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How to Book College Gigs as an Indie Musician

How to book college gigs - indie musician Mike Sullivan

How to Book College Gigs – Case Study from Indie Musician Mike Sullivan

Musician Mike Sullivan makes his living touring the college circuit.  The Los Angeles-based independent singer-songwriter knows exactly how to book college gigs, playing more than 250 over the past 10 years.

Some of the schools he has played include Hawaii Pacific University, Odessa College, Indiana University, Purdue University, Green Mountain College, Shenandoah University, Embry-Riddle University, Lipscomb University, Spokane Falls Community College and many more.

Mike Sullivan started doing college shows after a record deal fell through.  He had never played a college before and didn’t know how to book college shows. “I was so naive.  I didn’t even know that colleges paid bands,” he says, adding a Chicago Tribune newspaper article opened his eyes to the college market for music.  “When I was in school I went to lots of great concerts and figured that the bands made their money off merch.”

Contrary to what many musicians think, college shows aren’t any less “cool” than traditional gigs. Not only are they a good source of revenue from the booking fee and merch sales, they’re also yet another way to get yourself out of the crowded and competitive gigging market while still getting in front of a very large and potentially relevant audience. Plus, huge artists like John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Sting and Prince all got their start traveling the college circuit.

How to Book College Gigs Step-by-Step

So now the big question: How to book college gigs? Let’s go through a few steps to get you on the road. Of course, every good strategy starts with a good plan. Click here to download a free planning guide and start taking steps to break into the college market.

1. Use the NACA, APCA, and SGA

There are a few organizations that specifically deal with getting acts booked in schools. There’s not really a “college music booking directory” that you can crack open, send off some emails, and book some gigs. Most colleges prefer to go through trusted agencies – just for ease of use and protection of their students. You’ll have a much easier time getting started if you use these showcases, resources, and connections.

When Mike was first getting started, he got in touch with the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the Association for Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA), two agencies that hold “showcases” around the country where college activities directors and students check out talent to book at their schools. To participate in the NACA showcase, you’ll need to be a NACA member, which costs a few hundred dollars per year. But on the plus side, that is a small fee compared to the income potential of college gigs and once you have the connections you need you can ditch the membership.

There are college booking agents that specialize in booking college gigs, and if you work with one they will more often than not cover your NACA fees and showcasing fees. Keep in mind though, you’ll have to give them a cut of every gig they book for you, so it ends up evening out in the end.

It may also be worth looking at is the Student Government Association. While the agencies showcase many different kinds of acts in addition to musicians, it’s still a good place to start to get the connections you need for schools across the country, not just your local area.

As with anything in music, if you want to get a showcase spot and book gigs, you need to have a professional EPK, active social accounts, and a professional look. After submitting a demo, Mike earned a 15 minute set at a national APCA showcase. He nailed that first appearance and got another 25 gigs right away.

2. Your Connections Are Everything

Just like in the gigging world, it’s possible to get college gigs on your own if you have the direct connections. So once you get some gigs from your NACA showcase and the APCA showcase, it’s really all about maintaining those connections.

You also want to keep in mind that students are usually in charge of booking music gigs for their college, so that means you need to make new connections every few years as they graduate. It will be a constant effort of managing your contacts.

At first, Mike Sullivan looked for a good agent to help him get more college gigs. “One college booking agent told me she had 30 or 40 colleges interested and would set up a tour but didn’t follow up,” he said.  “Fortunately, schools started calling me directly and I booked the gigs myself. It was a huge lesson.”

Because most colleges seek out the act, if you take the initiative to make the first contact it can make a big impression. “I was fearless and would pick up the phone,” Mike says.  “It opened a lot of doors that would have otherwise have remained closed.  But today people think that they don’t need to talk with email and social media.”

3. Book Gigs in a Row

When an artist works with NACA or APCA, they can take advantage of their “block booking” system when booking or “routing” their college tours.  This system allows individual schools to work together and get a discount when they book an artist around the same time — and it gives artists the chance to make good money.

“The more gigs you put together in a row, the less you charge and the more school saves.  Everybody wins,” Mike says.  “When it works it’s awesome.  Getting three or five gigs in a row is when you can really make a fantastic profit.”

4. Don’t Just Focus on the Big Schools

Just like with traditional gigs, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “bigger is better.” But, especially with colleges, that’s not always the case.

“You can make a great living playing colleges. You know every year my price has gone up,” Mike says. When he started out in 2005, he charged $1300 for a gig. Today, he gets $2500. But one of his biggest tips is to avoid overlooking the smaller schools, which is a little counter-intuitive to how we think about traditional gigs.

“Smaller schools sometimes pay more than big ones because it is harder for them to attract acts. A lot of community colleges feel neglected and they have budgets to spend,” Mike says.

5. Be Flexible

Flexibility is key when it comes to getting asked back to play at schools.  “Colleges have good and bad budget years just like any other organization, so be open to being the act the school needs. If you usually bring a band but money is tight, offer to do a solo or duo performance instead. You’ll keep your connection to the school alive and generate lots of goodwill.”

Beyond just the price, the settings of college gigs can vary dramatically. Mike books 20 to 35 college gigs a year for audiences of 50 to 200 people.  His sets run from one to two hours.  He’s played intimate coffee house settings, in theaters and even in a hallway.  “It can be all over the place — a regular concert or a huge party.  One time there was a clown blowing up balloons right beside me while I played.” It’s all about being flexible.

6. Book Traditional Gigs Around College Gigs

College gigs aren’t something you need to dedicate 100% of your gigging efforts to. In fact, you can make even more of a profit if you book traditional gigs en-route to college gigs.

If you take advantage of the block booking method, you’ll have a mini tour route setup in a certain region. Instead of spending your off days just sitting around, get proactive and contact local clubs and venues to book a few gigs. After playing a few college gigs in the area you’ll have a local audience to draw on when you come through. If you don’t quite have the following to book a headliner show, try getting in touch with local bands and getting an opening slot.  

Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to book college gigs as an indie musician. Whether you want to spend all your time gigging the college circuit or you just want to squeeze in a few college show in your tours as little revenue boosters, college gigs can be a big income driver. Of course, the key to any successful strategy is PLANNING. Click here to download a free planning guide so you can get more done faster.

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For more information on Mike Sullivan visit his website at mikesullivanmusic.com

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

 

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Matt Powell

New Artist Model member Matt Powell

New Artist Model member Matt Powell

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

On His Own — And Loving It

Canadian Singer songwriter Matt Powell isn’t a big believer in conventional wisdom.  Especially the old saying that there is safety in numbers.  After spending most of his musical career as a member of two different bands, Matt recently stepped out on his own as a solo artist — and is loving it.

The Ottawa-based musician will drop his newest album “Year One” this fall — the title chosen to celebrate his first anniversary as a solo artist.  The songs on the CD represent a journey back to his musical roots inspired by the likes of John Mayer, The Strokes and The Black Keys.

Matt is using a strategy that combines a strong social media presence and lots of gigs to generate buzz for his upcoming release.  He put together his plan with help from the New Artist Model, an online business school for indie musicians.

Currently, Matt has 10,000 followers.  He communicates with them using email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other social media channels.  His videos on Youtube have captured more than 20,000 views and 80,000 on Facebook.

“If you want to be successful online, it is important to respond to every person who contacts you,” Matt says.  “It is also good to “turn the tables” on your fans and give them star treatment.”

“What you want to do is treat everyone as if your favorite artist just responded to you on social media,” Matt says, adding that enthusiasm helps create superfans.  “When I consistently started responding to every single fan, I went from 200 followers to 1000 followers in three weeks.  My fan base grew from 300 to 5700 in 6 months.”

“If they (fans) feel you are their friend and treat them with kindness consistently, they will stick with you and be really, really loyal.  So I am going to continue to be engaging and follow them back even as the numbers go up, up, up.”

Matt communicates often with the people who follow him often.  He also reaches out to the super fans of other artists in his genre.  Matt posts weekly clips and asks his audience what they want to hear.  If enough followers urge him to cover a certain song, he will.  Once the cover is up, Matt engages with the original artist’s following.  He never asks them directly to follow him — rather he simply engages.  It is a strategy that works, he says.

Matt says his success on social media has taught him never to underestimate how significant your reach will be.  You never know you will connect with.  One thing Matt is passionate about — in addition to music — is fashion.  Recently, he had the chance to connect with Anthony Bogdan, a style blogger he’s admired for years “My jaw hit the floor when I got the request,” he says.

“I have people who are happy and eager to share my content,” Matt says.  “The networking and the decency I have been inspired to use have taken my first year as an independent artist and propelled me forward.  I wouldn’t have believed myself at this time last year if I knew where I would be today.”

When Matt is not sharing his music on the internet, he can be found playing at local clubs and bars.  In addition, he hosts a popular open mic event held once a month in the city that is broadcast on Rogers TV Network.  Matt also performs as part of this showcase.

“Doing the open mic is great for networking,” he says, adding that many of the artists he meets during the show ask him to join them at upcoming gigs.

When he plays out, Matt regularly distributes up to 2000 business cards emblazoned with personal email and social media information and asks people to send him a personal message to start a dialogue.

Matt says being an independent artist in Canada requires balancing a unique set of challenges and opportunities.  For instance, radio airplay can be hard to come by.  Most stations are owned by major labels like Warner Brothers, Sony and Universal and play only their signed artists.  

At the same time, Matt says, significant support for indie artists exists in the form of grants offered by the Canadian government.  This is particularly important to Matt who is committed to touring but will keep his home in Ottawa.

“There are lots of government grants available for musicians who stay in the country,” Matt says.  “They can range from $5000 or $10,000 to even as much as $20,000.  Artists can use this money to help record their albums.  This is something I am looking into.”

