5 tips for better show promotion and turnout

By Guest Blogger
May 23, 2016{ 5 Comments }
British rockers the Kooks know how to make a crowd go wild. (Image via feveravenue.com)

British rockers the Kooks know how to make a crowd go wild. (Image via feveravenue.com)

[This article originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

I don’t wholly support the idea of “working smart, not hard.” Shouldn’t you do both? Still, there are ways to maximize the efficiency of your efforts. When you’re promoting a show, the key is almost always timing. Check out the five points below to learn why.

1. Consider the local outlook before booking

This is something to think about before promo can even start. You won’t always have the luxury of booking exactly when you want (especially if you’re on tour), but when you can, survey the city’s show outlook before choosing a date. Avoid competing with a like-minded gig booked for the same night. Not only will it help in terms of attendance at both, but also it shows courtesy and respect for the scene.

That said, again, you can’t always avoid overlapping with bands of similar styles. Even when you think you’ve successfully picked a problem-free date, someone could book a conflicting show after you’ve announced yours. You should still try, though. It’s worth the minimal extra effort. Read more »

Using Cards and Annotations to build your YouTube fanbase

By Chris Robley
May 20, 2016{ No Comments }

YouTube cards give you a mobile-friendly way to interact with your video viewers

With cards you can add a layer of calls-to-action (viewable across all devices) to your videos that will help you raise funds, sell merch, build your email list, announce upcoming events, drive subscriptions, and more.

Adding a YouTube card to your video is easy. To find out how, check out our quick tutorial above (which also talks about YouTube annotations).

Or, if you want more detailed instructions, check out “Building your fanbase using YouTube cards.” Read more »

How to build your band’s email list with NoiseTrade

By Guest Blogger
May 19, 2016{ No Comments }

Building your band's email list with Noise TradeWhat’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Justin Ratowsky

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath, sponsored by the New Artist Model: Turn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless. In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,” according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

Growing Your Email List with NoiseTrade

Read more »

Merch Smarter – Unraveling 5 Common Mistakes Artists Make With Their Merch Business

By Guest Blogger
May 18, 2016{ No Comments }

Managing your band's merch sales[This article was written by Vanessa Ferrer of InFocus Artist Management and Merch Cat.]

There are two ways that musicians have always made money. One is by performing and the other is by selling merchandise (“merch”).

With the continued decline in music sales (except vinyl), and the increasing popularity of music consumption through streaming platforms like Spotify, artists are yet again forced to lean more heavily on other income sources in order to make a living doing what they love.

Touring and live shows continue to be a primary revenue stream for artists, and most artists sell 85% or more of their merch directly at live shows at the merch table.[1] With that, merch can be a lucrative source of income to artists if they play it right. While many artists know that selling merch is a good way to keep the hypothetical lights on in their business of being an artist, we’re still seeing some common mistakes being made out there across all levels. Let’s zone in on 5 of these and see if we might make more sense of this merch madness.

1. Not having a merch business

See above!

In order to win at the merch game, you need to be in it. Artists are under the misconception that there is a high cost barrier to entry for having a merch business, but the reality is that you can, and should, start small. Read more »

The initial mistake (almost) every musician makes

By Guest Blogger
May 17, 2016{ No Comments }

Musician mistakes[This article was written by Dani Rabin of Marbin, a progressive jazz-rock band from Chicago.]

As part of my touring schedule with Marbin I get to teach a lot of clinics in universities all over the states. I was surprised to find out that the majority of music students are clueless about what they want to do after graduation. They know they want to be musicians, but they don’t fully comprehend what it actually means to be a musician. When pressed, they say they want to do a little of everything, but the truth is that it’s not possible — at least not at a high level. It takes different kinds of musicians with different skills to play original music, teach in a university, play jazz, play pop, play theater, compose music for film, or play in a wedding band, etc.

If you’re in the same place as most of these students, I have bad news and good news for you. The bad news is that every field in music is extremely competitive. The good news is that once you decide what exactly you want to do, you will have a big advantage on your way to success. Here are a few examples of musical career paths and some key points that you might want to consider when choosing the right one for you.

Being a part of a jazz scene

A jazz musician needs to know, by heart, as many standards as possible (hundreds). It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, most jazzers don’t rehearse and don’t decide on a set list in advance.
If you don’t know some of the tunes being called, then it doesn’t matter how great you play, you won’t get called back.  You won’t believe how many times I’ve met musicians that consider themselves jazz musicians that can barely play ten songs without the realbook. Read more »

Do your music videos pass this 10-point test?

By Chris Robley
May 13, 2016{ No Comments }

The making of a DIY music videoHow to test if an idea has the makings of a viral video before you produce it

First off, I want to say that the tips shared below were initially aimed at creators who want to produce a whole video series, but I think many of the points apply equally to musicians who want to produce individual music videos.

About those video series, though…

One of the clear ways to establish a large audience on YouTube is to create not just a single hit video, but a whole series that can build upon the success of prior videos. For instance, my friend Mike’s band The Union Gospel recently started shooting a bunch of takeaway-style performances in the NYC subway, and they’re calling it The Subway Series. Every week, I’m psyched to click on the video to hear what cover song they picked to play.

What’s the problem with a one-off music video?

Well, nothing inherently, but you might be squandering the buzz if you only post individual videos every once in a while.

