Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Evolution of Music

Music 1.0 - the first generation of the music business where the product was vinyl records, the artist has no contact directly with the record buyer, radio was the primary source of promotion, the record labels were run by record people, and records were bought from retail stores.

Music 1.5 - the second generation of the music business where the product was primarily CDs, labels were owned and run by large conglomerates, MTV caused the labels to shift from artist development to image development, radio was still the major source of promotion, and CDs were purchased from retail stores.

Music 2.0 - the third generation of the music business that signaled the beginning of digital music, piracy ran rampant due to P2P networks but the industry took little notice as CD sales were still strong from radio promotion.

Music 2.5 - the fourth generation of the music business where digital music became monetized thanks to iTunes and later, others like Amazon MP3. CD sales dive, the music industry contracts and retail stores close.

Music 3.0 - the current generation of the music business where the artist can now communicate, interact, market and sell directly to the fan. Record labels, radio and television become mostly irrelevant and single songs are purchased instead of albums.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Music Business Other Sides

Music biographies mesmerized me when I was a kid. Whether it was Glenn Miller or Elvis Presley, it was always the same fascinating formula: talent and tenacity leading to the precipice of success, with the artist always searching for that one elusive element to define his signature sound, to breakthrough. With Miller it was the addition of trombones. The proceedings always put me on the edge of my seat and the breakthroughs set me reeling. I guess it was in my blood.

It persists. The other night I watched two great documentary-style biopics on TV, one on Johnny Cash, another on Willie Nelson. Willie, as many of his fans may not realize, was actually a Nashville songwriter penning such classics as “Crazy,” which Patsy Cline etched into the music lexicon. Despite his preeminent status as a writer, Willie couldn’t get arrested as an artist in Music City. His quirky phrasing was way too off-beat for the 60s sound, which was infused with sweet strings and pop arrangements.

At the age of 40, Willie returned home to Texas. Such a move would have meant a life sentence selling insurance had history not intervened. As fate would have it, Woodstock Nation had opened the doors to multiple music movements by the early 70s, and Willie realized that such hippie hangouts as Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters were ready for a new kind of country artist. He enlisted his buddy Waylon Jennings, among others, and set about launching a novel sound to a new audience. His ultimate success turned country music, and the music establishment at large, on its head. Ultimately, he was responsible for redefining music, establishing its “outlaw” class and creating the Austin revolution as well as worldwide social activism that persists to this day.

Despite his huge outsider success, Nashville rejected this giant yet again. By the 1980s, you couldn’t find a Willie song on mainstream country radio, and forget about a major label deal.

Okay, let’s get right down to the hard part. Cash was just another music god to be tumbled unceremoniously from Olympus. By the 80s, he, too, was cast out like so much trash. His popularity was dwindling, and he was struggling to find an audience and make a living.

So these outlaw outcasts banded together, literally, forming the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with Waylon and Kris Kristofferson. Talk about a Mount Rushmore of talent. They had taken fate into their own hands and, once again, set out to redefine the music scene, outside the establishment, all on their own.

A Bronx boy, I was still getting my country legs under me, when I hit Nashville in the late 80s. At the time, I couldn’t understand why the likes of Willie and Johnny weren’t getting mainstream air play, why I could eat lunch with Emmylou Harris but couldn’t hear her songs on country radio, why Nanci Griffith was considered a darling in all the clubs, to all the execs, but couldn’t get the chart toppers and eventually carped about it in interviews.

I was just getting introduced to the hard truth of the music industry: bitterness. Griffith was bitter, my friend Artie Traum (from back home in Woodstock) — one of the sweetest guys to ever grace the business — was expressing a degree of bitterness, too, in interviews of the day. I was just learning.

The songwriting trade in Nashville was rough. By year two, I was saying you had to learn to live on a diet of stones. Rejection was the blue-plate special everyday. It took me two years to get my first major song contract and more to get my first staff writing job and my first cut. Everyone who stuck with it had war stories: the song on hold that never happened, the artist cut that got dropped by the label or never got released as a single or didn’t make it above 20 on the charts. But, despite eventual successes and even industry support, I left after a decade to pursue a career as an artist, packing scars and wisdom, love and hate.

But back to Johnny Cash. One of the greatest artists to “walk the line,” he faced the pure pain of artistry more deeply, more movingly than anyone before him. Late in his career, with the help of producer Rick Rubin, Johnny faced his inner darkness, his demons, his truth, his soul. With such albums as “American Recordings” and “Unchained,” he found a vast and vital new audience, just years before his death. His new material was so raw that family members had a tough time listening. They told him it sounded like he was saying goodbye. He told them he was.

In the Cash bio, artists such as Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp and Vince Gill expressed the true painful tumble that all artists must face. Mellencamp himself recently penned a telling if rambling article on the biz in HuffPost, a blog post that established a wellspring of conversation in the social media sector.

So, this little Bronx boy, who reeled from the Glenn Miller story and cut and broke his teeth on Music Row, finally came to understand bitterness and the role it plays in any music career. No one is exempt. It may be (excuse me) a bitter pill to swallow, but I recommend downing it to develop a good artist-immune system. Another words, one has to learn to deal with it, embrace it, pain and all, and find a way to move on. Carry it on your back, in your suitcase, in your heart, on your skin — the rose tattoo of the music artist.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Attracting Fans Means Getting Over Your Self

There are a lot of musicians and groups that artistically want to stretch people’s minds and make people think, figure out and really dive deep in to the meanings of their songs, their name, their image, different elements of their marketing and other underlining elements that many artists think will add that hip or cool edge to them. The problem that can occur though is flat out confusion or actually deterring more people away from your music and you than helping bringing them to listen to you and want to find out more about you.

Don’t get me wrong, adding elements of stretching the mind and being creative is a great thing, but think about it as a later step or being placed a little deeper in your marketing rather than right there where people get their first impressions. Make it something that fans will have to dig in to as opposed to overly confusing the new listener or first time visitor to one of your social networking sites or website.

Wild stories, confusing bios, songs that make no sense or tie in to the more experimental side of you can be red lights for many people to not want to dig deeper. For example, if you are a grunge/industrial type band with fast loops, dirty guitars and in your face samples with brash harmonies and powerful hooks, having song sample number one on your site be one of the tunes that is least like your sound or one of your more experimental and say softer and more trancesque tune that you use right in between two powerhouse tracks, you may loose the interest right off the bat of the listener that happens to pop on to your website for a minute.

Get over yourself.

The reality is that when new people are visiting your website, your networking site or one of your song sample sites, most are only going to be there for a few seconds unless they are drawn in. There are 40 million Myspace music pages and that number continues to grow even as Myspace continues to go down in the rankings in the social networking world. People are being tossed links from spam emails, from friends, from strangers and from third parties everyday.

While every musician wants to think that people are spending a number of minutes listening to every sample, looking at every picture and reading every piece of text, the truth is the majority are only spending seconds and moving on very quickly. We are a nation of ADD, ADHD and every other acronym that points to the bulk of us having less and less of an attention span everyday.

These people have so many choices and so many options so it is up to you to grab them, wow them, explain and showcase to them and pull them in to want more. It is crucial just like having a fast pitch for industry professionals to also have that same fast pitch and grab for the fans and the masses.

Good Ideas vs Bad Ideas

A couple strong examples are the bands that have very fast loading webpages that immediately showcase the logo, the tagline, the image and information easily. Now on the other coin, there is a website for a band that actually has a small animal that walks around the page for some 10 seconds before the page opens and you cant skip it. This may be creative and cute for the band and for fans that know something about the reason behind the path and the creature but for a browsing new person, it just comes off as stupid. Another site has a band bio that is so small and so long with so many applications that have been added to their page that you are not sure who’s information is what, not to mention the slow load from having so much on the page.

