Building a Fan Base

rock musicians playing at a live concert

Getting Better Gigs

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Let’s talk gigs.

Playing shows is key to gathering more fans. As the digital age marches on, some may argue that posting videos of your songs can replace gigging. There is absolutely a place for garnering fans through conduits such as YouTube, but I would submit that there is still a prevalent place for the live show. “Why?” you may ask. There’s something remarkable about being at a great show. You can build a rapport with your audience – they’ll see a side of you and your band that doesn’t translate or may be edited out of video performances. That’s the stuff – the “je ne sais quoi” that starts a budding fan’s devotion to you. Live performing also allows you to develop relationships with promoters and booking managers and cultivate community among the bands with whom you share the stage. Hooray! Winning. So, let’s talk about how to get some gigs.

Create a Press Kit with Demo!

This is actually a subject that needs it’s own article (and we’ll be covering it in depth soon). But, in a nutshell your press kit should look professional. If you’re looking for radio play as well as gigs, you may as well get your demo replicated, as many radio stations won’t even look at duplicated CDs. If you’re band is not quite ready to seek out radio play, go for duplication. They look great and you can order them in smaller quantities. Include – printed – on your demo song titles, and artwork (if you have it) and contact information. In fact, you’ll want to include your contact information on all the materials you submit. This is huge. Don’t give your recipients an excuse not to call you by skipping this step. From there, you’ll want to include a cover letter, as this press kit is basically your band’s resume. It would be a good idea to mention the times and days you’re willing to work. (Hint: Any day, anytime is encouraged.) Also, submit your band’s bio, lyrics to the songs on your demo, a list of artists who have a similar sound as your band, high-resolution press photos of the band and of logos, website and social media pages and, if applicable, tour dates, promotional videos, and press coverage – reviews and interviews. Also, contact information. Did I say that already? Album specific artwork or your band logo is a bonus. You can get a professional logo done for a relatively inexpensive price on freelance sites. It’s not a bad idea to have honest outside input concerning the look of your press kit. Have someone proof read all of your printed material. Then, once you’re press kit looks like the professional masterpiece you desire, it’s time to…

Do your research

Consider you genre and the audiences who tend to gravitate toward your music. If your tunes cater to the classic rock-loving over 50 crowd, you probably shouldn’t approach a tween honky-tonk. So get the names and websites of venues in a 50-mile radius (or however far you’re willing to drive for a gig) and find out if you’re a good fit for the crowds they draw. If your fans tend to be under age, consider whether the venue is 18 or 21 years and up. If you want to expand your reach, consider looking into charitable organizations in your area that hold fundraisers featuring live music. Other outside the box options might be checking into whether food truck parks or microbreweries need musical entertainment. Don’t forget open houses, private parties, and retail grand openings. Heck, some sandwich shops feature live performers, depending on your sound. Keep your eyes open. When you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s best to take your press kit to them in person. In order to communicate a respect for their time, and in an effort not to waste yours, find out who makes the booking decisions and ask to meet with them. Ideally you should set this meeting up over the phone, though it can be done through email. Keep in mind, however, emails are easier to miss or ignore. Engaging them face-to-face, even if brief, ensures your demo gets in the right hands (and isn’t lost in the mail) and puts a real-live person with the music and biographical information. It’s much harder for anyone to say “no” to a personable human with whom they’ve interacted – especially, if all the other demos were mailed in. In that way you are competing with other bands. But, on the whole other bands should be viewed as commiserators, potential collaborators, and resources. Just saying.

Take ANYTHING you can get.

Draw near. I have valuable words of wisdom to share with you. While bar managers, club owners, and venue promoters may adore music – your music, even – they do not feature live tunes for any other reason than to draw more alcohol-purchasing people and make money. They may, but probably don’t care about your aspirations. Sorry. Now, this may not be news to you. But if it is, this means if you are building your fan base, there’s a great chance that you should not expect a weekend slot on a stage at a venue – unless they’re open at five in the afternoon. Thus, if you get a call from a promoter who has listened to your demo and wants to book you, you take the Monday night opening they have for you. Or, better yet, as before hinted, express your eagerness to take Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever day or time) gigs in your press kit. This allows you to build a reputation with the bar managers that says you’re willing to work. Then promote that show to all your existing fans. Use your social media, your YouTube channel, and your newsletter to let people know you need their support. Offer free swag or a free house concert or some other promo to the people who bring five or more of their fellow music lovers. Then be professional and do your very best. Be the band the Monday night regulars invite their friends to. Play to the Wednesday afternoon audience like they’re your greatest fans. You never know who is in the audience or if they’ve ever heard your music before. You could be winning over new fans or promoters looking for talent. As you play more and more in time slots like these, the further you will increase your chances of playing more desirable days and times, thus being more accessible to your fans and their friends. Again, winning. By the way, the word tends to get out about dependable bands that bring in money spenders. Once you’ve built a solid reputation with one or two promoters, other venue owners are more likely offer you gig spots when asked.

Get to Know Your Fellow Musicians

I’ve said it before (even in this very article) and I’ll say it again. Other local bands are your friends. Getting to know bands and artists who are established in the local scene can only help your chances of playing more live shows – especially bands who have a similar sound as you. Attend their shows. Get on their mailing lists. Reach out to them outside of their shows and see if they’ll meet with you. Ask them if you can pick their brains about how to break into the scene. Have a demo with you wherever you go and share it with the bands with whom you’re building relationships. These are the people you can collaborate with. Then, in time, you will be top of mind when that band needs an opening band or are asked by booking agents if they know anyone else who has a similar sound as them. This serves the purpose of both engaging in community and cultivating new leads into your sure-to-be illustrious music career.

Now go get those gigs!




