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The Songwriter Future

It’s interesting to watch human nature during a massive paradigm shift within any industry; a songwriter is no different. We hate change. The more successful we are in any particular field the more removed we are from the undercurrent that is facilitating the change; and the more we fight it.

It makes sense, really, you make money via a certain pipeline or methodology and you get good at it, you have those relationships, you have that “groove” down. When something comes into the market that is disruptive to the status Songwriting Hate Change imagequo, we rebel.

We don’t trust it

We don’t want to start over.

We can’t think about the concept of it except for remembering and waxing about the way it was.

It doesn’t stop disruption from arriving, though.

I like disruption.

The music industry has certainly been disrupted by the internet, Napster, streaming technologies, too much consumer choice, etc.

What does the future of a professional songwriter look like?

Tomorrow will be way different, but it IS better.

Listen, all the answers are not in place yet. Big thinkers are working as we speak to identify and fill some of the vacuums that are being created with these disruptions.

Trust the Free Market

Trust the free market, many people will discover ways to make consistent money selling music on the internet. Then they will figure out ways to bring the supply to the demand. THAT fact we can count on.

If we look at what making a living as a songwriter used to be like, we can better understand the mindset songwriters currently have. Once we identify the old mindset and define it for what it is, which is old, we can tackle what’s going on now.

 

 

file9351251928986The old business model provided big bucks to the lucky few who could find their way into the party. The words “Lucky” and “Few” are the key words in the previous sentence because there are only a very limited amount of coveted radio slots to spin songs. So the club was exclusive, man.

 

 

If we generalize (yes, I’m REALLY generalizing but you get the point), a hit single, more specifically a #1 single on the country charts, is worth about $1 million of overall performance revenue unless it crosses over to the Pop market, then it is worth more. For the argument, let’s stick to $1 million. Since a #1 single requires “X” amount of radio spins in the same markets, the performance revenue difference between 1999 and 2014 is relatively the same.

Here is where a songwriter suffers today: mechanical royalties.

Mechanical royalties are paid to the songwriter based on record sales.

Let’s study a few of the top selling country records released in 1999 (Just 15 years ago) and 2014, dissect the sales of each (so we can determine the mechanical royalty income), and create some comparative data.

With this information we can calculate a paycheck on gross mechanical royalties for a songwriter.

In 1999 the mechanical royalty rate was 7.1 cents per song. A “cut” on a record would pay the songwriter 7.1 cents for every record sold.

  • 100,000 Units sold would generate $7,100 in gross revenue
  • 500,000 (Gold) sold would generate $35,500 in gross revenueOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 1 Million (Platinum) would generate $71,000 in gross revenue
  • 10 Million (Diamond) would generate $710,000 in gross revenue

These numbers are for ONE song-cut on a record that may or may not be a single. A single, of course, would generate a whole other huge cash register of performance royalties.

Let’s look at a few of the most popular country records released in 1999 and attribute the songwriter revenue to each. NOTE: publishers share of royalties would be 50% and the co-writers would split accordingly; we are just looking at gross revenue.

  • Dixie Chicks “Fly” 12 Million Units sold
    •  1 song cut = $852,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    •  #1 Single = $852,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Faith Hill “Breathe” 8 Million Units soldSongwriter Faith Hill Breathe image
    •  1 song cut = $568,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $568,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Tim McGraw “A Place In The Sun” 3 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $213,00 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $213,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • LeAnn Rimes “LeAnn Rimes” 1 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $71,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $71,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Gary Allan, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Montgomery-Gentry are just a few all the artists that had platinum records in 1999 so everyone was going platinum if you didn’t go platinum you damn sure went gold.

Now let’s look at a few of the top selling records for 2013 (the mechanical royalty rate has risen to 9.1 cents)

  • Luke Bryan “Crash My Party” 1.9 Million Units soldSongwriter Luke Bryan image
    • 1 song cut = $172,900 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $172,900 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Blake Shelton “Based On A True Story” 1 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $91,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $91,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Keith Urban “Fuse” 354,000 Units sold
    • 1 Song Cut = $32,214 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $32,214 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Kenny Chesney “Life On A Rock” 392,000 Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $35,672 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $35,672 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Darius Rucker “True Believers” 502,000 Units sold
    • 1 Song cut = $45,682 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $45,682 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)

FYI, I believe these were all #1 records in 2013.

You see the difference? Record labels are releasing fewer records because they are making less money per record and nobody is really buying records anymore. Sheesh!

Just a quick glance at the difference between songwriter revenues in 1999 vs. 2013 shows that without a #1 single, the revenue is around 10%-18% of what it used to be 15 years ago. You used to be able to make a seriously good living with a cut on a record that would never be spun on the radio but that has significantly changed.

The AWESOME performance royalty revenue is on its way out too. As terrestrial radio continues to erode a hit single will definitely dwindle in financial significance.

So what does the future look like for a songwriter?

I think the outlook is good and certainly accommodating to more writers. Before you really had to be “in-crowd” to get a cut, much less a single. Cuts were rare and singles even more rare, but they paid WELL. So we judged our Songwriting Exclusive imagerevenue and/or potential revenue per song or per artist as 1 song had the power to change everything.

The key to success for the songwriter of the future will be volume. The songwriter business model of the future is not really going to have any “home runs” in it, it will be founded on “base hits” instead: lots of base hits.

1 hit song, even right now, has an amazing revenue potential, the kind of financial impact that results in an “Achy Breaky kitchen”, an “Achy Breaky Ferrari”, or an “Achy Breaky west wing of the house”

The future will belong to fragmented, unexciting, financially insignificant revenue streams per song. The “living” we all aspire to make will reside in the aggregate revenue of many songs; many base hits.

Songwriter Moneyball imageThink the true story plot of the baseball movie “Moneyball” and apply it to songwriting. It’s all about base hits now guys.

I see a smart minded songwriter changing his business approach to coupling with as many artists as they can. Maybe between mechanical royalties and performance royalties (from YouTube for instance) a songwriter will make only $2,000-$3,000 per song, per year. However, there is no velvet rope, no terrestrial-radio-log-jam to limit the universe of revenue bearing opportunities, essentially no tyranny of space.

So ideally, a prolific songwriter could place 20-30 songs a year or more into a pipeline that generates revenue. The revenue could also be consistent meaning that if a songwriter placed 20 songs into the pipeline that generated $2,000 per song each per year they would gross $40,000 in revenue; the next year they could add to that.

It’s conceivable that the songwriter could build up his/her book of business over time well into the 6 figure range.

Keep writing. The world is about to change.

