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Innovate or Perish

[RANT] I am sick and tired of reading articles and blogposts that scream out

“… doomsday – the sky is falling, the music industry is dead – it was killed by the internet. Blah, blah, frikkin’ blah!”

Enough already!  It’s just so much crap!  The music industry isn’t dead.  IT’S CHANGED!  What’s dead are the companies that refused to change with it.  And I am just so over the reporters and bloggers who are much more interested in talking about doom and gloom.  What’s failed, dead, dying.  Instead of looking at what’s actually working now.

In The Recession-Proof Business: Lessons from the Greatest Recession Success Stories of All Time, Victor Cheng gives us specific guidance about how to create a successful business in the midst of great upheaval and change.

And I think we can all agree that the last 15 years has been a time of great upheaval and change for the Music Industry.  The last 6 years have been a time of great upheaval and change for all industries.  This is old news.

So what’s my point?  We can whine and moan about what’s past and gone.  We can doom and gloom about how HARD its going to be for you to create your successful business given the challenges of the time.

innovation, music business, music industry is deadBut I say – To HELL WITH THAT!  What does that give you?  It certainly doesn’t help you move forward towards your goals and dreams.  Instead of focusing on all of the obstacles and challenges:

  • Look at who is making their business work for them.
  • Look at who your specific target market is and what their needs are.
  • And look at where your fans are currently spending their money.

“Forget the overall macro economy numbers; look for where the money is flowing to and position your business to piggyback off it.” Victor Cheng

And then innovate.  How can you uniquely solve their problems?

Apply your creativity to creating a promise that will not only solve your target market’s problems, but shows them how deeply and clearly you see them, understand them and serve them.

In my class “Internet Marketing & Social Media – a Complete Waste of Time or the Key to Your Success“, I use Jonathan Coulton and Amanda Palmer as case studies of 2 artists who did exactly that.  They saw the opportunity of the internet and social media and put themselves in front of that wave.  There are companies and artists who are making a fine living in this world.  I say find them, study them and then apply their lessons to your unique voice.

You can either ride the wave of the future or be wiped out by it.  What will you choose?

 

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How to Prepare for a Successful Crowd Funding Campaign, an Interview with Ariel Hyatt

artists-marketing-business-academy-interview-with-expertsIn today’s DIY Music Business, many artists are looking to crowd funding to replace the financing that a record deal used to provide. But the success rates of crowd funding efforts in the music industry are not all Amanda F. Palmer stories. It’s not the get rich quick solution to your financial woes.

Luckily for us, Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR has studied this question and is going to share a few of her Crowd Funding Success Secrets with the members of the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Professional Program.

In this Interview with an Expert you will learn:

  • The 3 biggest Crowd Funding mistakes
  • What you must have in place before you begin your Crowd Funding Campaign
  • How to choose which Crowd Funding site to use for your campaign – Kickstarter, Indiegogo, where to start?

Is Crowd Funding the right method at the right time for your next project? In this interview Ariel will give you the criteria for making a sound business decision for your career.

Additional Resources for this Interview:

Additional ArtistsMBA Classes on this Topic

Listen to the Interview:

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Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access this class today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Interview Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
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Click Here to Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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The Marketing Cycle with Music Marketing Expert Bobby Borg

artists-marketing-business-academy-interview-with-expertsIn the old paradigm of the Music Business, the Record Company took care of the marketing and the Artist took care of the music.

Those days are dead and gone – It’s a DIY Music Business.

So what do you need to know in order to handle marketing your music?

In this class taught by Special Guest, Bobby Borg, you will discover:

  • Important marketing concepts and terms,
  • The Ten Principles of New Music Marketing,
  • How to organize your thoughts into a detailed Marketing Plan of Attack

Join Bobby as he shows you how to create and execute your marketing plan effectively.

Additional Resources for this Interview:

Additional ArtistsMBA Classes on this Topic

Listen to the Interview:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access this class today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Interview Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Click Here to Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA foundation, professional Program members only. Click here to access.

WordPress Websites for Musicians – An Interview with Middle Tennessee Music

artists-marketing-business-academy-interview-with-expertsI’ve been saying it for years, MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation – I don’t care – If you are (or want to be) a Professional Musician or financially sustainable Band:

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN WEBSITE!

 

Thanks to platforms like WordPress, building your own website or hiring someone to build it for you no longer has to cost thousands of dollars.

But whether you build it yourself, or you hire someone to do it, it is up to you to decide what goes in it, on it and how it looks and feels.  I’m thrilled to have 2 specialists in building websites for musicians, Josh and Bret, to help us figure out:

  • What must every Musician/Band website have?
  • To blog or Not to blog?
  • What are the best WordPress plugins for musicians’ websites?
  • How do you integrate and brand yourself from Social Media to your website?
  • And what about SEO?

We’ll be talking about this and more!