Some of these websites or social networking sites where you are forced to scroll down or wait to find or fish out information is not helping you capture the new fans that are coming across your site. On the same side with the music samples. Instead of putting up total songs why not put up samples and a lot more of them?

Think about it, just as you should put together a small demo sample for any industry person so they can listen to the bulk of your songs with out the bulk of time it takes to listen to every song, you can do the same for your fans. Supply 20 to 30 seconds fade in and fade out samples that are clearly marked as samples with the time in the title. This way when a new fan sees the player or what ever you are using to present your music, they know right off the bat, they are getting samples and may just listen to them all.

This also gives you a chance to choose what they listen to and what you want to highlight in the song, instead of them flipping through and potentially just listening to the beginnings of all your tunes if they listen that far. Think of it like giving them a sample of everything and at that point making them want to dig deeper.


It is fine to go deep and make people think, make people have to search and challenge your fans but first get those fans through the door, interested in you and wanting to be challenged. Make sure you have created a crystal clear image that will demonstrate you, sell you and entice them to want more. It is a hard thing to sometimes separate what how you see something against how the bulk of the public will. Remember just cause you get it or it makes sense to you, it doesn’t mean it will to most people. You are the artist, you are right smack in the middle of it all and a big part of pulling in and creating the fan base is working on creating the right appearance and marketing to pull them in the audiences that are sifting through thousands of sites and turning them in to interested fans.

Also remember, with all the other bands on all the other sites and the over saturation of music and artists that are out there, it is crucial to pull them in to want to see more first. Make the first presentation easy, fast and simple so that people can get a clear idea of the overview of you, your music and what you are about, then you can start playing with the intricacies and extra details.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting More Fans

This has to be said at the start. In order to be approachable, you have to be modest in character. In order to deal with building a fan base one person at a time, you have to be able to mentally absorb the fact that it takes a bit of time. A huge ego will kill your chances at gaining real fans.

Do unto others…
I am going to keep this simple. The Ethic of Reciprocity is a universal thing. People do not like commercials like they once did. I am sure you are no exception, so cut with the “buy my stuff” approach.

Work on your handshake
This goes with the concept of being a friend first, artist last. You can do this by just taking the time to get to know a person. Introducing yourself, getting their name and offering your hand to solidify the connection is a great start.

Ask “What can I do for you?”
John F. Kennedy’s famous quote from his speech can be used here, but instead of country use fans. Set yourself up to be able to help. I have suggested to a few of my artist friends that they will find more opportunities by giving back to the community than taking from it. We are bombarded with people making requests of our time. Sometimes it is the best feeling just to be asked, “Can I help?”

Be a friend
Once you have established a relationship with your new pals, keep up with them! Make sure you know what is going on in their lives. As a musician, this is a great opportunity to get inspiration for your work. Everyone has stories, so seek out some from the very people you hope will support you. At the same time, fortifying your relationship with a few good people is the most important thing about all this.

In summary, do not be “that guy.” Set yourself apart by being genuine and kind. While this approach is a bit slower than pumping a ton of money into juicing use your sexy attributes, it is the most rewarding and the payoff is bound to be more fulfilling than anything plastic surgery could ever provide.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Things to Always Include in Your Email Newsletters

1. Always let fans know what you’ve been up to! Bottom line: fans aren't mind readers,
so if you want them to know about all the crazy adventures you've been getting into,
then tell them directly, or better yet, SHOW them with photos, etc. Remember, you
don't have to tell them everything, but a little insight into your daily life will help fans
relate to you ‐and getting fans to relate to you is the first step in creating a stronger fan

2. Are you going on tour? Include your tour dates! The more a fan sees the tour dates
the less likely they are to forget about an upcoming show in their area. Did you just
release a new song/album? Include "exclusive" info about the song/album! Well, I think
you get the picture... bonus points by the way if you make sure to always include direct
links in your newsletter to where fans can buy tickets, get more info, etc. (aka your callto‐

3. Link to your social networks! It’s always good to have more friends and fans on
Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. While email is the most effective channel when it
comes to getting your fans attention, these other networks certainly also give you other
opportunities to get your message heard. So, make it super easy for fans to connect
with you on these networks.
A good rule of thumb in marketing is that the easier you
make it for your clients to do what you want, the more likely they are to do it!

What Do Fans Really Want in Your Newsletter

As an artist, there is no end to the number of social media outlets where you can send
updates to fans through. From Twitter, to Facebook, to MySpace, it’s hard to judge
which networks your fans pay attention to the most (let alone the time it takes to keep
info consistent across all of them!) Email newsletters are different because not only has
email consistently proven to be the most effective direct marketing channel to fans, but
email also offers artists the ability to better target each fan.

Writing effective email newsletters can be tricky though. So, I want to share some
thoughts on what makes a great email newsletter vs. a boring one that fans are going to
not pay attention to.

First, the most important thing, whether you are releasing a new song/album,
promoting an upcoming show, or just want to say hello to your fans, is to set a goal for
what you want fans to take away from your newsletter. In the marketing world we call
this a “Call to Action” and it basically means you've got you're fans attention for about
30 seconds (at best) so you want to make it as clear and obvious as possible what
exactly you want fans to do once their done reading your newsletter.

Examples of calls‐to‐action could be a link to iTunes to encourage fans to buy your new
single, a link to buy tickets to a show (even better if it is targeted to their area), or even
just a link to a YouTube video of your music that you want them to go watch. Your
newsletters call‐to‐action can be whatever you want it to be, but make sure you are
only putting in 1 or 2 so fans don't get confused – and ALWAYS be sure that you are
making it easy and obvious for the fan to understand the action you want them to take!
Now that you know you need one or two clear "Calls to Action" in your newsletter, it's
time to cover how you can encourage fans to read your whole newsletter, and thus
really get to know what it is you want them to know/do...

Effective email campaigns strike an important balance between text and visuals (ie.
photos, graphics, etc). Tons of boring text is going to lose the attention of your fans fast,
and an overwhelming collage of visuals may get their attention but really isn't going to
help you reinforce your "Calls to Action". As such, you need to find a happy medium
between text and visuals. Pictures from the road and links to videos express much more
than a block of text, and can be skimmed through quickly, which is good ‐ and when you
pair these kinds of visuals/links with text that gives context then your newsletter is sure
to be a winner!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Becoming A Successful Tourning Artist/Entertainer

We all know there are several hundred great female country artist out there who get absolutely no consideration. Music is about much more than you and your songs.....it's about the TEAM of professionals you have around you. RIGHT NOW TEAM TAYLOR IS SMOKING! Either that, there is some fishy business going on with the voters, which I sincerely doubt.

If someone gave me $500 to go see my favorite nominee, I would have to pick Jennifer Nettles.....she makes a connection with me on most all her songs and how can you not see the passion on her face and hear it in her voice...but, that is just me.

Your music is like a circle....you're the center, but what completes your circle is how well your work all the pieces, large or small and how consistent you work them with your team members.