 

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6 Music Industry Myths

Myths-Feature-image-2

I was reading a Bob Lefsetz blog post called “Myths” the other day and it got me thinking (btw, you should subscribe and be reading Lefsetz too) Bob’s a little negative sometimes but there is good, ACCURATE information in there. It’s free, we can never have enough education).

Here are 6 additional myths I thought I would add to the mix with specific regards to the music industry.

Myth #1

Good music will find its own audience. This is categorically untrue.

  • Step 1: make good music!file00041345220
  • Step 2: you have to expose that good music to TONS of people and THEN they will respond to you.
  • In other words YOU have to find your audience.
  • There is a flashpoint somewhere after a massive amount of people are exposed to good music and it takes on a life of its own.
  • It doesn’t happen “magically” on the merits of the music alone, sorry

Myth #2

Your music video will possibly go viral on YouTube.

  • Again, 99.9999% of the time the viral videos are from artists (like Karmin [90 million views now] andNoah Myth Viral Video image[21 million views]) that built up a solid foundation of subscribers through consistent WORK and content before their big video went viral.
  • There are always exceptions to the rule, but if your business model is founded on the success of these very rare occurrences you’re naive; you’re setting yourself up for needless disappointment.
  • FYI, the algorithms change, ranking you higher on YouTube, when a large amount of people view a video within hours of it being posted.
  • The better ranking can post you on the front page of YouTube thus creating a ton of organic traffic.
  • Then it takes on a life of its own when corporate money comes in.

Myth #3

If you make a “demo” of your music then “shop” it to the labels you might get a record deal.

  • Myth Record Labels imageThis procedure was once the normal protocol but that process died 15-20 years ago, seriously. Anybody telling you this is the way to go is out of touch by a decade or two.
  • Of course there are VERY rare exceptions to the rule, but again, if you are basing your future on these exceptions you are betting your entire future on winning the lottery. I mean, it COULD happen, right?
  • Record labels don’t really develop talent like they used to because they can’t afford it anymore.
  • EXAMPLE: In 1978 when Tom Petty released “Damn the Torpedoes” it cost $8.00, that’s the same as $27.14 today.
  • Multiply $27.14 times 500,000, then 1 million, then 10 million. Get it?
  • You are going to have to figure out how to create real momentum on your own.
  • You are going to have to be at least a regional success with a profitable business model before you get your major label deal.
  • FYI, by that time, you probably won’t need the majors anyway. LOL.

Myth #4

Once You get a record deal life will be easier; you’ve made it, you’re finally getting paid. This is so wrong!

  • With the current business model of every record label, once you are signed you now enter into a club where Myth Easy Street imageonly 10% of the artists make money and succeed. The remaining 90% reside in the “artist protection program”; meaning they don’t make money and often can’t get out of their deal.
  • The work STARTS once you get your deal and by that time you better have your team-building, business savvy, and communication skill sets at a very high level or you will be forgotten and put aside; there are just too many people who know how to play the game better than you, that are waiting to take your place.

Myth #5

Artists like Taylor Swift and Trent Reznor made it because they were rich so if you had their money you would make it too. FALSE!

  • Yes, they were rich.
  • Taylor’s father invested GREATLY in her career and Trent is a descendant of the Reznor Air Conditioning Company.file3061238876703
  • Yes, money doesn’t hurt your chances but it isn’t everything.
  • Consider this; there is no shortage of money.
  • If it were just about cash everyone with money who wanted to be a star would be one.
  • It takes WAY more than just money; you have to be the right person in the right place at the right time. (that line is stolen from former Taylor Swift manager Rick Barker)
  • I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone throw PANT-LOADS of money at a career and nothing happens.
  • I’ve seen parents spend over $100,000 on a record for their children with the best producers and nothing happened with it.
  • I’ve seen a father spend $500k to get his daughter on a major tour with a country legend and nothing happened.
  • I’ve seen an artist get an investor with $850K, blow the marketing money on a tour bus (yes, that’s right, a depreciating asset with no tour to use it on because no demand was created, so no revenue stream was produced) and then get an additional $1,000,000.00 and a major label deal (you’ve never heard of this artist, probably never will.)
  • I promise you that Trent Reznor and Taylor Swift have outworked all of you.
  • Trent got a job at a recording studio in Cleveland in the mid-80’s to gain access to the recording equipment late at night where he created the first Nine Inch Nails record, when did he sleep?
  • Taylor had TENS OF THOUSANDS of MySpace fans long before she ever recorded her first song for a record label. She constantly asked the fans what they wanted her to write about; THIS is how she found her audience and connected with them.
  • Think about all work these artists did with little or no immediate return on the time invested.
  • Do you have that kind of resolve about your music?

Myth #6

Writing a hit song happens magically.

  • Look sometimes this does happen but not until the writers understand and honor the fact that songwriting is aMyth Billboard image craft.
  • They KNOW how to toil over the lyrics, melodies, chord changes and work their butts off to do it right.
  • Once you get this concept and put in some serious time, the Gods just might throw a 5-minute hit song in your lap. Yes that song “wrote itself” but it takes a lifetime of work to make it that easy.

 

 

 

 

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Acceptance: Be the Bee

Be the Bee Feature image 2

Be the Bee Jungle Love image

Have you ever listened to a song you’ve heard a thousand times and then really “heard” it? Or heard something you’ve never heard before in that song? The other day I was listening to Steve Miller’s “Jungle Love which I’ve heard literally a million times, but this time I HEARD the bass line for the first time. How inspiring and badass!

We are going to do a fun little artistic exercise today

This got me thinking. We are going to do a fun little artistic exercise today. Some of you are aware of the 90’s Seattle band named Blind Melon. Some of you have heard their big hit “No Rain and some of you haven’t.

Be the Bee Blind Melon No Rain image

Here’s the deal. I want you ALL to take a 4:06 artist date with yourself and watch this Blind Melon video right now.

I don’t care if you have heard this song a million times, or seen this video a million times.

Listen to it AGAIN, right now.

Watch it AGAIN, right now

 

Focus on it. Do whatever you have to do to get your head right so you can really experience it for 4 short minutes of your life.

Then I want you to read the rest of this post.

and GO!

We need to belong, we HAVE to belong to something

Part of the human experience on this planet is the hard-wired instinctual need we have for acceptance. We need to belong, we HAVE to belong to something.

To live, we HAVE to feel loved.Be the Bee Desire for Acceptance image

Think about it, this need is so instinctual that we often belong to groups or organizations that are bad for us or beneath us simply because they let us belong and make us feel welcomed.

Many of us never reach our full life potential because we are deathly afraid to leave our comfort zone of acceptance even though we have emotionally surpassed everyone in the group. Everyone has experienced this, is experiencing this, or knows someone right now that is experiencing this.

Some of us don’t leave the hood, some of us don’t leave our small town, some of us don’t move forward for fear of not being accepted somewhere else.