Additional Resources for this Interview:

List of Plugins from Josh and Bret:

  • Plugins
    akismet
    easy iframe loader
    tubepress and/or smart youtube
    wp smush.it
    wp dbmanager
    wp super cache
    wp touch (automatically optimizes site for mobile devices)
    nextgen gallery
    all in one seo
    simple google sitemap xml
    google analytics or statcounter
    shareaholic (aka sexy bookmarks)
    contact form 7 + download monitor + email before download = collect e-mail addresses for downloads
    tweetblender
    social media widget
    If you use Genesis Framework:
    genesis simple edits
    genesis simple hooks
    genesis simple sidebars
    genesis slider or wp-cycle (for slideshows)

Additional ArtistsMBA Classes on this Topic

Listen to the Interview:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Read the Interview Transcript

(Transcript coming soon.)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Professional Program
to access this advanced class today ($39/month):


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Middle Tennessee Music is comprised of C Bret Campbell and Joshua Smotherman:

Our Work

 

Joshua Smotherman, Bunks Media, Middle Tennessee MusicJoshua Smotherman‘s Bio:

Back in 1999, along with a childhood friend, I started writing, producing, and recording full-time as part of the hip hop duo, BUNKS.  With no desire to ever sign a recording contract with a big label, we decided to build our own label and to use the Internet to promote the music.

Back then, Social Media did not exist, but we had services such as MP3.com and Soundclick which allowed us to create profiles, upload music, and share it with listeners across the world.  Forums and Messages Boards were the go-to sites for interacting with the independent music community. Specifically in Hip Hop, large numbers of emcees, producers, and fans spent hours engaging in writing lyrics, sharing recordings, and collaborating on instrumentals.

When Myspace became the most popular social networking site in the U.S. in 2006, we dove head-first into Social Media and began sharing and promoting our music with the Myspace community.

Shortly after, it was YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, ReverbNation, and an ever growing list of social networking services.  It became hard to keep up with everything going on, but we quickly learned that the World Wide Web was changing, growing, and evolving on a daily basis.  It was necessary to learn and maintain flexibility as well as spend a few hours each day reading and researching the latest developments.

The more time we spent with Social Media, SEO, and all the research involved; the less time we had to focus on writing music, booking shows, and releasing albums, BUT…

Other bands, venues, and indie labels noticed our presence and began asking questions. Then they began asking for help. Then somewhere along the line people started paying us for our advice as well as asking us to oversee their Internet Presence (from the Website to all their Social Media accounts).  Things began taking off in unexpected directions but we rolled with the punches and soon realized the music community could use our help.

After years of learning, researching, and throwing ideas back and forth, Middle Tennessee Music was born.

Small Barn Sound, Middle Tennessee MusicC Bret Campbell‘s bio:

C Bret Campbell is owner of Small Barn Sound recording studio in Hillsboro, TN; known for it’s artistic vibe and down home feel. The philosophy at Small Barn is that beauty and integrity of performance comes first. The drive is a desire to see the underdog succeed.

He is also Vice President of Middle Tennessee Music. Founded in 2011 as a merging of Small Barn’s promotion services with those of BUNKS Multimedia, Mid Tenn focuses on independent musicians, labels, venues, publications and web partnerships. Along with free information and promotion services Mid-Tenn act as consultant, webmaster, and online marketing director for bands, artists, indie labels, radio promo companies, and others. We build, host and maintain websites, handle social media campaigns and help build the professional team that an artist on the rise needs.

Bret has been a musician for 35 years, and involved in the music community in some way or another all of that time. He is currently making music, and writing PR and reviews. He covers Social Media forThe Saturday Independent newspaper, the Tennessee music scene for 101 Distribution, and a multitude of topics on Mid Tn and Small Barn Sound. He also organizes and participates in charity concerts for several organizations.

He is blessed to be a happily married father of 3 beautiful children who constantly give him inspiration to be the best he can be.

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Marketing 101

Artists MBA, Foundation ProgramMarketing is fundamental to your success. If you’re out to make a prosperous living doing what you love, it just won’t happen without marketing.

Yet few artists spend much time learning this foundational set of skills. And many people (not just artists) have a serious misunderstanding about marketing and sales, what it is, how it works and how to do it ethically and artfully.

In this class you’ll discover:

  • The 3 biggest misconceptions about Marketing
  • How to use marketing to create lifetime fans and a sustainable career
  • What it takes to create a Marketing Plan and implement it in a systematic and repeatable way.

Without promotion something terrible happens … nothing!
P.T. Barnum

You can create the most brilliant product, but if nobody knows about it, you will not succeed.

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation, Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access the following classes today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class:

Music Licensing with Sarah Gavigan – An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Music Placed in Films, TV Shows and Ads

artists-marketing-business-academy-interview-with-expertsIn these times of Music Industry upheaval and uncertainty, Music Licensing is one of the few areas of the industry that offers clear income potential to the entrepreneurial artist.

I’m thrilled to have Sarah Gavigan as a guest this month, to give us an insider’s look into the Music Licensing business.

