My friends at Guguchu have created some sweet music promotion tools, and this month they’re sponsoring a contest to win a FREE iPad and StudioTrack 8-track audio recording app for creating the best band page!!
This contest for the best band page will run for the full month of June 2010 on the Contests tab of the Guguchu Facebook page. Submit your band page and win an iPad that also works as your recording studio, and other prizes!
Guguchu is on a mission to provide the best online tools for bands and their managers for gig booking, fan development, communication, promotion, distribution, and more. They provide easy-to-use web apps for gig booking, fan development, communication, promotion, distribution, and more.
Ariel Hyatt has done it again! After laughing at Billboard’s recent “Maximum Exposure List” (marketing strategies that only the superstar musicians could even pray to attain), Ariel reached out to her dream team of indie music rock stars to compile a list of tactics that the rest of us can actually use!!!
I’m not above mentioning that I’m on her dream team, and that my tips are included in this amazing white paper. Especially as I’m in good company with other cool indie music peeps like Rick Geotz, Derek Sivers, Lou Plaia, Tom Silverman and more! And it’s FREE!
Visit HYPEBOT blog to learn more about this indie music breakthrough white paper.
Ariel Hyatt is the founder of Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR, a New York-based digital firm that connects artists, authors and filmmakers to blogs, podcasts, Internet radio stations and social media sites. Educating musicians is her passion and her philosophy is: combine social media with internet marketing to help artists grow their fanbases and increase their income. This is the subject of her book, Music Success in Nine Weeks, which has helped hundreds of musicians navigate the Social Media landscape.
It has been a great year musically, but I’ve decided to skip a “Best of 2008 Music” list in favor of listing my personal list of “Best Indie Music Web Resources of 2008”. And as I’ve designated December 2008 for “The Great Give Back 2008”, I’m not limiting my list to a measly 10 either. All of the below sites have been a source of great information and/or inspiration for me this year, and I’m grateful to have found them online.
Rock Star Life Lessons’ “Best Indie Music Web Resources of 2008”
by Carla Lynne Hall
About.com Music Careers
Heather McDonald’s About.com Music Careers site covers the music industry topics that musicians need, from being a musician, contracts and publishing, industry careers and more. Heather is a music industry veteran, having tons of experience in indie labels, marketing and publicity. I’ll be featuring an interview with her later this month, and you’ll see why top-rated About.com has her running the Music Careers site.
Ariel Publicity’s Cyber PR Service
Ariel Hyatt and her team gets reviews and placements for her clients (Yes, I’m one of them!) on podcasts and internet radio, and is an amazing resource. Whether your musical style is rock, pop, or urban, check out the link to watch a demo video for her Cyber PR Service. If you’re more of the DIY type, then get her eBook Music Success in 9 Weeks, in which she shares her tips and secrets for building a buzz for your band. With the purchase of her eBook, you also get to join her private Cyber PR Mastermind forum for free. Since I happen to also be the forum manager, you’ll have TWO coaches, plus a supportive community of musicians joining you on the road to success.
Artists House has got to be my favorite industry music blog and Twitter partner this year. Every time I visit this site, I lose myself for hours in the sheer volume of great content. And if you’re following @artistshouse on Twitter, you are sure to learn about the latest trends that they find all over the internet. I’ve stopped trying to keep up with them. It’s best just to visit their site directly, and soak it all in. You won’t be sorry!
Bands need newsletters, right? Well Band Letter makes it easy for you by designing a customized html newsletter for you to send to your email list. In addition to enabling you to keep your fans up to date, you can also make your newsletter a mini-store for you and your band by including links to merchandise, and even your songs on iTunes. I had been trying to take my former snail mail newsletter online for a while this year, but I was constantly frustrated at my efforts at doing it myself. Finally, I signed up for this service, and designer Kevin Greenstein has made my life so much easier – and saved me from pulling out my hair. As much as we indie musicians love to do things ourselves, it’s also good to delegate. Thanks Band Letter!!!
