Getting Personal With Your Promotions – Japanther Get It Right Again

You might remember the amazing Brooklyn band Japanther from an interview we did with them a few years back, but as usual they’re at it again, innovating and doing exciting promotions. In the above video we hear a little about a very cool event they did at a restaurant in LA. I recently caught up with Ian Vanek, the bands thunderous rhythm doctor, to have him explain a little more about what the band did for this project, why it was personally important and how the natural instincts of the band have become an almost accidental promotional tool.

1. Explain the Automat Project you guys did in LA.
The piece was entitled “69¢ Only”and was a part of residence based restaurant program called Thank You For Coming. Our dear friend and collaborator Jenn Su had the wild idea that a “resident” would come and change her restaurant every month or so. We were aware of all the hurdles Jenn was facing while opening TYFC and we felt fully challenged by her invitation to be one of the first residents. Social justice often takes center stage in Jenn’s actions so we wanted to challenge her in return. This is roughly how we arrived at the 1930′s automat theme for our residence. Cheap, quality food without a hassle. At that moment we wanted to be the cheapest game in town. So Jenn proportioned several small meals into 69¢ servings, we made some 69¢ Japanther wooden coins and started sanding and painting and making a huge mess.


2. Explain the money side of things for this project.

Thank You For Coming is open for business. They have hours and a cash register and all that. We were one of the cheapest restaurants in LA but we had our eye on the bottom line. The ingredients were carefully proportioned, tons of people volunteered their time and we went foraging a lot.

3. What kinds of reactions did you get from customers, fans, etc? Anything surprising?
Children seemed to get it the best. It’s a game and you always win! We got so many amazing reactions and gifts from participants. Too many to write down really. Sasha Grey was there one night with 12 of her friends. Our friends at various label and zines mailed stuff in. Kids of all ages getting amped on the idea of an automat was huge for all of us. Everything after that was just icing on the cake.

4. I was at one of your shows recently and saw a tape that was titled (quite cleverly) “Eat Like Lisa, Act Like Bart”, and from having known you personally, I know that food and health is important to you guys. This seems like a very local, community-based project that is way outside the realm of what normal bands consider for promotion. Specifically, why was this project important to you guys?
I think Japanther’s choice to stay involved with creativity was a natural one. Promotion is so far from our minds while creating that often times the bi-products go unnoticed. Restaurants and specifically “pop ups” are just another fun way of being creative. Lots of people host dinners all over the world in a variety of creative manners. In no way are we an authority on health or food we just love the dialog it creates.


Out Now! Our New Book – Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business

GetMoreFansBookRenderAfter four years of  research and writing, we are proud to announce the release of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business. Todd and I set out to make the most comprehensive guide to the techniques, tools, ideas and methods that go into building a fanbase and came up with the 700+ page guide you see here. We wrote a book that leaves no stone unturned when bands wonder what they could be doing to get more fans. We couldn’t be more proud to put this book out and would love for you to take a look at it. Lots of famous musicians and music business people have already said insanely nice things about it. 

Here’s what we suggest you do.

If you are really feeling generous, here is how you can help.

  1. We would love for you to help spread the word. Over the years I know we gave many of you advice and free time and have tried to help you promote your music without asking for anything in exchange. Right now, we need all the help we can get and you can help me by taking 60 seconds of your time. Any Facebook post, Tweet, Tumblr post, Instagram picture, or email to friends wo would be interested in this book really helps.
  2. If you are really feeling giving, we desperately need Amazon Book ReviewsTwo sentences and a 5 star review does us a world of good helping us to promote the book. It is greatly appreciated.

Lastly, we would love to hear from you, if you know someone who we should get this book to, are curious about it, just want to say hello, give comments on it, point us to writers, reviewers or whatever, please write us. We put four years into this book and need to get it everywhere we can.

Thank you for your help and for listening.

Jesse and Todd


Who Musicians And Music Fans Should Vote For In The Election

Before I get started, I know that many people will say we shouldn’t talk about politics on this blog, but this election is too important to musicians and their ability to promote their music. Our blog is about promoting your music and there is a stance that one candidate has taken in this race that makes voting for them, a vote against your music career. I will not be discussing all the other issues that come with each candidate, you can find that on other sites from many people who are far more qualified to discuss these subjects. My expertise is in musician issues and there is one stance, on an important issue, that these candidates have taken that could damn your music career. If your music career is not a major factor in who you vote for, move on to another article. If it is keep reading.