A typical day for Matt includes communicating with with fans and working on music.  He also takes time, when he can, to review the latest offerings at New Artist Model.

When he wakes up, Matt immediately checks his Twitter Instagram, Youtube and other social media feeds.  He then spends about an hour communicating with fans from around the world including the States, Europe and Brazil.

“I call it upkeep.  I poke and market.  I talk to them in the moment,” Matt says.  After working on his music and spending time with family, Matt finishes his day by checking in with fans again.  “I love interacting with people.”

Matt says that also making time on a regular basis to review material on the NAM site helps keep him inspired and effective.

“I’ve gone back and watched some of the same workshops 4 or 5 different times.  I do that especially when I’ve hit a funk or need some guidance,” Matt says, adding that he has watched some of the video from NAM’s 2015 Nashville gathering 10 times. The Indie Artist Summit was a live mini conference that attracted hundreds of attendees. Top industry pros like Benji Rogers, Patrick Clifford, Barry Coffing, Jay Frank, and more covered topics like building a community of superfans, licensing your music for film and TV, making Spotify work for indie artists, getting your music in front of publishers, and much more. The entire recorded event now lives in the Music Business Guide to Success course.

Matt’s is hoping to reach 25,000 followers soon.  His other goals include playing more big venues, creating merchandise, touring and doing house concerts.  He also wants to open for other artists he admires.

Through it all he plans to continue to stay close to the people who support him — in person and online.

“I will never stop communicating with his original true fans that have helped me from the start.  I have an appreciation and love for them that will never expire,” Matt says.  “The time invested in being personable, kind, and humble, and being appreciative. It comes back to you. ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make.’”

 

To see more about Matt Powell look here

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

Why Lyric Videos Are a Great Option for Bands & Musicians on a Budget

Lyric Music Videos

Guest Post by Caroline of Culture Coverage

When everyone is scrambling to bring more to the table, lyric videos pop up to prove to the industry that less is not only better but also incredibly effective. Cropping up as fan posted videos long before they became a thing emulated by artists, lyric videos harken back to days of Bob Dylan, but the contemporary counterpart of Cee Lo Green and his breakout hit “F*ck You” is attributed for breaking the ice this time. And from there, the videos only get edgier, but no less aggressive, at grabbing viewers and getting them to hit replay in the millions.

For bands and artists looking to make it to the big time with a small time budget, here’re a couple of reasons why the lyrics video should be your next project.

1. Big Budget Films

Skyfall  Lyric Videos

Lyric videos have a natural segue into the industry to keep fans content while bigger budget, artistic music videos were being made. Lyric videos for artists such as Katy Perry were essentially just created as placeholders until the big bucks could be dropped on making groundbreaking artistic music films.

But in the case of artists such as Adele and her Skyfall single, the lyric videos brought in the big bucks up front, and for indie artists, landing on movie soundtrack can be a big deal, even if it’s just for an opening. Why the love for the lyrics? Fans love being able to sing along, and with a lyric video, it’s taking the place all those ugly lyric websites and put what the artist has to say right in the forefront. What’s better than that?

2. Social Media Madness

Social Media Lyric Videos

Ever since Facebook and Instagram updated their platforms, lyric videos have become the new gateway to followers. Since the move to instant video play while scrolling through a feed, Facebook and Instagram have pushed viewers to respond to images and the overlaid words in a new way—even if it’s a music video intended for sound.

While music videos used to be most concerned with the best sound, now they have to be concerned with the triple threat of sound, visual and words because viewers are getting sucked in by sight alone and getting more hits than videos that forego the lyrics overlaying the images. While it may seem backward, words are getting back into the mainstream as indicators of whether you’ll like the content (and as a writer I see this as a good thing).

For new artists, don’t worry about having the best video first, worry about getting the lyrics out there. With royalties you can get from your songs being attached to photos (check out #3), you can fund a bigger project by creating a lyric video first. And the good news? Even lyric videos can go viral.

3. YouTube Changed the Game

YouTube Lyric Videos

Before the internet, music came on records, often with no lyrics, and the only visuals to accompany the sound were those that came on the jacket cover. YouTube’s crop into the music industry radically changed that forever, and lyric videos are taking their share of the fame and fortune.

When access to the world’s population is no longer a problem (thanks to my Virtual Private Network for that), videos can rack in the numbers simply by existing—and that’s exactly what they’ve done. While online radio players have skyrocketed, YouTube has done the same, giving access to millions to free music at their fingertips. And it’s not just the “official” version that’s playing, but the fan made ones too. Now we’re even starting to see the artist made videos that sometimes leak online long before they make it to streaming companies. Thanks to the boom, “Best Lyric Video” is now a category at the VMA’s, making it a cash cow all on its own.

When new artists get onto this trend, they can see big results in a short period of time. So ask your friend who’s getting married to post their wedding video with your song attached to it—YouTube will start sending you bigger checks with each video hit.

From updates on social media to the contribution of YouTube, it’s a worldwide trend that’s about to hit the big times, so stay tuned for more—we’re sure Justin Bieber has much more left in him!

 

About the Author: Caroline is an entertainment blogger, who specializes in all things music and soundtracks. She hopes these insights into the world of lyric videos will make your listening experiences that much more entertaining. You can find Caroline on Twitter at @CultureCovC

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Declan O’Shea / Mako

New Artist Model member Declan O'Shea

New Artist Model member Declan O’Shea

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

Keep moving or die

If you’ve ever been near the ocean, chances are you’ve heard that sharks need to keep moving or else they die.

In his own unique way, singer-songwriter Declan O’Shea is taking that knowledge to heart.  

A member of the edgy alt-rock band, Declan is on the move as he puts together a social media campaign for the band’s upcoming album “The Runner.”

A single from the album entitled “World Set Alight” dropped early this year just in time to be nominated for a Grammy for best rock song and best music video. “The Runner” will be released in its entirety by the end of 2016.  It will feature songs mixed by Tim Palmer (U2 and Pearl Jam) and Bill Appleberry (Stone Temple Pilots, The Voice).

“I am using the New Artist Model to learn how to market the new album properly,” says Declan, who is very active in the Indie Artist Network group.  “I neglected all of this stuff before but am figuring it out.  I am putting a lot of time into Facebook and getting very good at Twitter.  Email marketing starts next month.”

The band, which includes Declan and Christian Montagne, is hoping to build on the buzz generated by its first album “Living on Air” released in 2011.   The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognized the band that year, placing MAKO on its Official Ballot.  Nominations included Best Rock Album, Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocals for the song “Unstoppable,” ;  Best Rock Song for “Miss Alison” and Best Short Form Music Video for “Unstoppable.”

Before launching MAKO in 2010, Declan and Christian were part of Cyclefly.  The iconic Irish/French rock group toured Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe and the U.S. sharing the stage with artists including Iggy Pop, Bush, Live, Linkin Park and others.

Cyclefly released two full length albums.  “Generation Sap” was produced by Sylvia Massy and released in 1999 by Radioactive Records, a division of MCA.  Its second album “Crave,” released by Proper Records in 2002, features a guest vocal spot on “Karma Killer” from Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington.

“We played the main stage at Oz Fest and also toured with Bush.  We did the Redding and Leeds festivals.  We did the Woodstock 50th anniversary.  It was all about live then,” Declan says.  “Social media only started kicking in 2000.  Now it’s about downloads, not sales.  Everything’s become ‘game-ified.’  People want to visually see stuff and listen at the same time.”

Declan is using a variety of social media tools to spread news about MAKO and its music.  Email, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other channels are all part of his marketing mix.  Currently, Twitter is his most powerful tool.

“We get a lot of airplay through Twitter,” he says, adding that he identifies bands with a sound similar to MAKO and connects with their fans and the radio stations that play their music.

Using auto responders on Twitter is a great way to attract more followers, he adds.  People who follow MAKO automatically receive a message offering a free download of their first album in exchange for an email address.  The message includes a link the MAKO’s website.      

In addition to finding new fans, Declan uses Twitter to collaborate with other musicians, get feedback on singles and find help with marketing.

“I read Dave Kusek’s e-book on Twitter marketing and started sending out tweets and emails to ask for feedback on the new single.  I got lots of positive replies and one fan is helping me with marketing in the States with Spotify,” he says.  “Another is doing photos for the new album and a guy from Germany wants to help find opportunities in Berlin for the band.”

Emailing is an essential part of the band’s marketing strategy, Declan says.  He reaches out to fans on a regular basis with offers of free music and other incentives.  MAKO also gives away its first album for free on NoiseTrade.  

Declan’s day typically begins with meditation and a run.  Then he gets down to work, spending most of each day writing and recording music in his home studio.  He usually turns his attention to marketing in the evening.

He makes it a point to read books that inspire and motivate him.  “Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” by Greg McKeown — a book recommended by New Artist Model — is one of his favorites.  The bestseller shows readers how to simplify their lives, identify goals and achieve them.

“Every night, I’m reading 10 pages of something. I am going through one after the other.  Lifestyle and business.  Through New Artist Model I’ve gotten many recommendations and blogs to read.  Right now, I’m reading “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People,” Declan says.  

Additional titles he’s found useful include “The Richest Man in Babylon,” by George Samuel Clason,  “The Lean Start Up,” by Eric Ries “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Rich as well as spiritually oriented volumes like “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.

MAKO is playing the occasional acoustic gig these days.  Once “The Runner” is released, the group will tour in support of the record.  MAKO has played throughout Ireland and toured Brazil twice where they recorded a song and music video with the popular band Medulla.   

Declan has lots of plans that will keep MAKO moving forward — a tour to support the album, continued outreach through social media and a foray into the world of licensing.  If he works hard, Declan figures, things ought to go swimmingly.