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Youtube improve results

YouTube – How To Make It Work For You

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Three Steps To Improve Performance

This feels like old news, but it’s possible you haven’t heard. If you’re not leveraging YouTube to your advantage, you have a gap in your approach to music sales. Maybe you don’t want to make a living from your music or you love your day job. That’s fine. You can probably stop reading this now. Or maybe you already have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Millions, even. You too may stop reading this. If neither of these exceptions apply to you, then settle in. Let’s talk The YouTube. *wink*

You live in a wondrous time! Just look at the Internet. It’s an amazing resource to the independent artist and band. The thing is you’re busy – out there pounding the pavement, rocking various houses night after night. But, ask any wildly successful artist. To make that dollar, you’re going to have to spend time, both on and off the stage to develop your fan base. (Unless you’re posting your performances. Then bully to you!) And in this day in which we live it’s now easier than ever to reach untapped fans via YouTube.

But first, the bad news: You won’t make any livable wage monetizing YouTube videos until you start raking in views in the hundreds of millions. Some sources report that YouTube pays $.0003 per play. This means that in order for you to pull in minimum wage you would have to have views in the tens of millions, depending on your state’s minimum wage. So that’s the bummer. But, the good news is that you don’t have to rely solely on monetization to make YouTube work for you. There are lots of examples of bands and artists (and puppeteers and style gurus and… you get the idea) who have used streaming video to get their names out there and launch their careers onto other more lucrative platforms. Remember, if you’re trying to make a living from you music, you’re not just a musician. You’re in music business. Time to get savvy. Here are a few ways to yield desirable results from YouTube.

Invite your viewers to take it to the next level and subscribe.

Make no mistake. Gathering subscribers is important. Create your channel, make delightful viewing material and call your viewers to action by encouraging them to subscribe. (Just don’t expect to make noticeable amounts of money directly from YouTube doing this.) You have to say the words too. Here’s why: In most cases, people hear about a great video. They go watch the video. They move on with their day. The end. Don’t let this be your viewers. At the end of your video, thank them for watching and then say, “subscribe!” It’s that simple. You could add a please for good measure. Or confetti. Do you, but say the words.

Invite them to your website so they can buy your stuff.

Every subscriber you procure is now your fan. They have taken time to subscribe and this means they like you. Congratulations! Now it’s time to tell them how they can listen to your awesome music wherever they go, by driving them to your website or digital storefront to buy tracks they can’t get on YouTube. You may want to incentify people to subscribe by giving them a coupon code to save a dollar off your album (which is sold only on your website or Amazon, right?). Or maybe YouTube subscribers get access to extra video content or mp3 tracks that your average schmo can’t get. Hock your interesting and hilarious t-shirts and bumper stickers by sending these captive fans to your shop. Your subscribers will not necessarily arrive at the brilliant decision to visit your website. You must invite them to do so.

Make lots of interesting content. Lots!

Here’s the deal. There are many reasons to have a prolific amount of content. One of the reasons is this: the more you’re out there, the more you increase your chances of getting subscribers. You’ll reach people you wouldn’t normally have access to through other outlets – especially younger music fans. YouTube is the most listened to music platform. The most! Gathering more fans from the juggernaut of all music conduits can help you completely bypass a music label – like so many other successful musicians have – and allow you to do music on your own terms. Or maybe you want a music contract. Perfect! Having a huge number of subscribers can only help your cause. Having a large subscriber following also means drawing the attention of potential sponsors. YouTubers who have been successful at accumulating lots of subscribers have definitely grabbed the attention of sponsors. These sponsors can pay thousands of dollars for one video that includes a mention or placement of their product. This is not a farfetched pipe-dream, either. Sponsors are well within reach. It’s hard work, of course. Nothing worth doing will ever come easy. (Sorry.) But, the rewards include garnering a larger fan base and getting to make a living from your music and videos.

So now that you know why tons of content is a must, let’s talk about what you should post. Your video subject matter should be as diverse as you and you’re music, but you don’t have to over think everything you post. Sometimes these videos are just something fun – a day-in-the-life bit or a tutorial of some kind. I can hear some of your eyes rolling right now as you read this. This may feel beneath you or pandering, even. But, try to keep an open mind about this. It’s not selling out. You’re not giving into the man. You’re dominating various digital avenues so that they work for you. Think groceries and rent – and beyond! You’re not giving in. You’re making the Internet your bitch. So get creative. By all means, post your music and your shows and your time in the studio. But, also keep in mind that people will be endeared to you by getting to see behind the proverbial curtain a bit. Talk to your fans and let them see your fun side. Cover your favorite popular songs. Reveal to them your stupid human trick. Do skits. Get viewers to vote on which guitar strap or pair of skinny jeans you’ll wear at your next performance. Video your band’s trust exercises or day of water skiing. Whatever. You’re imaginative. Just give the fans what they want and make lots and lots of content.

There’s another perk of posting tons of videos. If you haven’t created a YouTube channel or your haven’t been posting very much, creating a lot of content will also help fast track the process of gathering subscribers and getting noticed by sponsors. And bonus, the more momentum you pick up, the more monetizing your content will pay. Again, not lucrative amounts, but it’s better than nothing.

It’s time – your time. Start using YouTube like the music business tool it is.




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h

Making Money With Music

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Business of Music

If you are booking paying gigs at all, you at least have a toe in the business side of music. That is, you are performing music in exchange for money. Now, depending on your goals, you may not be making as much money as you hoped. To move forward, there are a few things you need do to get where you want to go.

