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

Managing Your Own Music Career

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

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

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

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

You advise artists to form a plan. Can you explain the process?
They should ask themselves what they want to accomplish, what they like to do and what their definition of success is. The answers to those questions will help formulate a plan to reach their goals.

That’s a very business-like approach. Why should artists go down that road?
Today, artists need to be musical entrepreneurs. They need to develop their image and brand and know how to raise money and market their art. Often, if they don’t do it––it won’t get done. Artists have to realize that times have changed and they are responsible for their own success.

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

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

Managing Your Own Music Career - Music Connection Interviews Dave Kusek

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

Managing Your Own Music Career

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

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

Today, indie and DIY artists have the potential to bring in more money than ever before, but sometimes all the potential revenue sources can be overwhelming and difficult to manage.  This article describes the three most profitable revenue sources for indie musicians.

1) YouTube

Complain all you want about musicians making YouTube covers and goofy videos instead of being “serious”. The reality is many of them make a good living from this. Costs are minimal compared to professional studio time. Distribution costs are near zero. The casualness of the content also allows for more rapid creation than one might find for “official” recorded work.

Companies such as Maker Studios and Big Fra.me have grown to help these artists monetize their music with better-leveraged ad rates, production assistance, and channel cross-promotion. Once ramped up with a lot of content, successful artists in this area can clear mid-to-high five figures in revenue. Since they are often solo artists, they also don’t have to split it up much.

To find out the other two revenue streams, visit Music Think Tank.

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Photo by yisk on Flickr

Here are a few ideas for making the most out of HootSuite and managing social media as a band.  If you are going “DIY” on your promotional campaign, things like pre-scheduling important tweets in advance of hitting the road can be a big help.

The music industry has changed so much in the past decade, and now bands, musicians, promoters, and record labels have the ability to do their own promotions online. With the myriad of social media tools available for bands, it’s not easy to get started. Luckily, HootSuite offers a complete solution that allows bands to take social media into their own hands. This blog post will share a series of insider tips and tricks for bands in the music industry, and will show you how easy it is to use HootSuite to get the most out of your social media efforts.

1) Make a List. Make a List. Rinse, and Repeat

Bevis-1Twitter lists are your friend. Use them strategically and frequently. Whenever you have an interaction with someone over Twitter, add them to your “fans” list. Follow this list closely from within your Dashboard, and tweet your fans when you’re in their town. Let them know you have a show, and that you’d love to see them there. This simple move allows you to take something as simple as a tweet, and turn it into a ticket sale, and as a bonus, you start to cultivate a meaningful relationship with your fans.

If you find that your fans list is growing significantly (good job!) then create a fans list for each of the major cities that you visit. Filter this list by Klout score, and see which of your fans in that area have the most reach. Cozy up to these people and offer them a spot on your guest list, or schedule an in-person meet up. All of a sudden, you have a brand ambassador.

These influencers are invaluable: they’ll spread the word about your amazing live show, they’ll come back next time you’re in town, and if you play your cards right, they might even bring people with them.

Read the full story at HypeBot.com

Alex Day has proudly made his way in the music industry without the support of a major label by building his fanbase online.  Here he recounts a hilarious meeting with an A&R person and why he left the meeting unsatisfied.

He doesn’t tour either and doesn’t see the need to:

Typically I make around £3500 a month from YouTube (I’m on a network so they can sell the ad space higher) and at least £10,000 a month from music and merch sales. I’ve also done other projects – I co-created a card game with my cousin which we sell online, I have a business called Lifescouts I launched this year – which add a bit of extra cash to the pot also.

Read a full case study at TechDirt.com

My buddy Bruce Houghton at Hypebot, caught me last week for a quick interview before Rethink Music.  Here is an except from our discussion:

HYPEBOT: Your new focus is on consulting and investing. Are there any sectors, particularly within music and music tech, that particularly interest you or where you see the most room for growth?

DAVE KUSEK: Online education is one of them. This is an area that is already transforming how people learn and gain job skills and it is only going to grow as time goes on. There are big opportunities here that will effect tens of millions of people around the world. Online training is going to be huge. Job requirements are shifting and people need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances that can benefit them. The traditional model of higher education is already under pressure and there are many people and companies exploring alternative models that are very interesting.

The other area I am bullish on is live music and live events. The live concert experience cannot be digitized, yet can benefit enormously from technology. There really has not been much innovation in live music or in music merchandising beyond ticketing. I think there is a lot more that can be done with mobile technology and am actively working in this area. My investment in Tastemate is one way of digging into this potential in a meaningful way. We will be bringing our service to a venue near you, very soon.

I also think that there is potential to expand the reach of live performance using remote technologies. I am interested in ways to cut the costs out of touring to make it more profitable and to reach broader audiences. It is amazing to me that there has not been more activity in this area either, so I am looking for companies and people to work with that are thinking differently about what live music is all about and how to make it even more lucrative.

