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Credit Suisse Traders Keep Rockin’ Through Firings

Posted in A Day in the Life, Aged Inventory, Articles | No Comments »

Aged Inventory at Refi Rock 350 px

Credit Suisse Traders Keep Rockin’ Through Firings
By Dawn Kopecki

June 18 (Bloomberg) — The lead singer of Aged Inventory spent last year looking for a job after cutbacks at Credit Suisse Group AG. Three other members of the band, formed by mortgage-bond traders at the bank, no longer work there.The group has kept playing, belting out covers of U2’s “Vertigo” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” even as members have been shaken by the financial collapse. Front-man Allen Oppici, and saxophonist Jason Weyeneth, are working elsewhere on Wall Street, trumpeter Mike Marriott retired, and vocalist Carla Lynne Hall, has changed careers. “It’s the music that keeps us together,” Marriott, said from his vacation home in Naples, Florida. “The fact that I’m hanging out at the beach and a lot of guys have left the firm hasn’t diminished our desire to play together. ”

Aged Inventory, named for a bond that sits in a trading book for more than 60 days, is one of three acts with talent from mortgage-bond dealers playing in New York tonight at Refi Rock, a financial-industry charity fundraiser that has expanded to twice a year from annually. “It’s great when all these people work so hard and then you can go to an event like this and look at your coworker up on stage and for a minute, they’re a rock star,” said organizer Russell Middleton, a mortgage-bond trader who ended up at JPMorgan Securities Inc. after losing his job twice since 2007. More than 183,700 Wall Street workers have been fired in the past two years amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

1,400 Tickets Sold
Refi Rock’s Spring Fling grew out of Halloween fundraisers started in 2004 by Middleton, who continued the event after finding himself out of a job at HSBC Holdings Plc in 2007, and again in 2008 when Bear Stearns Cos. folded. Middleton said he has sold 1,400 tickets at $40 each to the event at the Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier moored in the Hudson River as a museum, and expects to reach the site’s 1,800-person capacity. “It’s a great way of doing something else than work Wall Street,” said participant John Ou, the lead guitarist for cover band Yellow Man. By day he is a director in the fixed-income group at Guggenheim Capital Markets LLC in New York. “Even though things have been challenging for the industry and economy, I think the community and Wall Street is still making charity a real priority,” Ou said.

$50,000 Raised
With today’s program, which starts at 7 p.m. New York time, Middleton said he’s trying to match the $50,000 Refi Rock raised in October for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a group named after the former National Football League quarterback that helps to fund cystic fibrosis research. The event is sponsored by Jersey City, New Jersey-based Tradeweb, an electronic bond and derivatives trading network owned by Thomson Reuters Corp.Half of Aged Inventory’s eight original band members still work at U.S. offices of Zurich-based Credit Suisse.

A ninth member, drummer Tom Graf, is a Credit Suisse client as a managing director of structured products at Boston-based Standish Mellon Asset Management Co., his second job since the financial crisis began in 2007. Marriott, who ran the structured products business at Credit Suisse, said he started seeking early retirement at the end of 2008 after having one of his best years at the bank. The hours and pressure were intense, he said, and the work was increasing, including a weekend when he helped the government value Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. assets before that investment bank’s unwinding in September. The father of three said he once worked 38 days without a break.

`That’s Enough’
“At some point you have to say that’s enough,” he said. Hall, the vocalist, began as an administrative assistant for Credit Suisse’s fixed-income desk and eventually moved to the human resources department. Credit Suisse cut her along with 500 other employees in the first quarter of 2008. “It was stressful because so many people were losing their jobs and morale was low,” said Hall, who is pursuing a music career full-time. “I’m much happier,” she said. “I feel like I’m living the life I always wanted.”

Oppici says he was fortunate to lose his job in November 2007, before firms started slashing bonuses and when Credit Suisse was trading above $64. The company’s American depositary receipts, each worth one ordinary share, rose 59 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $43.28 as of 9:47 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading.Last year “wasn’t a bad year to miss,” said Oppici, who didn’t work at all in 2008. Oppici performed at Credit Suisse’s 2007 holiday party a month after he lost his job. Marriott played with the band at his own retirement party in April. “The whole stigma about getting laid off and what that meant, it’s become different than what it was,” Marriott said. “It doesn’t mean you were a bad performer. A lot of jobs just disappeared and a lot of good people lost their jobs.”

