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!

Advertisements

A Music Marketing Secret From the Big Top

 4145675374_35f086d4a5

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.

________

Top photo: psiho.child

How To Start and Run a Band

mount-everestSo you’ve played around in a few bands over the years, and you’ve seen things that worked and things that didn’t. And perhaps you’ve wondered if you could put together something that was better.

Congratulations! By having a vision of something greater than what you’re in now, you have achieved half your goal of having your own band. But that was the easy part. The other half takes sustained, hard work, and there are no shortcuts. But if you’re serious about starting a band, you’ll find the work enjoyable.

First Steps

As with any new venture, time spent planning what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to go about it is never wasted. (That’s especially true if you’re launching this new project with another musician.) As badly as someone may want to climb Mount Everest, he doesn’t wake up one morning, decide to climb that day, and immediately set out. It’s the same with a band, a business startup, or a marriage. You’ll be far more satisfied with your band if you don’t skip these first steps.

  • Begin with the end in mind. Be very clear with yourself about why you want to form a band in the first place. Know what kind of music you want to play. Covers? Originals? Rock? Progressive? Jazz? You’ll want to have a clear direction in mind before you begin inviting other musicians to the party.
  • Write a good mission statement. If your mission is to just play out and have a good time, don’t expect to attract great players or book huge gigs. Your statement should address where you want to go, what you’re going to do to get there, when you expect to arrive, who will help you, and how you intend to get it done. A mission statement solidifies direction in the minds of all involved and helps discourage time-wasters from auditioning.
  • Set measurable goals. Identify specific dates for key events, such as hiring personnel, learning songs, and recording a demo. Establish how often you need to play out and where. Come up with actual dollar figures you think the band can make its first year, second year, and so on. Write these down, and make sure your new band members buy into them.
  • Write down your rules. Be sure to make clear what you will and will not tolerate when the band is together. Never assume anything. Communicate your policies on drugs, alcohol, punctuality, preparedness, and so on to all who audition.
  • 03-Social-Media-Management8777Start networking now. You probably have a Facebook page, but don’t ignore other social media platforms that can help you as well. LinkedIn is a great site for musicians, as a profile there says you’re serious about the art and business of music. And with 340 million users, Google Plus shouldn’t be ignored. Use a combination of these networks to identify clubs and their owners. Contact them now, before you build your band, and start building relationships with them. This will help you later on, when your band is ready to play out.

Don’t be discouraged if these first steps take a couple of months or more. Better to plan thoroughly now than to wing it later on. Besides, if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Getting the Band Together

Now that your planning is done (or almost done), it’s time to put the band together.

  • Don’t rely on classified ads to find musicians. Craigslist is fine, but you should also contact other musicians to find out who they know. Turn to your networks on LinkedIn and Facebook to help you identify good prospects. Visit some music stores and pick the brains of the salespeople. They’re better than any website when it comes to knowing people that are looking for bands. There are also sites that help bands and musicians find each other, such as Bandmix and the new Giggem.
  • Hire the right musicians. They need to be a little better than you are, or at least at the same level. If they’re better, you’ll be challenged more. And be willing to wait. The good ones are probably working, and you may need to make your case to them more than once. Besides, a bad hire wastes your time and sets you back.
  • Establish a regular rehearsal schedule. It’s better to have short, effective rehearsals than marathon sessions. Two or three hours is plenty of time if everyone is on time and comes prepared. (Those are two of your rules, right?) You may feel the urge to push a session past that, but you’ll just wear everyone else down and lose any efficiency you thought you’d gain.
  • Create a website, establish a social media presence, and start a mailing list. Stick with just a couple of platforms at first. Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus need regular attention, and the person who handles your social media doesn’t need to be overwhelmed.
  • Assign responsibilities. Decide who will book gigs, who will run sound, and who will handle the website and social media.

Keeping It Moving

  • Book your first gig within 2 months of your first rehearsal. This keeps the momentum going, for a booked gig helps drive rehearsals: it’s a measurable goal. Also, a band needs a shakedown gig early on to identify problems that need to be worked out. Open mics are perfect, low-key events for a first gig, and it’s okay if you don’t make any money on this one. But send out email reminders about your gig, hand out business cards to everyone there, and get email addresses.
  • Gig regularly. Not doing this is one quick way to kill a band. You don’t have to play 120 dates per year, but you need to play out as often as it takes to achieve your goals.
  • Band_Practice_by_BiffnoLearn new material and rehearse it regularly. Not doing this is the other quick way to kill a band. Keep up with the set lists for each venue, and make sure you swap out material before you return to one of them. And make sure everyone involved in your new project understands the difference between practice and rehearsal.
  • Oil the machine. Don’t neglect marketing. You have to keep the fans coming back. Keep the website up. Post regularly on Twitter and Facebook. Your fans want emails from you; don’t disappoint them, but don’t spam them, either. Work the crowd during the break and collect email addresses. Repeat.
  • Have outside interests. Don’t make music your whole life, even if it is your life. Make time for church, family, friends, and hobbies. You’ll be a better musician because of it.

