Thursday, December 24, 2009
I've been suffering from a wicked case of writers block ever since the JPF awards process and our subsequent UK/Ireland tour ended in October. I usually try to use this space to say something upbeat or at least motivational in the context of our music community and the music industry which surrounds it. I've gone around and around trying to do what I think I am supposed to do and it finally hit me. I needed to stop trying to compete with all my previously successful "My Takes" and just write about something real. When I thought about it, I knew exactly what to write about today.
The world is full of people who are happy to teach you how the music business works (or at least used to work). They lay out their theories and give you roadmaps that they claim will lead you to success. Then there are others who will show you how to make better recordings so you sound as good as what is on the radio. Still more folks will examine the craft of songwriting in great detail and teach you to write in a format and style and how to use techniques that are proven to work for hit writers which we'd all love to surpass. And while all these things can be 100% correct in context, they are missing the single most important factor that all artists of all types must face and successfully overcome.
Stop asking yourself if you can do something better than those who are successful. Instead ask yourself if you really have something to say. That's the thing that very few people ever coach you on. Sure, you may be able to write the heck out of a story, but do you have a story worth telling? You may be able to sing in perfect pitch but are you getting across an emotion that is real and meaningful? You may be able to record an album that equals the best engineering feats in the world, but is there something underneath that beautiful wrapping paper that actually says something worth hearing?
I realized I was so worried about writing something that would 'succeed' in terms of this column and which would stand up to all my previous quotes and quips, that I had forgotten to ask myself if I was saying something of value in the first place. So my sage advice for today is to stop and ask yourself if you really have something to say that is honest and meaningful and which will connect to some of us out here who will recognize those little truths that make up our own lives. Tell a story, big or small, that helps the listener realize that they aren't alone in this big old world and that when they listen to your music, they really feel like we're all in this together. Accomplish that and you're a success as an "artist" no matter how the rest of it works out.
Learn, Succeed and Thrive, We're All In This Together! Just Plain Folks.
Written by Brian Austin Whitney
Visit the Website: www.jpfolks.com
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
That is what Len said when he sent this - it is perfect, I wish our SPCA had done it, the message is the same though folks!
I have a good video of the home made sort for you for Christmas as well, and if anyone would like a copy of the Rave On Recipe folder this year, please drop us a line at email@example.com!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
One of the Very Vancouver Christmas artists made this wicked little video to go with her song this year - check it out, Hilary Grist is SO talented!
She'll be playing at the REALLY Big Christmas Show this Sunday - see her live!
www.myspace.com/veryvancouverchristmas for more info ~
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A while ago I found these guys on Twitter called @buyacredit (http://www.buyacredit.com/) aka Adrian Bliss and friends. Brilliant idea, people can buy a producer credit on the film they will make with the money. (Having Stephen Fry behind you won't hurt either). Check it out - very cool, and very clever.
This is quite like 'Sellaband' (http://www.sellaband.com), you set up an account and people can pay to help you make your record.
You can be in charge of your career and become your own marketing genius. We LOVE it.
And of course, we LOVE Alex Highton , who has just set up his page. Please go listen and help fund his amazing work, and be a apart of the art! http://www.sellaband.com/projects/alhighton (Having Ashton Kutcher and Bert Jansch behind you won't hurt either!).
What a great gift for everyone involved!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Funny enough, I work on the Christmas album year round, what with marketing and promo etc. and for the last 3 years, after Christmas comes and goes, I wake up one January day and think, bugger, I've missed it again!
This year I didn't want that to happen, so I have started watching Christmas movies on CBC, sending real, handwritten Christmas cards, gifts to kids overseas and putting up more Christmas lights than we usually have on - but, nothing...I'm still too busy to enjoy it.
This video however, got me in the spirit in exactly 2 minutes and 57 seconds.
Well done you!
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
My friend Tony brought over some of his home-made Tiramisu yesterday, and we got to talking. He and his wife bought a place just a few blocks away from us, and it feels like he's in the hood now.
Tony is one of the most talented musicians and producers that I know and have had the pleasure of working with, and when the conversation turned to business, and how to survive in a world where, as Tony said; 'Anyone with a computer can be a producer', I started thinking about neighbourhoods.