Most important, how you build your fan base of what I call True Blue Fans. Without them your career will remain stagnant. Some say you need 1,000 .... I say you need and want as many as you can connect with..... I ask all artist fans to recruit 1 new TBF / month. If this happens, your TBF base can be at 5,000 -10,000 within in 3-5 years. Data shows each new TBF will spend on average $100 / year on you. Which means 5,000 TBF generates $500,000 / year in gross income; 10,000 TBF generates $1,000,000 in gross sales / year. Either way, record deal or no record deal, in 3-5 years most any artist will become successful touring and earning a good living, not only for her, but members of her team. There are many ways to have TBF and have them become one of the most import parts of your circle (team). If you now have 1,000 TBF and each one brings 1 new TBF / month, in one year you have 12,000 and once you get to that level your career will explode. You may not ever be on the CMA awards, but, who cares if your making a wonderful living and having fun doing what you love to do. When you become a confide touring artist and are make it on your own, more than likely a label will show up and that's when you have the power to not give away your future and when you can make a deal or not, that will be a win/win for you and for the label.....many more details to this.

Anastasia Brown has written much about this as well as many others....spend your time working your career and keeping your fans informed and not so much as those who don't support you, your music, your shows, and your team.

CMA Voting Process

If you're like me, you probably wonder sometimes where the CMA gets its nominees. Many times your favorite artists aren't nominated, and it can be very frustrating to hear that once again they've been left off the list.

I've written the procedures the CMA Membership goes through in order to create the list of nominees, and then how the winners are chosen each year.

Who are the CMA Members?
The CMA membership consists of over 6,000 music industry professionals from 43 countries around the world. CMA membership is available to anyone working in the Country Music industry. There are many categories of membership for anyone from behind-the-scenes engineers to front-of-the-camera artists.

The CMA Award winners are voted on by industry professionals of the Country Music Association. Thus, the winners are chosen by their peers. The CMA staff doesn't participate in the voting process.

Eligibility period:
Using 2004 as an example, the eligibility period runs from July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004. Singles, albums, music videos, and qualifying products for the vocal event must have been first released during the eligibility period. The election is conducted in three rounds.

Round 1:
In the first ballot, the CMA members may nominate one act in each category. Any eligible act receiving a minimum of 10 or more eligible votes will become an official nominee, and will then be submitted to the entire CMA membership for the voting on in the second ballot.

Round 2:
On the second ballot, the CMA members must vote for five nominees in each category. These results are then tabulated and the five nominees in each category receiving the most votes will become the CMA finalists, and move on to the third ballot.

Round 3:
On the third ballot, the entire CMA membership then votes for one nominee in each category to determine the winners. The entire balloting process is conducted and certified by the international accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP. The final results are broadcast on the CMA Awards show telecast in November each year.

I've listed below the criteria which must be met to be eligible for each category of CMA Award.

Entertainer of the Year:

This award is for the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field. Voter should give consideration not only to recorded performance, but also to the in-person performance, staging, public acceptance, attitude, leadership, and overall contribution to the Country Music image. Award to artist.

Male Vocalist of the Year:

This award is based on individual musical performance on records or in person. Award to artist.

Female Vocalist of the Year:

This award is based on individual musical performance on records or in person. Award to artist.

Vocal Group of the Year:

A group is defined as an act, composed of three (3) or more people, all of whom normally perform together and none of whom is known primarily as an individual performing artist. This award is based on the musical performance of the group as a unit, either on records or in person. Award to group.

Vocal Duo of the Year:

A duo is defined as an act composed of two people, both of whom normally perform together and neither of whom is known primarily as an individual performing artist. This award is based on the musical performance of the duo as a unit, either on records or in person. Award to duo.

Album of the Year:

This award is for an album as a whole unit. The album should be judged on all aspects including, but not limited to, artist's performance, musical background, engineering, packaging, design, art, layout, and liner notes. At least 60% of the product in the album must have been first mastered or released domestically during the eligibility period. Award to artist and producer(s).

Song of the Year:

This award is for the songwriter(s). Any Country Music song with original words and music is eligible based upon the song's Country singles chart activity during the eligibility period. Award to songwriter(s) and primary publisher(s).

Single of the Year:

This award is for single records only. The single must have been released domestically for the first time during the eligibility period. Tracks from albums are not eligible unless released as a single during the eligibility period. Award to artist and producer(s).

Vocal Event of the Year:

An event is defined as a collaboration of two or more people either or all of whom are known primarily as individual artists. They must have performed together, as a unit, on a musical recording released domestically within the eligibility period with each artist prominently featured and duly authorized to receive billing on the event. Award to each artist.

Musician of the Year:

This award is for a musician known primarily as an instrumental performer. In order to qualify, a musician must have played on at least one album or single which has appeared in the top ten of the County album or singles charts from BILLBOARD, THE GAVIN REPORT or RADIO & RECORDS during the eligibility period. Award to musician.

Horizon Award:

This award is to the artist, whether individual or a group of two or more, who has for the first time demonstrated in the field of Country Music the most significant creative growth and development in overall chart and sales activity, live performance professionalism, and critical media recognition. Any artist is ineligible for nomination who has previously won a CMA Award (except Song Of The Year, Vocal Event of the Year and Video of the Year) or who has twice been a final nominee for the Horizon Award. Award to artist.

Music Video of the Year:

This award is for an original music video not more than ten (10) minutes in length featuring the performance of not more than one (1) song or medley. The video must have been first released domestically for exhibition or broadcast during the eligibility period. The video should be judged on all audio and video elements including, but not limited to, the artist's performance, video concept and production. Award to artist and director.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Taylor Swift, U2, Keith Urban: How Did They Get There?

Ok…so I have to admit, I don’t know personally how these particular artists got their start.

However, if I were a betting man, I would say they got out there and gigged! That’s right, they went out and played their music!

It is amazing to me that this fundamental principle escapes most artists these days! It would seem very obvious; but then again, most artists are thinking about getting the record deal or winning American Idol.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for 99.9% percent of us, it will not happen that way. So, the basic question is, how do I get out and book myself?

The first thing you must overcome is the fear of picking up the phone and “pitching” yourself. My first comment on this is, get over yourself! I hear so many artists say… “I just don’t like calling, because it sounds like I am trying to promote myself” or “I am not comfortable talking about myself.”

Come on! If you are not going to have confidence in your own abilities, then who is? Who is going to be able to better market you…than you!

I would suspect that most of you don’t have booking agents that work on your behalf. One suggestion on this is to have a friend or family member assist you in booking. Here is a little secret as well (don’t let this one out): create an “alter ego”…that’s right, come up with another name to book yourself under!

As I shared last week, find out where your audience is hanging out. Go to the owners or the people who book in those venues and develop a personal relationship with those folks. Convince them to have you play there at their venue. After you have done that, ask them to give you the names of 5 friends/contacts that you could contact about coming and playing at their venue….get the idea?

There are other elements that go into booking yourself as an artist…but these are some good ways to get going.

I have no doubt that Taylor Swift, U2, and Keith Urban would all tell you…play, play, play!

Next week we will talk about how to build your fan base.

Until then, remember if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward…there is no standing still in the music business!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The 3 Reasons Your Audience Goes to Your Show

by Tom Jackson

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a surefire strategy to get more gigs: no matter who your audience is, you need to Exceed Their Expectations!

But before you can exceed an audience’s expectations, you need to know exactly what they do expect. You might be surprised to hear what it is…

Almost everyone involved (musicians and audience alike) thinks that the reason people go to a concert is to hear music. So of course the usual goal for musicians and singers is to technically play and sing the songs perfectly.

This isn’t any more true than to say a movie audience goes to a movie to see great technical skills. But they don’t go to look at lighting, camera angles, blocking and positioning, the actors’ movements, timing or delivery. They go to get pulled into the story; to experience “moments” in the film!

In a concert, technical perfection is not the goal; the goal is communication. Now I’m not saying “don’t play well.” You should nail the vocals, find great tones, play tight – but the common person in the audience doesn’t know if you’re playing a mixolydian scale, if the drummer is doing a triple stroke roll, or if the singer is hitting a high C or drinking it!