Think about it. If you post an awesome music video that gets shared like crazy when it’s first published, but then take 6 months to post a followup video, your YouTube activity will probably look like a giant, exciting spike on the graph which eventually settles back to a disappointing plateau somewhere around where it was before your big hit video.

In this situation, there’s nothing specific for viewers to look forward to. There’s nothing else for them to click on. There’s little to incentivize them to subscribe.

But if they knew you were creating a new video every week or month, that’s a whole different story. Like singer-songwriter Brett Newski’s “Crusty Adventures,” a funny video series about the gross underbelly of touring abroad. It’s tough not to click on each subsequent episode to see what kind of auto breakdown, disgusting smell, bad gig, or swindle comes his way.

But producing a series of videos is much much much much easier said than done. And since it’s hard work, you’ve really got to think your ideas through beforehand.

In a recent Creator Academy bootcamp, YouTube provided a list of 10 helpful criteria to measure the merits of your ideas before you start shooting anything. It’s a kind of checklist, and it’s meant to guide you as you brainstorm video series concepts, but — as I mentioned above — I think many of these criteria are worth applying to individual video ideas too.

Does your video pass the test in these 10 areas?

Ask yourself the following questions. According to the Creator Academy, you don’t need to answer “yes” to every single one in order to make a quality video. But the more times you hear yourself saying “yes,” the more confident you should feel that you’re onto something good. Read more »

Has your instrument ever been damaged while flying?

By Chris Robley
May 12, 2016{ No Comments }

Rachel Barton Pine’s violin is priceless — or very nearly (it’s worth more than 8 figures according to the above report from NBC News).

So when flight attendants wouldn’t let her store the instrument in an overhead compartment, she tried reasoning with them; she explained that she’s flown on every kind of aircraft and has never encountered an overhead space where her violin wouldn’t fit; she even cited a recent law that gives her the right to bring her instrument aboard; and then — still facing resistance — she got off the plane and booked another flight.

An annoyance, for sure, but at least she didn’t have to file an insurance claim for tens of millions of dollars for a broken piece of 18th Century spruce or maple.

Have you ever had an instrument damaged while flying?

I have. It sucks. But the best way to prevent that from happening is to 1) know your rights, 2) be prepared for the worst, and 3) pack that thing safely.

If you need guidance in any of those three areas, download our free guide with tips for flying with your guitar. Read more »

How to make a living playing house concerts

By Guest Blogger
May 11, 2016{ No Comments }

Shannon Curtis, making a living from house concertsWhat’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Shannon Curtis

One of the best ways to get new strategies and ideas for your music career is to look at what other musicians are doing. So Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath of the New Artist Model are putting together a series of case studies from talented and successful musicians who are pushing the envelope in the world of indie music. The third installment is musician Shannon Curtis.

Ask singer songwriter Shannon Curtis about the key to her success as an independent musician, and she’ll tell you — literally — to hit the road. She’ll encourage you to start touring with the help of your audience.

Shannon knows from experience that touring is the best way to interact with your audience and build your fanbase. She also knows that performing live can bring in more money than recordings, publishing and merchandise combined.

Each summer, Shannon spends more than four months on the road performing house concerts. In 2014, the Los Angeles-based artist performed at more than 70 homes around the country for audiences averaging 35 people.

Breaking out of the traditional gigging scene

Read more »

Why windowing won’t work for you

By Chris Robley
May 11, 2016{ 8 Comments }

Digital music windowingWith this week’s semi-secret release of a Radiohead album that’s NOT available on Spotify, and recent exclusives by Beyoncé and Drake (on TIDAL and Apple Music respectively), there’s a lot of renewed interest in “windowing.”

Windowing is where you stagger your release across platforms, driving diehard fans first to the platform(s) that most benefits you (the artist), and then — maybe — broadening the availability of your music to other platforms or models over time.

For instance, let’s pretend you’re Adele and you know your latest record will sell like crazy. So for the first few weeks you make the album available only as a physical CD and traditional download to make the most money possible in the time when the music is getting the most attention. No streaming.

Then once those sales start to taper off, you introduce the music into the streaming environment.

If you’re a DIY artist, limiting your distribution is probably a mistake

Read more »

Amazon Video Direct to compete with YouTube, allowing creators to monetize videos

By Chris Robley
May 11, 2016{ 3 Comments }

Amazon Video DirectA new  Amazon program called Amazon Video Direct (or AVD) lets video creators post content to Amazon’s video hub, which already serves over 50 million paid Amazon Prime subscribers in the US alone.

According to tubefilter:

AVD users can post and monetize their videos in various ways. If added to the Amazon Prime library, for instance, creators can reap royalties based on hours streamed. Creators can also monetize by offering their content via one-off rentals or purchases, or even monthly subscriptions. And finally, in a move that brings Amazon squarely into competition with 10-year-old YouTube, it will allow creators to share revenues from ad impressions.

Just like YouTube’s revenue split, Amazon will keep 45% of ad earnings, according to The Wall Street Journal. It will take 50% of revenues from rentals, purchases, and subscriptions, and pay content holders 15 cents for every hour streamed in the U.S. on Amazon Prime. (AVD is also available in Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Japan, where creators will get 6 cents for every hour streamed on Prime.)

Read more »