Is it possible to have a good band and not do some of these steps? Which ones are you going to skip?  The fact is that all bands do all of these things at some point, or they break up. There are no other options, no shortcuts. You have to gig regularly, or there’s no point in starting a band. You have to learn new material, or fans will stop coming to your shows. And if you’re going to play out, who wants to play with sub par musicians who break the rules?

Starting a band is hard work, and keeping it going is harder still. But if it’s in your blood, if doing anything else makes no sense to you, then embrace your calling and begin charting your path to success. The rewards are worth the trouble.

________

Image credits: 1 – www.snowbrains.com 2 – www.beyondattitude.com 3 – www.musicianswantedtoronto.ca 4 – deviantart.com

Got Gigs? Here’s How to Get Them

crowdIf you’re a bandleader with little to no experience in booking shows, this guest blog by Deron Wade is for you. I talked with Deron on LinkedIn a few weeks back, and the conversation turned to booking gigs. He asked if I would take a look at an article he wrote for Tune Cube, and I agreed. Turns out it’s loaded with great advice for those who are relatively new to the art of booking the gig. I have reprinted it below, with his gracious permission.

Booking Gigs? Some Magic Tips to Help You Out!

Your band has been playing in front of your friends and they love your music….

You are a solo singer/songwriter now comfortable enough to sing in front of a crowd, play your guitar and put on a show without knocking the mic-stand over……

You’ve been taking your beats to the streets and now you’re ready to take your rap game to a whole new level……

In every situation, you are ready to start booking shows,  but where do you begin?

Know your niche market

Your niche market = who you are selling your music to.

“Wait a minute, what does selling my music have to do with booking a gig?”

Everything.

You need to have a venue that supports the atmosphere of your music (What’s the stage set up like?) and has a demographic of listeners that like what you do. For instance: If you are an acoustic artist,  is it a smart decision to play a venue that has a huge  heavy metal following? Probably not. In everything you do, you should be asking yourself, “How is my time being spent here? Is this going to be a valuable experience for me?”

I can’t count how many times music artists have come up to me and complained that the venue took advantage of them. When I ask, “Well, what did you want from the venue?” Their response is,  “We wanted to play.”

“Didn’t you play?”

“Well yeah, but there wasn’t any one there and then they had us get off after three songs.” Continue reading “Got Gigs? Here’s How to Get Them”

Gig Economics

getting-paid-21You know that great feeling you get right after you’ve played a great gig at which everyone had a blast, the club owner was delighted, and you just got five crisp twenties counted into your hand for your efforts? That’s the feeling that can vanish faster than the Statue of Liberty for David Copperfield when the waitress brings your tab. So you fork over $25 for the tab, adding another $5 for the waitress because she works for tips, too, and because you’re not a schmuck.

Then, after you’re all loaded out and you start the car, you realize you need gas. Another $40.

Of course, if you’re gigging and don’t care about the money, that scenario might not seem like a big deal to you. But if you are an independent musician or a serious cover band, then you know it’s not much fun driving home in the wee hours of the morning while fuming that you’re only netting $30 from the night. Fortunately, there are a few things we musicians can do to wind up keeping more of what we earn.

