Networking and Branding

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.




2 Comments
...Keep Reading

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.




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading

How to Take Great Band Photos in 5 Steps

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It was a freezing cold day. Sometimes Texas in November is kind, and you’ll get a beautiful 65 degrees with not a cloud in the sky! But this was not one of those days. It was overcast, drizzling off and on, and was easily in the low-30s.

But this was the day that we had booked the photographer, so out into the cold I ventured to take the promotional shots for my next album.

Getting in front of a photographer is a part of being a musician that I don’t really enjoy. I’m definitely not a model. I get self conscious, start to clam up, I worry the entire time how the pictures are going to turn out, and I spend half the shoot wondering if my hair looks super weird.

This time though, I promised myself I wasn’t going to worry. I was going to be prepared, and do some concrete things to make sure the photos turned out great. And they did!

I know that many musicians also struggle with taking great photos, so I’ve put together the tips that got me through my last photo shoot so that you can also take some amazing band photos.

Step 1 – Be Prepared

The best thing you can do to get great photos is know what you want. Do some digging, and find photos you really like. These might be photos of other bands, landscapes, album covers, or portraits.

Try to find about 10 pictures that you really love. Then try and pick out one or two things about each photo that you like. Colors, the “vibe” of the picture, the location, how people are posed in the photo, and the lighting are all things that you should look for. When you’ve defined why you like your 10 photos, you’re ready to start looking for a photographer. The photos you picked out will help you find a photographer with a style that works for your music and your brand, and will also help you to communicate what you want when you hire a photographer.

Step 2 – Choose Wisely

Photographers are artists. If you wanted to listen to thrash metal live, you probably wouldn’t go to a coffeehouse open mic. If you want photos that are a particular style, you need to find a photographer that works within that style.

I’m not saying that a photographer shouldn’t be flexible and try to get the shots that you want. But you should do your research, and find a photographer in your area whose current portfolio is similar to the look you’re going for. If all of their photos look a certain way, and you want something completely different, you should probably choose a different photographer.

When you’re communicating with a potential photographer, try sending them a link to your music. Listening to your music can help them to get a feel for what kinds of photos they will need to take, and if their style will mesh well with your band.

You also need to make sure you have permission from your photographer to use the images for commercial purposes. Remember, they own the copyright to the photos they take. Most professional photographers will have a protocol already in place for granting a commercial licenses for their photos.

When choosing a photographer, style is key. But you also have to look at price. Different Photographer price things differently, so chances are you’ll be able to find something in your price range. If you absolutely love a particular photographer’s style, but they are a little too expensive, it never hurts to shoot them an email to explain your needs and your budget. They may be able to work out a reduced rate or a shorter shoot time to accommodate you. Some photographers will also give discounts for a type of photo they don’t usually shoot. If a family photographer really wants to start shooting bands and live shows, they may offer a lower rate for the experience.

If you have practically no budget for photography, a good place to look is local art schools, colleges, and universities. If they have a graphic design or photography program, chances are their students are looking for models. A lower level student might shoot you for free, and an upper level student may have rates far below an established photographer because they need to build their portfolio.

Step 3 – Be Prepared…Again

Now that you know the style you’re after, and who you’ll be working with, begin to plan the actual photo shoot. Talk to your photographer about scouting locations for your photos. They might have some locations where  they love to shoot, or you may discover the perfect location yourself. Be open to ideas from your photographer, and from your bandmates.

Once you’ve decided on a location (or two!) you need to decide what you’re going to wear, and if you need hair and makeup help. Remember, you are paying someone good money to record what you look like at a specific moment in time. Don’t waste that money by not taking a few minutes to focus on how you look. A good idea for your appearance is to take cues from what you would normally wear on stage. If you are a grunge band that only wears cut-offs and tank tops to perform in, don’t go to your photo shoot wearing a formal tuxedo (unless perhaps the name of the album you’re taking promo pictures for is “Irony”).

If you didn’t have a face to face meeting when you hired your photographer, make sure to have one before the day of the shoot. If you’re shooting with your full band, maybe invite the photographer to your next practice. That way they can meet everyone who will be in the pictures. Your pictures will come out better if everyone is comfortable around each other, and meeting face to face can help eliminate some of the initial awkwardness.

Step 4 – Create a Shot List

Musicians have very specific needs for photos, and if your photographer isn’t used to shooting bands, they may not be familiar with them. Do you feature individual bios of your band members on your website? Then you should probably take close up individual shots of everyone in your band.

You may also need several shots that are pulled very far back from the band. You can use these for posters, or online graphics that you’ll need to put text over. This way, the text is more readable, and you’re not covering up the faces of your members with the time of your next show. You may even need a few shots of only the background, especially if you’re shooting outdoors. These can be used for the inside of your album packaging, an album cover, or for promos and graphics. These are the types of shots that a photographer unaccustomed to shooting bands may not realize they need to get, but are vital for musicians.

Step 5-Relax

You look great I promise. The more relaxed you are, the better the photos will turn out. And let’s be real. Most photographers will take somewhere around 500-1000 pictures in one shoot. And you are probably only going to use 10 of those pictures. There’s no pressure to make every shot look fantastic. Be yourself, and don’t freak out.

This doesn’t mean don’t be aware. You need to make sure the shots on your must-take list are getting done, and you probably don’t want your drummer goofing off in every shot.  But being aware doesn’t mean you have to be stressed. Relax, have fun, and good pictures will follow.

What do you do to prepare for a photoshoot? Have any great tips on taking the best promo picture ever? Let us know in the comments!


