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How to Promote Your Music

How to promote your music

The internet has opened up endless possibilities to promote your music. And, while that may seem daunting, it really allows you to experiment and let your creativity run wild!

The key to successfully promoting your music in today’s music industry is to try new things, learn from the promotions you run, make changes, and fine-tune them to your unique career.

Let’s take a look at some basic strategies you could be using to promote your music right now.

1. Live Music Promotion

With everything moving more and more towards digital, it’s easy to forget about the value of that person-to-person interaction. After all, these days you can create great quality music, release it, distribute it, promote it, and even play live without ever leaving your room.

But, just because you can release something entirely online doesn’t mean you should! In fact, these personal interactions are still extremely important in the music industry.

Let’s take the live show as an example. Sure, it’s a chance to make some money and perform your music and have fun. But it also presents some really unique marketing opportunities.

Gigs are a great place to promote your new album or song. Tell your fans that you’ll be premiering a new song (or the whole album if you want to go all out) before it’s released. Choose one local gig and turn it into an event. Maybe fans who come to that show will be able to buy the album at your merch booth before anyone else.

You could also use gigs to grow a fanbase in new cities, states, or countries. Work with a local established band and propose a headline swap. You’ll open for them in their home town and they’ll open for you in your home town. Just make sure you pick a band with a similar musical style. Do this a few times and eventually you’ll be able to do your own headlining show.

If you want our free guide on
How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (Click Here)

2. Use Social Media the RIGHT Way

We all use social media. If you’re not on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter these days, it’s almost like you don’t exist. However, you may not be using social media to it’s full potential to promote your music.

Social media is NOT a straight-up marketing platform. It’s really a catalyst for conversation and word-of-mouth marketing. About 80% of your posts should be funny, conversational, and interesting, leaving about 20% for promotional material.

That’s not to say that conversational posts can’t be promotional! You just need to learn how to frame the content in interesting ways. For example, if you’re in the studio recording a new album, try sprinkling little updates on social media. Tell a story about your studio experience that day, share a photo of the mix, or post a short teaser video of a song.

If you’re out on tour, take photos at the venues or share short videos or photos of the audiences. These things aren’t obviously promotional, but they still let fans know what’s going on.

It’s important to remember, though, that social media isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to promoting your music. It can easily become a huge time suck that takes you away from your music if you don’t manage your time properly (Hint: get social media time management tips here).

3. Promote Your Music and Sell it on Your Website

Your website shouldn’t be a static thing. It should be ever adapting and changing to reflect new events in your career. Basically, you want your fans stopping by your website as often as possible. The more often they’re on your site, the more they’re exposed to your albums, merch, and tickets.

If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have a lot of big updates other than the occasional album release and tour. Starting a blog is a great solution.

It’s fairly easy to set up a blog on the homepage of your website. Most website tools like Bandzoogle, and WordPress, have blog capabilities. Plan out blog posts at regular intervals like once or twice a week and share anything you think your fans would find interesting. This could be the inspirations behind certain songs, new lyrical ideas you’re working on, a funny story from the last band practice, or even a run-down of the gear you use.

Another idea is to create landing pages on your website. Landing pages can be used to collect email addresses, to raise awareness, to give your fans more information, or to make a sale.

4. Reach out to Music Blogs

If you want to promote your music, it isn’t just about sharing things with your fans. You also want to reach out to new audiences and convert them to fans. And music blogs are a great way to do that. Bloggers are always looking for fresh, new content, and the cool thing is, there are a ton of smaller blogs that are totally within your reach as an indie artist. Blogs also tend to have a pretty niche following. This means that if your music is run on a blog, it’s guaranteed to be seen by people who already like the genre!

Do some research, find blogs that cover your type of music, and send personal emails out to the bloggers. Are there any interesting stories about your new album, song, or tour? Having a unique story will definitely help you stand out from the thousands of other musicians releasing an album. Make it as easy as possible for them to cover your story and treat them like people. Remember, it’s all about establishing a relationship.

5. Collaborate with Other Musicians

Collaboration is an often overlooked aspect of music promotion. It’s a great way to get your music in front of a new group of people and grow your fanbase exponentially. You can collaborate on pretty much anything. Just make sure you collaborate with musicians whose fans would appreciate your music. Choose to work with bands in a similar genre or with similar fanbase demographics.

Of course, the headline trade strategy we looked at earlier in this article is a great option. But let’s talk about some things you can do online as well.

Obviously, you could also work together on a song or album. Try recording a cover song or two together and release them on your YouTube channels or Facebook pages. The key is to drive your fans to each other. If you create a song or video, link to each other’s website and social channels.

An even more easy-mode option is to just agree to give each other shout-outs on social media. Share each other’s newest track and tell your fans how much you dig it. (Obviously work with artists whose music you actually do dig.) The power of a recommendation is one of the best marketing tools out there.

