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In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans - Part I - The Mountain Goatsl

Since I started my career in this business. I’ve always been working within the 1,000 True Fans model.

Here’s my story: In 1996, I was living in Boulder, CO and I had just started Ariel Publicity, my boutique PR firm.

Acoustic Junction and Zuba two local bands became my first clients. Both had been staples in Boulder for a couple of years, and both made fantastic livings touring and selling their independent releases from coast to coast. They did this with no label, no distribution, and no major marketing budgets: just a manager, a tour manager, and me.

I also represented The Toasters, Bim Skala Bim, The Slackers, and Skinnerbox, (and practically everyone touring during the third wave of Ska).

These artists and dozens like them all made full time livings from playing and touring.  They had a core group of fans that supported them by seeing several shows a year, buying merch and buying albums.

Today, it feels revolutionary when we hear about bands that make a living based on their music.

What happened? What changed?

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How I knew I was done with my company

I thought I would never sell my company. I started it as a hobby in 1997. When NPR did a story about me in 2004, I said I’d stick it out until the end, and I meant it.

In 2007 I did a ground-up rewrite of the the website from scratch. And man, it was beautiful code. My proudest achievement of my life so far is that backend software. Wonderfully organized, extensible, and efficient: the culmination of everything I’d learned about programming in 10 years.

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Cancellations and Rescheduling

So the show got cancelled. Whether it was your fault, the venues fault, the manager’s fault or the weathers fault, it really doesn’t matter. It is strange to me that when something goes wrong, people seem to be much more about figuring out who did something wrong and assigning blame over the much more obvious and much more effective problem solving and doing what you can to make the best out of the situation.

Gigs are going to get cancelled or rescheduled. Times are going to occur when you are going to be double booked. You can take the right steps to organize and track things the best you can, but problems occur and sometimes they just can’t be helped. I have heard bands scream and moan about this booking agent or that manager messing up. Then I have seen the online postings where bands blast venues and then the venues go back blasting bands. This really doesn’t solve a single thing and it keeps you further as well as takes up time you could use to reschedule, take steps to make sure it does not happen again and reach out to your fans and people that were going to come to the show.

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Why the New Music Seminar Matters a.k.a. A Love Letter to Tom Silverman

I just got back from the New Music Seminar in Chicago, where I participated as a player. 

The New Music Seminar is an extraordinary and important event. 

Why? Because Tom Silverman gets it. 

Tom gets that right now industry vets have gone from being effective experts who understood how to effectively produce hits and make money in the music business are now scratching their heads asking “what do we do now?”

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Music Marketing That's Made-To-Stick

Everybody these days wants to create buzz. They want to grab people’s attention on a large scale. And they want to do it sooner rather than later.

Therefore, everyone wants to know the secret steps they can take to ensure their marketing idea sticks — that it gains traction and reaches the people who need to hear it the most.

A good lesson on this topic comes from musician Paul Hipp. Check out his YouTube music video called “We’re Number 37” — which, as of this writing, has nearly a half million views.

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Not happy with existing venues? Make a new one.

Gary Jules was a musician in Los Angeles who wished there was a Hollywood venue more friendly to musicians. A place where people would come to listen, not talk over the music. A place to play, not showcase.

Because there were no venues like that, he decided to make a new one.

He noticed a little coffee shop on Cahuenga. A perfect middle-of-Hollywood location, but had no music.

He asked if he could play there on Tuesday nights, and bring his own crowd and sound system. They let him.

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12 years with Taxi


Taxi is an independent A&R company, connecting musicians with labels, publishers, and music supervisors. On the 1st and 15th of every month, they provide a list of industry opportunities for members to submit songs to. Screeners forward the most suitable material for each listing to the person who requested it. I’ve been a member since 1997.

Recently, two of my songs were featured on a large cable network, and I signed an exclusive publishing deal. All thanks to Taxi? Nope. The music supervisor found me on thesixtyone and I connected with the publisher through Sonicbids.

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Drive and determination are far from enough. 

“I will make it in this business because I believe in myself. I have the drive and determination to be a success. Plus, I have great songs and an amazing band!” Hey, while we are here, let’s add, “I’m smart, talented and, gosh darn it, people like me.”

Reality check, people: it takes a lot more than drive, determination, a positive attitude and believing in yourself to make it in the music business. I’m not saying you don’t need those things. They’re helpful, but they are only one small piece of the whole.

Talk is cheap

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How I Connect with Thousands of People in 7 Minutes A Day

Updating your Twitter status from your mobile phone is so easy to do – no Apps or smart phones needed!

To text from your phone in the USA, send messages to 40404 and they will immediately go into your Twitter feed (and your Facebook if you link it!)

Here’s How: Under your setting link on your Twitter account click “devices”. Enter your mobile phone number. You will have the option of receiving tweets to your phone from favorite people automatically or just monitor them online (I receive Direct Messages only to my phone)

TIP: To follow someone on Twitter from your mobile phone text follow then their username like so follow CyberPR

TIP: To message friends that follow you from your cell phone you can type “D” (for direct) then their username. Like so: D CyberPR and then it will come directly to me

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Music Think Tank's Google Analytics Reminder

Just a reminder that frequent and ongoing contributors and commentors (we know who you are) can have access to Music Think Tank’s Google Analytics information.  You will need to send us the email address you use for your Google account.


