The great and powerful, Wizard of Oz, presented himself as a supernatural, omniscient being. However, he was revealed to be a much different individual, operating a complex facade of smoke screens and holograms, without any real power. Musicians can put themselves in the same position as Oz did, by abusing the gap between the digital and dimensional worlds.
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Entries in musician (22)
The major symphony orchestras in the United States are facing an increasingly dire financial situations – not just because of a decrease in consumer demand and a decade of economic recessions – but because of systemic, short-sighted and self-inflicted deficiencies in their current business models. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Sometimes, we need to get our priorities straight. Sometimes, we need to learn to say “no” to the good so that we can say “yes” to the best. Other times, we need to not let perfection get in the way of productivity. How do we sort it all out? What do we need and when do we need it?
Let’s go over the most overrated ideas, services, and opportunities in a musician’s career. Please note: not all of these things are useless. In fact, some are quite essential but they should only be pursued at the right time. So, let’s get this thing going:
A musician-for-hire is someone who provides a service to an event coordinator, talent buyer, or group of people that caters to the event’s specific needs and generates a notable yearly income.
You know, the guy that’s singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in the background of a picture-perfect wedding reception, or the guy kicking off “Hava Nagila” at the most anticipated Bar Mitzvah of the year. Even the cover band at the coolest bar in town is an example of musicians-for-hire work. There’s plenty of work like this out there for us to make a living from - but how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the bands trying to compete for these kind of gigs?
Well, although there’s no short answer, there are several steps you can take to set yourself ahead of the competition and create a “wow-factor” for yourself. Indulge:
When I was in college, I held several part time jobs to make ends meet. One of those part time jobs was playing guitar at a few restaurants every month. Nothing glamorous, but I was happy to be playing guitar. I started keeping track of how much money I made on those gigs to see if I could justify quitting one of the other part time jobs.
It turns out keeping a detailed list of my music income has served me well over the last 10 years. I was eventually able to justify quitting all of my day jobs and become a full time musician, and since being a full time musician, I’m able to keep a finger on the pulse of my various streams of musician income. Just as a shop owner keeps track of her inventory and carries whatever products are in demand, I’ve been able to assess and adjust my inventory of music jobs that keep me in business.
Over the last 10 years the way I make a living has changed dramatically. I’ve never made a lot of money, but I’ve been able to make more each year despite the changes in the music industry and economy in general. Here’s my method and what I’ve learned along the way.
What would be the worst-case scenario for you as a musician? You might think it’d be having precisely zero fans, or having people actively hate your music. But unless the hatred reaches Rebecca Black levels, at least it’s feedback you can use to improve what you do. In truth, the most damaging situation is having a small, gradually growing fanbase, getting decent feedback, but not seeing how it’ll ever take off enough to generate a decent income any time soon. Is this you? And what can you do about it?
Search engine optimization (SEO) often gets passed off as a sort of snake oil — some gimmicky trick that people do to manipulate search results in their favor.
SEO is really about one thing: making what your website is about clear to people and bots alike. There’s no tricks or gimmicks, and if you can make a website or manage a wordpress installation, you can do some very simple things to make your website more search engine and people friendly.
How People Search
When someone enters a query into Google, the google algorithm returns results that it thinks are relevant. Many factors contribute, and we’re really not exactly sure what they are — Google, and other search engines, are pretty hush-hush about this. So SEO is a lot of educated guesstimation combined with a bit of common sense.
One of the reasons we started MusicianWages.com was because of the huge reservoir of unqualified career advice that was being served to musicians online. I usually keep quiet about the charlatanry tips I find online, but I just can’t pass this one up. It displays the characteristics of bad career advice so acutely that I just have to point it out.
The Busking Alchemist
This article dropped onto my reading list this past weekend. Want To Make $50,000 a Year In Music? Start With One Dollar a Day. There’s a pair of sentences early in this article that are particularly telling. One of the things that mystifies me about this article is why it continues after this:
A big part of my blog, How To Run A Band, is to figure out how to actually make money with music. However, I’ve been talking about giving music away for free, buying fancy tablets, and paying for web hosting. If you look at my “financials” page, you’ll notice a downward trend in money for my guinea pig band Shiplosion.