HYPEBOT: What are some of the things that Digital Cowboys has done in the past or is looking to do now?

DAVE KUSEK: We are focused on business development, marketing and product development, particularly in online and mobile services. We also do strategy consulting for businesses wanting to expand or enter new markets or make acquisitions. I say we, because while I am the managing partner, I also leverage a network of people around the world and with different specialties that I bring together to form a team to address the issues. For example, with a lot of the product work that we have done I brought together a team of visual designers and user experience people to execute on the product vision and do the testing. With business development projects I sometimes work with friends that have particular contacts or relationships that are beneficial to my clients. Sometimes I put together a couple different investors or strategic partners to provide capital or distribution or some other need. The main thing is to get the work done and show results, while trying to have some fun and work on interesting projects that are pushing the envelope.

HYPEBOT: There’s some talk of another tech bubble. Do you see think we’re approaching one in music and media technology?

DAVE KUSEK: I do think that some of the deals we have seen recently are off the charts, like Instagram – but who knows? That has all the earmarks of “bubble” written all over it. But Facebook is also about to go public and at their level, what’s another billion dollars?

But really I don’t think overall that we are at the point of frivolousness and excess that we witnessed in the earlier dot-com bubble, at least not yet. I believe that people are just beginning to figure out better ways to communicate and interact and learn via technology. That is having massive implications on the future of society around the world. Take a look at the stock market trend over the past 100 years and you will see that things tend to move up and people get smarter and more prosperous. I am an optimist.

There are a lot of music startups getting funded these days and certainly they are not all going to make it. I think we will see some consolidation in the DIY space as there are probably more companies addressing that market than the market really needs. The same is true for music streaming and distribution and music discovery. I think the real breakthrough companies will be formed by trying to do something completely different, rather than mimicking the past with technology. We’ll see.

HYPEBOT: Any plans to write a follow-up to the “Future Of Music” book?

DAVE KUSEK: I plan to spend a lot more time posting things to my blog and on digitalcowboys.com. This is a much better way to continue to update original thinking and way more efficient than writing another book. The music industry has gone digital and online outlets like Hypebot really do work as conduits in this business. That is a real bright spot in the transformation of the music industry. So, look for more at futureofmusicbook.com.

You can get the entire interview here.

More coverage from Hypebot here and from Billboard here.

income streams for musicians

My friend and Berkleemusic student David Sherbow posted this list of income streams for musicians on his blog and it got picked up by Hypebot as well.  This is a pretty comprehensive list of the different ways that musicians can make money.

The artist music business model has been in flux for years. The record deal dream that most artists sought is no longer the viable alternative that it once was.  The leveling of the music distribution playing field by the Internet is virtually complete.  Terrestrial radio is on a path towards destruction that even the major labels can’t compete with.  People now access and download music from multiple sources, usually for free.  D.I. Y solutions are everywhere, but for many artists hard to integrate into their daily lives.

Where does this leave the average independent artist? At the beginning. Every artist wants to know how they can make music, make money and survive to write and play another day. Here, in no particular order, is a list of possible income streams for musicians.

• Publishing
• Mechanical royalties
• Performance Royalties from ASCAP and BMI
• Digital Performance Royalties from Sound Exchange
• Synch rights TV, Commercials, Movies, Video Games
• Digital sales – Individual or by combination
• Music (studio & live) Album – Physical & Digital, Single – Digital, • Ringtone, Ringback, Podcasts
• Instant Post Gig Live Recording via download, mobile streaming or flash drives
• Video – Live, concept, personal,  – Physical & Digital
• Video and Internet Games featuring or about the artist
• Photographs
• Graphics and art work, screen savers, wall paper
• Lyrics
• Sheet music
• Compilations
• Merchandise – Clothes, USB packs, Posters, other things
• Live Performances
• Live Show – Gig
• Live Show – After Party
• Meet and Greet
• Personal Appearance
• Studio Session Work
• Sponsorships, and endorsements
• Advertising
• Artist newsletter emails
• Artist marketing and promotion materials
• Blog/Website
• Videos
• Music Player
• Fan Clubs
• YouTube Subscription channel for more popular artists
• Artist programmed internet radio station or specialty playlist.
• Financial Contributions of Support – Tip Jar or direct donations, Sellaband or Kickstarter
• Patronage Model – Artist Fan Exclusives – e.g. paying to sing on a song in studio or have artist write a song for you
• Mobile Apps
• Artist Specific Revenue Stream –  unique streams customized to the specific artist, e.g Amanda Palmer
• Music Teaching – Lessons and Workshops
• Music Employment – orchestras, etc, choir directors, ministers of music, etc.
• Music Production – Studio and Live
• Any job available to survive and keep making music
• Getting Help From Other Artists and Helping Them –  Whatever goes around come around. – e.g. gig swapping, songwriting, marketing and promotion