Choosing a manager will be one of the most important decisions you make as an artist. Who you let represent you to the outside world is a direct reflection of how you handle your business, and a great manager can do magical things for your career. More often than not, you come across the not-so-great managers that are slowly putting your band’s career in a dank, dark corner one email at a time. The wrong fit can quite literally sink you. Here’s some common manager archetypes we recommend steering clear from if you’re looking to grow a long and steady career in the music biz.
#1 - The Too-Busy-To-Call-You-Back-Ager
We know… they’re busy and ‘important’. Being a busy manager is usually a good thing, but not taking time to hear their artists’ needs, cater to them, and collaborate with them will often cause fractures in the relationship. Beware the chronically-busy manager. As the artist, you need to be able to reach your manager at any time for advice and late night strategizing. A constant dialogue is essential; after all, your manager is out on the industry front lines hustling for your career. When the manager is too busy to prioritize communication with the artist, it can lead to career decisions that the artist doesn’t support being made on their behalf. More importantly: what other calls is the manager not keeping up with? Opportunities are likely being missed if the manager is too disorganized to see them. Sometimes this type of manager is closely related to the my-career-is-more-important-than-yours-ager… which I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on.
There’s a buzzword I see popping up a lot lately in articles about how to become a career artist: superfans. The idea is that if you have a subset of your fans who will support everything you do – buy every album you release, go to all your shows, buy all your merch – then you can build a sustainable career with the support of these hyper-dedicated fans.
As someone who has made a career as an independent artist, I have found no better way to build a collection of superfans than partnering with existing fans to put on deeply connective concerts in their homes. The remarkable success I’ve experienced with this model has led me to abandon traditional club touring, instead performing almost 150 house concerts in the last 2 years.
House concerts are the most connective, fulfilling, and rewarding performance experiences I’ve had as an artist. I’ve built relationships with fans at house concerts that have turned into meaningful friendships. And those connections go both ways; it’s not surprising to hear a guest at a house concert say, “I’ve never been to anything like this before and it’s the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time!”
I’ve thought a lot about why house concerts are so good at turning audience members into committed fans. I think it comes down to intimacy, exclusivity, and connection.
Social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans. However, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – after all, you still need to sell your record or tickets to your show. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.
Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.
2. Leverage Online and Offline
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.
All the rage, at least with regards to income from digital music distribution, has been centered around YouTube monetization. However, the problem is that many artists are misinformed on even the basic strategy about obtaining more views and subscribers, which ultimately leads to more income.
We stumbled upon a very informative case study from Flight Drummers on how they were able to build their YouTube subscriber base and capture 500,000+ views in a 10 month time frame.
Check out the entire article below and see if you can adapt some of their strategy to help improve your results!
As an avid marketing blog reader, my inbox and Feedly are constantly filled with fantastic marketing techniques on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.
Although I use these social media sites heavily, I’d like to bring in another extremely powerful (often overlooked) marketing platform to the table—YouTube.
At the beginning of 2013, my business partner and I decided to attempt a different marketing tactic for our (slow) growing drumming education company, Flight Drummers.
We constantly used Facebook and Twitter as our prime marketing resources, but it was soon apparent that the dream wouldn’t last long if we didn’t pick up more traffic or make more sales.
That month, we studied our competition hard and realized that Youtube was a rare marketing commodity in the drumming industry. Sure, a majority of drumming education companies had Youtube channels, but the view count, subscriber count, and interaction was minimal.
Seeing as this was a difficult marketing strategy for competition in our niche, we decided to capitalize on their weakness by filming some Youtube videos.
The following month, we geared up, filmed, edited nearly 70 videos, and began harnessing the true power of Youtube.
Within three months, we had accumulated more than 100,000 Youtube views with 1,800 subscribers, and by month 10, had generated 500,000+ views, accumulated a Youtube subscriber base of more than 8,400 people, and established paid members in 14 countries—primarily through Youtube.
Despite our current success with Youtube marketing, it wasn’t until we began following these eight steps, that we began to experience 2,000-3,000 views per day (5,000-7,000 views on release days) and a highly interactive subscriber base.
We’re gonna tell you a lot of things that you might not want to hear (especially if you’re doing or NOT doing some of these items). A lot of mags and industry professionals (mostly those who want your money) don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they patronize you and talk to you like children when it comes to these things. I’ve seen some God-awful, condescending nonsense in print when it comes to career advice for musicians.
We respect you more than that. We think you’re adults (for the most part) who can handle a dose of reality every now and again if it means making some positive changes in how you conduct your business. And if your band isn’t a business, maybe you should re-think seeking out press in the first place.
A healthy majority of these list items come from discussions we’ve had with editors and journalists from around the country, and some of them are our own pet peeves. Take everything with a grain of salt, if you must. We’re just telling it like it is, giving you a peek behind the curtain.
