Author Archive

The top 10 website mistakes musicians make

October 8, 2015{ No Comments }

Top 10 website mistakes musicians makeDon’t give ’em an excuse to hit the “back” button

You already know the reasons why every musician needs a website. You’ve secured your domain name, launched a site, and now someone is online checking it out. Great! But that’s only half the battle.

Now you need to keep them on your website for more than a few seconds if you want them to check out your music, buy a CD, book you for a gig, review your latest album, or subscribe to your email newsletter.

We netizens are an impatient bunch. If something on your website annoys a potential fan or music industry professional, they’re going to back out of there quick.

Here are a handful of common musician website mistakes you should avoid

1. Autoplay — Do NOT leave your audio player on auto-play. People may have their speakers turned up all the way and you’ll give them a heart attack, or they might be at work trying to hide the fact that they’re surfing the Internet, or they might just want to check out where you’re playing next and don’t need to hear your music. Read more »

Musicians, do you NEED to have a website?

October 7, 2015{ No Comments }

Musician WebsiteYou’re on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Vine, Instagram, and a handful of other platforms you barely remember signing up for. Maybe you’re communicating with fans with Snapchat, uploading videos to YouTube, and streaming live concerts via Periscope or Meerkat.

Yes, you have an “online presence” — but so does every other artist in the world.

That’s okay. Social media is integral to a musician’s success these days. But total reliance on social media is an all-too-common mistake a lot of new bands make. What these platforms do not provide you with, of course, is a website: an online headquarters for your music, a space that you control for the long haul.

Why you need to have your own band website

Earlier this year, I asked Courtney Gallagher of Club Passim whether or not bands need to have their own websites. She said:

It’s important for artists to have a website dedicated specifically to them. Personally, I promote an average of more than one show a day for our venue, so if I am sending out a newsletter to 25,000 people and I want to feature your act by including a video and you don’t have a website that makes it easy for me, I am going to have to move on to the next artist. Read more »

Who’s the real bad guy: music streaming, or the major labels?

October 6, 2015{ No Comments }

Major labels vs. streaming servicesSince its launch, Spotify has paid out over two billion dollars to rights holders. That’s a hefty sum, especially considering they’re just one player in a streaming market that also includes YouTube, Rdio, Apple Music, and more.

Yet despite bringing in more than a billion dollars in 2014, Spotify saw losses growing faster than revenues. That same year, Pandora lost tens of millions of dollars. Clearly there’s money to be made from streaming. But there’s also money to be lost.

So what’s going on? Who’s gaining and who’s losing? Why is it that Spotify can claim to have paid out X amount for the streaming of a particular song while the artist claims to have received far less?

Matthew Ismael Ruiz, in an article called “Why the Major Labels are the Streaming Wars’ True Villains,” believes the discrepancies and confusion around streaming payments are actually the result of nefarious major label record contracts, as well as the fact that the majors were granted an ownership stake in Spotify and receive giant advances that are easily untethered from an accounting of specific streaming activity.

In other words, major labels benefit greatly by exploiting their catalog as a whole without sharing the profits with the individual artists who comprise that catalog. Read more »

Don’t commit this Instagram sin (or you might piss off a fan)

October 5, 2015{ No Comments }

A photo posted by Brett Bottorff (@brettbott) on


Why it’s still important to provide photo credits via social media

If one of your fans takes a sweet picture of you, posts it on Instagram, and tags you in it, of course you want to share it with your own followers right away. You’re excited. You look like a total rock star. BUT…

(Are you ready for some common sense advice?)

… slow down for a second and make sure to give the photographer credit!

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift was in the news for allegedly making a rights grab on photos taken during her concerts (and using them without attribution). But at the indie level, this sort of thing happens all the time, and in ways that can seem innocuous. Read more »

Get more gigs with GigSalad. For real.

October 5, 2015{ No Comments }

GigSalad: find more gigs

When GigSalad signed on as one of the top sponsors for CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference, I decided it was time to finally try the service out.

What is GigSalad?

It’s a diverse online platform where entertainers can promote their talent. GigSalad has connected artists with over 850,000 event planners nationwide, and requests for musicians are increasing every day.

So put simply, it’s a way to get gigs.

Anyone who wants to book a band for their event can use GigSalad as a resource to find just the right act. GigSalad also serves as a go-between that provides certain protections for both parties throughout the booking and event-planning process. Read more »

“Music is the language we use to say that we are civilized people.”

