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You know that you need great content on your website for your fans, but there’s another crowd you need to address with your website – the bloggers, editors, and conference organizers looking to publicize your music! These people look to your website for great photos, quotes, biographies, and stories to include in their articles and write-ups. If that info isn’t on your website, they may be pulling information from a Wiki page that may not be 100% true, or, even worse, they could choose to just leave out these details, giving your music a much shorter write-up.

Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR wrote up this very detailed guide telling you exactly what you need to include in your online press kit. Here’s an excerpt, but if you want to see the full article, head over to the Cyber PR Blog.

1. YOUR BIO

Make sure your bio is easily locatable on your site and it can be easily cut-and-pasted (not in a PDF format that they can’t easily grab).

Your bio should NOT just be a “who, what, when, where, why” or a list of business accolades. Invest in having a bio written that brings out your signature story. This should be a compelling and relatable story that evokes an emotional response from the reader.

Post a long form, 250 word, 100 word and a Tweet sized bio and you have pre-delivered every possible type of bio request that may come your way (no one will ever ask you to edit your bio down again or worse, edit it for you and forget the most important parts.

TIP: Post 4 versions of your bios

  • Long Form
  • In 250 – 200 words
  • In 100 words
  • In 1 tweet

TIP:  Make sure the bio can be easily cut-and-pasted!

2.  YOUR PHOTOS – MAKE THEM EASY TO FIND AND DOWNLOAD

Thumbnails are great for quick and easy loading but are detrimental for use in print (if you are a speaker or attending a conference where there is a directory, your photo may be appearing on posters, flyers and in a printed conference guide.

You should always have a few downloadable photo options on your site in at least 300 dpi / jpg format. Also post vertical and horizontal photos so editors working on a tight format won’t have to resize anything.

TIP: Create an easy-to-see link that says “click here for a hi res / low res jpg.”  That way, busy editors can get what they need easily.  When the photos are downloaded, make sure they are properly named so that editors can find them in folders and on messy desktops!

Do you have an online press kit or EPK? What have you included in yours? Share in the comments below!

 

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One thing a lot of indie musicians procrastinate on is tackling their email list strategy. There are lots of things you need to get your head around, from which platform or service to use, to what content to include, to how often to send emails. On top of that, you also need to figure out how to get people to actually sign up for your email list – a marketing role that many musicians are uncomfortable with.

Despite all this, your email list is still one of the most powerful assets you have. I’ll break it down into 5 main points so you can easily update your email list and email marketing strategy.

 

1. Platform

If you don’t already have one set up, you’ll have to choose a platform to send your emails out. If you try sending out an email to hundreds of fans through services like Yahoo and Gmail, it will often get marked as spam or won’t even go through. You can, of course, opt for generic platforms like Mailchimp or Constant Contact. Keep in mind though that many services you already use have email functions like Pledgemusic, Bandzoogle, and Fanbridge.

2. Incentivize signups

Now that you have email capabilities, the next step would be to actually get people to sign up for your email list. Of course, you’ll want to add an email button to your website. You’ll definitely get some signups from it, but it’s a very passive approach. Take some time to brainstorm some strategies to incentivize signups. Think about the email lists you’ve signed up for – what made you subscribe?

There are many options here, and the more creative you can be, the better! Offer your fans a free track in exchange for an email address. This is a great way to get newer fans on your list. You could also offer early access to a track from your upcoming album to get your more dedicated fans signed up. Another option would be to give your email subscribers access to early content across the board and even some exclusive discounts, contests, and promotions. The key is to really take into account your unique brand, genre, and personality!

3. Content

The beautiful thing about your email list is that it’s opt-in marketing. This means that the people who sign up for your list actually want to hear from you. It’s your job to make it worth their while and come up with interesting things to write to them about! Look at the emails you get from artists and bands. What emails do you like receiving? What subject lines get you to actually look at the content? Try to incorporate those things into your email strategy.

The main function of your email list is to drive traffic. You want your fans clicking through to your website! Taking this into account, don’t compose your band emails like you would a personal email. Tell your fans about the offer with a link to your website or give them a short update on the album process with a link to the full story on your blog.

