Time and time again, the musicians that I've interviewed can agree on one sentiment about the pursuit of their musical passion. The number crunching, business networking, nurturing an image on Twitter and Facebook are just a cringe-worthy hint of the bitter tasting outer layers of the musical jawbreaker that coat the core of sweet soft taste of self sufficiency and success. But at the end of the day, and outside of the studio, it's naive to ignore the business angle of the industry.
For the musicians and industry professionals on a time crunch, like myself, Dotted Music's eBook,Ten Truths about Making it' in Musicby Ben Brown is a short yet comprehensive guide that I'd recommend you to make your first or next read. The e-book is a refreshing digital dogma as it lays out the necessary bricks and mortars in steps to show you exactly the do's and don'ts that benefits only you (or your band) by taking you from who to hire, to social media tips and tricks, and it doesn't falter at controversial notions like, music should be free and accepts that piracy will never die. Instead bands are suggested to work with this reality. If you're grumbling and groaning, I'd hate to break it to you, but it's apparent that there's an understanding between fans and musicians that piracy will never die. For example, E-dubble wrote on Facebook, Hey guys Changed My Mind is up on iTunes.If you can please cop, if not cop that pirate joint and ohh to it please!
The e-book elucidates effective strategies that I've seen work first hand, and concepts that few musicians realize. For example, all it takes is that you start with your best track and release it as a single, effectively luring new fans and press with breadcrumbs. Hype is crucial and applicable across the board. When Asian R&B and Pop label, Aziatix, launched, they released a 1:35 promo video featuring a sample of their single, Go, on Youtube. The promo capturing the best of the track and clearly made sure to feature the members. Blogs hyped them up, fans hyped them up, until within a month, they topped the Nate video charts in korea and graced Z100 and radio stations in Germany. E-dubble saw similar success garnering over 3000 likes on The Hype Machine the release of the single, Changed My Mind.
Today, when music labels are just a shell of its former glory, relying completely on a label to aid a band in every aspect of the industry is futile and a dangerous notion. A band is essentially an expendable investment in a label's portfolio. But Ten Truths offers comfort to this reality by reminding musicians that the digital age means you are a record label, when marketing doesn't require a tremendous financial investment and promoting music can be accomplished by the band themselves.
I'll break it down the ten chapters for and give you a snippet about each section. You may see something that will pique your interest. If so, you can download the free eBook here.
Chapter 1 Puddle Of Mudd's Paul Phillips: Success is not in the charts anymore.
The first chapter offers you an introduction to the changing scope of the music industry and realizes the power that a band adopting the digital model really has.
You, as a musician, can make a living through having 1000 super fans'. This applies in the digital age more than ever. A super fan' was traditionally someone who bought everything you put out, attended every gig within 200 miles of them and wrote you fan letters. Now these fans are online and not only are they following your every move online and still buying your content, but they are sharing your content with hundreds of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
Chapter 2 Reader's Wives' Niall James: No point in being good at music, and no good at business.
The e-book gets down into the nitty gritty of the business side to offer you suggestions to prepare yourself for an area of the industry that you are not entirely comfortable with, by finding the right people and pursuing a niche market.
If you really do suck at the business side of it, get someone on board who knows what they're on about!
1. Hire a manager 2. Get a smart friend on board 3. Consultancy
Chapter 3 30 Second To Mars' Jared Leto: We're taking full advantage of the digital age here.
If you have questions about your online presence and how to boost the number of fans that you have, read this chapter to find social media strategies and explanations as to why this and that are important. It has the following covered:
1. Myspace 2. Facebook 3. Twitter 4. Band website 5. Email lists 6. Blogs
Chapter 4 Dire Straits' John Illsley: How you get music out there is irrelevant, as long as people can hear it'.
If you have anything you'd want to take from Donald Trump it's his spheal about Frank Sinatra there are likely thousands of individuals who had talents rivaling Sinatra's own, but they never became Sinatra because they did not know how to market themselves. Likewise, even if you've made a track that you believe could make it onto the Billboard 100, it's not getting up there if no one else has listened to your track. Here's how you can reach listener's ears:
1. Creating a release plan (detailed timeline included) 2. Music hosting 3. Selling your music online 4. The logistics of getting your music on iTunes 5. Radio Play 6. TV/Film Plugs
Chapter 5 Gama Bomb's Philly Byrn: Music should be free.
People will pirate your music. It's an inevitable fact. Laura Stevenson of Laura Stevenson and the Cans would back me up on that point and even encourages pirating to change the culture of selling music. This chapter offers you statistics, but more importantly, strategies to workwith offering free music:
1. Offer a free download in exchange for an email address 2. Tweet for a track 3. Facebook Share
Chapter 6 Anthrax' Scott Ian:You better show up with a good sense of who you are as an artist.
Whilebusiness may not be your forte, something you or your band can control is your uniqueness, comprised of your image and your story.
Defining who you are as an artist or band is the first step to defining your target audience. If you have a target audience then you can generate a much more effective use of time and funds and it makes you much more likely to get noticed by those interested in what you're doing.
Chapter 7 OK-Go' Damian Kulash: YouTube is the main medium for videos now, not MTV.
If you've been lazy or deliberating over the benefits of a Youtube account. Look through this chapter for how-to's from why you should post cover songs on Youtube, to networking with fellow Youtubers.
You've got a YouTube channel right? No? Are you crazy? YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. Three times as much music is consumed by watching videos on YouTube as by legal downloading.
Chapter 8 Whitechapel''s Alex Wade: So the only way we can really make any money and be able to do it as a career is to tour.
If you're planning on touring, chapter 8 offers you tips and things to think about to prepare yourself both digitally, socially and mentally during that long period where you won't be able to sleep on your bed:
1. Before the tour 2. Making the Most of Your Tour 3. Networking 4. Using social media on tour
Chapter 9 Sevendust guitarist on music marketing: Plant the seed and it's going to grow.
If you've skimmed all of the above and said to yourself, I'm already seasoned enough that I won't have to look through those 8 chapters, make a music business plan. It's not the traditional 30 page technical writing that the book is referring to. Rather set goals that you'd like to achieve. For example:
Subscribe to a few music industry blogs and read 3 articles a week from them. Gain ten new Facebook fans or Twitter followers through sharing content this week. Add ten email addresses to your mailing list in two weeks. Record a behind-the-scenes video and get 500 YouTube hits. Write the brief year plan
Chapter 10 Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil: Just believe in yourself.'
By this chapter, the technicalities of the music business have been thoroughly covered. In turn, this final chapter offers you some mental advice to keep you going through what will be a difficult but exciting journey.
Music is an emotional outlet and when an artist believes in themselves and loves what they're doing, you can tell in their live performance.