It’s hard being a musician these days. In addition to writing/performing music, we’re often bombarded with the need to maintain an online presence, deal with licensing contracts, book tours, work with promoters, find sponsors, record/mix/master/distribute CD’s, and more. Because the work can be overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into bad habits and do things that hurt, not help our careers. Here are some of the bad habits that musicians are guilty of:
We focus on the wrong things. It’s easy to get obsessed with filling the booking calendar and end up over-playing instead of being strategic about shows. On social media, we look at the wrong numbers, focusing on the number of followers rather than building up engagement. We need to take a step back and look at our long term goals, instead of focusing on immediate urges.
We want a shortcut to everything. I get more emails asking about an easy way to get a sponsorship or booking a show than anything else. The easiest way to get anything in the music industry is to do the hard work of building up a local fan base and create a unique niche for yourself. That’s when you can make the pitch. As Beverly Sills states, “there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.”
We copy other acts. It’s good to learn from others’ examples, but you need to create something totally unique for yourself. Look for untapped markets where you can make fans in unexpected places. Have a unique voice or approach to social media, come up with unique pieces of merch, try new ways to promote. Don’t copy another act’s image. Imitation might be a form of flattery, but it does nothing to flatter the person doing the imitating.
The “magic solution.” This goes along with the shortcut: we often look for the next golden egg that can help launch the career. At first, everyone thought it was acquiring thousands of “friends” on Myspace, then it was licensing. Sometimes it is a national tour, others, the “solution” is getting a song on the radio. Reality check: there is no single solution that works for everyone. This is why I say that the best social media site for bands is the one your fans is on, not any site created by artists or made for bands. You have to find what works for your target audience, then do those things well.
We try and appeal to everyone. Instead of thinking of your target audience in terms of a demographic collection (i.e, 14-38 year olds), try to narrow it down to a single person. Who is your most enthusiastic fan? What sets them apart? What are they interested in? What is it about you that resonates with them? Once you determine the one person (rather than a generic group), forget about everyone else and just focus on other people like them. You’ll make better decisions and you’ll see better ROI on your efforts.
Not practicing for performance. Many acts might rehearse and get their songs down tight in the garage, but they don’t seem to be practicing for performance. In other words, even if the songs are tight, there the live show has issues: they don’t know how to set-up and clear the stage quickly, transitions between songs are long or loose, band members necessarily are messing around on their instruments during sound check or between songs (or “live” tuning), they don’t know how to address the audience. Try taking video of rehearsals and shows, compare the two. Time them. Fine tune it. If you want to be a professional, don’t act like an amateur band.
Do you find yourself slipping into one of these mindsets?
We have more resources for musicians than ever before, opportunities abound. However, bands also have to work harder than ever before as well. So before you just dive in, take a moment and think about your long term goals, develop a business strategy, and think about how you can give value to your most enthusiastic fans.
What’re some habits you find yourself falling into?
Source: Last Stop Booking (by Simon T.)
Do you sometimes feel that your band’s draw is languishing? Are you tired of seeing the same people at your shows and want to play to a new crowd, even in your hometown?
If you’re like most musicians, you know that you absolutely can do better, that you have more fans out there than who actually show up at at the venue, and despite always receiving positive feedback, you don’t know why more people aren’t showing up. Here are some tips on building some momentum back into your tour dates so you can increase your band’s draw:
1. Find a Different Angle for The Show: It’s easier to get more people to show up if it’s your band’s first show, when you’re releasing a new album, it’s a tour kick off, or when it’s your final gig. Obviously, it’s because your fans realize those as special occasions and want to be there.
So rather than making every local show the same, find creative ways to make them more enticing: film a live music video, let fans write the set list, do special covers, play acoustic if you normally don’t (or vice-versa), record a free download of a live track, etc. In other words, give your fans a compelling reason to show up. Answer: Why will this show be different than any other? What makes this exact show special?
Did you know there’s a special six-week window of opportunity that comes once a year - every year? The sad thing is, most musicians aren’t aware of it or don’t give it much thought.
Will you be different? Will you be ready this year?