“I am working to focus my energy towards my goal and know who I am as an artist,” Declan says.  “Treat your music like a start up business.”

 

To see more about Declan O’Shea and Mako look here http://www.makotunes.com/                    

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Rishi Deva

New Artist Model member Rishi Deva and Parvati

New Artist Model member Rishi Deva and Parvati

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

Rishi Deva manages the chart topping, award winning Canadian artist Parvati.  With his help, she has risen to twice to #1 on the Canadian electronica charts with her rich pop songs, dance anthems, and electronic soundscapes.  

Parvati has performed live at venues including New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Earl’s Court in London and reached millions of listeners in Asia on Asia Pop 40 radio and YAN TV.  She has three singles coming to top 40 pop radio in 2016:  “I Am Light,” “Yoga in the Nightclub” and Shanti Om.”

Rishi not only works with Parvati on her music career but helps manage her other business interests as well.  Parvati is founder of YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, a company dedicated to teaching a gentle form of the art  that combines chi-energy work with yoga poses.  She is also the author of self-help book “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie” and publisher of the online “Parvati Magazine.”

“The lines between management and artists have blurred a lot,”  Rishi says. Says.  “Parvati is a producer and does some things on the business side.  Parvati and I, we are doing 90 percent business and 10 percent music. The music is a component in the whole piece of getting it out there.”

“I’m really happy to have discovered The New Artist Model. I’ve had over 20 years experience at labels and in management. I also have a Masters degree in Business”  he says. “I consider the New Artist Model a little ‘mini-masters’ in business. There’s a lot of value in the program if you work it.”

Working the New Artist Model program has not only brought him more ideas about how to be a great manager it’s also helped him describe Parvati’s musical style more effectively, Rishi says.

“Her song ‘I am Light’ cradles two worlds.  We couldn’t figure out if it’s pop or New Age,” he  explains.  “So I posed the question to the Indie Artist Network that we got as part of the New Artist Model and Dave (Kusek) said ‘It’s celestial pop.’  Sure enough, we used that genre and that’s what’s working. That’s what we’ve been calling it. I just heard the song played on the radio after Coldplay and before Ed Sheeran.”

Being a successful manager has a lot to do with being organized while also trusting your intuition, Rishi says. It is essential to balance strong strategic planning with the ability to jump on unexpected opportunities. He urges independent artists to constantly be on the lookout for collaborations that will be a “win-win” for everyone involved.

Don’t have a plan B, have a really good plan A. It’s really important to plan, and don’t give up. The power used to be in the hands of the big tastemakers: labels. That’s crumbled now.,” Rishi says, adding that many independent musicians don’t own their own power. “They don’t know everything. It’s you and your fans, which you can now build up with powerful platforms on the internet.”  

“Labels can connect you with big names, networks. But you can still do that on your own and retain all the rights to your music,” he adds. “The role of the artist and label is merging into one. Artists need to be more business-minded and artistic, which can be a challenge. Good managers will be able to work both sides of that and work hand in hand with the artist to help develop the marketplace.”

“That’s why I feel what Dave is doing with the New Artist Model is essential. He is empowering so many artists to go for it. Giving them the tools to have more confidence in these situations.”

Rishi says he goes to a lot of trade shows and always make a list of people he wants to network with ahead of time. Preparation is key. However, one of his biggest successes came one day when he decided to do something he hadn’t planned on.

“All of the success that Parvati has had on Asian radio lately is due to the intuition I had at a conference. I sat in on an Australian panel. Thought why not?” Rishi says. “ I met a big wig guy who owns radio stations and had the intuition to link up with him. He’s helped us get all over Asian radio. This was not a part of the original plan. As a result, we are having success in a lot of areas we hadn’t expected like Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.”

Rishi rises most days at 5 a.m. and begins his morning with meditation. Afterward, he reviews finances, looks at the outline for the day and gets started on work. His day is filled with meetings and ongoing discussions around strategy to keep things working smoothly. There is “a lot of putting out fires” and dealing with social media, he says.

“I go to bed early and get up early,” Rishi says. “The biggest skill I’ve learned over the years is to always have the attitude of of the absolute beginner, with the self-confidence to know yourself.”
 
Rishi says that Parvati’s fanbase has grown significantly this year especially in Asia. He credits her song “I Am Light” with opening the door to that market.

“I didn’t expect Asian radio to be so promising,” he says. “The song itself has a sanskrit component, a Buddhist chant. So that’s why Asia is probably picking up on it. We are in the process of doing an English version.”

Parvati spends a lot of time interacting with followers on social media, Rishi says. Fans who sign up receive valuable content on an ongoing basis from free yoga classes, uplifting affirmations and guided meditations to tips on living with a positive attitude and more.

Rishi says that one of the biggest challenges he faces as a manager is figuring out how to generate more income from Parvati’s music. Streaming services currently do not bring in much money so he is putting much of his work into creating dynamic live performances.

“The general notion I’m seeing is that people believe music is free. The streaming companies are not providing the revenue system that they should to artists,” Rishi says, adding.  “I am a fan of streaming — but not without the correct royalties.  I believe it will iron itself out. I am still a big believer in radio. Radio is an important platform.”

“We’re on the top 40 charts in 12 countries right now. It’s not equating to a lot of sales. What can we generate that people can’t download for free? Live shows. We need to put on the best live shows possible.”

They lost money on their first couple of live tours, Rishi says, but built up a fanbase and developed a style. Then Parvati went back to her hometown of Toronto to perform. People from Cirque du Soleil caught the show, loved it, and have been talking with Rishi and Parvati about future collaborations.

Currently, Rishi is working on ideas for funding Parvati’s upcoming Asian tour.

“Right now, We have support with radio and fans, but not the funds. We’ll look for a sponsor rather than a loan from a label that we will have to pay back later, Rishi says.  “We’re looking for sponsors that fit Parvati’s brand. They must be environmentally and health conscious.”

Rishi is looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Parvati as they grow her fanbase, increase her revenue streams and create iconic live performances. “Parvati has an incredible business head on her shoulders, that is a testament to where we are going. She is very active in music and business.”

 

For more about Parvati and Rishi visit https://parvati.tv/

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

Learn more about the Essential Power Pack special offer here.

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Luis Hernandez

New Artist Model member Luis Hernandez of Pentagram Records

New Artist Model member Luis Hernandez of Pentagram Records

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

Luis Hernandez is building a new music company in Mexico

Luis Hernandez, founder of Pentagram Records is on a musical mission.  He is building a label for Mexican artists who are eager to showcase their country’s language and unique musical heritage, instead of trying to imitate music from the U.S.

Luis is off to a good start with a healthy roster of artists, lots of local concerts and the chance to put his home of Hermosillo, Mexico (pop. 600,000) in the state of Sonora, on the map as one of the Mexico’s most important musical cities.

Luis came up with the idea for Pentagram in 2015 with help from the New Artist Model online course with Dave Kusek.  Early in his studies, Luis says, he was confronted with a simple question.  One that made him re-evaluate everything.

“Dave asked me a question that left me awake all night. A little tiny question that said: “What are your goals or what do you want to do?” Luis says.  “You have to answer as specifically as you can. How much music, what kind of music, how many sales will you have.”

“What is it specifically you want to do? That sort of started this puzzle for me. I remember it was a night when I got no sleep because I was thinking so much about it. The result is Pentagram Records.”

Luis says working through the online music business course helped him understand the unique challenges he would face in the Mexican music industry.  

“Things are a little bit different in Mexico. It is a socio-cultural thing. Most of what we consume musically comes from the US. It’s very weird. Many people don’t speak English though they listen to music in English,” he adds.  “They prefer music they can relate to but it’s not common here for someone to think they can make a decent living as a musician.  For our culture we need to make new music. We need to stand for what we are.”

Pentagram Records current artists include:  Mhelyssa, Maicq de la Rome, Sosel and Akaryu.  All of the artists sing in Spanish.  The label releases a new single every two to three months and shares music for free on its website.  Pentagram music is also sold on other platforms including iTunes.  According to Luis, the majority of the company’s revenue comes from music, merchandise sales and live concerts.

“Music brings us income,” Luis says.  “We give it away but people come to the website and say ‘I want to pay for it.  I don’t feel like it should be free, and I want to pay 10 times the price I would have paid iTunes.  They want to give us that directly.  All we ask for is an email address to send someone new releases but they can also pay us with a tip jar.”

“Live fees are also very important to us,” he adds.  “We are making our own shows. We rely on tickets. A recent event in Mexico CIty got us some attention.  We’ve been meeting with promoters interested in making a tour in the southern and central parts of the country, but right now we are focusing on the local market.”

Pentagram’s team of five employees provide artists with a comprehensive array of services including music production, graphic design, website and social media development, and public relations.  In addition, they create Pentagram sponsored concerts.  The company has a video studio and an independent merchandise manufacturing business.  While serving Pentagram artists is a priority, Luis says, the team is also available to work with independent artists on a consulting basis.

Pentagram sponsors at least one performance a month in Hermosillo that includes several artists from the label.  The musicians are free to book other gigs as well, Luis says.

“Live music is the most effective weapon in our arsenal,” he adds.  “We try to present each artist one to two times per month. We have to work to come up with a healthy balance of getting them to play constantly but not to oversaturate the market.”

Luis spends his days recording and mixing music and taking care of Pentagram’s social media presence, paying particular attention to analytics.  He also works on event planning, networking and coming up with new merchandise product ideas.

“Social media is a powerful tool especially because it costs almost nothing and it can give you amazing reach. That combined with amazing live experiences — that is what we are investing in,” Luis explains.  “We follow many of the strategies Dave has taught in his courses as well as many other things we have figured out.”