Treat your email list as something completely separate from your social media channels and website. You want to give your fans a unique experience. If they could get the same content on Facebook, why bother signing up? Of course you’ll have to send out some updates across all channels like tour announcements, but try to go further for your email list. Give your email subscribers discounted tickets, early access to VIP packages, or even a sneak peak at the set list!

Another great way to provide compelling content is to segment your list. Break it down by location so you’re only sending local fans blasts about your show tomorrow. This way, your fans will only receive relevant content which will help keep your unsubscribe rate low.

4. Timing

You want to establish a schedule when it comes to email marketing. Not only will this keep you organized, it will also help keep fans’ interest levels up and your unsubscribe rate down. Keeping your fans updated is one thing, but too many updates can get annoying. You no doubt know from experience just how many emails we all receive. Only send your fans emails when you have something valuable to share. For more established bands this could mean once a week and for smaller bands it could be once every two weeks or even once a month. On the other side of the equation, you don’t want too much time in between your emails or your fans will forget you exist!

5. Learn

As with any strategy, the most important thing is that you learn and improve as you go along. Any platform you use for email will have some sort of analytics tools. Use them! The most important metrics are your open rates and click-through rates. Open rate is mostly dependant on the subject line, day of the week, and time of day, while click-through rate has more to do with the content.

Look at the emails that got the highest open rate. What day of the week did you send them? What about that subject line do you think attracted people? How can you incorporate that into your subject lines from here on? Next, look at the emails that got the highest click-through rate. What about the content do you think got people interested? Again, try to incorporate that into future emails. You should also look at emails that didn’t perform as well as you’d like. How can you tweak the offer to make it more appealing?

TheNew Artist Modelis an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

 

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By now I’m sure you understand the importance of having a website for your music. However, a sloppy, hastily thrown together website may actually be hurting your brand more than not having one at all. I’m sure you’ve all visited a website that was unorganized, out of date, or unprofessional looking and clicked off without even giving the content a chance. You don’t want that happening to your website!

The fact of the matter is that with all the tools and services out there to help you build a clean, professional website, you don’t really have an excuse. There’s also a ton of people with basic web design skills these days. There’s probably someone in your extended group of friends and acquaintances who knows all about WordPress or can write HTML. Even with all that, building a new site or refurbishing an old one can seem a daunting task, so I’ve broken it down into 5 things you should keep in mind through the design process.

 

1. Declutter

It’s a common error in the music industry to try to fit everything on the first page of your website. After all, you’ve been told time and time again that you want to be able to deliver content in the least number of clicks possible to avoid losing people. However, this can easily backfire if you’re not careful. A cluttered homepage looks unprofessional. Visitors won’t know where to look and they’ll most likely click away before giving your content a chance. Not only will this drive potential fans away, it will also keep your current fans from visiting and buying your products. In other words, you could be losing out on potential income!

So how do we remedy this? Take some time to really think about your biggest strengths as a musician and make that the focus of your home page. You want people to be able to visit your website and say “Oh, I know what these guys are about.” If you have a killer live show and play gigs more than anything else, hire someone to take some awesome live photos and use them on your homepage. Instead of just a basic music video you could include some footage from your shows (just make sure the video and sound quality is good). A rotating banner is a great way to convey a lot of different kinds of content in a relatively small space. You could even have a blog on your homepage with thoughts and photos from the road.

 

2. Keep it relevant

If your website has obviously outdated content right at the top of the home page, visitors will automatically assume either a) you’re not a serious musician, or b) the band has broken up. While they might still buy your music, they probably won’t come back very often. You want your fans coming back all the time! The more they visit your website, the more opportunities they will have to sign up for your mailing list, buy a ticket to your gig, or buy your album.

Even if you only release albums once a year, you can still have a continuous stream of relevant content. Make videos or recordings of cover songs to give your fans new music on a regular basis. Blogs are a great way to keep your website relevant. Write up quick posts weekly or daily depending on how much interesting content you have. You could post photos from the studio, short sections of lyrics you’ve been working on, footage from your band’s rehearsal, a picture of your new guitar, or even just interesting and funny stories.

 

3. Call to action

If you’re just putting out free content on your website you’re only going halfway. Of course you need great content like blog posts, photos, a few music tracks, and videos to keep fans interested and to keep them coming back. But the really cool thing about a website that sets it apart from social media is that it really takes fans from the information through the purchase.