Here are the real reasons an audience goes to an event:

1) To be captured and engaged.

If they’re looking down at their watches and thinking the show is too long, they won’t be captured and engaged. They want to be present in the moment. They don’t want to be thinking about something else when you’re singing. They don’t want to be thinking about school or work the next day, or the kids at home, or whatever is going on – you want them completely engaged, with you all the way.

2) To experience moments.

Your audience wants to laugh, cry, be touched in some way. They want to be a participant. They don’t want to just listen to music and hear words. They want to laugh, cry, and have fun. They want us to tug on their heart-strings. They want to learn, fellowship, hear great songs and great music (two different things, I might add). People come to experience the show. They come for the moments.

3) To be changed or transformed.

People want something to happen during the concert to move them, to help them grow, to make them think, to bring relief from a stressful day…they want to be changed. Is that happening at your shows?

The artists I work with, the ones that really want to develop their show, run everything through this grid. They understand that if they ask themselves, “are we capturing and engaging the audience, are we creating moments, are we changing them” – that’s what will help them exceed their audience’s expectations.

And isn’t that what we should be doing?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Showcase Gig


A showcase gig, or just a showcase, is an introduction to an audience for a new act. Sometimes, labels use showcase gigs to get their new signees in front of the press, while other times, unsigned acts play showcase shows in the hopes of impressing someone in the industry enough to get a deal.

Showcases can be handy for labels or others who have enough pull to get the right people out to see musicians, but beware showcases that charge unsigned musicians a fee to pay. Some of these showcases charge thousands of dollars for minutes on stage, and there is absolutely no guarantee that anyone who can do your music career any good will be in the audience. In fact, chances are, they won't be. If you are tempted by a paid showcase opportunity, do your homework and find out who attended past events and whether anyone has ever had success finding a deal at that particular event. Most worthwhile showcases, like showcases at music industry trade shows, do not charge musicians to play.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Music Biz Then & Now

– Guest Post by Frank Joshua

frankSome 20 years ago I was a struggling musician in London playing every shitty venue in town trying to get a ‘deal’. As I look at the music biz from this perspective I’m wondering;

  • a) what are the connections between what I learned then and what I see now and
  • b) what is the single most important factor in making music in either era?

What I was sure of back then was that without a label or publisher no one could be successful. And barring the odd exception this was true. You made yourself into a killer live band and leave it to the label that was lucky enough to sign you to sort out making a huge album. All you had to have was the talent.

Now-a-days things have obviously changed. Sure there are big name artists who’ve become totally ‘independent’ having benefited from the marketing muscle of the labels for years. And labels are still breaking artists, though they’re desperately looking for new revenue streams in the process.

However it’s also now possible to be a Small Musical Enterprise (SME) running everything from song-writing to point-of-sale from a bedsit, in theory making a decent living, without ever becoming a major artist in the conventional sense.

What I regret most about my previous encounter with the music biz (there are plenty of things BTW) is not spending enough time on recording. The adage of ‘keeping it real’ is still very true as Godamus Prime explains so well in an earlier Evolvor post.

But if I had to pick on one thing that I wish I’d done differently all those years ago in order to give myself a better shot, it would have to be time spent on recording. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of other things hindsight has taught me but when I listen back to our recordings from those years I wish I’d spent more time on them.

So my plan is to see how far a 40-something guy can take this new world order and to document the process. I’m not deluded enough to think that I can, with no previous track record to speak of, break into main stream music at my age. But I am keen to see how far an old man, with a few good tunes can take the new era.

My experiment involves putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve got myself a great producer in Tony White and am spending the money I have on his time in order to make the best recordings of my songs we can. I’m allowing the process to take a lot of time if it has to, even scrapping whole tracks (much to Tony’s annoyance) and starting again if I feel we have to.

I’m working with great musicians and so far I think we’ve got two tracks out of the ten we started near completion. You can follow the process via my blog. Which brings me on to the second part of the time equation. This involves me leaving Tony to get on with what he does best while I try and work out the other vital part of being an SME.

It’s blindingly obvious that the other essential part of today’s music biz is all the online stuff. And again what this needs it seems is huge amounts of time. For me ReverbNation, augmented by a blog, Twitter and the likes of Digg make up the essential tool kit.

I think MySpace and Facebook have their place but I’m betting that the next big breaking-an-act-in-a-new-way thing will come via ReverbNation. But there are other people better qualified than me to make these sorts of judgements.


I’ve no idea how far this will go or where it’s leading but I encourage you to drop in on me and see from time to time. And to spend time on your stuff and not be scared of the time it takes.

And one final thought. I’m actually enjoying making music now. Something that I can’t say was always true in the past. And maybe that’s the most important thing now I come to think of it.


I was watching some old music footage from the sixties recently and was reminded how strangely uncomfortable the artists were with the promotion process. They looked awkward on TV as if this was an afterthought to the creative process of making records, which was probably true.

And it made me wonder if things haven’t turned full circle. I feel like I often see artists who’ve spent more time thinking about the TV/promotion side of things than the recording. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to make great sounding records these days. Maybe it’s because things like audio quality are less important in an age of mp3.

But maybe in an age of SMEs, what we really need to go back to is focusing on the recording. Maybe we just need to think about making records that sound great and make us feel something without the need for promotion to make it sell. An ‘if you build it they will come’ idea of sorts. Or at least the idea that in a market the size of the internet you don’t need to worry about the lowest common denominator?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Artist Failure

“Most artist fail. Not because their product wasn’t any good. They failed because not enough people knew about it. In other words, the marketing failed. Not only is marketing important, it’s pretty much
everything. Being a successful artist requires so much more than just being a great singer”

You are welcome to contact KleerStreem Entertainment for an honest discussion of marketing you and your music.

KleerStreem Entertainment is an artist development company. We address and plan all areas of an artist's career.

Email: kleerstreem@gmail.com

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tips for Better Shows

You’ve updated your website; you’ve setup some great viral marketing with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, NOW WHAT?

Play live anywhere and as often as possible is the best way to build a following. The larger your following, the more in demand you will be. If you learn what makes venue owners happy and you do it, then most likely you will have a standing invitation to come back as often as you want to.

A few suggestions:
  • Email blasts to your fans
  • Create traffic to your website with regular, purposeful communication on social sites. And when you send fans to your website, make sure there is plenty of new video, audio, photos, and so on to give them something exciting and fresh to look at.
  • Cold calls. Call every venue, promoter you can find and then follow up each lead. I understand these concepts are not new but they work.
  • Work for free
We need to be creative and smart with our time and resources. Keep in mind that at the same time as you are cold calling, emailing, and communicating with fans, you could go to a church, a coffee shop, or some other venue and play for free. After all, most places will take a chance on someone who is doing the gig for free.

Then if you get in there you have a few options to make some money anyway. You can sell some product to make a few $$. If you have aligned yourself with a charity you can make some $$ (and help others at the same time).

But the bigger point is this: all of this is good (experience, exposure, and generating a little income) – BUT, if you are amazing LIVE, they will book you again. And the next time, they’ll pay you!

Bottom Line for Success remains: Live shows and building your fan base. You can have the best of everything else, but unless you focus on these two, it's unlikely you will play a venue more than once.

All roads do lead to the stage, where you and your band have the best opportunity to connect with fans by creating special moments and memories that will gain you the most important thing in your music career: TRUE BLUE FANS.

Monday, July 20, 2009


There’s no doubt that rock stars can be creative entrepreneurs, just like entrepreneurs can be creative rock stars.