More specifically, the Internet is just a big, new neighbourhood. While strolling around, I've seen lots of signs, buy this, buy that, people shoving their wares in my face, but I've also made friends, met some great people, and learned a lot about the area where I hang out.
Having a successful business online, is the same as having a successful business off-line. Say you're a plumber. You find a place you like, you set up shop, you get to know your neighbours, you chat with other shopkeepers and people who live in your area, you do a bit of advertising and before you know it, someone's sink is clogged and you get the call.
It's a terribly old fashioned way of doing things in this 2.0 world, but I truly believe it works, and Rave On is living proof. We work with friends and neighbours, and people who happen to be visiting our neighbourhood, which now encompasses the world- how lucky are are we!?
Welcome to the hood Tony and Anna!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Well after two years of hard work, Melissa Endean is reaping the rewards. With an EP and two full length albums in her hands, she is moving forward at a nice speed.
The spotlight shines Sunday night at the Cellar Jazz Club, when Melissa and her full band, formally releases the album 'Authentic'.
Debuting at #2 on the charts in Eastern Canada, Authentic is a very welcome change of pace. The songs are heartfelt and joyful, and I'm not just saying that because I produced the album. Come out to the show, or buy the album and see for yourself.
On another note ~ I'm a lazy blogger this week, I have lots to post, but it is the perfect storm here, what with the release of Authentic, the Christmas album in my hands tomorrow and getting ready for the big show a month from tomorrow, not to mention a bit of life working it's way into the days, well, what can I say - stay tuned, much more to come!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Imogen can do no wrong.
I just tuned in to her live broadcast and watched her audition cellists for her upcoming gig. How clever is that anyway?
She is my hero. I know, I talk reverently about Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Bono but Imogen, well...wow, what can I say. She is all that and more...
I know, I make records, I wrangle the Internet, I can do what I like, mostly when I like; but like most, I also have another life of responsibility, not unwanted in anyway, but there all the same.
I thought that I thought outside the box, but Imogen is always one lovely step ahead. Imogen seems free.
It's good to have people to admire.
Monday, November 9, 2009
When I Twittered @Pipermckinnon to ask her if I could blog about her in relation to what artists should be doing ( ie:what's working and what's not), she wrote:
"Well, that's great! When you figure out what people 'Should' be doing, I will be the first in line for the information! "
I guess there are no real do's and don't outside of the obvious rules of polite company, but from my vantage point I am fortunate to be 'detached' enough to see what works and what doesn't in the world of social media and independent artists, but am also 'attached' enough to have some credibility when discussing it.
And I want to say off the top, that @pipermckinnon is working it. She's everywhere, writing about everything and using all the tools out there. I see her everywhere, and if I didn't already know she was an amazing artist, I would have been curious enough her to check her out.
So here it is, in the face of my last post about stress and learning how to relax, this post about getting to work on your career, something only you can do. And it is work, a lot of work.
Specifically I want to talk about fans, how to make them and how to keep them, because that is what will run your career as an independent artist 'the fan'. They will buy your stuff and pay your bills.
Just as I was sitting down to write, I remembered a link that Ariel had just sent out, so before started this I read it, and it fits in nicely with my post. Check it out, it's called '1000 true fans':
In short, Kevin Kelly hypothesizes that you only need 1000 true and loyal fans. An attainable and realistic goal. I believe this, and I want to let you know what I witness as working and not working in attracting and keeping those fans. I have said before that it is all about the relationship you have with people, and it's true, people want to be involved, they want to feel special and they want to know you care.
So here is my list of do's and don'ts, or 'making a fan and keeping a fan': Ready Set Go!
1) DO realize that: "Marketing is not a campaign; it’s a commitment. If you want lifetime relationships with your consumers, you need to invest in them…genuinely…for life. Begin with investing in what we call “commitment to conversation” (monitoring, optimization, response, outreach etc.) (http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/04/social-media-marketing-tips/)".
2) DON'T start something and then drop off the face of the earth. If you have to have away time, let your fans know. (I'm having a baby so won't be here for a while, I have the flu so will be away, I'm on vacation, or I'm reassessing if I can handle all this on my own etc.). Keep your fans involved.