Related Articles:




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading

Creating a Strong Profile on Pinterest

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

So you think that Pinterest might be a good tool to keep in your proverbial marketing tool belt? Great!

Let’s get into the practical ways you can effectively use Pinterest to connect with fans and increase traffic on your website.

Creating Your Profile

The first step is to sign up for a Pinterest Account. There are now two types of Pinterest accounts: personal and business. The business accounts operate exactly like personal Pinterest accounts, except you get free access to analytics. This is a valuable tool once you learn how to use it, so I recommend signing up as a business account. If you already have a personal Pinterest account, you can convert it into a business account. However, unless everyone and everything connected to your personal account fits with your brand as an artist, I recommend that you keep your personal and business accounts separate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.19.21 AM

After you sign up, you will confirm your account through email.

Once your account has been confirmed, you will need to edit your general profile information. To do so:

  • Click on your user name in the top right to get to your profile.
  • Click the “edit profile” button just below your name.
  • Upload a profile picture. The picture should be in focus and not pixelated, easily identifiable, and tied to your brand as an artist. This lets followers instantly recognize a pin as yours.
  • Add a link to your website. This is important, as you are on Pinterest for marketing purposes. Without this link, people who discover you through Pinterest have no easy way of finding out more about you.
  • Choose a custom domain for your Pinterest account. Consistency is key, so try to keep your custom domain as close to your name, website, or other social media custom domains as possible. 

basic info

And that’s it! Your profile is created. Now, let’s make it a strong profile! How do you do that? You add content… the right content.

Building Your Boards

After you’ve edited your basic information, you should begin to create boards. To create a board, simply go to your profile page and click on the “Create Board” icon on the left.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.13.11 AM

Your boards are where you will pin your content. Topical boards are the best way to organize your content (this is helpful when people are browsing your pins to find content or learn more about you).

When creating your boards, it’s important to think ahead to the content you will pin on them. It’s also important to keep this mantra in mind: Get personal.

You’re here to genuinely connect with fans through shared interests and to give them a glimpse of who you truly are. If all you do is promote yourself, you have missed out on the most useful parts of Pinterest. Your pins, therefore, should reflect who you are as much as (if not more than) what you do.

The key is to strike the right balance.

For boards reflecting your personal interests, some good ideas (topics that consistently trend on Pinterest) are recipes, fashion, DIY projects, and art. If you’re personally interested in something, create a board around that topic.

In terms of boards for marketing your music, you can create boards for your music and videos, tour posters, promotional pictures, live shows, pictures with fans… pretty much anything that can be translated into a visual medium, you can create a board for.

You can (and should!) also have boards that tread the line between your music and personal tastes. Create a board that shows your fans the inspiration behind your music; it could include quotes, poetry, art, or photography. You can even create inspiration boards for specific release, whether a whole album, a single, or a music video.

You can also create shared boards that your fans can pin to. Want to know what your music inspires your fans to do or create? Create a board for fan art. Not sure what to wear for your next music video or photo shoot? Ask your followers! Not only will you get great ideas, but since they were engaged with planning, they will be more likely to share the finished product.

Katy Perry’s page is a good example of fan interaction. Many of her boards allow fans to pin their own content to them. This helps her fans to feel like they are involved with Katy on a personal level. However, Katy’s profile is mostly self-promotion, which is not the way we recommend independent artists use Pinterest. Personal and authentic content is the best way to add and keep followers.

Branding Your Boards

Your personal branding doesn’t have to stop at your website or your profile picture. Pinterest allows for a lot of flexibility and customization. You can create boards around any theme you want, you can name the boards whatever you want, and you can set the main image for each board. Play around with this to tie in your existing branding.

Actress/Pop Singer Vanessa Hudgens does a really good job of consistently branding her boards. Her board titles are simple, and she has uploaded a custom cover photo for each board using the same font and style.

vanessa hudgens boards

Adding Pins to Your Boards

Your content on Pinterest is the point of connection between you and your fans, so make sure that it is well thought out. Remember that people follow you because they are interested in who you are. Show them that with your content.

You can do this with a good mix of original content and repins. If you blog regularly, pin the images from your blog posts. Repin recipes of what you want to eat for dinner alongside an original pin of your new music video. Pin tips for caring for a sore throat and maintaining health; after all, you as a singer should know how to care for your voice. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, re-pin recipes you want to try alongside photos of drinks from coffee shops you visited on the road.

One benefit to pinning original content is that it gives you greater opportunity to drive traffic back to your website. (Pinterest is well-known for its click-through rate.) This works best if you pin directly from your website or point people back your website, where they can buy your music or a T-shirt or get signed up for your mailing list. You can also pin from your other social media accounts. This isn’t as ideal as sending traffic directly to your site, but it could increase your opportunities to interact with your fans. We mentioned Vanessa Hudgens for her branding earlier, but she also does a great job of directing the traffic back to her.

You should also brand your original content. If you have a logo, place that logo somewhere unobtrusive in the picture you’re sharing. That way, even if the link to your original page gets lost, people still know where the content they liked came from.

If you are repinning content that others uploaded, be conscious of what you are pinning. Respect other people’s work. Just like you don’t want someone else to get credit for your songs, a food blogger doesn’t want someone else to get credit for the chocolate cake recipe they worked hard to create. Make sure the picture or recipe links back to the site where it originated. Also be sure that the creator is open to having their content pinned (i.e., look for a “Pin This” prompt on their website or for original pins they have uploaded directly). We’ll use Vanessa Hudgens as an example again. On her Music board, almost all the content is pinned directly from the artist’s website or social media accounts. This drives the traffic back to those artist, giving them credit for their original content. When used correctly, Pinterest is  great way to cross promote, and other independent business will likely be grateful for your appreciation of their content.