FACT: About 20 percent of all annual music sales take place in the last six weeks of the year – during the holiday season! And the demand is there consistently every year. Internet-based holiday sales, in particular, continue to grow … and there are more opportunities all the time to tap into these online consumer dollars.
Many independent artists profit simply because they put a little time and energy into creating annual holiday campaigns that gain momentum year after year.
THE PROBLEM: Most artists never tap into this holiday revenue potential.
Why? Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah come only once a year, and they are short-lived events. It’s easy to justify not putting much effort into them. Therefore, most musicians ignore this holiday music income stream.
That’s a BIG MISTAKE!
ACTION STEP: Now is the time to create a plan to share your music, do good in the world, and profit from the unique way you can help people celebrate during the holiday season.
Do what the smart bands and artists do: Think ahead and create a plan now that will serve you and your fans during the coming holiday season.
Source: Hypebot (by Bob Baker)
With over 7 million copies sold, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” is one of the highest selling singles of the past few years.
But WHY was the song such a huge success? And what can you learn from it if you want to score the NEXT big hit?
Here are 5 key insights:
1. It’s A Single
Did you know Thrift Shop was the 5th in a series of singles released from The Heist?
The first single was “My Oh My” (released December 2010). It completely failed to chart. About a month later came “Wing$” (released January 2011), but it didn’t really catch on either. Then, “Can’t Hold Us” (released August 2011) as the third, and a year later “Same Love” (released July 2012) as the 4th single…
…but it wasn’t until AFTER “Thrift Shop” (released August 2012) blew up in October of 2012, that the previous songs climbed the charts, too.
So what’s the lesson? Release and promote a series of individual songs. And: If it’s not a hit, switch. Don’t keep pushing a song that’s not getting any traction on its own. Keep releasing new songs until one catches on.
Over the years, I’ve sat at a lot of breakfast tables with local musicians recapping last night’s gig. Usually the conversation starts about the nuts and bolts of the evening itself, but many times, the theme of the conversation moves towards the difficulty to get people to pay attention to the music or attend the concert.
As a musician and someone working in social media & technology, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about traffic and engagement. In my research, I have found there to be a prevailing theme in the thought leadership.
It’s with this context that I humbly present to you 3 critical steps to building fan engagement:
#1. Make Good Stuff
So you’ve attended the latest conference, gathered a lot of business cards, downloaded the newest social media podcast, and bought the newest book on how to get fans.
Sweet! That’s great. But it’s just one piece of the pie.
Content is king, and putting out regular content is important. However, it’s not only about consistency. Amazing content (with a little social engineering) will spread like wildfire without as much need for all the “social media turd polishing” hype. If you’re spending more time on Facebook than playing your instrument, you’re doing it wrong. If you find yourself coloring your hair more often than meticulously working on your lyrics… you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be like Narcissus, drunk off your own reflection, when there are thousands of people you could be learning from. It takes an awful lot longer to make good stuff without knowing, mimicking, and studying all of the good stuff that’s out there. Know the rules first before you go about breaking them. It’s like trying to learn a martial art without going to class. If you won’t dedicate yourself to being an expert, don’t be sad when people lose interest. Cultivate the dedication of the white belt while you strive for the black belt’s execution.
Make good stuff and they will come…
Search is going social in a variety of ways as search engines look to social proof to make search results more relevant and users turn to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for more of their information needs. Google’s dominant role in search and web video, through YouTube, allows them to shape this process by pushing Google+ to the center of the Googlesphere to the degree that Google+ is now an inescapable tool for music marketing.
Google+ has been a growing factor in Google search results since 2011 with mostly confirming studies since though conflicting studies are starting to emerge.
However even conflicting studies can’t cancel out the fact that if Google is now using social proof as part of its results rankings, then Google+ participation would affect those rankings. Even if that were not the case, Google is introducing multiple reasons to convince or even force your participation.
YouTube Comments Will Soon Require Google+ Accounts
Last week YouTube began to introduce comments “powered by Google+” with full rollout by the end of the year. The new system means that comments about videos on Google+ can show up on YouTube, comments can have privacy settings and new moderation tools are available.