Pentagram artist Mhelyssa is just one of the Pentagram artists benefitting from a strong social media presence.  Before releasing her first single this spring, the singer reached fans by covering songs and posting her performances on Youtube.  One of her covers included a song done originally by the popular Mexican band Moenia.  

In 2015, band members saw the video and were so impressed they asked her to perform at a concert held at one of the country’s best known theaters, Teatro Metropolitan in Mexico City.

Luis says he learns something new and exciting about the music industry every day, adding his biggest surprise has been discovering you can run a successful label that doesn’t actually sell all that much music.

“We are a record label that doesn’t make albums and doesn’t sell music,” Luis says, adding Pentagram will continue to focus on singles.  “Our music is free. I believe it will always be this way in a digital format. Realizing that was a great surprise for me.”

“We don’t see music as something that can be monetized.  Our artists are new and unknown. It’s better for them to download for free or listen on YouTube or Spotify and share with their friends. It increases the chances of people attending my shows, buying t-shirts and booking my artists. Sponsoring is a big thing as well.”

Reinvesting profits is key to helping Pentagram grow, Luis says.  A typical contract includes these conditions:  once expenses are paid off, remaining monies are split 50/50 between Pentagram and the artist.  This arrangement ensures the company has enough capital to grow on as it develops new talent.

“We haven’t had hits in our catalog yet. All the artists in our catalog are new. We are aiming for the long term,” Luis says.  “Each month we are seeing that our analytics in social networks, the amount of people at shows, the amount of downloads, and plays of music, are constantly growing. We are aiming for steady growth.”

Pentagram will continue to grow by signing additional acts and performing in new places.  Artists from the label should be playing in venues outside Sonora by the end of the summer, according to Luis.   The company will also continue working with artists who need help and guidance on a consulting basis and is encouraging “makers and creators” to use its merchandise manufacturing facility.

While all areas of his business are important, Luis says, he strives to make sure music stays front and center.  And to do that he always remembers to ask artists the question that inspired him to start Pentagram:  “What do you want to do?”

“I believe it is only the music honestly, I know it’s a cliche. It’s all in the music,” Luis says.  “We worry about the words, the arrangement, the style, about originality. It may take us way longer than if we go straight for recording, but we want to make something that has the emotional connection. Evaluating songs for our artist we ask: if this was the last song you could play in your life, is this the song? If not, you should go back and write something else.”

 

Check out Pentagram Records here http://www.pentagramrecords.com/musica

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Angèlia Grace

New Artist Model member Angèlia Grace

New Artist Model member Angèlia Grace

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

Breaking into the world of independent music can be tough. But it looks like vocalist Angelia Grace might just have it covered.

The gifted soprano is “covering” music from some of the most famous movies in the world. Her YouTube videos have earned her hundreds of thousands of fans since she began posting in 2012.

Her performances include selections from the soundtracks for Superman, Inception and Interstellar composed by Hans Zimmer. She also covers music from The Revenant created by Ryuici Sakamoto, Jurassic Park by John Williams and other films.  Angelia Grace’s videos have been viewed more than 394,000 times.

While most musicians perform music and sing lyrics when “covering” a song, this artist brings a unique style to the task. Angelia Grace’s soundtrack covers include the original recording of the music, and she sings along to these instrumental selections using beautiful tones and sounds — not lyrics. She calls it “singing without words.”

“I had never heard about a ‘cover strategy’ before. I found out about it from Dave Kusek at the New Artist Model,” she says.  “This is where my combination of abstract music and soundtracks came from.”

“On YouTube, people are just really honest and tell you their reactions. I always want to take this as really valuable feedback,” Angelia Grace says, adding that she is working to create a new music video each week. “I ask fans which soundtrack they want me to do next. I want them to feel like they are co-creators. That relationship is so incredible.”

Born in Moscow and raised in the Netherlands, Angelia Grace is now living in Ireland.  She is hard at work on Crystal Voices, an album of original songs with lyrics, due to be released later this year. “Soundtrack covers are a great way to exercise my vocal potential,” says the artist who plays piano and flute.  “But people want a story,”

Angelia Grace also plans to release another album called Shine which will feature “soundtrack-like” music. Previous releases include Angelic Healing Sleep (2013), Angelic Tones (2014) and Asatoma (2015).

In addition to performing, working on her Youtube videos and writing her albums, Angelia Grace maintains her own artist website at http://angeliamusic.com/

She also studies voice with Frank Merriman and Edwin Williamson at Dublin’s Bel Canto School of Music, a place that has helped launch the careers of many musicians including Sinead O’Connor.  

While most of Angelia Grace’s performances appear online, she is beginning to weave more live appearances into her schedule including dates at festivals in Holland.

In 2015, she performed at the Marowa Leadership Conference, a spiritual retreat for business managers held in Nagoya, Japan. Angelia got the gig through connections on Facebook.  

“If Facebook didn’t exist I wouldn’t have gotten to Japan,” according to the musician, adding that she “friended” people from Japan who were connected to an artist friend of hers. “One of them contacted me asking if I could show them around because they were coming to the Netherlands. We skyped to get to know one another better. She learned I am a singer and asked me to be part of this three day spiritual event. All of my travel expenses were covered and I was paid to perform.”

Angelia Grace has a manager in the Netherlands but is extremely involved in the business side of her career. She uses Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about her music and stay in touch with fans.  

She has more than 4000 Youtube subscribers, over 1100 likes on Facebook and 900 people on her mailing list.  Right now, she says, Youtube is her most effective tool.

“The most important skill I’ve learned is the ability to use YouTube as a business tool and training stage,” she says. “It gives you the ability to practice performing without a live audience and get perspective that you can learn from. YouTube is an incredibly important part of my strategy. It is my portfolio.”

Instagram is also becoming an increasingly valuable tool, Angelia says. She likes the fact that her posts automatically go to Facebook and Twitter. And she especially loves what happens when she adds a hashtag to her pictures.   

“They explode online,”  she says, adding that reaching many social media platforms at once is essential.  “As an independent artist, you have to work smart because you have limited time.”

Every day Angelia Grace answers all of the messages she receives from fans, Youtube viewers and producers. She says that New Artist Model has helped her understand the value of constancy and discipline when creating a community. Maintaining relationships is essential, the artist says, so she makes it a point to communicate at least once a week with her followers.

“You have to be out there,” she says, adding that publishing valuable content is key. “If you don’t engage, what’s the point? I am building a relationship with people who will stick with me for years to come. That’s one of the most valuable lessons I learned from Dave.”

Her biggest challenge right now, says Angelia Grace, is learning to create professional working relationships with people who contact her. Often producers and musicians will reach out to discuss the possibility of working together. Ironing out the details can be a challenge, she says.

“It is great to have people praise you for what you do. It is even better to have people pay you for what you do,” she says.

Angelia Grace’s goal is to continue to grow her audience as she moves closer to realizing three of her biggest dreams — working with Hans Zimmer;  being hired in Hollywood to help create iconic soundtracks;  and filling large arenas with fans eager to share in her musical experience.

She expects the strategies she is learning from New Artist Model to continue to be central to her growth as an artist, she says.

New Artist Model is helping me think like an entrepreneur and is helping me with marketing. You don’t have to do what Dave is suggesting, you should want to do it. It’s fun, helps you get closer with your team and fans — the people who believe in you — creating a foundation of support,” she says.

“The New Artist Model is going to change your music career forever. I’m not getting paid to say this! You have to know that this is the best investment you can make for your career. You need to build your career brick by brick. Learn what you need to know so you can be successful. It’s a leap of faith you have to take. The knowledge has given me so much confidence. How much is your dream worth? Priceless.”

Check out Angelia Grace here http://angeliamusic.com/
and here https://www.youtube.com/user/AngeliaCrystalVoice

 

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Margaret Dombowski

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

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

Music is a family affair for manager Margaret Dombowski.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Justin Ratowsky

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Shannon Curtis

New Artist Model member Shannon Curtis

New Artist Model member Shannon Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music Strategies: Following Through

indie-musician-promote-your-music

Image via Paul Katcher on Flickr

There are a ton of music strategies out there that will help you grow your fanbase, get more gigs, sell more music, sell more merch, and grow your social media following. I’ve even shared a lot of them on this blog. However, I know a lot of people get frustrated when these music strategies don’t result in the amount of growth and progress as they expect.

The truth is, most of these music strategies just cover the first few steps. Using great hashtags, posting regularly, releasing great content, and following relevant people on Twitter and Instagram will definitely grow your following. But if you’re not converting those followers to email subscribers or driving them to your website you may have a hard time making more money.

Adding a clickable cover photo to your Facebook page that links to your email collection page will certainly grow your email list. But it’s only the first step. An email list is just a number unless you follow through, send relevant emails, and drive those subscribers to take action and purchase your music, merch, or tickets.

In the same way, collaborating with other musicians and bands to get gigs in new venues and cities will certainly get you in front of a new audience, but if you don’t find some way to connect with those people online via email or social media, they may never hear from you again.

Releasing awesome YouTube covers and drawing in a huge audience from organic search is great. But even if your video goes viral and gets millions and millions of views, it’s not worth much unless you use the video to funnel those viewers to connect with you on social media, via email, or buy your music. After all, they could just click off and never find you or your music again.

As you can see, it’s all connected. Your live performances, your social media growth, your email list, your music sales – it all funnels into and loops back to one another.

I want you to start thinking of all the different aspects in your music career as a seamless flow rather than a bunch of unconnected music strategies.

Avoid thinking, “If I get more followers on social media I’ll be successful,” or “If I work on writing better emails I’ll be successful.”