Adding Quality Content

Pinterest is primarily a visual medium. Good images are key to increasing engagement. Text should be legible. Photographs shouldn’t be out of focus or pixelated, and they should be well-lit and visually interesting. What does this look like in practice? Instead of pinning a photo of your new merch shirt on a hanger or sitting in the box, ask a friend or fan to model it… but go to a pretty location with good lighting (often indirect lighting) instead of your garage or spare bedroom. Got a new album coming out? Take your favorite line or two and turn them into a gorgeous graphic. If you like it enough, it might be something you turn into an art print to sell as merch!

On a side note: make sure that when you are creating these graphics, that you are not using copyrighted material. You can gets lots of great stock photos at decent prices from sites like fotolia.com and Shutter Stock. Or, if you have a photographer or graphic designer friend, ask if they want to collaborate and make graphics that both of you can use.




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading
5 Foolproof Ways to Make Music Industry Contacts

How To Network: Five Foolproof Ways To Make Music Industry Contacts

By Gregory Douglass - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

written by: Gregory Douglass

Whether you’re an emerging artist or a seasoned professional, it can feel daunting for musicians at any level to make music industry contacts that are worthwhile. It’s hard enough to know where to begin, let alone make any worthwhile connections. Trust me, I know! So how does one tackle this crazy beast we call music industry networking? Here are 5 Foolproof Ways To Make Music Industry Contacts that will totally blow your mind.

1. Figure out who you truly want to connect with

If you’re like most musicians, you’re networking efforts currently consist of either nothing at all or constantly trying to conquer the world. Neither approach is effective, and both lead to the same dead-end results… so start focusing in on a select few. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Whom am I dying to work with?
  • Who do I think will really “get” me and my music?
  • Who’s already in my corner?

It doesn’t matter how “connected” a person already is or how “connected” you think they are. So long as every answer to these questions remains in alignment with your goals, dreams, and desires, you can’t go wrong. Sometimes, all it takes is one right connection that changes everything, and then the rest takes care of itself!

2. Reach out genuinely

In any initial correspondence, you want to make a good first impression. First impressions are everything. If you connect with people genuinely, you will never come across as being opportunistic, and that’s very important. After all, people prefer to work with others who they like and trust.

Conferences are great places to network, and after parties are where the real connections are made (a little liquid courage goes a long way)! But any action you take, and circumstance you find yourself in, is an opportunity waiting to foster if you’re open to it.

3. Offer to help

So many artists have only their best interests in mind when they are trying to make new connections. Now imagine how much further you can get by offering to help in ways that might be beneficial to each person you are trying to connect with instead of just begging them to help you? When you approach anyone with “tables turned” in mind, it’s much easier to understand how a person might be more open to correspondence than not. If you are able to contribute value to someone else, they will be far more likely to help you in return.

4. Follow up regularly

You’ve already planted the seed with your offer to help. Now stay on their radar—respectfully, but consistently! Give each connection time to foster. In fact, plan any connection you intentionally pursue as far in advance as you can without any expectation of immediate gratification. There is a time for everything, and even the most powerful connections can take their sweet time before they are ripe and ready to harvest.

5. Don’t burn bridges

I repeat: don’t ever burn bridges with anyone. You never know who really holds the power in ways that could catapult your career! Chances are, a grand opportunity will present itself from someone you least expect when you least expect it. If you let every connection foster through genuine and consistent correspondence with those you care about the most, you will be amazed at what will manifest in your career!

I hope that these tips at least offer a much-needed shift in perspective for the imminent success of your music career. And remember this: while big opportunities may be beyond your control, the lasting impression you leave is always within your means.

You’re a rock star. Never change.

Here’s to your creative genius!

For the video version of this blog, head on over to Gregory’s website, The Creative Advisor.




2 Comments
...Keep Reading

5 Dangerous Networking Mistakes… and How to Avoid Them

By Cliff Goldmacher - Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Written by: Cliff Goldmacher

How do you—a new songwriter or musician, with talent and drive oozing out your pores but no open doors in sight—meet the decision makers, the movers and shakers, the powers that be? How do you get your work and your talent in front of the people who can make you successful?

That is, arguably, the greatest mystery of the music business.

What’s the second-greatest mystery? Why so many songwriters, once in contact with those elusive industry influencers, throw common sense out the window and behave in ways that can only hurt their reputation and their chances of succeeding in the industry.

In my years as a professional songwriter and producer, I’ve been on both sides of that equation. I’d like to use that experience to help you avoid some of those common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Losing Your Patience/Cool

If you plan to be in the music business for longer than this week, here’s my advice: take a deep breath, and learn to be patient. Patience, more than anything else, is essential for a long and healthy career as a songwriter.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that you might wait years before the networking seeds you plant bear any fruit. Instead of obsessing over each delayed or rejected submission and melodramatically anguishing over the state of your career, funnel that energy into honing your craft, and trust that your talent will prove itself and find a home in time. You’ll save yourself some heartache and better prepare yourself for success.

It’s also vital that you not be impatient. Becoming impatient with someone—whether a publisher who isn’t returning your call or a record label exec who misplaced your submission, again—can only end badly for you. No matter how many justifications you have for losing your cool, doing so brands you as unprofessional… not just to the particular person you had contact with, but with everyone in their network. Yes, that’s right: music industry people compare notes. The last thing you want is for your name—and your explosion of impatience—to be the topic of conversation at lunch or happy hour.