6. Promote with Email

Your email list is an extremely valuable tool to promote your music. Unlike collaboration and blogs, your email list is marketing to your current fan base. If someone signed up for your email list, they want to hear from you, so take advantage of it!

Remember, your emails should be driving your fans to your website, so you want to include links.

So what do you send to your email list? The obvious use of an email list is to let your fans know when you have an album coming out or a tour. BUT you can also use your email list to send fans to your blog when you have new content. (Remember, you want to get your fans on your website as often as possible.)

Of course, you need to get fans to actually signup for your emails before you can start using it as a music promotion tool, right? An easy option is to trade something of value for an email address. Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be a free song (in fact there are a TON of more effective ways to grow your email list)

If you’re not sure where to even start when it comes to growing your email list, here are 10 easy ways to build an email list for your music.

 

“No matter how many followers you have, you can’t eat a tweet. Get New Artist Model and learn how to turn traffic – into fans – into money.” – Dave Kusek

How to Promote Your Music: Conclusion

Your music promotion strategy is going to be something that you refine over time, so don’t get frustrated if things take some time to come together.

The important thing to remember is that you should be taking advantage of all the different promote your music tools you have right here at your finger tips instead of relying on just one thing.

If you want more music marketing guidance, download this free ebook. You’ll get a roadmap showing exactly how different elements like social media, email, and your website come together into a music promotion machine that will help you grow your fanbase and make more money. You’ll also get 3 social media checklists with easy post ideas you can use on your own social channels.

 Click to get the free eBook:

How to Promote Your Music Ebook cover copy

NAM_FINAL-horizontal-dk
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.

See what thousands of independent musicians are excited about. Learn different ways to promote your music with free lessons from the New Artist Model online music business school when you sign up for our free video training series.

Watch the video on this page to learn more

promote your music

 

 

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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.

ES4Social

 

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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How to make it in the new age of music

There’s no question whether or not the music industry has changed. Some say it’s for the worse, but others see opportunity in the new age of music and are helping others do the same.I has a chance to talk with Nick Ruffini of Drummer’s Resource a few weeks ago about the realities of the new music business and strategies for success that I see working in the New Artist Model online music business school.”Dave has been in the music industry for over 30 years, starting in music technology, then founding Berklee Music Business School online and his most recent venture, New Artist Model. New Artist Model is an online school to teach independent artists how to navigate their way through the music industry.”

new age of music

In this Podcast Dave Kusek talks about:

  • Being an early trendsetter with MIDI
  • Founding Berklee Music Online
  • Mistakes people are making as independent artists
  • Advice for getting gigs as a sideman
  • Networking advice
  • The future of music
  • The new age of music
  • Much more

 

Musicians Guide – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is all about setting up your website so that its pages are easily found and highly ranked by search engines like Google. This Musicians Guide Search Engine Optimization SEO will show you how. While traditional marketing avenues like radio airplay and social media promotion are great for getting new people interested in your music, an SEO strategy around your music can help you gain new fans from a marketing channel that is generally underused within the music industry.

So, how do you get started with SEO? First, it’s important to understand what Google’s ranking factors are. Here’s a list of 200 of them.

While the list of ranking factors is certainly helpful, here are the things I’ve noticed help improve rankings and search engine traffic the most, in order or importance:

• Backlinks (links pointing toward your website’s pages)
• Large number of pages.
• Website formatting and speed.
• Using searchable keywords.
• How much time visitors spend on a particular page.

Musicians Guide Search Engine Optimization SEO

Here are some things you can do to help improve the above metrics for your website to increase traffic from search engines.

Format Your Website Properly

If you want your website’s pages to be found by Google, you need to make it easy for Google to read through them. To accomplish this, be sure to implement the following on your website:

Use Searchable Titles

Many musicians use general, single word titles for their pages like merch, about, tour, etc. If people are looking for your merchandise or tour dates, they’re likely to include your artist name in the search (for example – “Bring me the Horizon tour dates.”)

Because of this, a better approach to titling your pages would be to include your artist name in the page title. This makes it really easy for Google to know that the information on the page should be attributed to you as a musician.

Use HTML Header Tags

If you have a blog on your website (and you should), often times, your articles will contain headers and sub-headers. Many new blog authors make the mistake of bolding and increasing the text size for these.

Don’t do this. Use HTML header tags. This will make it much easier for Google to understand the content hierarchy of your page.

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

More than 50% of searches are from mobile devices, and when it comes to mobile search, Google de-ranks sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

It’s important to make sure your site works well and is easy to use on smartphones and tablets not just for search engine rankings, but because a majority of web traffic is from mobile devices anyway. People are more likely to purchase your merchandise and event tickets if it’s easy to do so.