Bob Baker’s The Buzz Factor Blog
Bob Baker has been THE VOICE of indie music promotion for as long as I can remember. Whether you read his Guerrilla Music Marketing or MySpace Music Marketing eBooks, or visit his blog, attend his events, or just listen to his advice, you will be blown away by the generosity of the information he shares.
Now that Derek Sivers has sold CD Baby to Disc Makers, he is still scratching his itch to help indie musicians. On his personal site, he shares his unique perspective of the indie music scene and indie musicians. His upcoming new project MuckWork, will “help you make a living with your music, by doing your uncreative dirty work for you, so you can focus on playing, writing, and improving.” Love that!
Hypebot is the first website that I found this year that used the term “Musician Middle Class” – what an empowering concept! This site features tons of articles and tips for the musicians who are serious about getting the job done.
Indie Band Survival Guide
Co-authors Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are lead members of Beatnik Turtle, a rock band based out of Chicago. They play live, have produced eighteen albums, written music for television, films, and comedy shows at Second City, and licensed music to ABC Family, all without a label. They’ve also created a website with TONS of resources for you to use. Oh, and they also published a book of the same name on St. Martin’s Griffin Publishing. Wow!
Kavit Haria is a tabla musician in London who also consults about the music business. He has a great mind for marketing and strategy, and I’ve enjoyed a number of his books, in addition to his blog this year. He is a huge proponent for musicians becoming music entrepreneurs – musopreneurs – and taking their power into their own hands. I’m also working with Kavit on an international musician project that you’ll be hearing about in 2009, and I can’t wait because it will be very tasty!
Know the Music Biz
I met David Rose this year through the Cyber PR Mastermind Group, and was amazed at the amount of information and articles on his site. You may have even read one of his articles here! To keep his blog fresh, he also includes many guest bloggers, and the marketing strategies he presents are effective and affordable.
Love him or hate him, Bob Lefsetz is always keeping it real during his rants on the music industry.
Madalyn Sklar’s Music Biz Blog
Also founder of GoGirls Music.com (Cuz Chicks Rock!), Madalyn offers her down to earth wisdom for indie musicians. If you ever meet her in person, she’s just like that for real. Love her!
How can I not include this blog that’s dedicated to the working musician? Here you can find out what to take with you on that cruise ship gig you just booked, as well as how to haul your gear on mass transit. This is also where I found Cameron Mizell’s article on selling original music on iTunes, which by itself was awesome!
New Music Strategies
Andrew Dubber is a gentleman, scholar, and a DJ. Ian Wallman from Output production call’s New Music Strategies a “site that both informs and stimulates ‘fresh & forward thinking’ about an industry that’s in its greatest period of change since the introduction of the wax cylinder”. Need I say more?
I love Reverb Nation for the TOYS!!! This site has all the free coolest widgets, fan sign ups, and band newsletter templates to keep you busy for a long time. And did I mention that it’s FREE?
Sound Music, Sound Money
I really love where Doug Ross is coming from. As a full-time musician for 20 years (without getting famous or going broke!), he shares what he knows about personal finance, so we can learn how to keep – and grow – what we earn.
Thirty Day Challenge
In August of this year, I joined thousands of people worldwide to participate in the 4th Annual Thirty Day Challenge. Led by Ed Dale, the Australian guitarist turned internet marketer, we all learned the basics of niche marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). I practiced my new tricks on test blogs, and have been tweaking Rock Star Life Lessons ever since. This was also free, so there was no charge for the awesomeness!
Tone Box Digital
Can’t forget to mention Tone Box Digital, the online music label that’s going against the big dogs for WIRED.com’s Small Business Contest. Run by Jason Bradford, this digital label is founded on the idea that the artist always makes the most money. Tell me THAT’s not a new music business model!! Check out the contest, and Vote for Tone Box Digital while you’re at it! 😉
Ah, what else can I say about Twitter? For one thing, if you’re reading this blog post, there’s a damn good chance that you heard about it via Twitter, so that’s a good reason for a plug right there. If you are a musician, and you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out. Nuff said!