Do you or your band have a daily online routine? You better. At the speed this world moves you can’t afford to miss even one day of what is happening. Your competition is not sitting still, so you better be out there. But as a band you have to find a balance that is not going to hinder your ability to be a band. You need to write, rehearse, record, perform… if you don’t do any of those things, being online won’t mean much.
So I thought I would take a look at my daily online routine and maybe you can apply to it your routine.
10 Things Every Musician Should Do Online Every Day
1. Quick Email Scan. – When you wakeup, you’re a band, so whatever time of the day this might be is fine. Grab your iPhone or smartphone and do a quick scan of your email for anything important or urgent. Respond to those very urgent emails right away. You will know what they are when you see them.
It’s that time again. School is now in session, which means a whole new breed of young musicians are heading off to college for the first time. Whether or not your focus of study is music, the college experience can be an excellent opportunity for you to hone your chops and establish the sort of demand that will launch your career.
But as you will soon realize, four years will go by in the blink of an eye. It is critically important that you have something to guide you through all of the important baby-steps that will take you from a dorm room band to the most important act in the surrounding area. Use the following checklist to ensure that no opportunity is overlooked as you begin to establish yourself in your new local scene:
[ ] Create Your Ideal Fan
As a musician looking to establish a fan base, you have to know exactly who and where your fans are. A marketing technique taught in college, one that can be very useful, is to create a highly-detailed description of who your ideal fan is, summed up into one person. Give that person a name, and describe every aspect of that person on paper: what is their background, what clothes do they wear, where do they shop, what are their hobbies, what other music do they listen to, what sort of food do they eat, what beer do they drink, maybe they don,t drink beer but rather drink wine, etc. Once you know EXACTLY who your fan is it will be much easier to pin-point exactly where they will be.
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.
In a time where reality TV has become the most popular form of programing - everyone from the famous (or infamous) celebrity drug addicts, to the not-so-famous, money-desperate “reality show” competitors have been cashing in on transparency as a way to connect with an audience and build a brand.
Would the sudden death of Corey Haim, the 80’s child-star who seemingly feel off the face of the earth around the same time as acid wash jeans, have made as big of a splash if his addiction hadn’t been documented on the A&E series, The Two Coreys? Probably not. It seems that Reality TV has created a wave of transparency that everyone wants to ride. Even MTV, a MUSIC video driven channel, has since officially removed music television from their name in order to focus on following pop culture in its own element.
But beyond reality TV is the internet, and the continued development of social networking, blogging and microblogging, which has been giving musicians all around the world the ability to be as little or as overly transparent as they would like. So this brings up a very important question: Is transparency a good thing for musicians to take part in?
Musicians are entrepreneurs whether they want to believe it or not. By writing music under a band name, pen name or even just their own name, they have effectively created a brand that must be properly marketed if it is to thrive and flourish. But there in-lies a major problem: not all musicians know anything about marketing and they will eventually make some critical mistakes that lead to the demise of their short-lived venture. It is, however, the musicians who take the time to learn from past mistakes made by other musicians, and furthermore learn to correct these mistakes, that are the ones who build up the kind of influential brand that has lasting power.
These are 15 potentially crippling, yet ultimately avoidable marketing mistakes that are all too commonly made by the emerging music community, along with tips to help you as an artist to overcome and succeed in the best way possible:
1. Social Media is not the only way to market your band. This is the number one mistake because it can absolutely cripple a band from ever finding success. Far too many artists forget that social media is a device to be used within a strong, well-rounded marketing campaign. If you, as an artist, expect to just sit in front of your computer, friend thousands of people and wait by the phone for the call from an A&R rep, you will be severely let-down when that call never comes. And please do believe that it will not come.
If you are going to use social media as a part of your overall marketing strategy, and it is strongly advised that you do, use it wisely and properly, and as a part of a bigger strategy. A great example is one of the hottest emerging bands on the jam band scene, The McLovins, who found literal overnight success on Youtube when their cover of Phish’s You Enjoy Myself had close to 100,000 views in the blink of an eye. While it was clear that this video had gone viral, The McLovins didn’t just sit back and wait for people to friend them on Facebook or follow them on twitter- they went out on tour, taking their music to the people who had a newfound interest in the band. Only two years later, they have been covered in both Rolling Stone and Relix magazines and have performed at Gathering Of The Vibes and Mountain Jam.
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