The March/April issue of American Songwriter includes a feature titled Dream Big: How To Succeed In Today's Volatile Music Business. Their website has transcripts of each individual interview covering a lot of ground about what to do after one has written some great music but has yet to build a sizable following or become visible to possible industry allies. Interviewees include a full range from Jacob Jones, a performer and marketing director for Artist Growth, to Mike King, an author and instructor for Berkleemusic.com.
These tips are taken from the article on the American Songwriter website, Dream Big: How To Succeed In Today's Volatile Music Biz. Each individual interview is linked at the end of this post.
10 Tips For Succeeding In Today's Volatile Music Biz
1. Kendel Ratley – Director of Marketing, Kickstarter:
"If you're still establishing your fanbase, check out where your peers, favorite artists, or bands you want to emulate share their music and follow suit. There are countless platforms and venues to debut your work. Identify your audience, think about where you discover music, and post accordingly."
2. Jacob Jones Of Artist Growth:
"Post it [for free] on Facebook, post it on Twitter, post it everywhere. It is good to put it online at a central location and then you can easily see how many are getting downloaded...Just make sure when you post it, you actually engage with your subscribers and not just beat them over the head with 'I have a song! Hey everyone, I have a song!' The competition is stiff and cleverness can get you in their ears faster than aggression. No one likes to be annoyed."
3. Mike King of Berkleemusic.com:
"Artists have to think about sales differently. They have to romance new fans a bit...Providing free music is key to building up your larger community, and I think that in terms of sales, you are going to want to sell a variety of items to your fans from your own site, with the idea that you can sell items that are more personal, and not available in traditional retail."
4. Tim Putnam of Moontoast:
"Build your audience/e-mail list, then follow up with bundles, and creative offers. Look how Third Man Records builds their bundles – they have a very niche and dedicated audience and they constantly give them cool products. Even if you can't afford to produce merchandise, you can give people shout-outs on Twitter and Facebook, host live chats and video events. Debut music videos to a core group of people … then the next time you have something to sell, take it to those core people first."
5. Kendel Ratley – Director of Marketing, Kickstarter:
"Ten people isn't nothing! Whether they're fans of yours or simply into music discovery, they made an effort to find you and saw value in what you created. Focus your efforts on seeking out those ten people and developing a relationship with them."
6. Tim Putnam of Moontoast:
"If you're getting a great response and can sell directly to your fan base, do you need to be signed? Keep going through the cycle, building your fan base and offering high quality and creative products...Keep an eye out for opportunities [but] realize that you don't need a windfall moment to be able to offer fans something amazing. You can do it now and with every release you offer."
7. Jacob Jones Of Artist Growth:
"First, ask yourself if a record deal is the best thing for you at this point...The smartest thing you can do is manage yourself well, keep track of all your numbers, keep records of your tours and merch sales, and know the big picture of how many fans you have and where they live. A label will want to know as much information about you and your career that you can provide, so being business-minded from the beginning gives you a huge leg up."
8. Mike King of Berkleemusic.com:
"For the most part, a label is not going to care about you unless you have leverage – unless they see that you have a base of fans that you can leverage to sell your music. Things are much harder for labels now, and while I think some labels can be great for artists, I think that artists should really consider building up their own base, hopefully with a smart in-house team."
9. Kendel Ratley – Director of Marketing, Kickstarter:
"The importance of live performances and establishing a following in a town outside your own – whether it's three people or 300 – cannot be overstated. If you can't afford to tour or your day job doesn't offer vacation, create live experiences online: invite your local fans to a backyard show or your friend's garage, set up a camera and stream it live."
10. Traci Thomas of Thirty Tigers:
"Touring is the key to breaking any new artist. If you're out there and touring and getting attention, the industry will pay attention."
Individual Interviews from American Songwriter's Dream Big Series:
- Jacob Jones Of Artist Growth
- Jonny Corndawg – Singer-Songwriter, Performer
- Kendel Ratley – Director of Marketing, Kickstarter
- Marie Farrar Knowles of SoundExchange
- Mike King of Berkleemusic.com
- Tim Putnam of Moontoast
- Traci Thomas of Thirty Tigers
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business & Revenue Models and maintains an audio blog at snd1.mobi. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.