Based on additional details, this new system should be an improvement for videomakers and marketers:
"comments from the video creator will be ranked very highly and surfaced more regularly…The system will also push comments from popular personalities on YouTube and people in your Google+ circles higher up the comment chain, as well as highly engaged discussion about the video. Just like before, you will be able to vote comments up or down, too, and those votes will also influence the ranking…"
"YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube….users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users."
Google Authorship Now Requires Google+ Accounts
I’ve been remiss is not discussing the benefits of the Google Authorship program for solo musicians and individuals building their music industry brands but both Roo Raymond and Bob Baker recently addressed the topic.
In the latest version of Google Authorship you connect Google+ to your web content, in particular blog posts and website articles, and then your Google+ avatar appears with a byline next to your first content-related search result.
Google is partnering with multiple platforms including Wordpress (.com I assume) and Typepad which will further simplify the process for many bloggers.
For Wordpress.org users, various plugins are addressing the issue including Jetpack 2.5.
But the biggest recent change in Authorship is that you no longer have to be signed into Google+ to see those avatars in search results.
See Search Engine Land for more on Google Authorship.
What About the Death of Keywords?
So keywords aren’t really dying, they’re just becoming a bit less key to the Googleverse and that means, in the tech world, that they’re dying.
Hyperbole aside, the role of keywords in SEO is changing as search changes. As Google moves to encrypt all searches, analytics results for keywords used on Google will no longer be available. Though other tools can help take up the slack, this is a major step in undermining the gaming of keywords by SEO practitioners.
But if you take a look at these suggestions for post-Penguin SEO, you’ll start to see that the way forward is a move away from tricks and towards engagement, quality content and honest navigation.
Both earlier seo changes at Google and newsfeed changes at Facebook suggest the same thing, doing what’s best for your readers and site visitors will ultimately improve your presence on Google and Facebook.
Key Points for Musicians and Music Marketers
Emphasis is shifting towards engagement and high quality content in search results and on social media and away from tricks and techniques for higher rankings.
Current changes involving Google+, especially Authorship, privilege individuals over groups. Keep an eye on those changes and make sure you have a Google+ page for your band in the interim.
Keywords have never been the biggest issue for musicians beyond making sure you’re found when they search for your name though they have been of use for particular marketing tactics.
Focus on getting your name out there. Make sure you have a broad but manageable social media presence. And be sure your official website’s homepage has your name in the title and in relevant text on the page and you’ll be found.
When in doubt, serve your fans.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
Disclaimer: First of all, let me make this clear. I’m not trying to say that making it in the music industry is easy, or that everyone who reads this will become a chart success. The aim of this guide is to help you define what success means for you personally, and look at what you’re willing to do to reach your goals. I’ll also touch briefly on creating a business plan to achieving your goals and more.
Hopefully the information in this guide will give you a clearer path, and increase the likeliness that you’ll get where you want in the music industry. Again though, nothing is guaranteed, and it’ll essentially be down to your drive, your level of talent, your marketing and business knowledge, the amount if time and effort you put in and the like.
If you’re not willing to put the work in, don’t expect to succeed in the music industry!
Now, with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at the steps you can take to succeeding in the music industry. :)
Before anything else, you need to decide what your personal definition of success is. The reason for this is simple; if your idea of success is becoming well known in your country for being a talented musicians, you’ll need different steps to achieving that than you would if your aim was to earn a full time living from music.
So what is your final end game? What do you want to achieve? If you’re not yet sure, here are some common outcomes which a lot of musicians aim for. I’ve also included a (extremely generally) look at what’s needed to reach these goals:
NETWORKING! For most musicians, this is something that most know they should do but feel uncomfortable with or don’t know how to approach. However, it’s something that can open the doors to better shows, a record label, a new sponsor, or even more fans. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about networking:
1. The Value You Bring to Others: Many networking events can feel like a shark tank, with people fighting to get business cards out and meeting the right people. It can often be inherently selfish, people seeing who can help them get what they want. However, networking is about building partnerships, so you can often stand out by finding ways to deliver value to other people, whether that is simply connecting other contacts to one another or helping someone solve their problem. That’s far more effective than finding ways to show off or impress others.