1. Make a realistic, big-picture goal

Do you know where you want to end up? If the answer is in a penthouse, rolling in piles of money, while your agent turns down gigs because your worldwide tour is sold out, you may need to take a hard look at what you’re doing to achieve that dream. Most of the successful bands and artists you’ve heard of today had a long, hard road to success. They worked grueling hours. They played every thankless gig they could get their hands on. They subjected themselves to rejection in an effort to get their name out to agents, labels, and fans. Most success stories are less a random discovery of untapped musical talent and are more stories of struggle, frustration, and just plain stubborn determination. However, each successful artist would probably tell you that the thing that kept him or her going was an unceasing desire to reach a particular milestone. So, determine where you want to go. This will help you create a roadmap to reach your desired destination.

2. Take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses

With a road map in mind, you now need to look at places where you naturally shine, and the areas in which you could use some improvement. Maybe you kill at rhythm guitar, but could use some practice in lead parts. You might be an amazing songwriter, but need to look into some voice lessons or, at least, voice care. Maybe you need to leave the singing up to another member of the band or put in time on learning how to add loops to your sound. Now is the time to figure out the strengths on which you can capitalize and the weaknesses holding you back. Musicianship is not the only item to take into account. Is there someone on your team who is a natural spokesperson? Use that. Do you have someone with a penchant for entrepreneurship? There’s your business manager. Maybe there’s not a business bone in any of the members of your team. That’s ok, but recognize that as a deficit and work to figure out a way to find the help you need. Which brings me to our next step…

3. It’s okay to admit you need help (and you do)

Whether you are a solo artist or a band, chances are you don’t have your music career all figured out, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Just a guess. No problem. There’s help out there for you, once you identify the areas where you need it. In step two, did you find that your songwriting needs help? Perfect! There are entire communities of songwriters just waiting for someone to use their songs. These people are often times willing to collaborate with others (you) to create something more tailored to your sound. Can’t find anybody in your town? Through the wonder of the Internet proximity is no longer an issue. If you feel you have untapped potential in the area that is currently (i.e. your songwriting is not quite where you want it) keep honing your skill. The really good songwriters got good by failing a lot first.

Are there bands in your area whose sound you like? Or maybe you appreciate their approach to stage presence. Or maybe you just wonder how to get gigs like the one they’re playing. It might not be a bad idea to find a mentor in the accessible local bands you like. Email them and invite them to have coffee or a drink. Find out if you can pick their brain. If you hit it off plan a jam session. Write together. Maybe you’ll develop a networking relationship with them and who knows where that could lead. More connections? At the end of the day you need people who have gone before you – people with more experience. Seek them out. One day you may be the one giving highly coveted advice to a newbie band.

4. Define your sound

You’re versatile. You’re a mystery. You can’t be pinned down, because you’re universal. Genre-less. Great. Here’s the potential issue. People like categories. Sorry. So, it’s ok if you’re creating a newish sound like Soul/Pop. But, if you’re so ethereal or all-over-the-map that only major hallucinogens enable to connect with your music, you may want to reconsider your approach. Establish the strength of your style’s sound and stick to it. When you have established a solid fan base and have met some of your milestones of success, you can experiment a little. When you’re nationally recognized, multimillionaire you can redefine yourself and take a completely new direction, if you dare.

5. Work hard (Sorry.)

You may have already guessed or even experienced that this is a necessary step. This is the step that can waylay or even remove many talented people from the pursuit of their musical goals. It’s hard out there for a band. The problem is there’s this idea out there that if you want it enough you’ll achieve success. The problem countless people want to achieve their musical dreams and, unfortunately, it won’t happen for everyone. It also takes a measure of humility, especially if you are a legend in your own mind, to play kids birthday or smoky bars or tour (and live) in a cramped van. You have to account for small beginnings – even if you’ve won some battle of the bands or had a cancelled record deal. Whether it’s practicing or networking or gigging (and it’s all of those things) there will be many hours of work. The bottom line is this: do you want it enough to work for it?

6. Create a workable business plan

Having said all that I’ve said about step five, keep this in mind… hard work can be coupled with efficiency. Here’s what I mean. You, the band or artist, have a responsibility to yourself and anyone who wants to keep hearing your music to define what success looks like for you. If music is your main source of income then eating, paying rent, and affording your lifestyle is the very basic measure of success. If you’re a grown person mooching off the people you know because music isn’t paying the bills, you need a new strategy. Are you spending more on gear then your gigs are paying? Did you order a thousand t-shirts when your fan mailing list consists of 87 people? Hoping for success and working toward success are two different things.

If music isn’t paying the bills you need to sit down and figure out why. If you have inroads in the local music scene, you probably have a good idea how much money each venue will pay. Instead of working on your band’s awesome logo, you need to play as much as possible. At those gigs, get people to sign-up for your newsletter. This will allow you to track who has an interest in your music. Communicate with these folks. Tell them when and where you’re playing and give them a reason to bring their friends (free bumper stickers or EPs or make a deal with the venue that your fans get ½ off their first drinks). Have your mailing list sign up at every gig and connect with the people in the audience, both on and off stage. To fund an album, do a PledgeMusic campaign and raise most of your capital before heading into the studio. If you do have an album, be aware that iTunes takes a good percentage of the song sale without allowing you a way to track who bought it. Consider instead having your own online storefront and selling your albums there. Or sell through Amazon. Sure, be on iTunes, but don’t allow that to be your only outlet. And, do everything you can to drive traffic to your storefront. It’s ok to be smart about your approach and think these things out before charging headlong into the musical abyss. Have a plan. You are a musician, but until you hire these people out you are also your own marketer, agent, salesperson, etc. If you don’t know how to fulfill those roles, see step three.

Now get out there and make some music!




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1 Week, More Fans

3 Ways to Get More Music Fans in a Week

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

As a musician, you want to always be trying new ideas for ways to get more fans. Of course, music is subjective and at the end of the day you can begin to feel more like a salesperson and less like an artist. You want your music to be able to speak for itself. Unfortunately, we live in very fickle times, and it can be difficult for even the best musicians to gain any traction.

