In the increasingly difficult world of getting your music heard, indie artists are being supplied with unparalleled tools in the form of social media, web sites specializing in “helping” musicians with marketing, and audio platforms which promise unlimited access to the public.
This is the time of year where many artists many artists are starting to get their SXSW rejection letters. It’s also the time of year where you’ll see many contests on Sonicbids, ReverbNation, and other sites that try to have you have your fans vote your way into a slot at the festival. However, eager artists who want to break into the music industry will begin finding other ways to a part of the action and that includes unofficial SXSW showcases or other festivals taking place in Austin at the same time. Before you jump at any of these opportunities, you better educate yourself.
When you hear, “It’s all who you know,” it sounds so intimidating - like you need to be a former roommate of Mark Zuckerburg, cousins with Richard Branson, and dating Taylor Swift.
But simply contacting a stranger can lead to a worldwide network of connections.
If you’re a musician, you probably get asked whether you do original songs or covers. And as unassuming as that question sounds, it’s actually a hornet’s nest buzzing with speculation on your intent, ambition, and talent. Do you have your own thoughts? Do you have something engaging and identifiable to say? Or do you just echo the ideas of other writers?
Are you an artist or a mimic?
The Music Industry
Thinks Out Loud
I released my most recent album called “Tea for Tyrants” under the following three guidelines: 1) Music is free 2) Music is everywhere and 3) Music needs context. The price tag of free makes it unrealistic to expect strangers will pay to consume my music through standard channels - iTunes, bandcamp, etc. Similarly, the ubiquity of music reduces the likelihood that my music will attract large audiences at live events to generate significant revenue.
When emailing a band’s management for the first time, you only have a few chances to get our attention. Mess that up, and your email is lost.
Below is a list of common mistakes and pet peeves from years of receiving emails, along with suggestions for ways to improve your communication to people you do not already know. Reading this will increase your chance of the support slot, or the desired response you hope for.
Remember, we are all people, trying hard to share music, just like you.
10 Questions Artists Should Ask Themselves at the Beginning of Their Careers (To Increase their Chances of Success)
Every young artist has their reasons for working hard at their music, yet so rarely do they ever define these reasons to themselves, bandmates, and their team. Some reflective thinking and sharing could lead to a great deal of clarity when running your business (well, band). I’ve seen success get in the way of an artist’s core values and goals too many times. Sure, goals are allowed to change and augment, as circumstances do, but too often do great goals get lost, and that bands fold on the brink of their success, and abandon everything they have worked so hard for. Thinking about these questions and sharing the answers with your team might be hard, but it could help bring you back to what’s important OR save you from wasting your time with the wrong team, and pursuing your career aimlessly in different directions that will never connect.
As of a few days ago, you can now add 6 second videos to your tweets to spice them up a little bit. The start-up company Vine makes it incredibly easy to create and share bite-sized videos that have a lot of potential in the music marketing world.
Everyone says that flyering is dead and a useless waste of money. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. It’s not that the people still hanging up flyers are mindless drones simply repeating the “promotion” techniques they’ve seen on TV that they think might work, it’s that they DO WORK. Flyering has to be done strategically though. There’s no use hanging up flyers without a plan in place. Over the next 12 weeks, you’ll be playing 4 shows (one show every 3 weeks) and flyering the hell out of every single one of them. By the end of the 12 week challenge, you’ll see an increase in your fan base, a huge increase in awareness, a clearer market segment that you can play to in the future, and hopefully some money rolling in as well.
There’s a reason why we play music. Performing music makes us high. Every musician who’s ever gigged has experienced the rush on stage when you played something so cool that they rest of the band would give you that acknowledging smile. Or when the whole band does something at once in such a tight fashion that it’s like thinking with the same mind. Or hearing the whistles and applause at the end of a song. That’s what keeps us doing it. Now new research confirms what we’ve always known.
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(Updated January 13, 2016)