21st Century Music

Amanda Tessier writes that traditional radio is one of the best methods of launching a new artist. So how do you get your music on the airwaves? Cultivate and grow your fan base.

Amanda Tessier

A survey was completed by a professor in a marketing class regarding the students’ media habits. Much of the data was to be expected; twenty-somethings receive a vast majority of news via the Internet or social media. Television viewing has moved online, particularly to platforms such as Hulu or Netflix. The most surprising category to me was the fragmented radio section; most people had completely abandoned traditional radio. Additionally, college students in a city are rarely driving cars–an activity they said involved more traditional radio. The fastest ways to get around Boston are by foot and by MBTA, and most travelers have earbuds on and iPhones on. Pandora, Spotify, Songza, and iTunes have taken combined control, but each one individually owns only a small portion of the audience.

The complaints about traditional radio included excessive advertising, repetition of songs, and lack of choice in music selection. All the applications mentioned solve those…

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How To Contact 4,320 New Customers

I see no reason why this method will not keep a musician as busy as he wants to be. If you perform in the evenings, schedule calls for the mornings, with an hour in the afternoons for callbacks.

And don’t hide behind social media, expecting it to do the job for you. It’s important, but it’s no silver bullet.

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I learned this sales lesson years ago when I was selling automobiles. I have since taught this to many salespeople. Try it for 21 days.

Look at the telephone on your desk. That telephone represents $100,000 in sales each year. The telephone is your friend, even though the voice on the other end will say “No” more often than “Yes.” This lesson helps you manage that important sales asset.

Before I get started, consider this: stockbrokers are just telemarketers. They make hundreds of phone calls everyday. Sales trainers in that industry teach them how to use the telephone efficiently. If you figure that the first two hours of the day are spent drinking coffee, following-up work from yesterday, and catching up on the office gossip, then don’t even worry about making telephone calls then. Stockbrokers work in blocks of time. They will assign two hour segments of time where they…

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At SXSW, It’s An iTunes World

Is the album dead? Has ithe CD become a digital dinosaur, replaced by streaming services such as Spotify? While it looks that way for the rest of us, bands say no: the album represents “a collection of work from a particular period in their career.” But even as bands organize their work on a CD, they must learn to cope with a fan base that would rather stream the music than own it.

Playing Music from Memory: Pt 1 of 3

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“Performing from memory indicates a deep understanding and internalization of the music,” says Michael Griffin in the first of his three-part series, Playing Music From Memory. Memorization, which leads to a more intimate connection with both music and audience, is a skill that can be learned.

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

For musicians, an ability to play from memory opens up the world of practising via the imagination, which grants freedom from notation. Performing from memory indicates a deep understanding and internalization of the music. Playing from memory involves performing a piece one has learned as a result of rehearsing with notation, to the point where notation is no longer required as a guide. Some musicians claim that memorization allows them to develop their expressive ideas more freely and to communicate those ideas more effectively. One study found that an audience with musical training rated memorised performances higher in terms of communicative ability. An audience feels a greater connection when notation and music stands are omitted, and when distractions such as page turning are not an issue.

Playing from memory is a skill that should be encouraged during lesson time. Young musicians can start by memorizing easy pieces they like, as…

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Why We Play

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I ran across this post on tumblr by the blogger radiantscape on the Hunaid blog, and I had to share it. “Evolution” is a wonderful tribute to artists and explains well why we continue to pursue our “irrational” craft in a rational world. (Or is it the other way around?)

The photo is the one used in the article, which is reprinted in its entirety below. To view the post in tumblr, click here.

Evolution

What makes people stand on the streets for hours, play their heart out for a paltry few dollars, in the cacophony of tourist, shoppers, families, office goers, and many more oblivious pedestrians. And at the end of the day carry their huge load to hopefully a roof, or somewhere, they can recharge for another day.

This is not just a portrait of an artist on the busy street corner, but the artist within all of us. We pour our heart out to our art, without expecting anything in return, like a mother giving birth is one of the most painful but blessed experience, we go through this every day. Art is the impression of our emotions, our hopes, our disappointments, our heart breaks, but we must go on to express it, we can’t stop its birth, we cant get attached to it, we need to get through this labour every day, producing ever more and better. We are sometimes called selfish, sometimes attention deficit, absorbed in our own world and not worthy of making a living, by the rational world of people, who equates everything with money, position and status. Imagine a monochrome world of rational people with no colors of art? Would you like to live in it?

