Jonathan Ostrow: 10 Tips For Turning Your Fanbase Into A Tribe.
Apryl Peredo: Conquer Your City - Conquer Your World.
Mike Venti: Selling Out Your Shows Every Time.
Ariel Hyatt: Four Cases You Need to Know About and How They Affect The Music Industry, Part 2 with Joyce Dollinger.
Brian Hazard: The Individual Edition CD.
Jonathan Ostrow:The Musicians Guide To Fan-Funding.
How You Can Contribute To MusicThinkTank
Anyone can join the discussion and contribute relevant articles to Music Think Tank. Begin by signing up and then logging in to publish your posts directly to MTT Open. Please make sure that your posts are in the proper format before posting (see previous posts) and that there are minimal errors such as grammar or spelling. Popular articles are occasionally moved to the front of the site. Contributors own and operate this blog (more info).
Jonathan Ostrow: 10 Tips For Turning Your Fanbase Into A Tribe.
Fans of groups such as the Insane Clown Posse (the Juggalo), the Grateful Dead (the Deadhead), and Jimmy Buffet (the Parrothead), are all apart of communities that exists beyond the band. The music is what brought these groups of people together, and the loyalty to the music acts as the glue bonding them together, but the artists themselves have no responsibility to control the group - the community acts as it’s own separate entity, with its own leaders and followers.
These fans belong to a tribe.
What Is a Tribe?
Tribes exist as a way to connect and to share an interest in a topic, and it is because of this that you as an artist must recognize that creating a tribe is an essential step towards success and career-longevity. And since a developed tribe acts as its own entity, the incessant ‘shameless self-promotion’ that unfortunately paints the walls of all too many artists’ Facebook and Twitter pages will become a thing of the past.
With a tribe of loyal fans at your side - just one announcement of any album, any show, even any new merch will be absorbed and spread like wildfire. Remember that a typical characteristic of a tribe member is to be overly dedicated, or obsessive, which can be used to your benefit! Think of these obsessive tribe members as your own instant viral marketing strategy- these are the types of fans who make sure that everyone in their social networks know about this new announcement.
A downfall of indie bands that I have noticed is their lack of inspiration when playing their local area. Often times they are so longing for some grand international tour of stardom, they forget that they can create fan buzz and music sales on their own home front. The band or musician finds one bar/venue that will let them play and they set up 1, 2, or 3 gigs per month there. Each month. As for promoting the event – Facebook invites! And a myspace notice!
I am not saying that a regular venue is bad. And I do not deny the tepid power of a general Facebook invitation. Certainly artists need to take advantage of all that online social media can offer – although there are far better ways to do that than most bands utilize. That is a topic for another article though.
This article is more of a checklist on setting up and promoting a city tour. Musical success will not come waiting on an international tour. (Actually, there have been bands that have become well known globally and have financial success with music sales without leaving the comfort of their home area. Again, a tale for another day…)
A sold out show is a day that every artist looks forward to. Nothing’s better than a packed house where the energy emanates from the audience to the stage and back again.
Unfortunately, many artists don’t get to experience sold out shows that often, if at all. Perhaps, only at the occasional CD release show, or a coveted opening spot for a more established act.
Thankfully, there is an easy way for you to change this and begin playing sold out shows more often. It’s quite simple in fact.
The key is to play in venues you can sell out.
The typical artist wants to play the best venue in town, regardless of their draw. The club where you have to play Tuesday nights for months, until the booker notices you and maybe bumps you up to a Thursday. It doesn’t matter that the venue has a 500 person capacity and you can only bring out 50 people.
A show is a show, right?
Four Cases You Need to Know About and How They Affect The Music Industry, Part 2 with Joyce Dollinger
Artists, especially independent artists, depend on the openness and freedom of the Internet to survive and thrive in their careers. Independent artists run their businesses online: they sell music, tickets and merchandise; send emails out with press kits attached; chat with team members and fans; book gigs, and on and on… So for independent artists especially, this may impact their daily existence because they are not in control of their own destiny and most importantly – they are not in charge of their own music distribution. Until there is a definite ruling on the matter of Internet control, the ISPs seem to be in control of the Internet “airwaves” and they may now block the Internet network delivery and sales of their music and ancillary products, including merchandise and ticket sales.
Therefore, the net neutrality issue in this case is extremely important to independent artists; they need to have access and be able to compete on a level Internet playing field. They need to have access to the “airwaves” so that they can create their intellectual property – their music – and work within legitimate online distribution mechanisms that they know will stay open to them so that fans can receive their music. Additionally, they need access to broadband for their business dealings since music and video files are big and without broadband we would potentially be back to the Internet caveman days where you would need to wait all night for a file transfer to complete. This would end up hindering the speed with which artists would be able to sell and distribute music, especially in the fast, instant gratification world in which we live.
This month I released my 8th full-length album, slated to be my last physical release. I might have gone the digital-only route this time if I hadn’t won free CD manufacturing from Disc Makers through the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The fact that it was a physical release allowed me to take pre-orders, which provided the opportunity to test out my latest crazy idea - one that actually panned out for a change! Here is how I described The Individual Edition CD to my fans:
It will probably come as a surprise that I can’t create the exact same mix twice, even though the album was recorded entirely “in the box” on my studio computer. Arpeggiators randomly cycle through the notes of a chord. Panning effects start and end at different points. Some devices purposely insert glitches and other random anomalies. Beyond the occasional surprise, these differences are tough to pick out unless you know what to listen for. The qualitative listening experience is the same, but the fact that each mixdown is an “audio snowflake” gave me an idea:
Emerging musicians are in an eternal struggle against two evils: funding projects and growing a fanbase. In the past, musicians have funded their own albums, and have used it as leverage to gain more fans. But artists on a fixed income may run into issues funding their own projects, which can have harmful effects on the quality of the final product.
