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build a team for music success

Today, I’d like to talk about what it takes to build a team for music.

As a musician, you’ve probably got more things to do than you have time in the day, right? You need to write, practice, play, rehearse, perform, and record.

But you ALSO need to manage your social media pages, manage your email list and email your fans, plan your music releases, pitch your songs to bloggers, music supervisors, venue owners and bookers, and music libraries, and that’s only scratching the surface. And more times than not, these essential business tasks push your music aside.

The simple fact is it’s hard to get everything done on your own.

And this is one of the biggest 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.

DIY vs. DIWO

DIY has been the catch phase of the last era in music. But the truth is, no one has all the skills – or time for that matter – to be successful completely on their own in music.

Let’s say you’re trying to do everything yourself… Will you realistically be able to dedicate enough time to do each thing really well? Will you be able to put in the time to come up with interesting and engaging posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat while also developing a strategy to get gigs in bigger venues, recording and planning an album release, pitching your new single to music bloggers, and keeping up with your email list? You need to work smarter.

We all start out as DIY artists when the to-do list is shorter, but it’s not usually something that can be sustainable as we begin to grow and we take on more (and bigger) responsibilities – at least not without completely burning out or skipping sleep entirely.

So I’d like to propose a new phrase: DIWO, or Do It With Others. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, 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.

1. Figure out what kind of team you need.

There’s no single formula for a team that will work for every musician. Your career path, your goals, your personal skillset, your time commitment, and your career level all factor into who you will bring onto your team and when.

If you need a little help figuring out your goals, I suggest you download this free guidebook: Your Music Plan for Success. It will walk you through easy questions to help you determine what you want out of your music career, which will also help you figure out which team members you should target. Click here to download it for free.

So for example, as a songwriter you may begin working with other songwriters and co-writers in the early stages of your career to grow your catalog and increase your skill set quickly. Depending on your skills, you may work with a producer or engineer to get TV-quality recordings, or you may be able to do this yourself in your home studio. At first, you may start submitting your own songs to music libraries and other licensing opportunities, but you may begin making direct connections with music supervisors, ad agencies, and filmmakers to license your music. As your career begins to grow, you may start working with a publisher to help you get bigger placements and connections. You may not be interested in releasing albums so you won’t even need a record label.

Let’s look at another example. If you’re a traditional band that tours and releases albums, your team will look very different. At first, you might either self-record your songs or work with a producer or engineer you know, and distribute your songs through a service like Tunecore or CD Baby. You’ll probably do a lot of the booking yourself at first, but eventually you’ll employ the help of an agent when your gigs start bringing in enough money. As social media, email, and planning gets too difficult to handle on your own you might seek the help of a manager. And eventually you may begin working with a record label or some bigger distribution partner.

2. Bring on team members when the need arises.

In both examples above, the teams grew slowly over time as the needs manifested. Early on, your team may very well consist of friends and family, and that’s okay!

It’s also important to remember as you build a team for music, that many team members come on board when there is a financial incentive to do so – they need to make a living too! Agents make a percentage of your live performance income, so if you’re only making a few bucks, they’re not going to find the gig too appealing.

3. Assign roles and responsibilities.

A really important thing many musicians miss is that your band members can function as a team in the early stages of your career. Each member has different skills and proficiencies they can bring to the table, and you’ll get a whole lot more done if you divide up tasks.

The first step is to take a look at the jobs that need to get done. You may need to consistently be posting on social media and engaging with your fans. You may need to write weekly newsletters to your email list. You may need to be reaching out to venues and booking gigs (and of course, promoting those gigs). You might need to design a basic t-shirt to sell at your gigs, or get a few key photos to use on your website. Get together with your band and make a list.

Once you have a list, brainstorm together who might be best-suited to take each task. Do any of you know photographers, artists, or website designers you could work with? Is one person more comfortable with talking to people and pitching your music to venues? Are any of you a social media buff who spends hours online? Look at each member’s skills and divide up the to-do list accordingly.

Once you start splitting up the tasks, you’re able to get things done a lot faster and move on to new ideas and new goals.

Build a Team for Music Success – Where to Go From Here?

Wherever you are in your music career, planning and building your team accordingly should always be a number one priority. Like we talked about earlier, who you bring on to your team will depend entirely on your goals, so it’s worth getting your goals and expectations straight.

If you need a little help figuring out exactly what you want in your music career, check out this free planning guide: Your Music Plan for Success. This guidebook will walk you through easy questions and exercises to identify your goals and begin building a plan to achieve them. Click here to download the guidebook for free.

In the New Artist Model Music Business Accelerator course, we have an entire module dedicated to team building and time management.

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.

Check out the Music Business Accelerator (MBA) a new program that will help you plan your music projects, promote your music and create a sustainable career.

How to get your break in music

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

There’s no secret formula that will guarantee that you get your break in music, but there are things you can be doing right now to increase your chances. This article, written by Ari Herstand of Ari’s Take, originally ran on Digital Music News and has some really great advice for indie musicians trying to build a successful career. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full article over on Digital Music News.

Ask any star what his or her ‘big break’ was and most of the time you won’t get a straight answer. It’s not because she is trying to dodge the question or because he is embarrassed about it. It’s because there was no “big break.”

Every successful musician’s career is made up of many little breaks.

The overnight success story was really 10 years in the making. Gigging non stop. Touring empty clubs. Hustling music supervisors. “Showcasing” in front of “big wigs” and “performing” in front of “nobodies.”

But once and awhile one of the music supervisors opens the email, listens to the song and has a spot for it in this week’s episode. Or the headliner of the show you were asked to be the local opener for pokes their head out of the green room just long enough to be wowed and asks you to join the tour.

One tour or one song placement won’t make a career, though.

But how do you get that local opening spot to have that chance? How do you get the music supervisor to open your email? How do you do you get a gig at your local club? How do you meet the videographers to create your viral video? How do you find the producer to create your hit record?

You have to be on people’s radars.

I just ran into someone at a show who I hadn’t seen in months. We got to talking and a few days later she called me and offered me a gig.

She absolutely would have not thought to offer me the gig in a town of thousands of fantastic musicians had we not run into each other a couple nights prior.

It was because I was on her radar.

The majority of the opportunities I’ve gotten have not been because someone thought I was the best for the job. It was because we had just had lunch or she had just read my tweet or we just ran into each other at a show.

Comment below and tell me what you’ve done to get your break in music. 

There are a ton of other things you can be doing to increase your chances for success. We cover this and more in the New Artist Model online music business school. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. To get started for free, download your free copy of our most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, here. 

 

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

It’s the success every musician dreams about – making it big on your own. But you know what? It’s no fairy tale. The career of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has been a long, hard road – one that a lot of people would have turned away from a long time ago.

The duo brought home four Grammy’s in January and, although Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is helping them with distribution, they’re still not signed to a major record label. So how did they get here?

Here are some key lessons to learn that helped Macklemore and Ryan Lewis find their success.