Again, my recommendation is to take a deep breath, and learn to be patient. Odds are, no one is purposely avoiding you and your songs. Instead, they’re likely flooded by submissions for a number of projects and will get to yours in time.

(Bonus tip: the best way I know to not become impatient is to have as many irons in the fire as you can at any given moment. This means you’re never waiting for “that one thing” to come through.)

Mistake #2: Submitting Too Many Songs

You’ve just had a really nice interaction with a publisher, and he expressed interest in hearing some of your songs. You drive home in a daze, with your head up in the clouds; when you get home, you open up your laptop to send him a couple songs. Wait a minute, you think. Why send him just one or two songs? I should send him everything! That way, I have better odds of him finding something he likes, and hitting a home run, and… YES! Send them ALL!

While I understand the temptation to send this individual every song you’ve ever written, including a few that aren’t finished yet, restraint should be your default setting. Let me say it another way: it is NOT a good idea to send more than requested, even if you’re confident that all of your songs are great songs.

Why is that, you ask? Let me tell you.

Imagine the desk in that publisher’s office… maybe a nice, big, wooden one, with a picture of his family in one corner and his computer monitor in another. Wait, you said wooden… you’re picturing a clean desk, one where you can see the top? Wrong. Try again. Add stacks of CDs, covering every last inch of the desk, spilling over onto the bookcase behind and the floor next to it. That’s a little better. Now, that computer you imagined? It has his email accounts on it, each of which has an inbox filled with submissions. Dozens or hundreds of emails with song files attached or links to websites, emails waiting to be read and music waiting to be listened to.

The publisher arrives at work in the morning, and looks at his stacks of CDs and his overflowing, ever-replenishing inboxes. He picks up two CDs; one has two songs on it, and one CD has nineteen songs. Which one do you think he plays first? If you guessed the CD with two songs, you guessed correctly. He can listen to the submission quickly (because there is less to listen to), decide whether or not he likes the music, and move on to the next submission. Pick, listen, decide, repeat. Believe me: if a publisher likes what he hears, he’ll ask you for more. But, if you overwhelm him from the start, you might never get listened to at all.

It’s always better to start small and build up rather than the other way around.

Your best bet is two or three songs on a CD (or in separate emails, if you’re certain he accepts submissions by email). Unless they are requested, there’s no need to include lyric sheets, your biography, or photos. If he likes what he hears, he’ll ask you for more.

Mistake #3: Telling Someone You Have a Hit/You Are A Great Songwriter

The hallmark of a novice is informing the industry person you’re talking to that you’re a great songwriter and you’ve written a hit song… or, it would be a hit if only it got a chance. You’ll do more harm than good by coming on so strong, even or maybe especially if what you’re saying is true.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in your work or be confident about what you’re doing. Instead, it means that you should approach someone, who you want to listen to your music, with humility and an understanding that your music isn’t the only music in their world. I’m a big believer in the “talk softly and carry a big stick” approach when meeting with anyone in the industry. Let your work do the talking.

So, what do you say? Two great options are, “I think I’ve got a song that’s appropriate for your artist,” or, “If you’re looking for songs, I’d like permission to send you a song or two.” These statements suggest that you’re a songwriter, that you have done your research (you know who their clients are), and that you respect their work and their boundaries (by asking for permission and not flooding them with submissions). Similar statements will go a long way towards establishing your professional bona fides.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Use Common Courtesy

What am I talking about here? Don’t just talk about yourself. Don’t interrupt. Put others’ needs first. Basic common courtesies that we were (or should have been) taught as children… but that often fly out the window, even at music conferences.

The temptation to launch into a ten-minute bio seems to be too great to resist in many cases… but it’s seldom the right time for unsolicited personal information. Given that networking relationships—the healthy ones, that is—take time to develop, your best bet would be to get to know a little bit about the person you’re talking to. In time, they will want to know a little about you as well.

If you find yourself with a private moment to chat with a publisher, A&R rep, or music supervisor, start by asking them a few questions about themselves. You might learn something important, and you’ll probably stand out as one of the few people they met who didn’t shamelessly plug themselves.

Mistake #5: Not Following Up, or Following Up Too Much

You’ve got the beginnings of a nice relationship with a publisher, and he asked you to send him some music. You happily complied and sent a couple of songs—either by mail or email, whichever he preferred. And then you waited, patiently… so patiently that you didn’t follow up. You might as well have not sent anything at all.

Without a brief, to-the-point follow-up email or even-briefer voicemail, your music is likely to get lost at the bottom of a pile of submissions in that publisher’s office. (Remember those piles on the desk? Your music is buried in one of them.)

It’s perfectly acceptable, if not the norm, to follow up on your submission a couple of times. Doing so lets you confirm that it has been received and listened to, and it can act as a gentle reminder to the publisher that requested it in the first place (since he genuinely does have a lot on his plate).

With that said, you need to be judicious in the timing of your follow-up inquiries. There’s a fine line between professionally following up on your submission and becoming a nuisance. Following up too often, such as every day for two weeks, will be more damaging to your reputation and career than not following up at all.

The key is a quick, polite inquiry every couple of weeks and not getting discouraged if it takes several attempts. (Remember Mistake #1!)

It’s also worth noting that, sometimes, you don’t get a response, ever. If you’ve done your job by submitting properly and following up after reasonable time frames, it’s okay to write off a submission. There are plenty of other opportunities out there, and there’s no point in getting discouraged by one that doesn’t come through.

Hopefully, by listing common issues and recommending viable alternatives, this article helps you successfully network in the music industry. By understanding some of the elements of the business side, you can greatly increase your chances of getting your music out there.

