Trent Reznor Tells Unknown Bands/Artists The Route To Success

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Early this morning on the NIN forum Trent Reznor gave some really amazing insight as to what to do to get noticed in the music business. Previously he gave similar advice in his Digg interview. Below is an excerpt and after the jump we have the whole thing.

“* Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record
sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an
artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of
mouth is the only true marketing that matters.


To clarify:


Parter with a TopSpin or similar or build your own website, but what
you NEED to do is this – give your music away as high-quality DRM-free
MP3s. Collect people’s email info in exchange (which means having the
infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential
customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make
them limited editions / scarce goods. Base the price and amount
available on what you think you can sell. Make the packages special -
make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU
would want to have as a fan. Make a premium download available that
includes high-resolution versions (for sale at a reasonable price) and
include the download as something immediately available with any
physical purchase. Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters… whatever.


Don’t have a TopSpin as a partner? Use Amazon for your transactions and fulfillment. [www.amazon.com]“


This was written on a bumpy Euro-bus ride across the wilderness – may ramble a bit but I think the point gets across.

TR

I posted a message on Twitter yesterday stating I thought The Beastie
Boys and TopSpin Media “got it right” regarding how to sell music in
this day and age. Here’s a link to their store:

[illcommunication.beastieboys.com]

Shortly thereafter, I got some responses from people stating the
usual “yeah, if you’re an established artist – what if you’re just
trying to get heard?” argument. In an interview I did recently this
topic came up and I’ll reiterate what I said here.

If you are an unknown / lesser-known artist trying to get noticed / established:

* Establish your goals. What are you trying to do / accomplish? If
you are looking for mainstream super-success (think Lady GaGa,
Coldplay, U2, Justin Timberlake) – your best bet in my opinion is to
look at major labels and prepare to share all revenue streams /
creative control / music ownership. To reach that kind of critical mass
these days your need old-school marketing muscle and that only comes
from major labels. Good luck with that one.

If you’re forging your own path, read on.

* Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record
sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an
artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of
mouth is the only true marketing that matters.
To clarify:

Parter with a TopSpin or similar or build your own website, but what
you NEED to do is this – give your music away as high-quality DRM-free
MP3s. Collect people’s email info in exchange (which means having the
infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential
customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make
them limited editions / scarce goods. Base the price and amount
available on what you think you can sell. Make the packages special -
make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU
would want to have as a fan. Make a premium download available that
includes high-resolution versions (for sale at a reasonable price) and
include the download as something immediately available with any
physical purchase. Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters… whatever.

Don’t have a TopSpin as a partner? Use Amazon for your transactions and fulfillment. [www.amazon.com]

Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere. [www.tunecore.com]

Have a realistic idea of what you can expect to make from these and budget your recording appropriately.

The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or
not. Every piece of music you can think of is available free right now
a click away. This is a fact – it sucks as the musician BUT THAT’S THE
WAY IT IS (for now). So… have the public get what they want FROM YOU
instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process (plus
build your database).

The Beastie Boys’ site offers everything you could possibly want in
the formats you would want it in – available right from them, right
now. The prices they are charging are more than you should be charging
- they are established and you are not. Think this through.

The database you are amassing should not be abused, but used to
inform people that are interested in what you do when you have
something going on – like a few shows, or a tour, or a new record, or a
webcast, etc.

Have your MySpace page, but get a site outside MySpace – it’s
dying and reads as cheap / generic. Remove all Flash from your website.
Remove all stupid intros and load-times. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO NAVIGATE AND
EASY TO FIND AND HEAR MUSIC (but don’t autoplay). Constantly update
your site with content – pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a
reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and
start a community. Engage your fans (with caution!) Make cheap videos.
Film yourself talking. Play shows. Make interesting things. Get a
Twitter account. Be interesting. Be real. Submit your music to blogs
that may be interested. NEVER CHASE TRENDS. Utilize the multitude of
tools available to you for very little cost of any – Flickr / YouTube /
Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.

If you don’t know anything about new media or how people
communicate these days, none of this will work. The role of an
independent musician these days requires a mastery of first hand use of
these tools. If you don’t get it – find someone who does to do this for
you. If you are waiting around for the phone to ring or that A & R
guy to show up at your gig – good luck, you’re going to be waiting a
while.

Hope this helps, and I’ll scour responses for intelligent comments I can respond to.

TR

TopSpin Media info:

[topspinmedia.com]

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.