated, like-minded people (join or start a mastermind group). Listen. Listening will get you further than anything else.”
Founder, GoGirlsMusic
@madalynsklar

8. Respect Everyone

Lauren McKinley
“Realize that this industry is ever changing and relatively small.  Not only should you respect everyone you meet and/or work with, but also you should always offer help where you can.  The people you help today will be the ones helping you tomorrow.”
Owner, Clover Marketing & Management
@CloverMktg or @LFMcKinley

9. Be True To Yourself

Lori Bumgarner
“Never try to do things exactly the way others tell you to do it or exactly the same way they did it. Promotion of your brand has to be done in a way that is true to you. Not every species of flower blooms at the same rate or under the same conditions!”
Image Consultant/owner of paNASH Style LLC
@panashstyle

10. Find Another Door

Laurence Muller
“When a door closes, never stand there like a dummy, find another door!”
Label Manager / Manager

What’s YOUR most valuable piece of advice? Share in the comment section below!

 

Gaming platforms are not just for gaming anymore. More and more people are using platforms like Xbox and Playstation to access music. Increased competition for the top-selling game has pushed game developers to really focus on creating a great sound track. Game developers are licensing more music than ever before and now fans can even purchase the tracks from the game without ever leaving the console. In addition, game consoles are incorporating online streaming and other music services, allowing fans to listen to their music from the central point of most homes – the TV.

This article was originally published on Billboard by Alex Pham. Here’s a short excerpt explaining how gaming consoles stand to benefit the music industry and musicians.

This [surge in game console popularity and competition] matters to the music industry for three reasons, and all of them are good. The first is that these new devices represent absolute growth in the number of paths for digital music services to enter the living room.

“For content owners, this can be an opportunity,” Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian says. “These are exciting new platforms for music and other digitally delivered content.”

Companies like Vevo, Rhapsody, BandPage, Slacker and TuneIn have actively pursued distribution deals with over-the-top distribution services with the belief that to succeed, they need to go where the audience is.

Accessing music through a TV is no longer considered odd, especially since many living room TVs are often hooked up to the best audio system in the house. About 30% of Americans have listened this year to music through TVs that were connected to the Internet, either by game consoles or other means, according to a report by Edison Research.

Music services say consoles represent an opportunity to expand their footprint in the living room.

SoundCloud chief executive Alex Ljung points out that consoles have become one of the main routes to “smart” TVs, building a bridge for Internet services to the living room. “In some ways, game consoles were the first and still by far the largest user base for smart TVs. It’s a way to take a screen and connect it to the Web,” he says. “In that sense, the console enables us to get to the TV.”

The second reason why consoles matter lies in the calculation of royalties. Music delivered through ­Internet-based services has historically generated higher absolute royalties in aggregate than music delivered by cable and satellite TV companies. While per-stream rates established by the Copyright Royalty Board for cable, satellite and Internet conduits aren’t directly comparable to one another, it’s well-known that Pandora, an Internet-based service, is the largest single contributor to SoundExchange, which collects music royalties under statutory licensing. Should listening to Internet music on TVs in a home environment become as popular as mobile, rights holders stand to gain.

The third opportunity for music, albeit a smaller one than during the heyday of “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero,” games themselves represent a vehicle for licensing and distribution. This year and next, a handful of titles will incorporate music as a central feature in their experiences, including Ubisoft Entertainment’s “Just Dance 2014” and “Rocksmith 2” and Harmonix’s “Fantasia.” As with movies, games require increasingly sophisticated scores and soundtracks, particularly for console titles that heavily emphasize cinematic environments and character development.

Perhaps the best source of licensing revenue this year will come from “Grand Theft Auto V,” which licensed 240 tracks and commissioned original songs from A$AP Rocky, Flying Lotus, Twin Shadow, Neon Indian, Yeasayer, OFF! and Tyler, the Creator, among others. The game, which has so far generated more than $1.3 billion in retail revenue since its release on Sept. 17, also features 15 in-game radio stations hosted by well-known DJs, including Bootsy Collins.

Inspired by the “GTA” radio feature, some streaming music providers including Rhapsody have explored the possibility of integrating their services into gaming worlds. Gamers spend about four hours per week on average playing, according to a 2012 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Some even turn off the game’s sound to pipe in their own musical selections.

To read the full article, visit Billboard.com.

Do you think gaming platforms are a good path forward for the music industry? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Photo by smaedli

Photo by smaedli

The bigger the industry, the more powerful it’s smallest players. That saying is derived from John Naisbitt’s book, “Global Paradox,” and while it was meant to describe the global economy, it holds true for most industries as well – especially the music industry.

The music business is a huge multi-million dollar industry with hundreds of thousands of players. Big record companies can throw around huge amounts of money to make things happen for their artists, and as a result, super star acts seem to snowball out of control while smaller artists struggle to just get by. As an independent artist, its easy to feel trapped by your small size. You can feel like you can’t possibly get the same kind of success without the big marketing dollars and top-of-the-line production quality. That’s one way to look at it.

There is another way to see your situation. Instead of that depressing outlook, keep Naisbitt’s thoughts in mind. The bigger the industry, the more powerful it’s smallest players. This means that the most powerful player in the music industry is YOU – the indie musicians, indie labels, and music entrepreneurs. Power doesn’t have to mean money, influence, or even fame. Power can be the driving force behind the industry – the force that brings about new ideas, the force that paves the way for the future of the industry.

Big companies can’t be as creative with their business.  When there’s that much money being thrown around, safety is key. They stick to the tried and true for the most part. If they try something new for the release of their top artist’s album and it flops, they will miss out on the millions of dollars in sales that keep their business running.