And, if you’ve made these mistakes before, don’t despair. Having personally made almost every one of these mistakes early in my career, I can safely say that there is hope and a chance at recovery, even if you’ve slipped up a time or two (or three).




5 Comments
...Keep Reading
getting-back-to-your-roots

Getting Back to Your Indie Roots—How to Succeed by Looking to the Past

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Sometimes I allow the past to fade from my memory too quickly. With things changing so rapidly in the digital age of music, it’s easy to forget just how different things in the music business were just a short time ago. One of my mentors always told me that it’s hard to move forward into the future when you’re focused on the past and looking over your shoulder, and, for the most part, he was right.

But not in this case.

Looking Over Your Shoulder

In the 90s, if an independent artist wanted to “make it” as a musician or performer, they had to beat the street and perform in front of real live people. How else would anyone hear their music? Artists needed fans, and live performances created fans.

Since creating fans is no easy task, that hard work was just the beginning. They spent hours writing music, picking band members, rehearsing, recording, mastering, ordering discs, and spending money—all of this just to acquire fans.

Now, the fans themselves weren’t the goal. “Making it” was the goal. What did this mean? To most independent musicians, it meant financial sustainability, which itself might lead to fame and fortune, if you were one of the gifted and lucky few.

To many artists, “making it” also meant widespread recognition. Because earning that recognition through constant touring and performing was slow and required hard work, some artists also banked on radio play, sending countless CDs to radio stations in hopes of breaking into the on-air market. Sadly, most of those CDs ended up in the trash and were never played over the air. While artists had hoped radio play would be a short cut to success, it was often a short cut to disappointment and unnecessary expense. So, starving artists either quit or kept on gigging.

The Internet Promise

The 90s passed by, and the next decade offered a whole new opportunity to artists with the launch of music sites on the internet. When the internet came, it promised easy access to self promotion and fame for indie musicians. Artists became enamored with the idea of getting their music on every internet portal for music, starting with iTunes.

The conversation changed; no longer did a musician have to work gigs to gain fame and make it in the business or wait on radio stations to pick up their music. With an internet short-cut to success, everything was finally going to be great. Fame was now possible without traditional air-play. An independent artist did not have to rely on gigging to make it any longer.

Not so fast.

The internet did deliver a wide variety of options for promotion of music, but it came at a cost. Fame was possible now, but money, which had always accompanied fame in the past, did not follow. In the 90s, more exposure turned into more revenue for artists; now, more exposure can actually turn into less revenue for the artist.

This doesn’t seem to make any sense—more exposure equals less revenue? But fans at shows today might hesitate to purchase music, since it is readily available online for free. In some cases, it seems that the more popular an artist becomes, the less likely it is that they could sell their music. But what could the artists do?

The Internet Is Not The Problem

Artists in the 90s had to make their way by touring and playing gigs. It was accepted as a necessary prerequisite to success.

Scratch that. It wasn’t “a” prerequisite. Touring and gigging were the only options available to an indie artist hoping to make it in the 90s. There was no internet, with its alluring digital tools, to distract and mislead musicians from the task at hand.

Here’s how it worked: a few gigs turned into a few more gigs; those gigs turned into better gigs at bigger venues. Eventually, gigging turned into touring and playing concerts. If you were good and lucky, you might even get radio play. If you did it right, all of this effort created fans who spent their money on your music. 

It is exactly the same today.

Let me be clear about the internet age and what it allows artists to do with their music. The age of the internet has empowered musicians with countless digital tools to expose their music to potential fans. The only problem is that most of those digital tools do not generate any reasonable income. Therefore, the problem artists face today is exactly the same as, and yet completely different than, it was 20 years ago.

What Is The Problem?

The lack of income needed to sustain a career in music was a problem 20 years ago. It is still a problem today, and it’s actually getting worse. Surprisingly, the answer to the problem is also the same, but with a little twist.

In 1995, artists fought obscurity by gigging. As their fan base grew, people purchased music, and the artist began to make a living.

Due to the internet, obscurity is no longer a problem. This sounds like good news for musicians, but an internet fan base does not necessarily turn into music purchases. That is the significant difference between music today and music in the past.

Internet Fame Does Not Equal Income

The question most artists ask when starting a career in music is, “How do I get my music out there so people can hear it?” Unfortunately, this is not the right question.

(By the way, the answer is simple: load your music onto every streaming source you can find, and bam, you’ll have thousands of people listening in a short period of time!)

The right question to ask is, “How do I make a living as an artist?”

As odd as it may seem, the answer is the same today as it was 20 years ago. Gigging is a great way to create fans that will purchase your music and merch… as long as they can’t get it all online for free.

Four Things You Can Do

If you want to find success today as a performing artist, focus on the things you need to do that will create more local fans. Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Perform by gigging and touring as much as you can.
  2. Release new music often, and sell it on your merch table.
  3. Capture your fans’ information and communicate with them.
  4. Limit how much music you offer for free online.

Here’s my last piece of advice: keep looking over your shoulder for answers to today’s problems. It may seem counter-intuitive, but some things really don’t change, no matter how different they may seem. Do not become infatuated with internet fame unless you can turn it into income.

The key to indie musicians’ success is the same today as it was 20 years ago: Find fans that will purchase your music.




Leave a comment
...Keep Reading
Band Websites: Are They Necessary?

Band Websites: Are They Necessary?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

With so many social media platforms to choose from, it can be hard to keep track of all the websites, blogs, and profiles to create for your band. Some might argue that a profile on XYZ’s site is enough. We disagree.

While it’s true that social media sites are useful and important tools for connecting with fans, they shouldn’t be your main focus. Why?

