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What Publicists Need From Musicians – Guest Post by Anne Leighton

Posted By: Michael Brandvold (Michael is a 20 year music marketing veteran who has worked with unsigned indie bands and international superstars. Michael owns Michael Brandvold Marketing a site dedicated to providing tips and advice for musicians.)

This is a guest post by Anne Leighton.

The best, savviest musicians listen to their publicist’s expertise.  Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and Tower of Power’s Emilio Castillo pay attention to what I tell them when I disagree, find a wrong fact in their bio, or if they NEED to do an interview during a vacation.  They also tell me when something needs to be fixed.  We’ve never had an argument.  Sure, we’ve all made mistakes that were based in misunderstood e-mails or my faulty research for an address. All my artists have missed interviews, but we rebound and reschedule.  We’re human.

Your publicist interfaces with you: the media, other world and industry tastemakers, or gatekeepers to get you more known in your career.

We work together.  Whether it’s you or Ian, artists have to realize the type of coverage (radio, print, TV, internet) they will receive in conjunction with where they are at the time of their album’s release.  If you’re at Lady Gaga’s level, most everyone will devote space and time to you.  If you had hits more than three to 40 years ago, selected national outlets might be interested, but chances lie more in local print and radio. If you’re still determined to wake up early in the morning, you could get some local TV coverage.

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3 Signs Your Band Is Getting Scammed 

Yesterday a friend of mine called me with a question. His band had been contacted (via ReverbNation) by a company who claimed that they were a publishing and licensing firm in Los Angeles. Oooooh Los Angeles.

The company told him that they saw his profile, liked one of his songs, and thought they could get their song placed in Television and Film, but of course there was a price, three hundred dollars to be exact ($300!!!). For this price the company would spend the next year getting the band’s music out there…. rrrrrrright.

See this example contains all of the classic signs you’re being scammed and they are…

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5 Tips on Getting a Label, Sponsor, or Booking Agent

1. Treat it Like a Job Application

I can’t stress this point enough. If you want to get the right sponsor, label, agent, etc., you have to treat the process like you would for a high-end job. You wouldn’t send a generic cover letter filled with typo’s and grammatical errors or an incomplete resume would you? It seems basic but nearly 70% of the submissions I receive lack some of the basics - at least 20% forgot to include the band’s name or a link to the website. If you want a someone to take you seriously, then you have to take yourself seriously enough to make sure the presentation is just right.

It’s often said “It isn’t what you know but who you know.” Just like job applicants who have a mutual contact or letter of recommendation have an advantage, artists that have spent their time networking and building their reputation will have much greater odds. Think of A&R reps as recruiters or the HR department. Put yourself in their mindset, ask someone else to look at your press kit before you hit send. Try not to send unsolicited demo’s (if it is a company you want to work with, introduce yourself and get to know them first).

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Why I Still Use Jango

Jango offers free Pandora-style internet radio. Type in an artist’s name and it generates a playlist of related songs. Jango Airplay lets artists buy their way into the recommendation engine, promising guaranteed airplay alongside your pick of big names.

I’ve been running Jango campaigns pretty much continuously since the service launched in March of 2009. My songs have been played 270,000 times, 23% of which were unpaid “organic” plays. It cost me $1841.50 out of my own pocket, plus at least that much in affiliate earnings from my previous articles on the topic.

What’s my return on that investment? There’s no way to know.

Jango reports 25,000 likes and 9800 fans, but those terms have little meaning. A like on Jango is a simple thumbs-up that has nothing to do with Facebook, and most of those “fans” are unreachable. An average of one email address per day has been shared with me since that feature launched in early 2010, but those 700 email addresses alone don’t justify the expense.

The reason I stick with it is because I’ve seen so many Jango listeners become genuine fans. They friend me on Facebook, reply to my email updates, comment on my YouTube videos, and yes, buy my music. With the possible exception of Facebook Ads, I’m convinced Jango is the best passive promotion out there.

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So Whatcha Want?? - The Indie Musician's Diagnostic Check

The zombie apocalypse has eroded into the music world. For every person that decides to pursue a career in the music industry, there is another that is paralyzed in a state of limbo, eyes glazed over fixating on the the current sentiment of the socio-economic climate brainwashing them into believing-  “there just ‘aint enough (paying gigs, deals, quality tours..[insert your ideal music career scenario here] etc.. )to go around.” If you’re not careful, your career could be over before it even gets started simply by inadvertently allowing your mindset to fall victim to the fickle, ever-wavering mood of the economic atmosphere.

Sadly, for some, this may very well be true, but it doesn’t have to apply to you. As a savvy indie musician, you owe it to yourself to run a regular inventory check on your mental approach to your music career. The notion that our thoughts create or sabotage our own success is a real phenomena… I promise, I’m not trying to turn you into a magical law-of-attraction fairy  - but I assure you, I’m not the first person to suggest that the link is crucial. Don’t believe me? Brian Thompson over at The Thorny has a wonderful post on your thoughts and their link to your success here.

Friends, the truth is, identifying and defining key areas in your outlook regarding your expertise, and the opportunities available to you form a sturdy protection barrier for your perception - (which is directly linked to your motivation) - and ultimately poises you for a greater likelihood of success. As for success, it’s all relative. It’s up to you to do the maintenance to ensure you attain it, how you want it, and on your own terms.  Understanding the power of self-discovery and awareness is a priceless, invaluable tool in your musician’s toolbox. Here are a few ways to nurture and stay high on your own supply.

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The top 5 reasons your band should record binaurally

Binaural recordings are reproductions of sound the way human ears hear it – it’s the purest, most natural way to record and listen to music.

Binaural recording is perfectly suited to indie, pop and rock music – and here’s why you should be planning to take advantage of it on your next record.

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Effective Music Advertising

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.

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Artists: Change Your Thoughts. Change Your Mind. Change Your Life

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.

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Biz: New School Concert Ticketing w/ Ticketfly

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.

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From the Mouth of a Artist, Tend to Your Social Network Daily and Watch the Roots Take Hold

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?

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Derek Sivers On The Co-op Business Model: Share Whatever You've Got

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.

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Join the Music Think Tank Networking Party

For those that celebrate Thanksgiving, have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Come join the Music Think Tank Networking party.

Feel free to comment and introduce yourself and network with others in the Music Think Tank community.

Thanks for reading and contributing to MTT!

If you are on Google+, add MTT to your circles!


Learn How To Mix In 3D: Steve Hillier Tips on Mastering Reverb

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).

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Best Kept Secret for Advancing Your Music Career

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…

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