If you want to be successful, you need to think about the flow between all these different strategies. “How can I get more gigs,” funnels into “how can I grow my following on social media,” which funnels into “how can I drive more traffic to my website,” which funnels into “how can I grow my email list,” which funnels into “what can I send my email list to drive sales,” which funnels into “what products can I offer my fans.”

It’s not a strategy, it’s a process. I recently created a social media guide that covers this same concept, but focuses on promoting your music in the online world. In the guide, we go through the flow from fanbase growth to making sales. If you’re interested, I’m giving this How to Promote Your Music guide away for free. You can download it here.

PromoteGuideSocial

Professional Musician vs Hobby Musician

There’s an interesting divide among musicians. For some, music is just a hobby, and that’s fine. But others need more. Everyone starts as a hobby musician, but eventually some want to take the next step. Unfortunately, moving from a hobby musician to a career musician is no easy task.

You might be surprised to hear this, but what really separates the professionals from all the other musicians isn’t their skills. It’s not their mastery of guitar picking techniques, the number of songs they’ve written, or even their ability to play a killer show. It’s how they think about their music career that really sets them apart. It’s a shift in mindset.

Anyone can practice for hours and hours on end and get their chops really tight, but no matter how good you are, if you’re just playing or writing in your room or rehearsing in your garage, no one will ever know about you. If you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure of how to make music your career, try out these 5 tips:

1. A professional musician finds their own path
A big motivator for a lot of musicians just starting their career is the hugely famous artists playing in huge venues for crowds of thousands of people. Naturally, we all want to be like them. However, the common approach is to try to do exactly what they did – follow their steps to the tee – to get to the big league.

But in reality, this is probably the worst approach. Professional musicians know that they forge their own path every step of the way. Every artist’s career is SO unique and there’s really no single path to success. If you have your blinders up and are completely focused on one thing, you’re probably going to miss other opportunities that are right in front of you.

2. A professional musician makes a plan
Although a lot of the stories make it seem this way, all your favorite musicians and bands didn’t just wake up one day in front of a crowd of thousands of people. They spent years and years practicing, rehearsing, and above all, making a plan for themselves.

Set yourself goals to accomplish in one year, six months, one month, and this week. Having something clear and tangible you’re working towards will help you focus your efforts. You’ll have an easier time knowing which opportunities you should really push for, because you’ll know where you ultimately want to be in the end.

3. A professional musician understands that collaboration is key
In some ways, musicians are competing against each other – competing for gigs and the attention of an audience – but the professional artists always make it a point to teach, learn, collaborate, and give out opportunities when they can.

If you’re just focused on you and what you want to accomplish, you’re going to miss out on a ton of opportunities that could come to you in the form of your connections with other musicians. Even if you’re just starting out, everyone has something to offer. You could bring some of your fans to a collaborative show, you could send out a tweet or two about how awesome another band is. If you always try to contribute to a relationship instead of just taking, others will remember you and give back.

4. A professional musician knows that this is a people business
As important as social media is, the music industry is still a people business. You could have thousands of followers on Twitter, but that doesn’t always convert into real gigs or real album sales. For the most part, venue owners, booking agents, managers, and other artists work with people they know, so you need to make it a point to know as many people as possible.

Now, this might seem like a big barrier, especially if you’re just starting out. After all, you probably don’t know the guy in charge of local bookings, or the indie publisher that works with your favorite indie artists, or the producer in the local studio. But everyone has a network of connections that you can start building off of, and each new connection, no matter how insignificant it may seem in the grand scheme of things, exponentially increases the size of your network. Remember this: there is no such thing as a bad connection in music.

5. A professional musician never stops learning

Another habit of professional musicians is that they never stop learning. Music is a lifelong journey. You will never get to the point when you can say “Okay, I’m a master musician.” There’s always some new technique that you can learn, something you can improve, something you could be doing better or more efficiently.

Don’t get discouraged by this. It’s one of the things that makes being a musician so exciting. The thrill of waking up and knowing that there’s more to explore in music is the drive that keeps all of us going – it’s one of the beauties of creativity.

Not only should you be striving to improve your playing and your writing, you should also be working towards a better understanding of the music business and a closer relationship with your fans. In the New Artist Model online music business school you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – one where you are the CEO. You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

If you’d like more strategies like these, you can download this ebook for free. It will take you through some of the best strategies for indie musicians to help you grow your fanbase and your career.

YouTube Cards for Musicians

Image via CD Baby Blog

Image via CD Baby Blog

YouTube is an incredible platform for indie musicians, and a few recent updates will make it even better. YouTube has always been a great platform to attract new fans and forge deeper connections with your fanbase, but there are actually a lot of features that enable you to monetize those fans and drive them to your website, merch, and crowdfunding projects that most people don’t know about.

Recently, YouTube added Cards. They are basically an evolution of the annotations. Eventually YouTube plans to phase out annotations and replace them with cards once cards have the same capabilities as current annotations. We’re not quite there yet, so expect annotations to be around for a while longer.

So what makes cards different? For one, they look better. Annotations tend to look really unprofessional and a lot of people find them really annoying. With cards, you add in a image, a title, and a call to action. It’s much cleaner, much more professional, and much more customizable. They are also a lot less intrusive compared to annotations. When they pop up, all you see is a small info button with your title. If you want to see the card you can click it, if not you can just ignore it.

Another awesome improvement is that they work on mobile. More and more people are watching YouTube videos on their phones and tablets, so you really want to be able to capture those audiences. On top of that, YouTube Cards will be trackable in analytics, so you’ll be able to see just how well they are performing.

Currently, there are five types of cards:

1. Merchandise cards can promote your licensed merch from the video. This is a way to drive your subscribers on YouTube to support you on a deeper level.

2. Fundraising cards can link your viewers directly to projects on certain fundraising sites like Kickstarter, Patreon, or Pledge Music. This is a great way to raise awareness about your project.

3. Video or playlist cards link to your other videos or playlists on YouTube. This is a great way to keep people watching your content instead of clicking off to other people’s videos.

4. Associated website cards will link to your associated website if you have one set up. YouTube is great, but you really want all of your social media channels to drive back to your website. I would definitely recommend taking the time to set up an associated website.

5. And lastly, Fan Funding cards allow fans to give you donations right on the video page. A lot of your YouTube subscribers and fans would support you if they had the opportunity, so this is a great way to take advantage of that. The key is to bring their attention to this capability in the video since fan funding isn’t very common on YouTube yet, and cards are a great way to do that.

At the moment, there’s still no subscribe card, so you’ll have to keep using annotations for that.

So let’s walk through setting up YouTube cards. If you want a step by step tutorial with pictures, check out this article on the CD Baby blog. The process is a lot like using annotations, so if you’re familiar with that, this will be a piece of cake. Just go into your video manager, click edit on one of the videos you’d like to add cards to, and choose the “Cards” tab at the top. Now click “add card” and choose the card you want to add. You’ll then be able to add in a url, an image, and some text. You get 50 characters for the title and 30 for the call to action. Also, keep in mind that if you’re linking to another video or playlist of yours, the text and images will be set automatically to correspond with the video. You can also adjust the timing so it pops up at the right time.

Let’s take a closer look at the associated website card. Being able to link to your website in the actual video will help you convert more of your viewers into fans and buyers. The easiest way to associate a website is to go into your channel settings, choose the “advanced” tab, and adding your artist website in under “associated website.” Once you do that you’ll have to verify your website with one of the options they provide. Just choose whichever is easiest for you. Once you’re verified, you’ll be able to link to that website from your videos with cards.

YouTube is also releasing YouTube for Artists. Basically, it will be a music-specific version of their Creator Hub with lots of great information and tutorials. After that, they’re looking to release an analytic tool that will show you information on your viewers down to a city level. This could be huge in helping artists route tours and book gigs. So keep an eye out for both of these things and if you haven’t already, make sure you check out YouTube’s Creator Hub for more YouTube tips for making great quality videos and growing your subscriber base. It’s an awesome resource.

Nashville’s Musical Middle Class

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

Photo credit: Kris Kesiak http://bit.ly/1oUdYvY

For the most part commentary on the music industry tends to be a lot of doom and gloom. We compare where we are now to business models of the past and we’re constantly looking for a saving model or holy grail for the new music industry. I believe we’re already there. Each and every independent band that is out there succeeding is the model for the future. And trust me, there are plenty of artists out there succeeding.

There’s been a lot of talk about the collapse of Nashville’s musical middle class, but I just don’t see it. A lot of New Artist Model students are based in Nashville and they are doing great. I want to thank Sara Zebley for bringing this article by Josh Collum to my attention. He really hits the nail on the head. This is how we need to be thinking about the music industry. I’ve reblogged the article here, but I highly recommend you check out Josh Collum’s blog.

Tell me what you think in the comments. Where does the musical middle class stand in your eyes?

Did I Miss the Collapse of Nashville’s Musical Middle Class?

First, some context… recently, there’s been some buzz building in Nashville (and beyond) around a month-long blog series that ran in December 2014 in our hometown newspaper, The Tennessean, and an accompanying documentary produced by the paper that’s set to premiere on January 27th here in town.  The blog series and doc, entitled “Band on The Brink: The New Dylans,” tell the story of a band that’s had varying degrees of success over the last few decades, and has decided to make their first record in 18 years.  But, the band isn’t really what the newspaper’s project is about.  The opening sentence clarifies what The New Dylans truly represent…

“There are countless similar bands in Nashville.”

And really, the band is just the vehicle for the true headline… 

“This is a story about the shrinking sector of the music industry – the middle class.”

So you see, the message is clear and precise right out of the box.  This isn’t about one band or even one genre (see: references to Jack White and The Black Keys).  This story is normal and common and represents all of us non-Taylor Swifts. 

And so It’s around this message that the conversation has begun to stir.  I think it’s a conversation that’s going to continue to grow as our city and music industry community move towards the release of the documentary and the events that surround the occasion, which include a panel discussion on the topic.  

And that’s why I needed to write this post.  Because the story that The Tennessean tells isn’t the whole story, and it’s important to get it right.  You see, this is not a story about “the collapse of Nashville’s musical middle class,” as the piece broadly frames it.  This is a story about the collapse of Music Row’s musical middle class.  Which is an incredibly important topic, and a topic that needs discussion. Those struggles are real. But Music Row is just one character in the story of Nashville’s musical middle class as a whole. There are thousands of artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers that consider themselves part of the musical middle class in our city that will read this blog series and watch this documentary, and have the same reaction I did… “That’s not my story.”  The project, simply, and quite amazingly, acts as if they don’t exist.  The result, whether intentional or not, is an incredibly misleading and hyperbolically depressing piece.

“Hyperbolically depressing” Exhibit A: It’s argued in the piece that the musical middle class has not only declined, but it actually doesn’t even exist anymore.  Huh?  On Music Row, I see some truth in that.  And if that’s how it was framed, all good.  I’m listening.  But that’s not how it was framed.  The intentional implication is that there has been an extinction of the musical middle class as a whole.  Remarkable, right?

I would argue the exact opposite.  I would argue there has never been more opportunity to make middle class levels of money, and there’s never been a lower barrier of entry into that middle class.  Ever.  Yes, the money is more spread out.  And yes, you have to think differently to get it.  Like an entrepreneur, even.  But it’s there.  It’s just moved.  The middle classers that are talented enough, forward thinking enough, and brave enough to adapt, are finding it.  Especially, in Nashville.

Just ask Holley Maher, an unsigned, completely independent singer/songwriter who grossed over a quarter of a million dollars last year in synch licensing.  She’s buying a house this year.

Or, Belmont senior, and electro pop artist in her spare time, EZA, who’s already making thousands of dollars in streaming revenue from one of her songs on Spotify.  I don’t know about you, but when I was in college and trying to start my musical career, I had to work at Papa John’s.

Speaking of Spotify, what about veteran Nashville singer/songwriter Perrin Lamb, who had two songs featured on popular playlists last year. His streaming revenues added up to over $30,000.  He’s been at it for a decade, and 2014 was the best year he’s ever had financially in Nashville.  And most of that money was made while he slept.

Trent Dabbs didn’t wait for a publisher to deem him worthy to sign.  He and his wife created their own, well branded, well executed publishing company (and label) and he signed himself.  He bet on himself, did the work, and got into some pretty great writing rooms.  Last year, he co-wrote one of the biggest songs of the year, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys.”

Jessica Frech has built a tribe of over 80,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel, collecting over 18 million video views.  She makes money on every single view, and she’s built an engaged fan base that buys her music, merch, and tickets to her shows.

My band, Secrets in Stereo, hasn’t made a record in 4 years.  But this year alone, the band brought in over $80,000 in revenue just from our songs being used in other people’s Youtube videos.

Or, how about Phil Madeira’s Mercyland projects.  Talk about evolving and adapting to the new music business.  He didn’t wait to win the songwriter lottery and find a slot on some artist’s record.  He built his own slot machine.  And used Kickstarter, to boot.

Or what about the hundred or so Nashville artists that each make thousands of dollars a month through licensing their songs to indie documentary film makers and wedding videographers through Music Bed?  The company had their first Nashville mixer last year, and they had to change venues at the last minute to accommodate the over 250 artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers that filled the room.  The folks at Music Bed told me Nashville artists make up 60% of their total revenue.  I promise you, they see a Nashville musical middle class that’s alive and well.  They’ve built a business on its shoulders.

Why aren’t these Nashville middle classers included in the Tennessean piece?  Shouldn’t we be highlighting, and hopefully learning from, success stories?  And these are just the ones that came off the top of my head.  There are plenty more stories out there in our city limits like these.  They’re actually incredibly easy to find.

The reality is we’re in the most interesting, evolving, challenging, difficult, and historic time in our industry’s history.  Hands down.  Undeniable.  And yes, as The Tennessean piece highlights, we’ve got some fights to wage as we evolve into the digital age.  I’m not denying that.  What I am denying is the notion that the sky is falling.  For some reason that I can’t figure out, that’s the story The Tennessean decided to tell.  It’s disappointing, discouraging to prospective artists, music biz professionals, and investors, horribly un-helpful to those of us trying to tell the complete story of Nashville beyond its city limits, and most of all, simply false.  The truth is, making a living in the music business has always been “a gritty chore” and hardly unique to 2014.  The New Dylans were broke in 1996 too!  

So, I have two hopes as the conversation builds around The Tennessean project.  One, is that we tell the true story of Nashville’s musical middle class, acknowledging the artists, songwriters, producers, and musicians that are currently thriving, as much as we eagerly spotlight the ones that are struggling.  And two, we elevate the conversation beyond the bitter old music business vs. the naive new music business.  That’s tired, played out, and frankly, embarrassing at this point.  There’s only one music business now.  And it’s different than the one you grew up in, whether you’re 75 or 25.  So, let’s have an educated conversation about who’s having success now and how they are doing it.  That’s the real headline.

Sustainable Music Careers

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The music industry isn’t the same as it was in the past. A lot of people have spent a lot of time complaining about this following the rise of the internet, but like everything else, it’s just change. Change isn’t positive or negative, rather it’s what you do with that change that matters. The successful musicians and music business people are embracing that change and running with it as a new breed of entrepreneurs.

In today’s music industry there is no one-size fits all model. We are all free to experiment and find out what works best for us, our fans, and our music careers. This is the true definition of entrepreneurship. Today’s music business approaches would not have worked in the past when technology was expensive and valuable connections were hard to come by.

As an indie musician, I already know you are extremely creative—more so than most business people out there! You may have never thought of it this way, but you have the same mindset, problems to solve and thought process as an entrepreneur. The key is to harness that creativity in your career, capitalize on this new artist ecosystem, and build it into your own model.

Artist ecosystems – Past and Present

In the past, the record labels were in the position of power. Due to high costs, musicians couldn’t record, get to radio, distribute their music, or communicate with their fans without the help of a record label. It just was not viable. The only way to make it was to be picked by some A&R rep and even that didn’t guarantee you success if the label dropped your record, cut your marketing budget, or shelved your project.

Today, your success is largely in your own hands. Forward thinking musicians are acting more and more like entrepreneurs. You are no longer a product for big record labels to sell. You are your own company—and you are the CEO!

The road of the indie musician is very hard. There is no magic bullet. But the potential is there if you know what you are doing and can identify multiple revenue streams and team members to support your career. If you think of your music career as an enterprise or a business, you can put things in place to help you be more successful.

Build Music Careers Like an Entrepreneur

1. Finding Your Fit

So how do you approach your career like an entrepreneur? It all starts with a product, a service or idea—in this case, your music. Think about exactly what it is you are making and how it is different from the stuff already out there, but don’t just think about your music: your personality and image are important aspects of your “product” too. What genre do you most identify with? Are you an emotional songwriter or a larger-than-life performer? Do you stand for any particular attitude or set of beliefs?  What are you all about?

Next you should figure out who your customers are. In this case, your customers are your fans. With the internet, this information is pretty easy to come by. Check out who your fans are with tools like Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media channels you use. You should talk to your fans after your shows and get to know them as best you can. How old are they? Do they share any interests? As an example, Karmin is specifically targeting young teen girls interested in popular music. Who is your target audience?

2. Start Lean and Learn

A lot of entrepreneurs get bogged down in the business planning stage. They think they need to plan out every step of the way and be able to predict their revenues five years out to a tee. If you haven’t yet, take a read of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s an easy read and the concepts can be applied to any industry, even music!

As a lean startup, you need to get your product or service to the market as quickly as possible. It doesn’t need to be perfect—just get it out there! This is where the New Artist Model really differs from the past. It’s no longer about spending a year (or sometimes more) and tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on a full length album. Release small and release often. Start getting feedback from people as early as possible and listen to what they say.

There’s a couple of methods here. You could release small EPs or single tracks every few months. You could release a traditional album but keep cover songs flowing on your YouTube channel every few weeks. You could also stretch (if you are that prolific) and release one or two original songs a month. One strategy I’m a fan of is the “like for release.” Release one song to your fans via social media and tell them you’ll release the next one if you get x number of comments or likes. Not only does this get fans hyped, it also shares the news with their friends. Just be sure to pick a number that you think is attainable for your current career level!

The key with frequent releases is to learn from them! That way you can fine tune your songwriting, performance, and marketing for releases down the road. Producer and DJ Zedd frequently plays songs he’s working on live before they are released. He gages the crowds reactions to various parts of the songs and if it’s not where he wants it to be, its back to the drawing board—or laptop or console.

You could release rough recordings or videos of song sketches or ideas and ask for your fans’ opinions, or release two songs simultaneously and see which gets the most plays. The whole idea here is to experiment early and often, listen to what people say about you and adapt accordingly.

3. Build a Team

Every successful entrepreneur has a team, but this is something a lot of indie musicians lack. With the term “DIY” pounded into your head for years, its no wonder a lot of musicians still think going at it alone is the best option. On the other end of the spectrum, some musicians think that a “team” means a top manager, a major label, a publisher, and booking agent that cost you a pretty penny in the end.

Most entrepreneurs don’t have teams made up of the top dogs in their field. More often than not, they work with a college buddy or family member who really digs their product or cause. When you’re just starting out, passion trumps experience any day (especially when you’re short on cash).