3) DO realize that the Internet and it's new social media is based on instant gratification, so be quick! Get your show photos up pronto, get a quick tweet or blog out to thank fans for coming out to the show (right after the show!), ask fans what they thought of your new band/song/hair style. Your gig is not over when you've finished performing, unless you've got a PR team working for you, YOU have to follow up to stay connected.
4) DON'T over-estimate your own abilities. Be realistic and know your limitations. If you can't be online all the time, or keeping track of fan lists and emails, use a tool (reverbnation etc) or check out @sivers muckworks, or ask for help. Again, don't start something you can't finish, fans want to know you're there and that you're, well, dependable. They're invested in you. And so is the rest of your team, so be honest with yourself from the start, and only take on what you know you can follow through with.
5) DO keep a positive attitude, anything else will make this work seem more difficult than it is. It will soon become a habit, and once you get organized it will really be second nature.
6) DON'T feel like you need to give it all away. Fans don't want your burdens, they want light and easy day to day, as well as serious things, but not everyone needs to know what you do in bed at night, or hear about the fight you had with your girlfriend. Just because you can't always see your fans face to face, doesn't mean you won't suffer the consequences of inappropriate posts. You can lose fans just as fast as gaining them.
I could ramble on, but those are the main points I wanted to get across tonight, after a very insightful weekend.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Well, it's crunch time for a lot of people. It's the middle of the semester, it's only weeks before Christmas, there's the panic of H1N1 and the pressure is on. Throw a full time job rehearsing and gigging along with your PR and attempts at being pro-active in your music career on top of all that and you have a great recipe for burn-out.
I'm not here to save your day with a magic remedy, but I want to offer a few hints that have helped me in my busy life:
1) Find ways to save time - there are lots of bits of good advice on the net and anything from paying bills on-line, to food shopping in bulk to reduce trips to the shops can help. I googled 'student time savers' and 'stressed out students', and found lots of cool articles, and loads of stuff in point form - short and sweet. Talk to other musicians and students and grads and even profs - everyone probably has a bit of good advice, learned through a similar experience. (In fact the act of talking about it will usually help a lot too!).
My tip of the day would be, learn how to scan. It's helpful in studying (scan for keys words or phrases in your readings) and scan through your emails and websites and only read what you need to and what is urgent. Everything else can wait. And if you're really stressed, cut out email all together, don't give more of yourself away than you need to in these times.
2) 'Self care' is huge and though you may think you don't have time, make it, even if it's only a few minutes a day to start. It's a habit you will need to get into, especially for later on, when you're touring and on the road. Teaching yourself how to relax without the aid of drugs or booze will be a lifesaver and will help with your career longevity. There are lots of health and 'how to deal with stress' sites on-line and even a few now that are specific to the musician. I have even written on the subject and email me if you would like a copy of the article.
My tip of the day would be exercise. It will help with your stress level and with your over all health. Even starting with a few minutes of deep breathing will help, and work up to some yoga or a run or swim. I just read an article by Black Sabbath Drummer Bill Ward, about his routine (http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/how-black-sabbath-survived-the-music-business).
3) This could be included in self care, but it's more specific, do something you love. Doing something you love rarely feels like work. I don't mean rehearsing or practicing, unless that IS what you love - but just let go and jam around, cook something, watch your favorite movie, listen to your favorite music, get a tattoo, what ever does it for you - treat yourself, nobody else will - it's your job to take care of you.
My tip of the day would be to find out what you love to do, if you don't already know. Never picked up a brush? Try painting. Never made a pie? get on it! Want to play piano, guitar or uke? Head out to the music store and give it a go. Try something new or something you have always wanted to try - what are you waiting for? I write books. Want one?
When all else fails 'prioritize', do only what you really need to do, (NEED TO DO even if it means just eating and sleeping!), and REST, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Once you are back on your feet you can look at the other stuff and plan for the next curve life throws you.
So there you go, I wanted to keep this shortish, to save you some time - so will end here!
(Art by Rodney White)
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
If you have not yet hooked up with Derek and Ariel on twitter or their own websites and blogs, and you are an independent musician - do so immediately!
These two are the movers and shakers and idea makers of the music 'biz' today. They give away useful advice by the bushel and will help get your own wheels turning.
I am raving about them again today because Ariel is giving away her latest concoction:
And wow, it starts off with a good laugh...enjoy!
