Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Music Yesterday & Today

Having a successful music career is not that much different than it has been all along.

Yes we have new tools for DIY folks & you don't need to have a label deal as much as you once did.

"All roads lead to the stage, where you make connections with your music that creates special moments for your audiences".

For the indie artist to be successful, you have to have TRUE BLUE FANS that will support you & your music year in and year out. So TBF are the number 1 priority as far as we are concern. Without them, how will your survive??

well, maybe some have an unlimited supply of money in their bank account??

Monday, March 23, 2009

Press Releases

You know how important a press release is to get the word out about whatever your band or label has going on, be it a new album, a tour, or some other piece of news. But sending that press release a the right time is another key piece of the puzzle to getting media coverage. How do you get the timing right?

As you might imagine, the answer to this question depends very much on the media you are contacting. Radio has a different lead time than a national print magazine which has different timing requirements from a website, and so on and so forth. There are ways you can take some of the guess work out of the equation, however. Do a little research and create a database:

* Contact all of the music media outlets to which you hope to promote your music, and ask them about their deadlines. Start a database on your computer tracking this information, so you always have it on hand. You should do this far enough in advance that you haven't missed deadlines by the time you get around to making your calls. For instance, if you know that you will be releasing an album in 6 months, make those calls now.
* Contact any freelance writers you know and ask them how far in advance they need news from you to be able to run with it. Add this information to your database as well.
* Your database will probably primarily include national outlets, plus local outlets in your area. However, don't forget to contact local outlets in towns that the band plays often, or if you have a tour planned, local papers/magazine/radio in the towns on the tour. You might not be able to plan for these contacts as far in advance as you might like, but do it as soon as the shows are booked.

Beyond taking these steps, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

* For a new album or single, sending out press releases and promos 2 - 3 months in advance is ideal (national publications have very long lead times - smaller mags, local papers and websites may have shorter lead times, but it is better to be early than late!).
* For a tour, 6 weeks or so ideal, though 4 weeks can sometimes be ok. How early you send your press release for a tour depends on the kind of coverage you are trying to secure. If you just want to get in the show listings, then you can afford to cut it a little closer (though many national magazines will have specific deadlines for show listings pages that you need to follow). If you're hoping to get a piece written about the show or the band, earlier is better.

If this all sounds a little confusing, don't fret. Press release timing is an art, not a science. The best thing you can do is gather all of the information about deadlines that you can and stick to those guidelines as much as possible. Follow up after you send a press release, especially as your release date/show date nears to make sure you release has not gotten lost in the shuffle and to encourage them to give you some coverage. Last but not least, you should never skip the press release because you think it is too late. You never know what can be pulled off at the last minute, plus, even if it IS too late, you're still getting your name out there, which can only help you next time you send out a press release.

First Things First

1. Perform at as many DIFFERENT venues/events as possible

2. By doing this you will build a larger base of fans from different areas (If you don't have a fan list, please start one...your fan data base, in time, will become your most important asset)

3. Create a 'Buzz' in your local area then expand out in a circle from your home base, i.e., one, two, three, 4 hour drive from your home) During the summer time or when you out of school, try to book some events/fairs/shows in adjacent states, etc.

4. Build your buzz/career by writing weekly blogs on at least 3 of the social networking sites. Recently, artist blogs have become more effective than My Space in terms building your network of fans/readers.

5. If you don't play an instrument, learn how to ....if you do practice, practice, practice.

6. Strengthen/improve your vocals by working with a vocal coach. If you can't do that, stay in good physical shape by doing cardio exercises...whatever you do, do not lift weights...lifting weights will restrict your vocal range. The best exercise for improving and for making your vocals strong is swimming...yes, swimming. Swimming will increase your vocal range.

7. Keep a notebook with you at all times and make note and write down ideas for songs or write songs in it as well. If you need help writing, do not pay anyone, but work with co-writers of experience, which will help you sharpen your writing skills.

8. Attend workshops and join songwriting societies. Most major cities have them and they have weekly or monthly meetings you can go to.

9. Sing any where, any time...you never know who will be listening.

10. Practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse....you music and your stage presence. Remember, in music, ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE STAGE. The stage is your platform, use it, and learn to own it.

11. Learn the difference in connecting with your fans and creating moments, as opposed to just singing well.

12. Have your own business cards...hand them out with a safe phone number and email address, plus, your website info.

13. Start developing your show/gig play list for: one, two, three, four, and five hour shows. Typically, you will need to perform 12 songs/hour. As your can see if you are booked in a 5 hour show, you will be performing 60 songs. Yes that is a lot in one night, but, there are 5 hour gigs. Most gigs run between 3 and 4 hours, so you would need to know between 36 and 48 songs to cover that gig.

