Over the last year, people have been responding to me differently. They view me as someone who is a famous, successful musician… People want to be part of a winning enterprise and they are star struck because they have watched my content on-line and know that many others have as well. I can command more a higher fee for concerts becasue people’s perceptions of how much I am worth as an artist has changed.
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For the past 3-4 days, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing from artists and local labels asking why YouTube is going to be removing their music. For those that haven’t already heard, YouTube (owned by Google) is planning on launching its own subscription music service soon. It has been in negotiations with the 3 major record labels and the independent labels to set a rate for their music used in the new service. The details of these deals has been kept very quiet, but apparently the Big 3 have already signed on, as have most of the independents. Only a small percentage of indies are holding out for better rates.
The big swirl of confusion started a few days ago when the Financial Times website posted a story quoting YouTube exec Robert Kyncl, stating music could start being removed in a couple of days. This sent “the internets” into a frenzy, and is what began my phone ringing.
When I was in my MBA program, I often learned more about business from business owners (and running one myself) than the instructor. Usually, the people out in the field have a different perspective than those who are teaching. With the music industry, you have experts who come at it from many different angles: managers, lawyers, record labels, promoters, booking agents, publicists, journalists, solo artists, bands, studio musicians/session players, academics, consultants, and more. One of my favorite ways of learning is to study how other people are approaching their music career. Another is to look completely outside of the music industry itself.
When I want to improve on something specific, I often see what other successful artists are doing. This can be anything from a website layout, social media posts, biographies, and press kits to music videos, color palettes, song formats, and live performances. I often keep a portfolio of these artists’ work to monitor trends, key words, and imagery. It’s like having a list of reference songs in the studio when recording and mixing: the collection becomes a good point of reference to compare against.
We’re in the midst of the greatest music industry disruption of the past 100 years. A fundamental shift has occurred — a shift that Millennials are driving.
For the first time, record sales aren’t enough to make an artist’s career, and they certainly aren’t enough to ensure success. The old music industry clung desperately to sales to survive, but that model is long gone.
Even superstars have it tough. Pitbull — despite having 50 million Facebook fans and nearly 170 million YouTube plays — has sold less than 10 million albums in his entire career. This is the reality of the new music industry, which is built off of liquid attention, not record sales.
- Dave Kusek | Get More Gigs
Almost every artist who approaches me has had one or more negative experiences with music promotion in the past, and this is largely due to the “quick fix syndrome” on behalf of both individuals who engage in the partnership. First of all, there are the automated music marketing services who I tend to call the internet cowboys. They offer progress and lavish promises at the push of a button. Facebook likes? You got it. Youtube views? Not a problem. Get your press release on the desk of thousands of journalists? We do that too.
The artists who tango with these folks also suffer from the quick fix syndrome. Rather than build a team of people and gain fans organically one by one, they aim for the mountaintop, neglecting to do the proper research or seek out the proof that Google can provide.
In today’s music industry, gigging is a huge revenue for a lot of indie musicians. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of competition for the limited gigs available. Just standing out of the crowd of talented performers can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to grow into cities and towns you’ve never played before.
If, however, you are dedicated and have a strategy in mind when looking for gigs, you’ll have a much better chance of getting noticed. I’ve broken it down into 5 basic tips that you can follow as you’re trying to book more gigs.
Collaboration is the first step to this equation. I’m sure you know how hard it is to get a spot in new venues, especially if you’re not yet at the point where you’re working with a booking agent. Venue owners and promoters just feel safer booking a band that they know can fill the room. If, however, you can connect with the bands the promoter knows, you might be able to get gigs you wouldn’t normally have access to.
It’s no secret that often in the world music, it’s more about “who you know” than what you know. The industry generally favors pre-existing relationships, whether you are looking for a venue, a sponsor, a review on your new album, or a slot at SXSW. Like it or not, networking can often make or break an act.
Today, focus on taking a few steps closer to your goal by working on your contacts. Here are some of my favorite tips on networking:
Start With a Goal in Mind: Before you haphazardly contact just anyone in the music industry, think about what you want to achieve and who some of the people are that might be able to help you. You might also think about how you can help them in return. Most of the time, you’ll make new contacts in social situations but you can also be strategic about who you want to meet and why.
Has this ever happened to you? You think you’ve written your best song yet, but an offhand remark from a friend plunges you into self-doubt. Wouldn’t it help to have feedback from music fans of your genre who have no incentive to sugar-coat their opinions?
Sure, you say! I’ll just use SoundOut, or ReverbNation Crowd Review (also powered by SoundOut). Unfortunately, my experience with SoundOut, and those of most of the commenters, left a lot to be desired. I’ve also received a mostly useless - but free - focus group from Music Xray, and even repurposed Jango aka Radio Airplay to create my own focus group.
AudioKite has built a better mousetrap. Here’s why:
One of the biggest challenges facing musicians is generating income. Gone are the days when a band could rely solely on music sales and touring to earn a living.
Part of the reality of being a working musician today is the need to diversify your revenue streams. Although sales of recorded music have gone down significantly in recent years, there are new sources of income available to musicians.
A mix of traditional and more modern income streams can help today’s musicians earn a living. Here’s a list of 18 ways to generate revenue for your music career:
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(Updated Feb 25, 2014)