But Kurt Cobain?

It may seem a stretch to call Kurt Cobain and Nirvana entrepreneurs. After all, Cobain was so disturbed by fame that he ultimately took his own life to escape the pressure.

The success of the album Nevermind was an accident of creative genius by punk rockers who reluctantly hit it big, right?

Not exactly.

The Deliberate Creative Genius of Nirvana

I didn’t want to be a fringe alternative band… I’d rather be a rock star. ~Kurt Cobain, About a Son

An entrepreneur is successful because his passion for an outcome leads him to organize available resources in new and more valuable ways. When you look at it that way, Kurt Cobain was definitely a creative entrepreneur, and he and the other members of Nirvana knew the outcome they wanted.

They wanted to be rock stars.

Now, that doesn’t mean they wanted to be rock stars like the crop at the time, such as Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, or god forbid, Warrant. Ironically, Nirvana’s success quickly knocked the hair bands off commercial radio.

The innovative mix of punk, pop hooks and 70’s guitar rock allowed Nirvana to change the face of popular music forever. And even though it’s likely they never imagined how big it would get, Cobain candidly reveals it was all according to plan in the 2006 documentary About a Son.

Take a look at the three elements that propelled Nirvana to the top of the charts. They just might help you succeed in your own entrepreneurial endeavors.

1. Break the Status Quo

It wasn’t cool to play pop music as a punk band. And I wanted to mix the two. ~Kurt Cobain, About a Son

To innovate in epic ways, the first step is to rebel against the status quo of the industry or community you belong to. In Nirvana’s case, the music scenes in Seattle and Olympia, Washington, were notoriously anti-commercial.

Nirvana’s indie debut Bleach showed promise, but that abrasive, relatively unstructured noise rock was considered “acceptable” to the Pacific Northwest music scene. Cobain wanted to create hybrid songs with pop elements—along the lines of the Pixies—but met resistance from the community and even from Sub Pop, the label he’d worshiped such a short time ago.

So Nirvana made the heretical move of signing with a major label, releasing Nevermind with Geffen. Once Smells Like Teen Spirit broke through, the grunge gold rush began, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains crossed over onto mainstream radio next.

Takeaway: Be a leader, not a follower. You’ll certainly annoy the status quo, but only until you’re reaping the rewards of the innovative pioneer.

2. Mix Innovation With Fundamentals

I don’t think we’re better than the other bands… We got attention because our songs have hooks, which stick in people’s minds. ~Kurt Cobain, About a Son

Most of the songs on Nevermind were written before the band went into the studio. While the music is no way conventional, the tracks possess catchy hooks that are psychologically pleasing.

In other words, Cobain’s desire to add pop hooks to punk compositions is a classic way to “organize available resources in new and more valuable ways.” This is creative entrepreneurism at it’s finest, and Cobain got the rock star outcome he hoped for (be careful what you wish for, etc.).

The band chose producer Butch Vig, whose work with Sonic Youth Cobain admired, and selected Andy Wallace to mix the album. The group walked a fine line by combining polished production with punk aesthetics, and they nailed it (even though Cobain complained years later that Nevermind was too polished).

Takeaway: This is the fine line all creative entrepreneurs walk. Ignore market desire and human psychology, and you fail. Diminish the innovative elements that set you apart, and you become another unremarkable “me too” effort.

3. Bake the Marketing Into the Product

We didn’t do anything. It was just one of those ‘Get out of the way and duck’ records. ~Geffen President Ed Rosenblatt

When Nirvana signed with Geffen Records, they got a tried-and-true marketing machine. Radio promotion and retail positioning had been boiled down to a science in the days before digital distribution turned music marketing on its head.

The selection and release of singles was classic record-label strategy. Smells Like Teen Spirit would go first, which would introduce the band to radio listeners, DJs, and programming directors. This would pave the way for Come as You Are, which would be the more likely hit.

That’s where the plan fell apart.

To say Smells Like Teen Spirit did better than expected is a monumental understatement. A song recorded in three takes with lyrics penned minutes before turned Cobain into the reluctant voice of Generation X.

Geffen hoped that Nevermind would sell at least 250,000 copies, which is what the Vig-produced Sonic Youth album sold. Nevermind has sold over 10,000,000 copies to date, and is critically-regarded as one of the best rock albums in history, just as Smells Like Teen Spirit is considered one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.

Takeaway: These days, creative entrepreneurs of all stripes can use the Internet to spark their own viral success stories by creating remarkable products and services. Home runs like Nevermind are rare and unexpected, so you still need a smart marketing plan. Just know when to “get out of the way and duck” when the audience decides to market for you.

In Summary (Plus One More Crucial Tip)

Kurt Cobain can definitely teach us things about starting our own business, whether big or small:

  1. The first key is always a new and better approach, or a fresh and innovative way to do the tried and true. If the “do it the way it’s done” crowd tells you you’re wrong, crazy, or stupid, you may be onto something.
  2. You can’t ignore the realities of market demand and human psychology, but often the market doesn’t realize what it wants and the mind craves something new.
  3. Create things that people naturally want to market for you.
  4. Be careful who you marry.
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Each Day, Do Certain Things

Hey, What Day is It? (Getting Into The Consumers Head)


Are you planning your music marketing according to specific days of the week? You should be? Check out this post for sure-fire ways to make the most of your online promotions.

It’s Monday! Do you know who’s watching you? Monday is considered the day of fresh information. Everything is new new new! Consider this: the average 9-5er arrives at his/her desk in the morning (please refer to obese man above), turns on the computer, and tunes into msn.com for the week’s political news, reviews on which movie did best at the weekend box office, and anything else that might be hot off the press. On Monday, people want to know what they’ve missed since Friday (though is probably not much).

Do you take Mondays seriously? Treat your music like a job. Try to have something new on your page each Monday. Whether it be a blog, new shows on your calendar, a quick news update, new photos from the weekend’s show, or new video. The options are limitless and its not like you have to revamp your page every week…just do a little at a time.

Rule of thumb: If you build it, they will come. Read more about this at Drawing Traffic to your Website(s)

In college, my Communications professor told me something I will never forget: most people open their email on Wednesdays. Yes, this has been mentioned on Grassrootsy before, but its worth mentioning again. Wednesday is a unique day. Because it finds itself smack dab in the middle of the week, its the one day that you’re least likely to get “Out of Office” replies. More people at their desk = more people reading their email = more people visiting your website. Optimize on this. Send your newsletter on Wednesday mornings or afternoons if possible. Stop by Email Marketing – Making Sure People Read What You Write for more tips.

Rule of thumb: Send emails on Wed…in the morn or after lunch. Check out Grassrootsy’s additional blogs on Email Marketing here.

Stats prove that few erpeople read emails and surf the internet on the weekends, but the people who do are more likely to read through an entire email and will spend more time on your web page than they would on a weekday. For example, if you sent an email on Wednesday, you might get 100 people to open and they would spend an average of 45 second skimming through what you write. But on a Saturday, only 40 people might open up the email but spend a full 3 minutes reading it entirely.

So if you’re posting a blog or sending a weekend email, make sure it’s not time-sensitive. Perhaps you can post musings, and non-essential thoughts. Take it from msn.com: Their weekend news bits are usually reposts of information that that was already used earlier in the week.

Rule of thumb: Never send an email on the weekend that you would send on a Monday or Wednesday.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


The music business is about relationships. And now it’s the artist’s turn to have one.

Success in the music business once hinged on only a handful of relationships: a publicist and a magazine, a salesman and a bookstore, a radio promoter and a radio station, a booking guy and a promoter, an artist and a manager, a writer and a publisher. If all these relationships were working, if all parties’ interests were respected and pursued, if no personalities collided to the point of impeding progress, then the project or artist they were tied to would succeed (from a business standpoint.)