Here are three ways how to get more fans and boost your musical presence:

Interact with your existing fans

If you’re looking for how to get more fans, you have to engage your existing audience. This means not only setting up accounts on social media platforms, but monitoring and participating in those spheres. You do not want to set up a page and leave it. You are going to want to answer every single post or comment that is made on your social media page (or at least as many as you can) to get results. Do it honestly and quickly. Not only will this help retain existing fans, but the interactions will draw in their networks to increase your fan base.

Give It Away

It might sound totally backward if you’re looking to “sell” units, but another good tactic for how to get new more fans may be to give stuff away. This does not mean you should give away everything all the time. However, the occasional free CD, digital download, poster, or T-shirt with your name on it can help drive demand even faster. Plus, fans like a good contest to win something!

Get Personal

Having a fan page and replying to comments isn’t always enough. Let fans in behind the curtain and bring them along for the ride. Upload short videos—of rehearsal sessions, road trips, or even your performances. Post pictures—from the stage, of getting ready backstage, of fans who have come out to your shows. Create these regularly, and be sure to include them on your social media platforms. Fans will feel like they are sharing the experiences with you, building a deeper loyalty. More loyal fans are more vocal fans, right?

Getting new listeners can be tough. But if you remember these three tips you will be able to get more fans in no time.

Have you put the above tips to work? What were the results for you? What steps have you found that effectively increase your fan base?

See also: Increase Your Exposure: Streaming Music




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LocalMusicScene

10 Reasons You Should Be Involved in Your Local Music Scene

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I am an artist, I am a performer, and I am a musician.

With that sentence comes a full range of stereotypes, preconceived notions, and some things that only other artists will understand.

I am proud to say I fit many of those stereotypes. I am a bit scattered, I sometimes stop what I’m doing to admire a fallen leaf, and I definitely cry more often than most people. I’m a little over dramatic, and I’m really loud.

Those are the things I don’t mind, the things that are most visible to other people. But when we venture into the territory that only other artists and performers understand, I get a bit more hesitant to admit to some of the negative stereotypes.

My least favorite stereotype is that all performers are competitive, that all artists compare their work to others. Unfortunately, this stereotype is often true. Sometimes I look at other musicians, and a variety of unpleasant things run through my head:

“Oh, they just got lucky and knew someone.”
“Their music is okay, but the lyrics were terrible.”
“They are only successful because their genre is more popular than mine.”

It’s human nature to compare yourself to others. But when artists live in that place of comparison and competition, we miss out on so much.”

#CommunityOverCompetition

This is a hashtag I see my photographer friends using quite often. They intentionally hang out with other photographers, talk about photography, and exchange advice and tips

Does it take guts to get lunch or coffee with a direct business competitor? Maybe.

Does it take guts to get lunch with a direct business competitor, and find out how you can help each others business? Definitely.

This kind of intentionality is especially important for musicians. Chances are, your local scene is much smaller than you think it is.

We’ve listed the top 10 reasons to kill your comparative/competitive instincts and learn to love the other members of your music community.

Top Ten Reasons to Be in Your Scene:

1-You have a lot to learn.

The keyboardist who has a composition degree might be able to give you some tips on improving your melodies. And that band that has 50 people coming out to each show instead of 10 can probably teach you a thing or two.

2-It’s healthy to get out of your genre box.

When you book shows, you probably look for bands that have a similar or complementary sound to your own. So support your music community and find out why everyone is excited about that brand new psychedelic-country band that sounds nothing like yours.

3-Community=Support

I don’t know if you’ve ever had gear stolen or an amp blow out before a show, but when those things happen—and they will happen— it helps to have a network of people who know and love you AND are musicians who can help you out in a pinch.

4-You might want violin on your next record.

When you get involved with your local music community, you will meet people with different skills than you. This network of highly skilled friends comes in handy when you are looking for studio musicians for your new album.

5-Community=Connections

Did you know the guitarist of that hardcore band is actually a really great mixing engineer? Or that his uncle is a GRAMMY-winning producer and lives down the street from you? No? Me either–until I started intentionally getting to know the other bands in my city.

6-Gig Referrals.

Sometime musicians have to turn down gigs. Maybe there’s a scheduling conflict or they just honestly feel like they aren’t a good fit for the show. Often when this happens, they have a friend in mind who could take the spot they couldn’t. Trust me; you want to be that friend.

7-The ability to vent to someone who understand you.

I’m not saying that your current friends are not up to the task, but sometimes it’s just nice to talk to someone who actually understands your month-long battle with writer’s block or the inability to get gigs.

8-Opening Slots.

We already talked about gig referrals, but many times the people in your music community will need to add another band to the bill next Friday. And they might want you to be that band! What’s better than getting to play a show with a bunch of your friends? Pretty much nothing; that’s what.

9-Growing your network.

Being a member of your local scene will help you get to know musicians, but it will also help you get to know promoters, graphic designers, talent bookers, venue owners, and all sorts of other interesting industry people.

10-Genuine, awesome friends.

Sure, you can gain a lot in your career from being an active member of the music scene, but you can also gain some pretty awesome friends along the way.




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Createlocalbuzz

5 Tips to Get More People to Your Shows

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Sometimes the hometown crowd is the toughest. It’s easy for fans to get burnt out, especially if you play frequently in your city. If you’ve been seeing your local show attendance and interest drop, how can you re-invigorate your home base and pull off a stellar show?

We’ve got five easy tips to make your next hometown show a home run!

1 – Stop Playing

Yes, you read that right. Have you ever spent a week eating nothing but pizza? The next week, if anyone even mentions pizza, you groan in disgust, and probably mutter something along the lines of, “I never want to eat pizza again!”

