“Musician Advice” Articles

CD Baby features Ingrid Michaelson in “From the Crates”

March 26, 2015{ No Comments }

It’s #TBT at CD Baby, which means it’s time for another “From the Crates!”

This week, Andrea ventures deep into the warehouse to find a favorite from 2008, Ingrid Michaelson’s sweet folk-pop album BE OK.

Check out BE OK by Ingrid Michaelson on CD or vinyl at CDBaby.com! Read more »

CD Baby’s SXSW recap

March 26, 2015{ No Comments }

CD Baby at SXSWThe CD Baby take on SXSW: Is it “worth it” for independent musicians to attend? What were our favorite moments? Read on…

We sent a great little gang of our very own CD Babies to SXSW this year, and man: what a time they had.

Between our showcase, our panel discussions, our Portland Party, and getting to meet a ton of current (and future) CD Baby artists, it’s amazing that we remembered to bust out the camera to capture some of the memories.

But we did! And we’ve compiled a few of those moments in a video that’ll make you feel like you were right there in the action (see below).

Should indie acts go to SXSW? Is it worth the effort and expense?

Phil Bauer (CD Baby’s Director of Digital Distribution) says: Read more »

The music contract you should NEVER sign

March 24, 2015{ No Comments }

Production company contracts: good or bad?Attorney Steve Gordon continues his excellent masterclass in music contracts over at Digital Music News.

In the latest installment he tackles “production companies,” which usually consist of one or two people who will help you record some demos and try to shop you to labels with the hope of cashing in when you ink a big record deal.

If you can structure your arrangement with a production company to benefit both parties, excellent! But oftentimes production company contracts lock the artist into terrible terms. Steve says:

There are many differences between a production company and a real label, but they have at least the following in common: Both production companies and labels own or have access to recording studios and equipment, and they both have producers on payroll or relationships with indie producers who they can call on to make professional recordings.

A real label, however, has the following additional assets: Read more »

Email autoresponders for musicians

March 23, 2015{ No Comments }

How musicians can use autorespondersHow to get your newest email subscribers engaged with your music right away

[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

Just about anyone who has music available is using the song-for-email strategy. If you’re not on board, basically you trade music in exchange for an email address. It’s a great way to grow your list, and by now we all know that email is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your fans and push out news and offers.

However, for a lot of musicians, that’s where the strategy stops. The focus seems to be growing the list. What to actually send these new fans becomes an afterthought. Often, artists will just let those new email addresses sit and pile up until they have something new to send out. That means these new fans won’t hear anything from the musician for months. This is a wasted opportunity.

Don’t Block Your Own Leads

People don’t just give their email addresses out to anyone. With all the spam and junk mail flying around, we are all very wary of giving access to our inboxes, so the simple fact that these new fans cared enough to give you their email makes them a very strong lead. And they would probably do more to support you – if you gave them the chance.

Read more »

Aloe Blacc talks about the rights of a songwriter, and why the law needs to change

March 20, 2015{ No Comments }

WARNING: Not Suitable for Some Workplaces! (It’s a Real Time interview, so don’t expect Disney language… from Bill Maher.)

Anyway, in this clip Aloe Blacc talks about why copyright and music publishing laws need to catch up with the new technologies that facilitate the creation and dissemination of musical compositions. Read more »

Why your band should be able to play in a few different configurations

March 20, 2015{ No Comments }

Why your band should be able to perform in different configurationsPerformance adaptability helps you play more music, earn more money, and build your audience

I have a lot of friends in Austin this week for SXSW, which means my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of live concert photos. And one thing I noticed: in a lot of these shots, the bands are playing in some kind of altered or stripped-down configuration.

A synthpop band is on stage without their drummer. A guitar-driven rock band has gone acoustic. The sprawling indie folk ensemble has decided to put down their accordions, cellos, trumpets, and banjos in order to back up the lead singer as a kind of drunken choir.

This approach makes sense for SXSW where it’s tough enough to navigate through the crowds WITHOUT having to haul a bunch of heavy gear. When you sonically strip away some layers, you become more nimble (logistically speaking). You can play your set, break down, and quickly get to the next place you need to be.