Also I wanted to make mention of the fact that I am seeing more and more services available for artists, which cover everything from grant writing to help with promotion, and while I don't knock these services (we here at Rave On also provide these services - so not to shoot self in foot), they can be great for those who don't want to do things themselves, but you don't NEED them, and you can still get on out on there on your own, without spending a lot of money.
It's a rare thing that you need a middleman, well, maybe if we're talking brain surgery, but we're do-it-your-selfers and we're proof that it works.
I just wanted to say that because of some of the creative marketing spin I am seeing..and you know marketing and advertising, it's about sales.
I'm just saying.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Everyone can do their part to combat climate change, every little bit helps. We here at Rave On have decided to become vegetarian (or very close to), to reduce 'farm to fork' pollution (supportmfm.org). We also no longer eat seafood, to help reduce the demand and illegal fishing...
Jess Sloss offers up: "David Suzuki has a list of things your business could do (http://www.dailyblogtips.com/blog-action-day-how-bloggers-can-combat-climate-change/) and TckTckTck.org with help from Giant Media has just finished a compelling video asking you to take action." in his I hate Global Warming. A Blog Action Day Post: (http://www.socialsquared.com/2009/10/15/i-hate-global-warming-a-blog-action-day-post/)
What can you do?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I hope not - but a lot of people do - and having asthma I can relate a small little bit. Please have a look at this great site, it's the project that one of our Christmas artists, Tess Dunn, was involved with this spring.
Nice job you guys!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
A little night music from the flu-ridden studio.
Not the lazy blogger, even though it's been over a week: working away mixing Uncle Gerry's songs..just finished the 3rd mix and I think we have music!
One more good night's sleep and I'll be back to my list;-)
Monday, September 28, 2009
It's funny that no matter how hard I try to 'relax' I always find myself working. Maybe the key is that I find so much of my work enjoyable and more often than not >>relaxing!
So while waiting for a few fiddle tracks for Uncle Gerry's last songs, we're busy working with Josh on the new Rave On website, fighting with the neck on the new Tele, cooking for friends, writing, working on the Christmas album, cleaning up the yard, some amps and generally keeping very busy.
With more time to read and work on gear etc we have made some new finds this week, both are awesome people. The first one is Lana, my cool new friend in Stockholm who shares my love of all things Odd Molly, and the second is Krishna Jain and his blog site:
We highly recommend Krishna and his site, if you need any tips on repairing vintage guitars. He has been great and wrote back to us right away > which gets high points in my book.
Insert Rant here:
(****Note here to anyone who owns a business or is starting a business where you will be interacting with people - it's super easy to set up an email responder - something like 'I have received your email but am swamped I'll get back to you as soon as possible' ...you see, easy like that...people will appreciate it, trust me on that.)
Oh, and a quick word about the new website; watch for gear talk, we'll cover it all from tubes, strings to repairs p/ups, amps and frets ~ we're all about the search for tone. The blog will be moved there, there will be an artist's page, and well you can see from the small picture above a bit about what we'll have going on. We want it to be an interactive and groovy site, so if you have ideas or suggestions, we're happy to hear what they are!
OK going to take pie out of oven and get on Christmas work.
Monday, September 21, 2009
...that I posted it here in its' entirety. He talks about the emotional connection with the fans, and I want to go one step further and say, this is not only a template for marketing, but basically for living life...it's all about emotional connection, and it's not a difficult thing to learn or do, but it is one of the most important things you can ever do - so take it a step further.
Emphasize meaning over price = More paid sales
If you are a performing musician that sells CDs at your shows, please consider this:
Terry McBride of Nettwerk told this story at a recent conference:
A band he was managing (Griffin House) was doing the usual thing of selling CDs for $15. They'd mention it once or twice from the stage, and sell about $300 per night on average.
He asked them to try a completely different approach:
Say to the audience, “It's really important to us that you have our CD. We worked so hard on it and are so proud of it, that we want you to have it, no matter what. Pay what you want, but even if you have no money, please take one tonight.”
Mention this again before the end of the show, adding, “Please, nobody leave here tonight without getting a copy of our CD. We've shared this great show together so it would mean a lot to us if you'd take one.”