At the musician website Hypebot, agent Bruce Houghton has been leading many discussions to help define what the musician middle class looks like. As these debates are very encouraging for musicians who seek to make a full-time living, I’m including one of my favorite articles of his on the subject, which was a two-part series. Feel free to chime in below with your comments.
The Emerging Musical Middle Class
by Bruce Houghton
I wrote on Monday about the emerging Musical Middle Class – a world populated by more artists selling 20-100,00 copies and making a living through direct sales, touring, merch and other streams; and because there are fewer outsiders taking a cut. They are empowered by the viral marketing and direct sales that the net enables. In my work as an agent, its a new paradigm that I see clearly even though its just starting to take shape.
Fair points, but the bands I see forming the emerging musical middle class are not the indie buzz bands that go it on their own and fail to sell the units that label bands do. Those were acts of trying to play the old game with new rules. The bands I’m speaking of (examples in the original article) are flying below the industry’s radar and by selling via gigs and their web site, the majority of units never reach Soundscan.
The skepticism may also come in how we view the term middle class. I see it defined as having “a comfortable standard of living, significant economic security, considerable work autonomy and rely on their expertise to sustain themselves.” We may not know exactly what the Musical Middle Class looks like or how they will get there. We do know it’s not about limos and private jets. But that still beats having to make music only on weekends.
Bruce Houghton blogs daily on the new music industry and technology at Hypebot.com. He is also a 25 year music industry veteran who owns booking agency Skyline Music and the tour marketing company Skyline Innovations.
With Pat Woodward and Duncan Freeman, Bruce also co-hosts ArtistDish, a 30 minute podcast about the state of the indie music industry, its trends and tools impacting independent artists, labels, managers, etc.
Bruce also consults on the topics of Music Industry & Technology, and serves on the Visionary Committee of MidemNet.
Working in music can mean an almost constant struggle to find the money to keep things going. Whether you’re a band in need of money to tour or a label in need of cash to press some CDs, it seems like it is ALWAYS something. Music business funding is never easy, but you do have options. Find out how to uncover the cash you need to make your music career dreams take off.
How To Pay for Your Music Career
by Heather McDonald
1. Identify Your Needs
You know that you need money to get your musical endeavor off the ground, but one of the most important steps in getting the money you need is figuring out just how much of it is going to be required. Hint: the answer is not “as much as possible.” Figuring out a realistic budget for your project will help you keep everything running smoothly and will help your case when it’s time to start applying for loans/grants. For instance, you don’t need $100,000 to do an indie release – ending up with more money than you need leads to bad spending. Start your project off right with understanding your costs.
2. Put It In Writing
If you’re going to apply for a small business loan or for a grant from an arts council or other funding body, you’re going to need a business plan. Even if you’re planning on financing your music project with your own credit cards, writing a business plan forces you to think about the potential of your project and how you can make it happen. Your business plan should include:
* Overview of the project
* Details about the market/consumers/similar businesses
* Projected returns (including how long it will take to see returns)
* Marketing plans
* Your qualifications (info about career, education, etc)
3. Investigate Your Sources
The available sources for music business funding vary from location to location to location. For instance, people in the UK are lucky enough to have a network of arts councils who are a first stop for grants to get musical projects under way. In the US, there are few grants in place and most people have to try for traditional small business loans. The best way to learn about what is available to you where you live is to ask around among your fellow musicians and check out your local government website for more information.
4. Approach Your Sources
After you’ve identified the people most likely to come through with funding for you, it’s time to start making your pitch. One thing you should keep in mind here is that yes, you’re trying to work in the music business, which can be a bit more laid back and casual than a traditional industry – but the people whose money you want will almost always be more “business-y” types. Showing up late to a meeting wearing last night’s clothes and smelling like you bathed in lager? Not so good. Be professional and give the impression that you are capable of pulling off your proposed venture.