Some of us don’t think we are good enough.

Some of us don’t think we are worthy.

Some of us don’t think we deserve better.

We all secretly want to drink the Kool-Aid and are wired up to mortally fear a lack of Kool-Aid

Be the Bee Kool Aid ImageI believe the video y’all just watched to be a microcosm of the music industry. I see this video as a clever metaphor for our amazing artistic community (and all of life for that matter).

Did you notice that the community did not find our little bee?

Did you notice that our little bee had to find the community?

 

Did you feel for our little bee as she suffered the rejections?

The cool thing about this new music business is that, as artists, we have the ability to find and cultivate our own little, very specific field of bees.

With the access we all have to the internet, we can find the communities that fit our needs as they pertain to our current location on our respective journey.

The old music business created a homogenized, very sterile field of bees that are willing to follow any artist that shows up on their radar screen because that artist can be “force fed” to the bees.

The old music business was about chasing a “formula” that they felt was “guaranteed” to work in the pipeline they created.Be the Bee Control image

The old music industry had the power to control what the field of bees were exposed to.

The old music industry had the power to control who was allowed in the field.

Our core artist in us hates this fact. We don’t want to be forced to compromise our art to gain acceptance amongst the pre-chosen bees. We want to be like the bee in video and find our OWN field of bees who like us just the way we are.

Now you can.

It’s all out there for you and most of it is free; at least the start of it is free.

I got news for y’all, the “powers that be” on radio, television, running record labels, booking agencies, management companies, bloggers and mass media, you know, the ones whose help you need to achieve success they’re bees too.

They want to belong too.

They need to be a part of something.

YOU have to create and distribute your own Kool-Aid just the way you like it.

You have the power to connect with people who are looking for your kind of Kool-Aid; even if they didn’t know it!

If enough people are drinking your Kool-Aid the “powers that be” will too; because they’re just bees like you and I.

Be the bee

 

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Are You Smart Enough?

Are You Smart Enough

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to make records?
Just because you own a Pro-Tools rig and can record music to present to the world doesn’t mean you should; it doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand. OMG, these are GREAT tools for endless exploration. I was, and continue to be fascinated with my rig. I used to fly Kelly out to L.A. and pay him an hourly (bro rate) to help me mix my projects so I could LEARN how to make records! But there is a difference between doodling in your home studio and making records. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will gain some real momentum.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to orchestrate proper arrangements?

I hear the home projects that you put out there for the world. Most of you create arrangements (like we all do when we are beginning) that are WAY too busy with God knows what recorded right over the vocal. They typically don’t work which makes you sound amateur.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

that while art is subjective but it can be objective too?

Some songs just suck.file4671348049272

Some bands just suck.

Some singers just suck.

Some songs say absolutely nothing.

Most songs are overloaded with cliches.

Some recordings are sonically shitateous

Some recordings have terrible performances

Can you really hear the difference?

Do you have the communication skill set to get the most out of your band in a recording situation?

Most of you can hear some of the difference but not all of the difference so stop being so sensitive.

Smart Educatin vs Experience imageIt takes EXPERIENCE to hear if the bass player is locking up with the drummer.

It takes EXPERIENCE to hear when it doesn’t happen and make a performance call on the record.

It takes EXPERIENCE to get to a frame of mind as a songwriter that allows you to judge your own “A” songs from the “B” and “C” songs objectively.

After all, if you put the finger-painting up on the world’s refrigerator, the world is going to judge. The world is not your mother so the world doesn’t care about your feelings, and they will vote by not voting; by not buying. They WILL make a decision about your art based on what they hear.

How are your sales going btw?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to manage your brand?

Putting your home recorded demos, live band rehearsals, partial recordings, home studio recordings, work tapes, song ideas, etc up on Soundcloud and Reverbnation is a HORRIBLE move for your brand and reputation. Imagine if your art were an unfinished prototype car you were presenting to consumers for the purposes of commerce. Now imagine it only had a chasse, 4 tires, 1 seat, a dashboard, a steering wheel, and all the necessary pedals.

Don’t be pissed that consumers will make a judgment because they can’t see your body design.kf174

They can’t see the color it will come in.

They can’t see the rest of the seats to comprehend the functionality of your interior design to their lives.

They are scared because it doesn’t look SAFE without the body around it.

They can’t FEEL, COMPREHEND, UNDERSTAND, and therefore CONSUME your works in progress because it’s still in progress, so WTF are you putting it out there? People will JUDGE based on what they see and hear, not what is in your head!

You can only create a reputation for what you have done, not what you are going to do. Save the works in progress for your band mates and other artist friends who understand the process, they’ll get it; consumers won’t. Hell, I hate bringing A&R reps in until the mix is finished and they’re in the damn business!

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to mix properly?

Smart Mix imageA killer mix is an art form and incredibly important to your dream. A killer mix requires thousands of hours of practice and an expensive rig.

Did you know that mix specialists like Tom Lord-Algeand Chris Lord-Alge sometimes get $5,000 per song and crank out 3 mixes per day? Why could they possibly command this kind of money if what they were offering wasn’t so important?

Did you know that Guns & Roses went through several different mix engineers before settling on Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero? Yes, all of the mix engineers had a pedigree but Thompson and Barbiero got it right. So why are you mixing your project?

MIX for the love of God!! Explore!! Learn!! But learn from people with experience and certainly don’t release your own mixes just yet! Most of you have 1,000 to do before you are going to get any good at it.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

How badly you need a producer?

Just because you or your friend went to recording school doesn’t mean you know how to make records! Producing is its own art form as well! Kelly got a degree sound engineering too, but the only reason he got his first internship was because he outworked all the other interns and had a better attitude. His degree had little to do with it and he didn’t know how to make records right out of school. Besides, why is it that most of the iconic bands you love STILL use producers?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

What producing is exactly?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

the difference between a great live player and a great studio musician?

You may be a killer live band, but some of your members aren’t good enough to be on the record. Live is here and (SNAP) gone, but the record is forever. Stop fighting for the whack_the_bagbrotherhood/sisterhood to stand tall in the face of the ugly music business and start fighting for making the best record possible; it’ll sell better. Don’t worry, if the weak links are dedicated, they will grow into the role over time. Don’t hold your potential momentum hostage over someone’s feelings. You would be astounded at how many of your favorite band’s records didn’t include all the members of your favorite bands.

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how much work will be required to make ANY dream like this a reality? (Better stop judging)

Think of YOUR story,

YOUR past,

YOUR history,

Now think of how you would feel about anyone judging your struggle, making statements about what you feel, how easy it was for you, etc. Pissed off yet? How could they possibly know? They weren’t there every day. Guess what, you weren’t in anybody else’s struggle but your own, man, so don’t make the mistake of assuming how “easy” it was for some artists who appeared on your RADAR overnight. It took them forever to get there, and whether you like them or not, they worked harder at it than you are right now, so shut up and get to work!