Relationship is still king.

Starting a blog, hopping on Twitter, launching a Facebook fan page - these are not cure-alls because they aren’t a relationship.

These technologies can foster relationships. But not without a lot of personal investment and intentionality from an artist.

This is a big shift in thinking for artists, especially at the top levels of this industry. Artists aren’t accustomed to being so accessible, accountable and out of control. Artists are accustomed to being in front of audiences that care about what they do, audiences they know are fans and they keep in the seats for a couple hours by charging a ticket price. But on-line, where spending time with an artist is free, anybody can wander into the crowd, boo, change the subject, or walk out. And they will.

Also, artists are used to hiring people to handle their relationships for them. That’s at least 90% of what a manager does. Labels congratulate and critique through a manager, for instance, who adds his own diplomatic spin to every word so the artist’s feelings aren’t hurt and the relationship is preserved. Not so on-line. Someone can be hired to hit the “publish” button on a blog post that gets e-mailed over, invite people to a Facebook event and even write to people for an artist and signed their name (it happens), but no one can convincingly be the artist every day in post after post or interact with commenters regularly. Artists can’t hire anyone to be them 24/7 and the internet demands those kind of hours.

Lastly, labels are used to creating and maintaining the image of an artist: focusing and filtering, controlling who can and can’t have access, and how much, when and where. There’s one official bio and one fact sheet carefully crafted in a record company office and then parroted by every media outlet. That’s not possible on-line. And that’s distressing, fatal even, if an artist has nothing to say or, worse, has lots to say about things that don’t matter to anyone but them. Hair products, high priced jeans and guitar pedals aren’t all that interesting to folks with real jobs. The public is now discovering through an artist’s blog what publicists have known for quite some time and expertly covered up: This guy’s just a singer. And that’s no basis for a relationship.

If the music industry dies it won’t be because everything changed. It will be because artists didn’t. Artists today have to - no, we get to - do what the rest of the industry and human race has been doing for eons: We get to be real human beings spending time with other real human beings. There’s no shortcut for that.

Labels was afraid to tell us artists this before: It was never about our music. And it’s not about new technology now. It’s always been about people/true blue fans.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Band Info.

When you’re a band, and you’re putting yourself out there into the public eye (instead of staying locked in the basement), everything you do can be viewed as an interaction with a possible fan. Everything. There’s the obvious – being on stage performing, selling merch, mingling after/pre-show, all really valuable opportunities to give potential fans a meaningful interaction with you, and you’re most likely going to be “on” when you’re in these situations, so you’ll already be able to make those interactions as meaningful as possible.

But what about the less obvious times? What about when you’re just out picking up beer, or gear, or working your day-job? What about when you receive an email from a fan, a facebook message, myspace comment?

Pretty much everything you do could be viewed as an interaction with a potential fan, so it might be interesting to try to think of ways to make all those situations just a little bit special. What if you gave the cashier at the beer store a download card for a free song? Went out of your way to comment back to someone online, or post something on your blog mentioning someone who recently sent you an email about the band, or what if you gave someone who’s buying a CD from you an extra copy for free, so they can give it to someone else?

There are all sorts of ways you can give someone just a bit of something more than what they would expect – all you have to do is find ways to tie those little extras back to your band, and try to genuinely incorporate that behaviour into your daily lifestyle. Suddenly everything you do could become an exercise in making fans, and if you give someone a little bit extra, something more than what they were expecting to get, you’ve increased exponentially the chance they are then going to tell someone else about you too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009



* Illegal Downloading
* Illegal File Sharing
* Music World 1.0 (MW1)
* Music World 2.0 (MW2)
* Fans
* Marketing
* Recommendations

From artist, every where, we hear: People are stealing my music; people are sharing my music, they are not paying me for it. This is one of the few things I agree with, because it is totally true.

Yes, most artist have worked hard, investing a lot of time, their money, in recording and delivering their music to the market place. My question: Did you not know about illegal downloading & illegal file sharing, before you invested a lot of time and money in your music project? Why do some artist believe their music will be treated differently from all the other artist? And WHY on this earth, would any artist believe their music will not be downloaded & share, illegal?

Dr. Wayne Dyer, In his latest book, Excuses Begone challenges us to turn all negatives in our lives into positives with positive affirmations. Quoting from his book:

1. Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others.

2. When you correct your mind, everything else falls into place.

3. We do not attract into our lives that which we want; we attract into our lives what we are.

Music World 1.0 continues to believe authoritarian ways will stop the majority population from illegal downloading and file sharing. Nothing is farther from the truth, because consumers know the RIAA could never sue the masses that do this. Many artist, lawyers, record labels, etc, have not fully recognized Music World 1.0 is dying or has died. It's gone/going to that music hall-of-fame, which is where it should be & should have been years ago. As the renowned Gerd Leonhard states and I summarize: Music World 2.0 is arriving/has arrived in many corners of the world. As sun rises each day, so is Music World 2.0 arriving, globally. Today is just the tipping of this new MW2 iceberg.

Artist have choices to make about how they are going to handle these kind of illegalities, in MW2. Sure, you can be mad, upset, etc., OR , you can choose to accept MW2, be positive, and embrace it. Instead of trusting MW1, how about, doing some MW2 like the following:

1. Write blogs, thanking everyone for stealing your music! After all you are getting free distribution and you are getting noticed.
2. Send tweets thanking them
3. Write everyone on you mailing list thanking them
5. Or, make up boxes with your CD in them and drop them off at stores and radio stations to give away for free.
6. Hold a contest in each city/town you want to tour. See how many people will download your music and how many people they can recruit to download your music as well as come to your shows.
7. Give a great prize to the winners that recruit the most fans.
8. Then ask each winner if they would like to become your street team leader/organizer in each city. If they, accept, give them a pass allowing them to come to any of your concerts
9. Allow them to hang with you and your band in the so called green room.
10. Or ask them if they would take pics or run your merchandise table. Note artist/bands: In case you don't know it, fans love to hang out with you....it makes them feel very special. And during your shows, never fail to recognize these folks for all they do to help you out.
11. Sat up an area on your website, where you post their pics and names. Rank them in order of most fans recruited, monthly. Give monthly prize(s) to the TOP 3.

These are but 11 suggestions on how to continually build your fan base and following, but, enough, that will hopefully help all artist to have a better understanding how positive illegally downloading your music can be to your career. If you need help with this, hire someone that knows what to do, when to do it, and how to build your fan base and increase your following.

What is most important, especially for Independent Artist in MW2? Fans, fans, fans and building a loyal following.
All artist need to accept the music world for what it is or get out of the business. Work with people that understand MW2. People that come up with creative ways to grow your fan base, and build a loyal following.

Turn these thief's into fans (which is what I would do), because their thievery will be recouped many times over in the coming years. Resist or fight them and the news about how you, the artist, treat potential customers/fans/users will circle the globe in a few nano seconds. How can this happen? Through technology and social media. Loose your fans; loose your career.

Successfully turning illegal users into fans, or as we like to say: True Blue Fan, will be the best ROI ever made. Why? Each TBF will turn your petty loss into a minimum gain of $100 annually per fan. Laugh, but, just 5K TBF means 500K/yr. in gross sales. Can any independent artist afford to loose 500K/yr. in gross sales? A large percentage of independent artist would love to have this amount of annual sales any year. So, how about, today, getting started.

Successful music careers are about being different, because, being different gets you noticed. When you are noticed your Brand grows as does your fan base as well as your following.

