In real-time, the Music Thoughts Yahoo! Group is in the midst of a red-hot forum thread, titled something like
“RE: Cut to the Damn Chase! Who is Really Making Money on iTunes??”
While, I’ve been lurking in this forum for a month or so now, the current thread is of particular importance, so I’m tuned in like a hawk. One forum member, musician Cameron Mizell, responds with some info, and then includes a seemingly harmless little link to a blog post he’s written on the subject of selling your CD on iTunes. It’s a subtle suggestion, easily ignored. But being the curious girl, I am, I click that link. I proceed to print the article, and read it a few times over a half hour.
After all my internet marketing independent studies this summer, I find his strategy extremely powerful and elegant (not to mention no-cost!). Crazier than that, I am blown away at his generosity at including his how-tos, for the betterment of all musicians. Says Mizell:
Being an independent artist is a lot like competing in a decathlon. To be successful you need to be more than competent at many different skills, from the creative process to the business side. But most of us spend more time perfecting the artistic side of our craft, so much that we can’t even comprehend the rest. I’ve heard people say most musicians spend more time practicing their craft than brain surgeons do theirs. Think about that next time you have a headache.
The key to making this work is to NOT think like a business person or marketer. Instead, think like a fan. When you’re writing songs or practicing, you’re trying to reach the level of the artists you love. You’re looking at the target from the perspective of a fan. If you want somebody to buy your music, why not use the same approach?
For the how-to’s, read Cameron’s article How To Effectively Promote and Sell Your Music on iTunes
Cameron Mizell is on to something, and I’m going to have to test it for myself. Stay tuned!
Just try to tell me that there’s no such thing a musical middle class. More musicians are proving this every day.
One of my best recent finds on Twitter is @artistshouse, also known as the team of Andrew Goodrich, George Howard, Brett Cooper, and Evan Stoudt from the indie musician site Artists House.
When I found this article of Andrew’s on the Artists House site, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in the indie music world. Andrew is currently studying music business at Loyola University in New Orleans, and by the looks of his writing, his future is promising. Enjoy!
Focus on a Few
by Andrew Goodrich
My proposition to you is to spend less time worrying about the number of friends or followers you have on social networks. Instead, focus on fewer but more valuable people.
Online social networking tools can be powerful, but numbers are just numbers and don’t necessarily represent your real “reach.” Does having 500 friends on Facebook mean that 500 people are paying attention to what I do and value what I say? Maybe. Maybe not.
At worst, putting your faith in the stats can mislead you into taking steps you (and your bandmates) might not yet be ready for (e.g. We have 5,000 MySpace friends in Chicago, so we should divert our tour there!). Do those numbers really represent the group of people that will actually show up to a show when you make it into town? Or if you are leveraging your friend stats to try to get a label deal, do those numbers actually represent how many people will fork over the money to buy your album when it finally gets released? If not, do you know about how many will?
You know what I’m getting at. Even though it’s extremely tempting to use your friend statistics to measure success and reach, in reality I think those numbers are typically misrepresentative because the systems are so highly diluted.
Consider another scenario: I could fill my Rolodex with thousands of music industry contacts that I’ve managed to scour from websites, e-mails, chance meetings, etc. These people represent the movers in the industry, but unless I have developed relationships with those people on some kind of meaningful level, their information represents absolutely no value to me whatsoever.
So instead of trying to befriend the masses, just befriend the individuals you can build genuine relationships with.
Pay attention to these people first and foremost, because they are the people that will go out and spread the word about what you do – especially if you have convinced them that you are a real, authentic, and valuable person. They are the ones that will actually show up to your shows and purchase your albums.
Plus, if you spend your time developing good relationships with smaller numbers of people, you’ve effectively reached thousands. Each one of those unique people that you now have a personal rapport with has the ability to reach and influence possibly hundreds of others. If you give them the tools to do so, they probably will. Now that you’ve developed a really core group of committed people around what you do, you can rely on them to represent you to more people than you could have ever reached by mass marketing in the beginning.
Don’t waste your time trying to reach the masses – that’s what your friends are for!
Andrew Goodrich is currently studying business and music industry at Loyola University New Orleans. He’s an aspiring music business entrepreneur, casual musician and photographer, and an avid supporter of artists.
He has interned at Alan Ett Creative Group and 20th Century Fox’s Newman Scoring Stage and Post Production Department. In the future, he hopes to find himself where film and music meet.
He currently resides under the roof of Artists House Music as a video editor and regular contributor to the Artists House Music blog. Artists House Music is a free educational resource for musicians and music entrepreneurs.
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?
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!