14. Build your own song list and know all those songs by heart. It's ok to have a 'cheat' book on stage with all your songs lyrics typed in large enough format for you to see well. Within a 5 year period we like to see artist build their song list to at least 180 songs, both covers and originals. This give you a working 15 sets you can customize to fit and please each different venue. Plus, you do not want to become known as the artist/band that can only perform a few songs. We build play list with originals, covers, and great songs that most folks have not heard of. Because fans have not hear of them, they will think you are performing originals. If they ask you, be honest, and just tell them, it was a cover by a very talented Indie Artist. As you get older and are able to perform in clubs, be sure you discuss with the owner what type of music his customers like to hear and dance to. I book one club that is a 5 hour gig and this club owner wants and expects 180 minutes of music broken down in three different formats as far as the age of the songs being played. Why, because the first 90 minutes most of his customers are older and like to dance and listen to old music; they leave early and then you start working into the top forties cover songs; the last set can be a concoction of most anything because the audience is very young. The main point is you must learn to play songs your audience likes and connects with. In country venues, an owner judges how good your songs are by how many people are dancing, which makes them drink more, which makes him more money. Keep notes on every venue you perform and what they expect from you in terms of arrival times, setup and sound check to be completed by.

15. Do not wait around for a big label to come sign you. I have many friends in Nashville, including my producer. What labels are looking for these days are established artist that are traveling, touring, and earning enough money to support their careers. They figure if you can't make money on your own, why should they waste their time and money? Gone are the days of just a record/touring deal, now the majors are advocating 360 deals, which means they want a percentage of every dollar you generate. It used to be you could keep all your merchandise sales, but, not any more if your under contract with a label.

16. Do gigs/shows/fairs/festivals/coffee shops/Oprys. At first if you can play an instrument, book acoustical shows. If you don't play instrument, find a dedicated person to play acoustic guitar or keyboard.

17. Purchase a decent sound or PA system that will accommodate at least 300-500 people. Learn how to use it or solicit a close friend to learn how to set your sound to make your sound the best. I do sound as well, and I can make any great artist sound really bad by just the turn of a few knobs on the PA. Make sure you can hook up a CD player or a laptop computer to the sound system. Why? Because there are some gigs that will allow you to use music tracks instead of a band.

18. Start building a 'music track' library of songs.

19. Start thinking about a logo that you really like. Eventually folks will know you more by your unique logo than your pic....it further help brand you and your style of music.

20. Form a band....unless you get real lucky, this will be one of the most frustrating things you will have to do. Why? Because most musicians are looking for lots of work and money. They will leave you in a heartbeat. I have formed all male bands of young ages; all female bands; bands with a mixed of older and younger musicians; and bands with just older musicians in it. The most dedicated bands were the ones with some maturity and had been playing for 15 or more years. They are quick learners and they are reliable. You do not want musicians that can't rehearse; that won't work as hard as you on all phases of building a fan base; and you certainly don't want musicians that call the day of the show and tell you they can't make it. The most important things I recommend for forming a great band is: Are they quick learners; can they make their own charts; are them TEAM players; will they do extra things with you to help promote the band; can any of them sing back up vocals? And above all, if any of them won't work as hard as you do....git rid of them immediately, regardless of how good they are or how good they think they are.

21. Buy one of these $150 video camera's from Walmart and start shooting videos. Post the best ones on your blogs, YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace, and your own website. Remember you are trying to create visibility, because the more visibility you create the more fans you will have. All fans are good, but, the ones you really want to take care of are what I call True Blue Fans. TBF are fans that will spend a minimum of $100/year every year on your music, your merchandise, and your shows. Do the math and for every 1,000 TBF you have your will generate $100,000 of gross sales. You goal is to eventually have 10,000 TBF which will generate $1,000,000 of gross revenue / year for you to tour in a bus with a full time band, road manager, etc. The larger you fan base is the faster and larger it will get in a short period of time.

22. If you have not already done so, start developing a daily dedicated work ethic. When others are playing, going to movies, hanging out with their friends, you are working on your music career. Don't be under any illusions that a successful career in music is one of the most difficult things you will every do, but, I have faith that you can make it, if you will dedicate yourself passionately to become a great entertainer that knows how to connect with audiences and most importantly how to create memorable moments for them, during your shows.

23. Do not become upset if someone gives you or your song a bad review. Always remember you are going through a big learning process and unfavorable comments are great, because they help you know where you need to improve. This post is a little bit of the appetizer. You still have to go through the entree to get to the dessert.

I am more like Simon and that is good because you must never believe everyone thinks all your music is great.

Great music connects and creates memorable moments for your audiences. The most important factor about your music is: WILL PEOPLE BUY IT. If you record a CD and everyone likes it, but, almost no one buys it, well??? If you can't market your music and your merchandise, you can't have a successful career, unless you got a very rich someone that will finance you.

Here at KleerStreem Entertainment, we will give you honesty and sometimes that may not be what you want to hear. WE CALL IT:




We hope some of this information is useful, but, by no means is it complete.

Finally, not you or your music are the most important thing in your career, it will always be your TRUE BLUE FANS. For, without, them, there is no career. And don't forget to enjoy each day and have fun!