It changes the request from a commercial pitch to an emotional connection. (Replace market mindset with social mindset!) Allowing them to get a CD for no money just reinforces that.
Terry said that the band did this for a while, and soon they were selling about $1200 per night on average, even including those people who took it for free! I think the average selling price was about $10.
But the important part came next:
Because every person left each show with a CD, they were more likely to remember who they saw, tell friends about it, listen to it later, and become an even bigger fan afterwards.
Then, when the band came back to a town where they had insisted that everyone take a CD, attendance at those shows doubled! The people that took a CD became long-term fans and brought their friends to future shows.
Want to try it? Document specifics.
So far this is just rough word-of-mouth from Terry, but it seems like it'd work. Anyone want to try it? If so, I'd like to tell your tale here in a future article.
So please log some specifics, before and after.
BEFORE: How many CDs did you sell at your last 5-10 shows? Average the number and price to come up with an average per-night total and average per-CD price.
AFTER: What were those same numbers for the next 5-10 shows using this method?
Also, please note any specific things you did or said that worked exceptionally well, and perhaps any interesting responses you heard back from the audience.
If you're able to note attendance at the same venue for a concert where you did this, then at that same venue afterwards, that's a nice bonus.
Save these specific numbers, and either post them as a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be able to give the venue info, too, because if this goes exceptionally well I'll be contacting the venue for their verification and perspective.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
......and she taught me how to stand up for what I believe in, and how to never give up and how to have a voice in the world. She was one of my heroes and role models....Sadly, sadly missed.
Some of you may know I am stubborn; you can thank Mary for that.
Alex Highton sent me the link to this site:
It looks interesting. I spoke with the Director Mark Meharry and he said he has over 1000 bands worldwide and 70 Canadian bands already hooked up.
Asked Derek S if he had heard of it, but he hadn't, though he agreed it was interesting. They are just in their Beta stage, and Mark said they had some big stuff coming up next year.
Alex is on board, I may check it out and put something up....anyone keen? Happy to hear how it works for you, and if you're one of my guys, let me know if you want to try it out and I'll set up a commercial account.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I came across this list on a new blog site I found today (prosoul.com). Looked interesting.
Fall has come to Vancouver, I think I missed the summer, but I love autumn!
Friday, September 4, 2009
....lost in new websites and Holiday music and art, so am borrowing Brian's post today about making youtube videos.
Melissa has just started her own youtube channel, and we've had great hits, she's even had some of her band members help out!
(www.youtube.com/Themelissaendean).....it's really easy to do and helps people stay involved with your project, whatever it is.
People want to know, they want to see, and they want to feel a part of what you're doing, and if it becomes viral, you're golden!
Ok yes and boycott shark fin soup, and anywhere that serves it please! (sharkwater.com)
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Well it's September 1st Eve and I am finally getting around to Christmas. I feel like I have been away from my Christmas self, but I'm back 100% now and working with Johnny on the new site, getting the music organized, and tonight will try and get the cover art started.
This is going to be an amazing year - Volume 4 - I feel so grateful to be surrounded by all of this talent!
Once again we are welcoming back some old friends, Adrienne Pierce, The Roasted Chestnut Orchestra, and fingers crossed for Richard Klein and Melissa Endean! And we are welcoming many more new friends, Gillian Hobbs, Hilary Grist, Jim Houston and Olga Osipova to name just a few.
And as usual we have our extra special out-of-town guests dropping in, Alex Highton all the way from the UK and extra, extra, super amazing, special guest Tess Dunn from Santa Cruz - how lucky are we!?
So here I go, getting down to it, I am tardy, but all of the musicians have been on time - thank you all - it's going to be brilliant;-)
Friday, August 28, 2009
I love this one I found on Mike's page (http://mikeballantyne.com/). Makes me want to jump up and yell with fists flying>>> 'Yeah bring it on! Frustrating frequency I can't find! Funky neck on the new tele! Old amp sounding weird! Yeah come on, whatelseyagot!?"
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Busy week, even though we're not doing a lot of recording per se, we are working on getting Melissa's cd out to radio etc., finally getting the website done up, the new Christmas site as well, which will lead me right into the Christmas album.