Of course, the next option is to release a demo or EP and work on building a fan base, meanwhile shopping around for a record deal with a major or indie label. The benefit here of course is that all of the financing of the album is accounted for, but lets face it, this is not the easiest thing to pull off. Labels typically won’t even look at you until you’ve crossed the 10,000-units-sold mark, and unfortunately that is becoming an increasingly difficult task to accomplish:
…in 2008 there were 1500 releases that sold over 10,000 album units. Out of that there were only 227 of them that were artists that had broken 10,000 for the first time. So in the whole year only 227 of the artists were artists that had broken what we call the “obscurity line.” When you sell 10,000 albums, you’re no longer an obscure artist; people know about you. You may not be a star yet, but you’re in the game. That gets you out of the glut and into the game. We looked at the 227 and identified that only 14 of them were artists doing it on their own and all the rest were on majors and indies; a little more than half were on indies.
~Tom Silverman Founder, Tommy Boy Records
And more often then not, you as the artist are stripped of some if not all creative control, resulting in an album that may work for the fans, but doesn’t work for you.
There was a time when LSD could propel an artist to fame and fortune. Prior to today’s Internet culture which calls for everyone to share everything and anything, the only sights and sounds music fans ever experienced from the likes of Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison were LSD driven. I am talking about Lead Singer Disease (LSD) of course. LSD was the look, the sound, the swagger and the distinctive persona that each lead singer carved out and manicured, and due to the lack of today’s personal broadcast technology, it was the only personality that music fans ever experienced. Then came the Internet. The Internet cures LSD and that’s probably not a good thing.
Personally, I want my lead singers to be freaking super heroes. I have zero interest in knowing that you put blueberries in your Cheerios, or that you are flat out broke. I don’t even want to know that you are a regular human. Give me LSD over feel good videos, cameo shots, home interviews, cat holding, dog petting, bike riding, smiles, friends, family, or anything that makes you look close to normal. You drive a rocket ship, eat steel and shit nails, divine songs, date models, burn money, wear a cape, sleep naked, and when you blow your nose…a melody comes out. And, you are not an asshole.
One of the most valuable assets you will obtain during your music career is a healthy list of fan e-mail addresses. Unlike posting status updates on social networks, which tend to get lost in the mess of everyone’s news feeds, sending an e-mail to a fan is a direct channel of communication. A fan that opts into receiving your e-mail newsletter usually means that he or she wants to hear from you, and is interested in you and your music.
Since you are communicating directly to your fans, it is important that you get it right from the beginning. One big element of developing a newsletter strategy is the overall look, feel, and presentation of your newsletter. Is your newsletter just simple, plain text at the moment? If it is, consider livening up your newsletter a bit with this free HTML template download.
Insofar as the nature of the transmission and dissemination of art and media has been irrevocably altered in the past 10+ years, it may also follow that the nature of the artist can and must evolve. Despite the best efforts of the Music Industry and the Entertainment Industry at large, the internet has uncorked the bottle, and the genie has been emancipated. The pigeons are no longer content to stay snug in their holes. We now live in a world where walls are being toppled, both physical and metaphysical. It is quite possible, in point of fact, that many of the aforementioned walls never even existed. Perhaps recent events have lifted the veil in front of our eyes, so that we may finally see that the walls were never there to begin with.
In our former life, the Music Industry would tell us what we liked, and we would dutifully hand over our shekels in exchange for their Product. When they sensed a disturbance in The Force, every so often they would allow an Alternative Product to emerge, only to quickly co-opt it for maximum profit.
The Artist, at the time, was a commodity, tightly controlled and groomed for maximum profitability. A Formula was instituted, and only occasionally tweaked until maximum profitability was summarily achieved. If maximum profitability was not quickly achieved after a few tweaks of the Formula, the Artist was quickly jettisoned, to be immediately replaced by a younger, fresher version. However, if the Formula proved successful, it would be milked for all it was worth over a period of many years, until the artist either self-destructed in a magical blaze of fire or was, once again, jettisoned.
It happened a few weeks ago in Australia. I was standing at the opening cocktail reception for APRA’s Song Summit Music Conference overlooking Darling Harbor in Sydney, and I was chatting with a perfect stranger (who it turns out is a very famous Australian musician with quite a few top 10 hits in Oz). Noting my foreign accent he asks “What brings you here?” “I teach artists about online marketing and social media.” I answer sheepishly, because this news is not always met with elated enthusiasm.
Him: You know one thing I have noticed about Social Media and marketing…
Me: What is that?
Him: I noticed that you don’t really have to be a great artist or well respected by your musician peers to succeed now a days – you just have to be really good at marketing and you get more success than you ever would have in the past.
Hope everything is well; I have a few things I wanted to bring to your attention.
Since the beginning, Music Think Tank as served as a platform and sounding board for a collective of some of the leading thinkers and change makers in the tech and music industries. At present, I am looking to expand the author base and scope of the blog just a little bit wider, in hopes of bringing in even more great content. If you have something great that you’ve seen or have written recently, maybe even a big idea you’ve been kicking around, please get in touch. I would be interested in featuring your insights. As standing editor, my standards are indefinitely high, but I’d love to hear what you have in mind.
Conveniently enough, however, many countries are overhauling their copyright law to modernize and take into account these new technologies. I’ll explore here the idea that while these new tools are currently subject to the same power relationships as have always existed, there are options available to update the law in a way that could create a more fair system.
A case study
Recent Popular Content
(Updated Feb 25, 2014)