If you play too often in your home city, your local fans could be experiencing that same feeling. If you play 3 times a week in the same 50 mile radius, your fans are going to get burnt out. Try taking a break from shows for a couple weeks to write or record some new material. Try focusing some of that booking energy on getting a few gigs in the next city over, and building a fan base there.

We’re not saying you should never play your hometown. But by decreasing the frequency of your hometown shows, you will help to create demand for your shows. Then your fans can get excited about when you do play in your city.

2 – Create an Event

I’m not talking about a Facebook event, although you should probably create one of those too. I’m talking about making your concert special. Some obvious events are a CD release show, or a hometown show celebrating the end of a tour, but there are almost endless possibilities for creating events.

Depending on your band and brand, you could come up with some pretty crazy events to get people excited about your shows. Try a “Christmas in July” show, and grab a couple other bands to play some holiday tunes in the middle of summer (this is also a great time to start rehearsing and recording your new Christmas album!). You could do a birthday show for a band member, or a birthday show for your drummer’s 15 year old pug! The possibilities are endless.

If you want a less frivolous event, you could partner with a local charity and donate proceeds from the show. You could also use a concert to film a live music video. Invite all your fans to come out so they can be the stars of your video. In addition to creating buzz for the show itself, this is also a great way to get some free promo, because people are more likely to share the video if they are in it!

3 – Try an Out of the Box Venue

Everyone has seen artists play at the local downtown club. But there are lots of other places where you can perform that can drum up some additional interest. House concerts are the obvious choice for this, but there are many other places people don’t expect to see a live show. Why not contact the city to see if you could find a way to play an acoustic show while standing in a fountain? Why not be the first band to play a show in a small town museum or a fitness studio? Shows in odd places will have their own unique challenges, but the novelty of the show might be the kick in the pants your fans need to get out to a show!

4 – Create Exclusivity

Scarcity inspires excitement. If your fans will spread the word, a secret show could be a great tool. Or a show in a venue half the size of what you usually play.  You could try only offering tickets to people who subscribe to your email list, or who retweet your last music video. This concept also applies to tip number one! The less shows you play in your hometown, the more excited people are going to be about coming out to see you!

5 – Bring Your Fans In

Everyone likes to feel like they are a part of something. Bringing your fans into the process of planning and executing a show can help get them excited about attending and bringing their friends. You can get fans to give input on the set list, or the band’s wardrobe for the evening. You could conduct a poll to decide which never-before-heard-hilarious-tour-story you’re going to tell onstage. You could even go a step further and have a contest to invite a few fans out for a post-show dinner and announce the winner at the show.

Have you experienced hometown burnout? Have any great tips to get fans in your homebase excited again? Let us know in the comments below!




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5blogsyouforgot

Submitting Your Music to Blogs: The Five Blogs You Forgot

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’ve been on Facebook in the last six months, you’ve seen the epidemic. All your friends are sharing blog post after blog post, and your newsfeed has become so blog oriented that you literally jump for joy when you see an actual status update.

While all these blogs may be a little obnoxious, I bet you’ve clicked on one. Or three. Or 16.

No shame! Blogs are a huge part of what makes the internet great, and they are an excellent tool for musicians. Getting your music featured in a blog can put your music in front of a whole new set of fans. There are tons of music blogs out there that are specifically dedicated to helping their readers find great new music. Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, and The Wild Honey Pie are just a few examples of some well-known music blogs.

And though working to get your music featured on a music blog is definitely something you should be doing, if you are only submitting your music to blogs that are just about music you’re missing out.

There are millions of other kinds of blogs out there that you could be submitting to. And these blogs don’t get hundreds(or thousands!) of music submissions thrown at them everyday. By pursuing blog coverage at a popular non-musical blog, you have a better chance of actually getting heard, and getting featured.

Just remember, if you are submitting to a non-music blog:

  • Look for a blog about something that you already have an interest in.  It will be easier for the blogger to feature you (and interview you!) if you are excited about what they normally blog about.
  • Look for a blog that’s related to your music. Chances are that many blog “niches” are missing a theme song. So if you’ve written a very specific song or concept album, look for blogs that write about what you wrote about!
  • Look for a regional blog. If you live in a major city, there are probably blogs that are geo-specific to you. If the blogger likes your stuff, you may even be able to sit down with them face to face about being featured on their blog.

So if you’re ready to start looking for some alternative press features, here are the top five non-musical blogs you should consider submitting to!

The Food Blog

If you love food almost as much as you love music, you can probably find a blog that appeals to your taste buds.  If you love to cook, or are passionate about vegan living, a food blog might be a great place for you to seek out a feature. There are also quite a few regional food blogs, so try finding one in your city. You could even offer to write a column for a them about the best places in your city to get great food and live music!

The Fashion Blog

Chances are that you have a specific sense of style. Whether you’re a country artist who wears a different pair of boots to every show, or a rock-a-billy songstress with a penchant for pin-up clothing, there is a good chance there is some kind of fashion blog geared toward your own clothing preferences.  Submitting your music to a fashion blog could also work if you have some kind of “trademark” piece of clothing that you wear at every show that the blogger could talk about.

The Travel Blog

If you are a touring musician, a travel blog might be a great place for you to look for press. You have the travel experience, and you might even have a song or two about your life on the road they could feature. If you enjoy writing, you might even talk to the owner of the blog about having a guest post series detailing your next tour. Then your fans would get updates about your tour, and your music would get a regular appearance on a website besides your own.

The Frugal Living Blog

It’s no secret that independent musicians don’t make truckloads of money. A frugal living blog might be a great place for you to talk about how you tour (aka travel) on a small budget, or how you keep your grocery budget low so you can save up for gear. A frugal living blog might even be a great place to release that new single you were planning on giving away, since their readers will probably be excited about getting something for free!

