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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.

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

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

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

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