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Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians: Finding Your SEO Keyword Niche Part 1

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

Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians: Finding Your SEO Keyword Niche Part 1
by Carla Lynne Hall

key approaching lock

For the Thirty Day Challenge, many musicians and other creative types may have a bit of difficulty finding a niche for themselves. During last night’s Thirty Day Challenge TV Show (Day 12) with Ed Dale, a guy asked if he could try the niche of “bluegrass in south carolina”. Ed, being a musician and passionate vintage electric guitar collector himself, loved the idea. While looking up this musician’s niche, I found the search numbers for “bluegrass in south carolina” too low for my taste. So what’s a bluegrass musician in South Carolina to do?

Since last night’s show, I’ve been spinning ideas in my head to find a related niche for Mr. Bluegrass. By the time I went to bed last night, I came up with a strategy that can be used for musicians, artisans, and other creative types.

What’s the big deal, you ask? In the past, when Ed Dale or any other internet marketing person talked about finding a niche, I would scratch my head. I mean, as a performer that promotes myself anyway, I already have a niche: ME, also known as “Carla Lynne Hall”. As far as I’m concerned, “Carla Lynne Hall” is a damn good niche. My musical style has been described as “Norah Jones meets Sade for tea on their way to visit The Beatles”, so what’s not to like about that niche, right?

But alas {insert deep and heavy sigh here}, in the search engine world, there are not enough people searching for “Carla Lynne Hall” to consider my name as a keyword niche market yet. According to the Thirty Day Challenge guidelines, we should choose a keyword that receives 2400-3000 searches a month. In other words, we need to choose a keyword phrase that receives 2400-3000 searches within a month’s time. If “Carla Lynne Hall” only gets 50 searches a month in Google (which I’m quite grateful for, by the way!), does that mean that I should give up music and pursue “mosaic crafts”?

Heck no! This just means that musicians and other creative types need to be strategic when participating in the Thirty Day Challenge. In addition to being the world’s expert on YOU, dominating a niche related to your art/music is another great way to bring traffic to your site.

More importantly, by becoming an expert in a related market, you’ll attract new fans. To use myself again as an example, I’m known for my music, and also for my indie music marketing tips. People interested in either topic sign up for my Soulflower Newsletter, my fan list grows.

And growing your fan list is a HUGE piece of the puzzle!

Next Post: Thirty Day Challenge for Musicians – The Case Study

Success Leaves Clues

Posted in Articles, DIY Diva, Great Blog Off 2008, Indie Music | No Comments »

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.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: Identification

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This component deals with how your audience perceives you. Hopefully, you’ve been thinking about the kind of audience who will buy your music. Are they young teenage girls? College aged guys into hip-hop? To aim for mass awareness is a waste of whatever resources you have. You’re better off targeting a specific niche of people, through the newspaper articles, web sites, etc. that they read often.

Identification comes into the picture when your audience decides, usually pretty quickly, if they feel the way you do. If Whitney Houston sings a love song about loving someone always, there are many people who identify with her. Not only do they know what it’s like to feel that way about someone, they also believe that she has as well. Fans identify with the artists whose image that they believe. When you decide on your image, choose one that feels authentic, not artificial. This is a great way to attract loyal fans.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: The Right Teams

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Your “team” is the group of professionals whose job is to help you on your way to success. The members include an entertainment attorney, a business manager/accountant, and a manager. Your team may also include a publicist. Effective teams are made up of people you can trust, who fully believe in your talent.

A manager’s job is to keep your career on track, and you focused on your music. He or she should be organized, and it helps greatly if he/she is well-connected. Sometimes, a manager will come from your fan base, a person who wants to help you make it happen. Other times, an industry veteran will add you to the roster. There are pros and cons to each, but the most important requirements are that he/she is professional, and a fan of your music.

An accountant or business manager will keep your money and your taxes straight. An entertainment attorney will translate legal documents for you, and protect you from arrangements that are harmful to your career. It is important, however, that the attorney specializes in entertainment law. Music business documents have certain clauses that are particular to this industry, so other types of lawyers will not be effective in negotiations.

The best teams work like a well-oiled machine. With the artist or the manager at its center, everyone involved should be knowledgeable of what each member is doing. This way, the artist can be prepared for the opportunities arise.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: A “Hit” Song

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Even if you are not on a major label, having a song that has hit quality will take you far. Hit songs, for the most part, are those that hook the listener, and are easy to sing along. Can you picture a group of girls (or guys) in a car singing along full voice to your song on the radio? That’s a good test.