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

success requires a team?Smart Team A-Team

Nobody can do it alone.

Who is your current team?

Who is your dream team?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

about the value of a mentor? Everybody needs mentorship in everything.

You have to learn to tie your shoes.

You have to learn to count to 10.

Hardcore drug addicts have to learn to do drugs the proper way to avoid infection or death.

You have to learn how to be a master carpenter.

You have to learn how to be a master plumber.

You have to learn how to do your job on the first day, first week, the first month, etc.

Why would you kid yourself that you know enough to put out acompetitive record that you, engineered, produced, wrote, sang, and played all by yourself?

Are you planning to market it yourself? Do you really know what you’re doing?

Don’t you want to learn?

 

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

relationships are mission critical to success?

There are a million singer songwriters far better than the ones that are currently making a great living right now that will, unfortunately, never be heard because they either suck at creating relationships or they truly believe the opportunity they need is going to come knocking at their apartment door one day while they are high on the couch watching TV.

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Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

consistency is the key to success in the music business?

Success in your music career, any career, your life, your relationships, etc is all based on what you do consistently every day. Your relationship with your significant other is not based on one event, one amazing evening, one sentence, one moment, one “big break”, etc. it’s based on all the “little things” you do every day to show your commitment.

Why would you feel that your music career would be any different?

 

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Good News For Indie Artists!

Good-News-Feature-image

6 Strategies For Creating Relationships.

Building Relationships feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Youve heard the saying Its all about relationships so much it really doesnt mean much anymore; its clich. The problem is its true. If you think about it, your whole life is about relationships, so why is it such a surprise to some people that the music industry is no different? For some weird reason, people seem to completely understand relationships in their own little world and behave appropriately. However, so many feel like the musicOvernight Success Jobs Relationships image industry is just about what is on your CD (or worse in your head and NOT on a CD!) and one big chance that will change everything. The problem is just like your life; success in the music industry is all about what you do consistently every day and the relationships you make. I assure you that no hit writer or Country superstar waltzed into town, met one person, who was the right person, and became successful overnight.

It only seems like that when you are outside the business because you dont see the struggle.

You dont see the climb.

You dont see the heartbreak.

You don’t see the small successes along the journey.

Understandably, your perspective is that this person came from nowhere and now they are on your RADAR screen from the BIG success. You weren’t aware of them yesterday and today you are, so it feels like it happened overnight.

Get it?

Every year TONS of hopeful artists and songwriters flock to Nashville for CMA Fest, CRS, Tin Pan South, and several other events that guarantee the presence of many influential people in the music business. Every year we Music Row residents get throngs of writers and artists who just walk into our offices and recording studios without an invitation, referral, or a relationship, CD in hand, hoping to get someone, anyone, to listen to their song and change their life for the better.

Um

This is NOT a smart or effective way to create ANY relationship! Let me give you a personal example. Imagine if there was an unknown person out there who was romantically in love with YOU. Now imagine this person Home Invasion Relationships imagehasnt met you but feels deep down in their soul of souls that once you meet them you are going to fall in love and live happily ever after. Then picture yourself sitting at home when said stranger comes walking through your door, sits down in your living room, presents a gift, and pledges their undying devotion to you. Scared yet?

You were dialing 911 or running the second the door opened, huh? Even if that person WAS in fact your soul-mate you dont freaking care because their stalker-like behavior ruined any possibility of a relationship. The first impression was disturbing and you dont get a second chance to make a first impression.

So you see, it is all about relationships. So is your life. The people you chose to let into your life so far have never come unsolicited! They were referred (a friend of a friend), they offered to help you with a problem you had, you did business with them, you work with them, You went to school with them, you grew up with them, you were at a party with them, etc…Think about it.

So I thought I would share a few ideas on how to create business relationships; some of these might even fall under the umbrella of ice-breakers.

 

Here are 6 Strategies for Creating Relationships

Give, Give, Give

Nobody likes door to door salesmen because nobody wants to be sold. Nobody responds with business reverence to pathetic or downtrodden people with their hats in their hands begging for a favor. You may get Give Relationships imagesomeone to act out of sorrow or empathy, but this would feel like a donation to the giver, NOT the beginning of a healthy working relationship; so in this scenario, even if you win, you lose. If you are asking for something first you should expect to be turned down. Why not give first? What could you offer that, if accepted, would put you on their RADAR screen? The most precious gift you could offer would be your time. Why not shoot a fruit or cookie basket with a coupon for X amount of hours of your time? Attach a note that says, no strings, no catch, I just love the way you do business and would like to help you by ________, how exactly can I lend a hand? Maybe youre a carpenter, an office organizer, a studio runner, a tech, a computer nerd, a hair dresser, photographer, lawyer, doctor, graphic designer, etc. Whatever you do, offer them some hours of your time for free to help them solve a problem they are having right now and expect nothing in return. Its not fool proof, but your odds go up; bottom line, the more you give, the more you receive.

Shut Up and Appear Stupid

Shut Up Relationships imageIf you are green or in a situation/conversation that is over your head, its far better to shut your mouth and appear stupid than to open it up and remove all doubt. People who are constantly growing constantly find themselves in situations that are over their head; it comes with the territory. You cant be judged for something you didnt do or say, you can only be judged for something you did do and/or say. When you keep your mouth shut in a conversation that is above your current skill set or understanding several dynamics begin to take place. First, you listen and therefore learn (what a concept!). Second, the players doing the talking have no idea what you are thinking or how much you know because they cant read minds; you remain a mystery. Third, because of this truth your clout in the conversation does not go down which is a far better position to maintain that opening your mouth making inaccurate statements (because you just dont know) and looking like a moron. Remember people love to talk about themselves and share their knowledge because it makes them feel important. A well place question is extremely effective as it gets you in the conversation and gets the players engaging with you. The more they talk to you, the more they feel important, the more they will like you.

Self Deprecation

Strategic self deprecation can be quite effective at diffusing a tense or uncomfortable situation. Every new relationship starts out uncomfortable until the ice is broken a bit. I remember when I was one of the top sales Self Depricating Homer Simpsion Relationships imagepeople at a massive 34 billion dollar mortgage company back in 2006. There was a gigantic West Coast management coup; my bosss boss was being replaced. Loyalties ran deep in this situation, we loved our old Regional Manager and nobody wanted to like the new guy. The new Regional Manager, Barry, (direct from New York) desperately needed to create relationships with his somewhat hostile California sales force so he could effectively lead them. Barry intelligently chose to meet his new Account Executives at their respective branches as the smaller gathering would facilitate better rapport. He opened his first speech to us (our first impression) by saying in an authoritative voice, Hello. My name is Barry _____, I will be your new Regional Manager, and I got news for youIm not the smartest guy in the room. Then he paused for what seemed an eternity… as he looked around the room and watched those words sink in. WOW! He had my attention. Get it? Sometimes doing or saying the opposite of what people expect can be very disarming which allows your audience to open up and receive whatever information you are disseminating. FYI, dont be too self deprecating as that can quickly become pathetic which is a turn off.