Well, first, the popularity of these sites is constantly shifting, and new sites seem to pop up daily. (Maybe not daily, but still.) How many profiles can you manage—five? thirty? seventy?—before becoming overwhelmed and losing track of them all? And when the sites your profiles are on fade from popularity or shut down altogether, how will you communicate with your fans? In the battle for social media platform dominance, having your own independent website gives you stability and your fans a consistent place to find you.

Second, relying on third party social media sites means you have no control over who sees your messages and when. It’s becoming increasingly harder, and more expensive, to make your voice heard over the noise, even by those who actively sought out your profile or page and want to hear your message.

Third, a profile or page isn’t the most professional way you could present your band or yourself as an artist, since just about anyone can create an account. On the other hand, a dedicated website shows professionalism and a level of commitment that profiles just don’t. When a label, promoter, or booking agent wants to look up your band, they want to look at your website. When the press refers to you, they will want to direct people to your website.

So, what’s a musician with no web design experience to do? Read on for more information.

Determine Your (And Your Fans’) Needs

Remember when the internet looked like an online phone directory, where one-page websites simply showed a brief company description, list of services, their contact information, and—if you were lucky—a photo or two? That kind of web site doesn’t cut it anymore.

Your band’s website should build a relationship between you and your fans. This means it must be informative, interactive, and up to date. Yes, your website should tell them about your band and display your discography. It should also give fans a place to listen to your new releases, watch your videos, and buy your music, and it should share your stories from the road and announce upcoming concerts or tours. Ideally, your website will also let you gather your fans’ information so you can continue communicating with them.

What type of experience do you want to offer your fans? What features does your website need to keep your fans engaged and coming back? Take some time to think about the sites you like to visit and what it is about them that keeps you coming back. Write out a list of those features, and cross out any that can’t apply to your band. If you need some ideas, here’s a list of features that we recommend:

  • band bio and press coverage
  • multimedia (music players, videos, photo galleries)
  • your discography
  • tour schedule
  • retail system (physical merch, digital downloads, or both?)
  • a blog
  • mailing list sign-up
  • contact form/social media links

There are other features you could add, but that’s a pretty good starting point. Of course, simply having these features isn’t enough; a tour schedule with nothing filled in won’t fill seats at your shows, and not adding new videos, music, or blog entries means there’s nothing new for your fans to see. Effective websites need a steady stream of content flowing into them.

Find a System That Works For You

Now that you know what you want to offer, you need to find a way to offer it. If you’re an independent musician struggling to make ends meet, you probably don’t have a huge budget for web design. It’s equally likely that you aren’t an experienced web designer or fluent in CSS or HTML5. Even if you do happen to be the rare independent musician/code-writing web designer, you probably don’t have enough free time to be designing your website from scratch.

The good news is, that’s okay. There are hundreds of platforms available that can help you build your website, without requiring prior knowledge of code. We’re highlighting a few platforms here, to give you a starting point:

One place to start is Bandzoogle, which is geared toward helping musicians sell their music and merch. Sign up for the free trial and see if their options—like download codes, shopping cart,  site-wide music player—and interface meet your skill level and your needs. There are hundreds of layouts to choose from, with additional customization and design available without coding or software. As far as perks go, the site gives you the option of letting your fans set the price of downloads (which some studies suggests can increase your income), and Bandzoogle doesn’t take a cut of your sales. However, the plans max out at 10,000 mailing list contacts, so this might not be a good long-term solution (or short term, if your band already has a large following).

Another great option is Squarespace. There are dozens of templates to choose from, each of which can be customized in appearance and layout. With galleries for photos and videos, music collections, and blogs, showcasing your content is easy. Squarespace has a built in eCommerce option, allowing you to sell physical goods (and it tracks inventory) or digital goods (and it auto-emails the file to the customer). Sign up forms integrate with MailChimp (if you use that to email fans) or into a Google doc spreadsheet (which you can export and upload to your email system), and the contact form forwards to a designated email address. Their help system (both searchable forum, live chat, and ticket system) is impressive. Squarespace currently lacks a site-wide music player (although you can add a player to your footer, if your template has one). You should also noted that Squarespace uses Stripe instead of PayPal; the services are relatively comparable, except when it comes to digital downloads. PayPal offers a lower rate on these, and Stripe (currently) does not. On a $1 download, you either lose $.10 with PayPal or $.329 with Stripe. Like Bandzoogle, Squarespace offers a free trial period; it’s worth testing out and seeing if the features and interface are a good fit for your band.

Yola is another option. While it isn’t marketed solely toward bands, it can easily be customized to create a great band website. Wix is yet another option and is similar to Bandzoogle, although it’s not marketed toward bands. Both provide templates and design customization; with Wix, you can completely customize each page using a drag and drop editor. If you’re wanting to keep things super simple (like, just a followable blog to share images and brief updates) Tumblr—one of those previously-mentioned social media sites—allows you to use a purchased domain and your custom URL.

When looking for a platform, it’s important to keep in mind your future growth. If a platform doesn’t offer a service you will need, or caps your traffic or storage at or near your current levels, it’s probably not wise to choose it only to change again in the near future.

After testing out a few platforms (using the free trial periods that many offer), you probably have a clear frontrunner. If that’s not the case, try narrowing it down to a top two or three platforms, and then ask for feedback from people you trust. Once you’ve selected a platform, congratulations! It’s time to start setting up your site.

