Promote your next show with a video poster

By Chris Robley
January 13, 2016{ No Comments }

How to make a video poster for your next showHow to make a concert poster that moves

To celebrate the release of my new album, I’m playing a seven-night residency next week at one of Portland’s coolest listening rooms.

Part of the arc of the week involves having different featured guests each night to showcase the music of some of my friends and collaborators. I’m excited to have these guest musicians for obvious reasons, but it also gives me a fun opportunity to promote the shows, since I can design a different poster for each night of the residency.

What’s a video poster?

I did have a standard poster designed for the whole week (and I think that was a good idea to present an overview of the entire event), but I’ve also been making little individual video posters, each with a snippet of a track by the corresponding featured artist.

Here’s the first four I’ve published so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about (be sure to scroll over the image to find the play button):

Read more »

5 things I learned from the life and music of David Bowie

By Chris Robley
January 11, 2016{ 3 Comments }
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The whole world seems to be grieving the loss of David Bowie by sharing stories of what his music meant to them.

I thought I’d do something similar here and talk about five things I’ve learned from the Chameleon of Rock.

I’ll state the obvious first…

I’m not an iconic, fashionable, charismatic genius — so these are lessons that don’t always come easy to me.

But they’re worth remembering and leaning into when you need the motivation to move forward, artistically or otherwise.

1. You can’t please everybody, so do what you want

There are always going to be people who don’t get, like, or connect with your music (or you). One of my all-time favorite albums is Bowie’s Hunky Dory, but I’ve had debates with musician friends who cannot stand to hear a single note of it. Read more »

What was your biggest music career mistake?

By Chris Robley
January 8, 2016{ 6 Comments }

Biggest music career mistakesMusician Mistakes: Learn from History, or You’re Doomed to Repeat It!

At the beginning of a new year, Kevin Breuner (CD Baby’s VP of Marketing) and I like to look back on the previous year in our own music-making and think about what we’d do differently today. I’m not sure we’re ever any wiser for it (lots of musicians keep making the same mistakes over and over again — myself included), but it’s a fun exercise all the same.

With that in mind, I wanted to do two things:

1. Ask you about YOUR biggest mistakes as a musician (signing a bad contract, band infighting, onstage mishaps, poor creative or business choices, missing a big opportunity, etc.), and what you learned from them. Holler in the comments below!

2. Share some of the many “mistakes” articles and podcasts we’ve published over the years, in hopes that you can keep history from repeating itself.

10 articles about (avoiding) common mistakes musicians make when creating or promoting their music:

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Does your music marketing take fans on an “experience journey?”

By Guest Blogger
January 7, 2016{ No Comments }

Fan experience journeys[This guest post was written by Jamie Leger, author of The Music Business Manifesto. It’s the first in a series about music marketing. For a free tutorial on how to double the amount of new fan signups you get at your next show, click HERE.]

Express your artistic brand as an “experience journey”

As an independent musician you’re also a multi-media content creator. Your ‘job’ is to share your stories, your observations, your perspective, your music, and your messages across many formats, channels, and platforms.

But all the tools and technologies available today still require your creativity to work effectively. If every new experience a potential fan has with you feels like a lifeless, generic template, how engaged do you think that person will be with your content, and how excited do you think they’ll be to hear more from you?

The average person is CRAVING something new, exciting, something or someone they CONNECT to, something that changes their perspective or introduces them to another interesting world. That’s the kind of thing that’ll get your fans to truly bond with you as an artist.

How to find “experience journeys” that excite your fans

Read more »

Notes from an Independent Record Producer, Pt. 4: “highly talented” is the bare minimum

By Guest Blogger
January 7, 2016{ 2 Comments }

Notes from an Independent Record Producer[This article is written by guest contributor and music producer Jamie Hill.]

This is just a quickie. I was thinking today about a conversation that I was having with an artist friend of mine, and I wanted to muse on it for a second.

My friend was frustrated. He’s highly talented, and his songwriting has been getting really strong, and his performances are becoming highly compelling. And yet he feels like nothing’s really clicking for him, like he’s spinning his wheels, like he can’t get traction for his career.

