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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

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

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

1. It takes a crowd.  

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

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

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

2. Choose the right platform.

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

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

3. Make a budget.

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

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

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

4. Think about your rewards.

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

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

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

5. Continuous content.

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

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

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

Dave Kusek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* The average pledge is $55-$70.

* 37% of pledges are over $250.

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

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

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

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

Last week, Dave Kusek did a keynote presentation at the ADISQ conference in Montreal, Canada. He spoke about current effective marketing strategies for musicians and artists in the digital age. Business models for success. Here’s the presentation.