Bandzoogle websites are optimized for SEO. They automatically add things like image alt tags, header tags, clean HTML and schema markup (to help you get Knowledge Graph results in Google). Bandzoogle websites are fast and mobile responsive.

Have Your Own Domain

When you work with a website provider like Bandzoogle, they usually default to hosting your domain as a subdomain to theirs (for example, yourbandname.bandzoogle.com).

You don’t want this. You want to have your own domain name. This way, when people link to your site, you get the benefits of that link when it comes to search engine rankings on your entire website rather than just the page being linked to.

If you choose to go with a website hosting provider like Bandzoogle, be sure to choose the option for a custom domain so you get all of the SEO benefits.

Have a Blog on Your Website

Starting a blog is a great way to increase the number of pages on your website, and the number of search queries your website will show up in. It’s also a great way to create valuable content that people will link to, which increases your website’s overall rankings.

As mentioned above, when you start a blog, you don’t want it to be set up as a sub-domain of someone else’s platform. Use a blogging platform, like WordPress since it makes it easier to get things going and publish content, but put the blog under your own domain.

It’s important that you choose blog topics that resonate with your audience. If people find your articles on Google, you want them to be likely to check out your music and convert into fans.

Here are some blog topic ideas to get you started:
• Travel stories.
• Music gear reviews.
• Review music from other artists in your niche.
• Making of your album.
• Songwriting stories.
• A passion outside of music.
• Something you care deeply about.

Whatever topic you decide to go with, pick something that excites you. It’s much easier to write about your passion than something that’s just for SEO purposes.

When you write blog posts, make sure they’re easy and fun to read. Each sentence you write should convince the reader to move to the next.

Here are some things to keep in mind when publishing a new article:
• Use lots of white space with small, 1-2 sentence paragraphs.
• Make use of bulleted and numbered lists.
• Write longer posts. These keep people on the page longer, and are more likely to rank well in Google.
• Put your target keyword at the beginning of the article.

Your blog can be a great tool for building your email list. Integrate apps like Sumome into your blog to collect emails, set up a newsletter for your blog, and include a link to your latest release at the bottom of every email you send out.

Bandzoogle websites have a built-in blog feature, and other promotional tools like mailing lists.

Get Links

In my experience, I’ve found that the single most important ranking factor Google looks at is the number of links pointing to your site. Each link is like a vote for a page on your site.

Very few links will come naturally, so it’s up to you to go out and get them. There are tons of link building strategies available online, but here are three I’ve found work best for musicians.

  • Get Your Music Reviewed on Music Blogs
    If you’re able to get your music is reviewed by music bloggers, the review often contains a link to your music or website. If your music is reviewed on a valuable blog, this can vastly improve rankings across your websites pages, and even send a good amount of referral traffic.
  • Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
    HARO is a simple and effective way to get press coverage for your band, and links to your website. Just create an account, and they’ll send you multiple emails every day from reporters looking for help with a story. Just scroll through the options and respond to the ones you can add the most value to.
  • Guest Blogging
    Guest blogging is still one of the best ways to get backlinks. The reason is because you have complete control over where the links are and what anchor text (the words used in a hyperlink) is used, which Google also factors in when ranking different pages.

To get started with guest posting, you want to find blogs that write about topics similar to what you write about on your blog so that links pointing to your blog provide real value to readers of your guest post.

To find blogs in your niche to reach out to, just head over to Google and use one of the following search strings:

“keyword” + “write for us”
“keyword” + “guest post”
“keyword” + “post was written by”

Once you find a website that you think is a good fit for your writing style, brainstorm 3 ideas and send them an email similar to this one:

My name is [Your Name], and I’m a member of [Band Name].

I’m reaching out because I’d like to contribute a guest post to your blog.

I’ve been brainstorming some ideas that I think your readers would like:

Idea 1
Idea 2
Idea 3

To get an idea of my writing quality, here are some of my recent articles:

Article 1
Article 2

Please let me know if any of these interest you.

Best Regards,
[Signature]

Using the email above to pitch guest post ideas to blogs, I was able to get about a 1 in 5 response rate, almost all of which converted into my guest posts being published. Not only is guest posting a great way to build links to your website, but it’s a great way to generate awareness for your music in an engaging way.

This “Musicians Guide Search Engine Optimization SEO” is a guest post from Nick Rubright.

Nick is the founder and CEO of Dozmia, a music streaming service currently available on iOS.  He has a passion for helping musicians understand various marketing concepts, and creating the perfect playlist.  Sign up for Dozmia’s mailing list to get music marketing hacks straight to your inbox.

To learn more about setting up your musician website and creating a plan for success in music, check out the New Artist Model online music business school.

