The objective perspective is the idea of getting an unbiased perspective from someone who isn’t as close to your situation as you are. The objective perspective has many uses in music. We’ve all had problems with our significant others–if you go talk to a friend about it, you might gain a newfound sense of clarity on the situation. Even if they just reaffirm what you already think, sometimes you just need to hear from someone else. The same goes with your music: You may have gotten so deep into a project and worked so hard on it that you’ve become insensitive to the finer details.
It can be fascinating how much music is out there that seemingly doesn’t deserve the hype. Everyone has their favorites to hate on (DON’T ask me about the new Kanye or Daft Punk record). But at the end of the day, Kanye or whoever else we might hate on, is way ahead of us because they actually did something. They put out an album, video, tour, marketing idea, or whatever else. The took a risk, got feedback, and probably learned something important in the process – unlike those who aren’t producing anything.
It’s much better to be critiqued than be just a critic. Critics don’t sell albums or merch, go on tours, make magazine covers or get groupies for a reason (although you wouldn’t know that by the long list of hecklers from the cheap seats). Rather than complaining or lobbing insults at those who aren’t up to your standards, your energy is better spent making something and getting it out there, as opposed to telling everyone (including yourself) how much better your (unreleased) material is. Sure, the new Empire Of The Sun album might not be your favorite, but better to put out your own tracks and show them how it’s done versus critiquing in the abstract.
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t listen to music with a discerning ear. That’s part of what shows you have insight and are paying attention (and it indicates that you’ve learned something about your art). But unapplied knowledge is just that – knowledge. At heart, we’ll all music critics. Just by your own record collection, you’ve made choices about what you value in music and probably what you aspire to. But in order to separate yourself from the armchair quarterbacks, you need to throw some passes in an actual game yourself.
People are much more likely to forgive your failures if you put out something great. In fact, most “failures” go unnoticed because people are looking for something amazing and they tend to ignore the rest. So don’t be afraid to let your experiments be just that. Better to always be producing something new than second-guessing yourself and worrying about critics (or being one yourself). Music critics can serve a very important role – I used to be one, and frankly, it was a great job. But not as good as being the lowliest artist. You probably couldn’t name 5 music journalists off the top of your head if you tried. Without the music to critique, all of them would be out of a job. Believe me when I say I’d rather gargle a box of rusty nails while tap dancing on a lava-soaked dance floor than listen to Kanye or whatever other (IMO) overrated artist, but just as important as what an artist did wrong, is what they did right. Sometimes you can learn just as much or more from your enemies as your friends (which is why I bit the the bullet and downloaded his Unholiness’, ahem, I mean Kanye’s new album). Being a critic is fun and easy (that’s why everyone has an opinion), but hardly as rewarding as doing something yourself. The real difficult job is making art that matters to you and others. That’s why rock stars get treated like, well, you know, rock stars. Better decide which side you’re going to be on.
After 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.
- Check out the Table of Contents and read the synopsis. We have a list of ten reasons you should buy it.
- We also have half of the book available for free on our website here.
- It’s for sale on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Google Play. It is available in every format of eBook and in physical book form.
If you are really feeling generous, here is how you can help.
- 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.
- If you are really feeling giving, we desperately need Amazon Book Reviews. Two 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
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:
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.
- Ira Glass via 37 Signals from the Code Academy handbook, designed by Sawyer Hollenshead.
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.
Recently, we came across a comment on one of our posts that asked “What do you do when the rest of your band trusts you too much and thinks everything you say or do is gold?” While this is a rare instance it is an issue that can be detrimental to your music reaching its full potential. One of the best things about music is everyone is able to have an opinion. If everyone involved in a project is humble and reasonable, everyone’s opinions can be discussed and an easy consensus can be reached.
In a huge move TuneCore has brought itself into the publishing industry by launching the Songwriter Publishing Administration Service. It pits itself directly against newcomer SongTrust and seems like they both are a breath of fresh air for the publishing industry.
According to their press release these are the details:
1. Register songwriter’s songs with organizations that use and track their copyrights so they know they exist, what songs are theirs and what money belongs to them.
2. Issue any licenses needed and handle any requests for the use of a songwriter’s songs in TV shows, movies, commercials and other media, and negotiate any licenses with TuneCore’s in-house Film & Visual Media department to get them the best possible terms.
3. Represent the songwriter and aggressively pursue all of their songwriting earnings.
4. Get songwriter’s existing “found” money back before it is given to someone else.
5. Police the world on the songwriter’s behalf to find illegal usage or copyright violation and make it stop and/or get the songwriter paid.
Pricing looks to be a one-time payment of $49.99 for global registration plus 10% of the money TuneCore collects, the remaining 90% is distributed to the songwriter. They are claiming they can get 25% more in royalties for songwriters by eliminating frivolous services employed by other publishing administrators. Very exciting news. Get more info here.