  • Pack a cooler. Just because you’re playing for a club doesn’t mean you have to eat there. A cheeseburger, fries, and drink at a club can run about $10 – $15 before tip, and that’s excluding any alcohol you order. Add in a mixed drink or a couple of beers and you can count on spending about $30 on food alone. Getting fast food on the way might save a little, but you’ll come out way ahead here by packing sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in a cooler. Savings: $20 – $30*.
  • Negotiate discounts. Most club owners will offer discounted meals and drinks to band members as part of the compensation package, and sometimes your band can eat for free. Alcohol is rarely included, although soft drinks, tea, and water are. It never hurts to ask, though, and you should always ask. Savings: $10 – $15.
  • Drive slower. You can’t get around using gas to get to the gig, but you do have some control over how little you can use to get there. It’s no myth that you can increase your gas mileage by up to 25 percent just by driving slower, and performing regular maintenance. Trade for a more fuel-efficient car if possible. (About a month ago I went from a minivan to a Saturn. I now get 35 miles per gallon, and I can still fit in 3 keyboards, two powered speakers, stands, and gig bags!) You can also try leaving about fifteen minutes earlier for the gig and driving 5 – 10 miles an hour slower. Finally, download one of the many smartphone apps like Gas Buddy or Gas Guru (both available on iPhone and Android) to help you find the best gas price. Savings: variable (though by combining these strategies I’ve realized a 28 percent savings at the pump).
  • Know where the cheap hotels are along the way. A couple of the gigs my band plays are nearly 2 hours away from my home, which makes for a rough drive back at 3 AM. I’m able to stay the night with our drummer most of the time, but not everyone has that luxury. For those occasions when you’re just too tired to drive, or when you shouldn’t, an inexpensive hotel makes the best sense. It’s a smarter idea still to research them beforehand to avoid wasting time looking for one at 3 AM that fits your budget. You’re not really saving money here, unless by doing so you wind up avoiding a ticket or driving into a ditch.
  • gBagFromAboveKeep spares in your gig bag. We all keep spares of the obvious things: strings, picks, drumsticks, batteries, and so on. But it’s usually the want of that odd accessory that can ruin a gig. Once I left the house without packing the wall-wart power supply for my Yamaha CP 33 stage piano. I had about an hour before the gig, so I drove (okay, I raced) 15 miles to the nearest Radio Shack, bought a replacement, and got back with about 10 minutes to spare before downbeat. Alas, it was the wrong size! I got through, but I bought a backup power supply at the music store the next day. Savings: variable (but $20 over a year is probably realistic).
  • Charge more for gigs that are farther away. This is the biggest variable over which you have complete control. Your band should already have a good performance fee schedule in place that is both competitive in the marketplace and fair to the musicians. But sometimes good gigs are farther away than those you usually play, and you’ll need to adjust the cost of doing business if you want to take them. Likewise, club owners should expect to pay more if they want you. If you normally charge $500 for a five-piece, get at least an extra hundred to help cover gas and oil; get more if there’s an overnight stay involved. I put the extra $20 into my tank and consider it money saved. Savings: $20 – $35.

To find out just how quickly these savings add up, try this for a month or two: take out the money you would have spent at each night’s gig and set it aside. (Assume you earn $100 per gig.) Getting a comped meal or carrying food and drink each time will probably save about $60 per month ($15/meal * 4 gigs), and driving your well-maintained car slower could net you a $10 savings over the same month. And if you get an extra $30 in a month in tips, sock that away as gas money.

Congratulations! You’ve just saved $100 – a night’s pay!

Now go celebrate at the next gig with a chicken finger plate and a couple of beers.

________

*Savings are estimates only. Your mileage may vary, depending on location.

Image credits: Top photo – patuniverse.com Bottom photo – prozacblues.com

Updated 6/25/13

New Year’s Resolutions vs. Lifelong Goals

another-nyI’m sure your just as tired of all of the new year’s hype as I am. Strange how the birth of a new year creates this huge onslaught of media coverage that would make one believe the Myans had been right after all. It’s as if there had never been another new year ever, nor will there ever be one to top this one. At least until next year, when the whole circus comes to town again.

So I won’t speak of resolutions, since that’s all you’ve heard about for the past 3 weeks, not to mention that we’re all prone to breaking them sooner or later. Rather I’ll focus on just a few goals musicians should work on, regardless of the time of year.

  • Write the kind of music you’d want to listen to. Sure, you have to know what’s mainstream, but that doesn’t mean you should get carried away by it. Your message is in your music, and you need to personalize it. Take courage from the fact that there’s an audience out there for whatever music you want to write. Think Field of Dreams here: if you write it, they will come.
  • Practice the basics when you practice. Scales. Chord voicings. Arpeggios. Modes. These are the building blocks of any song or composition ever written, and you’ll become a better songwriter if you practice them each day.
  • Focus on building good relationships. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, don’t ask what other people can do to help advance your music career. Instead, look for ways you can help them get what they want. And to do that you have to be willing to talk to people.
  • Create and maintain a conversation with your fans. If you run to your table and hide out during breaks, you’re doing it wrong. Use that time to go out to the crowd and talk to your fans. Connect with them. Find out what they do for a living, where they go to school, what they’re studying. They’ll remember you because no one else does that, and you took the time to make them feel special. You can also mention your upcoming CD, or hand out business cards, or get email addresses, but none of that will matter if you don’t connect.
  • Learn a new skill. Don’t know how to record your songs on a computer? Now is a good time to learn. Can you edit video clips together to make a video demo? No? Read up on it and find out how it’s done. Regardless of how good you are at your instrument or craft, there’s always one more skill out there that you can learn to make yourself even more marketable.