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Dave Kusek Podcast

Dave Kusek Podcast

I had a chat a couple of weeks ago with my friend Bobby Owsinski that he recorded for his Inner Circle Podcast. I I hope you enjoy it.

We talked about a lot of things in the Dave Kusek podcast including the early days of electronic and digital music, the creation of MIDI, the digital music revolution and the release of ProTools and the rise of online music education.

“Dave has been a pioneer in the digital space in many ways. Dave is the creator of Berklee Online, one of the first online education programs in the world, and now teaches music business at New Artist Model.”

You can listen to the full podcast at bobbyoinnercircle.com,  There is also some news about Spotify creating its own music label in an attempt to dominate certain playlists.

or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Read more here:
http://bobbyowsinskiblog.com/2016/09/06/dave-kusek-inner-circle-podcast/#ixzz4JamVjcPw

Learn more about the New Artist Model online music business school here.

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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

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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

Eight ways to start your next song

What is the best way to start writing a new song? Opinions differ but sometimes all you need is a new idea! Here are eight ways to start your next song.

New Artist Model member Lee Pat asked a number of songwriters and teachers 2 questions:

1. What is YOUR favourite way of starting a song?

and

2. What is the BEST way to start – lyrics, melody or chords?

You’ll notice no.2 is a trick question. So it’s even better that experience does the talking:

songwriters kickstart

Matt Blick

1. I usually start with the germ of a lyric idea – a few lines, a concept, occasionally a title. Then I’ll brainstorm or free write trying to come up with as much raw material as I can, not attempting to make it rhyme or fit into any particular structure. When I’ve totally exhausted that, I’ll begin to try and work it into musical shape. So the answer is I begin with a few pages of lyrical raw material.

2. The best place to start is with the most important element for your musical style. If you’re a rocker – it’s riffs and chord sequences. If you’re a folk troubadour, a praise and worship musician, a political protestor or a rapper – it’s lyrics. If you’re a dance or pop artist, it’s probably melody.

What I think is more important is not to let the initial element get too developed before your start to bring in the other things. Generally, the later one element is added, the worse it will be – sometimes to the detriment of the whole song. Or at least your options will be severely limited. For example, some bands (Rush, Manic Street Preachers) write an entire track without vocals while one member writes an entire lyric without melody. It’s then left to the singer to fit together. This often has an effect of the lyrics feeling shoehorned into the song with uncomfortable rhythms and melody.

Other bands (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin) write and record an entirely finished track and then leave the singer to write lyrics and a melody over the top. But having everything set severely limits the singer in terms of keys, tempos and arrangement. It can also have the side effect of a band having to guess from the backing track whether the song is going to be worth recording.

Writers who produce complete lyrics before music (like Dylan) could fall into a similar trap. The reason Dylan generally doesn’t is because he is aware of poetic structures etc. and writes with specific patterns in mind. However, this still limits you to a few standard schemes where a particular melody might push you in a new direction.

Key insights: start with the most important element for your style, brainstorm for raw material, don’t overdevelop one element before you bring in the rest.

Matt Blick is a songwriter and musical educator from Nottingham, England, and the founder of Beatles Songwriting Academy. Check out his Tickets to Write and his podcast!

 

The Dust Warrior

1. My favorite way of starting a song is with the bass.

In the genres of music I work in (post hardcore, indie, alternative), the bass is a critical part of driving the lyric. It sounds counter intuitive, but listen to anything by Stevie Wonder and you’ll see what I mean.

The bass is also the least complicated instrument on which to develop a vocal melody.  If you can work out the chord progressions on a bass (the root notes under a melody you are singing), it makes it a lot easier to work on where else the melody should go. The bass is monophonic and you can better sense where the vocal melody wants to go, because you are not jamming yourself up with the bazillion voicings you can play on a six string guitar or on the piano.

This is by no means the only way that a song gets written, but it’s my favorite way to start.

2. The best way to start writing a song is to have a deadline for having a song finished. Working backwards from there, go with whatever hook first appeared in your mind (lyric, melody, chord progression) and develop the rest of the song from that. A hook would be anything repeatable that catches the ear – a riff on a guitar (like the opening of Whole lotta love – probably one of the most widely recognized hooks ever stolen and exploited by white guys from the UK), a bass line or a sung melody – the thing that makes you keep going and that you think the listener is going to dig when they hear the song.

Be sure to consider the listener and give them a reason to stick around. In my experience as both a fan and creator of songs, that’s something that’s going to get me to play the song again, most likely a big vocal refrain. But it could be a certain musical riff that repeats really well. I’m a sucker for anything that really grabs your attention and makes you move your body.

For example, Let the rhythm hit em by Eric B and Rakim or Snap your fingers, snap your neck by Prong. Or even better – the “When you’re down, it’s a long way up” part of the bridge in the No new tale to tellsong by Love and Rockets.