The Extremely-Specific Blog

I know. This technically isn’t a category of blogs. But you know yourself and your music better than anyone else. Look at your hobbies outside music and see if you can find a blog about your random obsession with Hello Kitty, or micro-gardening. Chances are there are other people who love the same things you do, and would be willing to listen to your music! Here are a few more really specific blogs to get you started brainstorming:

  • Gaming
  • Craft Beer
  • Coffee
  • Sports
  • Marketing
  • Religion
  • Lifestyle
  • Sushi
  • Crafting/DIY
  • Tiny Houses

Have you had any success submitting your music to non-music related blogs? Do you have any other ideas about what kind of blogs to submit to? Let us know in the comments below!


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livestream

Live Streaming Your Performance with Stageit, Periscope, and Google Hangouts for Musicians

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We live in an era where new technologies pop up quickly, and disappear just as fast. Everyone is always looking for the next awesome app that’s going to make their life a little easier, and a little more fun.

Enter live streaming.

Although live streaming video has been around for a while, it is beginning to gain popularity and traction, and some new live streaming apps have appeared in the last few months. Here’s a quick run-down of our favorite apps and websites, and how you can use them to promote your music, connect with fans, and even earn some cash.

Live Streaming Concerts With Stageit:

There are lots of different services that will allow you to stream a show live. UStream, Livestream, and Stageit are platforms that can put your concert directly onto your fan’s laptops. But Livestream and UStream are expensive to use.

This is why we recommend Stageit. Stageit is a great platform that was obviously built with musicians in mind. Artists like Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michaelson, and Bon Jovi have all used the platform. Stageit is simple to setup and use, and is free for artists. It allows you to choose ticket prices(or let fans choose a price) and fans can tip you during your show. Shows are defaulted to last for 30 minutes, although you can have up to a 20 minute “encore.”

There is also live commenting enabled for fans and artists so that you can interact with viewers during the show. You will also have access to information about the fans who tip the most during your show, and Stageit encourages you to give fans that tip generously a reward, like a signed CD or poster, when the show is over.

Stageit is available on mobile platforms as well as desktops and laptops, so your fans can watch from anywhere. All you need to get started is a webcam, but you can upgrade to a more complicated set up with more cameras and different audio sources if you like.

There are two downsides to Stageit. When you use Stageit to live stream a show, nothing is recorded and archived. This is a great thing to promote the exclusivity of the Stageit show,  but it can become a problem if something great happens and you have no means to capture and keep the video.

Stageit also uses their own “currency” during shows called notes. Fans pay for show tickets and tip during the show with notes that they pre-pay for. One note is equal to 10 cents, and fans can purchase them when they sign up for the site. While this isn’t a bad system, it can be a little confusing for new users, so you may want to explain it to your fans before your show.

If you want to get into live streaming shows, Stageit can be a powerful tool to connect with fans, and put a little extra cash in your pocket.

Periscope for Musicians:

Twitter’s newest app launched in March 2015 and it’s beginning to pick up a lot of buzz. Periscope is a social app that lets your broadcast live wherever and whenever you want. You simply login with your Twitter account information, give Periscope access to your phone’s camera and photo roll, and you’re good to go. Then other users can tune in to what you’re broadcasting live.

There are a couple of features in Periscope that help it to stand a little above its main competitor Meerkat.

  • Privacy Settings: You can allow anyone to watch your Periscope broadcasts, or you can invite specific users in. This is a really cool feature if you are offering a live broadcast as a reward to fans for a crowdfunding campaign, or if you only want members of your fan club or patrons to see your broadcasts.
  • Video Archival: Periscope lets other users see your broadcasts for up to 24 hours after you post them, a feature that Meerkat doesn’t have. It also gives you the option to save all your broadcasts to your phone. This means that your Periscope broadcasts are doing double duty capturing video that you can use later for YouTube or Facebook.

Periscope can help you communicate directly to fans like never before. People who love your music can experience moments with you as they are happening, and they can interact with those moments. Periscope displays comments in real time during your broadcast so users can communicate with you directly and affect what’s happening in your broadcast by giving their suggestions or asking questions. This is a fantastic way for artists to deepen their communication with fans.

Google+ Hangouts On Air and YouTube Live:

Google+’s live streaming feature is a great choice if you want your live stream to be recorded and archived, and if you want a little more flexibility in where your users can watch from. Since Google+ and YouTube are best friends(i.e. owned by the game company!), your Google+ Hangout On Air can go directly to your YouTube channel, and will be archived there. Live streaming with Google+ is also embeddable, so you can place the video into your website. This is a great way to encourage your fans to visit your website. Google+ Hangouts On Air are simple to set up (you can find instructions here). If Google+ isn’t your cup of tea you can set up your live stream directly through YouTube  (click here for details). They function essentially the same, although on YouTube fans will only be commenting, not engaging through video. You can also earn money for ad revenue during live broadcasts through YouTube if your channel is set up for monetization.

Closing The Gap

Having a dedicated set of fans is the number one key to having a  successful career in music. Giving your fans custom experiences through live streaming can help you strengthen bonds with existing fans, and open doors to creating new ones. And when fans are engaged with you and your music, you are one step closer to a sustainable music career.
Have you used live streaming before? How did fans react? Will you use it again? Let us know in the comments below!


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bandsintown

How To Find New Fans AND Make Social Media Updates Easy

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Everyone wants to make their life a little easier. Especially independent musicians. From being the artist to the tour manager to the PR specialist, indie artists have a lot on their plates. So when we find a tool that frees up a little of your time and does its job well, we get excited.

Enter Bandsintown.

Bandsintown is a website and app that lets music fans track their favorite artists. Then it lets those fans know when the artists they tracked comes to town. 65% of all touring artists in the United States use Bandsintown, and they have over 120 million fans subscribed to their service. For the artist, it’s an easy tool to use. Bandsintown adds a “Tour Dates” tab to your Facebook page, and you can manage everything from there. It’s a simple concept that has some great features. So let’s dive into why Bandsintown might be a good tool for your band.