Whatever you do, don’t set yourself up for failure and the associated letdown. Don’t say, “I’m going to practice my scales and modes each day,” or “I’m going to go out and learn a new skill.” Put the action in the present tense: “I practice scales and modes each day (or each time I practice),” and “I build good relationships with my fans.” It’s funny, but if you tell yourself you’re already doing it, you start to do it, and eventually it becomes a habit.

Resolutions are made quickly and fade just as quickly. My guess is that this is stuff you already do, so working just a little bit harder at it won’t seem like so much of a stretch. You’ll feel better about yourself for doing it, too, and that feeling wins out over a blown resolution any old day.

How to Advance Your Music Career

train+tracksBlogger Hisham Dahud maintains that it’s important keep revisiting the basics to keep your music career on track. Doing so allows you to think like a beginner again, back to when you could see clearly what you wanted. Unsuprisingly, the first tip regards revisiting and restating your original goals. Others include:

  • It’s all about sales. Make sure you’re fairly compensated for your entertainment value.
  • Network. Meet people that you can help, not just those who can help you.
  • Avoid people who bring you down. This would include so-called friends who try to dissuade you from a music career.
  • Keep learning about the business. Consider how music has changed within 20 years: home recording, internet distribution, the decline of the major labels. You can’t afford to stop learning.
  • Don’t be afraid of risks.

These suggestions will help you move your career in the music business forward – however far along you may be now.

The Digest, Volume 6

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.

71 Percent of Indie Artist Still Want a Label Deal, by Paul on Digital Music News.

There’s a lot of romance involved in being an independent artist, but that may be easy to forget while the indie artist plans tours, designs and orders merchandise, pays for CD duplication, and handles publicity. Oh, and some new songs need to be written, too. Yes, most of us long for a major label to come along and save the day.

Five Things All Musicians Need Before Starting a Digital PR Campaign, by John Ostrow on Music Think Tank.

If you want to have a successful PR campaign (such as one for Kickstarter), make sure you have music ready to release, a professional bio and photo, a niche, and a strong social media presence.

Entertain or Go Home: Is The Music Enough? by Eric Bruckbauer on How to Run a Band.

Eric states what should be an obvious truth: “People go to shows to have a good time and to be entertained. It’s that simple.” Yet some bands don’t understand that they’re in the entertainment business. In order to succeed, you have to do what KISS did so well: engage the audience while setting the band apart from the rest.

What To Know About Management Contracts, by Francis McEntegart on Music Think Tank.

Make sure to choose a manager that understands the music business and how it works, and make sure that he couples that knowledge with plenty of good contacts that respect him. Be clear on what his twenty percent will buy, and get your own attorney to review the agreement before you sign.

Four Things To Be Aware Of Before Signing With a Music Manager on Music Clout.

Know what you’ll pay this person. Expect to pay a percentage of your earnings, but beware the manager who asks you to pay up front for his or her representation. Also check out his history and reputation. A little due diligence goes a long way.

The Next Music Revolution by Alex Hoffman on Hypebot.

Sensory information already gathered about us by our smartphones can be paired with third-party data, creating a new culture driven by context, wherein experiences and recommendations can be automatically catered to us. Instead of manually tapping to set our Android’s alarm at bedtime, it be will able to infer from our Google Calendar appointments and Google Maps traffic data just how long we need to commute to make our first meeting on time and wake us accordingly. Will this revolution be televised? If our smartphones think it should be.

Ten Tips to Improve Your Recordings, on Music Clout.

Practice, practice, practice. You might get lucky on the first take, but don’t count on it. Get plenty of rest the night before. Bring spares – cables, strings, picks, drum heads, whatever. Take frequent breaks to avoid ear fatigue – this can be costly in terms of studio time. And remember, you can never fix it in the mix.

