Whether it’s Mastered for iTunes or Trent Reznor releasing an audiophile version of his record, making a high resolution version of your record for the audio geeks out there is becoming more and more in demand. While many pundits mock vinyl’s resurgance as pure novelty, it also exists to give those who want to take in your record in its highest resolution. But by now we know you can’t carry vinyl everywhere and many music nerds love nothing more than to have a high quality version of your record. This is one of the many reasons why you should get a 24 bit 96khz version of your master, especially if the record is recorded in this depth. This ensures listeners can get the most of your recording and that you have a copy for when this resolution is the standard. Not only does it make fans and influential record nerds happy, you can also sell it to fans to fund your music.
There are an endless amount of tools and techniques musicians can use to spread their music, but only a few have the potential to really make a huge leap in your fanbase. Below I have outlined the tools I know of that I don’t see enough musicians using that I see help the musicians who do employ them.
- Bundling Samplers – If a fan buys merch from you, you should try to give them as much of your music as possible for this support. If you have more than one release be sure to at least include a few songs from each release with every merchandise sale. Afterall, if a fan likes you enough to buy a T-shirt and become a walking advertisement for your music, they probably like it enough to send it to their friends. Encourage this practice and watch your music be spread by those passionate enough to support you. You can bundle samplers with your merch by using services like Big Cartel, TopSpin, LimitedRun and Bandcamp.
- Community Recommendations – One of the best way to get your music discovered by new fans is to have it recommended by other musicians they admire. There are a few different services that allow you to trade these recommendations by like-minded musician friends. On YouTube you can recommend other musician’s channels on your channel landing page or by adding them to a playlist you make of friends music (more on this here). Bandcamp allows you to recommend other releases to fans who purchase your music. You can trade this with friends and ensure all of their fans hear you and vice versa. You can also trade links on your website, posts from each other on Facebook or Twitter and mentions in email blasts.
- TopSpin Download Anywhere – In the video at the top of this post you can see one of the coolest but under used tools in music promotion. Anytime you send your fans a link on social networks you can use TopSpin’s Download Anywhere tool to try to gain an email address and have your fans download your music. This means whenever you link a new YouTube, website, piece of press you can try to obtain a new fan to stay in touch with every single time you have something to link your fans to. Not only can this get you a fan by having them get your song and become addicted to it, you can stay in touch with them. You can learn more about Download Anywhere here.
Knowing where your traffic comes from, who is linking you, writing about you can be important hints on what to focus on. The above video show you how to hook up analytics from YouTube into your Google Analytics all for free.
Reader In Need Of A Fan writes:
“I am a hip hop producer and I plan on putting out an instrumental album hopefully next year (depends on how long it takes me to record it, it’s my first time recording ever!). I work in marketing for a medium size venue so I’m pretty familiar with the advertising outlets I plan to use. Here’s my question. I was planning on promoting the album for 6 months and releasing 1 song per month to promote the album. And before the album comes out I was planning on releasing a 5 or 6 song EP for free. Now my question is should I just release the EP in it’s entirety at once or should I release 2 songs off the EP then release everything at once? Also I was planning on promoting this for approximately 2 months or so prior to me promoting m y album? I guess I’m confused because as of right now I have no social media presence I have everything set up but I haven’t been posting anything on social media because I have no music to promote.”
While everyone I know doesn’t agree with me, I have seen a technique work time and time again. Release one song at a time once every 4–8 weeks. How often you release them depends on how much you can promote in those 4-8 weeks. If you can make a video, play live a few times and do other cool things every week, release a song every 8 weeks. If you are just going to release the songs and hope for the best, do it every four weeks.
By putting out a song every four weeks you can remind everyone of your existence, have those who like your music hear something new and tell their friends. Every writer willing to write about you will write about you again. You have a reason to get Likes, comments, have fans share your music and stay active.
When you get down to having two songs left, release your EP that has two new songs on it and include all the songs you just released. Until you get some traction, repeat this pattern, it ensures you get the most bang for your buck for the song you record and enables as many chances as possible for your music to get attention.
Maybe you changed your band name? Maybe your old drummer made a profile page that got a few likes and you didn’t even realize it till a few months later. No matter what the reason sometimes you need to merge a Facebook page. If that’s the case, Facebook has made it easier than ever to do so with their new Page Merge function. Get to making sure anyone who has ever liked your page can actually hear from you.
By this time you should know that making a single frame YouTube video is the least you can do to get your music on YouTube and every song you do should have at least this type of video in order to have your music on the largest music discovery channel. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the site TunesToTube which will merge a picture you choose and an MP3 into a YouTube video on your channel.
SubPop Records was awesome enough to share the original contract they signed between themselves and Nirvana. While this contract is super primitive and would probably receive a good chuckle by people who call themselves “professionals”, there are some very smart practices in it to be learned from. The contract is based off of years of support they will give the artist and each year carries a financial burden for the label that grows bigger and bigger. While it may be laughable that for the first year the label only had to give the group $600, this showed they were testing if relations would work with minimal consequences if they didn’t. If after a year things were working they agreed to offer twenty times the amount of investment and then 40 times that first investment for another year.