1. Say something with your music. Embrace your brand.  Be different.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love,” a song with a more than an obvious nod towards the gay community,  is not commonplace in hip hop. By pushing this issue and standing behind a controversial topic, the duo probably got a lot of haters. But you know what, they also got a lot of people behind them. They stood out.  They were different.  Know who you are, know what you believe in, and say something meaningful with your art. Of course, timing is important too.

“I wrote the song in April [2012]. Shortly after Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Then Frank Ocean came out. It seemed like time was of the essence. It was never about being the first rapper to publicly support the issue, but at the same time you don’t want the song’s power to become diluted because all of the sudden it’s a bandwagon issue. 

The fact that there [was] an election coming up in Washington [was] huge. I know that a large portion of my fan base is 18-25, many of whom have never voted. If the song can get people out to the polls to pass same-sex marriage in Washington, that is a very beautiful and exciting thing.” (Source)

In the same way, the smash hit “Thrift Shop” (500 million views and counting on YouTube) is definitely not what you’d expect from hip hop. There’s no gold teeth, big brand names, or flashy bling pointing towards an extravagant lifestyle. Macklemore isn’t trying to fit into the typical hip hop mold. The duo has stayed true to their own ideas and because of that, have stood out. So what do you have to say?

2. It will take time.

There’s no such thing as overnight success. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met in 2006, released The VS  EP in December 2009, and didn’t get crazy success until The Heist in 2012. Before there was a duo, Ben Haggerty released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in September 2009. It was a long road. Do you think you would have continued to press onward?  8 years and still rolling.

Aside from albums, Macklemore and Lewis took years to build a local audience before expanding into a nationwide movement. The first national headlining tour was in 2011. Before that, Macklemore and Lewis focused locally playing at a Colorado College house party in 2010 and Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2010. The Agency Group’s Zach Quillen became the booking agent and began testing the duo’s reach by booking small gigs along the West Coast. The duo continued to grow, playing the Seattle Mariners opening day in 2011, and then moving on to festivals like Outside Lands, Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza later that year.

This train is still going. The duo is still operating independently with a relatively small team and being strategic about their plans. As we know so well, a huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

“We are a small business that’s becoming a medium-sized business. With that, there is a learning curve and there are times when you feel like you don’t quite have the manpower to operate the business to the best of your ability. But we’re growing and we’re adapting to the best of our abilities.” (Source)

3. Keep moving forward.

Even if you feel like you’re further away from your dream than you’ve ever been, keep moving. After some local success with the 2006 EP The Language of my World Macklemore hit a low point, struggling with addiction.

“I was close to giving up. I was broke, unemployed, freshly out of rehab, and living in my parents’ basement. It was a “If this doesn’t work, I gotta get a real job” time in my life.” (Source)

You’re low point may look different. Maybe you feel like you’ll never break out of your home city or state. Maybe you just can’t seem to get to the point where you can quit your day job. The key is to keep moving. Take a small step forward, or even a few steps back. Keep yourself moving instead of lingering in that low point. Everything we perceive or appreciate in the world is based on motion. Stay in motion.

4. Find people who believe in you and build a team.

Having a team behind you is one of the best things you can do for your music. A “team” doesn’t have to be top industry veterans. More times than not, when we’re talking about indie artists, a team of top execs isn’t the best option. You want people who believe in you and your music, not someone looking to make big bucks fast.

Macklemore has shown us time and time again how valuable a team of “amateurs” can be. Ben Haggerty met Ryan Lewis, then 17 and a dedicated producer, guitarist, and photographer, in 2006. He wasn’t an industry veteran. He was another passionate creative out there with the same cause.

“Ryan is one of my best friends in this world. He’s my producer. He’s my business partner. And he’s probably one of my toughest critics, which is an imperative trait of a teammate… Ryan doesn’t make beats, he makes records. I needed that in a producer… I trust Ryan. I trust his ear and his eye. His creative aesthetic. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for him. I spend more time with Ryan than anyone else in my life. We’re a team, and I’m extremely blessed because of it.” (Source)

There weren’t any household names on The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis drew on local talent. Ray Dalton, a Seattle singer-songwriter is featured on “Can’t Hold Us,” Wanz, another Seattle singer was featured on “Thrift Shop,” and Seattle singer-songwriter Mary Lambert is featured on “Same Love.” In addition to that, Macklemore’s finance, Tricia Davis, is their tour and merch manager.

5. Create an authentic connection.

When Macklemore stepped on the stage at the Grammy’s the first thing they talked about was “Wow, we’re on this stage… And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis connect with their fans in a very humble and authentic way. You just have to take a quick trip over to their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean. The tone isn’t pitchy. It’s kind of funny how we almost have to relearn how to be human when it comes to social media in the music industry.

“For me, being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.” (Source)

The slogan to remember is that things don’t make things happen – people do. If you want to find your own success in music you need to get people behind you – this means both fans and a team. Create a relationship – and that means two-ways. Give and receive.

Being a musician is a tough gig. You have to be incredibly gifted and ridiculously dedicated all at once.  But that dedication can pay off! It’s been proven time and time again that independent musicians can be successful their own way, and you can continue that trend. The music business was built on that ethos.

Check out the New Artist Model online music business school for more ideas and analysis like this. You can also sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Sources:

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/macklemore-ryan-lewis-the-heist/#_

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2014/01/7-lessons-anyone-you-can-learn-from-macklemore-ryan-lewis/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/474720/macklemore-reps-talk-the-heist-debut-diy-marketing-plan

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1562815/macklemore-ryan-lewis-billboard-cover-story

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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!

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.

 

musician-opportunity

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!


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


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!

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  9. You Overuse Free Music

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.

 

value-of-music

Your music is valuable. I think a lot of musicians forget this or are afraid to admit it for some reason. You can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Lets take a look.

Today, many indie musicians find themselves stuck in a seemingly impassible rut. You are giving your music away for exposure and can’t seem to get to the point where people actually pay you.  You think if you don’t give your music out for free you’ll never be able to grow your fanbase.  But if you continue down the free music route bills won’t get paid and no one in the industry will take you seriously. It’s a paradox that plagues most indie musicians, and you’re not alone!

Free music is great. It is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase, which is why it’s probably a huge part of your marketing efforts right now. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. Now granted, they were already well known.  But for most artists, the key is to find the right balance between free and paid content.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Let’s start with your fans. Different fans are willing to pay for different things. Some fans will not pay for music and will not attend your shows. Others will only pay to come to your shows. Others will pay for music, buy merch, go to your shows, and still be willing to throw more money at you if you only asked. It’s important to differentiate between these fans so you can target your offers.

