The Digest, Volume 9


Remembering Dave Brubeck, by Jack Zahora on NPR.

The well-known jazz pianist, composer, band leader, and frequent flyer passed away  a day shy of his 92nd birthday. The man who taught the world that odd time signatures were a good thing was also a progressive when it came to civil rights: he refused to play in clubs that would not allow his African-American bass player inside. Click here for the 1999 Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross.

Why Do People Go to Gigs With Obscure Bands? on Live Unsigned Blog.

This article could be a primer on developing a following from the inside out. Work on growing yours by focusing on friends and family first, then have them help develop your fan base online. You’ll know you’ve made it when the bloggers and the press start showing up.

The Future of Digital, by Bob Lefsetz on The Lefsetz Letter.

Microsoft-unveils-Surface-tablets-611MSLFJ-x-largeBob Lefsetz found a cool slide deck from the folks at Business Insider. It’s a bit lengthy, but it does have some implications for those of us who put our music and music marketing online. Make sure your website looks good on a mobile device, because fewer and fewer of us will see it on an actual PC. According to BI, the bottom line is that as habits change, the money follows.

Eight Ways to Build Sustainable Music Careers, by Gerald Klickstein on The Musician’s Way.

Klickstein offers solid career advice in this short blog post, but it’s all gold and should be treated as such. Learn all you can about the music business, as it’s part of your career. Don’t put all of your money-making eggs in one basket – have multiple income streams. As Robert Sirota put it, “The most difficult thing about being a musician these days is not talent. It’s sustainability.” While you’re on his blog, spend some time checking out Klickstein’s Entrepreneurship category as well.

Ten Tips From the Gene Simmons School of Marketing, by Michael Brandvold on Michael Brandvold Marketing.

Put your name on everything. (KISS branded everything from toilet seats to caskets to diapers.) Look for opportunities. Get over your fear. And read the rest of Brandvold’s take on Gene’s entrepreneurship on the blog.

The Importance of Being a Frontman, by Jack Ryan on Music Clout.

Aerosmith-frontman-done-with-book“The depreciated value of being a frontman is clear to see in the hundreds of unsigned bands playing shy and reserved sets in little sheds across the country. The bands that are picked up by record labels are the ones that have a cult following, which can only be picked up by grabbing the audience by the throat, and letting them know they’ve been to a gig.”

Five Easy Ways To Get Last Minute Shows, on Grassrootsy.

If you’re on tour and trying to fill a gap that just won’t go away, try some of the suggestions offered by the folks at Grassrootsy. You could host an open mic, put out a Facebook question, or just busk on a corner. The post also has a good link to house concerts.

Musicians and Bands: Follow the Compass In Your Gut, by Derek Sivers on DIY Musician.

Do what excites you. Don’t do what drains you. The advice is simple, yet we let people talk us out of the former and into the latter all the time. When you start doing what makes you excited, you’ll be doing what you were meant to do.

The Importance of Album Track Order in the Digital Age, by Gary Trust on

Album track order has long been the domain of artists, who usually decided track order on personal feelings about the songs. Now, with digital distribution and associated payouts taking center stage, artists and labels are beginning to realize that the earlier a song appears on an album, the more likely a listener is to stream it. At the same time, a listener’s attention span may be even shorter than any artist wants to believe.

Trifonov’s Triumph: Tchaikovsky, Twice Over, by Anastasia Tsioulcas on NPR.

Trifonov_011Oddly enough, Daniil Trifonov began learning the piano because he wanted to be a composer, and he figured that knowing the keyboard would be useful in writing down the notes. Now, after taking top honors at both the Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky Competitions, he’s busy recording the notes that others have set down before him. Click here for a review by Melanie Spanswick of Trifonov’s ambitious and well-received recital at the Queen’s Hall as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.


Images: Dave Brubeck – Microsoft Surface – Steven Tyler – Daniil Trifonov –


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