###

This article originally appeared in Bloomberg Media, June 18, 2009

–Editors: Romaine Bostick, Larry Liebert.

Related blog post:
Refi Rock Tonight on the Intrepid!

To a Mother Concerned About File Sharing

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles, Carla and Goliath, DIY Diva, Indie Music, Music Blogosphere | 3 Comments »

Today’s post is inspired by a letter received from the Musician Wages website. A few music bloggers, including myself, are chiming in today for a group blogging event.

I have a teenage son who tells me his pirating music is no big deal. Since he is a musician himself, I point out to him that someday that’s going to be his money people are stealing. But he remains unphased.

He tells me the record sales make money for the record label, not the artist. He says that the artists make all their money from touring and live concerts. He thinks the pirated music promotes the concerts and therefore helps the artist make more money. I still don’t allow pirating in my house.

But tell me what you think – as artists out there having your work “shared,” are you just glad to have it being enjoyed, or does it bother you? Admittedly, he is stealing music that is recorded by major record labels, so maybe its different than the independent musician working for his living. But I’d still like to hear what you think.

Thanks,
Valerie

Hi Valerie-

First of all, let me commend you for supporting your son’s desire to be a musician, in addition to expressing your concern about the potential consequences of file sharing. Supportive parents for musicians are not a dime a dozen – thank you!

As Dave Hahn and Cameron Mizell from Musician Wages have mentioned, listening to lots of music is quite important for musicians. As a Studio Music & Jazz (and Music Industry) major at University of Miami, I had the benefit of a large music library where the students were required to listen to well-known, more established musicians in order to learn from them. Some of my favorite memories were from times spent at a library table with headphones, sharing vinyl albums with other students. But I also know that this musical education experience is not the norm for most aspiring musicians. And for the price I’ve paid (and continue to pay 😉 ) for my education, I probably could have purchased that music at the store. If file sharing had existed then, I probably would have participated.

The music industry is currently in a state of transition and confusion. The “old school” music business model provided that a record label would pay recording artists an advance to live on, and pay for marketing, distribution, and other promotion costs. The artist was then expected to sell enough “product” to recoup those expenses back before the label would give the artist more money. With this enormous overhead, only a small percentage of artists could actually recoup those expenses, so most labels would have a handful of Superstars (such as a Whitney Houston or Celine Dion), a few up & coming “baby bands” that were poised to break through the Billboard charts “with a bullet”, and a number of indie bands that most people have never heard of, but are big in their hometown or region. Many of those indie bands were unable to break through on a major scale. Furthermore, those indie bands were often dropped, disillusioned, and in debt.

Today’s “new school” music business model actually came to power because of digital file sharing. Previously, record labels had the advantage because they could control the distribution of their artists’ albums through stores, record clubs, etc. Today’s technology now enables music to be shared online with one person (or many) with a single click. While this is very convenient for the music consumer, this new way of distributing music enables those indie bands to actually make a living from selling music – without a record label. What a concept!! The downside is that these indie bands are not receiving an advance, so they’re on their own to raise money to record and go on tour. The upside is that the overhead for indie bands is now much lower, so they can actually make a profit from their music, or at least break even. Amazing!

As an indie musician, I also understand the importance of file sharing as a promotional tool. Without a traditional record label promotion machine behind me, one of my indie music promotion tools is giving away lots of free mp3s. An advantage that indie artists have is that recording costs are lower, thanks to home recording studios. We can offer alternate versions of tunes as free mp3s, and build our fanbase. Before we can sell our mp3s, people have to know that our music exists in the first place.

So in my mind, after creating good music, music marketing is Job #1. As CD Baby’s founder Derek Sivers warns musicians, “Obscurity is your real enemy. Fight obscurity until you’re a household name, then piracy will be more of a problem than obscurity.” There will always be piracy in the music industry, but I couldn’t honestly say that I’ve been a victim of thousands of people stealing my mp3s. But even if that were the case, I could live with that because that would also mean that a number of people are buying those mp3s as well. When you’re hot, you’re hot, and I don’t think you can have one side without the other.