In this context you need to consider the purpose of “free” music. Think about your fanbase in terms of a pyramid. Potential fans are in bottom third, casual fans in the middle third, and superfans at the top. One purpose for free music could be to move fans up the pyramid. Fans at the bottom of the pyramid will probably not give you cash, so trade free music for an email address so you can stay in touch with that fan. For those in the middle, give them some free songs when they buy something from you – a ticket or merch or a bundle of other songs.  For fans at the top, make special limited run products for them and charge them, but give them something exclusive for free to seal the deal.

Matthew Ebel is a Boston-based “piano rocker” who has struck a balance between paid and free with his membership site. He offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list, paid albums and merch, and an exclusive subscription site for his super fans. Matthew isn’t a superstar artist – he has a humble 1,684 Facebook likes (2014) – but he works as a full-time musician and makes almost 30% of his net income from only a few hardcore fans.

The subscription site has a few different levels ranging in price from $4.99 per month to $499 per year. Matthew’s offers include exclusive live show recordings and videos, discounts, early access to material, access to member-only parties and concert seating, and even a custom-written song. These are things that a lot of indie artists just give out for free. The trick it to trade your music for something else of value to you. There are many forms of tender.

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.

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. As an example, Matthew Ebel offers an entire free album to anyone who signs up for his mailing list. The purpose here is to move potential or casual fans up the pyramid to more serious fans. To do this, he gives them a taste of his music – a try-before-you-buy if you will – and in return gets the ability to contact them through email. He can now send these casual fans information on his live shows, new material, and life.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Matthew’s strategy may not work for everyone exactly as it did for him. You need to take some time to look at your career, music, and goals to find the right balance between free and paid content. The important takeaway is that you need a solid plan. In the New Artist Model online course we will teach you strategies for marketing and promotion. You’ll create a personalized career plan for your music.

music 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. Beethoven’s music and personality can be described as moody, and Liszt was the showy star of the 1800’s. What makes you unique? 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 strategy. Some musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. This just confuses the audience. You end up with something like “We are a psychedelic reggae metal band. We also look to funk, bluegrass, and classic rock for influence and you can really hear it in our sound.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. Either they feel their music cannot be defined in a sentence or they are uncomfortable waving their own flag and would rather just play music.  No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. In fact, the more personal you can make your brand the better! Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. If you are passionate about something, chances are other people share in that passion. Use it as a connector!

Let’s look at a fairly well known band, Sum 41. Before they 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.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You’re Not Out There Networking
  6. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  7. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Everyone’s brand is unique, and every musician has a unique journey to discover their brand. In the New Artist Model  online course you’ll go through this process with founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic, Dave Kusek. You’ll take a look at more examples like Sum 41, define your own brand, and learn how to really harness that image to connect with fans.

 

musician-networking

I’m sure you’ve heard someone emphasizing the importance of networking in the music industry. Well, it’s true – most opportunities come from personal connections that you cultivate. So before you bulk email the A&R reps at every major label, try to put the importance of networking into perspective. The big labels and publishing companies may have the resources to promote you, but they probably won’t even see your email among the thousands of others they receive. Instead, start local and personal and work up from there.

As an indie musician, networking is your ladder to success. At the top of the ladder are the big-shot sponsors and music business professionals that work at major labels, large management firms, and publishing companies. At the bottom of the ladder is you and your local club owner, a small business in your city looking to run a TV or radio ad with music, and the producer who works in the local studio. You cannot reach the big connections up top unless you first develop your local connections. And many time these seemingly small connections can end up being far more valuable than you would think!

No matter how many times the word networking is driven into our heads, we sometimes get overwhelmed with internal tasks like posting to social media or playing a great gig that we forget to take the time and introduce ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. 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. You can introduce yourself to a filmmaker or photographer at a local film festival or convention. In the future you might go to them for help with a music video or a band photo shoot or even work with them on a film score.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


Your networking also shouldn’t be reserved for industry professionals like managers and agents. Take every opportunity to introduce yourself to other bands and other people and begin what could become a long-term connection. 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. If you want people to care about you, start by helping them in some way to get a relationship started.

To see some real networking in action, let’s look at Nashville-based indie rock group, Vinyl Thief. 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 reconnected with the band and offered his assistance. Davenport was brought on to the team and started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped the band set trackable goals and helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill.

Valuable connections in the music industry can come from places you least expect. More times than not, the connections that will really progress your career are the ones you don’t even notice at first – the friend from high school who majored in business, the local club owner, or the soundboard guy at your local venue. These people are the people who may be passionate about you and your music – and you never know how their careers are going to progress.

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Skip Time Management
  4. You Don’t Have a Team
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

Don’t disregard the seemingly little connections! People you meet may work their way up the ladder and you may run into them in the future without expecting it. In the New Artist Model online course we show you the power of networking and teach you ways to get yourself out there. You will learn how to use collaboration in gigging, songwriting, and recording to grow your fanbase and your career.

music-time-management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, the business professional, and sometimes way more, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. Now it’s all well and good 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! Think of it this way: if you don’t quality music to build your business around, how can you build a musician business?

How do you find time to practice, create, and refine your craft while also running the business side of things, staying on social media, strategizing launches, and making important industry connections? The first step is to streamline. This really ties back to goal setting. If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a close look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, or postpone.

The next step? Delegate! Many artists are defensive and controlling when it comes to their art. And with good reason – it is a very personal statement. However, you can delegate tasks to team members to get things done and really clear up a lot of your personal time. Your team doesn’t have to consist of big-shot business people – your band will do just fine. Just get in the habit of dividing up tasks instead of taking the whole load on yourself.

Each person should have a list of tasks that they need to complete. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. For those high-priority jobs, break them down into smaller tasks. Accomplishing these small stepping stones will help you feel like you’re accomplishing things and keep you in a state of forward momentum.

AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!  It’s easy to get sucked into answering emails or managing social media, or making a website – but without your music, you don’t have anything to build a business on.


Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free and get more indie musician strategies and case studies.


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, funding his tours with money made in freelance web design. After three years he had effectively gigged hiself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt with little to show for his efforts. He gave up his professional music career and went into web design full time.

It wasn’t until he organized his time that he was able to succeed in music. He prioritized his tasks to free up more time, and delegated other tasks. He automated and scheduled anything that could be automated like email and social media, and he made sure he left time for the most important thing – his art!

Want to know the other 9 musician mistakes?

  1. You Don’t Have a Plan
  2. You Aren’t Leveraging Copyright
  3. You Don’t Have a Team
  4. You’re Not Out There Networking
  5. You Don’t Focus on a Niche
  6. You Don’t Let Your Fans Market
  7. You Don’t Have a Brand Strategy
  8. You Overuse Free Music
  9. You Don’t React to Opportunity

New-Artist-Model

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.  In the New Artist Model online course we teach you how to effectively manage the many aspects of your career from playing to marketing. By the end of the course you will have a detailed plan that will get you on track to your goals!

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

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

Goals are really the driving force behind your music career. Musicians, more so than most other people, are familiar with the power of goals. That need to improve – to play better, create better, and perform better than you did yesterday – is what gets you up every morning. It’s what keeps you excited and passionate.

I’m sure you’ve set goals for your art. To finish writing that song you’ve been working on. To refine your technique on the double bass pedal. To find that perfect sound for the violin track. To learn a new song in time for band practice this week. Musicians are constantly – whether conscious or not – pushing themselves towards goals. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the mindset that makes a musician. Musicians are some of the most dedicated people on the planet.

You’re a musician. You know how to set goals and push yourself. Now, you need to put that same dedication into your career goals. You’ve no doubt seen how the goals you set for your art have improved you as a player, a performer, and a writer. After all, there was a time when you were picking up that instrument for the first time. You can experience that same amount of improvement in your career with some smart goal setting.

The following was written by Simon Tam for Music Think Tank.

Specific

Ask yourself the big questions: Who, what, when, where, why, when? A specific goal lets you know what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by, why you are doing it, who will be involved, and where it will happen.

For example, a goal I’ve used before: Tour the continental U.S in August 2013 with at least 18 shows, playing a mixture of all-ages, 21+, and convention shows making an average of $500 per night. Also, see an increase on social media and web traffic by at least 10% and increase online sales by 20% for the month before, during, and after the tour. Those are all specific targets that I can definitely measure against.

Measurable

A goal should have specific metrics so you know if you’re making progress. If you have one larger goal, you should break it up into smaller parts over the course of time. That way, you and your team can always know where you stand against the overall goal. During this time you should be asking questions with how, when, and what: how much do you have left to go? When will you reach your goal? What do you have to do to stay on track?

Using the tour goal listed above, one could easily measure against the goal in a number of ways:

  • How many shows have been booked for August 2013? What kinds of shows have been booked?

  • How much income is being earned per night?

  • What is the average monthly online sales? Have they increased – and if so, by how much?

  • What do I need to do to help increase merch sales, at shows or online?

Attainable

The goals that you develop should be ambitious but realistic. If you focus on what you can do, it sometimes reveals new opportunities. For example, potential sponsors – many are probably in your own backyard but are often overlooked for the larger, sexier opportunities.

Goals should grow with you. As you gain more resources, abilities, finances, and followers, your goals should get respectively larger. Having them just out of reach helps you stretch. However, having them too far away will only cause frustration.

Relevant

The goals that you choose should matter. They should motivate you and drive your career forward. For example, I’ve talked to many artists who have a goal of playing a large festival like SXSW even though it doesn’t relate to their current state of their music career. Things shouldn’t be goals just because others are doing them. Ask yourself these questions: Is this the right time? Is this worthwhile? How will this directly help me?

Timely

Your goals should have a time-bound deadline. When would you like to reach your goal by? If your goal is shrouded in the idea of “someday,” you’ll have a much more difficult time of reaching it. If you want to achieve a goal by the end of the year, you’ll work more aggressively for it. For example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 records, you would treat it much differently if that was 5,000 someday as opposed to 5,000 by December.

Everyone

Goals in a band should have everyone involved. People should be on the same page, have the right expectations, and the proper work ethic for reaching the goal.

Also, when I saw everyone, I mean everyone. This includes spouses or other people whom we depend on for support. If your band members would like to tour 8-10 months out of the year but their significant others aren’t supportive of that goal, some serious issues could arise – especially when that opportunity presents itself. .

Revisited

Goals should be revisited often. Not only should you be checking on your progress toward your goal, but you should also see if those goals need to be adjusted. Ask: are these goals still relevant? Is this what I want/need still?

How can you make your goals SMARTER this year?

This post is by Bob Lefsetz from the Lefsetz Letter. To read the full article, click here.

1. You have to NEED to make it.

Wanting to make it is not enough. It must be your one true calling. If you’re willing to be broke, with no direction home, you might possibly make it. Sacrifice is the key element. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your home, your relationship, forgo children and sleep on the floor when you’re forty, don’t expect to make it in music, certainly don’t expect to sustain.

2. You have to be great.

Good is not good enough. You’ve got to blow our minds.

3. You can’t do it alone.

That’s an Internet fiction, from a decade past, that if you just posted something online it could cut through the noise. You need a team. The most important team members are:

a. A lawyer

b. A manager

c. An agent.

If you’re not at the point in your career that you can hire a team, delegate the tasks to your band members, or work with a friend who has some music business knowledge. Just make sure these jobs get done!

4. Believers

Sure, you need fans. But all they can do is pay for your Kickstarter record, and have you noticed we hear no more Kickstarter stories, that the outlet is the new BlackBerry, something that used to be that is no longer? If you’re just speaking to your fans, getting money from them, you might be able to survive, but you’ll never be able to grow.

You need people to believe in you. They need to do favors for you, get you on the radio, get you placed on shows, give you a chance to demonstrate your wares. Make connections everywhere you go. With other musicians, the sound guy at the club, the local venue owner, the local film maker or photographer. If you’re totally DIY, you’re gonna be living in your basement.

5. Learning

We live in a country where no one can admit they’re wrong. If you’re not willing to question every choice, do it differently next time, you’re never going to make it. Three years ago, almost everything I’ve said above would be different. You could go viral by your lonesome, social networking worked. But times change. You once used your aforementioned BlackBerry and were thrilled to get your e-mail on the run, now it’s all about apps. People hate change, but those who are willing to do so win. Kind of like in Silicon Valley, where it’s called “the Pivot.” Your original idea didn’t work, so you take the core and go in a different direction. You might think you’re a rocker, but truly you might be a country artist. You might think you’re a singer, but you might really be a songwriter, or a producer.

6. Pay little attention to those who are popular.

By the time you get your chance, completely different people and paradigms might rule. Originality is the key to longevity. Be yourself, not someone else.

7. Popularity.

Means people like you and your music. It comes with haters, because it’s so hard to break through, people are going to be angry that you did. You’ll be told you’re ugly, that your music sucks, that you can’t sing, that you’ve got no talent, but don’t believe it. It’s so hard to make it that if you have, pat yourself on the back and do your best to survive.

8. Longevity.

One hit and you can get royalties forever. Maybe even live dates. But chances are you’ll have to have a day job. The rule is, the harder it is to do, the better the chance of survival. Which is why doctors can always be employed, even if they bitch about their compensation. The barrier to entry to music is miniscule, so there are always others who are eager to take your place. The more skills you’ve got under your belt, the better your chance at lasting. But don’t be holier than thou that you can read music and got a degree, these are just tools, building blocks, a foundation, it’s what you build on top that counts.

9. Be nice.

It’s the key to making it. If you’re a jerk, no one’s going to want to work for you, go out of their way to promote you. Constantly say thank you and go out of your way to be appreciative.

10. Sour grapes.

Are gonna pull you down. The woulda, shoulda, coulda posse can tell an interesting story over a beer, but these people never succeed. Life is full of challenges, if you haven’t been screwed, you haven’t played the game. The road to success is paved with humiliation, you can complain about it or swallow it and realize it’s dues.

Are you ready to make it? Join the revolution. Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list.

The music profession and musical training is often pushed aside for the likes of math, business, and economics. However, recently more and more studies have presented evidence that musical training contributes to more than one’s ability to play a song. You may be surprised to find out that many top executives and influential people in today’s society are musicians on some level. Some are trained at top music schools, others are more causal, self-taught players, but all of them will not hesitate to name music as one of the contributing factors to their success.

In this article, which originally ran on the New York Times, many top executives say that music taught them collaboration, creativity, discipline, and the ability to meld many conflicting ideas into one solution. These skills are useful not only in music, but in all aspects of life, including business.

Think about it, musicians spend hours trying to perfect one short phrase. They know when to take the solo and when to give the spotlight to their bandmates. They would rather try something new than stick with the same old. The professional who puts that same dedication into their work, who is not afraid to share the spotlight and delegate, and who tries new things is often the one that achieves success.

This article, written by Joanne Lipman, was originally published on the New York Times:

CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.

Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating — even problem solving.

Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula Zahn (cello) and the NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNamee have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”

Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.” Mr. Allen began playing the violin at age 7 and switched to the guitar as a teenager. Even in the early days of Microsoft, he would pick up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. The music was the emotional analog to his day job, with each channeling a different type of creative impulse. In both, he says, “something is pushing you to look beyond what currently exists and express yourself in a new way.”

Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.” The veteran advertising executive Steve Hayden credits his background as a cellist for his most famous work, the Apple “1984” commercial depicting rebellion against a dictator. “I was thinking of Stravinsky when I came up with that idea,” he says. He adds that his cello performance background helps him work collaboratively: “Ensemble playing trains you, quite literally, to play well with others, to know when to solo and when to follow.”

For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas. When he ran the World Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn traveled to more than 100 countries, often taking in local performances (and occasionally joining in on a borrowed cello), which helped him understand “the culture of people, as distinct from their balance sheet.”

It’s in that context that the much-discussed connection between math and music resonates most. Both are at heart modes of expression. Bruce Kovner, the founder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates and chairman of the board of Juilliard, says he sees similarities between his piano playing and investing strategy; as he says, both “relate to pattern recognition, and some people extend these paradigms across different senses.”

Mr. Kovner and the concert pianist Robert Taub both describe a sort of synesthesia — they perceive patterns in a three-dimensional way. Mr. Taub, who gained fame for his Beethoven recordings and has since founded a music software company, MuseAmi, says that when he performs, he can “visualize all of the notes and their interrelationships,” a skill that translates intellectually into making “multiple connections in multiple spheres.”

For others I spoke to, their passion for music is more notable than their talent. Woody Allen told me bluntly, “I’m not an accomplished musician. I get total traction from the fact that I’m in movies.”

Mr. Allen sees music as a diversion, unconnected to his day job. He likens himself to “a weekend tennis player who comes in once a week to play. I don’t have a particularly good ear at all or a particularly good sense of timing. In comedy, I’ve got a good instinct for rhythm. In music, I don’t, really.”

Still, he practices the clarinet at least half an hour every day, because wind players will lose their embouchure (mouth position) if they don’t: “If you want to play at all you have to practice. I have to practice every single day to be as bad as I am.” He performs regularly, even touring internationally with his New Orleans jazz band. “I never thought I would be playing in concert halls of the world to 5,000, 6,000 people,” he says. “I will say, quite unexpectedly, it enriched my life tremendously.”

Music provides balance, explains Mr. Wolfensohn, who began cello lessons as an adult. “You aren’t trying to win any races or be the leader of this or the leader of that. You’re enjoying it because of the satisfaction and joy you get out of music, which is totally unrelated to your professional status.”

For Roger McNamee, whose Elevation Partners is perhaps best known for its early investment in Facebook, “music and technology have converged,” he says. He became expert on Facebook by using it to promote his band, Moonalice, and now is focusing on video by live-streaming its concerts. He says musicians and top professionals share “the almost desperate need to dive deep.” This capacity to obsess seems to unite top performers in music and other fields.

Ms. Zahn remembers spending up to four hours a day “holed up in cramped practice rooms trying to master a phrase” on her cello. Mr. Todd, now 41, recounted in detail the solo audition at age 17 when he got the second-highest mark rather than the highest mark — though he still was principal horn in Florida’s All-State Orchestra.

“I’ve always believed the reason I’ve gotten ahead is by outworking other people,” he says. It’s a skill learned by “playing that solo one more time, working on that one little section one more time,” and it translates into “working on something over and over again, or double-checking or triple-checking.” He adds, “There’s nothing like music to teach you that eventually if you work hard enough, it does get better. You see the results.”

That’s an observation worth remembering at a time when music as a serious pursuit — and music education — is in decline in this country.

Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.

How has music contributed to your career? Share in the comments below.

Photo by tradingacademy.com

Photo by tradingacademy.com

In today’s music industry, success isn’t just handed to you. Increasingly, the musician must view their career in the same way an entrepreneur views their startup company. You need to know what you want, how dedicated you are, and then make a plan not unlike a traditional business plan that will lead you to YOUR success.

With so many options in today’s music industry, success can mean different things to different people. Some people will be happy gigging their home town a few days a week and keep their day job. Others won’t be happy until they are playing stadiums in front of thousands of screaming fans. Some musicians may be happy living in the background composing music for films, while other’s want their single featured on the top 100 chart. Knowing what you want is the key first step in planning how to get there.

Shaun Letang wrote this great article for Music Think Tank that really sums up what you should be doing right now to plan your career. Here’s an excerpt of the article, but you can read the full article on Music Think Tank.

Define What Success In The Music Industry Is To You

Before anything else, you need to decide what your personal definition of success is. The reason for this is simple; if your idea of success is becoming well known in your country for being a talented musicians, you’ll need different steps to achieving that than you would if your aim was to earn a full time living from music.

So what is your final end game? What do you want to achieve? If you’re not yet sure, here are some common outcomes which a lot of musicians aim for. I’ve also included a (extremely generally) look at what’s needed to reach these goals:

  • Aim to play good music you and your friends will enjoy.
  • Aim to become well known at a local level. (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to become well known at a national scale. (Requires a lot of work and luck).
  • Aim to become well known at a international scale. (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).
  • Aim to earn a part time living from music. (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to earn a full time living from music (Requires a lot of work).
  • Aim to become wealthy from music (Requires a lot of work and a lot of luck).

Feel free to mix and match your goals as you need. For example, it may be your aim to be well known in your local area and earn a full time living from your music. This is an achievable goal if you know what you’re doing.

While it’s easy to assume that most people would want to become internationally well known and wealthy from their music, that’s not always the case. As someone who regularly talks to musicians all around the world, I’ve seen that different people want to achieve different things, and everyone has their reasons for their end goal. So no matter what your end goal is, be sure it’s clear in your mind and we can move forward.