After you have your relevant content set up, the first step up the ladder is a mailing list. You should have your mailing list signup featured prominently on your homepage. A mailing list is a great way to forge a stronger relationship with a fan. After you have people signed up for your mailing list, you can send them exclusive information, discount codes, and product offerings, but that’s for another post.

You need to be able to sell your products on your website. Of course, the products you have available will depend on your current financial situation, but try to have a few different options at a few different price points. This could be a free download single, individual digital downloads, album digital downloads, and physical albums. If you want to go beyond that you can offer t-shirts, vinyl, and box sets. Make sure your fans can easily find and purchase your music. Many musicians have a few tracks featured on the homepage with a “buy” button that goes to the purchase page.

 

4. Address different kinds of fans

Your website is the hub of your online presence. Your fans will come here to check up on news, find out about tours, and buy your music. However, people who are just discovering your music for the first time are also coming to your website, and you need to plan your content accordingly.

New fans may be interested in a short biography of the band. They may want to listen to some of your best tracks, and they will probably be interested in downloading one song for free. A download for email promotion is one of the best ways to engage these new fans. They get a song, you get the chance to connect with them and hopefully drive a purchase down the line. Your current fans will want to see tour dates and more behind the scenes information. A blog is a great way to keep them updated on what you’re doing.

Pledge Music is a great tool to give different fans the content they want. It’s not just a crowdfunding tool. You can pre-sell your album and merch and also give your superfans exclusive and one-of-a-kind products and experiences to keep them coming back.

 

5. Don’t neglect the visuals

Now that you have all your great content in place, you need to take a minute and address how your website looks aesthetically. Just like how out-of-date content can drive away visitors, so can clashing colors, cheesy fonts, and out-of-proportion text. When in doubt, opt for a clean layout and design. It’s easy for your photos, videos, and content to get lost if you have a blown-up photo as your site background. Instead, go for a solid or minimally textured background that will let your logo, photos, and videos shine. After all, your website is about you and your music, not that cool flame picture you have as a background.

Keep your music and image in mind when addressing the look and feel of your website. A metal band should use a completely different color scheme from a pop singer-songwriter. There are a ton of pre-made color scheme’s out there that you can draw inspiration from.

Like in all aspects of your music career, the key here is not to go at it alone. Even if you’re a pro web designer, if you’re sitting in a dark room staring at the site for hours, you will easily miss color, font, and layout problems. Ask one of your friends who has a good visual eye to take a look at your site and give you feedback along the way. There’s also some great web design services for indie musicians, like Bandzoogle, that will provide you with pre-made templates that already look good.

If you want to learn even more about website design, the website services available to musicians, and some of the cool ways you can be using your website to grow your fanbase and engage with your fans, we cover a lot more in the New Artist Model courses.

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

 

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

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

What makes for a good pitch?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How can you turn your gig into an experience?

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

self publishing your music on YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is an enormous fashion and beauty community on YouTube and some, like Jenn Im of Clothesencounters, are getting really creative with the music they sync with their videos. Instead of using repetitive royalty-free tracks they seek out remixes on Soundcloud, get permission from the artists, and edit their fashion videos to really fit with the track.

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

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

 

How to get your break in music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have to be on people’s radars.

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

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

It was because I was on her radar.

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

Comment below and tell me what you’ve done to get your break in music. 

There are a ton of other things you can be doing to increase your chances for success. We cover this and more in the New Artist Model online music business school. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. To get started for free, download your free copy of our most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, here. 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. It takes a crowd.  

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

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

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

2. Choose the right platform.

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

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

3. Make a budget.

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

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

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

4. Think about your rewards.

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

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

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

5. Continuous content.

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

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

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

Dave Kusek

The New Artist Model in an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

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Article by  of CyberPR. Check out the full article here

Newsletter

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

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

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

Video Tour Diary

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

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

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

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

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

Name Your Fans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. It will take time.

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

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

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

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

3. Keep moving forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Create an authentic connection.

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

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

Speaking of Social Media Links…

 

LESS SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IS MORE

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

 

DRIVE YOUR SALES TO ONE SITE

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

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

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

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

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

edm fans

 

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

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

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

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

NONTRADITIONAL RELEASES

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

ANTICIPATING THE ALBUM

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

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

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

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

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

10 Social Media Secrets

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


If you want more ideas and ways to promote your music on social media, check out this free ebook. You’ll get a ton of social media post ideas and 3 checklists to work through while promoting your music on social media.