Having said all that, I hope that recording and touring is something that your son may try himself one day. I heartily recommend it actually, because as an indie artist myself, there’s nothing like reviewing your sales stats, and knowing that you’ve made money from your music. And there’s no better way to understand and appreciate the business of music than to do it yourself. I wish you and your son the best.

Thank you for reading.

Carla Lynne Hall aka “The DIY Diva”

CLH, Cameron Mizell, and David Hahn
Me with Cameron Mizell and Dave Hahn from MusicianWages.com

Create a Vision Board for Your Music Goals

Posted in Articles, DIY Diva, Indie Music, The Great Give Back 2008 | 8 Comments »

Vision board-prosperous

Create a Vision Board for Your Music Goals
by Carla Lynne Hall

Creating a Vision Board for your and/or your band’s musical goals is a powerful way to set your musical intentions for the next year. As today is the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year), ancient civilizations believed that it is a powerful day for planting “spiritual seeds” as they waited for the Sun (and Spring) to return, but you can make a Vision Board any day of the year!

If you’ve read or seen The Secret, or you’re into the Law of Attraction, you’ve probably heard about Vision Boards by now. But if you haven’t, I’m happy to share my how-to’s!

What is a Vision Board?

Also known as a Treasure Map, it’s basically a collage of pictures and words that represent your goals. The purpose of a Vision Board is to inspire you, and keep you on track. If you have a band, this can be be a fun project to complete together.

Step One – Set Your Intentions

What do want to accomplish musically in the New Year? Here are some ideas to get you started:

* Get booked at the hottest venue in town
* Tour Europe
* Open for a major label artist
* Sell 500 (or more!) CDs
* Record or complete a CD
* Have 100 paying guests at a gig
* Play a solo gig
* Learn to play a new instrument
* Take vocal lessons
* Start or join a band

Step Two – Find and/or Create Pictures to Represent Your Goals

One way is to get a stack of old magazines, and cut out pictures and captions that represent your goal.

musicmags

Another way is to go to Google Images and flickr and search to your heart’s content. Print out pictures and sentences that are meaningful to you.

Be sure to include pictures of yourself and your band!

Step Three – Make Your Collage

With a glue stick (probably the cleanest method), or other adhesive, arrange your pictures and captions
on poster board, or a bulletin board. You can also use a sketchbook or scrapbook if you like.

Let your imagination be your guide!

Step Four – Keep Your Vision Board In View

The whole point of a Vision Board is to keep your eye on your vision. If you prefer to keep your Vision
Board in a scrapbook, be sure to review it often. If your band rehearses in someone’s garage, there’s no
better place for a band’s Vision Board to be. I once visited a singer who had her Vision Board framed and hung
on her living room wall, which I thought was a nice touch. The cliche is true: Out of sight, out of mind!

Another idea that I learned from musician Luna Jade is to create a Vision Board on your computer desktop. This is a great way to keep your vision within sight!

Here are some of the pics from my Vision Board. If you’re handy with Photoshop, you can also do cool things like put your band’s photo on the cover of Rolling Stone!

Vision board-Billboard
My CD Supernova #1 on Billboard

Vision board-healthy
Me with J.Lo’s body 😉

Thanks to the magic of flickr, I was also able to find pics of other Vision Board examples to give you more ideas:

Vision Board- sample1

vision board-sample2

Obviously, my focus here is music, but you can also create Vision Boards for your personal life, for other goals like taking a great vacation, and meeting your Soulmate. If you have kids (or not), this is also a fun project that you can do as a family.

Be as creative as you want, and have fun with your Vision Board!

No One is Coming

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles, DIY Diva, Indie Music | 2 Comments »

DesertIslandDiscs.jpg 350

I think it’s important for every person from every background (not only musicians) to consider this thought:

“No one is coming.”

As depressing as this sounds at the outset, I find it empowering because it is the truth. While it would be lovely to have someone come and shower us with money and opportunities, that’s not the way the world works.

