This past week Kelly and I were honored to be panelists on Grammy nominee Amanda Williams’SongwritingandMusicBusiness.com songwriting conference. Whoa, let me tell you Amanda and Todd put together an informative, well organized, event that had attendees rubbing elbows and getting their music heard in front of many music industry professionals including, managers, publishing company executives, record executives, live performance coaches, and social media experts. There were many panels, events, networking, and performance opportunities during the day at the lovely Preston Hotel in Nashville.
One of the highlights was definitely Amanda Williams performing “Asstastic”…just sayin’.
I am quite sure there were more than a few new songs written as artists and songwriters took their long day and extended it to jump on impromptu collaborations at the pool every day after midnight.
What a sweet vibe, man.
Kelly and I had a blast! We also became aware of several amazing artists we invited to submit to the TV show that we are casting. One writer we saw happened to look like a perfect fit for an artist we are currently developing.
The introductions have already been made.
Additionally we began a relationship with the management from a Barbados duo that we may just do some business with. Both Kelly and I were blown away by the talent and relished the environment provided to meet these people and interact.
I’ve been telling y’all about this event for well over a month now. Many of you continually email me with stories of your networking challenges, frustrations with your progress, and questions on how to “get in the business” deeper so you can make a living at it. Well, here was the PERFECT opportunity.
Why weren’t you there?
One of the breakout sessions I was asked to head up was a social media/marketing session. During this tutorial I got to thinking about the most common mistakes EVERYONE from indie artists to major labels are making with marketing in the new music business.
So here’s a list of my top biggest marketing mistakes
- Social media is about THEM not you – There are many clever ways to get what you want by thinking about them first. Start providing something for them, cool quotes, inspiration, humor, knowledge, etc. Start talking about them, asking about them etc. I told a story of the Twitter campaign we did a year ago for an artist. This fan tweets that he’s CRANKING the song in his garage, drinking beer, and LOVING IT! Instead of basking in the glory (I was tweeting as the artist at the time) I asked a question. Which lead to an answer. Which lead to another question. This happened just 4 times and that guy invited the whole band to STAY AT HIS HOUSE in Texas when they came through on tour. 4 questions = Superfan
- Hype doesn’t work – Have you ever heard the phrase “A person is smart, people are stupid”? Have you ever heard PT Barnum’s famous quote “Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd”? There is an energy in a crowd that speaks to our core need to be a part of something; we are wired up to want to belong. When we see someone on a stump with 30 people around him there is an implied power given to the speaker. How else did he get all these people to stop and listen? Mass media like TV and radio put the speaker in a similar but largely amplified position of power. A Donald Trump-esque hype speech actually works in mass media scenario or on a stump in front of a crowd, however, social media and email interaction is always consumed 1 on 1; privately. Now, imagine someone totally hyping a product during private conversation with you. Total turnoff right? If you must hype yourself the time to do it is at a live show where you pack a crowd in; they’ll believe whatever you tell them. If you propagandize through social media and email they will think you’re an idiot. Stop it.
- No list building and lead capture strategy– OMG I talk to artists every day who play for huge audiences during the summer. When it’s over they have nothing. This is a perfect time to capture phone numbers or email addresses…nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, right? There are many companies like CallLoop.com who provide text capture technology that connects with your CRM (aWeber, Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, etc.). Give away a song in exchange for their phone number. Text messages have a 99% open rate. Squeeze pages are a super effective way to capture email addresses in exchange for a free track(s) which will expose the consumer to your music; win, win, win. Work out a deal with the bar owner to pony up a $25 bar tab (costs him about $4) that you would award at the end of the night to a lucky person you choose from the list they just opted into (works like a champ)
- Y’all record before you have an audience – To quote my friend Rick Barker, “would you open a hamburger stand in a vegan community?” Social media, YouTube, Blogging, and LIVE SHOWs are killer ways to build up a following before you release a product. Otherwise it’s a vanity project, which is cool, but you can’t really be pissed it isn’t selling, ya know?
- You’re trying to get “laid” on the 1st or 2nd date – Social media initiates the relationship and allows you to deepen it. Clever email campaigns can further deepen a relationship. There HAS TO BE A RELATIONSHIP before you ask for the sale. Period. You can’t just put a compelling PPC ad or tweet up that instantly drives people to iTunes to “get to know you”. Consumers will say “screw you”. However, we all know someone who purchased a CD to support an artist they “know”. See the difference?
- Crappy unproduced product – Remember how you felt when you bought the last product that totally disappointed you? Odds are you need help SOMEWHERE. Maybe you’re a great writer but not a producer. Maybe you’re a great singer but not a great writer. Maybe your lyrics aren’t as strong as your melodies. Identify the weak suit(s) and find help to make your music better. Just because you, your mate, and your mom like it doesn’t mean anybody else will; they are always going to encourage you. Find out what people think about the track on social media and get your answer. We had an artist that we did one single on and promoted it on Twitter. We got 2,000 downloads (giving it away free) in a couple months. This was a great litmus test because people responded and LOVED the track. Yes, art is subjective. But successful artists reach beyond their friends and family so if everyone else doesn’t get it you’ve got a hobby not a career.
- You don’t have a website and therefore no web store – Since you’re an indie artist and you will doing all the work to drive traffic, why not drive fans to your OWN STORE where you get 100% of the money? Yes, you will need a presence on sites like iTunes, Spotify, and CD baby because healthy percentages of fans prefer to buy there, but many will buy directly from you if you tell them to; especially after you have created a relationship. This is just common sense, isn’t it?