Dog Guru

My wife, Roxanne and I saw Jamey Johnson last weekend in an awful club in Clifton Park, N.Y. Johnson’s a country songwriter cum recording artist who’s anything but awful. He’s one of those rare artists who come along once in a generation in a genre, in this case country.

He’s so raw and real it hurts. He’s of the outlaw breed, and his songs — even some of his hits – hold a bare light bulb to reality.

He’s a Montgomery boy, an ex-marine, ex-family man, and ex-rebel rouser, and his voice is as perfectly imperfect as his life. I’m not writing this to pitch Johnson, but country fan or not, this plainspoken poet is worth a listen.

I’m reminded of Steve Earle, who blew me away with his 1986 debut album “Guitar Town.” One literate bad boy with a voice to match. The first time I heard him I wanted to burn my guitar and typewriter (remember those), but eventually returned to my auteur senses.

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How much is a fan worth? - Part 1

Most aspiring artists intuitively understand that there’s value in building an audience for the long-term rather that focusing solely on short-term revenue.  Bands offer free downloads, play free shows, and spend countless hours on- and offline interacting with listeners in hopes of developing a fan base that will support them over their careers.

But how much is a fan actually worth?  How much should an artist be willing to sacrifice (or spend) today to acquire fans?  And how many fans are needed to be able to make a living as a musician?

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Honor as a musician and a business person. 

All industries have liars and the music industry is definitely no exception. Many people do not follow through on their word; many people lack honor, consideration and professionalism. It’s unfortunate that those who do lack honor—who lie or skip out on promises—grow defensive about their lack of honor when called on it. Instead of righting wrongs or taking steps to modify their actions, they give excuses and reasons why it is okay for them to be dishonorable.

In the arts, as in any other profession, you must have professional abilities and skills, but today, with so many artists going after the same jobs, the same tours, the same records, it takes ability, professionalism and honor for people to call on you and continue to call on you again and again.

Your word, it is that simple

This is not rocket science. In fact, it shouldn’t even need to be mentioned. But honor is an issue. False promises, outright lies, back stabbing and just plain absence is a problem in the industry, but the industry is getting more and more fed up with it. While many superstar names have been troublesome in the past and put up with these days, with the economy, time restraints and other issues, more people are leaning towards working with those who can not only play, but also have the honor to show up, perform, follow through and deliver. Attitudes, egos and lack of professionalism are not tolerated like they used to be.

When you give your word, follow through with it. Honor it. This will lead to more work than you know.

Your actions

When you are booked for a session, a show, anything, be there and be there on time. If you are going to be late, call. If there are things that are going to keep you from fulfilling your obligation or your promise then do everything in your power to remedy the situation with a replacement or some kind of fix.

I am amazed at how people give up with no consideration of the person who has booked them or what ever the agreement or contract situation is. I, for one and I speak for many, do not call people back that flake out, blow off or bail at the last minute. This adolescent behavior is unprofessional, dishonorable and disrespectful. This also makes me, as the producer, look bad to the artist or the client with whom I am working. I don’t care how good a musician is. When they show a lack of respect or consideration for me, the artist and the promise they have made, then I am done with that person.

Things do happen.

Now I am not saying things don’t happen that you can’t control. Car problems occur, accidents, emergencies, etc. can prevent anyone from being able to honor his or her word. When it comes to professionalism, honor and respect, it really isn’t as much about how you behave when everything is perfect. It is about how you behave when problems occur.

When anything, or everything, goes wrong, how do you problem solve? What kind of effort do you put in to rectifying the issue? If you get into a car accident and you are okay, but stuck waiting for a tow truck, are you the type to call and say you can’t make it and leave it at that? Or are you the type who either tries to find another way to get to the session or makes calls to the studio or producer asking if they can call anyone else while you, yourself, are working to find a way to get that session covered?

Your follow through

It comes down to the follow through, and while a solution will not be reached every time, if something has to change or a commitment has to be broken, I know that the person I hired did everything they possibly could to make it right. That is honor. That is professionalism. That is follow through.

You say you are going to be some where = Show.

You say you are going to do something = Do it.

You say you are going to pay some one = Pay them.

Honor your commitments, your promises and your own goals. If something goes wrong, do all you can to make it right.

Too easy. Really!

Regardless of the booking, the gig, the contract, the promise, as long as you do what you say you are going to do or make every effort to resolve an emergency situation, then you truly are a professional with honor in every sense of the word. You want to have a reputation of a skilled, competent professional whose playing matches his or her honor.

Be the person who follows through on commitments, takes care of business and can be counted on when things are going right and even more so when things go wrong. Be the dependable, honorable person. It can make all the difference in the world. When people know they can count on you through thick and thin, your reputation will spread like wild fire but don’t forget, the same thing goes for the opposite as well.

© 2009 Loren Weisman

Watch out for Loren Weisman’s “Realistic Music Careers 101 Seminar” coming to a city near you and Loren’s book “The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business” coming in 2010.


And if only 1% of those people...

A friend of mine was asked by a musician to help him do a huge mail-out of CDs.

The musician had pressed up 10,000 copies of his CD in anticipation of 10,000 orders that were sure to come through that week.

He had bought a quarter-page advertisement in the back of a magazine with a circulation of one million people.

He kept saying, “If only one percent of the people reading this magazine buy my CD… that’ll be 10,000 copies! And that’s only one percent!

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