If you really take that thought in, and digest it, your response will make the difference in your career.

When we’re NOT expecting someone to take over the reins, only then can we understand that we are the only ones who can make anything happen. It’s up to us to create the energy and the heat for our career, which in turn will create those opportunities that we seek.

Investors and agents are more interested in how you handle your BUSINESS, and they’re mostly interested in how they’re going to get a return on their investment. If you’re not already creating $500,000 worth of excitement for your music, why should they invest $500,000 in you?

It’s easy to assume that you’ll make the big moves AFTER you get the investors, but if you’re not already making $500,000 moves and decisions now (in time and effort), how can you expect to be taken seriously??

“No one is coming.”

So what are you gonna do about that?

###

This post originally appeared as a comment response to Derek Sivers’ blog post: Nobody’s going to help you. Does that encourage you or discourage you? Derek got me all fired up, and after rereading what I wrote, it looked like a good rant to me 😉

Image Credit: Colin Dussault’s Blues Project, “The Hardest Working Band in Northeast Ohio!”

DIY Band Holiday Crafts

Posted in Articles, The Great Give Back 2008 | No Comments »

Holiday Band Ornaments

Thanks to a tip from Pitchfork (via Artists House), I learned about Oregon’s Glass Caster Union offering up its second year of indie rock themed holiday ornaments, featuring bands like Built to Spill, Bright Eyes, and Iron and Wine.

I found this to be a cool idea that any band can use to treat their fans to a special treat during the holiday season. While you don’t have to use glass like the Glass Casters Union, you can use other materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments for your fans.

Band Holiday Ornament How-to’s:

* With a digital camera, take holiday photos of your band: the goofier the better 😉

* Cut into holiday shapes (Christmas trees, stars, dreidels, etc)

* Laminate or place photo within full sheet clear Avery labels.

* Cut away extra plastic

* Punch hole at the top, and string ribbon or yarn through the hole for hanging

While you’re taking those holiday band photos, also consider sending band holiday cards, thanks to this tip from Christopher Penn

DIY holiday cards

There are places online – tons – where prints are 8 cents per print for 4×6 prints. I don’t mean the gimmicky holiday cards, just straight photo prints that you can write on the back of.

If you take the photos yourself, you’re making a custom gift with personal involvement AND saving a ton of money over regular holiday cards. Use free photo editing software like Photoshop Express (understanding that there are intellectual property issues with it, like giving up some rights, but for holiday cards, who cares?) and make some cheap yet thoughtful holiday greetings.

I’m going to try my hand at holiday ornaments this year, and I’d love to see pics of any bands out there who make their own holiday ornaments or greeting cards. Send pics to moxiemaven64 [AT] gmail [DOT] com, and I’ll post them on the site!

Happy crafting!

How to Leave Your Day Gig

Posted in Articles, Recession Proof Musician | 2 Comments »

Today’s article is an updated version of an older one that I wrote for MusicDish.com, originally titled “How to Quit Your Day Job”. I suppose it may seem odd to include it now, but in my own experience, people don’t always leave their day jobs by choice, and these ideas still apply. This year marks the second time that I’ve ever been laid off in my life, but this time I was planning for it. I had declared that I wanted to work for myself, and the universe generously made that happen 😉

If you find yourself without your former day job, that means it’s time to try something else. In a year or so, you’ll be saying how getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to you. But in the meantime, here are some ideas for alternative ways to create a living.

Leaving the Day Gig for Good

How to Leave a Day Job
by Carla Lynne Hall

Wouldn’t it be great to quit your job and do nothing but music? Sure!! Just tell your boss to shove it, and kiss your cubicle goodbye. The possibility of pursuing music full-time exists, but you have to plan your strategy carefully. Many musicians get dreamy-eyed when the subject is discussed, but their eyes glaze over when it comes to doing the math. Being a well-fed musician is a reality for some, but it’s not a move to make impulsively. If you’re serious about pursuing nothing but music, you will need to consider similar guidelines before diving in:

Breathe

If you find yourself without a job suddenly, do not panic. Remember that many successful people have found themselves without a job at one time or another, and that this time will eventually pass.