Key insights: work to a deadline, start with a hook, write with the bass.

The Dust Warrior is a Los Angeles based producer and artist, previously the driving force behind trip-hop New York duo Subtech, described by Mix Magazine as “Beck with a probation officer”. He also writes and performs with the only known US Citizen French Pop-Punk band Tour de France who will be releasing their third album in 2016.

 

Kevin Thomas

1. Sitting on the couch with an acoustic guitar and a notebook, putting together chords, melodies, and lyrics, is a very familiar way for me to write. So, to break out of the box with my creativity, I will often push myself into other ways to write: creating melodies on the piano, sitting at the park writing only lyrics, experimenting with music notation software, playing bass and singing, searching for unique electric guitar effects, etc.

Having a regular routine for writing is very important to keep you from being unproductive as a writer, but it is just as important to break out of that routine with less familiar ways of writing. This will keep you productive, while expanding your creative boundaries at the same time. Another way to expand your boundaries is to mix solo writing, co-writing, and writing with a band.

2. I think that there are more than three ways to start a song. You could start with chords, lyrics, or melody, but you could also start with a drum beat, a sound effect, an unusual instrument, a concept, and quite a few other methods. There really is no best way to start a song, so long as your final product has all the major components of a finished song.

Key insights: have a routine and routinely break out of it, write with a co-writer or with a band, start with tools you’re less familiar or comfortable with.

Kevin Thomas is the owner of Songwriting Planet, an online education company that teaches the craft of songwriting, and is a renowned singer/songwriter. Check out his new course on how to make your average songs awesome!

 

Ari Herstand

1. I always start my songs with chords and melodies first and then add lyrics to fit the melody. Music is the most important aspect of a song to me and what I listen to first when I fall in love with songs. However, lyrics are extremely important to me as well. I’ll edit and reedit lyrics (and melodies) 100 times before I end up tracking them.

Sometimes, I start songs by listening to someone else’s song I love and play off the vibe and energy of that song. I recently tried something I had never done before which actually worked out well. I cut and pasted one bar of drums/percussion from Bill Withers “Use Me” live at Carnegie Hall and then looped that in Logic. I wrote the entire song based on that drum groove. It brought inspiration I would have never gotten just sitting along at the keys or guitar.

2. Тhere definitely isn’t a “best way” because every songwriter’s approach is different. Even I don’t have a “best.”

Key insights: start with what you love in other people’s songs, get inspired by a vibe or energy.

 

Antony Ceseri

1. My go-to, “automatic” way of starting a song tends to be chords, then melody, then lyrics. It’s less natural for me to do it in a different order.

2.I think the best way to start a song is to keep changing the first part of the song you write as that’s how you’ll improve the most as a songwriter. So sometimes start with lyrics, sometimes with chords, sometimes with a melody.

Key insights: vary what you start with, plan out each section before you write the lyrics.

Anthony Ceseri is the founder of Success For Your Songs, where he shares advice from the most well-respected professional songwriters, producers and performers in the industry.

 

 

Declan O’Shea (Mako)

1. When I write with a partner, I would be sitting with the music I’ve been given for a few days at home or driving to it, all the while singing with it, no finished words, just whatever comes out. As the melody and lyrical idea form and I have a rough idea, I sit and write the lyrics around the feeling of the track and usually around what’s going on in my life at the time. Then, I’ll arrange the track in my DAW, record vocals and vocal harmonies, and any counter-melodies in the instruments I may come up with, if the track needs them.

When the first vocal demo is done, I send it to my writing partner and we discuss possible changes to the music and the vocals and record the next demo version. It’s usually done in 2 or 3 versions, but it can also go on to 4 or 5 !

In the end, we record the final version in the studio.

When I write alone, I sit with my acoustic guitar, whether I want to or not, and I play random chord ideas and sing, not caring what comes out. Once something catches my attention, I follow it and keep going while recording into my phone with a notepad close by for lyric ideas as they pop up. I do this as regularly as possible and then review the ideas in the car as I drive. If something stands out, I sit with it and finish the piece on the acoustic with lyrics and then put it together in the DAW.

I like this approach but have ended up with loads of songs that need to be recorded so that’s going to take good scheduling on my part to get through them all. Having a deadline is really important!

Key insights: start with chords and then melody, base lyrics on the feel of the music, improvise while reconding to find a catchy idea.

Mako is an Alt/Indie rock band from Ireland and France featuring Declan O’ Shea & Christian Montagne both former members of the acclaimed cult band Cyclefly. Follow them on Twitter @makotunes andFacebook

 

Gary Ewer

1. These days, most of the music I write is for choral groups, and most of it has been arrangements of pre-existing folk songs. So in that regard, my writing starts by working primarily with the melody as a first step. I familiarize myself with the tune, then work out chords. And because I’m doing an arrangement, I often find that I use lots of different progressions to set the same melody as the song progresses.

