February 1, 2016
Last month I played a seven-night residency in Portland, Oregon. It was a blast. A marathon. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Each night I had a different featured guest play their own music for an hour, and I’d usually do both a solo acoustic and full-band set as well.
The week before I flew out for the shows I went to Kinkos, Goodwill, and some crafts stores to try to piece together a new merch display. It’d been a while since I put real effort into a proper merch setup.
I liked what I came up with this time around and thought it was a good compromise between being easily portable (because I needed everything to fit in a suitcase) and easily modular (so I could give different merch items their own little section of the display).
[The picture above shows what it looked like when I first set it up in the venue.]
So the shows began: Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night,…
I sold some CDs, but I wasn’t selling as many as I thought I would.
After my set on Tuesday night I mentioned to my friend Naomi, who performs in Moody Little Sister (the featured guest that evening), that I was feeling a little bummed about my merch sales.
Without missing a beat she attacked the problem like a pro-makeover artist. Seriously, she should have her own reality TV show. In literally three or four minutes she helped me switch things around in such a way that I started selling twice the amount of CDs in the second half of the week as I did in the earlier part of my residency. (Ya know, we’re still talking modest sales, but hey, double is double!)
So here’s the tips Naomi gave me… Read more »
February 1, 2016
[This article was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model.]
If you’re an indie musician who plays mostly local and regional gigs, you know that most audiences start getting fatigued if you play too many shows too frequently. And this trend gets amplified if you haven’t yet built up a huge catalog of songs.
So how do you keep your live show fresh and exciting and keep people coming out?
In this article we’re going to go through six cool ideas you can try no matter what level you are at in your gigging career.
No matter which approach you choose, make sure you highlight it when you’re promoting the show! Let fans know how cool and unique this show will be in the emails you send out, the posts you share on social media, and the flyers and posters you put around town. Read more »
January 29, 2016
Find out which tracks are trending, where your listeners live, and more.
CD Baby’s new trending reports for Spotify are available right now in your Members dashboard.
Log in, take a look, and run a report that’ll show you:
1) Where your listeners are
2) What your most played tracks are
3) The age and gender of your fans
4) The countries where you’re most popular Read more »
January 29, 2016
Master, preview, and save your tracks — all from inside your CD Baby account.
Mastering your tracks is a necessary, but often confusing part of finalizing your music for release. The process itself is notorious for giving many a musician a headache while they’re in the home stretch. No more!
LANDR already made mastering your tracks as simple as a few clicks, and now we’ve made it even easier with integration in your CD Baby dashboard. You can still preview tracks before you buy, but now you can also save them in your account after they’ve been mastered. From the time you login to the time you checkout, everything is in one place. Read more »
January 28, 2016
For almost a decade, Ben Braden has been busy with his band The Lower 48. When it came time to take a little space, he wanted to come up with a completely different creative process. The resulting album, his solo debut Leaves of Trash, was recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely from a tablet and iPhone. This indie songwriter made and distributed (worldwide) his music without ever leaving home.
Above is a short video where Ben shares his story about being DIY musician. Below is a quick interview with Ben about his process. Read more »
January 27, 2016
The making of a DIY music video
Between CD Baby and Illustrated Sound (CD Baby’s new YouTube network), we hear from lots of artists who’re releasing cool-looking music videos.
I thought it’d be interesting every so often to share a handful of standouts along with comments from the artist or director about the video production, in hopes that it might inspire or inform your next music video project.
As you watch these, it’s worth remembering that just because you’re an independent/DIY musician, it doesn’t mean you can’t work with pros when it comes to any aspect of your video production: videography, editing, set design, etc.
So, let’s take a look. Below the embedded videos are comments from each of the artists about the shoot. Read more »
January 27, 2016
A lesson in etiquette for artists who plan to hire musicians for a live show or recording
Are you thinking about enlisting the help of other musicians to record your new song, or to perform at an upcoming show?
Remembering the Golden Rule and applying common sense can go a long way towards making these kinds of collaborations a success, whether you’re paying people or not.
My friend Pony (who I’ve enlisted to play bass in my band on occasion) and I were talking about life as a “hired gun” and we came up with a few pointers for bandleaders who might be new to this situation.
Here they are…
Don’t assume every hired or guest musician is the same.
They all have their own skills, needs, and quirks. Upfront communication is key. The fewer surprises on both ends, the better. Read more »
January 26, 2016
[This article was written by guest contributor Steve “Renman” Rennie, a music industry veteran and artist mentor at Renman Music & Business and Renman U.]
Having a prosperous live business is an important part of building a successful career. Live performances are where an artist, their songs, and their fans all come face to face. It’s one thing to sing in a studio where you can keep doing a song over and over again until you get it right or you can cheat with a little auto-tune to try and make everything sound perfect, but there’s nothing quite like being in the same room with a truly great performer and connecting with them and other fans while they play live.
While it’s true that record sales have crashed over the last few years, the live concert business has not. A successful performing artist that can fill venues generates huge income. Unlike a record or publishing deal where your royalty rate slips away with countless deductions and you sometimes have to stomp around and kick up dust to lock down a paycheck once every six months, in the concert biz, you show up, play the show, and you get paid. Every night. Read more »
January 22, 2016
[This article was written by folk-rock songwriter Joshua Powell, and it originally appeared on the Fearsome Folk website.]
On one whirlwind tour I booked, six weeks to cover the entire Western half of the country, a fan called us “road warriors.” With a mix of appreciation and self-deprecation, we felt obliged to correct his semantics: we definitely identified more as “road dogs.” Your great-aunt at Thanksgiving dinner might not dignify your band as a “real job,” but I dare her to plan a transcontinental concert tour, drive 2-10 hours a day, keep three other band members happy and full, sweat out an hour of engaging live music every night, and not think that fan’s couch at the end of the night isn’t the sweetest lover you’ve ever known.
I’ve been on and off the road with my band for over three years now, and it’s been entirely DIY, grassroots, self-booked. We’ve learned a lot along the way, but I’ve discovered one secret to touring as the single most valuable principle to make sure your tours are worth the trouble. Never play a show without booking 1-3 other bands as local support.
I don’t care how cool the club looks or what they claim as a built-in crowd. If you want to make the conversion of a bar crowd into a fanbase, you won’t do it alone. If you’re just looking to play for three hours to earn $300 and a bar tab, read no further. There’s no shame in that, and I occasionally throw a couple of these gigs into a longer trip to pad the wallet. But if you’re looking to actually build equity in a market, the local bands are your best bet. Here, I’ll offer six simple tips to help make sure you never play an empty room again. Read more »
January 19, 2016
Performing Songwriter Master Class: Shannon Curtis
[This article is written by guest contributor and music producer Jamie Hill.]
Ever since we put out our house concert book, Shannon and I have developed a wonderful ongoing conversation with the singer-songwriter community. People reach out to us pretty much every day now, with thoughts and questions and ideas about how to further their careers on an independent basis. (And we love this. You can reach us here and here.)
People tend to reach out to me regarding song refinement and making recordings – producer-y stuff – sensible. And people tend to reach out to Shannon about house concerts, and performing in general, which is why I’m writing today.
Shannon and I recorded a live album this last summer on her massive house concert tour. We do live recordings every summer, and usually we do the standard thing where you record a bunch of shows and piece together the best songs from each show. Read more »