In our book, we argue that contracts with clear incentives for both parties are best so that everyone knows what goals are to be reached and if they are not reached, both parties can easily bow out. This contract illustrates that practice very well and is a thought to consider before ever signing any contract in your music career. This practice obviously worked out well for all parties involved and is one you should seek to employ.
We’re very excited to announce that this year I am a part of a potential panel at SXSW called, Musical Hobby to Musical Career, featuring awesome people like Scott Booker (manager of the Flaming Lips), Christen Greene (manager of The Lumineers), and Josiah Albertsen (Raymond James Financial advisers). The reason I say potential, is we need your help in voting it up. Even if you aren’t attending SXSW you should vote it up since we will have a YouTube of the panel available later.
Here’s what we’ll be discussing:
Your back is going to hurt one day, and crashing the floor of an apartment in Asheville isn’t going to cut it. Pizza will not be the most desirable of breakfast foods. Our panelists know this; they’ve been there, and have helped musicians sail the industry’s “Sea of Simply Surviving”. Turning your musical hobby into a musical career can be risky, exciting, and full of opportunity.
- What’s the biggest mistake someone can make when they start gaining success?What’s the smartest thing they can do?
- What are some suggestions for dealing with those around you who may start treating you differently when you start to gain success?Any personal stories you’d like to share about this?
- What are the first things an artist should do when their music becomes their primary source of income? What types of teams should artists assemble around them?
- Where’s a good place to find them? How should they vet them?How does an artist keep success from negatively affecting their art?
- What are the things they can do to stay focused?
I’ve worked with hundreds of acts both big and small. The ones who do get popular and have a lasting career are the ones who take part in many of the decisions about their music. The musicians make the decisions with their manager. While there are a few genius managers who have ordered around some dummy musicians, that is the exception–not the rule. Usually, the musicians are just as involved with the decisions in their career as the manager is. The more you know about the business, the better you’re able to help make good decisions that help your fanbase grow and allow you to make a living out of your music. Knowing what you’re talking about in these discussions and being educated in the business will help your career last.
Begging Takes More Time Than Doing - All the time you spend stuffing envelopes, sending emails and begging someone to manage you could be much better spent by building yourself a following and attracting a strong management team. No manager is ever impressed by a group that begs and always annoys him to manage them. They’re impressed when you make progress happen without their help.
Avoid The Lame - Many managers who are willing to take on musicians in their early days are not worth signing away your dreams with. These are the “professionals” who throw a lot of crap (musicians they only half-heartedly believe in) at the wall and see if anything sticks and catches on. Even worse, it could be a manager who does little to no work. This is detrimental to your progress since you assume someone is taking care of business for you when they’re not. If you think of your music like a stock, the more passionate fans you have, the higher your stock’s value is. When something has value, more people want to be a part of it. If your stock soars, you’ll have many great managers and other team members trying to work with you. This allows you to make a great choice instead of going for the only lame candidate willing to take you on at the get-go.
Day-To-Day Duties - Even when you get a great manager with a powerful staff, it helps to be able to handle the day-to-day duties on your own. There’s less money to split when you don’t need to hire someone to do dumb tasks like update your Twitter feed or post your tour dates. If you’re able to handle many of the small duties your manager has on their plate, your manager will have more time to concentrate on bigger moves to help build your fanbase. Instead of micromanaging your drummer, showing up at practice and lecturing your bassist on getting lessons, they can spend that time talking to someone about a great tour for you.
Scam-Proof - A lot of musicians worry about getting ripped off and scammed in this business. If you know the business and are an active part of the decisions for your music, there’s less of a chance for you to get taken advantage of. If you’re able to manage your own tours, you’ll understand the finances behind everything. As these tours get bigger, you’ll more clearly see where the waste and fraud happens. In today’s music business, you need to always optimize finances in order to maintain a livable profit. In the end, no one will ever care about your share of the profits and your dreams coming true as much as you do. Learn the basics and you’ll be able to help make sure both of these goals are more obtainable.
Making Better Decisions - Smart musicians have lasting careers. Though a lot of your favorite bands may appear to be vacuous party animals buried in groupies, there’s often a quiet genius musician involved, concentrating on what’s best to grow a fanbase. If you’re able to take part in the decisions made for your music and have an educated opinion on them, you’ll be confident you’re making good decisions in your life, instead of hoping someone else is making them for you.
Paying Your Dues - While this is one of the worst cliches of the music business (and boy are there many),other musicians respect their peers who do it themselves–and the more musicians respect you, the easier it is to get ahead. Musicians don’t like when others “have everything handed to them” and won’t want to help them. If you’re seen as one of those musicians, it may set you back a bit.