Do Your Research
Find out what other musicians are doing to create full-time income. The best time to find out is while you’re still employed, and can try things out on a part-time basis. Do not quit your job without having a solid plan of action that you have already put into motion.

Create a Budget

How much money have you made annually from your regular job in the past three years? Where does your money go? Find out exactly how much money you’ll need to live on. Don’t neglect considerations like health insurance and future CD recordings.

Decide What You are Willing to Do
Would you consider moving to a smaller city with a lower cost of living? Will you live with your parents, have a lover support you, or seek investors? Are you willing to cut some luxuries in order to lower your overhead? Are you prepared to spend a lot of time “working the phone”? Can you turn down gigs that pay little or no money, and hustle for the ones that will fill your pockets?

Create Multiple Sources of Income

Would you consider wedding bands, cover gigs, being the occasional side player in order to pay the bills? If you’re computer-savvy, could you build websites or design graphics for others? If you have office experience, perhaps you can be a virtual assistant who works from home. Can you produce CDs for other bands? Make a list of all your talents and offer them to people who need them. Craigslist.com is a great start for this.

Learn Something New
Why not diversify yourself, and learn a new skill that can bring in more income? Computer-based skills like graphic or web design are always in demand. And learning these skills help you save money when you use them on behalf of your music.

Stay Within Your Budget
Avoid “retail therapy”, or other bad spending habits in order to make yourself feel better. This creates more debt, that will only cause you to feel worse in the long-run. As personal finance maven Suze Ormond says, “I don’t care what you do. Go take a walk. Fly a Kite. But do not spend money you don’t have.”

Have Backup Funds Available
There will inevitably be times when your month lasts longer than your funds. Maybe you’ll need extra money to record new demos. Or to take care of an unexpected expense. It pays to have skills that you can use occasionally to get through the lean times. Make sure that it’s a flexible job that pays well without sucking you back into the corporate world. Excellent jobs in this category include: carpentry/handyman work, temporary office help, waiting tables, virtual assistant, and nude dancing (I’m only half joking).

Create a schedule
When your music becomes your source of income, you will need to spend a lot of time working on your business. If you want to use an agent or a manager, remember that their cut will come from your pocket. You may be better off handling it yourself. Nerissa Nields, from the acoustic rock band The Nields, developed a schedule of working in her home office three weeks a month, managing the band’s business. The remaining week was spent writing new songs. Her husband, also in the band, held a teaching job. They also chose to live in Connecticut instead of New York. Their expenses were relatively low, and they were close to their New England fan base. In the late 90’s, their band toured constantly, and had a mailing list of over 20,000 people. Your choices may be different, but business time will be a necessity.

Other important things you’ll need to have are persistence and determination. Without those qualities, your dream is nothing more than a wish. But with them, you’re on your way to becoming your own boss.

Success Leaves Clues

Posted in Articles, Recession Proof Musician | No Comments »

ScavHunt1.jpg

Success Leaves Clues
by Carla Lynne Hall

Excerpted from The DIY Guide to the Music Biz

So you want to be a rock star? Or perhaps you want to sell 5,000 copies of your CD? Or maybe you just want to pack the house for your next gig. “How do I do that?” you ask. In this life, there are no guarantees, but one way to become closer to your goals is to study how other successful musicians and performers got where they are. I’m not just talking about Behind the Music, although those shows are an education of their own. I mean studying the techniques that others have used to become successful.

In Anthony Robbins groundbreaking book Unlimited Power, he writes, “Success leaves clues. It means that if I see anyone in this world producing a result I desire, I can produce the same results if I’m willing to pay the price of time and effort. If you want to achieve success, all you need to do is find a way to model those who have already succeeded.”

This is a brilliant concept. Even if you tried, there is no way that you could really be a clone of anyone else. However, you can still learn skills from the best if you’re willing to put in the time. Be original, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

We live in a wonderful time where information is as close as our fingertips, thanks to the Internet. A visit to the Google search engine can lead you to new ideas to take you closer to your dreams of success. Reality shows such as American Idol and Making the Band give you a private (although biased) peek into the world of the platinum-plated music industry. If you’ve decided that you want to reach the top, then you have to do your research before you get there.