Setting Up Your Site

If you decided to create a band website to own your fan relationships and give your band a committed, professional online presence, you probably want to use your own custom domain. There’s a difference between johnhenryandthecrooners.com (a custom domain) and johnhenryandthecrooners.webuildwebsites.com (a custom sub-domain). With the first, all the focus is on your band, John Henry and the Crooners; people won’t question that the site is official and tied to your band. In the second version, though, the phrase “webuildwebsites” takes some of the attention away from your band, and it might cause people to question how official your site is. Many of the platforms provide default sub-domains for you (as shown in the above sample). Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to register a custom domain. Some platforms, like Squarespace, will even walk you through this process. If you have a existing site, you’ll want to redirect traffic from that site to the new one (once it’s ready).

It’s important to set your site structure (page names and URLs) and basic design elements (color scheme, layout, logos) up before officially launching your site. You can set these up during the trial period, or you can set the pages under development as private and create a “coming soon” landing page. This lets visitors know they’re in the right place and that your site is in progress, and it’s far better than making an unfinished site public.

If you’re planning on long-term growth and aren’t quite there yet—for example, you haven’t recorded an album yet and are waiting on your t-shirt orders to arrive, so there’s nothing to put in a store—it’s okay to launch your site without that element and then add it when you’re ready.

Once your site structure and appearance is down, go ahead and launch it. Redirect your old site, and announce the heck out of it on social media. Be sure you have a way to track visitors and gather their information; a sign-up form is a must. (But be sure to do something with their information, like send them a follow-up email!)

Making the Leap

A professional-level band website is a big step to take, but it can make a big difference—both in how the public perceives your band, and in who owns your relationships with fans.

Take a look at where you are as a band and decide if you’re ready to invest in a website. Like many things (free stickers, opening for larger bands for free, ect.), the return won’t be immediate or direct… but a band website could get you closer to where you want to be.

Do you think band websites are essential? Or are you satisfied with social media profiles? If you’ve created a site, do you have tips for other artists setting out to do the same, or are there services you can recommend?

See also: Music and Social Media: Twitter, Music and Social Media: Facebook




16 Comments
...Keep Reading
You Need Professional Help

You Need Professional Help

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

… getting gigs, that is.

There are two ways you can take this—the way your wife says it when she thinks you’ve lost your mind, or the way a well-intentioned friend offers you some career or relationship advice. The truth is, neither way is particularly favorable.

Most people in the music world would assume that this headline (and the subsequent article) is related to using the professional services of a record label or booking agent. It’s not. A record label might be a necessary part of furthering your music career, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

So what are we saying? Maybe re-phrasing it would help:

You need help from professional friends

Let’s back up a little here.

Early last year, a talented young musician came by our office. She told us what she was doing to make it as a performing musician; she was full of creative ideas (so much so that we had some trouble keeping up), and it was an informative discussion. She plays gigs often, and she’s recorded quite a bit. She has a website, a product manager, music videos, CDs, and merchandise. She has a street team of dedicated fans that help out. She has profiles and content on all the right social networks: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+. She has her music for sale on iTunes, and it is also available on Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm. And then there’s…well you  get the idea.

It didn’t take long to figure out that she has a lot going on. Maybe a little too much.

Part of our discussion covered how she gets gigs. Now, she stays busy, performing three to five times per week (on average), and her music is her only source of income. She knows gigs are important, she makes most of her income from gigging and selling CDs and other products from her merch table.  Her challenge was finding venues that worked—meaning, the money was good, she connected with the audience, the venue fit her style and skill level, and the venue was happy with the night. When these gigs turned into regular repeat dates she was able fill out her schedule with rewarding performances. When all these stars aligned, she felt like she’d hit a home run.

Earlier in her career, she had worked with promoters and managers who had booked gigs for her. However, she hated that they monopolized the relationship with the venue, so she made an effort to start networking directly with the venue owners. As she dropped the managers and promoters, she worked her existing venue relationships to keep booking her regular gigs. To this day she still believes this was a good move for her career. She is in complete control of the booking process and it has paid good dividends.

The drawback to this method is that, when her go-to venues were booked up and she needed to connect with new ones, the new venues didn’t know her, and they didn’t know if booking her would work out for them. Remember, she no longer had access to a promoter or agent to introduce her to new venues. These professionals spent many years building a reputation for providing the talented artists that a venue needed to survive. If the manager or promoter vouched for the musician they were putting their reputation on the line. A trust relationship with the venue is very important.

Since she no longer had someone to vouch for her, our artist would quite often spend hours making cold calls trying to book a gig, and nine times out of ten the answer she heard was “no”. This soured our artist with this method of finding gigs. (We can’t really blame her; we have past experience with cold-calls in the business world, and it’s absolutely no fun to hear a dozen or more rejections before someone finally says yes.)

To make things even more challenging—when she got a “yes” it was really a “maybe,” and that was just the beginning. She had to send over a press kit that included a complete workup showcasing her talent. Once she passed this initial review (sometimes it would take weeks to get a response), she might be invited to audition in person—another hurdle. Sometimes she got no response at all. Now her success changed from one-in-ten to one-in-twenty. It wears us out just to think about the process.

With everything this girl had going on—all her talent, all her drive, all her gigs, all her outlets and channels and efforts—she still had trouble with getting by. She knew she needed to find a better way to get gigs, and that she needed better gigs.

Time out.

Can you relate to her situation? Are you, despite your talent and hard work and creative ideas, still struggling to get by as a musician? Do you need a more-effective long term method for finding gigs? We see artists like you every day. We hear your struggles. We want to help.

Now, back to the story.

We shared a story about another musician with her.