Think about who among your group of friends and acquaintances would be willing and able to step up to the plate. Do you know anyone passionate about the music industry or in business school? Do any of your friends have a knack for taking good photos or any experience with creating websites and social marketing? Do you have someone who knows the local club scene and can help you network and book gigs?

4. Network

If you’ve ever met a really successful entrepreneur you’ve probably been overwhelmed with their energy and outgoing personality. Not all entrepreneurs are extroverts, but they are all passionate about what they are doing and are eager to spread the word and make connections. Take tips from the entrepreneur and don’t be afraid to tell anyone and everyone about your music, your band, and what you are trying to achieve.

Don’t be that band that plays at a local club and doesn’t talk to anyone before or after the gig. Introduce yourself to the other bands playing or the guys running the lights or sound board. Get a conversation going about music. Who knows, you may find a way to collaborate! Especially in the music industry, your success will come from your connections. It is all about who you know and what you know.

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Of course, there’s a lot more to this strategy than what we covered here. In the New Artist Model online music business courses, you can learn how to run your music career like a real business. You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you turn your music into a reliable income stream.

If you want to learn even more great strategies from the New Artist Model music business courses, be sure to check out this free ebook. You’ll learn great strategies for gigging, recording, and marketing that you can begin using right now!

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Music Business Strategies

There are a lot of musicians out there struggling to pay the rent, grow their fan base, and make a profit on tour. It’s a tough road, but if you’re dedicated you can make music your career. In today’s music business, it’s not about forcing yourself into a one-size-fits-all box, or throwing a dice and hoping for the best. It’s about building the right career for YOU and YOUR music, experimenting, learning, and adapting to change. Today, you are an entrepreneur, not a product, and great success is waiting for musicians with this mindset.

The New Artist Model is all about thinking of your music career like a business and using creative strategies to start growing now with the tools and resources you have available. In the New Artist Model FREE E-book, you’ll get a glimpse at some of the proven strategies we discuss in the full online course. Click the image to download your copy and check out the 10 key points of the New Artist Model below.

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1. Change is an open door.

Don’t view new technology or a new model as a dead end. Look at it like a new opportunity. It’s a chance to try new things, innovate, and maybe find something that really works for YOU.

2. You are an entrepreneur.

More times than not, its the small, agile entrepreneurs, not the big established companies, that innovate and move an industry forward into the future. You can be that entrepreneur.

3. Go lean!

Release small and release often. Don’t wait to record your first album until you can afford a time in a big time studio. Don’t wait to start your publishing career until you have a publisher. Start with what you have and go from there.

4. LEARN!

Take every single opportunity you can to learn. What went great at your live show? What didn’t go as planned? How can you use that knowledge to improve next time? What social media posts get your fans excited? What song do people seem to like the most? You can learn from every single thing you do.

5. DIWO instead of DIY.

You can’t be an expert in everything so find people who are. Your team doesn’t have to be seasoned pros. More times than not, passion trumps experience. For now, recruit friends, classmates, and family to help you out and give your pointers. There are a ton of really successful artists that still work with someone who started out as just a classmate.

6. Each element of your career is a separate moving part to a bigger machine.

Don’t think of recording, publishing, and touring in a vacuum. Think about how you can connect them together into one unified plan.

7. This is a relationship business.

Get out and meet people. Talk to as many people as you can in the studio and at your live shows—promoters, producers, club owners, sound and light folks, other bands and musicians. MAKE that connection that could really start your career as a successful indie artist. Remember that face-to-face conversations will always get you further than emails. And above all, treat people like people. Give and you will receive.

8. Use the process.

Recordings and songs are not just finished products. There are a ton of opportunities to engage and connect with your fans and even make money along the entire process.

9. There is no one-size-fits-all model anymore.

You need to build a career around YOUR music that works best for YOU. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will go the same way in your career.

10. MAKE your big break.

These days no one is going to hand you your big break. You need to be out there working hard, pushing yourself to new limits, trying new things, and connecting with people if you want to make this your career. With a lot of hard work, music CAN become your career.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our free video training series.

 

 

Tips From Jack Conte: 6 Keys to Success

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Photo credit: http://on.fb.me/TJg761

The new music industry is really about finding your own path – one that is unique to your music and career. That’s exactly what Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn did with Pomplamoose and it is the foundation on which Jack’s new endeavour, Patreon, is built.

Recently, I talked to Jack Conte about some of the tips and strategies that have gotten him to where he is today – living comfortably as a musician and CEO. He gave me some really great advice that you could be incorporating into your music career right now. Here’s a few tips, but we’ve got a full hour of information for you that you can check out in this free webinar.

 

1. Know What You’re Good At

“For me, I figured out what I was good at. That was music and video. I found a platform that could help me do both of those things. Find out what you’re good at and what you like and enjoy and then find the platform to do that.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

The first step to creating a truly great business is really knowing what you have to offer. Of course you have great music, but I want you to take some time to think beyond that. Today, there are so many ways to make a living off music, from music videos to gigs, and from traditional recordings to cover songs, remixes, and arrangements.

Do a little soul searching and ask yourself what you are really good at and what you love doing. Maybe you’re a performer at heart with a flare for organizing people and tasks. Maybe you, like Jack Conte, love making music and videos. The key is to know your skills and then focus on building a career around them. From here, you’ll be able to identify tools that will help you accomplish your goals. Jack loved making music and videos, so it was obvious to focus his efforts on YouTube instead of Facebook or Myspace.

In the end, you’ll have a career built around things you actually love doing. As you’ll see in the next section, loving what you do will make all the hard work fun and enjoyable.

 

2. Work Hard

To Jack Conte, this is the best time in history to be working as a musician, and he’s right! Musicians today have more opportunities at their fingertips every day than some past musicians had in years. You don’t need to wait for a label to throw money at you to start recording. You can connect with millions of people online to sell your products, collaborate, and perform. It is, however, a lot more work. Gone are the days of the partying rockstar. They are replaced with serious musical entrepreneurs who hardly have enough time to sleep let alone party.

That’s not to say that having a career in music isn’t fun! If you’re truly doing something you love doing you’ll enjoy the work no matter how long the hours. Most of the musicians like Jack and Nataly who have built their own careers from the ground up, love music so much that they are perfectly okay with the hard work. In fact, many of them wouldn’t give it up for the world!

“It’s a lot of hard work. We work 24/7. It’s just lots of toil and labor. It’s fun though! I mean we love making music, we love recording, but it’s not parties and drinking on a bus. It’s like cranking at one in the morning, being absolutely exhausted, looking at a 90-fame shot list, and having covered 45 of those shots and realizing we have 45 left to do, and we have to be done in an hour because the hotel is closing. And that’s like everyday of our lives. If you want to be a working musician, make a living from music, and be in control of your own career, then you have to run your own music business, label, and promotions. You’re the CEO of a company. It’s so hard, but so rewarding.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

 

3. Start With What You Have

“You can start making music in your bedroom for next to nothing and hang some blankets on the walls and reach millions of people nowadays. And I find that particularly inspiring.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

The barriers of entry that once prevented musicians from entering the music industry have been blown down. You can start with almost nothing – some cheap instruments, lower-end recording software, and the internet – and build a career. That’s exactly how Jack and Nataly started. The duo were both living with their parents and recording with gear that found on Craigslist for next to nothing.

The fact is, if you wait until you can afford time in a studio or a regional tour, you’re never going to start. Start with what you have, create the highest quality music you can with the tools available, find some fans, make some money, get better gear, and start the process over again. It’s a slow endeavour, but you’ll be a lot further along than if you never started.

 

4. Hire Where You Need

“Ask yourself what do you need, and then hire that person.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

This really builds off the previous point. When you first start out, you won’t be able to afford a manager, booking agent, and publisher. More likely than not, you won’t even be able to attract their attention until you get your career moving forward and get some traction in the market.

Like everything else in your career, it’s really a building process. When some money starts flowing in you don’t need to jump in and hire a full team. Instead look at what you have going. What do you have under control and what’s working well? What do you need help understanding? What barriers are in your way? What tasks are becoming completely too large and overwhelming for you to handle? If you’re doing really great at keeping up with your finances but are having a hard time getting gigs in the bigger venues you know you can fill, just hire a booking agent. Of course, the people you hire and the order you hire them in really depends on you, and your skills, so it will be different for everyone.

 

5. Balance Music and Business

The musician today needs to play the creator and the business executive, and they need to do both of those full-time jobs in a short 24-hour day. It can be really overwhelming, but with a little time management, it’s totally possible!

The first task is really figuring out how you work best. Some people do their best work first thing in the morning while others prefer to work at night. Some people are pro multitaskers while other would rather focus all their energies on one task at a time and get it done.

“I need unobstructed creating time. That’s just how I work. Everybody works differently and everybody has a different balancing act. I take that time that I need, and I don’t really do much business in those times.” – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

If you look at Jack’s calendar, he sets off a few days a week as just studio days. He doesn’t take meetings or calls on those days – it’s time for him to just focus in on creating. Try using whatever calendar tool you have available to block out your time – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Set a half hour each day to respond to email, 20 minutes to schedule out your social media with an additional hour to respond to your fans over your lunch break. You could set out a few hours one day of the week to brainstorm marketing strategies for your upcoming release, and a day to record and mix your cover song.