And: I hear this all the time. The basic line of reasoning is “I’m super talented; so when are things going to start happening for me?”

But here’s the thing: in the music marketplace, highly talented is the bare minimum. It’s not the destination point – it’s the departure point. It’s your ticket to entry. Read more »

Take your YouTube channel to the next level

By Chris Robley
January 7, 2016{ No Comments }

Take your YouTube channel to the next level

Want to make more money from YouTube? Now’s the time, and Illustrated Sound is the network.

You’ve created videos, optimized your channel, and asked your fans to subscribe on YouTube. But now what? How do you take your YouTube game to the next level? How do you get the most out of your music videos?

Monetizing your music on YouTube is only step one.

Here’s step two: join Illustrated Sound — CD Baby’s new multi-channel network.

With Illustrated Sound, we’re applying the “power in numbers” principle to YouTube monetization, leveraging multiple artists’ channels to help you get the most out of your YouTube efforts.

When you join Illustrated Sound, we’ll help you:

Read more »

The Ultimate Social Media Cheat Sheet for Musicians [Infographic]

By Chris Robley
January 6, 2016{ No Comments }

Social media tips for musicians

A quick guide to social media management for musicians

Wondering how to properly size your social media images?

Or which days you should post on each platform?

Or what kind of content performs best?

And between what hours?

This infographic from On Blast Blog will help you keep things straight: Read more »

The 6 Unspoken Rules of Soundchecking

By Guest Blogger
January 5, 2016{ No Comments }

How to Work Well with the Sound Guy[This article originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

So you’ve just spent hours cramped up in a dirt-laden, odor-soaked van along with your bandmates who happen to share those very same qualities. You’ve twisted and turned your way through the (often less than) glamorous back roads of the US and endured everything from traffic jams to bad weather, Baltimore, and that fast food meal that didn’t sit so well. Ragged and weary, you finally arrive to the venue for tonight’s gig. A faint smile gently appears on your face as you now get to escape the confines of that hellish four-wheeled environment and finally relax. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing you should be doing.

Getting to the venue means preparing for soundcheck, a ritual that all too many bands pass off as time to goof around before the show. If you’re serious about a career in music, you should know that a proper soundcheck is the essence of a good live performance. Take it just as seriously as you would the gig later that night. To make your life easier as well as the venue’s staff, there are a few unspoken rules to follow during the course of the soundcheck. Follow them, and your performance will only benefit. Read more »

Put the paperwork behind you: a musician checklist for 2016

By Chris Robley
January 4, 2016{ No Comments }

A music business checklist for indie bands in 2016:

The music business to-do list for DIY musicians

I know you didn’t get into music because you just love filling out forms and waiting for files to upload. But part of professionalizing your music career does involve paperwork, profile maintenance, proper rights registration, and more.

Checking off the items on this list might not be as fun as writing a new song, but it’s important — and what better time to commit to getting it done than the beginning of a new year?

The business side of your music deserves attention too, and the earlier you take care of this stuff, the better off you’ll be when it comes to promotion, generating revenue, and more.

So set an achievable goal for yourself and tackle one of these items per week over the next couple months:

1. Register with SoundExchange to collect your digital performance royalties.

2. Register your copyright to make sure you have the most protection in the case of copyright infringement. Read more »

What are the best songs for sync licensing?

By Guest Blogger
January 4, 2016{ No Comments }

Sync LicensingSync licensing can be a tough gig to break into. Because of the way music is used in TV and film (as a support to the action instead of the main event) you really need to think about the songs you submit for licensing opportunities differently from the songs you’re releasing to your fans.

To help you out, I created a free video lesson going through the easiest way for indie artists to break into the world of licensing. But first, check out these four quick tips that will help you figure out which of your songs are the most licensable.

Keep in mind that this is a general guide. Any song, no matter how weird or out there, can get licensed given the right opportunity. But if you’re looking to license in niche markets, you’re going to have to be ready to do a lot of research to find the people looking for your specific kind of music.

Another thing to keep in mind – you should feel no obligation to change your art to fit licensing situations. But keeping these general tips in mind will help you better choose songs to submit to sync libraries and music supervisors. Read more »