1. Listen!

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

2. Leverage online and offline.

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

3. Write posts yourself.

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

4. Be conversational.

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

5. Be genuine.

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

6. The 80/20 rule.

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

7. Drive interest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want more social media secrets and ways to promote your music? Check out this article next and learn about 6 ways to promote your music.

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

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

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

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

Research

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

Make the most of the trip

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

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

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

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There’s been a lot of success stories on YouTube with artists like Karmin, Psy, and Baauer getting seemingly instant popularity with viral videos. Because of this, there’s a lot of misconceptions about YouTube. It’s not a platform for instant fame, and, like many other aspects of the music industry, requires a good deal of dedication and hard work.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a YouTube strategy today! YouTube is one of those platforms that you can make something really great with a limited budget if you take the time to plan and put in the creative effort.

This article was written by Matt Sandler, musician and founder of ChromatikYou can follow him on Twitter @mattdsandler. This is just a short excerpt. You can check out the full article on Hypebot.

1. YOU NEED TO START

Failure isn’t your biggest obstacle to success, it’s not even starting. Most people talk the talk, but never actually walk the walk. You want a great YouTube presence? Start making videos…today.

I know that there’s a tune you can crush. Maybe it’s Classical Gas, maybe it’sTwinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Perhaps 15 seconds of a popular chart? It doesn’t matter. Spend 30 minutes recording and uploading it to YouTube…today.

Start viewing YouTube as a sandbox for playing, performing, and sharing. Not everything you upload to YouTube needs to be perfect or professional quality initially. We’ll get there. But as a relative unknown in the YouTube ecosystem, you’ll want to just get comfortable with the recording and upload process first.

2. BE PROLIFIC, ON A SCHEDULE

One of the YouTube myths I hear all of the time is – “I just need ONE video to strike it big.”

So what do folks do? Pour a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into producing an incredible video. Cool. Assuming that you rocked and it miraculously went to the front page of Reddit, you now have 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers. Now what? Can you replicate that?

The unfortunate reality is that 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers doesn’t get you very far in the YouTube ecosystem. Not to mention, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there’s a 1/1,000,000 chance of you achieving that result.

The myth is dangerous because it forces you into an assumption that “if you build, they will come.” Which, as many creatives – from musicians to tech startup founders – learn quickly, just isn’t the case.

So let’s focus on starting small and building a community. Without a miracle, the only replicable way I’ve seen to build a successful YouTube channel is by being prolific and regimented with content production. One of my favorites, Gabe Bondoc – now with 272k subscribers and 48 million views! – was phenomenal at this early on.

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? Check out the New Artist Model YouTube channel for tons of interviews with music industry greats.

 

 

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Crowdfunding isn’t being talked about as much as when Amanda Palmer ran her famous Kickstarter campaign, but it’s still going strong. It’s still a great way to fund your projects. However, we’ve all learned a few things about the process along the way. Crowdfunding is more than just a funding tool. It’s a way to connect with your fans, build a deeper relationship, and get people interested and buying your music before its even created. Pre-sale and marketing are just as much a part of crowdfunding as funding.

Here are 5 crowdfunding for musician tips that will set your crowdfunding campaign on the right track. These tips come from the CD Baby blog. This is just a short excerpt, but you can check out the full article here.

1. Build your crowd and then fund: Although there is a discovery element to most crowdfunding platforms, you’re gonna end up very disappointed if you launch a campaign without an existing fanbase.

2. The number isn’t as important as loyalty: If you buy followers or email subscribers, it doesn’t mean they’re gonna buy your crap. You don’t need a huge fanbase to run a successful campaign; you just need an active group of loyal fans, the kind you earn one at a time and interact with regularly.

3. Give your fans an experience: You’re not just selling downloads and t-shirts. You are including your fans in the creative journey. More on this in the next section…

4. Over plan for the fulfillment process: Make sure to get all the pertinent information you’ll need when fulfilling all the orders, rewards, perks and exclusives you’re offering. One of the most commonly overlooked pieces of information is the size preference for t-shirts. But also, make sure not to offer the house concert option to people in Thailand if you’re not going to be able to follow through.