5. Get Ready for the Long Haul
Getting funding for any business can be tough, but the creative industries are a special case (largely because the people who control the purse strings are secretly convinced we can’t be trusted to manage the money). Finding money can take a long time, and you may have to apply for money from several sources to fund one music project. When you’re planning your project, make sure to build in plenty of time to tap into the right funding sources.
1. Look for the RIGHT Funding Source
Sure, when you want to get your project off the ground, it can be tempting to take an “I’ll worry about that later” attitude towards loans and debts you are racking up. In the long term, if you spend unwisely at the beginning, you won’t have anything left to make sure your project gets the push it needs. High interest loans and credit cards might seem like a fast and easy way to get things rolling, but they should be your last resort. If you have to take on some debt, take the time to make sure it will be manageable enough to let you pay it off and keep your project going.
2. Get Help When You Need It
Even where there are no nice arts councils or arts grant sources, there usually are groups to help small businesses get their stuff together. If you need help writing a business plan or coming up with a budget, do a quick internet search for small business assistance groups in your area. You may be able to get free (or very cheap) assistance in putting together a professional proposal that will help you get the cash you need.
3. Do Your Homework
This is especially important if you are looking for funding to start a business like a record label – make sure you REALLY understand your market and what you are getting into. Just because you’re a music fan and read a lot of music magazines doesn’t mean you really know how the business side of music works. If you don’t have any specific experience in the part of the music industry you want to get into, investigate before you take the plunge. Seek out other people who are doing what you want to do and get their input so you have a clearer picture what’s required and who your customers will be.
Heather McDonald blogs about music at About.com Guide to Music Careers
Heather has worked in the music industry since her teen years. She started out sitting behind a record store counter, first as an employee and then as the manager of a small, independent record store. During her time at the record store, Heather worked closely with both major and indie labels on new release promotion and worked on in-store performances from artists across all genres.
Heather then moved to Glasgow, Scotland and worked at the Shoeshine Records indie label. There, Heather got to do a little of everything: dealing with manufacturing and distribution, securing international licensing agreements, artist management, tour booking, show promotion and album promotion.
Heather now works as a freelance writer, covering music for many print and web outlets. She also works in PR for various bands and record labels. She is currently involved in the set up of a label designed to give Caribbean based musicians opportunities in the US and Europe.
Madalyn Sklar is the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com (‘Cuz Chicks Rock!), and an all-round cool gal with tons of music biz know-how and resources. Read her bio below to find more places where she shares her knowledge.
Focus On What You Desire
by Madalyn Sklar
We all have dreams of what we want. Some of us want to be rich and famous rock stars while others would be content just making a decent living doing music. Our desires come in all shapes and sizes. But what typically lacks is taking the action necessary to make your dreams and desires come true.
I found this quote a long time ago and it says a lot…
“Remember, success in anything is all about focus, and if you focus on what’s critical, then you’ll get the results that you need to get right now.”
Focus. It’s one of the hardest things for us to do. We get caught up in every day life. And our families. And our work life. You know I can go on and on. But I won’t because you can focus, you just have to set your mind to it.
It’s November and the end of the year is fast approaching. Now is the time to focus and take action. What are your three most important goals you would like to accomplish by year-end? Jot it down. Every day you should look at your list. Focus on it. Take action on it. Do something every day! It will bring you one step closer to achieving what you want.
Another way to hyper focus on what you want is to remove the things that interrupt you like email, surfing the web, tv, your phone. It’s so easy to get distracted. If you can just remove all distractions for an hour and really focus I promise you will be amazed at your results.
So what are you waiting for? Your dreams and desires await you!
Copyright © 2008 Madalyn Sklar, IndieMusicCoach
Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She founded IndieMusicCoach and has spent over 12 years working with a wide range of independent musicians all over the world. Her goal is to help indie artists achieve greater success in the music business by working smarter not harder. She is also the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians, with a vision of bringing together and empowering musicians from around the world.
Madalyn is available for one-on-one consulting and coaching at affordable prices. Check out Indie Music Coach for more info.
While planning the first week of articles for “The Recession Proof Musician”, I thought it was important to talk about your VISION. After all, how will you know you’ve reached your destination if you don’t know what it is?
