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There has never been a better time than now to be an independent artist. More easily and efficiently than ever, you can build a digital recording studio in your home, connect directly with fans through social media, and distribute your wares around the world through artist-friendly companies like CD Baby and Tunecore. It’s a DIY world, right? Thanks to powerful, affordable technology, you can cover the bases — from creation to marketing to distribution to retail — without anyone’s permission, entirely on your own.
So who needs a record label?
Written by Tommy Darker.
This is the last part of the 3-part series about the Musicpreneur. A link to the complete essay with all the parts and extra resources can be found at the end of the article.
III For the future
Somebody could say that we’re done. That the list is full. Almost.
The present is not all that counts; unless it points to something bigger in the future.
The past years I was working for NATO as an international military policeman. Last summer I decided to quit my job after 7 years of solid and educational experiences. All that because of my love for music.
During my transitional window to a full-time music devotee (active musician and marketing experimenter), I had a lot of time to dedicate and strong appetite to devour books that contained information outside the scope of the Music Industry, but indirectly connected with it.
And then it hit me.
- Kelland Drumgoole | How Stuff Spreads – Gangnam Style vs. Harlem Shake
A few weeks ago, YouTube released a creators guide for musicians who use YouTube—detailing best practices and techniques for musicians using the service. The 40 page guide holds much common knowledge but a few gems of wisdom stuck out to me. Below I rounded up a few key points they made, that you shouldn’t miss.
- Put Popular Searched Items In Your Title - If you have famous guests or keywords users will search, be sure to find a way to add them to your title.
- Tag As Much As Possible - Tag as many terms that relevant to your video as possible. If you can find real relevance in these tags to the content in your video, there is no penalty for using as many as possible.
- Thumbnails Should Invite Curiosity - While you think it’s a good idea to post the picture where your singer looks cute, it’s a better idea to use a thumbnail of a picture where the viewer wants to know what is going on in your video. Seeing a 100 people throwing pies at once is much more compelling than just another pretty face.
Money. Many artists struggle with it: either we’re poor at managing income or we lack creativity in getting it. It’s clear that with the shape of the music industry, most artists aren’t making a living from record sales. So how are they getting the support that they need?
You might argue that some bands make their money from performing: they command large guarantees when playing a show. Another popular idea is that most bands survive because of merch sales (few promoters provide a decent guarantee, if one at all). Others see crowdsourcing as the new golden calf.
I don’t think there is a one-size fits-all model for all artists. What artists need is something that is personal, transparent, and appropriate for their career. In 5 Non-traditional Ways to Promote Your Music, I called upon artists to use their creativity when it comes to music promotion. I think the same could be said of your sources of income as well.
1. Write, record and play high quality music
It seems like an obvious thing to say, but everything starts & ends with the music. If the songs are poor, the recording is bad, and the live show is dull don’t expect to make a living from music.
2. Continue to only deal in high quality
Some of the best new bands and artists are let down by terrible videos, bad photography and shocking design. Yes it is fickle, but judging a book by it’s cover is a reality. When you are choosing which artist to review, book, or even sign you are invariably drawn to the most attractive presentation. So why not increase your chances of being heard? Remember, you can have the best music in the world but if nobody listens ,you get nowhere.
In a new study looking at ‘How Stuff Spreads’ Face has identified key components that make things go viral. Looking at the spread on Twitter of two global memes, Gangnam Style vs Harlem Shake, Face discovered eight common characteristics which it says led to them becoming viral phenomena, generating thousands of spin-off versions and billions of views.
The eight common characteristics are:
1. Bursts and Rises: There are 2 models of virality.
The Burstmodel is bottom-up:the variations are more powerful then the original seed and there’s no clear leadership or narrative. The meme relies on community relevance to spread.
- Dillon Roulet | The Musician of Oz
The great and powerful, Wizard of Oz, presented himself as a supernatural, omniscient being. However, he was revealed to be a much different individual, operating a complex facade of smoke screens and holograms, without any real power. Musicians can put themselves in the same position as Oz did, by abusing the gap between the digital and dimensional worlds.
In some of my other articles, such as How to Book SXSW, I mention the importance of playing often. However, I need to add a disclaimer: it isn’t just about the quantity of shows plated, it’s also about the quality. While in theory, it sounds good to perform as much as possible because you can gain more exposure, the results can be quite different.
There is such a thing as playing too often, especially in the same market. Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should limit the number of shows you play:
This article was written by our intern Benjy Jean Baptiste about his own experience as an artist manager.
For independent artists, Youtube can be one of the most powerful platforms available for promotion and exposure. Of course, it is also one of the most difficult platforms to garner any significant growth and attention.
This challenge was no different for 23 year old hip-hip artist, and Brooklyn native Rob Scott.
As his manager, it was my job to figure out how to bring his dream to fruition. Without any assistance from record labels, we began to effectively use YouTube as a platform to get Rob Scott noticed.
Within the first couple of months, it was painful to notice that his long nights in the studio would only result in his songs receiving 11 views. To make matters worst, the 11 views I am speaking about came from the friends and family that was in the studio with him.
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Tommy Darker: The Rise of the Musicpreneur (Part 2/3)
- David Philips: Red Bull DIDN’T steal my music. More important lessons for indie artists.
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(Updated May 3)