Social Media Updates

A few weeks ago we posted a blog about ReverbNation, and it warned against letting third parties automatically post concert updates to Facebook for you. We cautioned against using this feature on ReverbNation primarily because there was no way to control these posts, besides turning them on and off. They tended to fill up artist’s Facebook and Twitter with duplicate content that had the potential to drive fans away.

This is not the case with Bandsintown. Their automatic posting feature has tons of options that let you control exactly what is posted.

If you choose to turn these posts on in Facebook, you can also target them geographically. This a great feature. It makes sure you’re not bothering all your West Coast fans with your extensive touring in the Northeast.

Post to Reginal

It’s also notable that the “Tour Dates” tab allows you to upload a custom video header. This is great news, because it allows your fans to engage with visual content before they browse your tour schedule. It’s been shown that visual content (graphics and video) tend to create higher response rates with viewers, so having this built into the page where your shows are displayed is a great feature.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 11.55.56 AM

Fan Analytics

Fans are the lifeblood of any musician. And having data about those fans can mean the difference between a successful tour or playing to empty rooms every night. If you have over 100 trackers (fans) in Bandsintown, you can receive fan analytics.

Probably the best feature in these analytics is the fan heat map. This tool allows you to see where the fans that track you live, where fans who track similar artists live, and the locations of fans who have RSVP’d to your shows. This helps you to create a tour schedule that will have the most impact for you.

Heatmap

They also create a list of the top 100 markets for your live show based on the number of trackers in each city, and show you a graph of actual RSVPs for your shows vs. people who are interested in attending.

RSVP vs. Interested

Google Loves Bandsintown

Bandsintown has a nice looking widget that you can embed onto your official website to display your tour dates. This is handy because you only have to upload your show dates once and they will be live on your official website and social media.

Another bonus is that Bandsintown has partnered with Google to streamline the ways that events show up when you search for a band. Since Bandsintown and Google are buddies, all your show information is easy for Google to read, and shows up clearly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.08.05 PM

Another benefit to Bandsintown’s relationship with Google is YouTube Cards. YouTube hopes to replace annotations in videos with small rectangular boxes called cards. These cards are small pictures with text, and will display on desktop as well as mobile browsers. You can link these cards to your official website if you’ve already affiliated your YouTube channel with your website. However, if you want to use YouTube cards to sell anything, you have to use a retailer that has already been approved by YouTube. The good news is that Bandsintown is on that list.

Hozier YouTube

But the best news about this feature?

When you use Bandsintown on your YouTube card, the card will link directly back to your website.

This is great news for artists, and is vastly different than many third party applications that will take your fans to their website instead of your own.

What Not to Do With Bandsintown

Just like any other online tool, there are some things you need to be careful of when using a third party app to help you out.

  • Don’t let Bandsintown social media posts take over your profile.  Just because the social media posting feature works well doesn’t mean it is a replacement for actual posts created by you. Even though Bandsintown gives you lots of posting customization options, if all your fans ever see are these posts, they will probably check out pretty quickly. You can read our blog for tips on managing your social media profiles here.
  • Don’t let Bandsintown gather all your fan data for you. Although they have some great analytical tools, you don’t ever want a third party to be the main way you gather information about fans. If third parties are the only way you’re collecting fan data, if they ever shut their doors, you will be left high and dry with no way to communicate with fans.
  • Don’t Let Bandsintown Emails Replace Your Regular Newsletters. It’s great that Bandsintown will automatically send your fans an update when you’re playing in their area, but a personal newsletter written by you is a better way to engage with fans. Many email newsletter services also allow you to geographically target your email audience. Using Bandsintown and your favorite e-newsletter platform in conjunction with each other can optimize your fan interaction, and help get those fans out to your shows.

Overall, Bandsintown is a well built, professional tool that can help artists manage the planning and promotion of their shows, and I would recommend it to almost any artist. But as always, do some experimenting and find out if this app is something that will work for you and your music. If you want more information, you can check out Bandsintown’s official website here.

Have you used Bandsintown? What are your favorite features? Has it helped you to plan more effective tours, and get fans out to shows? Let us know in the comments below!




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reverbnation

Should You Use ReverbNation?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

ReverbNation is a music-specific social network that over 3.5 million artists use. From digital distribution and web hosting to gig opportunities, ReverbNation seems to have it all. But do you need a ReverbNation profile?

To decide if ReverbNation is a good fit for you, you have to ask yourself this question:

Is ReverbNation actually helping my career?

ReverbNation has some useful tools. But some of its features might do more harm than good to your music career.

What Not to Do On ReverbNation

We want you, the artist, to market your music effectively, engage with fans well, and have a successful career. Part of that is using the tools available to you wisely. So we’ve outlined some things to steer clear of when you use ReverbNation, and a few things that ReverbNation might be able to help you with.

Don’t let ReverbNation’s automated social media posts replace your personal interaction with fans.

ReverbNation easily syncs with major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. ReverbNation can automatically post information about your shows to other social networks. It will continue to post show information as it gets closer to the show date. While this sounds like a great thing, ReverbNation won’t let you control when those things are shared, or how often.

This is a problem.

ReverbNation’s posts tend to fill up your profile with impersonal concert notifications.

While it’s great to let fans know when and where you’ll be playing, these impersonal post soon begin to look like spam. This can frustrate and annoy fans, which is the last thing you want to do.

If you let ReverbNation post to Facebook, it can also lower your position on your fans’ newsfeeds. Facebook has a very specific algorithm that dictates what gets placed into newsfeeds. Numerous duplicate posts could get flagged in Facebook’s program, and mean a lower fan reach.