2. Gary’s answer to the trick question is in his recent post on the methods for starting a song, which is actually an excellent summary of the current article and better-structured to boot!

In true teacher fashion, in yet another post he reflects on why we ask this question and I find his reflections nothing short of inspirational.

Key insights: try out different chords for the same melody, start out differently each time.

Gary Ewer is a composer, music teacher and the author of the Essential secrets of songwriting blog and books. Check out his detailed posts on chords-first and lyrics-first songwriting!

 

Your Name Here

So, what is YOUR favourite way of starting a song?

Who are YOUR favourite songwriters and teachers you think I should ask these questions next?

Would YOU like to be in Part 2 of this article?

Leave a comment below or write to me at leepat@oneminutesong.com!

—-

“Eight ways to start your next song” is a guest post from New Artist Model member Lee Pat. Lee plays guitar and sings for Let Bygones and is the founder of OneMinuteSong.com, dedicated to music theory for busy songwriters.

For more songwriting tips check out Songwriters Kickstart.

http://songwriterskickstart.com

 

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Is “Marketing” Killing Your Music? FREE WEBINAR: SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time.

Do you feel like you are trapped in social media HELL ? Are you spending all your time promoting your music without seeing tangible results?

FREE WEBINAR: “Is Marketing” Killing Your Music? Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST

Join CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and I as we tear down the barriers that kill effective music marketing, and show you better ways to do it in a free Webinar Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST.

social media hell
We’ll explore the traps that many artists fall into in the social media age that they think are “marketing” but are really just a waste of time, and help you understand what actions will get you moving (and marketing) in the right direction.

  • SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time on Social Media.
  • LEARN how to craft a compelling STORY and how to tell it.
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  • HOW TO make STREAMING and playlisting work for you.

CLICK HERE and signup for the FREE Live Webinar

Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST
Signup live or watch the recorded Replay anytime

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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

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Network your way to Success

Who will help you succeed in music? There is really nothing more important to your career than the RELATIONSHIPS you develop over time. It’s all about who you know and who knows you – and how big your network is.

Are people taking you seriously? Do you know how to approach them and get their attention? The next person you meet may be the one who will change your life forever. Are you prepared for that? You want to network your way to success.

In this final video of my Mini Series I reveal the secrets of Power Networking. I show you how to engage with people and get on their radar screen. Plain and simple, the reason that artists and writers get famous and develop huge fan followings is that they get out there and network effectively.

Watch this video to see how it is done

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I have helped hundreds of musicians cut through the noise and get themselves into positions where they can be successful. Now let me help you.

In the Mini Series I revealed the proven strategies I have been teaching my members and clients including:

  • How to create Communities of Fans and Super Fans
  • How to develop Experiences that your Fans will Crave and Pay You for
  • How to make Money in Music and Monetize your Audience Again and Again
  • How to uncover Opportunities via Power Networking
  • How to unlock Multiple Revenue Streams to support Your Career
  • How to get your audience to go from “Free” to “Paid”
  • Plus much, much more…

If you have not watched all 4 videos, I urge you to watch them soon – while they are still available.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this with them.

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Creating Amazing Fan Experiences

I hope you are enjoying my new Mini Series on the music business. It’s truly amazing how in the first video you saw New Artist Model students Steel Blossoms and Colin Huntley applying my strategies to turn their passions into a career.

These musicians are just like you. They started with a small following and have grown their audience and income by investing in strategies and success one step at a time.

In this second video of the free Mini Series, I reveal ways of creating amazing fan experiences they will crave and actually PAY you for. Discover unforgettable connections you can offer to your fans RIGHT NOW to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Watch this video and get your fans to fall in love and remember you forever:

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

You will meet Shannon Curtis, a recent New Artist Model member who has perfected the art of the house concert and put $25,000 in her bank account in just two months time. See first hand how she did it and exactly how you can do it too.

To get one step closer to your dream, click here.

 

AND PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them.

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7 Career Tips for Musicians from Dave Kusek

Dave-Kusek-Studio-1_0

Check out these great tips from Dave Kusek. This article is from DeliRadio. Be sure to check out the full article over on the DeliRadio Blog.

1. Run Your Band Like A Business
“That’s a big challenge for a lot of people. Creative people tend to be creative, and want to write music and play, but they often ignore the business side of things. And you do that at your own peril. That’s a challenge for people.

“It’s hard to have a career in music. It’s very challenging and complicated. It’s way more than writing a great song and putting out a great record. You’ve got to get yourself organized, you’ve got to have goals. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to finance things. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to promote. And figure out what’s effective in your marketing and promotion.

