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

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

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

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

1. YouTube Royalty collection

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

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

2. Facebook MusicStore

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

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

3. CD Baby Free

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

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

4. Collect Publishing Royalties and License for Film + TV

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

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

5. Partnerships with PledgeMusic and Fanbridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1de4Yfe

In the past the standard model was to release a full length album every year or so, and while a lot of musicians today still go by that model, more and more are starting to do smaller, more frequent releases. Especially if you’re an indie artist, this strategy is great for building a fan base and staying in the front of your fans’ minds.

Here CD Baby lists out some of the key benefits to the frequent release strategy. If you want to see all 10, check out the full article.

1. Keep your existing fans “tuned in” – Our attention spans are getting shorter and our entertainment options are increasing. If you disappear for three years without any new music, you can’t expect your old fans to pick right up where you left off. You need to stay on their radar if you want them to continue supporting you with equal fervor. The more frequently you release music, the more chances you have to remind them of why they love you.

2. Generate more opportunities for press – Likewise, the more music you put out, the more chances you have to contact bloggers, music magazines, local weeklies, etc. Pinning all your PR hopes on one album release every few years really limits your chances to get the press talking about your music.

3. Pace your creative and recording workload – It’s very time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to complete a major recording project all at once. Generally to finish tracking and mixing a full album in one stretch, you’re looking at anywhere from two to twelve weeks’ worth of work. But what about one song a month? That sounds more manageable, healthy, and realistic, which probably means it’s more likely to happen!

You’ll put everything you have into one song at a time to get it right; then have a little break from recording until next month — rather than exhausting all your energy or ideas. You can release a single every month for a year (and even do a release party for each one if you want to draw some extra attention to the new music). At the end of the year, compile the best ten tracks into an album.

4. Highlight your best songs in multiple ways – Fans love bonus material: remixes, rough demos, alternate takes, b-sides, etc. You can either release these bonus tracks as singles throughout the year, or include them in a special edition of your next album (which gives diehard fans another incentive to purchase the full album even though they already bought the singles that appear on that album separately).

5. Show off your live chops – Whether you produce your own concert recording or do an in-studio for a radio show, TV program, or music blog — turn those sessions into albums or EPs. People love to hear raw, live performance versions of their favorite songs.

How often do you release music? Share in the comments!

 

In this economy, it’s hard to imagine anyone making thousands of phone calls trying to give money away. But that’s exactly what is happening as Sound Exchange contacts musicians who have earned, but not yet claimed, digital performance royalties.  And they are building their database fast, by tapping into the cloud of musician profiles available online. How cool is that?

Sound Exchange is a performing rights organization undertaking a massive education campaign about the fact that the rights and revenue exist, and how to go about getting the money.  In the past few months alone, thousands of artists have been contacted.

When sound recordings are streamed on the Internet, played on digital satellite radio, or used on cable music channels, the performers on that recording accrue a small royalty. Those digital performance royalties are collected by SoundExchange, who processes logs from services and distributes the payments to artists. Unlike other royalty societies, who collect and distribute only to their members, SoundExchange collects royalties for all performers, then has to locate and register artists so they can be paid.

If you want to get paid, you have to register with them at Sound Exchange. If you think your music has been played on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio, Internet radio such as Pandora, Yahoo, Live 365.com and AOL, or on digital cable and satellite TV services like Comcast’s “Music Choice” and DirecTV, you can collect.

The data being collected by today’s digital music companies is being knitted together to connect the dots between online listeners and the copyright holders.  By partnering with CD Baby, ReverbNation, SonicBids, Nimbit and others, Sound Exchange is tapping into the long tail of the market, and rewarding musicians who have online profiles – with cash.

CD Baby says they were notified by Sound Exchange that many of their artists were owed money.  They matched their databases and found that thousands of artists had not registered with Sound Exchange and therefore were not receiving their payments. CD Baby then reached out to these members with the good news.

According to iLike founder Ali Partovi, a database matching effort for artists that had uploaded their information onto iLike found more than $8 million for more than 8,000 artists. According to Partovi, the $8 million was just a first-run effort, and a broader initiative involving MySpace Music remains forthcoming. “MySpace has a much larger database, so we’ll be unlocking even more money.”

To stake your claim visit Sound Exchange, or to send an email to info@soundexchange.com