Determine What You’re Willing To Do To Succeed In The Music Industry

This is where the whole ‘on your terms’ bit fits in.

So now you know what you want to achieve from your music career, the next steps is deciding what you’re willing to do to achieve these goals. No, I’m not talking about who you’ll sleep with to get to the top (I do not recommend this). Instead, you need to decide if you want to achieve your goals strictly through your personal brand as a musician, or if you’re willing to use your musical skill in other ways to pad out your income and get you better known.

Let’s say the goals in your music career are mainly driven by money. Making a part time living is something I feel most musicians with talent and good marketing knowledge can achieve. That said, only a % of those people will go on to make a full time comfortable living from their music alone. It is achievable, but it’s a lot harder than if you were to also use the talents you’ve acquired from the music industry for other forms of earning.

For example, if you were to start teaching up and coming musicians how to sing, rap or produce, you could earn more than you would from just playing gigs and selling songs alone. Teaching wouldn’t get in the way of you playing gigs; gigs are generally performed later at night, while your teaching lessons would likely be in the day. Furthermore, if you was to teach via a online video course for example, after you’ve created your product you wouldn’t have to actively be there to teach each new person that came along.

There are plenty of income streams you could tap in which are music related, but which don’t involve your personal brand as a musician. Other examples include songwriting for others, doing backing vocals for other musicians, doing skits for people in need of them (isn’t restricted to other musicians) and the like. Think about who you can help with the talents you have, and provide a service to them.

To read the full article, go to Music Think Tank.

What does YOUR success look like? Share in the comment section below.

Everyone wants to make it in the music industry. However, life as a musician is not an easy path. It can be extremely fulfilling to be able to make money by doing something you love, so here are some great tips to help you achieve your goals. Keep in mind that there is no easy solution. It will take hard work and dedication!

1: You Need To Have Undeniable Talent

The first thing you need in place, is a good level of talent. Without this, your music career most likely won’t be very long lived. Sure if you have a strong marketing team in place and they spin a good angle on why people should like you, you don’t have to be the most talented musician in the world to see some level of success. That said, do you really want to be that person who has more people disliking them then supporting them? My guess is you don’t, even if you are financially successful.

Talent comes before all else. Until you’ve got a good level of talent, you shouldn’t do anything to promote your music. You want people’s first impression of you to be a good one, as it’s not a easy job relaunching yourself to a group of people who have heard you but weren’t very impressed. Chances are they won’t try and listen to you the second time around, even if you tell them that you’ve improved.

As you may notice, I didn’t just put “you should be talented”. I mentioned you needundeniable talent. There are lots of levels of talent, and while you can be quite successful with a ‘good’ level of talent, if you’ve undeniable talent (combined with the other factors in this list), it’ll be hard for you not to have some sort of financial success in the music industry. In all honesty, there are a ton of talented musicians out there who make really good music that will make their target audience very happy. That said, there are a lot fewer musicians whose talent is generally undeniable. If you can get your talent to this level, you’re going to be a lot closer to your music career goals.

2: Drive And Motivation Should Be Flowing Through Your Veins

Next up, you need drive and motivation to push your music career forward. This is just as important as the above step, as without drive, your talent isn’t going to count for much.

You could be the world’s best singer, rapper, or bass player. If however you haven’t got the motivation to get your music recorded, to promote it in any way, or to generally do the things needed for a successful music career, then you might as well be talentless. Because you won’t make a success of yourself in the public eye. If you’re only interest in making good music for yourself, that’s fair enough. But I’m guessing as you read Music Think Tank, you want more then just that.

Making it in the music business takes a lot of hard work and effort on your behalf, so if you aren’t willing to invest the time needed, don’t expect to get very far at all.

Now I know someone in the comments is going to say that not everyone has a lot of time to dedicate to their music career, and I understand that. That said, do what you can. If you’ve the other factors in place and you dedicate as much time to your music as humanly possible, you can still have some level if success. It may take longer to achieve then it would for someone who has 7 hours a day to dedicate to their music and who has more disposable income. Furthermore, you might not even reach the same heights they achieve. But if you dedicate a few nights a week after you’ve finished work and put the kids to bed, as well as half a day on the weekend to what you need to do, there’s no reason you can’t make at least an additional income from your music. It is possible, but you need to put the work in. Now the question remains; Do you want it enough?

To read the full article, visit Music Think Tank.

Goal setting is majorly overlooked in the music industry. So many bands and musicians say they want to “make it” but many haven’t defined what “making it” really looks like. Success is different for everyone. Some musicians will be happy having a day job and being able to play a few gigs on the weekends in their home town. Others won’t be happy until they’re selling millions of records and filling Madison Square Garden.

Goal setting is the first step to achieving your goals. If you don’t know exactly where you want to go, how can you know which paths will lead you there? It can help keep a band on the same page and moving forward in the same direction. It can help you prioritize what tasks need to get done now and which can be put off until later. It can keep you on a straight path to your goal allowing you to achieve it faster.

To get a better idea of what kinds of goals you should be setting, Music Think Tank ran this useful article about the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method:

S.M.A.R.T. is a tool we can use to better map out what we want to achieve. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. That means all of the aims we have for our music career should be specific, we should be able to measure them, they should be achievable, they should be realistic, and we should know how long it’ll take us to achieve this aim. These aims should be written down, so we have a goal to look at and refer back to when we feel a bit lost as to what we’re doing.

You can run a few S.M.A.R.T. aims alongside each other, and they can vary in size in terms of how big they are. One may refer to how you’re going to hit the 100 gig mark (which is more long term), and another may be how you’re going to set up all the necessary social media profiles you need to promote your music (which is more short term).

Make sense? Hopefully it does, but if not, here’s an example:

I want to get a lot more fans.”

This is a very vague aim to have, as it doesn’t give us any idea of how we’re going to achieve this goal of ours. By applying the S.M.A.R.T. formula to it, we can edit it to be an aim we can refer back to and get a better idea of how we’re currently doing. This will make it easier to achieve it.

So first off, let’s make our goal Specific. We want to specifically state what we need to do to achieve this goal. There’s no point saying we want more fans if we don’t know how we’re going to go about getting those extra fans, is there? It won’t make it any clearer how we’re going to achieve that goal; it’s sort of like saying, ” I want to be rich.” The majority of people who say that have no further ideas in their plans to get rich, and therefore never take any real steps to achieving that goal.

OK, so how Specifically are we going to go about getting more fans? Let’s say you have the means to create home made videos of you performing cover songs, and have a YouTube channel via which you can showcase your material to the world. By uploading your videos and encouraging people to like your Facebook page if they enjoy your song, you will get a percentage of people taking you up on this offer. Tell them they will find out about your new videos there first, and that they will also get exclusive bonus videos not shown publicly on YouTube. This will encourage a larger percentage of your video viewers to Like your Facebook page.

So we can change our [goal] so it looks like this:

I want to get a lot more Facebook fans by doing cover versions on YouTube.”