5. Keep updating after you hit your goal: There is often a gap between when all the money is collected and when the final product is released. Don’t leave your fans hanging like a prom date that might not show up. They spent a lot of money on that dress. Make sure they know you’re still taking them to the dance. Keep them updated as to your progress.

There are a lot of great crowdfunding tools out there, but one that stands out for musicians is Pledge Music. Because the platform is specifically focused on musicians, they have a lot of tools in place to help you keep on track and follow the tips outlined above. Here are some stats from Pledge Music:

* 22% of PledgeMusic site traffic comes from fans sharing pledges-only updates.

* 75% of pledgers contribute to a campaign without knowing the band personally. Ergo, they are the email subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.

* The average pledge is $55-$70.

* 37% of pledges are over $250.

* 37% of the income comes after the 30-60 day campaign on other platforms would have ended.

* PledgeMusic boasts an 86% success rate of reaching funding targets.

* On average it takes 17 pledges-only updates to hit your financial goal.

If you want to learn more about crowdfunding, CD Baby has a free guide available.

Top 10 strategies for indie musicians

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your music career right now, signup to get our most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business for free

Here’s strategies 6-10. (You can find part 1 right here.)

6. Find Your Niche as an Indie Musician

The best way to get a really dedicated fan base is to start small. Start local and move up from there. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are!

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

7. Get Your Fans Talking

As an indie musician today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. Music promotion can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend.

The Wild Feathers were a group of indie musicians out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend. (Source) By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share.

8. Develop a Brand Strategy

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

There are two common approaches when it comes to defining a brand. Some indie musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Before  Sum 41 made it big, they had a hard time getting a record deal because many labels thought they were just another Blink 182 imitation band. The labels only heard one dimension of the band – their sound. It was their image, personality and attitude that really set them apart and got them the deal in the end. The band took camcorder footage of them goofing around and edited it into an audio-visual EPK. The resulting seven-minute hilarious video showed the labels that they were more than just punk music. They were characters and they were very good at projecting their character through media.

9. Find a Balance Between Free and Paid Content

Your music is valuable, and you can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Remember that money isn’t the only form of payment that has value. Information can be just as valuable or more than cash in many instances. Free music is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. The key is to have a reason for free.

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

10. React to Opportunity

In music, opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and it’s your job to be ready! These opportunities could be anything from a pick up gig, to a publishing deal to a chance to collaborate with a local musician. Either way, the indie musicians that can react quickly are the ones who succeed. While you want to take the time to weigh your options, remember that overthinking an opportunity can be just as bad as under thinking. There comes a point where you need to just decide to take the leap or not!

Amanda Palmer made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. (Source) Palmer was tweeting with her followers about how she was once again alone on her computer on a Friday night. Fans joined in the conversation and a group was quickly formed – “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda Palmer created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation. When a fan suggested a t-shirt be made for the group Palmer ran with the idea, sketched out a quick shirt design and threw up a website that night. The shirts were available for $25 and two hours later Palmer had made $11,000!

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies for indie musicians with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 1-5. (You can find part 2 right here).

1. Make a Plan from the Start

Making a great plan is one of the best strategies for indie musicians, and a great way to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.

Try to make your goals 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.” Break down your 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.

From the start Karmin knew they wanted to be a pop duo targeting a young teen audience. Manager Nils Gums suggested the duo cover current popular songs to get in front of their target audience. They followed the charts and consistently covered the most popular songs every week. 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 more music business strategies for indie musicians? Download this free ebook and learn how to build a successful career in today’s music industry:

2. Leverage Your Copyrights

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. Remember 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? Lots of musicians have been realizing this and have figured out cool ways to leverage their copyrights.

The Happen Ins were an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People, a corresponding video, many blog posts, 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. In many cases this exposure can be far more valuable than money.

3. Focus on Time Management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, and the business professional, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. It’s great 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!

Here’s a great strategy for indie musicians: If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a closer look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, postpone, or delegate to your team members. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!

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 and effectively gigged himself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt. 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.

4. Build a Team that Grows with You

DIY may not be the best strategy for indie musicians. There are a lot of artists out there with excellent business chops, but they’re still not experts. And that’s okay, because you have more important things to do like creating music! The key is to find a team who is motivated and passionate. 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!