Do have a regular social media posting schedule.

A status that you took the time to write is better content than a computer generated post about a show. When your social feed is full of automated links, it can make you look like you don’t care about interacting with your fans.

ReverbNation’s automatic posts won’t harm you if your newsfeed has lots of organic posts.  When the automated updates are interspersed with personal content, fans can get excited that you are announcing shows, instead of frustrated that their feed is full of unwanted notifications.

Don’t sacrifice a great website.

ReverbNation has the ability to create a good looking website, that is mobile and tablet friendly.  But I have a major problem with ReverbNation’s website builder.

There are only three templates, and almost no customization.

While Reverbnation’s website design and hosting is easy to set up, the lack of personalization cuts down on the usefulness of this service. You want your website to be an accurate representation of who you are as an artist, and you want it to be a place where you can interact with fans. In my opinion, ReverbNation’s sites don’t allow you to do that.

As a quick example, let’s check out one of the bands that ReverbNation uses to showcase it’s website building feature: Skyward.

reverbnation website builder

Skyward is an independent alternative rock band from Harrisonburg, VA, and I reached out to talk to them about how their band utilizes ReverbNation. The first thing I asked them about was web hosting. They told me that even though ReverbNation features the Skyward website on their information page about site building, Skyward does not actually use the ReverbNation website tool, instead they use a design/hosting platform from Wix for their homepage.  If a band that is featured on ReverbNation—specifically on their information page for site building—doesn’t use the service, that tells me that something about their web design platform did not meet the expectations of Skyward.  ReverbNation may want to update their information page with a band that is actually using them to design/host their site.

Do have a website.

If you don’t currently have a website, ReverbNation’s website builder might be a good place for you to start. Having a website with almost no customization is better than having no website at all, and if this fits your need, then ReverbNation offers a good solution for beginners.

Social media profiles, including your ReverbNation profile, are not a substitute for good website.

So if you don’t have a website, and aren’t sure how to go about creating one, ReverbNation might be a good place to start.

However, if you are willing to spend a little extra time, you can have a much more custom website with the same tools at about the same price. There are lots of web hosting and design services that have comparable prices to ReverbNation, and allow you to fully build the best website for you. I recommend WordPress, Square Space, or Wix.

Don’t expect hundreds of new fans.

While ReverbNations boasts that they have 3.5 million bands signed up on their site, they never let us know how many fans have profiles. There’s no doubt that some music fans are on ReverbNation, but is it a site that hoards of fans visit to find new artists? Probably not.

The majority of users on ReverbNation are other artists. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a ReverbNation website will generate fan traffic and get you noticed. Try this simple test – ask the next 20-30 people you meet how they listen to music. Track how many tell you they log onto ReverbNation to find new music, I think you will find the number is small or possibly zero.  When I tried it not one of my people said ReverbNation.

If you want genuine interaction with fans, new and old, ReverbNation is probably not the place to do that.

I asked Skyward if they’ve had success connecting with new fans on ReverbNation, and their guitarist Jordan Breeding said:

I’m pretty sure no casual music fan ever hops on there, creates a profile, and then looks for new bands. It seems that most of the members are just other musicians. That limits its usefulness in my opinion.”

Do spend time creating relationships with fans

ReverbNation probably isn’t the best place to connect with fans. Finding out where your target audience communicates will help you build meaningful relationships with fans. Try Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Patronage.

Don’t spend all your time randomly submitting to gig opportunities

There are thousands of live show and press opportunities on ReverbNation. In theory, having thousands of potential gigs at your fingertips is wonderful. But there are problems. One issue is simply sorting through them all. You have to find the opportunities that are relevant to your band that you actually have a chance of booking.

Remember, there are literally millions of bands on ReverbNation trying to compete for the same opportunities as you.

You also have to pay to submit to many of the opportunities on ReverbNation. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you don’t get the gig, that money is gone. So if you choose to submit to these gigs, make sure you are paying attention to the cost.

Do submit to opportunities that can genuinely enhance  your career.

When looking for opportunities on ReverbNation use your time—and your hard earned cash—well. Spend it on things that are actually going to enhance your career. Some people successfully find gigs on ReverbNation. Other artists don’t.

The guys in Skyward have had some moderate success with ReverbNation opportunities. They recommend looking for opportunities based on geography. You’re much more likely to have the chance to play at a local festival that uses ReverbNation than at a festival thousands of miles away. You always have to keep in mind that you are competing with thousands (or millions!) of other musicians. But if you’re smart about where you spend your time and money, and it might pay off!

Useful Tools

There are things you probably shouldn’t be using ReverbNation for. But it can be a great tool when you use it wisely.

ReverbNation offers digital distribution at good prices, and their services are comparable to many other aggregators.  And if you are already paying for the premium tier of ReverbNation, digital distribution is included.

They also offer a great rate when you sell downloads from their online store. Selling downloads is even available with a free membership! Musicians keep 87% of the revenue they generate from selling their music on ReverbNation. That’s quite a bit more than the 70% you’ll make from iTunes.

Reverbnation also offers a great looking Electronic Press Kit. If you need something simple, effective, and streamlined to send to promoters, ReverbNation’s press kits are good looking, easy to set up, and offer great tools like integrated fan stats. You can even see who opened your press kit, and exactly what they clicked on.

Another advantage of ReverbNation is that it keeps everything in one central location. This is Skyward’s favorite feature. Guitarist Jordan Breeding says:

“It’s definitely very helpful as far as being able to hold all of our music/videos/photos/schedule in one convenient place and then incorporate that stuff onto our Facebook and personal website. It can also be a helpful way to contact certain venues or other bands in the places where we travel.”

Thanks to Skyward for their input in this article. You can checkout their music here, and their ReverbNation press kit here.




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