A Hustler’s Guide to Gig Promotion

Posted in Articles, Recession Proof Musician | 4 Comments »

art-is-my-hustle.jpg

A Hustler’s Guide to Gig Promotion
by Carla Lynne Hall

The saying “The early bird catches the worm” is based in fact. In the professional concert industry, a concert promoter “advances” a show in the months and weeks before a major artist is scheduled to perform. That basically means that he or she will do everything possible to promote the show and bring paying fans to come out. Even if you haven’t hit the big leagues yet, there’s no reason why you can’t follow their example in your hometown.

Some suggestions may be considered “beneath” a normal recording star, but until you reach the top, take every possible advantage to get the word out. These guidelines are based on the best possible lead times, which make it easier for fans and journalists to put your show in their schedules. When you’re performing multiple shows, your promotion duties may overlap a bit. It may not be possible to do all of the things listed here, but the main thing is to step up your guerrilla marketing skills. Rehearsals are not included in this list because it’s a given.

As soon as you get a date from the club booker:
Check a calendar to avoid slow holidays and possible double bookings
Get a poster to the club with photo, show date and time
Make flyers for handing out
Update ALL of your band’s web sites

Four weeks before show:
Send press releases to music editors in local papers. Invite them!!
Send press releases to local and college radio stations.

Three weeks before show:
Follow up with music editors and radio contacts
Send gig notices to community calendar/event listings (fax, email, or snail mail)

21 Days up til the day of show:

Mingle and schmooze at other local band gigs
Go to local music business events
Go anywhere that has potential fans
Hand out flyers and music samplers (if you have them)

14 Days up til the day of show:

Mail snail mail flyers (no later than 14 days before)
Confirm that posters are in a visible spot at the venue
Personally go to the venue and hand out flyers to audiences similar to yours
Perform at an open mic or two. Announce show & give out flyers.
Make sure that local stores carrying your CD are well-stocked.

7 Days before show:
Send notice to your email list
Give an in-store performance at an indie – friendly store
Perform live on a local or college radio show
– Hold an interview
– Give away tickets and/or free CD for lucky listener

2 Days before show:

Send reminder to your email list

Day before show:
Rest. You’ve earned it.

Show Day:
Give nothing less than a great show
Announce the availability of your CDs onstage
Announce your web site address onstage
Have CDs, merch, and mailing list available immediately afterwards

Day After Show:
Send thank you notes & emails
Perform gig followups (updating your blog, posting audience photos, etc)
Start booking your next show

Rinse and repeat this formula for each performance, and watch your fanbase grow!

###

Originally published in MusicDish.com

Motown’s Secrets of Success – DIY Style

Posted in Articles, Recession Proof Musician | No Comments »

Motown’s Secrets of Success – DIY Style
by Carla Lynne Hall

MOTOWN.jpg

Berry Gordy, the founder and CEO of legendary Motown Records developed a simple plan in the early days of his record company:

“I broke down my whole operation into three functions: Create, Make, Sell. I felt any business had to do that. Create something, Make something and then Sell it. Using this phrase as a slogan kept my thinking in focus.”

The Create phase was writing, producing, and recording. The Make phase was manufacturing and pressing of the records. The Sell phase involved placing records with distributors, getting airplay, marketing and advertising. After implementing this plan, distribution difficulties made him add,

“It had become very clear to me that my Create, Make and Sell slogan had to be revised. We had to now focus more on one thing: getting our money – collecting. Because I felt that Create and Make were pretty close to the same thing, I dropped the make and changed the slogan to Create, Sell and COLLECT.”