Coincidentally, Jason Bradford, musician and online label owner posed similar questions on his blog, The Blogford Files, and I’m reprinting them here to encourage you to think about your vision of success. If you feel like answering them below, great, but I also suggest that you include your answers on Jason’s blog as well. At the very least, you’ll get two links back to your music website! 😉 Later this month, I’ll be interviewing Jason for more in-depth knowledge! Stay tuned!
Define Your “Next Level”
by Jason Bradford
1. As an indie artist or someone who works with indie artists what do you feel is missing to take you to the next level?
2. Can you define your “next level”?
3. Do you believe a major label will help more or less in your career?
4. Do you work on your music career like you would with any job or goal?
5. Do you have digital distribution? Worldwide?
6. What are you doing online to market, share your music & build your fan base?
Motown’s Secrets of Success – DIY Style
by Carla Lynne Hall
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:
Write killer songs
Have a great live show
Develop an identifiable image
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
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.
As promised, November 1, 2008 kicks off The Recession Proof Musician series here at Rock Star Life Lessons.
The Recession Proof Musician is my month-long series of articles and interviews with musicians, music biz and marketing experts, and other thought leaders who have all broadened my vision of success in some way. I feel it’s my duty, as well as an honor and privilege to share these ideas, as I know that if they helped me, they can also help other musicians reach their goals.
As a musician who’s lived in NYC since 1995, I have seen my share of musicians give up their dreams in order to “make a living”, and that always made me sad. Being a musician is not the easiest path, but as you musicians know, there’s nothing else like expressing yourself in words and music in front of an audience that gets you. To be a musician is a worthy goal, and I’d like to help you hold on to your dreams, and stay on your path. As the month continues, please return to Rock Star Life Lessons, and check in on the guest bloggers who will be chiming in with insightful thoughts and ideas that have the power to turn your music career around. I have hand-picked each of the great guest blogs that you’ll be seeing based on their ability to inspire at least one idea that made me take, change, or consider an action.
In other words, November 2008’s blog will be filled with powerful words that I am so excited to share that I almost wish I could just post it all in one day. But we must pace ourselves! Thought leaders like Bob Baker (Guerrilla Music Marketing), Ariel Hyatt (Music Success in Nine Weeks), Ed Dale (Thirty Day Challenge), and many more will be sharing their knowledge in my blog. Successful musicians such as Matthew Ebel, and bands like Beatnik Turtle will also share their knowledge and experiences, and I’m sincerely grateful for granting me permission to share their material.
I am a “Recession Proof Musician”, and I want to help you become the same. Stay tuned for an exciting month!
Last month’s Thirty Day Challenge with Ed Dale and Associates was an awesome online course that taught cutting edge internet marketing techniques to anyone for FREE. Although the Thirty Day Challenge started and ended in real time last month, all of the learning materials are permanently online you can still participate. When you sign up, you’ll get autoresponder emails that start at Day 1 so you can begin the challenge and not miss any of the great info. The Thirty Day Challenge also has a public forum so you can shorten your learning curve by reading posts from recent 30 Day Challenge veterans.
The actual Challenge of this course, by the way, is to build a niche website and earn your first dollar. While I did not earn my first $1 from my niche website yet, I did learn a lot from Ed Dale & Company, and I will be continuing my lessons on my own. Ed’s team taught me that the methods of earning $1 will not differ from earning $1000, so I’m going to keep working on this until I make that dollar.
For one thing, the 30 Day Challenge teaches manual ways of achieving tasks, as well as teaching automated methods using the Market Samurai tool. Now that I’ve taken in all of the lessons the first time through, I’m now going to work the Thirty Day Challenge lessons again, using the awesome and amazing Market Samurai tool.
After further thought, I’ve decided to use my music publicity niche website to document my second round of the Thirty Day Challenge. This way I’ll be able to write about the 30 Day Challenge as a tool for music publicity without it taking over RockStarLifeLessons.com.
Related blog posts for Further Reading: