Key Takeaways from The CD Baby DIY Musician Conference
The 2017 CD Baby DIY Musician Conference was held in Nashville, TN this year on August 24-27. I was honored to be asked to be a mentor.
As I am a regular listener of the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast, I loved the post-mortem of this year’s conference. I thought I’d share these with y’all and add some of my comments.
It’s just getting started and it’s only getting stronger.
My old friend Rick Barker was there with indie artist Dawn Beyer who cleverly generated $74,000 in less than a year doing live Facebook concerts.
Remember, with regards to the marketing process in today’s market, the music comes second. Again, I’m not saying it’s less important. I am saying that the artist comes first before the music just like your underwear before your outfit. That’s how the consumer will become aware of you.
Your future fans will find YOU before they love your music.
That’s a reality you’d better accept sooner than later.
I simply can’t think of a better way to showcase your talent and charisma than live streaming on any platform.
You need to keep your ear to the ground so you’re up on all the coming technology developments in this area because they’re coming by the truckload.
The ONLY way to master this is to do it often and make a boatload of mistakes.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget while the platform is awesome you still need to OWN the information because organic reach via email or device ID’s is 100% and totally free.
Live Streaming Do’s and Don’ts.
DO be consistent. Make sure that your live streams are something everyone can plan for and depend on. Not for nothing, but the followers of my podcast The CLIMB look forward to Tuesdays because that’s when it drops. Its real.
Don’t trip on the live attendance. Keep recording for the playback, that’s when you’ll get the most views. I’ll do FB live from studio sessions sometimes and I might get 50-100 live attendees. But I’ll almost always get over 1,000 views in the playback.
DO give your live audience 5 seconds to unmute their computers before you start your performance.
DO shoot with your phone sideways (landscape). This way you can use this content in other video platforms later if you need to.
DON’T start broadcasting and wait too long before you start your performance because you’ll lose them. Nobody wants to hear you banter with your friends. They’ll feel left out.
DON’T make comments on how many people are on when you’re live. Tons of your replay audience will not know that they’re watching a recorded version. Happens all the time.
Music Streaming Platforms
Never share a link to a single on Spotify.
Instead, create a link to a playlist with a bunch of your songs on it so if they like your single, then they’ll listen to more.
DO continually update this list. Just think, you get to choose what musical experience the consumer will have.
Music is platform based. Becoming an expert on all these platforms (i.e. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, etc.) and the different tools that they provide is free.
Why aren’t you well versed in every single one?
Live Show Production
I have had the pleasure of connecting Tom Jackson with several of my clients now. He’s a live show producer and trust me, EVERY ARTIST NEEDS LIVE SHOW PRODUCTION.
If you’ve ever seen him work, it’s literally breathtaking. Night and day difference in just one hour of work and he’d only get through the first verse and chorus of one song.
DON’T let the song control the show, you control the song and create a moment.
Change your arrangements for the live show. Most artists will walk to the front of the stage to interact with the audience and then hurry back to the mic to start the second verse because that’s the way it was recorded (with a 4 bar turnaround).
What if the audience just soaked in your groove for another 8 bars? Take your time, and go back when you’re ready. Let the band ebb and flow to the vibe of the audience and follow the lead of the front-person.
Let your music breathe in a live setting. It should always be a different arrangement live than on the record.
You can really learn to be a master of controlling emotion.
Every night is different. My band was always prepared to continue whatever groove was going on during our shows. You never knew what was going to happen.
By the way, this year Tom did a separate instructional with a couple singer/songwriters. It was ASTOUNDING what a little tweaking could do for a solo acoustic performance.
In one section, he had the songwriter tell his story on how the song was written.
We all feel that way.
Then he had the songwriter gently play the groove of the song while he told his story. That was incredible.
We all cared.
Authenticity sells. Period.
This should be the most artistically freeing information you’ll ever hear. Screw perfection. Forget about what you’re perceived level of talent is. Just be you and always try to improve upon that.
You’ll make a living, I promise.
There are only 12 notes. Your interpretation is what will be unique.
Your interpretation is the art. That’s what MATTERS!
Every artist is strong in authenticity but most artists aren’t chasing that. They’re trying too hard to be something else.
This Business Is All About Relationships
Rick Barker (Taylor Swift’s former manager) gave a great presentation but he said something completely hardcore.
I totally agree with it.
He said, don’t come up to me and give me a CD because I’ll tell you “No” to your face. I don’t know you so I don’t care.
Neither does anybody else by the way. Barker was just being honest.
The same holds true for record executives, publishers, booking agents, industry attorneys, and most important; consumers.
You have to create a relationship first before you ask for anything.
The way to create a relationship is to reach out first. Love them first. Give first.
Also, it’s about your story. If they are moved or interested in your story in any way, they will listen to your music. They will buy your music, merch, tickets, etc.
But not until then so stop telling people that you don’t know or just met to download your music.
Stop telling or even asking people to discover you on iTunes. They won’t. It never works.
Create a relationship and move forward from there. Your world will instantly change.
YouTube Is Still KING
There was a healthy amount of the YouTube team in attendance at the DIY Conference. They were there to help indie artists and gather information to improve their platform.
Listen, YouTube’s whole existence depends on advertising revenue. The more views a video gets, the more money they make.
They WANT YOU TO GO VIRAL.
This is an incredible platform that algorithmically scrubs the 1 billion videos uploaded every day to search the most compelling content. If people are liking it they’ll watch it and help it after the video hits certain levels of activity.
Think of it like a ladder. Imaging each rung on the ladder having a bell. If you post a video and it gets enough views within a certain amount of time (from the post date) you’ll ring the first bell and YouTube hits a multiplier button.
This multiplier exposes the video to a bunch of new people whose data suggest that they would like this kind of video.
If the video continues to gain enough momentum to ring the second bell, YouTube hits another multiplier button and so on.
This is why some videos do better than others but you can intelligently increase the odds of ringing the first couple bells and giving the video a life if you’re consistently building an audience.
There are “YouTubers” who regularly post videos and make tons of money simply because THEY’VE CREATED AN AUDIENCE.
When you have an audience, miracles happen.
You can create an audience for free on YouTube.
Therefore, your best excuse about not having any money to market goes up in flames.
I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule but I haven’t heard of any artist who went from obscurity to making an acceptable living in music by uploading their music to iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Bandcamp, Bandzoogle, Bkstg, etc.
I do know some artists who have millions and tens of millions of streams on Spotify who can’t fill up a coffeehouse. No Audience.
I know TONS of artists who make a killer living on YouTube.
I know TONS of artists who have broken on YouTube.
The attention they got from a big viral video has opened tons of doors including record labels, SNL appearances, network TV show castings, etc.
It wasn’t luck, it was work. They set it up and put in a boatload of work to get their respective channels big enough to make a difference.
Why aren’t you consistently posting on YouTube?
I learned a ton at this year’s CD Baby DIY Musician Conference. For the $69 price-tag over 3 days, it’s the best deal around.
They’ve already booked the Omni Hotel in Nashville for next year’s conference. You should be there.
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