One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. Here are 5 great strategies with real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.
1. Make a Plan from the Start
Making a great plan is one of the best ways to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.
Try to make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.” Break down your lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.
In the good old days of digital music — say, five or six years ago — high-tech talent scouting by record labels meant trawling MySpace for hot new bands. Labels still hunt for acts online, but the pools of data they consult have become much more vast, and access to them highly competitive.
On Wednesday, the Warner Music Group, the company behind Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will announce a deal with the music app Shazam that will create a label imprint for new artists who are discovered through Shazam.
Shazam, used by more than 88 million people worldwide, identifies songs playing on the radio, on television or at a nightclub. According to the company, it is used about 500 million times each month to identify, or “tag,” an audio signal, which each year leads to more than $300 million in download sales.
The deal would let Warner executives use Shazam’s data to see what songs are catching on and where — potential signs of a breakout hit. Warner could use this data to sign new artists to a special Shazam imprint, and market them with Shazam’s help. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“There’s so much information that we’ve never had before as an industry, and Shazam is at the forefront of that,” said Rob Wiesenthal, chief operating officer of Warner Music. “When a consumer hears something he or she likes and holds up their phone, that enables us to learn more about the likes and dislikes of fans.”
Rich Riley, Shazam’s chief executive, said that big hits represent “a relatively small percentage” of the music tagged on the app, and that it is often used for songs by unsigned artists — the acts that Warner will be most interested in.
For Shazam, the Warner partnership is also an opportunity to move beyond its “name that tune” function and become more of a conduit for various forms of content. Last November, the company struck a deal with the media-services agency Mindshare to make it easier for advertisers to incorporate Shazam in campaigns.
“We want it to be the place you go for lyrics, the place you go to see video, the place you go to engage around a particular artist,” Mr. Riley said. “This is a big step in that direction.”
For the music industry, data is the new gold. A number of music companies have struck deals recently to help them comb through the noise of social media to see the early flickers of hits. Twitter is working with 300, a new company led by Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s former head of recorded music, and last month Gracenote and Next Big Sound, two music data specialists, said they would work together to develop a customizable Internet radio app.
But whether all this data can lead to more hits is unclear. Jim Lucchese, the chief executive of the Echo Nest, a music data company that works with Spotify, Sirius XM and others but was not involved with the Warner-Shazam deal, said that the challenge is not so much getting access to information as having the expertise to interpret it.
“The massive amount of data that’s available is incredibly exciting,” Mr. Lucchese said. “The reality is that there is a scarcity of people out there who really know how to make sense of it.”
ARTISTS / LABELS: Get your music on Shazam now with ONErpm! Click HERE to get started.
In the past 14 years, music industry revenues plummeted from $14.3 billion to $7 billion. People listen to more music than ever, but they do it on platforms like Spotify and Pandora, which pay artists fractions of pennies per play. Things aren’t much better on YouTube, where ad revenues for creators continues to fluctuate. With little monetary incentive, some worry that musicians will simply stop creating altogether. Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne went so far to say, “The Internet will suck all creative content out of the world.”
Is the state of affairs for musicians really so dire?
Not according to Pomplamoose singer Jack Conte. Last year with $2.1 million in funding, he launched Patreon, a platform where musicians, writers, cartoonists and other creators can solicit donations for their work. What makes Patreon a little different than Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that users subscribe to creators, paying them monthly for as long as they wish. Creators can offer small rewards for donations, but the focus is less on rewards and more on supporting artists for its own sake.
An intriguing new music discovery app has popped up on Apple’s App Store. It’s called Rewind Radio, and pitches itself as “the world’s first radio time machine” while promising that “music rediscovery is possible”.
The app, which we’ve been playing with this morning, prompts you to choose a decade, a year, or a season (e.g. Winter 1987) and then play music from that period, saving tracks as ‘moments’ for later access.
The caveat is that the music comes in the form of 30-second samples rather than full tracks, with a shopping-cart button to buy them from Apple’s iTunes Store. However, Rewind Radio also has a ‘Listen to Full Songs’ button, which prompts users to enter their Rdio login to stream full tracks via that service.
It’s thus the latest app to be built on Rdio’s platform, with that company competing with Spotify and Deezer to build an ecosystem of mobile app developers. The app is slick, social features are built in too, and the nostalgia angle isn’t one that’s been over-mined by discovery apps in recent times, so feels quite fresh.
Can it cut through the App Store clutter to find an audience, and then find a successful business model? That’s a challenge, as it is for all music apps, so we’ll watch Rewind Radio’s progress carefully.
Source: Musically (by Stuart Dredge)
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.
Music and sound recognition app Shazam had its biggest night ever during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards telecast. The company notifies its 10 million app users to tune in for exclusive content. They then Shazamed the show more than 1 million times, with 54,000 purchasing music by artists featured on the program.
Not Beyonce’ or Jay Z, but rather Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons saw the biggest spikes in Shazam activity, according to the company.
- More than 85 million monthly active users
- Shazam is available in 33 languages
- More than 15 million new fans added every month
- More than 15 million tracks are tagged, on average, each day
- Surpassed 12 billion tags
- More than 35 million tracks are currently in the Shazam database
- Drove more than $300 million in the sale of digital goods in the last 12 months
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
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.
With 2013 now behind us we are beginning to see the first full year sales numbers come in for 2013 and the long anticipated ability to assess the impact of streaming on the market. Until the IFPI annual revenue numbers come out we are mainly constrained to volume data which only paints half of the picture. This is especially true for streaming given the massive difference in revenue per stream for free versus paid, YouTube versus Spotify etc. But even within these constraints we have enough to start establishing a view, one that indicates the headline story may be more about transition than it is growth.
Nielsen’s numbers for the US show that digital track sales were down 5.7% and that digital albums were down 0.1% while albums as a whole were down 8.4%. In the UK the BPI reported that digital track sales were down 4.2% though digital albums were up 6.8%. Nielsen also reported a 103% rise in audio streams. Let’s assume that a significant portion of those increased streams will be coming from free users and that the impact on streaming revenue growth will therefore be around the 65% mark. That would translate into total US music market revenue growth of just under 1%, though if free usage is a bigger part of the picture then growth could be negative.
It is important to understand the appropriate context for the shift to streaming: it is fundamentally a transition of spending. Just as the download was a transition from the CD so streaming subscriptions are a transition from the download. This is because the majority of subscribers were already digital music buyers before becoming subscribers and the majority of those were iTunes customers. 50% of subscribers buy album downloads every month and 26% buy CDs every month (see figure). On the one hand this can be interpreted as the fantastic capacity of streaming to drive discovery and music purchasing. There is some truth in this, but it is an inherently temporary state of affairs. If streaming services do their job well enough there should be little or no reason for a subscriber to additionally buy music. They do so because consumers transition behavior gradually not suddenly. The fact that a third of download buyers still buy CDs illustrates the point.