Feb 10, 2007

Musical Advice

Thanks to David at the Musicians Cooler Podcast (where musicians share advice) for taking the time on Friday to interview me. It was a pleasure. I feel I came off a bit rusty. I'm wired on caffeine and not much sleep these days. Madeline (my new baby girl) keeps mom and dad on their toes.

You can check out the interview in a few weeks. Keep your eye on www.musicianscooler.com.

Below is something I typically send out to musicians contacting me for advice.

Work:

If you're not willing to work, then music is not your passion. Build a Web site as well as market yourself (online and offline). Don't be afraid to ask questions. Do research. Network. Make the initiative. Make a great product. If you haven't already, save your money and really make a good recording. Something you can sell. Not a demo. You don't need a major label these days. The resources are out there for you to be successful on your own. Go to work and discover them.

(TIP: Before I got my digital record deals, I used CDBaby.com to get distributed to all the digital networks).

Grass Roots Marketing:

Being an innovator, not a follower, pays off. So many of the typical marketing methods are so saturated, a musician doesn't have a chance at being heard. How am I going to stand out? How can I separate myself from other musicians and not be thrown into one lump category? That's what I had to discover.

Make and Take the Time:

You have to put the time in these days, or there is no chance of success. You can't just rely on hope and perform in a café. I went online instead of playing around town. Why only reach a few people, when I can reach the world online!? Nobody is going to come to you until you get your music out there…outside of where you live.

Internet:

Technology has led to every success I’ve had thus far. Don’t forget it takes time. The Internet has opened the door for me to network and really get in front of the masses. There are so many resources online to expose your music. A lot of musicians are still afraid to utilize all the tools, as you have to give music away for free in many cases. However, it is a great test to see if you have the passion and talent to grow an audience. If a listener likes your music, they'll buy your album or a few of your tracks. You just have to have the guts to place up a few songs for free. Also, offer to play places for free. Even untypical places. It will truly help with exposure (and sales).

Use the Internet in every way you can. A Web site, blogs and Podcasting is one of the best ways to expose your music. It’s becoming more and more known and very popular around the world. Not enough musicians or businessmen truly use the Internet’s power. Start with a really well put together Web site. This will cost some money, but worth it. It is where people will learn about your music; purchase your music, etc. That is the first thing everyone will see online when they check you out. You need to appear professional and not "cookie cutter" as we call it in the Internet world. If you don’t have the funds for a site yet, start a page (even if and when you get a Web site) on MySpace.com and a blog through Blogger.com or another Blog community. Great marketing tools.

Put together a tactful email and contact every Podcast looking for Podsafe music. If they like it, they'll play it. They're looking for music. Get it to them now. Check out http://music.podshow.com/ for more information. It will take some time to learn, but it's worth it. (TIP: You can find and listen to podcasts for free on iTunes – you don’t need an iPod to listen, just a computer). I suggest only putting a couple pieces of your work on PodShow or directly contact Podcasts to provide them a link to grab a couple of your tracks.

Network:

Write people. Call People. Don't be shy. Be sure to thank and write people back as well...especially your fans. Take the time. Utilize all your resources. Find new resources (e.g. MySpace.com, Musicians Atlas, Creative Common sites like Jamendo.com).

Be You:

Don't try to be like everyone else, or even your favorite musician. Be yourself. That is what makes you unique. Music lovers like new sounds and unique artists. Why would they want a repeat of what they've heard the past 20 years?

Don’t Criticize:

Don't tear down other artists. Even if you know someone is not very good, don't tear them down. We're always evolving. Don't compete. Compete against yourself. You are the only you.

Copyrights, BMI and ASCAP:

Be sure to get your work copyrighted. It’s only $30 - http://www.copyright.gov/register/sound.html. And, be sure to register your copyrighted work with BMI or ASCAP.

Keep the Rights to Your Music:

Hopefully you still own all the rights to your music. If not, marketing yourself will likely not work without the express written permission (in paper) from the owner to everyone you contact. The music must be Creative Commons - http://creativecommons.org/. You will not (currently) receive royalty for airplay on most Podcasts, but you will on mainstream and Internet radio (as long as the music is registered with BMI or ASCAP). Only do non-exclusive deals and licenses. You will keep full control of your work and give yourself many more options, flexibility, and ultimately revenue.

Be Tough and Patient:

You're going to strike out a few times. It's a given in any industry. But, your homerun is just around the corner. Keep playing live, but you can reach the world online and move faster towards your goals and learn a lot in the process. To get in front of big players, you need to have a lot of sales and a fan base. And, if you do get in front of major labels, distribution deals, etc., be weary, and don't sell yourself away. Keep control of everything you can.

If music is truly your passion, you will soon be tested. This is the toughest and cruelest industry. Keep it real and sincere. Don't listen to negativity. You'll get 99 no's before a yes. You need to spend as much time as you can on it. There are thousands upon thousands of artists out there, but you know you're good enough, and it's what you do, how you go about it, and what you're truly all about that will make the difference. Don’t make it a self serving adventure.