Less Is More, by Janet Horvath on Playing Less Hurt

The Summer Olympics gave musician, author, and speaker Janet Horvath an opportunity to reflect on how athletes prepare themselves for the highly competitive games, and in what ways musicians are kindred spirits to them. Many musicians are guilty of, at one time or another, driving themselves to the point of exhaustion. “We too need to be reminded that our bodies must be recharged,” she writes, “in order for us to be able to execute intricate, complex maneuvers day after day.”

Music Industry Careers for Shy People, by Katie Reilly on Intern Like a Rock Star.

So belting out a ballad in front of a stadium full of people isn’t your idea of a music career? Fear not – Katie Reilly has a solution. Marketing, finance, accounting, law, and sound are all areas that are in heavy demand within the music industry, but these don’t make heavy demands on you to put yourself in front of thousands of strangers week after week.

Book Review: The Savvy Musician, by David J. Hahn on Musician Wages.

Hahn notes that Dr. David Cutler’s The Savvy Musician is a book for the modern musician, offering a detailed, thoughtful map to a meaningful career in the business, all the while stressing that a musician can build a career for himself anywhere. This book is a must-read for any working musician, or anyone serious about becoming one.

The Digest, Volume 4

The Digest is a new weekly feature to the Sketchbook blog, providing 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 let me know that as well. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

What Are The Essential Features of a Hit Record? on Music Clout.

While there’s no such thing as a sure-fire, can’t-miss formula, there are a few things that are common to most songs that make it to the top of the charts. The obvious element is that it must be a great song, but plenty of great songs have been consigned to the trash bin because they lacked a strong vocal, solid performance, and a well produced track, among other things.

So You Have a Great Song – Now What? Infographic by Hisham Dahud on Hypebot.

All you have to do is record the great song, upload it onto Reverb Nation, and wait for the labels to start calling – right? There’s more, lots more, as Dahud’s infographic explains, but it all comes down to dedication.

Taylor Swift Hits a Million Sales of Red – Without Tricks, by Steve Knopper on Rolling Stone.

No 99 cent fire sale, like Lady Gaga; no name-your-own-price; just 1.208 million sales of Taylor Swift’s Red. Unfortunately, only she and Adele can sell millions of albums at a time.

Fifteen Tips On How to Give an Interview, by David Lowry on The Lowry Agency Blog.

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: newspapers, magazines, and blogs are calling and emailing with requests for interviews. How do you handle it? If you’re like some musicians, Lowry says, not too well. Being a jerk to the Fourth Estate is a mistake that can torpedo a music career before it gets off the ground. “Remember,” he says, “they never have to interview you or cover your band, regardless of how good your band is or how big you think you are.” Be sure and read up on the don’ts and do’s before the big moment arrives.

Good News! Ten Commandments Reduced to Only Nine! by John Mellencamp on The Huffington Post.

Musician and activist John Mellencamp writes about people today “who have participated in music-related successes and are now witnessing the demise of the entertainment business as it has existed since the beginning of recorded sound.” Not too long ago, BMI and ASCAP were formed to protect artists’ interests, but now they stand by while internet pirates take off with a songwriter’s royalties. We don’t need to keep up with the internet; the internet needs to be reigned in by its creators, who are morally obligated to do the right thing.

How Music Royalties and Performing Rights Organizations Work, by Soundreef.com on Music Clout.

Simply put, they’re your collection agents who collect royalties from restaurants, bars, and radio stations on your behalf. Usually the PRO bases its payments on data samples, as it would be impossible to number every song played at every bar by every band. Yet as logical as sampling sounds, some non-mainstream musicians may get overlooked because of it – and have a harder time collecting their money. Soundreef concludes that “sampling as a means of royalty distribution calculation is not purposefully evil, it’s just outdated.”

Five Important Copyright Misconceptions That Linger, by Jonathan Bailey on Plagiarism Today.

Everything can be copyrighted, right? Not so fast, says Jonathan Bailey. You can copyright the song but not the title to it. Nor does “fair use” mean whatever you want it to mean, either. Musicians, educate yourselves!

Can You Survive In a World Without Musicians? by Clyde Smith on Hypebot.

Forget the orchestra. Forget the jazz combo, the rock band, the solo pianist. Music is now composed by Twitter messages that are translated into music by computer algorithms, or by a computer that translates the heart and brain waves of an individual into MIDI signals.

New Beethoven Work Is Premiered, by Melanie Spanswick on Classical Mel’s Piano and Music Education Blog.