Referral

Referrals Welcome Relationships imageYou are far more likely to accept someone who is a friend of a friend or a friend of a business associate. A referred relationship comes with some sort of clout and instant acceptance (make sure you understand what kind of clout, LOL, dont let a crazy, fanatical person refer you or you will be received as crazy and fanatical too). A songwriter who is introduced to a publishing company by another songwriter is far more likely to get a meeting with the publishing company than someone who just walks in off the street. An Artist who is referred to a producer by another artist the producer knows is going to be taken more seriously as well. How do you create referrals? I recommend making a list of everyone you want to know first. Then make a list of everybody you know who knows those people on the list. Its going to take awhile but it is a great way of starting a relationship and so well worth the time invested. Another great idea is to move to Nashville and get in the mix. Hang out at writers nights like Whiskey Jam on Monday nights at Winners Bar and Grill. Find a writer you like and offer up a drink! Its a welcomed gift and a fantastic way to get a conversation started. Have a CD in hand and suggest a co-write. Maybe youre going to get 20 nos to get to one yes but you only need 1 yes to start. Then there is your chance. 1 “yes” leads to one killer writing session. Now you will be referred to that writer’s friends, etc.

Humor

Everybody loves to laugh. Comedians are usually very dark, disturbed people who harbor a lot of pain, but everybody loves them because they are FUNNY! Comedians know this and use humor to break the ice and be Humor Relationships imageaccepted; they use humor to create relationships. If you have a quick wit, use it to your advantage in a strategic manor. If you dont have a quick wit, or you dont come off as funny, then keep your mouth shut and appear stupid; maintain your clout.

DO BUSINESS WITH THEM!

Do Business Relationships imageThe most effective way to create a relationship is through business. If you are a songwriter, and you want to break into Nashville, you will need to start creating relationships. You are also going to need song demos to shop around town. Why not HIRE some of the people you want to get to know or hire the people who know the people you want to get to know? You are helping them by becoming a part of their cash flow. They are helping you by delivering a killer song demo you need to take your next step. The relationship becomes a by-product of a symbiotic relationship; everybody wins.

 

 

 

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How To Create A Killer EPK

EPK Feature Image

By Johnny Dwinell

These days a killer Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is becoming increasingly necessary as an effective, immediate method to demonstrate yourself as an artist to live venues, booking agents, PR firms, promoters, investors, labels, Lawyers, etc. A good EPK is tricky to put together mostly because artists get confused as to the intent of the EPK, who the audiences will be, and precisely how it will be consumed. Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you like it or not, a poorly or naively constructed EPK is a red flag that defines you immediately. If you want to look professional you better have a professional EPK. Lets define these formerly mentioned items and then Ill break down some solid, common sense strategies on how to create a killer EPK.

What is the Intent of Your EPK?

Intention EPK image

A good EPK is like a mission statement/business plan/band brochure for interested parties that are considering doing business with you. What an EPK is NOT intended for is ego stroking, Behind the Music type documentary content. All too often I see 30 minute long EPKs and they never get consumed when theyre that long, no matter how good the band isso dont waste your time. I promise you that your audiences will not waste theirs. Just think about your own time. Think about when a friend sends a video that is awesome or cool or funny and you see that it is 15 minutes long; you inevitably think ugh and pass on it or stow it away to watch whenever you get more time. I mean, would you watch a documentary of any length from a band you didnt know or are you far more interested in documentaries from bands you LOVE? Get my point?

Who is Your Audience?

 

Audience EPK image

Your audiences are professionals in the music business and they are not only crushed for time with their respective job requirements, but they also have families, private lives, other obligations, charities, etc. so you must respect their time. Your audiences are decidedly NOT consumers, fans, or groupies so they wont consume this material as such. Since the audience for your EPK is professional they are interested in if they can make money working with you and then exactly how that will happen. The more you can stick to business the better off you will be. Not for nothing, but the more you stick to business in your EPK the more professional you will look as well.

How Will Your EPK Be Consumed?

Consumed EPK image

Quickly!

They dont have time. Think of the time factor from their perspective; which means LARGE volume. If they need to experience 500 EPKs per week and they consume just 5 minutes of each EPK thats almost 42 hours per week and I promise you their job description requires far more than just viewing EPKs.

Get it?

They are going to view the most efficient summary of the content (called a One Sheet or Elevator Pitch) and decide if they will commit any more time from there. The bio is the LAST think they will consume and only if they have a slow week or the previous content in the EPK has simply enchanted them. Common sense says spend the time and limited budget on making sure the one sheet is awesome and leave the bio for last as most of your audiences will not to the bio even if they decide to hire you.

8 Points to Creating a KILLER EPK

8 Ball EPK image

Here are 8 essential points to assembling a super effective EPK. I will put them in order of importance the best that I can. I say this because different bands will be stronger with different points so you need to focus on putting your act in the best possible light. If your band is ugly, then photos are necessary but not what you want to lead with and so on.