 

6. Build Your Own Model

“One thing that I can’t stress enough is whatever works for you is the right way to do it. Just do what you need to do. It’s funny, I think there’s a tendency to want to be the “real thing.” We wanted to be a “real band.” We felt like, “Oh, we’re just a YouTube band, it’s not real,” despite the fact that we had real fans, we were selling songs on iTunes, and we were making a living off of album sales. There is just this pressure to do it like everyone else is doing it. I think the truth is, if you’re an entrepreneur or an innovator, you do it your own way and make it work your own way.”  – Jack Conte (Get FREE access to the full interview here)

There is no one-size-fits-all model in the music industry anymore. More than ever before, innovative musicians like Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn are finding their own success on their terms. Today, your career path really depends on a thousand little factors like your music, your skills, and your fanbase. You can’t just copy a strategy like Pomplamoose’s and expect it to work seamlessly in your unique career. It’s really about know who you are and what you’re good at, trying new things, learning from your experiences, and adapting your strategy.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our free video training series.

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Lessons From the Lean Startup

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The New Artist Model is all about looking at your music career in the same way an entrepreneur looks at a startup company. You are a music entrepreneur! And there’s no better entrepreneurial book out there than The Lean Startup. I would recommend everyone giving it a read, but Ed Rex, a musician a CEO of Jukedeck, has laid out a few of the main points in this article. This is just an excerpt, but you can check out the full article on Hypebot.

Create Minimum Viable Tracks

It used to be the case that software companies would spend a year or more working towards a big release, moving through various phases of development one at a time and launching into the unknown with a ‘no going back’ approach. This is known as the Waterfall method. It’s now been widely replaced by Agile, which involves building fast, releasing a Minimum Viable Product as early as possible and learning from feedback.

A composer might spend years on a piece, working in complete solitude until the last note is in place. What if, at the premiere, no one likes it? Shouldn’t that have been found out sooner?

Enter the Minimum Viable Track. When you’re recording an album, why not play the first takes to as many people as you can, before you embark on weeks of editing and post-production? If no one’s going to buy it, doing that post-production is a waste of time — time you should be spending writing new tracks. And you need to find that out as early as possible.

Iterate & Pivot

Startups are obsessed with iterating: constantly trying new things and experimenting with new features until one proves popular.

There’s no reason, as musicians, we shouldn’t do the same — that is, once we’ve got the early versions of our music in front of our audience, start responding to their feedback. If there are bits they like, concentrate on those — if there are bits they don’t, scrap them and try something else in their place. I tried this recently with a song I’m writing — instead of spending months working on it on my own, I put together a rough and ready demo on my iPad, sent it to a couple of people, and immediately found out there were a couple of lyrics they thought let the rest of it down. So out went those lines, and in came a series of new ideas, which I kept changing until they had the desired effect — the approval of these early listeners.

What if you find from your early demo that people basically don’t like what you’re doing, full stop? While this is never nice to hear, it’s better to find out early than keep going with something no one will like. In this case, in the tech world, you’dpivot — that is, change course and try something entirely new. Pivoting isn’t a sign of failure — it’s a badge of honour, a sign that you’re willing to take tough decisions to get to a product that people actually want. Indeed, some of the biggest tech companies out there performed early pivots. Twitter? Originally aplace to subscribe to podcasts. Starbucks? Started out selling espresso makers.

So if your early feedback tells you you’re writing music people don’t like, why not try something else? There’s nothing wrong with pivoting.

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our mailing list.

 

18 Revenue Streams for Musicians

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New technology may have had a negative effect on traditional music sales, but it also opened up a ton of other potential revenue streams for the dedicated indie musician. Of course, the digital product options are endless, ranging from digital downloads, to streams, to digital sheet music and photos. You can also connect with millions of people through the internet by streaming live shows, filming daily video-logs, raising money via crowd funding, and even giving online lessons!

Dave Cool from CD Baby create a great list of 18 revenue streams available to musicians today. Of course there are a ton of other possibilities if you get creative with it! This is just a short excerpt of the list. You can check out all 18 revenue streams over on the CD Baby Blog!

1. CD Sales: If you’re going to be playing live shows, having CDs on hand is still a good idea. They make great takeaway souvenirs that can easily be signed by band members.

2. Vinyl Sales: Vinyl sales surged 30% in 2013. Again, if you’ll be playing live shows, printing a small batch to have at your merch table can help generate extra income.

3. Live Shows: Money made from live shows can vary greatly, but it’s still one of the best ways to earn income. Not only can you make money from selling tickets, but it’s also one of the best ways to sell merch. Be sure to read our blog series “The 4 P’s of Playing Live” to make sure you’re getting the most out of your gigs.

4. YouTube: On YouTube, whenever your music is used in videos that are running ads, YouTube pays a portion of that advertising money to the rights holders of the song. Digital distributors like TuneCore and CD Baby can help you collect that money, as well as Audiam.

5. Sponsorships: If you’ve built up a fan base, some companies are willing to sponsor musicians to reach those fans. Sponsorships can range from cash, to free products, services, and gear. Read this excellent guest post from Dave Huffman about sponsorships: Musicians: How to Get Sponsored

6. Session Work: Another way to make some extra money is to put yourself out there as a session musician. As a singer or instrumentalist, you could do session work for other musical projects, or even in advertising.

7. Cover Gigs: Playing cover gigs at bars, restaurants, weddings and other private events is frowned upon by some musicians. But those shows can pay really well, and allow you to get paid to play your instrument. There’s no shame in that.

Do you draw from any of these revenue streams? Any revenue streams not mentioned on this list?

Make the Most of Your Email List

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One thing a lot of indie artists procrastinate on is tackling their email 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 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 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! 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?

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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. Get 5 free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses when you sign up for our mailing list.

 

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5 Steps to an Amazing Band Website

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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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How to Get Your Break in Music

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

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

There’s no secret formula that will guarantee you a big break in the music industry, 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 how you got a big break in your music career. 

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. 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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Lessons From Macklemore

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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10 Social Media Secrets

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 secrets to help you find that social media balance.

I’d like to know what problems your facing with social media. Let me know in the comments below.

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!

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Ready to get a better handle on your social media? We go into even more depth in the New Artist Model online course. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for the mailing list to get access to 10 free lessons.

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YouTube Strategies You can Start Right Now

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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.

 

 

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 2)

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 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 6-10.

6. Find Your Niche

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 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 artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. Marketing 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 are 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. 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 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 artists 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!


To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your music career right now, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons! 

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 1)

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 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. We’ll be publishing the second half later this week.

1. Make a Plan from the Start

Making a great plan is one of the best ways 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.

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 are 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!

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 option for indie artists. 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 really important to success in music, 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 that you can be applying to your career RIGHT NOW, sign up for the New Artist mailing list and get access to free lessons.

 

Connect with Music Bloggers and Writers

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Connecting with music bloggers and writers is one of the best ways to get word out about your music. These people are tastemakers and influencers – their readers have grown to trust their opinions and thoughts. It’s important to remember, though, that these writers aren’t just another marketing tool. They are real people with whom you should be forming a real two-way relationship built on communication and courtesy.

Some excerpts in this post came from Hypebot‘s Clyde Smith. His original article mainly discusses business writers, but I think a lot of the points ring true for any kind of writer, blogger, or tastemaker. You can also check out a similar post here.

Know Who You’re Talking To

“Know who you’re talking to, what they usually write about and what they’ve said about what they want to see. I know everybody’s really busy but sometimes you’ve got to bite the bullet and put in the time for proper research. It will pay off in the long run even if it’s painful at the moment.”

Be sure to check the writer’s sig at the end of their post. This will give you a general idea of the kinds of topics they cover. Clyde’s says: “music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing.” A lot of times, the writer’s contact information is also in the sig, so it’s pretty difficult to miss information on their interests. Some bloggers and writers may have a short bio available. You should also read the articles or posts they have written in the past to get a better idea of their interests and writing style. The main point here is that you should do your research.

Remember That Writers Are Humans With Limits and Work With That

“Though I have a list of interests in my sig… it’s more a general guideline. But like most music industry writers and pro journalists in general, I cover way more things than I can truly understand with much depth. That means that sometimes I’ll miss something I really should cover or cover something that doesn’t really deserve it.

To be honest most outlets don’t support true expertise. That’s because media business models are based on what readers show interest in and tend to be pageview driven. Since reader response mostly has little correlation with expertise in terms of pageviews, except for very specialized publications, there is no reason for ad-supported, pageview driven media outlets to invest in true expertise.

So getting worked up when I or another writer covers one thing and not another is not a good move.”

Don’t Get Argumentative In A Writer’s Inbox

“Sometimes our choices lead to people becoming argumentative. I understand that tendency. I’m an argumentative kind of guy. But arguing with me in my inbox cause you want coverage is not a good look. At this point, for every 10 items that I bookmark or receive via email, 5 of them are plausible, 2 I really should cover, 1 gets covered. Strictly speaking, that math may be overly optimistic in terms of your odds of coverage.”

Arguing with writers or music bloggers is really like slamming a door in your own face. If you’ve done your research, asking for clarification about their decision can be okay – it will help you provide them with better content next time. But if you get aggressive or argue, there won’t be a next time.

Don’t Talk Trash In The Comments

“Another issue similar to arguing in writers’ inboxes is making catty or angry comments on blog posts. There are multiple musicians and music business owners who probably deserve some coverage but killed their brand with me. I can think of a couple offhand who I would have covered or turned to for insight by now but I’ll never write about them until they establish a positive relationship with me that counteracts the damage they’ve done in the comments.”

Remove Roadblocks to Coverage by Helping the Writer

“When you send intro or update emails include links to other media coverage, especially newsier items, and to online resources for quick reference. Make it easy to find pics and related content for use as needed by bloggers.”

Have you ever had your music or business featured on a blog or music news site?

To learn more techniques for growing your music career, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

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The Musician Career Plan

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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.

 

Here are some of key points of a musician career plan. To see all 10 points, check out the video. By signing up for the mailing list, you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online course.

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 plan?