Pop singer/songwriter Betty Who was able to be really successful with a team made of college classmates. 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. 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.

5. Get out There and Network!

Networking is an essential strategy for indie musicians, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with internal tasks and forget to take the time and introduce yourself. 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.

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.

Vinyl Thief used their extended network to find success. 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 started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill. (Source)

 To learn more strategies for indie musicians that you can be applying to your career RIGHT NOW, sign up to get a free copy of our most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business.

 

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So we’ve covered the fact that many musicians don’t know the next steps they should be taking in their career and many more don’t have enough time to get everything done. Now, we’re going to address both of those problems with a method commonly used by entrepreneurs – a business plan, or in this case, a musician career plan.

I know, most of you probably didn’t get in to music to write a business plan, but if you’re really serious about making a living off your art, it’s an invaluable resource that will help you succeed. Think about all those choices you face everyday. How long should you spend on social media? Which social media channels should you be on? How much time should you dedicate to touring? Is crowdfunding the right way to fund your album? If you have a plan in place that states where you are, what you’re focusing on, and where you want to be in the future, these choices become a whole lot simpler.


If you need more guidance on setting your goals and putting a plan in place that will set you up for success in music, we have a free workbook that you can download right here. Learn how to create a unique plan for your own music career and start putting it into action today!


1. Business Structure

You probably don’t think of your band as a business, but that’s exactly what you are. A lot of the professional bands and musicians out there even go so far as to organize themselves into a Partnership or even a Corporation. You don’t have to go that far quite yet, but you need to think about what everyone’s roles are within your business and how each moving part works together to make one whole unit. How do you communicate with each other? Is one person responsible for decision making or does the whole group vote? Talking about these things up front will make everything run a lot smoother and more efficiently.

2. Revenue Streams

There’s more revenue streams out there beyond just selling albums and singles. Of course, the revenue streams you draw on depend entirely on your career focus. A songwriter will pull from different revenue streams than a recording artist. The main point here is to be creative with it! The music industry is ripe for innovation. Sponsorships and brand partnerships have grown exponentially lately. Some musicians even make money from exclusive membership sites.

3. Booking Strategies

Playing gigs shouldn’t just be something you do on the side. It should be part of your overall strategy. Depending on your goals, you can use your live show to forge a deeper connection with your fanbase, spread awareness for your music to a new city, or meet new collaboration partners.

What’s your musician career plan?

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Most indie artist we’ve talked to face the same exact problem – they don’t know what the next steps for your career should be. You’re creative and smart. You can write, play, or perform amazing music that really connects people, but, as an indie artist, you might feel like you’re trying to fill a role you don’t understand. Especially today, indie musicians have to understand business, copyright, and marketing to grow their careers. You’re a creative trying to be a business person.

If you’re already out there in the music industry, you’re taking steps to grow your career but you may not know how effective your actions really are and whether they take you closer or further away from your goals. You might have a great group of fans but you don’t know how to get them to actually pay for your music. You might see an endless sea of possibility – from touring to publishing to recording – but now know which will take you to the success you want.

Can you relate to any of these problems? Check out this video to learn about the next steps for your career. By signing up for the mailing list you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model course.

If you really want to grow your music career the next step isn’t to get a record deal or tour the country. The next step is to do a little soul searching. You need to ask yourself a few questions and really think on your answers. Here’s two of the key questions you need to ask yourself. To learn about the other two, check out the video.

1. What do you really love doing?

If you want to turn your music into a sustainable career you need to be doing something that you love. Maybe you’re a really passionate musician but you get debilitating stage fright. Don’t push yourself down a road you don’t want to go down! I know, everyone is saying that touring is the only way to be successful as a musician today, but in actuality the only way for you to be successful is your own way. You won’t attract dedicated fans by hiding behind your amplifier on stage, so maybe take the time and focus on your songwriting and connect with your fans on that front.

2. What does success look like to you?

We all want to “make it” in music. But that can mean different things for different people. Maybe you’re happy just playing weekend gigs in your home town. Maybe you want a major record deal. Maybe you want a publishing deal with a small indie publisher that gives you plenty of attention and creative freedom. Try to be as specific as you can. After all, how will you know when you’ve achieved success if you don’t even know what it looks like?