  1. One Sheet A one sheet is the summary of everything about your act on one sheet. In the world of business plans this is called an executive summary. This is the first thing your audiences will see in your EPK but should be the last item you create for your EPK because you will need to view all the necessary components of your EPK to get a feel for strengths and weaknesses to create a potent one sheet that has sizzle. Your one sheet should have a few of the following items:
    1. A great photo
    2. Quick list of milestones/accomplishments
    3. Press quotes
    4. Contact info for:
      i. Band
      ii. Management
      iii. PR
      iv. etc
    5. Band member names and instruments they play.
    6. Links to your 2 or 3 most popular songs (dont attach anything or they wont get downloaded due to fear of viruses)
    7. Link to live video
    8. Link to press page on your website or links to a few choice reviews or press interviews, etc.
    9. Social Media links These should demonstrate your popularity on whatever social media sites you choose to be on.
    10. Check out a decent one sheet HERE
  2. Great Photo A photo is worth 1,000 words. Learn it. Live it. Love it. This is usually the first way in which you will communicate with your audience; thus, its THE most important way to communicate. GoodPhotography EPK image photos = more press. Bad photos = no press, no listens, judgments that you are unprofessional. Your photo immediately defines you; think about that for a second. If you were a hippie, folksy, organic, acoustic band you wouldnt take a photo in biker leathers and boots like a heavy metal band, right? HELL NO, it would give people the wrong first impression. BTW, up and coming photographers are always looking for good content so dont be afraid to ask for a deal, man! The worst thing anyone can say is no but if you serve it up like your band could add quality content with the photographers talent to the photographers portfolio, you just might get a deal. If you have friends that are a bigger act than you are, ask them to piggy back on a killer photo shoot. My band was shot by Princes photographer (3-rolls of film) with Princes make-up lady for just $600 because my buddy who had the budget was shooting with the photographer earlier that day and lined up a bonus deal for me. Here are some important points to remember:
    1. Your photo has to be awesome its the first line of communication!
    2. Dont waste time or money on a crappy photo.
    3. Dont use a friend to save money, use a professional
    4. Check out an example of a killer creative photographer HERE
    5. Check out an example of a killer live photographer HERE
  3. Press Press quotes offer social proof that you are making a dent in the music scene. This is what will get promoters excited to work with you. Do NOT put quotes in from friends or family as this will make you look unprofessional. More press = better no matter how small the periodical or blog may be. When you list the press quotes, list the most important press first and least important last, etc. If it is possible, provide the quote in the form of a hyperlink to the actual quote to offer a quick 1-click method to corroborate your story with the truth; again, think time constraints here. I would include:
    1. CD reviews
    2. Live Show Reviews
  4. Music Video – this is super important, especially for the live venues. If your audience is a booking agent for Music Videos EPK imagea live venue it stands to reason that they would want to see videos of you performing for a packed house, right? You definitely wanna show your band in front of a jam-packed house. If you dont have a big draw, then make sure you are in a super small club or a friends basement, LOL. If the club isnt standing room only get good angles so it seems like its crammed! Getting good talent to shoot your video can be a bit of a challenge. I recommend scouring your local universities for film students who are looking for some content. You can also check out a pretty cool website called Radar Music Videos. This web site puts directors all over the world with bands and their respective budgets. Pretty cool open source opportunity. Live videos show that:
    1. You can actually play live
    2. You have a draw
    3. Your Stage Presence
    4. Professionalism
    5. NOTE: dont show any overtly violent mosh pit shots, instrument destruction, etc. Its much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  5. MP3s Next I would put the music in there. Definitely do NOT attach mp3s as you will likely get most of your EPKs deleted due to fear of viruses. Simply provide links to 3 of your very best songs on your website, MP3 Audio EPK imageSoundcloud, Reverbnation, etc. Unless they are sporting some killer consumption statistics, I always advise our artists to link to mp3s on their own website as there are no metrics to judge how many people have listened. Perception is reality. Your EPK is not the place to put demos, or iPhone recordings or anything unprofessional. There is simply no excuse for sonically crappy recordings anymore so if you dont have good recordings you really dont need an EPK. You will be judged. Again, remember how many EPKs your audiences are consuming every week. Every other band is professional you had better be too. If you think because they are professional promoters that they are going to hear past crappy production you are nave.
  6. Gig/Tour Calendar – This is obviously important. The more gigs you have the more attractive you look. If you dont have a ton of gigs yet, dont put the calendar in the EPK. If you do have some pending dates make sure:
    1. The gigs are constantly up to date. Dont blow this off or you will look like an idiot. Consider listing a few shows in the EPK and a link to your tour/gig dates on your site.
    2. Define types of venues, frequency, etc.
    3. Remember that you are looking for appropriate venues, not to win over everybody.
  7. Social Media Links These demonstrate your marketing prowess and marketing momentum. These links will show how many fans you have and demonstrate how engaged they are. For instance, if you have 100,000 Twitter followers but all your tweets only get retweeted or replied to 5 times, there is a problem.
  8. Bio This bio should be short and sweet. Nobody cares about your whole story until youre famous. I thinkBio EPK image of the scene in the movie Bull Durham where Kevin Costner is preparing Tim Robbins for the major leagues. He says, Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win twenty in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win twenty in the show, however, it means you are a slob. Unless your story is super compelling AND famous I would stick to the basics. A bio should have the following:
    1. Where your based
    2. Short summary on your professional milestones/work accomplishments
    3. Band member names and instruments they play
    4. Nobody cares about your struggle

Conclusions

Here are some quick points to think about in conclusion:

  • You should always be looking at other peoples EPKs to keep up with the latest trends. Good artists borrow; great artists STEAL.
  • Keep your EPK short; no more than 5 minutes. An EPK is NOT A MOVIE; it wont be consumed as such. So keep a Directors cut to scratch your filmmaker itch if necessary but deliver a short, potent, EPK for business purposes; remember that all your audiences HATE reviewing EPKs so make it as painless as possible.
  • I recommend that your first draft have everything you want in it and then chunk it down to 5 minutes from there. If you have to make decisions on eliminating quality content, this is called a High Class Problem.
  • Constantly cultivate your EPK by replacing old content with more up-to-date substance.
  • Take higher profile gigs regardless of financial compensation to bolster the legitimacy of your EPK.

 

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There Is No EZ Button!

EZ Button 1 Epic Event Image

By Johnny Dwinell

The music business, like your life, is all about how much work you put into it.

There is No EZ Button!

Our personal and professional lives are shaped and determined by what we do consistently, not any one event. We work, or choose not to work, every day on our relationships, our jobs, and our dreams. Single, positive, epic 1 Epic Event imageincidents put emphasis on our momentum and feel really good, especially when we are truly prepared to take full advantage of the serendipitous event. Single positive epic incidents also happen when we are not prepared to take full advantage of them. These feel good and we feel validated, but they are short-lived and we gain little from them. Conversely, a single negative or devastating occurrence can temporarily spoil our forward progress but we continue on, we move forward, because we must. We still have to wake up, we still have to go to work, we still have to raise our kids. The show must go on! Our lives are no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

Many of us are thriving at a job right now that we got because a friend referred us or made us aware of it. We got the opportunity because of our relationship and the job because of our talent and personality. Life is about relationships. The music business is no different.

There is No EZ Button!

Every day we go to work and perform our daily tasks to execute our job requirements. We would be FIRED if we told our boss that we were waiting for a big break which entailed someone coming in and doing our job for us. Our job is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

(What are your artistic daily job requirements? Just a thought.)

 

EZ Button Lottery imageYou work every day to create monthly cash flow because your landlord or your mortgage company will not wait for a big break in your life, like winning the lottery. Can you imagine? Yes Mr. Landlord, I understand I am 2 months late but you dont understand, I am super talented/lucky and I am going to win the lotteryTHEN I will pay you! Your housing situation is no different from the music business.

 

There is No EZ Button!