“So there’s all those things on the business side that I’m trying to help people with through the (New Artist Model). Whether you do that on your own, or with management or a team member, somebody has to be paying attention to business.”

2. Careful Working With Friends
“Working with your friends is always problematic. If you’re in that position, have open communication with your bandmates and team, regular band meetings, about: ‘What are we all about? What are we trying to accomplish? How can we split up the work so that we can get more things done? Who’s good at what, and can you combine what you need to do with that interest or skill?’…

“It’s all about regular communication, being open about what you’re trying to accomplish, and calling people out when they say they’re going to do something and they don’t.”

3. Streaming Music Is Marketing
“Listening to recorded music is very hard to monetize in the way we used to. Yes, you do want to try and sell CDs or get money from downloads or streaming, but I don’t know you can rely on that as your number one source of income, or even your top five, given the environment. So (streaming) is a form of marketing. There is some potential to sell music to people, sell recordings to people, but it’s not going to be your number one source of income. Certainly not in the early stages of your career.”

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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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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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! 

New Artist Model Winners

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nNt72v

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nNt72v

Congratulations to our winners!

Winner of the Master Class:

Sara Azriel | @saraazriel

Winners of the Essential Class:

Dave Pettigrew | @davepettigrew

Andrew Witmer | @arwitmer

Tori Gandy | @rpgeez

Diogo Faim | @DiogoFaim

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the New Artist Model online course. We are very excited to have you joining this journey with us. Welcome aboard and keep on rocking!

Your names are also posted on the New Artist Model videos here.

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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.

 

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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?

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Build a Team for Music Success

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Another big problem we know a lot of you are facing is the fact that you just don’t have enough time to get everything done. You probably find yourself spending way too much time on social media, marketing, worrying about digital distribution, blogging, or trying to get gigs. More times than not, these essential tasks push your music aside. You don’t have as much time as you’d like to practice your instrument, write, learn, and create.

It’s the dilemma of the indie artist.

Isn’t the music why you set out for a career in music in the first place? Is it really necessary to push aside the music to be successful in today’s music industry? I don’t think so. Check out this video to learn how to build a team that will progress your music career and give you the freedom to do what yo do best – create! By signing up for the mailing list, you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online course.

DIY has been the phase of the last decade, but I’m here to propose a new phrase: DIWO, or Do It With Others. The truth is, no one has all the skills – or time for that matter – to be successful completely on their own in music. Instead, try approaching your career like an entrepreneur approaches a new startup. Build an efficient team gradually over time. Start lean with the people you have around you already, divide tasks according to skills, and hire in new team members as you grow.

Here’s some of the key steps in building an efficient team around your music. To see all 10 steps, check out the video.

1. Figure out what kind of team you need.

Not every musician needs the same kind of team. Your skills and your goals will influence the roles you need to fill. As a songwriter, you may not need a producer or engineer if you’re writing songs for others to record. Instead, your team may consist of a co-writer and someone who has a good ear and can critique your songs.

2. Assign roles and responsibilities.

This is a key point that many musicians miss out on. If you don’t make a plan that lays out who will do what, you end up with an inefficient mess. Instead, assign roles based on each person’s skills. You may not be able to hire top label executives, but each member of your band has their own unique skills. Your lead singer may be a people person who could be in charge of networking. Your drummer may have a good eye for photography or skills with photoshop or drawing. She could handle your Instagram account or create album art.

Do you have a team?

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The Next Steps for Your Music Career

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Most indie artist we’ve talked to face the same exact problem – they don’t know what the next steps for your career should be. You’re creative and smart. You can write, play, or perform amazing music that really connects people, but, as an indie artist, you might feel like you’re trying to fill a role you don’t understand. Especially today, indie musicians have to understand business, copyright, and marketing to grow their careers. You’re a creative trying to be a business person.

If you’re already out there in the music industry, you’re taking steps to grow your career but you may not know how effective your actions really are and whether they take you closer or further away from your goals. You might have a great group of fans but you don’t know how to get them to actually pay for your music. You might see an endless sea of possibility – from touring to publishing to recording – but now know which will take you to the success you want.

Can you relate to any of these problems? Check out this video to learn about the next steps for your career. By signing up for the mailing list you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model course.

If you really want to grow your music career the next step isn’t to get a record deal or tour the country. The next step is to do a little soul searching. You need to ask yourself a few questions and really think on your answers. Here’s two of the key questions you need to ask yourself. To learn about the other two, check out the video.

1. What do you really love doing?

If you want to turn your music into a sustainable career you need to be doing something that you love. Maybe you’re a really passionate musician but you get debilitating stage fright. Don’t push yourself down a road you don’t want to go down! I know, everyone is saying that touring is the only way to be successful as a musician today, but in actuality the only way for you to be successful is your own way. You won’t attract dedicated fans by hiding behind your amplifier on stage, so maybe take the time and focus on your songwriting and connect with your fans on that front.