NOTE TO ARTISTS: You must do these sort of things each and every waking moment of every day.


Goal number 1: steadily grow your fan base

Goal number 2: gig, gig, gig, tour, tour, tour.

Goal number 3: Practice, Practice, Practice. And I don't mean just learning all the songs and making them tight with your band. Yes that is very important, but, it is not nearly as important as learning the art of breaking down each song and creating memorable moments, that connect with fans. Regardless of how great you sing, if you don't learn how to connect through creating memorable moments, your stage road will never arrive and please believe: All Roads Do Lead To The Stage!!

Goal number 4: Try to purchase a $225 HD cameras at WalMart. Video your most high energy song and one of your best ballads. Video the crowd; your recruiters. Why, because when folks are on any camera, especially a video camera, they will tell everyone they know, which, equals more fans and more brand building. And be sure to post your vids on YouTube and all your social media sites. Posting different vids on different sites will drive more traffic to those sites.

Goal Number 5: Make each gig an event; an experience. Do this with your show, your music andyour FANS. And, don't forget, people love FREE.

These are but a few ways to build your brand; increase you fan base; increase your following; which will build your core music business. Core is crucial to success, financial freedom in your happiness in music. Become an accomplished fun fill artist that illuminates warmth onto all eyes.


I would encourage all artist to rid their minds of that "poor me" attitude. It's of no use to you or your career. Quit your whining; instead seek positive solutions.

Illegal Whatevers...Start today to change your way of thinking about this. Do it now; Do it later; or find another career.

Forget lawsuits because an amusing part is, winners will never collect money; your lawyers will....so, where does that leave you? Gerd Leonhard has it right. Everyone needs to get a grasp on reality. Become informed about what is coming in MW2. Listen to those outside the mainstream, i.e, Trent Reznor of NIN.

I am not advocating folks not get paid for "WHATEVER" they do, produce, or create. I am advocating replacement of our MW1 for MW2. Actually it has or is being replaced; most do know it or they don't want to accept it. Just a few short years ago, artist were complaining about how small their piece of the label/publishing pie was and how labels were screwing them out of their hard earned money??? Dixie Chick??? As well as several others.

I have discovered hundreds of indie artist that I enjoy more than main stream label artist. There are so many great global artist. Most of these artist will send me/you their MP3 for free. Furthermore, they encourage me to give away as many copies as I can for free. I continually look for those unknowns in the far corners of the world. Some have done a lot; most have done little because they are not committed or they don't have the funds to.

There are many things that need addressing in music. My Top 8 are:

1. Monetizing Music to fairly compensate everyone.

2. Establishing Trust with fans/users/consumers (The days of the "Good Ole Boys" are dead and gone). Hey, good name for a new song. The PLUG needs to be pulled on MW1, soon, with a transition plan into MW2 for the good of everyone involved in music.

3. Finding out what fans/users needs/wants are.

4. Allow everyone to download all the music they want.

5. Set up filters so everyone can customize their music their way.

6. Everyone drop their suing BS. It won't work because 80-90% of the connected global population is, today, illegally downloading; sharing illegally. (This applies to global populations with internet access).

7. Have a reasonable and fair system that for 3 years allows everyone to pay a reasonable annual license fee to have unlimited access to all the music they want to download and share. After 3 years if this system is not working, then implement a mandatory collection system requiring everyone to pay an annual license fee on their income tax or through a honest government or commercial agency . These collections would be distributed by someone like the HFA or a department within governments around the world. If we can collect taxes, I see no reason why we cannot collect license fees.

8. Form an oversight board that meets regularly to address problems, flaws, etc. The board would be 100% transparent to everyone.

First system will be totally voluntary lasting for 3 years allows everyone to pay a reasonable annual license fee to have unlimited access to all the
music they want. Payments would be sent to an oversight committee for recording and distribution.

After 3 years if this system is not working, then, implement a mandatory collection system requiring everyone to pay an annual license fee when filing their income tax or through each country's tax collecting system. These collections would be distributed oversight agency.

USA population is currently 306,000,000, which is about 3% of the global population which is 6,700,000,000.

2008 global music sales were just over 18 billion dollars

If each person in the USA has a license, those licenses sales would amount to around 16 trillion dollars in annually. A reasonable fee of $1 per week (recommended by Gerd Lehonhard) would generate gross sales, just in the USA, many times greater than what is now being collected globally. I don't really see that many folks opposing or protesting a $52 / year annual license fee per person. The family dollar amount would be $52 x the number of dependents in each household. 4 dependents equals $2o8 for a household of 4. Can anyone not handle this? Each license would have an identifier number that would follow each person for a lifetime. There were be an automated systems of checks and balances to prevent counterfeiting.

AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE? Let me know if I am. This system would eliminate so much of the non productive BS and most importantly get everyone paid, more money for their creativity and their music.

Commercial business would pay $1,000 / year for their license which would cover all genres of music. They now pay licenses fees, in USA, based on annual sales.

Now we have annual license fee amounting to trillions to distribute amongst everyone involved based on their percentage of the USA or Global Market, which can be determined by the number of downloads of each song for all artist. Properly implemented this system would be a Win Win for all.

If an independent artist sells 5oK of CD's, at shows, they keep all that money or they divide it according to any legal contract.

I would recommend copyrights stay with the original writers/publishers, but, in terms of monetary value, they have none in MW2. So, does it really make sense to have copyrights?

All songs would have a unique identifier that would show if it is an original or a cover. Any time a song is downloaded the identifier would be pick up and reported to the oversight agency. A running total of every identifier would be maintained, so each party could be sent reimbursement checks monthly or quarterly.

Yes, this system would take a lot of planning as well as test runs to work out any bugs. I know we currently have both software & hardware, in systems, doing much more complicated tracking and data generation than MW2 would require.


306,000,000 USA

6,700,000,000 World


$18.42 Billion

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Fan Interaction

When you’re a band, and you’re putting yourself out there into the public eye (instead of staying locked in the basement), everything you do can be viewed as an interaction with a possible fan. Everything. There’s the obvious – being on stage performing, selling merch, mingling after/pre-show, all really valuable opportunities to give potential fans a meaningful interaction with you, and you’re most likely going to be “on” when you’re in these situations, so you’ll already be able to make those interactions as meaningful as possible.

But what about the less obvious times? What about when you’re just out picking up beer, or gear, or working your day-job? What about when you receive an email from a fan, a facebook message, myspace comment?

Pretty much everything you do could be viewed as an interaction with a potential fan, so it might be interesting to try to think of ways to make all those situations just a little bit special. What if you gave the cashier at the beer store a download card for a free song? Went out of your way to comment back to someone online, or post something on your blog mentioning someone who recently sent you an email about the band, or what if you gave someone who’s buying a CD from you an extra copy for free, so they can give it to someone else?

There are all sorts of ways you can give someone just a bit of something more than what they would expect – all you have to do is find ways to tie those little extras back to your band, and try to genuinely incorporate that behaviour into your daily lifestyle. Suddenly everything you do could become an exercise in making fans, and if you give someone a little bit extra, something more than what they were expecting to get, you’ve increased exponentially the chance they are then going to tell someone else about you too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TODAY'S Indie Development

Yes, 90% of an indie artist development/career is up to them.

Looking deeper, into the details, one must recognize this will involve assembling a trusting team of passionate professionals. This team’s charter is to get this long train (the artist) moving. As with a long train, no matter it’s destination, the train, always begins moving slowly.