2. Ask Questions: Whether you are connecting in person or through email, the best thing you can do is open up communication by finding out what the other person needs. The better you understand them, the better you can build the relationship. That interaction matters more than the pitch you’ve carefully constructed about yourself.
3. The Pitch: That being said, find a way to accurately describe what you do in an interesting way in 15 seconds or less.
4. Be Intentional: Whether it is at an industry event or online, you don’t want to spam everyone about what you do. Instead, identify the people who are most relevant to what you do, what you offer, or what you need. Focus on them. It’s better to have one solid connection than 100 meaningless ones.
5. Stay Alert: This is one of the reasons why I don’t drink; acting tipsy in front of others can be a sign of weakness and lack of self-control. It’s also important to proofread emails before they are sent, both for spelling and grammar as well as content and length. All of these things reflect you and your work.
6. Think Outside the Box: Don’t always focus on record executives or promoters. Sometimes, it’s good to go outside of your industry and just focus on the general needs of your music career as a business. You’ll always need printing (business cards, download cards, posters, etc.), so why not connect with a printer?
7. Make Connections: The best way to meet people is to be the person that connects others. Offer to introduce someone to one of your contacts who can help them. If you’re known as a connector, people will be more willing to connect with you as well as return the favor.
8. Accept Rejection: Sometimes, people are too busy or they are uninterested. Don’t take it personally and don’t fire back some kind of hurtful email. Be careful about leaving bad reviews on sites like Sonicbids, you might be viewed as petty.
9. Get Your Hands Dirty: Remember, the payoff for networking comes when you help others. Offer to donate time or resources, volunteer, offer advice. Some of my strongest connections have come from volunteering for non-profit organizations and meeting contacts who believe in similar causes.
10. Follow Up: Following up is one of the most important parts of building relationships. Emails, text messages, and phone calls are often forgotten about. Everyone can get busy and need a reminder. Other times, it’s just good to check in. Make it a habit to follow up with an important contact every few weeks.
Whether you are heading to a music conference like CMJ or SXSW, or you are trying to connect with others via Linkedin, keep the above 10 tips in mind to help you stand out as a vital member of the community rather than someone who is only pursuing their own interests. Keep your communication short, to the point, and valuable to others!
Source: Music Think Tank (by Simon Tam)
What is the secret to being successful in the college entertainment market? Here we provide tips and tricks of how to assure that you are playing to a full house, and that your name is spread positively to potential repeat business, or better, recommendations!
KNOW YOUR ROLE
There is clearly one large mistake that many musicians make once they have landed that coveted college gig: once they secure the gig, they think their work is done. Sadly this is not true. You cannot assume, or worse, rely on the school to promote your act. Remember that you are dealing with students who work in the campus activities department part time. They are not professional event planners, and for the most part, are learning the proverbial ropes themselves. Although they may be well intentioned, their ability to successfully promote your event is like a crapshoot. Therefore your job is to promote yourself, both on and off campus. (Read that again.) You are also well-advised to make the job of the campus activities staff easy, and when possible, educate the students on how to complete certain tasks, especially surrounding promotion of your event.
On-campus promotion is characteristically an area where artists fall short. You’d be wise to turn yourself into an on-campus promotional machine. Granted, this task may seem a bit daunting, so here is a great list of effective on-campus promotional techniques.
Ever wondered why some super talented musicians don’t get the fanbase and recognition they ‘deserve’, while other not as talented musicians get a lot more exposure and seen in all the right places? Well while there could be a number of different reasons for this, one of the most common is that successful person’s ability to handle the business side of the music industry. More specifically, they probably know how to market themselves well.
It’s because of this that many don’t get where they could have otherwise been, and why they struggle to make sales, get gigs, and generally move their music career forward in any meaningful way.
The good news however, is if you’re willing to put in the work, it’s possible to learn how to market your music.
Before you learn specific tactics for marketing your music though, it’s important you get a good idea of what music marketing is and isn’t. There are a lot of common misconceptions about this among musicians, so have a read of the below to see some truths about what it all entails. I truly hope it gets you on the right path when it comes to how you approach the promotion of your music.