If you answer these questions you’ll be one step closer to really understanding your career. Knowing where you are and where you want to be will really help you make decisions along the way.

We’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions in the comment section below!

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Despite being published back in 2008, the concepts in the article 1,000 True Fans are still true today. Musicians today can be independent and successful, but you can’t wait around and hope for some big time success to just hit you in the face. You need to take the time and really build up a strong group of people who really believe in you and your music, and that group doesn’t need to be as large as you may think. 1,000 true fans is all it takes to be able to live the life in music you deserve!

If you haven’t given 1,000 True Fans a read through yet, be sure to check it out. However, sometimes big ideas and theories can be difficult to grasp and apply to your own career, so here’s an interview with Cyber PR campaigns manager Andrew Salmon (@andrewgsalmon) and Canadian singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto so you can see how the 1,000 true fans model is working for a real indie artist.

Andrew Salmon: How long have you been an active musician for? You’ve been making music and performing for a long time, but do you think there was a defining moment when you became officially “active”?

Robyn Dell’Unto: I played through high school but tried VERY hard to stop as I made my way into university [McMaster University]; I wanted to be a psychologist or something else really respectable to grown ups. But the local music scene in Hamilton, Ontario was so incredibly conducive to collaborating, getting on stage, just being around other musicians, and I cracked pretty quickly. There were so many talented people just hanging around town, and great music venues. I got hooked, started playing a bunch, recording singles here and there. I moved to Toronto after graduating, and about a year later I entered this competition with a local independent record label, and “won” a record contract. I felt sort of validated by that, because out of nowhere I suddenly had funds and support. While I’m loving running my own show these days, I’m so appreciative of that experience.

AS: What would you estimate your percentage breakdown of music-related income to be?
– Shows
– House shows / club shows
– Music sales / streaming
– Publishing / sync licensing

RDU:
– Shows (including house/corporate/public venue/college): 30%
– Music sales: 5% (ha!!)
– Publishing/licensing (including residual royalties): 40%
– Other (workshops via my songwriting program A Song Of My Own): 25%

AS: You have a strong presence on Twitter, and you clearly have a special bond with your fans in this space. How have you gone about building your tribe?

RDU: Ha! I didn’t realize I had a tribe. Could I please be called Chief? Twitter is fun and direct and I guess I just try to be myself while putting info out there as much as possible. I’ve gained a few real fantastic fans through licensing and touring, and I find people stick with you if you’re responsive, or a bit funny, or just generally not a dick. Everybody’s in love with music, and it’s incredible to think that someone could be in love with yours.

AS: How would you say you’ve been able to win your fans over? What additional value do you bring to the table in terms of your relationship to your fans beyond the music?

RDU: Hmm…I guess I’d have to ask them. I really like posting photos, and I think people like to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I like posting ridiculous photos of animals, particularly pugs, they’re just so damn ugly and everybody love-hates them. People send me links to fantastic ugly pug pictures and I’m always extremely grateful. I talk about food a bit… who doesn’t love food, right? I’ve had a few proposals, which I’ve been receptive to. Nothing wrong with that. I LOVE getting cover-performance videos of my songs, and try to always repost them. I recently saw a sign language performance of my song ‘Astronaut’ on YouTube. It made me weep. Like, honestly weep. That was awesome.

Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophmore record “Little Lines” is available now! Learn more about Robyn on her website and follow her on Twitter here.

New-Artist-Model

Do you have 1,000 True Fans?

Learn how to harness your fanbase! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

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.

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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.

Defining Your Brand Strategy as a Musician

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.”

What does that even mean? It may make sense to you, but no fan is going to be able to picture what your music sounds like or if they’ll like it or not from that description.

Ultimately, you want to be able to tell people what your music sounds like in just 1 or two sentences. Concise, easy to understand, and intriguing.

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 strategy 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.


Your Brand Strategy isn’t Just About Genre

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. Your brand is how your present yourself to the world. That includes your genre, your image, how you perform on stage, how you interact with your audience, your passions, and your personality.

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 strategy 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 and promote your music to them. It’s easier to turn a fan into a superfan than it is to turn a hater into a fan.

Start in your local niche 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.


Want more music tips? 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 niche 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 niche 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-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!