When he was starting out, he was full of promise and talent but had little money or name-recognition. He had not played professionally as often as he would have liked, and he was not making enough money. He was contemplating giving up on his dream. His part time job had became more than a distraction – it was not fulfilling, it paid very little, and got in the way of focusing on his music. Part time work was supposed to help bridge the income gap while he pursued his music career in the off hours. It was not working.

Going out on a limb, he bid for a job at a music festival several states away from where he lived. Time was running out, he had to make something work quickly or give up. As luck would have it, he got the gig. Well, not so much luck as his willingness to work for nothing, plus the fact that the festival was short on his musical style or genre and needed him to play. With only $50 in his pocket, he drove 630 miles to the festival, hoping for the best.

He went, and he played. After the performance, he had the opportunity to visit with some other musicians backstage. They liked his sound. A professional friendship was formed, and the other musicians invited him to sit in on one of their performances. He agreed (again, playing for no money). The relationship flourished. After the festival, they introduced him to several of the local venues where they would be performing in the near future and again asked him to sit in. They also took an interest in his career and gave him the input and support he needed to improve his game. Even though they were not much older than he was the results were significant.

Because his new professional friends vouched for him, he was able to book gigs at those venues as well. He ended up staying in the area for several weeks, padding his pockets with good gig money and helping further his confidence and music career. Over time he was able to expand his circle and meet even more musicians. He continued to work with these relationships and created a good reputation of his own with the venues and other artists in the area. Almost overnight his career began to turn around. What had happened?

Now, his success didn’t come from luck. It didn’t come from hiring a booking agent, making cold calls, or signing with a label. His success came from being open to opportunity and from his focus on relationships. That professional friendship with the other musicians is what got him the good gigs, which made him the money he needed. He leveraged up—perhaps unintentionally and without knowing it, but still.

This is what we mean when we say “professional help”: creating genuine relationships with other musicians as often as you can. We offer you the same advice we gave that talented, hard-working, struggling artist: work hard to create as many professional fans backstage as you do in the audience. Look around you for musicians who are more experienced and try to learn from them. Ask for advice and help. Use these relationships to leverage your career, and be willing to offer the same help to others.

There is no reason go it alone.

This is one of the things that we truly love about the independent music business. Unlike the business world, where companies constantly compete directly against other companies selling similar products, one musician does not compete with another musician. Music is not an “or” commodity, which can only be consumed in exclusion to the alternatives. Instead, it’s an “and” commodity.* A fan’s affinity for one band doesn’t mean he can’t also like your band. Fans don’t go to concerts hoping one act is great and the other two suck. The better each act is, the happier the fan is. The better the music available, the happier the fan.

The next step for you is to look into opportunities to perform where your exposure to other musicians will be the greatest, like the music festival our artist went to or an open mic night in your area. Visit a venue where you want to perform and see if you can connect with musicians that are already performing there. Don’t be overly concerned if you have to play for free or less money than you’d prefer,** since building these relationships is a long-term investment in your career. Remain open-minded and reach out to other musicians to create connections. Leverage up.

* We know this is a generalization, and that there are instances where you compete against other bands for a fan’s time and money. We still feel it’s a different type of competition.

** To keep the bills paid, try working these low-paying, opportunity-laden gigs into your schedule among the paying gigs.




4 Comments
...Keep Reading
Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

Branding Your Band: Marketing for Musicians

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In the business world, an essential component of successful marketing is establishing and maintaining a brand. The same holds true in the music world. Your act—whether it’s just you, a small band, or a gospel choir—needs its own consistent identity and story.

If you’re just starting out, figure out your branding ahead of the fame. If you have been around a while and need help refocusing your career, branding might be the solution for you. Either way, here are some branding elements to consider:

Image

How do you want your act to be seen, and who do you want to attract? Think of the various stereotypes of musicians or their fans: burnouts, thugs, ingenues, rockers, all out thrashers, country darlings, hipsters, and so on. Your answer to that question will determine how you market your band to the public.

Bio

Your band should have a story, and the best story to tell is the real one. If you fabricate a past, you run the risk of curious journalists or fans uncovering the truth; losing your credibility with either is never a good thing. So, stick to the truth. Bands need to decide how much weight should be placed on individual members’ bios versus the group’s bio, and all acts need to draw a line protecting their personal lives from the public eye.

Spotlight

This is a little easier for a solo artist. With bands, though, chances are some members will stand out while the rest don’t receive as much attention. Before this happens, determine as a group how you want to handle this situation. It’s okay if someone does take the lead, as long as it doesn’t foster resentment among the band members. If the band’s brand focuses on unity, though, remember to share the spotlight.

Design

Another element of branding is graphic design and artwork. Commercial brands are recognized for their logos and types of ads; surely you can identify the brand with the animated polar bears without seeing a logo or product. Bands can be recognizable, too. Any Pearl Jam fan will recognize the stick figure raising his fingers to the sky. Decide on your band’s logo; set a color scheme. What style of photography do you lean toward: journalistic snapshots from gigs, or posed in-studio shots? This doesn’t mean that the artwork for all five albums is identical, but they should all be recognizably yours. Also, put your brand where your band is: brand your website, your social media accounts, and your merchandise. Fans should know immediately that they’ve found you and your work, not another band with the same name.

It’s important for your band to establish and maintain a consistent public image. Do note the word “maintain”. As your band or act advances in its career, you will need to regularly reevaluate your brand. If you find that adjustments are needed, make them. If you’ve branded your band well, though, the adjustments along the way will be minor.

Have you done any branding work for your band? How has it helped your act? Have you had to make adjustments to it?

See also: Follow Your Muse: Music Industry Success




3 Comments
...Keep Reading