The small players, on the other hand, don’t have as much to lose. A musician just starting out can experiment with a new album release strategy or promotion campaign. A music entrepreneur can start a business around a completely new concept that the big players are afraid to experiment with.

More often than not, its the smaller players that come up with the new ideas that drive the music industry forward. After they have been proven, these ideas are adopted by the big companies and artists.

Don’t look at your size in comparison to this massive industry as an inhibitor. Instead, view it as a freedom. You don’t need to be afraid to experiment and try new things. YOU are the driving force behind the music industry.

"Músic" by Joan Sorolla

“Músic” by Joan Sorolla

Musicians are creative. They can turn words and notes into sonic emotion. Everyday, musicians find new ways to express themselves creatively, be it through a new guitar tone, a visual idea for a music video, or that perfect vocal melody.

Musicians are smart. It’s often overlooked how complicated playing and creating music really is. Reading, comprehension, listening, motor, memory, and creativity all play a part in playing even the simplest songs. People don’t decide to become a musician because they’re not good at anything else. If it was that easy everyone would play music. That’s one of the reasons why we’re all so fascinated by musicians – because not everyone can be a musician. They can take an idea, turn it into a song, and touch thousands of people in a unique way.

There’s this notion in the music industry that music and business are two completely separate entities – two separate parts of a whole. One without another would not survive, but they rarely cross. It doesn’t need to be that way.

A musician’s creativity need not be limited to music. Many musicians who are going at it alone or are just starting their career are overwhelmed by the business side of the industry. They are told that they need to understand law, marketing, accounting, and more if they want to make it today. To a musician who is used to solving things creatively, looking at their career from this other perspective seems daunting.

It’s important to know some things about the music business, like general copyright law and basic accounting to keep track of your money, so you should have some business mind you can consult with. However, many aspects of the business can be approached with a creative mindset. Instead of thinking, “Well this is how everyone else releases their albums, so I guess I’ll do that too,” try using the same creativity you put into your music to try something new, something that fits with your message and image. Don’t think of it as a completely separate, logical process. Think of it as an extension of the song or album you just created. How can you extend your song or album’s message through the release process?

Today, challenge yourself to think about the business side of your career with the same creativity as your music.

Photo by tradingacademy.com

Photo by tradingacademy.com

In today’s music industry, success isn’t just handed to you. Increasingly, the musician must view their career in the same way an entrepreneur views their startup company. You need to know what you want, how dedicated you are, and then make a plan not unlike a traditional business plan that will lead you to YOUR success.

With so many options in today’s music industry, success can mean different things to different people. Some people will be happy gigging their home town a few days a week and keep their day job. Others won’t be happy until they are playing stadiums in front of thousands of screaming fans. Some musicians may be happy living in the background composing music for films, while other’s want their single featured on the top 100 chart. Knowing what you want is the key first step in planning how to get there.

Shaun Letang wrote this great article for Music Think Tank that really sums up what you should be doing right now to plan your career. Here’s an excerpt of the article, but you can read the full article on Music Think Tank.

Define What Success In The Music Industry Is To You

Before anything else, you need to decide what your personal definition of success is. The reason for this is simple; if your idea of success is becoming well known in your country for being a talented musicians, you’ll need different steps to achieving that than you would if your aim was to earn a full time living from music.

So what is your final end game? What do you want to achieve? If you’re not yet sure, here are some common outcomes which a lot of musicians aim for. I’ve also included a (extremely generally) look at what’s needed to reach these goals:

  • Aim to play good music you and your friends will enjoy.
  • Aim to become well known at a local level. (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to become well known at a national scale. (Requires a lot of work and luck).
  • Aim to become well known at a international scale. (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
  • Aim to earn a part time living from music. (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to earn a full time living from music (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to become wealthy from music (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).

Feel free to mix and match your goals as you need. For example, it may be your aim to be well known in your local area and earn a full time living from your music. This is an achievable goal if you know what you’re doing.

While it’s easy to assume that most people would want to become internationally well known and wealthy from their music, that’s not always the case. As someone who regularly talks to musicians all around the world, I’ve seen that different people want to achieve different things, and everyone has their reasons for their end goal. So no matter what your end goal is, be sure it’s clear in your mind and we can move forward.

Determine What You’re Willing To Do To Succeed In The Music Industry

This is where the whole ‘on your terms’ bit fits in.

So now you know what you want to achieve from your music career, the next steps is deciding what you’re willing to do to achieve these goals. No, I’m not talking about who you’ll sleep with to get to the top (I do not recommend this). Instead, you need to decide if you want to achieve your goals strictly through your personal brand as a musician, or if you’re willing to use your musical skill in other ways to pad out your income and get you better known.

Let’s say the goals in your music career are mainly driven by money. Making a part time living is something I feel most musicians with talent and good marketing knowledge can achieve. That said, only a % of those people will go on to make a full time comfortable living from their music alone. It is achievable, but it’s a lot harder than if you were to also use the talents you’ve acquired from the music industry for other forms of earning.

For example, if you were to start teaching up and coming musicians how to sing, rap or produce, you could earn more than you would from just playing gigs and selling songs alone. Teaching wouldn’t get in the way of you playing gigs; gigs are generally performed later at night, while your teaching lessons would likely be in the day. Furthermore, if you was to teach via a online video course for example, after you’ve created your product you wouldn’t have to actively be there to teach each new person that came along.

There are plenty of income streams you could tap in which are music related, but which don’t involve your personal brand as a musician. Other examples include songwriting for others, doing backing vocals for other musicians, doing skits for people in need of them (isn’t restricted to other musicians) and the like. Think about who you can help with the talents you have, and provide a service to them.

To read the full article, go to Music Think Tank.

What does YOUR success look like? Share in the comment section below.