OK, no more preamble, no sugarcoating, no bullshit. Here (in no particular order) are about two-dozen plus reasons why your band isn’t getting anywhere with press. So, if you’re ready for some harsh truths, read on. We start with…
1. You look, sound or act like the ass-clowns in Brokencyde. See Exhibit A below.
Below is a question/answer conversation with EricTheReDD, the former general manager of WJSC-FM (Johnson State College, Vermont), about his experience with college radio and everything it takes to get your music played on a college radio station.
Would you mind introducing yourself? What station did you work for and how long were you there?
My radio handle is EricTheReDD; former General Manager of WJSC-FM. I started at WJSC in September 2003 as a volunteer DJ and slowly worked my way up the ranks. I became assistant to the Production Manager after a few weeks of kissing ass. There ended up being a mass exodus of upper-management and I rose quickly to the position of General Manager; a title I held (through an electoral process) for 4.5 consecutive years. I took the position once more when our then-GM was forced out for violating station rules involving drugs and alcohol in the studio and I held the position in-interim until elections when I chose not to run and resumed my duties of Program Director, Music Director and DJ until I finally stepped away in May 2012. In total, I worked at WJSC for just shy of 9 years; holding every management position at least once, overseeing two radical format changes, re-branding, building of a brand-new station and complete overhaul of our on-air booth in the process.
Since I left the station has reverted to a fully open radio format (very common for college radio) and plays everything from bluegrass to metal to show-tunes and plenty of everything else in-between.
How many packages did you receive from bands every day? How many of them actually ended up getting opened and listened to? If not 100% of them, why did some of them get tossed aside?
Very few packages came directly from the artist; they normally came from labels or promotional companies. But a package was a package and all we cared about was getting it to the proper recipient. A lot of labels rely heavily on the promotion and spins that college radio can provide and therefore stagger their releases to ensure a present student body. Hence, few lesser-known bands release albums over the summer but there’s an explosion of releases in the fall.
Every package gets opened. EVERY. SINGLE. PACKAGE. And every day is different. Some days we’d receive a postal container full of packages and sometimes we’d maybe get one or two. It depended heavily on the labels we were affiliated with, their release calendar, and other factors like that. Typically, we split up the mail by genre; each sub-director being responsible for their own share. Mine was Hard Rock / Metal / Punk. I’d open my packages, keep the PK (Press Kit insert) with its respective disc and recycle the packaging. I would then take the stack into my office (or the production studio if it wasn’t being used) and go through the music. I’d put a disc into the player and scan through the tracks while reading the PK notes. Songs needed to grab me. Long intro, I might skip in to the minute mark. If I wasn’t dazzled in about 5 seconds per track I’d keep going through the disc.
PERSONAL RULE: I always give the title track a chance to “wow” me. In my experience, if you’re going to name the album after that track then it’s got to be something special. If the title track sucks it’s going to be tough to get me to take the rest of the album seriously.
In terms of airplay or “getting tossed aside” it comes down to democracy. The free spirit of college radio is in the DJs and we gave them free reign (within the law) over their weekly chunk of airtime. We DID have a few requirements; playing a PSA once per hour, reading something from our underwriters (businesses that donate money in exchange for mention; it’s a non-profit thing), and the coveted “PUSH” pile. Labels foamed at the mouth to get their albums into the “PUSH” pile. We would require that twice an hour the DJ pick any disc from “PUSH” and play something from it. This ensured new music was getting played and labels were getting the necessary spins to keep their executives happy. Directors would leave little post-it notes on each disc with a brief description and one or two recommended tracks to make it easier on the DJ. But at the end of the day there are still piles of albums that, for whatever reason, don’t garner much attention. They’re archived alphabetically and by genre and tucked away on the shelves. And about once every 5 years we’d go through the “vault” and clean house; selling albums that people are willing to buy and giving away the rest (typically a FREE bin outside the station was sufficient).
There’s a popular business acronym that says goals should be S.M.A.R.T., or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your music career is no different. Unless you have a target that you are reaching for, you’ll just continue down random pathways hoping to get somewhere.
Oftentimes, artists tend to limit their music sales to iTunes only, which is a crucial mistake considering the surge in popularity of streaming music services. It’s extremely important to get your music onto various platforms to accommodate fans that prefer to stream rather than download, as well as the fact that some services are more popular or non-existent in some countries.
EPs are a fan favorite these days! There is more music being released than ever before, and EPs sustain the listeners attention span by offering a taste of what a band is all about. In addition, creating EPs is a much cheaper route to take and allows for you to put out something new and fresh more than once a year.
One of the best ways to acquire email addresses from potential fans is to offer them something for free. Probably the most easiest solution is to offer a free download of one of your tracks. You can accomplish this using widgets and other tools that are available on ONErpm.
It takes quite a bit of time to handle the day-to-day social media aspects of a band. Ideally, you should find 2 or 3 prominent sites and build out your audience on those platforms. This will ensure that you put in the quality work that is needed to be successful on each one.
