I’ve written “what artists should know” articles on Last.fm, Jango, and thesixtyone, but after months of casual participation, I can’t seem to get anywhere on Stereofame. Rather than bore you with my less than noteworthy experience, I turned to the undisputed kings of the site, Temple Scene. Philippe Rose and Ric Levy make phenomenal electronica-tinged pop, but we all know it takes more than great music to get heard. Ric shares his experience and advice below.
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From 1990 to 1992 I ran the New York archives at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing.
(The music publishing business gives a cash advance to a songwriter in return for owning half the income generated from their songs. The publisher is betting that the songs will earn at least that much, whether recorded by a famous artist or the songwriter themselves.)
One day, as I walked by someone’s desk, I noticed she had accidently left out the balance sheet showing every songwriter signed to the New York office, their cash advance, and how much they had earned. I quickly took it to the Xerox machine, made a copy, and put it back.
Bruce Houghton just started an ongoing list of artists that are achieving real success outside of the major label system. Contributing to this list helps everyone to understand what’s possible in this industry.
I want to add a few criteria (if I can?) for putting artists on this list..
- If previously signed to a major label (or an affiliate of a major) that previously obtained radio play for the artist, please disclose this.
- Success to me = each band member (or the artist) is consistently generating over $50,000 USD a year after all expenses are paid (including health insurance). You can live on less, but if you are going to dedicate your youth to music, I would target $50K (at the very least) as a measure of financial ‘success’.
Shouldn’t you announce your goals, so friends can support you?
Isn’t it good networking to tell people about your upcoming projects?
Doesn’t the “law of attraction” mean you should state your intention, and visualize the goal as already yours?
Tests done since 1933 show that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen.
The first piece in this series focused on increasing the amount of fans and how this is a necessary step towards success. Part 2 of the basic three principles is increasing the frequency of purchases.
The cornerstone of this is simple: You can not only sell music.
In order to get the frequency of purchases up you must provide something that actually gets your fans to buy more frequently.
If you are only selling one album or one set of MP3s, it’s pretty near impossible to get this step accomplished because your core fans will only have one thing to buy (therefore making frequency non-existent).
Billboard recently reported that over 2,500 record stores have closed in the US since 2005. This points out to one very clear conclusion: People are buying fewer CDs (of course we already knew this) but think about it –
Are you only selling music?
Hector from The Hector Fund has a love/hate relationship with The Lefsetz Letter…so he manages this internal conflict by offering this, The Hector Letter. As Bob himself might say, “Because it’s RELEVANT”.
Today’s industry is a sham. Artists make music that nobody claims they want to hear, and the folks that people do listen to suck. Driving down Blue Hill Ave, I pop a tape into my deck and prepare to be amazed. My pal Kato over at Fenway sent it to me. He knows what’s up. He manages MGMT - one of the biggest acts in the world right now
“I was born in a barrel of butcher knives/Shot in the ass with two Colt .45s”
If you’ve been writing songs for awhile, you’ve inevitably been asked, “Which do you start with - words or music?” It’s not always that simple!
I usually work from a title. When one hits me, I’ll rough out some stream-of-consciousness prose to make sense of it. It could end up meaning something completely different than what I thought it meant at the beginning. Next I’ll flesh out the song structure and melody. Then I’ll mold the useful bits of my garbled prose into a lyric. The production goodies come at the end - typically the hardest part for me. At that point, I just want it to be done. I can only spend so much time finessing automation envelopes.
How about you? Where do you draw your inspiration? What hits you first — a lyric, a melody, a groove, a bass riff? What’s your songwriting process?
The answer to this question is simple, straightforward, but not necessarily the easiest to stomach. So here goes….. Drum roll…..The best way to get booking agents to take your band seriously is…..
thesixtyone is quite simply my favorite music site, both as a listener and and artist. Billing itself as “a music adventure,” t61 is like a massively multiplayer game, complete with reputation points, levels, quests, and achievements. It’s a fun way to discover and be discovered. The rules are constantly in flux, so I’ll omit the fine details and walk you through the broad strokes of establishing yourself as an artist.
It’s the famous old question on every hungry band’s mind - How To Get Gigs?
I can hear your pain from this computer screen - “Everyone else can get gigs left right and centre but my band is still struggling to figure out how to get gigs…..”
The truth of the matter is that getting gigs and playing live shows isn’t really that hard, you just need to understand the sensitivities of how the live music system actually works.
Please Buy My Record: The Futility Of Flogging Music
What successful Internet marketers know and what musician marketers don’t.
9 Mistakes To Avoid When Recording Your Own Album
Never have a limit on your income
Twitter is radically changing the way musicians are building communities of supportive fans around them. Are you still resisting it?
Download music business legal documents for creating your own 360 deal
Sell More Cds at Shows By Not Naming the Price
Small is the new big, and why house concerts could save touring artists.
What artists should know about Last.fm
Don’t go over the self-promotion cliff; crush your local radio station instead.
This is the second in my series of “mix tips” articles. You can read the first here.
Most mix engineers don’t hear the bottom octave (20-40 Hz) because their monitors can’t produce it. Unless your room is 300 square feet or larger, and professionally tuned, adding a subwoofer will probably do more harm than good. Whether or not you can hear it, it’s important to balance the sub bass with the rest of the mix. You want deep full tone from the bass and a healthy “chest thump” from the kick without blowing out any speakers.
A common DIY solution is to simply roll off the whole mix with a highpass filter (HPF, also known as a low cut or LC), but that’s ugly and imprecise. Even if the frequency and slope of the filter leave an appropriate amount of sub, the EQ will color the mix, usually in an undesirable way. Instead, we want to sculpt the low end on a track-by-track basis, balancing out the sub bass and shaping competing elements to produce a clear and powerful foundation for your mix.
The more that I read about the latest and greatest music marketing trends, the more I want to stand up on my desk and shout “don’t go over the cliff with the rest of the lemmings!” But, given the current hype and the herd mentality that artists usually exhibit, twenty-four months from now 5,000,000 artists will be using Twitter and fan relationship management tools to attempt to acquire fans and/or to boost average-revenue-per-fan (ARPF). When I think of the prospects of millions of artists traveling down this road, ARPF is exactly what I want to do. Three years from now, most artists will be disappointed and a new crop of artists will be jumping off a different cliff altogether (remember the MySpace cliff?).
The famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is; a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” In this post I want to uncover the obstacles to self-promoting music and suggest an alternate path that will take you where the puck is going to be.
As many of you know my company Cyber PR specializes in Internet Marketing, Social Media and PR. I am an avid Internet Marketing student and I gather the nuggets I learn from my studies of musicians.
I recently spent two intense days in Los Angeles, where I attended an Internet marketing retreat led by my mentor, Ali Brown. I belong to her mastermind group and participate in her yearlong program.
It was a whirlwind, and the core principles I learned were both basic and critically important.
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