Go hug the creative within you today, they are the organic breed in this synthetic world.

Sketchbook: 2013 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog. Check it out!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fresh Ways to Generate Fans

Note: I’ve updated this post twice since it was originally published last October. Thanks to an article by Simon Tam of Last Stop Booking, the list is up to 22 fresh ways to get more fans!

Self-proclaimed music marketing master Michael Brandvold writes a very good blog on music marketing, but I’d say he cinched his title with his “2000 Things to Generate 20,000 Fans” post. It’s an evolving list, of course, but he already has 60 ideas down, and they’re all good.

Michael is careful to say that not all of his ideas will work for you, and not all of them are easy. Furthermore, he defines generating a fan as actions that meet one (or more) of the following:

  1. A brand new fan who has never followed you before.
  2. Engaging with existing fans to get them to participate.
  3. Engaging with existing fans to get them to convert on an action.

Here are just a few of the ones generated so far, along with some of my own. Be sure to visit Michael’s article to get more information about each idea.

  1. Reply to Tweets that mention you. This is just good manners.
  2. Select a fan of the week. We all wanted to be lunch line leader in school, right?
  3. Share the stories behind your songs.
  4. Start a blog about your musical experience. Folks like to know more about the people they like.
  5. Blog/v-log/Tweet your studio experiences.
  6. Tweet/blog about things other than your shows. Be interesting.
  7. Phone some of your fans to thank them for showing up. Nice personal touch.
  8. Send handwritten thank-you cards to fans thanking them for their support. A really nice personal touch!
  9. Have a design a T-shirt contest.
  10. Get a radio station to plug your Name The Band contest. One of the bands I was in did this, with great results.
  11. Have a Studio VIP contest. Come on, we ALL would love to see one of our favorite bands in a session!
  12. Create a lyrics board on Pinterest.
  13. Write for music-related blogs and mention your website.
  14. Take pictures at the gig (or have someone else do this). Post them on your blog and invite fans to add comments.
  15. Video testimonials given by fans at the gig. Post them on your website.
  16. Find a different angle for the show. Find some different ways to get folks involved in the show. Maybe you could film a music video at the venue, or let fans write the set list. Could you do an unplugged first set? Get folks to show up by making the show stand out among the others.
  17. Don’t overplay the same town or venue. You get too predictable that way.
  18. Get a street team together. This is a group of fans that will promote your show on their social media platforms and send emails to their friends. If their enthusiasm is contagious, you’ll get some more fans at your gigs.
  19. Make a YouTube video out of several Vine videos shot by fans on cell phones.
  20. Issue a press release for every gig.
  21. Get a radio station to give out free tickets. Perhaps they’ll do an interview.
  22. Incorporate other artists into your act. Find a comedian who can warm up the crowd for you.

So how about it? Do you know some cool marketing trick to get more fans to the shows? Please comment and share how that has worked for you!

14 Things To Look For When Auditioning a Band

giggingSo you’ve been taking guitar lessons for a few years, and you finally feel like you’re ready to join a band. Or maybe the band you’re in now just isn’t working for you any more, and you’re ready for a change. Or perhaps you’ve been on the shelf for a while and you’re ready to get back out there and gig.

Whatever the reason, you suddenly find yourself faced with an audition. No problem. You play the sort of music this band plays, you know your audition songs, your chops are solid, you sing pretty well, and you’ve worked hard on crafting your tone. You’re ready.

Or are you?

Many musicians go into an audition with a “me” mindset: they’re looking at me, they’re judging me. And while that’s true, it’s only half of what should be going on. Even as the band is evaluating your performance, you should be evaluating whether or not they are a good fit for you. To you, it’s their audition.

So how do you objectively audition a band? Below is a list of some characteristics to look for.