Listen to what’s on the radio now. Successful songs come in different flavors. Some are written using a “formula”, while others seem to defy convention. To be considered “radio-friendly”, songs also need to be three and a half minutes long or less.

To improve your songwriting ability, write often. Classes and workshops are another option, and are also offered by music industry organizations and performing rights societies. These are good places to meet potential collaborators.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: The Right Image

Posted in Articles, DIY Diva, Great Blog Off 2008, Indie Music | No Comments »

If you noticed, I wrote the right image. As in, the right image for YOU.

We live in a media driven society, which creates a demand for artists and bands to have some kind of “look”: grunge, bad girl, glam rocker, etc. However, it’s important to note that your image is an extension of who you are, and should be believable. If you’re an earthy singer/songwriter, bright makeup, cleavage, and stiletto heels will only make you uncomfortable. If you’re not used to wearing those items, it will be noticed in photos and in person.

Let your outside reflect your inside.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: Live Appearances

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For a performer, live appearances are your bread and butter. Live shows bring you closer to your fans, and they also help attract new ones. There’s nothing like seeing musicians playing their hearts out on stage, and giving a great show. When done right, these performances inspire the audience. There is a direct correlation of successful shows to CD sales.

Another part of live appearances is being in as many places as possible to promote your CD. This includes networking events. For instance, have you noticed how stars are everywhere when they release a new movie or record? They appear at stores to sign autographs and recently purchased items. Don’t stay home. Get out. See and be seen.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: The Vocal Performance

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In pop music, vocals are crucial. The voice is the main thing that listeners hear when they play music. A phenomenal guitarist is great, an amazing drummer is wonderful, but the success of a song literally hangs on the vocals.

It helps if the voice itself is distinctive, a la Macy Gray or Tom Waits, but it’s more important that the vocals be clear, in tune, and capable of conveying an emotion, whether it’s anger, joy, or love. The voice, along with the song, should inspire others to sing along and replay often.

When recording in the studio, be sure to allow plenty of time for vocals. Make sure that the singer is rested and ready, and has time for as many takes as you can afford. Record all takes, even practice ones, because you never know when you’ll capture magic on tape. Sometimes, a vocal take performed “on the fly” becomes the part of the song that touches everyone, so be prepared.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Ingredients for Musical Success: Originality

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Over 30,000 CDs are released each year. In order to stand out from the rest of the releases, you need to be different. Do you write killer songs? Does your lead singer have unique vocals? Is your style or image different from what’s out there now? Take some time to think about your act and how it compares to others currently residing on iTunes and Billboard.

Sometimes it helps to write down a description of your act and its music. Ask a few friends and fans to do the same, even asking for comparisons to popular bands. Compare the notes, and see where you agree (or not). Pay close attention to the descriptions given by those who come to see you play. They may see things that you might never notice from the stage.

The results will be interesting.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC

Who Do You Know?

Posted in A Day in the Life, Articles, DIY Diva, Future Legends, Great Blog Off 2008, Indie Music | No Comments »

As I create frequent blog posts today about my indie music friends, I realize that I’ve known many of them for more than 10 years. And at the time we first met, we weren’t where we are now.

For example, I met Derek Sivers of CD Baby fame in a 4 week songwriting workshop at the National Association of Popular Music. I met Bob Baker online when we were both writing articles online about indie music. I met Ariel Hyatt “on the scene” at various music conferences. As the years passed, we all continued to follow our particular path and stay in touch. And now we’ve all progressed to major milestones in our careers, and I’m quite proud of them.

Who knew that Derek would one day create this online CD store that would enable him to pay indie musicians millions of dollars? Who knew that Bob would one day create his own music conference? Who knew that Ariel would one day be THE go-to person for online music publicity? Who knew that I’d start a music biz column for Vibe magazine, write an eBook, start this blog, or produce four successful CDs?

The fact is, we didn’t know. And when I think of all the great things that they have accomplished, I am proud of my friends, and what they’ve been able to achieve.

Often we get caught up in trying to meet the industry bigwig. Nothing is wrong with wanting to meet or work with a bigwig, but they are often harder to reach.

Next time you attend a networking event, get to know the person sitting at your right and your left – not just the person who’s speaking on the panel. That person may one day co-write your first hit, hire you for a tour, or even sign you to a production deal. But you’ll never know until you make the connection.

Go ahead. Make that connection.

Brought to you by the Music Marketing Machine Course: July 16 – August 6, 2008 in NYC