To read the full article, visit Music Think Tank.

Indiegogo has recently released a guide to monetizing your YouTube channel with crowdfunding that features 9 tips to make your campaign and your channel more successful. You don’t need to be a full-time YouTuber to take advantage of the tips in this guide. Most musicians and bands today have some form of a YouTube channel where they upload music, music videos, behind the scenes footage, and vlogs that give fans a glimpse into their lives. This guide will give you some ideas on how you can incorporate some YouTube features into your crowdfunding campaign to keep your fans engaged and excited.

1. Stretch Goals – “For example, you’re asking for $50,000 to publish a book, but you tell your contributors that, if you raise $60,000, you’ll also be able to do a concert, if you raise $70,000 you can make an album — and so on.”

2. Contributor Map – “You can…incorporate this into your project itself; for example, the top ten contributing cities will be the stops on your road tour. We’ve even seen campaigners post interactive contributor maps on their campaign pages to help leverage the global reach of their channels.”

3. Referral Contests – “You can use the tools provided to you in Indiegogo’s Campaign Dashboard to track which individuals are driving the most traffic and contributions to your campaign — and then reward those people accordingly. For example, you could offer a top secret perk or exclusive opportunity to the winner.”

4. Live Hangouts – “Put that ‘You’ back into YouTube by leveraging Google’s ‘Hangouts on Air’ feature that allows you to stream live on your YouTube channel. This is a good way to interact with contributors, answer their questions, perform, make special announcements, solicit feedback about your project and perks, or just have some fun.”

To see the other 5 tips, check out the article on Hypebot or download the full guide for free from Indiegogo.

Everyone in the music industry is looking for some magical solution to hit it big. Musicians are told that if they want to be successful they need to give music away for free, or focus on touring, or crowdfund their album, and many fail trying to fit these one-size strategies into their career. Karmin was successful with YouTube covers, but does that mean that everyone will be? Amanda Palmer raised a huge amount of money on Kickstarter, but does that mean that you should rush out and start a crowdfunding campaign?

The truth is that the music industry is not a one size fits all business, especially today where artists must pave their own paths. In the past, there was a more standard navigation through the industry. You needed to be signed to a label to reach your fans and the labels used standard methods such as radio and retail distribution to connect the artist with the fan. Today the internet provides nearly endless opportunities to reach and connect with fans. The internet allows niche genres to prosper and grow, and it allows amateur musicians to find their fanbase, find their voice, and grow into a professional. The name of the game is differentiation, and your strategy should reflect this.

Many artists have succeeded by going against some of the “rules” set by the music industry. Touring has received a lot of press coverage in recent years. Musicians are told that they can’t make a living from recorded music anymore and that touring is their main revenue stream. Alex Day does not tour. He makes 100% of his income from YouTube and recorded music sales. He found the solution that worked for him. He probably doesn’t make as much as the big pop stars, but he is able to live his passion and support his lifestyle with his music, something many musicians strive for.

Even if you do tour, your main revenue stream does not have to be from ticket sales. Some musicians can make more money from their merch table than they make from the actual show. You can sell anything from shirts, to posters, to keychains, and yes, even recorded music.

Music does not always need to be free. Many artists today will simply give music away for free and make their money at the live show, but that is not the only way. The internet has lowered the price of music, to a certain extent. Many people will simply download music for free or find it illegally and never pay a cent for a song. On the other hand, the internet has raised the price of music. The internet allows you to sell products targeted at your superfans, like box sets, bonus tracks, or signed albums. This was never possible, or financially viable, in the world of retail music stores.

That’s not to say that you can’t be successful by following what the industry says you should be doing. You should do something because it is the best option for you and your music, not because someone else was successful doing it.

Photo by buddawiggi

Photo by buddawiggi

Collaboration is a key factor for success in today’s music industry. It is very difficult to “make it” on your own without the help of band members, team members, and other musicians and bands. When it comes to growing your fan base, collaborating with other bands or musicians is a great method. You can promote each other on Facebook, you can play live shows together, and you can share each other’s music with your followers. Get creative with your collaboration ideas! In the end, collaboration between two or more bands creates a mutually beneficial relationship.

Here’s one example of musician collaboration from Hypebot:

Let’s say you put together a playlist with tracks from 10 artists you feel close to in your scene, with a couple of simple assumptions: each of you has 2,000 fans (or followers), and there is no cross-over in your fanbase. If each of those 10 artists shares your playlist, you’ll be reaching a potential of 11*2,000 = 22,000 fans. Assuming 20% actually listen to the content, and a quarter of those become fans or followers of you and the artists in your playlist, that’s 1,100 new fans for everyone. Some of the assumptions are simplistic, but you get the picture.

This idea of curation as a means of putting a musical scene you feel a part of in the spotlight has yet to overpower the hype of discovery algorithms, but already some artists have been headed in that direction for some time, notably in the electronic music and hip-hop scenes. Take a look at French artist Brodinski: hisFacebook and Twitter feeds are filled with musical content from artists he’s close to. Or Boston duo Soul Clap, who regularly create DJ charts on Beatport; and, because, there’s a “buy” link on the tracks, these guys are actually providing their fans with an incentive to financially support the acts they’ve curated. If you believe in the power of connecting with other musicians, of creating a movement, your job as an artist becomes to get connected with your scene, finding the artists you see as part of your movement, help them be discovered and identified as part of the movement, and help them reciprocate. As long as there’s an unmistakable unity, the bigger the movement, the bigger everyone’s personal gains, ultimately.

To read the full article, visit Hypebot.

As a musician in the 21st century, you need to learn how to define your expectations. Otherwise, how will you know when you have achieved your goal, or even what to aim for? For a project, for a tour, for your career, and for your life – what are you trying to accomplish?

Most people in the music business want to “make it,” but what does that really mean? What is making it for you? What does the finish line look like? How would you recognize making it? Do you want a record deal? What does that record deal look like? Do you want to sell a million CDs? Do you want a publishing deal? What does that publishing deal look like? Do you want your music played on Grey’s Anatomy or your songbook published by Hal Leonard?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bNKUE5

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bNKUE5

Once you know what your expectations are, then you can plan accordingly and know what to shoot for. Is success for you playing huge stadiums? That would mean you have to make a plan and probably dedicate yourself to work full-time for many years to get there.

Or, is success for you to have a steady gig on weekends? This is more achievable and something you can do on a local level and perhaps as a part-time endeavor. Is recording a CD and selling 10,000 copies your definition of success? If so, you can create a plan to achieve that perhaps on a regional level.

Or, is success for you writing songs that other people play? That would require you to network with other musicians and focus on writing, publishing, and placing your songs. Or, is success for you recording an EP and playing it for your family?

What do you want to be? What does success look like for you? Be as specific as possible when setting your expectations. Don’t be vague because it won’t lead you anywhere and just breeds sloppy thinking. First, define exactly what you want to do, and then you can break it down and make a plan to do it.