- You’re not bundling – Have you ever gone to a bar to order a cocktail and the server gives you 2 choices of top-shelf liquor to choose from? You either choose one of them or have the balls to say, “Give me the cheap stuff”; this is called “upselling”. 30% of your buyers will be willing to be upsold if you have something for them to spend more money on. Old CD’s, demo tapes, posters, set lists, autographed 8×10’s, t-shirts, hats, and key chains, make for great bundles. Check out this company for amazing bundling products that are simply unbelievable
- You’re only on 1 social media platform – While it is definitely counterproductive to try and be on all of them, at least 2, preferably 3 are a solid choice. Remember MySpace?
- You’re overexposing your act – get outta town, man. If you play every week or twice a month or even once a month (depending on how big your town is) in the same market, it’s too much. If any iconic superstar played every week down the street people would get sick of seeing them, I mean there’s always next week, right?
- You aren’t making your shows an event – When we got our start we opened for a band in Minneapolis called Hericane Alice. They were the biggest band in the Twin Cities at the time. They played about once a quarter and brought in FULL national act production and lights. They always sold out. When I lived in L.A. I would book a show and buy a keg. I’d tell people to pay the $10 at the show then beers were on me at my house afterward till the keg crapped out. It was an EVENT, an anticipated social gathering. What can you do to step up your game here?
- You haven’t studied content marketing – Social media is about content marketing so you better learn this fast. Gary Vaynerchuk is a pioneer in content marketing, learn from him. He says content marketing is like boxing, jab, jab, jab, RIGHT HOOK (which is your “call to action”) So content, content, content, then a call to action to a squeeze page of some sort or text based opt-in technology. Get it?
- Your live show sucks! – C’mon man! This is totally a pet peeve of mine. When we toured we worked our ASSES off on creating a compelling live show. 99.9% of the time I see a band they are totally boring even if they can play well. Have you ever seen Bruno Mars live? His show is one of the best. WORK. PERFORM. GIVE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE. That’s is what people want to see.
- You’re panhandling or worse, begging – Wade Sutton shared a great quote with me last weekend. He said “Take the napkin off your chest and put it on your arm”. In other words, stop asking “What can you do for me” and start asking “what can I do for you” to the people that can help advance your career. “Making millions off you in the future is a weak and markedly naïve pitch. Intern, clean, run, do whatever it takes to create a relationship. Jon Bon Jovi used to clean the Power Plant in NYC to gain access to studio time where he recorded over 50 versions of “Runaway”. One of them was picked for a WAPP compilation record, which in turn made the song a hit single, which ended in a record deal for Jon. Trent Reznor did the same to gain the access he needed to record “Pretty Little Hate Machine” from Nine Inch Nails. Both of these men accomplished this in an environment where records cost the 2014 equivalent of $550,000 to make. Now you can do it with a killer producer for less than 10% of that…what’s your excuse?
- You’re not adding images to every Tweet – images significantly improve open rates. Add images. Learn to Meme because it’s a great way to add your unique perspective to any image. Addtext.com is a killer resource for memes and not-for-nothing it’s a fun creative release. You might surprise yourself.
- You don’t fully understand the Sales Funnel – You need a sales funnel. A relationship building process that uses effective language to convert email addresses into cash. Once you have figured out the sales funnel portion you only need to focus on 2 marketing areas; traffic and average revenue per email address; the rest is mathematically predictable.
- You don’t understand the definition of marketing – Remember marketing is defined as influencing buying decisions. Distribution is where they go to purchase your music once the buying decision has been made.
- You won’t pay for coaching – This past weekend was an amazing chance for songwriters and artists to meet and create relationships, learn, evaluate, regroup, plan, and strategize using accurate information from many industry pros. With all the Woe-is-me emails I get about how hard it is to get ahead and meet the right people here was a great opportunity. No money is not an excuse; sorry. Jon Bon Jovi found a way around a $550,000 hurdle. So did Trent Reznor, so did many artists. FIND A WAY TO WIN and stop getting in your own way. Sell a guitar, get an extra job, do whatever it takes to learn what you need to learn to succeed at what you love to do. IT’s worth it, right? Some great resources to consider are Rick Barker for virtual management, Wade Sutton for live show coaching and PR development, Amanda Williams for publishing, placement and copyright knowledge, James R. Meny for vocal instruction (we spent TONS of money on vocal lessons when we toured, everyone needs vocal lessons).
- You won’t focus on one genre – I get it, you love many genres and you’re talented enough to do more than one genre justice. If you can’t figure out a way to combine them into a stylistic thing, then choose the one you really excel at and go there. Consumers can’t digest a record with many different genres on it. It doesn’t mean you are abandoning the other genres you love so much. It means you are focusing on one first because it’s smarter for your career.
- You don’t believe it can really happen by marketing online – Want proof? Earl Dibbles Jr.is the alter ego of indie country artist Granger Smith. Check out both sites. Earl has over 1 million FB likes and Granger is over 276,000. I know for a fact there are 4 people working this marketing juggernaut. They are geniuses, they cracked the code because they wanted to figure it out. They move 7 figures worth of product every year and, of course, all the major labels want him…well both of them I suppose. LOL. They aren’t biting. Why would they? This could be you if you developed a passion for cracking the code.
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