Furthermore, take advantage of apps and plugins, such as ONErpm’s Facebook store. If your fans are constantly on Facebook, why not give them the opportunity to purchase your music without leaving the site?
If you haven’t got a website yet, spend the majority of your time on getting one. This is basically your online business card, and a tool that will make you look more professional to people considering hiring you for gigs, media coverage, etc. It’s also a great way to engage with your fans, encourage music / merch sales, and keep fans informed.
This is actually one of the most important tips. If you’re making good songs that can compete with other popular musicians in your genre, then it’s time to really start marketing your music…CONSISTENTLY. Otherwise, not many people will hear or purchase your music, thus making it harder to build traction in terms of getting your name out there.
You may feel the need to up that number to increase your chances of getting your music heard; that is if you’re already been spending a good amount of time on marketing efforts and aren’t seeing the results you had hoped for.
It takes very little time to set up, but once you do you can set all your videos to be monetized. YouTube selects ads to be shown around your videos, and you are paid a portion of the revenue.
Don’t create only official music videos. Make any type of quick video (at least a minute long) talking about anything, recording in the studio, on the road, etc. Sure, some of them may make you very little, yet over time the volume could start collecting into something meaningful.
Make a playlist of your videos and direct people into watching a playlist instead of an individual video. This makes it easier for fans to view more of your videos, which is a plus in that every view counts toward more revenue!
Once you have monetized your channel, you can enable your annotations to have live links to iTunes, Google Play and other retailers. This creates instant traffic to sell your music and merchandise.
Do you already have a large audience to work with? If so, you can join ONErpm’s YouTube network and we’ll leverage your audience for higher ad rates. In addition, we also bring other monetizing opportunities for your videos, as well as cross promote with other network channels to drive up views.
Make sure your music is put into a database that allows YouTube to match your song anytime it is used. What this means is, every time your music is added to a random video with or without your permission, you’ll get a piece of the revenue. If your distributor doesn’t offer this, use a multi-channel network like ONErpm!
Don’t simply include the basic information on your video in the description. Take advantage of the opportunity to sell to prospective fans by adding outbound links to everything that you’d like to sell. Be sure to include merch stores, iTunes, Spotify, etc., to send your fans to for further revenue.
Try at all costs not to use one of the thumbnails YouTube generates from your video. What’s better than a custom, eye-catching image with your band logo to encourage users to click on your video? NOTHING!
Don’t wait for someone to randomly find your song to put behind their video on YouTube. Use companies like Audiosocket and CueSongs. They allow artists to have YouTubers legally license songs for their videos for low rates, which in turn leads to more exposure and revenues for you.
A ticket stub does so much more than just admitting you into an event. A ticket stub is a filled with memories, emotions and, if you’re lucky, your favorite singer’s autograph. Just one glance at that flimsy piece of paper, and the flood gates are opened. You are submerged in a pool of memories, like which song the band opened with, the moment you made eye contact with the guitarist, the hoarseness of your throat from screaming along with the lyrics, and how, for a couple hours, nothing else mattered in the world. That flimsy piece of paper can become a prized possession.
A memento is a keepsake or a souvenir of remembrance, and almost anything can be turned into a memento. It is so important for bands and artists to give fans a chance to take home with them something that will remind them of why your performance was the best ever, and why they should go see you perform next time you’re in town.
So what can you offer your fan as a memento? Merch is always a great option as long as you have something available for every budget. Then there’s always the setlist. Write out a couple tracks and make sure the person vibing out the most gets it. Throw out your picks and drumsticks. Hand out digital download cards of your single. Take along some of your tour posters and have them available for your fans to grab. Get creative! And of course, always make yourself available to autograph these mementos and get a few photos snapped.
Source: MusicThinkTank (by Katie Woods)
Not surprisingly, artists and music brands have lately come to view YouTube network as one of the most critical pieces of their digital marketing strategies. Not only is video content one of the most valuable tools available for increasing engagement and building an artist’s brand, but it has also proven capable of breaking new acts (just look at Psy and Justin Bieiber) in the rare event that a video goes viral.
YouTube is absolutely dominated by music. Of the top 20 Most Viewed YouTube Videos of all time, 19 are music videos. Obviously YouTube users love music content—so how can you best position your videos to reach a higher proportion of that massive (over 127 million unique visitors in May 2012 alone) audience?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that question. YouTube is undeniably one of the hardest social networks to crack for any artist trying to build an audience. Eight years’ worth of video content is uploaded to the platform every single day, which means your latest music video or behind-the-scenes clip is competing against a nearly endless pool of other pieces of content. What most YouTube users don’t realize, however, is that there are several simple tricks any content creator can use to easily increase their visibility on the platform, simply by understanding how YouTube ranks its content.
Oftentimes, musicians tend to overlook the fact that their fans can be just as creative. Use this creativity to your advantage! For example, check out the fan-made video for Systemshock’s “You’re Fake, I’m Real”