 

In this class you’ll discover:

  • The range of opportunities in Music Licensing
  • The top 3 mistakes people make with when submitting music to a Music Supervisor
  • How to create a strategy allowing you to target the people who are looking for your music

Resources for this Class:

Listen to the Interview:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access this class today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Interview Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Click Here to Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA foundation, professional Program members only. Click here to access.

Venues and Artists – A Complex Relationship

Last week, an interesting conversation erupted on a music list-serve that I participate in.  I think there is much to be learned from this both by the Venue Owners/Bookers and the Performing Artists who depend on those bookers for their gigs.  I have removed all of the names/locations because the real issues here are applicable across locations, genre and venue size.  If you are a performing artist looking to book gigs – I strongly recommend you read on – don’t make these mistakes yourself!  And if you are a venue owner or booker – you may also find this informative.

First an edited excerpt of the initial post from the booker:

I need some guidance or at least some constructive feedback.  The email text listed below was forwarded to us by multiple attendees of our [events].  This message was sent as an email to everyone who signed up for this artist’s email list when they performed at our [venue] about 18 months ago.

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Top 5 Twitter Mistakes

I’ve been using Twitter for just over a year, now.  And I admit it, I’m hooked.  Twitter represents an unprecedented opportunity for connecting with your fans, creating new fans and promoting your music or business for little or no money.  But I see a lot of people making the same mistakes over and over.  And it’s such simple stuff to fix.  Here are the top 5 Mistakes and how to fix them:

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Marketing for Musicians

This is a post I put up on the FAR-West list-serve (Folk Alliance Region-West).  It got a fair bit of reaction and so I thought I’d share it with you.

Warning – a bit of a rant here… And I expect I’ll be flamed, but that’s just fine with me, because one of my jobs as a coach is to say the things people don’t want to hear, but need to hear in order to get their goals – OK, here goes:

One of my pet peeves, is the level of resentment I see from artists against artists who’ve learned the business side of the music business.  As if that
somehow demeans their validity as an artist.  Or the validity of their music as an expression.

Artists who are also good at marketing – are what we call – um -professional.

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2 Lessons from American Idol – Top 12

The format of American Idol requires artists to create cover versions of other people’s music. This is only slightly artificial as many independent artists perform songs written by someone else. And so, the ability to take a song written by someone else and make it your own is a critical skill for your success in the music industry.

And this is certainly true across the Arts & Entertainment industry. If you’re an actor, you’re going to be speaking words, not your own. If you’re writing, even if it’s fiction – your story is probably similar to a million other stories out there – so finding a way to make yours unique is a requirement. As a visual artist, your subject matter has likely been covered by a Master, so how do you make your treatment unique?

Lesson One: Focus on a Positive Intended Outcome in all of your efforts.

Getting back to American Idol, in last week’s episode, the contestants were covering the Rolling Stones. We saw some artists do renditions of songs that were pretty close to the Rolling Stone’s version and they were showing how well they could sing that song as written. And then there were a few artists who really changed the style and arrangement of the song – which seems to be what the judges ask for, week after week.

Some of those arrangements really worked – like Siobhan‘s version of Painted Black. And some of those arrangements really didn’t work – like Tim’s version of Under My Thumb. And I have a theory about why Tim’s version didn’t work. Tim said that he decided that he couldn’t do a Stone’s song justice. This is a negative assumption. He started out from a place of failure and he could only try to do something better. This assumption, I believe, colored his whole approach to the song. So, he tried to find a way to match his limitations.

Siobhan, on the other hand, looked at the song and explored a way to both serve where she wanted to grow as an artist and what would really serve the song. She wanted to get a bit darker and more dramatic and show off her vocal range and power. And so she picked a song that was dark to begin with and created an arrangement that really allowed her to explore the dramatic depths of the song and her own instrument.

So, the difference was that Siobhan focused on a positive intended outcome. And Tim focused on doing the best he could within an assumed failure and limitation. I wonder what would have happened if Tim had looked for a song he truly connected with and explored ways to arrange the song to suit his vocal instrument. I believe that’s what Aaron did incredibly well with Angie.

Lesson Two: Learn your instrument/craft, so you can make the most of your talent

In Simon’s critique of Aaron – he said that the song, “allowed you to stay within the limits of your voice.” Now that’s not the same as Tim’s self-imposed limitations. You need to know your instrument. If you’re playing a cello, you just aren’t going to be able to hit a high C – it’s not within the range of the instrument. Your voice is also an instrument, and understanding and being able to exploit the range and quality of your instrument will allow you to use your instrument to truly serve your art.

And that’s really the point –

  1. It’s important to start with a positively focused context.
  2. Look for a way to use your instrument to both serve you as an artist and serve the art and what you want to communicate with that art.

How are you assuming failure in your approach to your music career?  What would change if you assumed success?  How would that change your approach to your music/art?  How would that change your approach to your business?