Major record labels are not longer the “engine”, at most, they are only the caboose, Some trains no longer have a caboose, because trains, have figured out the caboose was just extra weight they had to pull & really were not beneficial in helping them reach their destination. Cabooses were painted red, which to a train signaled “The End”.

Will there always be a need for labels, maybe, but, their success will depend on how much they are willing to become an asset & not an impediment to an artist career. When labels start listening to what fans/customers want is when their roles may become more important. When they are willing to change their business models to benefit the artist and connect with fans, is the day their importance will stop diminishing. If they do this, all artist need to recognize there will still be few slots to fill. So, most artist will continue to be truly independent. This means becoming more involved not only in their music, but, in the business end. Assembling a lean knowledgeable team that is totally committed to building a large fan base which is & will continue to be, the “key” to their success.

Do you have your team in place?

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Having a connected tight band may be one of the most time consuming frustrating things an artist or manager has to do, even if you have good musicians. It has mostly to day with musician's egos. Egos that allow them to believe they know how to do everything better than anyone else & they are just too good to learn.

Then you have the trouble of them taking rehearsals seriously. Rehearsals are more like ‘goof off’ time. They only want to be serious/professional when they are on stage. Many new artist find themselves on very small stages, where a 4 or 5 piece band will barely fit, much less have space to move around.

Lastly, you have band members who believe their only job is to play & not be a team player. No matter how good a musician is, if they refuse to be a team member & work just as hard as everyone else; do yourself a favor & part ways. Sooner or later you most likely will any way. The song dictates stage energy at specified times from each band member. Some songs, everyone will be high energy. But no one should outshine the lead singer, unless it’s a part of the connecting moment within the song.

The Stage

I agree random wandering is not good, plus, it exhibits non professional, non-caring, ego fed intentions.

The catch 22 here is that some musicians want to be paid well, but, many do not want to be integral teams members. A great band will work to become a tight band that puts on connecting shows that create moments in each song with their paycheck: THEIR FANS! Fans are customers or potential customers. As most everyone should know without supportive fans, THERE IS NO ROAD TO THE STAGE.

The Power of 5, implemented properly, with see an artist/band's customer/fan based grow to 15,000+ in about 5-6 years. If they are TRUE BLUE FANS, as we call them, that will generate $1.5 million dollars in sales/year, which is not a bad living for getting to do what you want to do & as an INDIE ARTIST.

Tom Jackson's Productions services will be the best returns on your investments you will ever make. We believe a higher priority than recording a CD. Its imperative an artist/band become proficient learning & knowing:






FOR WHO?????????????

The audience who become CUSTOMERS, which means, the artist/band can enjoy a career of doing what they love: MUSIC.

A challenge to all bands: WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 5 YEARS? If it's music, please discard your PLAN B, for Plan B's lead away from the stage.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Oh advertising! Is it really worth it as a musician? Well, it depends. Where are you advertings? What are you advertising? And do you have money? Of course you want to try to get as much free publicity as possible. If you can do it for free, definitely go for that option!

When you do get the funds, check into these ideas. The great thing about the following options is that you can advertise at whatever price is affordable for you.

And in continuation to Monday’s blog, Finding Your Niche, the below suggestions allow you to advertise directly to your niche.

Its a great source for people who wanna find good things online. StumbleUpon doesn’t just focus on music. It exposes surfers to every type of website in the world. How does it work? Lets say you wanna get your myspace out to a unique type of listener (See yesterday’s post: Finding Your Niche). Click on StumbleUpon Advertising and create a campaign. As you create your campaign, you’ll see that you can choose what types of people you want to visit your website – everything from people who are history buffs to people who are vegetarian, to people who like kayaking. Tons of random categories.

So what if your music appeals most to men, maybe you’d want to pick people who fall into the following categories: home improvement, mens issues, video games. Or if you think your music has ambience that best fits the spiritual guru/yoga type crowd; you might want to pick people who fall in the following categories: yoga, self improvement, ambient music.

You’re also given the option of choosing age range, geographic location and other demographics. StumbleUpon only costs .05 cents per view. So you could spend $20 on advertising and that would expose your website to 400 people. Check out their short video tutorial.

Facebook (and Myspace)
Its much the same concept as Stumble Upon: i.e. target audiences, demographics and all that jazz. One thing I’ve noticed and like about Facebook ads is that it allows you to pay for impressions by the thousands. So that means, if you set your ad price as 20 cents per 1000 impressions, your ad will show up on the side panel of 1000 facebook pages. Whether 5 people or 500 people click the impression, you still only pay 20 cents per 1000. I’ve found that Facebook isn’t as straighforward as StumbleUpon and takes a little time to understand.

I haven’t tried Myspace advertising, so if you have experience, please comment below.

The Pizza Boy (ya, for real!)
During the week of his CD Release, Pittsburgh artist T. Mitchell Bell stopped into his local pizza store, and asked them if they would be able to distribute flyers for his CD release everytime they had to make a delivery. AWESOME idea! They let him do it for free b/c he was a very regular customer!

Stop into your local restaurant, whether it be a pizza store, or something else. Ask them if they’d be willing to do the same. You might have to pay a little something but its a great idea ( they’ll treat you better if they know you). It’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard lately and I think its probably effective.

House Concerts

Ever wanted to have a captive audience in an intimate setting where you could share your favorite songs, a few jokes and stories, make a few bucks for your efforts and do a little healthy self-promotion all in one evening, maybe without even leaving the comfort of your own home?

This sounds a little too good to be true but “house concerts” have been a growing trend, especially for acoustic artists over the last two decades. What works for the singer-songwriter can also provide good venue vibes for vocalists. Remember that you don’t need an elaborate performance to make an impression, you want to keep it simple to minimize potential headaches and glitches.

So what do you need to get started and pull things off without freaking out or having too many technicalities to overcome?

Setting The Scene

Obviously you need a staging area. This can be a rec room, sunroom, or large living room. It can be a porch or sundeck, a backyard, front yard or garden area. If you’re in the country it could be a barn or stables area. Near the river or ocean, it could be the sand in front of a beach house. You want an area that will be easy to set up, maintain and control traffic flow. You can ask people to bring chairs or lay out blankets and tablecloths to create a casual, picnic atmosphere.

If you don’t have a space of your own to perform in, check with a neighbor or friend who might have a space or get them to ask around. The first goal is to secure a spot for your concert so that you can get the word out and set up some future gigs. You might even ask around about who is holding yard sales and set up your house concert as entertainment for the neighborhood after a day’s hard work, sort of like a block party.

Dishes And Tip Jars

It’s also a great idea to have food available. It could be a potluck or simple finger foods and drinks. You might have an outdoor grill or pit for barbecue. Again, you want to keep it simple but satisfying for those who show up to hear you.

To be financially rewarded, you can set up a tip jar, pass the hat or a basket, or charge a flat admission fee. Just to be on the safe side, check with local zoning laws for the area where you’ll be performing. If it can be implied that the concert is a business venture you may have to comply with safety issues and permits. In most cases this will not be an issue.

Building Support

One of the reasons that house concerts can be a viable way of making some money and building a following is that people crave a sense of community. Music has a way of building bridges and bonding people together. It is a shared experience that is frankly good for the heart and soul. It’s also a good idea to include songs that lend themselves to audience participation on occasion. Just to make it a little more fun.


House concerts are usually promoted via the Internet, fliers, and word of mouth. Ask each of your friends to bring two of their friends to the concert. This is one way to guarantee that you’ll have a relatively full house.
After your concert make a pitch for your availability. Have ready-made flyers or business cards available with contact info or even a CD with a few songs.

This is a great way to make a cozy connection between heart and home. It’s a connection that is naturally reinforced by the human voice engaged in song.