From a fascinating article just published in the Atlantic. “The Grateful Dead’s influence on the business world may turn out to be a significant part of its legacy. Without intending towhile intending, in fact, to do just the oppositethe band pioneered ideas and practices that were subsequently embraced by corporate America. One was to focus intensely on its most loyal fans. It established a telephone hotline to alert them to its touring schedule ahead of any public announcement, reserved for them some of the best seats in the house, and capped the price of tickets, which the band distributed through its own mail-order house. If you lived in New York and wanted to see a show in Seattle, you didn’t have to travel there to get ticketsand you could get really good tickets, without even camping out. “The Dead were masters of creating and delivering superior customer value,” Barry Barnes, a business professor at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida, told me. Treating customers well may sound like common sense. But it represented a break from the top-down ethos of many organizations in the 1960s and ’70s. Only in the 1980s, faced with competition from Japan, did American CEOs and management theorists widely adopt a customer-first orientation.

As Barnes and other scholars note, the musicians who constituted the Dead were anything but naive about their business. They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization. They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well. They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.

It’s precisely this flexibility that Barnes believes holds the greatest lessons for businesshe calls it “strategic improvisation.” It isn’t hard to spot a few of its recent applications. Giving something away and earning money on the periphery is the same idea proffered by Wired editor Chris Anderson in his recent best-selling book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Voluntarily or otherwise, it is becoming the blueprint for more and more companies doing business on the Internet. Today, everybody is intensely interested in understanding how communities form across distances, because that’s what happens online. Far from being a subject of controversy, Rebecca Adams’s next book on Deadhead sociology has publishers lining up.

Much of the talk about “Internet business models” presupposes that they are blindingly new and different. But the connection between the Internet and the Dead’s business model was made 15 years ago by the band’s lyricist, John Perry Barlow, who became an Internet guru. Writing in Wired in 1994, Barlow posited that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.” As Barlow explained to me: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back thenthe important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.” The Dead thrived for decades, in good times and bad. In a recession, Barnes says, strategic improvisation is more important then ever. “If you’re going to survive this economic downturn, you better be able to turn on a dime,” he says. “The Dead were exemplars.” It can be only a matter of time until Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead or some similar title is flying off the shelves of airport bookstores everywhere.”

Read more at the Atlantic.

The music industry is being reinvented before our very eyes. Learn how it is developing from today’s entrepreneurs including Ian Rogers from TopSpin, Steve Schnur from EA, and Derek Sivers and how you can capitalize on the changing opportunities.

MPN is my latest project and an online service for music business people and music and artist managers creating the future of the industry. MPN provides online music business lessons, exclusive video interviews and advice, career and business planning tools and thousands of specially selected resources designed to help you achieve success in this ever changing industry. MPN gives you the tools, expertise and guidance to help you get organized and take your music career to the next level. Learn from industry experts, set your goals and realize your vision.


Success in music

Here are 10 recommendations for strategies that can lead to success in music, and in life.  Take them with a grain of salt.  With this new decade comes the promise of digital music, the power of the entrepreneur and the tools to connect with an audience and deliver the goods.

1.  Living a life in music is a privilege. Earn it.

There is very little more satisfying then spending time making music.  If you make this your life’s work, then you can be truly joyful.  However, the chances of being successful are extremely low and the only people who are going to get there are going to have to work hard and earn the right to be a musician.  Respect the privilege of being free enough to have this choice (if you do) and honor the opportunity.

2.  No one is in charge of your muse but you. Be happy and positive.

People can be their own worst enemy.  Countless times I have heard artists tell me the reasons why their career is not working out.  Most of the time they are putting blocks in their way and pointing fingers at people and things that are holding them back.  Stop whining and blaming other people and make the conscious decision that you are going to be successful and that things are going to work out in your favor.  You are creating your own reality every day, so make it a good one and excel.

3.  Practice, practice, practice – then go for it. Over prepare.

You can never be ready enough for opportunity.  Your live shows can always be better, your songs can be more amazing, and your playing can only improve.  As the CEO of your own musician business, you can learn how to run the company more effectively, reach out to more fans and be an more effective social media marketer.  Don’t hold yourself back by not being ready.  Be a professional.

4.  If you suck, you will never make it. Find a way to be great.

Lets face it, it is really hard to be amazing.  Some people have the natural talent and you can see it in the first 5 seconds of meeting them.  They are truly blessed.  The rest of us have to find our niche, our passion, our calling and then reach for it.  Ask people around you for feedback.  Find what you are good at and focus on that.  Get other people to help you.  If you don’t stand out and rise above the pack, you will struggle forever.  Be amazing.

5.  Learn how to breathe and keep your focus.  Stay calm.

There is nothing more pleasant than working with someone who knows who they are and what their goal is.  Remember the old adages of thinking before you speak, and taking a deep breath before you lay into someone.  Most of us have a lot going on in our lives and we can all benefit from staying focused on our goals and remaining calm in most situations.  Learn yoga, exercise, run, meditate, sit still, breathe, learn who you are.

6.  Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one else does. Have fun.

I am amazed at how many people spend so much time looking backwards and trying to understand what people think of them.  This is worrying about the past and not embracing the future.  Reviews are important, but don’t run to them or let them ruin your day.  Not everyone is going to like you, but more people will if you are having a good time.

7.  No matter how difficult things get, move forward. Don’t give up.

The only thing that will help your career take off is forward momentum.  That is how you are going to reach your goals.  A lot of people are stuck in their own mud.  Take action, make a move and then see what happens.  Don’t spend time procrastinating or worrying about how hard it is, just do something positive to advance your cause.  You will feel much better by acting instead of waiting or worrying.

8.  Find a way to make money. Start small and grow. Avoid being in debt.

This is probably the most important strategy of them all and why so many artists have gotten into trouble in the past by taking label advances.  All that is, is a big loan.  Get some kind of cash flow happening right away, no matter how small.  Sell merch, play for the door, license your songs, play sessions, teach, write, start your musician business.  The biggest mistake you can make is to borrow a lot of money and then spend it on things that don’t matter.

9.  Be unique and true to your vision.  Say something.

The people that we remember are the ones that are unique, exciting, special, provocative, fascinating, original, inventive, interesting.  Music is a basic form of communication.  The really successful artists have something to say and work on delivering their message.  Your chances of success go up exponentially if you have a unique position and message and create a following of fans who really listen to you because you have something important to say.

10. Work and play with people you like every day.  Collaborate Often.

Music is a tribal experience.  You cannot make great music alone.  Surround yourself with talented people, write together, play together, try new things.  Bounce inspiration off of each other and learn.  Listen to each other and let the music weave it’s way around you.  Find a producer, songwriting partner, other musicians and dive in together.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Wonderful things are waiting to happen to you.

Want more strategies for success? Download my most popular ebook, Hack the Music Business, for free here.