2. What does success look like to you?

We all want to “make it” in music. But that can mean different things for different people. Maybe you’re happy just playing weekend gigs in your home town. Maybe you want a major record deal. Maybe you want a publishing deal with a small indie publisher that gives you plenty of attention and creative freedom. Try to be as specific as you can. After all, how will you know when you’ve achieved success if you don’t even know what it looks like?

If you answer these questions you’ll be one step closer to really understanding your career. Knowing where you are and where you want to be will really help you make decisions along the way.

We’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions in the comment section below!

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Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician Today?

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

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

“Why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment?”

I wake up every day fascinated by this question. There are plenty of articles written by people looking into the music industry from the outside proclaiming the end of an era and the doom of indie musicians. Many ask this question and simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to spend so much time and creative energy on something that may never bring in any real money. And who can blame them given the industry’s overall decline.

Within the business however, some musicians have a completely different outlook. For them, music is just what they do. It’s not about making a ton of money, or trying to impress anyone – its just a way of life, a dream to live.  It’s like breathing.  These people believe that they have the privilege to create. Almost the obligation to do so.

The question these musicians ask  is “How could I not be a musician?”

As we talk about in the New Artist Model course, the love of music is a prerequisite to a life as a successful musician. If people went into the arts to with a sole purpose to make money – there would be no magic – and that creative spark and passion that drives so many people to create would not be present. Music goes beyond money and economics, and isn’t that why it’s so powerful?

Some people are musicians because they just have to be.  The truly great ones.  So there’s my answer.   Are you one of those people?

I’d love to know what you think.

I posted the question “Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician in this Environment?” to Twitter and this is what I got in the first hour.

musicadium@davekusek I would want to be a musician no matter what environment we were in. The desire to create would override, methinks.

andreakremer@davekusek Isn’t that like asking why anyone would want to play tennis? Do people who play tennis give up because they can’t make a profit?

timothyeric@davekusek fascinated that people still want to be musicians or by the environment and its challenges?

kmsolorio@davekusek passion is the only reason I could come up with. btw, very interested in learning more about your tools for musicians.

marjae@davekusek I am a musician because I love music and, more importantly, sharing it with people. This sharing gives a high unlike any other.

marjae@davekusek Great question! It would be great if you could share some of your replies with us. . . the questions certainly made me think!

Lars_Christian@davekusek I think that if “he environment is a factor on whether you become a musician or not, you probably won’t “make it” either way.

tigerpop@davekusek it’s not always about want.

Pattyoboe@davekusek Being a musician is just who I am … no matter the environment. Maybe like I was still a mom when my kids acted up, I guess ..?

gah650@davekusek it’s an inexorable artistic need to create; thank God.

melbahead@davekusek If being a musician is anything like being a visual artist then it doesn’t matter what one wants. It’s a compulsion, a calling

_willthompson@davekusek it’s extremely hard and counterintuitive to hold back from doing something you have natural predisposition for.

kimpwitmanRT @davekusek: why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment? can someone tell me? i wake up every day fascinated by this.

manishamusic@davekusek Being a musician is not particularly easy in any market-based economy. Something deep inside steers the wheels. Is it insanity?

PtbTrees@davekusek perhaps the love of music is enough to make it worth it. at least thats how I feel

atomicdacia@davekusek because its like a drug. Once its in you you just can’t get enough

Kalajdame@davekusek it seems like an easy way to make money i guess..i do it cuz i love to make music and if i could get paid for it ..u kno the rest

You can love what you do and be successful.

Tell us what drives you.

 

10 Musician Mistakes: You Don’t React to Opportunity

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In music, and in life for that matter, 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.

It’s good to think about the possible outcomes of your actions before you do something. After all, you can’t fit everything in your busy schedule and no one wants to do something they will regret later. Learning how to pick your chances is very important.  But over thinking 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!

Let’s take a look at Amanda Palmer, a very famous indie artist and avid social media user, who made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. And this was well before her celebrated crowdfunding campaign.

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. In fact, it became the #1 trending topic on Twitter.

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! It would have been very easy to just disregard the fan’s comment and sit on the couch watching Netflix for the rest of the night. Nothing bad would have happened if she hadn’t designed the shirts in the spur of the moment and commited to the project, but nothing good would have happened either!

New-Artist-Model

In the New Artist Model online course we will help you set goals for your career so you can better judge the value of an opportunity. You will learn about the power of your fanbase and collaboration and the opportunities that come with them.


What are you waiting for? Join the revolution and never miss out on another opportunity! Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list for free sample lessons.