While the specific methods have changed since Berry Gordy ran Motown, the requirements for being a successful, recession-proof musician have not changed. If you’d like to increase your musical income, review this list to see where you can make improvements or additions to your current music marketing strategy:


Create:

Write killer songs
Have a great live show
Develop an identifiable image

Sell:
Set realistic and tangible sales goals for your music
Perform/tour as much as possible
Contact the media on a regular basis
Go to music business networking events
Find paying gigs in non-traditional venues
Have a band blog with a solid domain name
Maintain and build your mailing list
Have CDs and merchandise at all shows
Sell your CDs on your website(s)
Sell your CDs on online retailers such as CDBaby.com and Amazon.com
Open for bigger acts traveling through your town
Always have an upcoming gig to promote
Hand out flyers all the time

Collect:
Evaluate your results each month
Have a designated person at shows to sell CDs
Hire a competent accountant to help with your taxes

Article originally published January 2001 for MusicDish.com: Updated November 2008.

Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians: Finding Your SEO Keyword Niche Part 2

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles, DIY Diva, Indie Music | 6 Comments »

Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians: Finding Your SEO Keyword Niche Part 2
by Carla Lynne Hall

In Part 1 of “Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians: Finding Your SEO Keyword Niche”, we learned about a bluegrass musician from South Carolina participating in the Thirty Day Challenge. During the Thirty Day Challenge TV Show on Day 12, “Mr. Bluegrass” (as I’ll call him here) asked Ed Dale if he could try the niche “bluegrass south carolina”. Ed thought it was fine, but a few enterprising Challengers in the internet TV show’s found the search numbers too low. So what does Mr. Bluegrass do now?

After last night’s internet show ended, I immediately started a case study to find a way for Mr. Bluegrass to get better search numbers. In addition, I worked out a SEO strategy that can be used by musicians and other creative types. This strategy will be featured in a future article here (or maybe even a video if I’m really cooking!), but for now, I just want to send a helpful lifeline to a fellow musician in South Carolina.

For the sake of simplicity, and future visitors to this blog post, I am using Google search numbers for my research. If you’re a lucky participant of the Thirty Day Challenge, the Market Samurai research tool will provide even more results.

First, let’s start with Mr. Bluegrass’ original choice of niche: “bluegrass south carolina”

Remember, according to the Thirty Day Challenge guidelines, a keyword can be a market when it gets 2400-3000 searches per month, and has less than 30,000 competing webpages.

If you do the Google search first, you’ll see that there are only six competing pages on the exact phrase. Having only six competing pages sounds great, right? But then I went to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, and found that there were an average of 390 searches on Google per month. While 390 searches a month on “bluegrass south carolina” is good, a keyword with 2400-3000 searches a month would be better. How do we find a compatible keyword niche for Mr. Bluegrass?

For today’s strategy, I simply entered a musical category for my Google search, and drilled my way down til I found possibly compatible sub-niches. While “bluegrass music” gets 60,500 Google searches each month, which is too large for our purposes, there are attractive sub-niches. I have listed my favorite bluegrass sub-niches below (along with suggestions):

“bluegrass gospel music”
3600 average monthly searches/816 competing websites

If Mr. Bluegrass plays in a bluegrass gospel band, that would be perfect, as he can blog about his band and others ’til the cows come home. Otherwise, he could just start a blog on his favorite bluegrass gospel bands.

“country bluegrass music”
2400 average monthly searches/ 899 competing websites

This is a good generic sounding keyword that can be used. Remember, it doesn’t matter that you or I may never refer to bluegrass music as “country bluegrass music”. What’s important is that a large group of people are using that term in search engines each month, so it’s valid.

“bluegrass music festivals”
1600 average monthly searches/816 competing websites

Since Mr. Bluegrass would be interested in this topic anyway, he could start a blog about bluegrass festivals around the US, being sure to also include stories about his own band, and their experiences.

“Bill Monroe music”
1600 average monthly searches/13,500 competing websites

Bill Monroe is a famous bluegrass musician, and bluegrass fans would enjoy visiting a tribute blog.

Interestingly enough, “bluegrass north carolina” also came up in this search:
1900 average monthly searches/1520 competing websites

According to these numbers, people think more about North Carolina when they think of bluegrass music. Perhaps Mr. Bluegrass could create a North Carolina vs South Carolina bluegrass blog: Who can fiddle the fastest? Whose band has been around longer?

Using the Thirty Day Challenge guidelines, Mr. Bluegrass can add two of the larger keyword niches to his original choice, and be on his way to dominating the online bluegrass world!