  • Can you get along with everyone? It doesn’t matter how spectacular they are if you can sense the drama from the moment you arrive for the audition. And if the band has seen a lot of turnover within the past year, think hard before you take the gig.
  • What sort of reputation does the band have within the community? You may not be able to find this out, but you should at least try to talk to former band members or with club owners of current and previous venues.
  • Do they have a website, or do they rely on Facebook? Social media is important, but websites are mandatory. A website is the one place where you can showcase your music, videos, photos, and calendar. In short, it’s the one place you can control completely. If the band has been together for more than four months and hasn’t put up a website, they’re not serious.
  • Do they have active social media in place? A band that does not interact with its fans on Twitter or Facebook is a band that doesn’t understand the power of social media. Odds are they don’t do marketing well, either, and that their turnout is low.
  • Are their instruments of good quality (name brand) & in good repair? Instruments don’t have to be top-of-the-line, but their sound does need to complement that of the rest of the band.
  • Is the PA in good shape? Is it powerful enough for the venues you’ll play? Does it sound clean and punchy?
  • Does the band have clear goals? Is it just for fun, or is it serious about making good music and money? Is everyone on board with them? Are the goals realistic?
  • Is the band working now? If not, is it at least gig-ready?
  • Do they have showmanship? Watch videos of them live. Do they work the crowd or just stand there?
  • Are there issues with tempo or tuning?
  • Is there evidence of drug or alcohol abuse?
  • What are the attitudes toward practice?
  • Is there a dress code for shows?
  • How will you be paid? Is it a straight fee, or a percentage of the door? Are you expected to help pay the sound man? Are you expected to chip in for gas to the person who brought the PA and lights in the trailer?

A good band will already have most of these characteristics evident already, and if you’ve gone to school on them before the audition, you’ll walk in with a good feel for what to expect from them. If the band is lacking in some of these points, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should pass on an opportunity if one is offered. You should, however, have in mind which characteristics are non-negotiable.

The band will evaluate you on everything you bring to the table. You should evaluate them the same way.

The frusrating task of self-motivation (for the writers, dreamers and do-ers out there)

Lauren’s advice is to a community of writers, but I feel her advice is equally applicable to musicians as well. We are the only ones who can make ourselves practice. We are the only ones who can make ourselves write lyrics and compose music. And at the end of the day, getting people to come to our shows is ultimately our responsibility.

Read Lauren’s fine essay, and take her advice to heart.

betweenfearandlove

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.“  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” – Latin Proverb

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned as I have gotten older is the importance of understanding that we have to go through things alone. Now, I know I have talked about the importance of understanding that we have to have help if we are going to get to where we are going. And that still stands. But we have to do the work on our own. We are the sole decision makers in what we do each day. We are the ones who are affected by our actions, more so than anyone else. We are the ones who have picked the path we are on. And we are the ones with the ultimate responsibility of getting to where we want/need to go.

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A Music Marketing Secret From the Big Top

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Circus life under the big top

We all need the clowns to make us smile.

– Journey, “Faithfully”

Next to Google, free is truly our friend. In fact, free is so popular on Google that it comes up nearly 14 billion times in a search. We are influenced by free. We want to be disease-free, debt-free, and worry-free. We want our work to be hassle-free, and our YouTube videos to be commercial-free. We want our purchases to be tax-free.

So if free is what the people want, why shouldn’t musicians embrace that truth and give it to them?

That’s exactly what blogger David Hooper suggests in “Music Marketing Lessons From a Circus.” He points out that not everyone goes to a circus because they want to. Parents go because young children can’t take themselves there, nor can they look out for themselves. But not only do parents wind up going, they wind up spending money on things other than rides for their kids.

Musicians should copy this strategy when it comes to club dates, because attendance works the same way. Your family will almost always show up because their family. Some of your friends will almost always show up because they’re your friends. But neither group would attend because of the music alone. So that leaves everyone else there, and the only reason they show up is either because a lot of men will be there, a lot of women will be there, or both.

While that fact may be a hard reality, there is something musicians can do about it. They can give tickets away for free.

Think about the businesses that give stuff away. Some restaurants let children under 12 eat free on certain days. Circuses give out passes that grant free admission to children. And radio stations always give away concert tickets. Musicians, Hooper argues, should do the same thing for their loyal fans because it

… gives you the best of both worlds … it lets you treat your most loyal fans in a special way (a free ticket) but also encourages them to spread the word about the show to somebody who pays.

The “buy one, get one” technique is good for building up a fan base where you regularly play, but it is especially useful when breaking into a new market. If you give five loyal fans passes, and each one brings a paying guest, then ten people show up to the new venue just because you’re there. Add the five family members and another five friends, and you’ve got 20 new faces in the club before you strike the first note. Moreover, if each person spends an average of $20 per person on food and drinks, the club gets $400 more than it would have without you there. Owners notice numbers like that.

Handing out passes might cost bands in the short run, and they should only go to those fans who are the most likely to show up. But whatever the strategy might cost short-term, it has the potential for a much larger return on investment down the road.

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Top photo: psiho.child