Plus, if you, like some bands I know, are playing nine times throughout the event, changing up your instrumentation is one way to make each showcase feel special (for you and audiences).

But there’s a few good reasons why you might want to adopt a similar approach when you’re back home and playing local shows again too. Read more »

How to build your fanbase using YouTube Cards

March 19, 2015{ 5 Comments }

How to add YouTube cards to your video

Cards: the evolution of annotations

Have you used YouTube annotations to enhance your music videos?

Well get ready for YouTube “cards” — the new, mobile-friendly YouTube interactivity feature that will eventually replace annotations.

(Don’t worry, though; YouTube claims they won’t phase out annotations until cards can do everything that annotations did — and more).

So, what can musicians do with YouTube cards?

1. Raise funds through crowdfunding AND direct fan contributions

2. Sell merch

3. Build your email list by linking to your website

4. Announce tour dates or new releases (again, by linking to your website)

5. Drive video and playlist views (because the more watch-time your videos encourage, the better they’ll perform in YouTube’s algorithm)

Note: there’s no “subscribe” card yet, so you’ll have to keep using annotations to specifically drive YouTube subscriptions. Otherwise, there’s always hoping that people click on your channel watermark! Read more »

YouTube launches “YouTube for Artists”

March 18, 2015{ No Comments }

YouTube for ArtistsA new resource made specifically for musicians on YouTube

YouTube has made a couple announcements this week that should have a big impact on musicians.

First, they’re rolling out a new mobile-friendly system called “Cards,” which will replace annotations but serve a similar function — helping you link your viewers to additional videos or playlists, providing extra information, etc.

Second, they’ve launched a new site called YouTube for Artists, which could be seen as a music-centric version of their Creator Hub.

It’s a series of resources aimed to help musicians build a YouTube following, increase engagement, and drive more revenue.

YouTube for Artists includes:

* information about free video production resources

* tips on how to use your YouTube views to chart on Billboard or get played on satellite radio Read more »

Fans can now stream your Rhapsody tracks on Twitter

March 18, 2015{ No Comments }

Rhapsody tracks on Twitter

Rhapsody’s integration with Twitter

Your Twitter followers can already watch shared YouTube videos and listen to music via SoundCloud without having to leave the Twitter platform.

Now you can add Rhapsody tracks to that list too!

Rhapsody announced at SXSW that Rhapsody members (both subscribers and free trial users) can now “Tweet songs to their followers using Twitter audio cards.”

Even more beneficial for the purposes of music promotion, though, is the fact that ANY Twitter user (not just existing Rhapsody members) can stream full tracks from Rhapsody’s catalog when they are shared on Twitter.

According to the announcement, Rhapsody will be the first streaming music service to offer licensed full-track playback to music fans on Twitter, ensuring “that artists, labels and publishers are paid for their work as songs are played.”

Note: you can only stream Rhapsody songs from the Twitter app. This feature does not currently work on desktop. Read more »

3 lessons you shouldn’t learn from Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, & Beyoncé

March 16, 2015{ 20 Comments }

Lessons from Thom Yorke, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce?Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, and Beyoncé are some of the most famous musical artists in the world. Whenever one of them has gone rogue with their album release or distribution strategy, it’s obviously become big headlines.

But here’s the thing: Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, and Beyoncé are some of the most famous musical artists in the world!!!

What they choose to do with their music should (probably) have little impact on how YOU release and distribute YOUR music as an independent artist.

Why? Well, I’ll preface this all by saying that no two fanbases are alike, and if you try something outside-the-box that gets more people listening to your music — great! Who am I to judge?

However, if you’re reading this article, I’m betting that you don’t have single-album sales figures in the millions, you’re not selling out world tours, and you haven’t been on the Grammy Awards so many times you’ve lost count.

For you, sticking to the tested distribution and promotion methods isn’t about playing it safe; it’s about playing it smart!

Here are the three lessons you should NOT learn from the examples of famous artists:

Read more »