Net Neutrality is the single most important issue that will affect your ability to promote your music and keep the music world full of opportunity for unknown musicians. If you are not familiar with the issue, the above video gives a great description of it. In short, Net Neutrality keeps the Internet how it is – allowing musicians to promote their music and continues to allow unknown musicians to build their own career without getting permission from the gatekeepers like labels, radio and large corporations. It allows fans to choose who they want to hear, instead of corporations allowing them to hear who can afford to pay them a bribe. When we hear stories of independent musicians being able to promote themselves without major label backing and make the gains many DIY & indie artists have made over the past few years, it is because the Internet is presently neutral.

If Net Neutrality is not upheld, large corporations will ask you to pay to have your content be seen by their subscribers. This means if you want fans to be able to see your website, you may need to pay ISPs like Comcast, Optimum, Cablevision, etc. a fee just to allow your own fans to check in on your website or other content. Obviously this would help return the power to big, corporate funded, major label musicians who can afford this fee and away from fans deciding who gets popular and who does not.

This will have a catastrophic effect on anyone trying to grow their fanbase that doesn’t have large corporate backing and music fans looking for good music, not music that can afford to pay a bribe. It would also help return the music world to one where major labels have all of the power to shove crappy musicians down your throat, as opposed to the democracy of music popularity we are seeing emerge on the Internet. You can pretend to be an economist and decide whose solutions you believe will be better for the economy etc. At the end of it all, there is no single issue that will determine what promoting your music will look like more than Net Neutrality.

Here is where the candidates stand:

Barack ObamaBarack Obama has been a firm supporter of Net Neutrality and has made sure the FCC has defended it throughout his term. 

Gary Johnson - Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is a fierce supporter of Net Neutrality. He goes a step further and would like the government to be even less involved in the Internet.

Mitt Romney – Sadly, Mitt Romney is the one presidential candidate who is firmly against Net Neutrality and will look to allow the Internet providers to bill you for access to your fans. While Mitt has taken stands on both sides of many issues and flip-flopped all over the place throughout this campaign, this is one issue he always stands by. In my opinion and everyone else I have seen who consistently cover this issue all agree –  Mitt Romney would be a catastrophe for Net Neutrality. 

I will be voting for Obama. Todd will be voting for Johnson. Both of which will continue to help musicians get a fair shake. Sadly, a vote for Mitt Romney will make things harder for everyone looking for an equal playing field on the Internet.


Amazing Resource: Red Bull Music Academy Lectures


If you are looking for some great lectures on the music business and creating music, Red Bull Music Academy has some amazing lectures that deal with everything from making music to strategies in the new music business. With interviews with wise people like Modeselektor, Howie Weinberg, Adrian Sherwoord and countless others. A great resources with countless lectures to inject, for when you need some new inspiration. Check out Red Bull Music Academy.


Programming Note: We’re Back!

Hey! Long time no see! I know, you probably assumed we dropped off the face of the planet but really, we were just gearing up for something even more amazing. As you can see this blog has a great new look, that we are very proud of. We have also moved the blog from Movable Type to WordPress (word to the wise, if you aren’t an ultra-coding geek, stick with WordPress as your CMS). You will now see more than one post from us every weekday consistently (if not more), just like we used to do. The other exciting news is that we launched this site to gear up for the Musformation Book! It is finally, almost complete. To welcome us back if you can spread the word by clicking all those share buttons and let people know we are back we would REALLY appreciate it. Stay tuned for some GREAT content, we already have almost 100 new articles written, and waiting to go out and show you some great new things in the world of music. So much cool stuff to come and please let us know if you see anything funny going on in the new website. Thanks!

PS Thanks to Jackie and Matt for doing an amazing job and making this new design what it is!


Programming Note: 2 Years Of Musformation!

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Another year and we couldn’t be more excited about what is ahead of us! Our upcoming book gets closer to being finished with every day that passes. While we may not be publishing as much as we used to, we are excited that there are great things happening in music today. We look forward to some great stuff in the future and for many more years to come! Thank you so much for your support!