When it comes to music and advertising, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for some artists will not work for others, and vice versa. However here’s one thing I can tell you for sure: too many artists are using advertising as a blunt force weapon. Simply dropping a picture of yourself, your band, or your album art into an ad unit and then indiscriminately campaigning nationwide for clicks will rarely generate the advertising ROI you need to justify spending on another campaign.
Based upon my own experiences and upon the numerous campaigns I have reviewed over the last year, I believe artists should 1) commit to running numerous test-trial campaigns prior to allocating the majority of their advertising spend to a single message, and 2) seriously consider which geographic targeting option (local, regional, or nationwide) will generate the immediate ROI artists need to justify a continuous investment in advertising.
A lot of musicians are nerds.
There. I said it.
Or should I say… were nerds. Their exterior may have a new shine to it now; calm, cool and collected. But on the inside, well that’s a different story.
Let’s face it, many of us became musicians to try and break free from those nerdy chains that bound us. We were introspective, overly shy and awkward kids, not quite knowing our place. But then we found something we loved, music. We embraced a niche that suited our passions, latched on to it and poured everything we had into truly being a part of it.
You grew up. You became cool. You played in a bunch of bands and experienced a modicum of twenty-something success. In fact, you even had a few groupies. But deep down inside, those insecurities still lurked, buried beneath layers of cool.
And then when you wanted success the most, you just couldn’t take things any further. You couldn’t get out of playing the same old house parties. You booked club shows, but no one really showed up. You bought boxes of t-shirts, only to sell a handful. Perhaps you had some internal band fights, lost a couple of members and had to start the long and arduous task of searching for new players.
And that’s when it happened. The Inner-Nerd reappeared.
You don’t need to be an industry insider to know that the ticketing segment of the music business needs a major overhaul. Concerts are more relevant to the industry now than they have been in a very long time, but there’s a lot more to be done if we are to see them reach their full potential — for artistsand their fans. Thankfully, movers and shakers like the innovators behind new school ticketing platform TicketFly still exist.
Lisa Sniderman from Aoede is one of my past clients and for the past few months I had wanted to interview about her experience and growth using social networking to grow her fanbase. Well we were finally able to make it happen. I felt it was important to have a artists say all of this, sometimes hearing it from a peer carries more weight. So take a couple minutes and read about how Lisa went from essentially zero to social networking wiz and grew her fanbase over the last 1o months.
Lisa set the wayback machine to December of 2010 when we first talked. You were a couple months away from releasing your most recent album Affair With The Muse and hired me to help you with your website and online marketing efforts. Your online world at that time was fairly small; less than 1000 on your email list, a handful of Facebook fans, less than 100 Twitter followers. We talked about what you would need to do to grow your fans. How you would have to spend time engaging with everyone on Facebook and Twitter. How you would have to write articles to post on your new blog. How you had to open up and talk about yourself personally more than you talk about the new album. I remember at the time you said you were not sure you could do all of this, that you didn’t know if you had the time. But, you forged ahead.
Now not even a year later and looking back what do you think about that journey?
I feel like I know almost nothing about business, because the only business I’ve ever done is the co-op / sharing model.
It goes like this:
1. You already have something that people want.
It might be something you own, something you’ve learned how to do, or access to valuable resources, space, or people.
2. Find a way to share it with everyone who needs it.
Share because it’s what you do for friends, because it’s the right thing to do, because it makes the world a better place, and because it’ll make you deeply happy.
For those that celebrate Thanksgiving, have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Come join the Music Think Tank Networking party.
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Master the use of reverb and your lifeless, two-dimensional mix will become a three dimensional panorama, says Steve Hillier.
Things that people do wrong with their music:
1. Write a composition starting with the drums. This is madness. Can you imagine Lennon and McCartney waiting for Ringo to set up his drum kit before writing their next Beatles smash? Obviously not.
2. Compress everything. At least twice. Anyone doing this in their mixes should stop now. Modern DAWs have an internal dynamic range that’s comparable to a pin dropping versus the sound of the big bang. Try using it, rather than squashing your music to the flatness of a pancake being sucked into a black hole . Compressors are like guns…only the sane should ever pick one up.
3. Use reverb badly, or not at all… Unlike compression, everyone likes reverb. How can I say this with such confidence? Because nearly everything you’ve ever heard has been covered with reverb. Everything. Reverberation is what you hear when the sound from an event, such as a gun shot, bounces off a reflective surface, such as a wall, and then into our ears. It’s a fundamental attribute of how we experience sound, and our brains have evolved to use the information contained in reverb to help us survive in our everyday lives. If we’re hearing lots of sounds with long reverb tails on them, that suggests we’re in a large room, such as a church. Lots of short ‘early reflections’, we’re probably in a small room. Everything we hear has some reverberation on it before it ends up in our ears (we’ll ignore scientists who work in anechoic chambers for today).
Let’s paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve got some great music. You’re an up-and-coming independent. It doesn’t matter who you are - the songwriter, the producer, the artist, the manager, or the indie label owner. You’ve generated some pretty good buzz for that music. And, you happen to have $5000 to spend. What should you spend it on? What would really help advance your career?
A. Spend it on advertising
B. Spend it going on tour
C. Hire a publicist
D. Hire a lawyer
E. Hire a college radio promoter
And the correct answer is…
Album finished? Check. Tour dates? Check. Press photos? Check. Press release? Check. Biography? Urgh! If you’re not a spectacular storyteller or wondrous wordsmith, then the task of writing or updating your biography can seem like an arduous task. However, a biography is an essential item in any musicians marketing tool kit. It positions your brand identity, communicates your key achievements and provides background info to fans and media alike. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way…..
In any industry you go into, there are always two types of people: People that take action, and people that don’t. In fact, let’s not limit that to industries people are in. In LIFE, there are two types of people…
The people who take action are the people who usually end up getting further. They are brave enough to make things happen, and even if they don’t work out as planned, they can always give it another go.
So why am I talking about taking action? Simple, because this is exactly what a lot of musicians fail to do!
Every now and then, I go on an open mic binge and discover new little spots and new artists honing their craft. There was this one girl who was absolutely amazing. I told her what I did and she started asking questions. Our conversation came around to how one can get the right exposure and further their career. I shared with her a lot of things, but one of them was about reaching out to industry insiders and building a professional network that will help propel her career forward. It’s not enough to play live. You have to also work hard at building your professional network in the music industry. Finding contact info is easy. There are directories and registries out there you can buy. However, there are some realities concerning industry people that you have to understand before you reach out to them. Or else, you’ll only annoy and alienate them. Here are those realities.
I updated the original article I posted on October 19th.
Maybe I am missing something, maybe I don’t understand why territory restrictions still need to exist. I guess thinking of the world as the territory is wrong.
Maybe my feeling that fans will buy music if you make music available the moment they want it, at a fair price on whatever device they use is just wrong. But right now trying to buy music actually can drive a fan to steal music.
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(Updated April 6, 2015)