Beethoven wrote some sketches for a string quartet in 1799, but was apparently dissatisfied with them, as he never followed through with his ideas. But the maestro’s trash is our treasure: recently, Professor Barry Cooper finished reconstructing the work, which is believed to be very close to what the composer had in mind. Visit Melanie’s blog to read more and listen to the performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet in G, Opus 18, Number 2.

Rules, by Bob Lefsetz on The Lefsetz Letter

Not one to beat about the bush, Lefsetz gives some sage advice to seasoned music vets as well as those who want to be seasoned music vets. To wit: don’t worry about your genre, just worry if it’s good. The money is in live performance; work on getting people to keep showing up. Don’t try to drive album sales on Twitter. And remember: no one is waiting for your album.

 

The Digest, Volume 3

The Digest is a new weekly feature to the Sketchbook blog. Each issue 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 let me know that as well. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

Is Reading Music Important for Drummers? by the MD Education Team on Modern Drummer.

Should drummers learn how to read notation, or can they do just as well in their careers without that skill? The Education Team at Modern Drummer wanted to find out, so they asked a few professional drummers. Jeremy Hummel, Jim Payne, George Marsh, and others weighed in with their takes on the subject. The consensus? It sure won’t hurt you, and it may well help you land a sweet gig.

What Record Labels Are Looking For When Scouting Artists, on Music Clout.

The first thing that will attract industry attention is a full calendar of well-attended gigs, at which you sell your CDs and merchandise. But that’s expected of everyone: you have to make your act stand out. Have a band app out for the iPhone and Android? That could give you an edge. So can striking a careful balance between writing music that sounds familiar yet uniquely familiar to A&R representatives.

Is Your Art a Hobby or a Job, on Grassrootsy.

While the IRS has its own definitions of these terms, Grassrootsy has a handy checklist to help us decide. Do folks know you write music? Are you not making any money from it? It could be a hobby. On the other hand, if folks you don’t know come to your shows, you have a job on your hands.

Five Lessons You Can Learn From My Album Mistakes, by Shane Lamotte on DIY Musician.

Why spend good money on album production when you can’t give it away? Find out some of the lessons Shane learned such as why promotion is at least as important as production (“If you build it, they will NOT come.”), and why it’s important to build a buzz before dropping $20,000 on an album.

The Four Deadliest Practice Mistakes Ever – And What To Do About Them, by Grace on Artiden.

It’s estimated that over 93 percent of pianists don’t know how to practice piano properly, Grace says in her introduction, usually because they don’t focus on the connection between the entire body and the piano. Most of the time pianists focus on the connection between the fingers and the clock. Feel like you simply must get in three hours today? It’s quality, not quantity.

Interview With Entertainment Lawyer Joseph Stallone, by Aaron Bethune on Play It Loud Music.

Ever wonder what the difference was between copyright and trademark, and whether your band needed one or the other, or both? Can someone steal your song, and what can you do if that happens? Blogger Aaron Bethune sought out the answers to these and other questions from Joseph Stallone, a noted Texas entertainment attorney. Download the podcast to find out about managers, contracts, and your band’s most important asset – its name.

How to Network On the Gig, by Geraldine Boyer-Cussac on The Successful Musician.

Most of us probably don’t spend enough time building our networks, and that’s a shame, really, because it’s these very networks that can help us land jobs. Dr. Boyer-Cussac observes this is especially tragic when musicians fail to network with the very people they are working with. She advises going for diversity in your network, along with reaching out to people whom you do not know very well.

Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves About Networking, by Hannah Morgan on US News.

Dr. Boyer-Cussac tells you how to network; now Hannah Morgan tells you why you won’t. We whine that we don’t know anyone, or that we don’t have time, or that we’re too shy (but we will play our instruments in a crowded stadium!). Fortunately, noted speaker Hannah Morgan has some good advice for fighting against this negative self-talk.

The One-Sheet and Why You Need One, on Music Clout.

In order to have a loyal fan base that will come see you, watch your videos, and buy your material, they first need a way to find out about you. There are people who can help you, by just spreading the word. Help them out: give them the one-sheet, a 50-year-old music industry concept that is still good today.

The Pirate Bay Goes Cloud-Based to Dodge Police Raids, by Tom Pakinkis on Music Week.

“Moving to the cloud lets TPB move from country to country, crossing borders seamlessly without downtime,” according to a statement by The Pirate Bay. Worst of all, those hosting providers have no idea that they’re aiding and abetting the illegal file-sharing site.