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.
As an independent and totally self-managed artist, there are no other managers or publicists to shield and deflect crazy groupies, requests for inappropriate musical collaborations, awkward Facebook friend requests and all the opinions of your non-musical friends who just decided that they want to become your manager. At this point you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I a gracious musician?’.
Recently, ASCAP’s Daily Brief included an article by David F. Carr entitled, “How Warner Music Turns Social Media Fans Into Customers”. I thought there was one paragraph in there that was extremely insightful that some readers may not have caught. It needed to be expounded upon. If you’ve always wondered how a major label goes about building a fanbase for a new artist - as far as their overarching philosophy on it - there it was!
There’s an item missing from the music-marketing dictionary. What do you call the person that has decided to surrender an email address, follow you on Twitter, or Like you on Facebook? If the word ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’, or as someone said last week: “a fan is someone that buys all your stuff”, then we need an intermediate descriptor that sits between a potential fan that has yet to learn about you, and a fan or fanatic that is already buying your stuff. ‘Pre-fan’ seems like it will work, but why bother?
As more and more labels and artists use advertising to bridge the gaps between social media islands, it’s essential to get the advertising return on investment (ROI) calculation correct. If a potential fan is not yet a fan, and if a pre-fan is not really a fan, then you need to apply TWO conversion rates to your ROI calculation.
In the same way that there is an art and craft to songwriting, there is also a craft to writing and using language in general. And these word-related skills can play a big part in how effectively you communicate with fans - especially online.
Fans become fans because they LIKE your music, but they are naturally curious about the person behind the music and the LOVE getting to know you even more than they like your music. This is an incredibly important lesson to learn. Keep in mind that the same should be true for you in order for there to exist a genuine relationship between the two of you…be more interested in learning about and knowing your fans than SELLING to them. They will buy your music if and only if you’ve established trust and interest with them as an independent artist. Let’s face it - we’re not Taylor Swift or Beyonce who have had millions of dollars behind developing their brand that is mass-marketed to everyone. We are independent artists with limited marketing budgets and time and genuine care will go a LONG way in your social networking strategies.
A question was brought to my attention after a chat with a friend, and I’m not sure I have an answer… So of course, I’ll turn to you. It went something like this: Friend: Spotify and Rdio both seem to either limit your amount of free music or play ads. I guess I’ll have to switch back and forth between them. Me: Or you could just pay for one? Friend: We pay after we know it’s good. We listen for free. Isn’t that the new standard?
In a word: AWESOMENESS.
As an indie I go to a lot of local shows. I want to find and network with other bands, make friendships, and help support my scene. Some bands are great, some are good, and others are…’eh’.
The really great bands are firing on all cylinders. Great live show, great recordings, great merch table. The other bands always seem to be lacking in certain areas.
If the live show is THE most important thing for a band, then I think there are certain aspects, certain ‘Standards of Excellence’ that a band MUST achieve before stepping outside the rehearsal room. We just cannot afford to suck anymore, at all, no compromises. That doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect: to play a million notes a second, or whatever. Not perfection, just a commitment to excellence.
Here are a few Standards of Excellence I feel every band should consider the bare minimum before starting to gig regularly, if they expect to get results that is:
What does streaming mean to an independant artist? Is streaming worth the loss in income so more fans can listen to your music? Can you ever break even? Is it better to just ignore the whole deal?
We’ve all been there. The drummer overslept, the guitarist is late, and the bass player has to leave early to hang out with his girlfriend. None of us enjoy being in this kind of a situation, and that is why having a planned out recording schedule can help improve session flow and save you time (and money). Assuming your band is well rehearsed and prepared for their recording session, there are several steps you will want to take to prevent the session from coming to a screeching halt. The key factor to preparing for a productive recording session is a Session Schedule.
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First off, thank you for your loyal readership and thank you for the insightful content that many of you have written. Without you, this blog probably would not exist. This blog was made to discuss our thoughts on the current and future music industry, technology, and everything that goes along with it. In order to provide our readers with relevant content, we are asking for content submissions. If you have something to say about the music industry, please contribute a post to MTT. Remember to review the submission guidelines posted on the MTT open page before posting.
In Defense of 1,000 True Fans Part XI – Marian Call Leveraged Twitter to Tour 50 States & Returned w/ Money in Her Pocket
Since Spotify’s US launch and the F8 announcements, a major sea change is underfoot. I have been following some of the most important and lively conversations about the meaning of all of this for independent musicians everywhere.
I don’t have much to say about it all (yet) but my knee jerk reaction is to revert back to the basics. As things get more and more complicated and as artists are being included on platforms that will yield them smaller fiduciary returns, it is more necessary than ever to remember and practice core marketing principals. I am strongly reminded of their necessity of the basics when I look at this from a global perspective.
I just returned from Scandinavia where most everyone still refuses to use Twitter and the people I met and spoke to mostly believe that email newsletters = SPAM.
I used to be a music lawyer and I was a bit of an authority (for a while) on sampling and sample clearance in the early ‘90’s. Then I ran a bunch of dance labels and worked with a lot of electronic artists. I have cleared a lot of samples but I have released way more records with samples in them that we didn’t bother to clear. Why? Because we thought that no-one would notice that we’d used their music - these were generally small specialist underground records - and that if they did, we would be able to agree something after the event, if the need ever arose. The reality is that it was too much bother and too expensive to try and clear a sample of an obscure and hard to find piece of music or of a snippet of a big successful tune when you knew that your record was going to sell just a few thousand copies - i.e. we felt at the time that the risk was well worth it. And hundreds of thousands of records have been released with uncleared samples in them.
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(Updated July 8, 2015)