September 29, 2015{ No Comments }

The refugees in Syrian rock band Khebez Dawle play concert in Croatia

After their drummer was murdered, presumably by pro-government forces in Syria who objected to his active participation in protests, the remaining members of Khebez Dawle fled to Beirut where they were able to build a following and record their first LP (available on CD Baby), a post-rock concept album about a Syrian youth in the midst of violence and civil war.

Despite finding a musical footing in Lebanon, the band members were, according to this NPR story, “still refugees, stuck illegally in a tiny country.” They decided to make the dangerous — and expensive — journey to Europe in order to seek asylum. Read more »

Christmas is here (in the eyes of the music industry)

September 25, 2015{ 1 Comment }

Independent Holiday MusicHow to boost your music career this year with a holiday release

When the Biebs, and Ariana Grande, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Michael Bublé record new Christmas music, when do you think their labels really start gearing up to promote those releases? November? Wrong! Right now. (Actually, probably early summer).

And yet every year at CD Baby, we receive hundreds of new holiday-themed albums and singles from artists who want to distribute that music at the very last minute.

Even CD Baby’s own VP of Marketing, Kevin Breuner, whose band Smalltown Poets put out a Christmas single last season that was getting quite a bit of radio play, missed some opportunities to create more momentum for the song because they were late in launching their promo campaign (due to recording delays, I think). So yeah, it’s a common problem, artists not properly planning in advance for holiday releases.  Read more »

Does anyone even care about music discovery?

September 24, 2015{ 3 Comments }

What's the value of music discovery?

I have a couple friends that are obsessed with music discovery. For them it’s a 24/7 pursuit. All day, every day they’re listening to the latest releases and playlists, skipping over anything they’ve already heard. I asked one of these friends once when he was compiling his Year-End Best-Of list how many times he’d actually listened to his favorite album from the past 12 months. His answer was something like, “Oh, maybe two or three times at most. I just can’t go back and re-listen to things with so much more music to discover.”

Theoretically, I get it. He wants to be in-the-know, up on the latest trends, or to satisfy his inner collector. But emotionally, I don’t understand at all. I get obsessed with songs or albums that move me, not the process by which I discovered them or the promise that there’s more great music out beyond the horizon. When I fall in love with an artist, their CD stays in my car for weeks or months. Their songs are on repeat in my Spotify (and now Apple Music) player. Read more »

Is “Happy Birthday” now in the Public Domain?

September 23, 2015{ No Comments }
A 1922 copy of "The Everyday Song Book," containing lyrics to "Happy Birthday." (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

A 1922 copy of “The Everyday Song Book,” containing lyrics to “Happy Birthday.” (Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

Have you ever wondered why the waiters at TGI Fridays sing their own unique, annoying song when it’s time to bring out the cake and embarrass you on your birthday? No, it’s not to demonstrate their wild and gregarious originality. It’s because, up until recently, everyone thought that Warner/Chappell owned the publishing rights to “Happy Birthday,” and restaurants didn’t want to have to shell out a ton of cash in order to sing that more popular birthday tune.

But yesterday a federal judge determined that “Happy Birthday,” which has passed from one rights owner to another over the last 80 years, should have been in the Public Domain all along — meaning nobody owns it, or rather, everybody owns it.

Sad news for Warner. Good news for restaurants. Good news for artists who are just itching to record and release their own grindcore or chiptune or symphonic versions of “Happy Birthday.” And great news for filmmakers, who’ve had to pay Warner thousands of dollars in the past to license the song for their movies. In fact, it’s been reported that Warner has charged up to six figures for the use of the popular song, which generates an average of $2mm per year in revenue for the publishing company. Read more »

“I’ve earned almost $600 in publishing royalties from streaming alone”

September 23, 2015{ No Comments }

Phillip Wilkerson - ambient electronic musicianYou don’t need a hit song to generate real publishing revenue.

Phillip Wilkerson, a prolific ambient musician and long-time CD Baby artist‚ recently told us about the additional income CD Baby Pro has brought to his music career:

“In the past three months, I’ve earned almost $600 in publishing royalties from streaming alone. That’s on top of my mechanical royalties for international downloads and the performance royalties I earn when my music gets played on the radio and on services like Pandora.

I wish I could point to a clear cause & effect‚ but I think it’s just the culmination of having many releases spinning out there in the universe. Those cumulative pennies and nickels really add up.”

For a busy musician like Phillip‚ enlisting CD Baby Pro to collect his royalties doesn’t just offer peace of mind knowing he’s earning every cent he’s owed; it also allows him the freedom to spend more time creating. Read more »