We have to raise our kids ourselves. Some of us really care about our kids, and as a result we are constantly trying to learn and improve our parenting skills. We are also learning from our kids and improving as humans from the time spent. Some of us dont give a shit and those kids will grow up to be terrorists. Raising kids requires constant attention and consistency. Raising kids is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

Every one of us has had to deal with a terrible loss: a family member, a friend, a lover, a band member. It hurts. We loved them. Losing a loved one is no different from the music business.

There is No EZ Button!

One of the hardest lessons any of us has to learn is how and when to let a friend go. Its extremely difficult to shift gears in a long-valued relationship when the other person stops bringing any value to it. The music business is no different.

There is No EZ Button!

The very first day on our job, we were a rookie and we felt vulnerable and certainly uncomfortable because every EZ Button First Day Imagejob feels foreign on the first day. We went the second day because we had faith we would learn, we had faith it would get better with time, we had courage! Now we OWN our job. Now we are a valued member of the team. Now, we have mastered our exact job description, daily requirements, office politics, upper management assholes, insubordinate underlings, glass ceilings, self-solving IT issues, software workarounds, where to park, where everyone eats, who needs schmoozing, who needs to be left alone, the sharks, the dolphins, and all the little things we do that help us excel. The music business is no different from our current job because it entails all these things.

There is No EZ Button!

EZ Button Every Time You Spend Money image

To get any decent paying job we have to spend money. We spend a lot of money on a college education, clothes, tools, power tools, trucks, cars, qualified leads, advertising, supplies, continuing education, child care, transportation, travel, paid coaching seminars, trade shows, technology, etc. The music business is no different from any other business because it costs money if you want to do it right.

There is No EZ Button!

An ungodly percentage of us have received a degree, and while it helped qualify us for our current job and maybe taught us to think (maybe!), we dont use our degree to make a living. Those of us who do use our degree and those of us who dont use our degree realized the first day we got our job that we didnt know anything. We realized it takes WAY more than school to be good at what we do. The music business experience is no different from your job experience.

There is No EZ Button!

EZ Button Dent in the Universe imagePeople judge/evaluate us at our current job, even its a menial job. Were perceived somewhere on this continuum: as a rock star who always excels, as a mediocre worker who never rocks the boat, or as a lazy one who lingers at the bottom, skating by, always about to get fired. Our artistic dream of creating a dent in the Universe reflects the exact same work ethic. No matter the job: if its worth doing, its worth doing well! Of course, the music business is no different. We will be judged and evaluated.

There is No EZ Button!

We enjoy being with our friends and (sometimes) with our family because we love them and they are a great hang. We work at deepening these relationships by providing value or we ignore these relationships and constantly float on their periphery. We despise time spent with people who steal our energy and suck up all the air in the room; we avoid that scene at all costs. The music business dynamic is no different. So, be a great hang, not someone who sucks all the energy out of the room.

There is No EZ Button!

We all need love. We all need to be loved. All of us have had romantic relationships that were complete disasters. From this point we either choose to be a victim and wallow in the sorrow & despair or we choose to learn and move past it. We can choose to grow. Those of us who choose to learn and grow realize that we were partly responsible for the tender wreckage regardless of how it manifested itself or in spite of getting screwed. We choose to be accountable for the mess. Then we move on and try again because we all need love. We all need to be loved. We decide to be bitter and closed off, willing to be vulnerable again, or we learn to be willing to be vulnerable again. Love is always a risk. Still, we do it, dont we? The music business is no different from your love life; its COMPLICATED!

There is No EZ Button!

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5 Twitter Marketing Strategies

5 Twitter image

By Johnny Dwinell

Twitter is an awesome surgical marketing tool

Twitter

With over 250 million active users, you have an amazing FREE tool for finding people that are like-minded and connecting with them; like a cocktail party of sorts.  After you have recorded your masterpiece, you need to bring it to the world.  Twitter allows you to find people that are predisposed to liking your kind of music and facilitates a relationship if you have the balls to reach out and the brains to do it intelligently.  Here are 5 Twitter marketing strategies to help you get your music out there and build a tribe

Define And Find Your Audience

Who is your audience?  Is it EDM?  Is it Metal?  Is it Folk?  Is it Country?  Twitter even allows you to find sub genres within a certain genre, like Pop-Country, Country-Rock, Death Metal, Black Metal, etc.  I always tell file0002005996090my artists to think of what artist they would love to open for if they could be on any tour.  Typically this is going to get the artist thinking of the type of audience that would most likely dig their music.  For instance, if you are a Metal band and think that Metallica fans would love your bands music as well, then an opening slot on a Metallica tour would be super beneficial to your band, right?  Well Metallica has about 2 million Twitter followers that you can connect with.  Simply go to the search bar and type in Metallica.  You will then pull up their Twitter account.  Now, click on “Followers” and you have all their followers at your fingertips.

Twitter # Search and @Search

file3371281797656Continuing on with the Metallica example, anybody on Twitter that is talking about Metallica would probably like your music as well, yes?  So if you go to the search bar and type in @Metallica you will bring up many different Twitter accounts that have recently posted a comment about Metallica.  You can also use this same method for #Metallica.  What if you have a song that has the same vibe as a certain song, say like “Margaritaville”.  Simply type in #Margaritaville and you will find a slew of people who just used #Margaritaville in a recent tweet.

FOLLOW THEM!

Now you need to follow these people.  If you have a relatively new account you can start by following 30 people per day for a month and avoid account suspension.  Then Twitter Follow imagebump that number up to 60 people per day for a month then you can safely follow up to 120 people per day and not be suspended.  If your account is older than 1 year and seasoned (meaning you have been tweeting every now and again) then you can start following 60 per day for a month and then bump up to 120 people per day.  This is called the “follow first” method.  Think of it as an introduction and a handshake.  A certain percentage of these people will follow you back.  Then you will want to Unfollow the people who don’t follow you back.  I would only Unfollow as many people as you follow each day.  Tweepi, FriendorFollow, Tweetdeck, Hootesuite, are all different sites that will allow you to easily discover who is following and who isn’t; they all have free account levels for you to try out.

Content, Content, Content

The more you tweet with content that you like the more you will build your Twitter Content imageTwitter tribe.  For instance, live footage from shows, BTS (behind the scenes) footage backstage at a show, videos of music you like, videos or links to your favorite movie scenes, links to other artists you like, inspirational quotes or quotes that resonate with you are really good content that tends to get retweeted often.  Avoid hype for your band.  Hype works when you are using a branding marketing approach because there are tons of eyeballs or ears that are watching or listening to one message at the same time.  Please understand that hype doesn’t work on social media because everyone’s experience is 1 on 1.  If you use hype on any social media platform you will just look like an idiot; total turn off.  This content will begin to foster and deepen relationships with people online.  At Daredevil Production  we blog every week so this provides content that people like to consume.

Expose Your Music

HINT: Start THANKING and stop asking.  I hate it when someone follows me on Twitter or when I follow them and they come right out of the box with “Check out my music”; it’s annoyingTwitter Exposure Hand image.  Even if they ask politely it’s a total turnoff.  It’s REALLY EFFING annoying when they panhandle, like “I really need help PLEASE check out my music”; ugh.  Think of it this way, you meet someone for the first time at a cocktail party and you say “Pull your pants down I want to have sex”.  Oh wait, you ask POLITELY for them to pull their pants down because you want to have sex.  99.99% of the time it’s not gonna work man.  Twitter is the same way.  Think of it as a cocktail party.  I recommend you start THANKING people and give something back.  You are NOT using social media to sell so much as you are using it to create relationships.  GIVING is a great way to start a relationship.  Send a DM or Tweet “Wow!  Thank you so much for the follow.  I want you to have 7 free songs!  Enjoy!”  Watch how many downloads you get!  Now, assuming you are not sending out total crap, you will begin to develop a following.

Are you using Twitter to expose people to your music?

Are you thinking of Twitter as an appreciating asset?

With this method and CONSISTENT cultivation and Twitter activity you can gain at least 1,000 new, targeted followers each and every month.  I can tell you that Daredevil Production gains a solid 1,800 per month so 1,000 per month is easily doable.  Do the math, man, that’s 12,000 followers per year; and it’s constantly growing.

P.S. if you use Tweepi you can find your audience and then sort by location.  Think about that, you can use it to follow every like minded Twitter user in your region to help boost your live following!

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Don’t Sing On Your Song Demo Dummy!

By Johnny Dwinell

Don’t sing your song demo dummy!

If you do, especially if you’re a novice at creating song demos (not necessarily singing), you will inevitably limit your opportunities to file000819242154sell the song; you will end up casting a “smaller net” regardless of your vocal ability.   All too often, I see aspiring songwriters who haven’t really gotten the performing/recording artist bug out of their system spend good money and confuse the intent of a song demo with that of an artist track.  They want to sing, I suppose, to scratch their respective artist “itch” and I TOTALLY get that!  Just make sure you are clear on what you need.  One can’t expect a minivan, which is super effective for hauling groceries and kids, to perform like a Ferrari and take corners at 90 mph.  Conversely, one cannot be upset that a Ferrari will not hold 4 kids and all the groceries.

Huh?

Listen; whenever you spend money, especially when there is little money to spend (which requires you to make decisions), you need to ensure you are spending wisely.  So the first thing you need to ask yourself is what is the intent of the recording?  What function is the recording supposed to serve?

Let’s break them both down.

 

Artist Tracks

The intent of an artist track is to sell the track and the artist.

A producer’s job is to put the artist in the best possible light sonically & artistically and blow people away so that they will spend money purchasing the product (aka the CD); this is selling the artist.  This takes more time and certainly expertise in the studio.  More time and expertise in the studio cost more money.

As an artist, you intend to sell the track.  Higher union rates will apply if the intent of the recording is to generate revenue; again, more money.

If your band will actually be doing the recording then you will need a combo platter of multiple takes during tracking session to get the recording tight and probably some editing on the back end to help, depending_DSC6357 on the musicianship of the players.  Either of these two actions requires time and expertise in the studio which requires more money.

You want people to say “Wow!  Who the hell is that singing?”  This means your producer better be crafting a KILLER vocal track, man; make no mistake this is an art form.  This art form requires time & expertise and that costs money.

You want people to say, “That unexpected band break is freaking COOL MAN!”  This means your producer is allowing the band the time they need to craft something unique and special.  You guessed it, that extra time costs more money.

20131129_140442As the artist you make choices with regards to arrangement, song structure, song choice, production, genre, key, vibe, etc. that are consonant to you artistically and refined to your lane; which is more subjective than objective by definition.  Ultimately the intent of the recording is to move people with your unique artistic stamp.  If you are a professional artist the track must generate revenue by definition. This activity will hopefully generate additional returns through sales of subsequent merchandise, concert tickets, sponsorships, endorsements, etc.

The juice should be worth the squeeze financially, but you get the picture, right?  An artist track is all about YOU.

 

Song Demos

The intent of a song demo is to sell the song, specifically the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song to a major label producer, a major label A&R exec, a publishing company, or a major label artist.  A song demo is not supposed to Song Demo Melodyspotlight YOU in any way as an artist as they fully intend to re-cut the song with their band and their artist on the mic.  It is naïve to hope that an amazing vocal performance would possibly get a producer interested in working with you (as an artist) seeing as they are focused on finding songs for the project currently at hand. Statistically, this is just a distraction from your mission, which is the song pitch.  Remember, in the new music market the responsibility for artist development falls on the artist there is very little ROI for producers and labels to develop acts anymore as the business model has simply changed; they just aren’t equipped to do it.  So a tactic like this is a high percentage shot, like a full court basketball shot that’s nothing-but-net; possible but highly unlikely.  A better tactic would be to make the most effective song demo you could and increase your chances to get the cut!  That will garner more attention from more people who could help your career than betting the farm on a limited set of ears that you are engaging with because they are focused on entirely different projects.  Simply put, getting a cut gets your talent far more exposure than crossing your fingers that the few people who hear the demo will defocus from their current job to explore a relationship with you as an artist.  Make sense?

 

If you are a GREAT singer

You will have a unique stylistic approach to your song.  Yes the vocal track will be amazing but what if your style doesn’t resonate with the major label artist you are pitching it to?  What if the producer recognizes that phrasing the vocal in a different manner could make the song become viable for multiple genres or lanes within a certain genre; thus creating more opportunities for the song to get cut?  Could you effortlessly change your phrasing?  You want a cut, right?

 

If you are an AVERAGE singer

(Like me) you will have a unique stylistic approach to your song.  You will end up spending more money on the demo on multiple vocal takes during the session and in post production (vocal tuning) time to make it less sucky.  This will needlessly increase the cost of your demo. file0001596147731A song demo shouldn’t result in some epic production with the track because that’s too subjective for the intent.

What if the artist you are pitching too doesn’t like your taste in production, will that color their decision to cut your song?

What if the artist you are pitching too loves your taste in production but their project is going a different way, will that affect their ability to “hear” themselves singing your song for this particular project?

Will the production you create “date” the track making the demo recording less durable over time?

If you have artist tracks that you wish to use a song pitches, you might consider spending a few extra bucks to get a pro singer to cut the vocal and a new mix solely for the song demo.

The song demo is all about the SONG; keep it there.

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