Uhm...what else, working on a few smaller projects that keep falling by the wayside, (but that are no less important to us!), my Uncle Gerry's EP, Richard King's Gospel project 'Burning Soul', and yes, recording scratch tracks for Melissa's next album.
Our 'time off' never really materialized, but we have definitely made some decisions about how we work, and we are trying to make an effort to get to bed before 6am.
Getting some great feedback on Melissa's album (melissaendean.com & myspace.com/melissarendean), and that is a joy.
On another note, I have so many blog ideas to post! While looking at a million websites for ideas, I am coming across all of the blog ideas I have saved up over the last little while. Here is a great one I found on Vanessa's Tinland site (http://tinland.tumblr.com/page/2).
People are so clever and interesting.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We LOVE PS22, and they'll be singing on Melissa's song 'Away' this year, we can't wait!
Please enjoy Elijah, he's the man, and don't forget to watch Sharkwater - it will change you.
Will update with all the news tomorrow.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
When I was a kid, I watched Jaws through my fingers. When I was a teenager I watched Aliens and Amityville through my fingers too, and last night (how many years later?) I watched Sharkwater the same way.
Now, I have seen a lot of stuff in my time, I was a member of Greenpeace and am still a member of Amnesty, but last night, the combination of the viewing horror coupled with the shame I felt for being so blind, was enough to have me up half the night wondering what the heck we could do to make a difference. So here is.
Step one - Tell you.
Watch Sharkwater- Get involved in your world - Don't eat Shark Fin soup
Step two - Hook up with Rob Stewart or Paul Watson - savingsharks.com/
Rave On signed on to do what we can to save sharks. I know you are probably reading that asking yourself ' Save sharks? Give your head a shake Ashton!', but trust me, I'm right about this.
Step three - Possibly a large order here
Try to make sure that Vancouver's Asian community bans, boycotts and blacklists any restaurant or importer of shark fins or prepared shark fin soup. I know there are groups already working on this in Vancouver, so please do your part and if any of you want more information I'm on it. Write your local government check your local Asian food place do what you can. Can we create an embargo? Put on a live music fundraiser? Write me at email@example.com and we'll work on it.
Sometimes I am so disappointed in myself. I fell for it, hook line a sinker as a matter of fact. I fell for the media hype and fear mongering, and I never stopped to ask myself - is it true? I have always been afraid to swim in the ocean, and when I do, I always look for fins, whether I am in Hawaii, the Cooks, Tahiti or just over at Sandy Beach in West Van. I was had.
My wish tonight is that I will no longer hold my hands over my eyes afraid of what I might see.
Be careful with your ocean. Pass it on.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Not sure if any of you read Ariel, but if you don't you should. She's always got something of interest to the up and comer.
Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR
389 12th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
I'm going to copy here, one of her recent articles on Rick Goetz, from: http://musiciancoaching.com. I know it's lazy blogger syndrome again, trust me, it's not that I have nothing to say, it is that I am so swamped with the album and it's vortex that we are barely finding time to eat these days...but this will calm down by next week. (Hadn't I said something about time off!!??).
So here you go, and more soon.
Feature Article: Three ways to Make Money While Making Music
Playing covers, Playing Sessions & Playing Live
Rick Goetz, is a kindred spirit who has just launched a brand new consulting firm for artists called http://musiciancoaching.com Rick, like me, has spent his entire adult life in the music business and he is DEAD ON when he says: It is essential that you spend your time building your own business rather than asking for help from corporations based on your talent alone.
But how do you build your own business and what specifically works? I got Rick to share a few of his best peals of wisdom I asked him to tell me three things that actually can help an artist begin to build revenue: Playing covers, being a hired gun and working harder on your live show and live show promotion.
Selling $.99 singles isn’t the answer. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in today’s marketplace your single is little more than a business card and your album is just a resume. Both are extraordinarily important but both are just a loss leader for your business. Recorded music is now simply a means of promoting your live show and your songwriting and producing skills. For my $.02 the biggest challenge of being in the music business is staying in the music business without starving.
We can all point to an artist who made it big on a single and blew up over night but what about the majority of musicians out there who have been making a living? From what I have seen and experienced the challenge for the working musician just starting out is finding ways of sustaining himself while building his fan base. Complicating matters even more is that usually means finding a gig that has the flexibility that musicians require, the paycheck that covers their basic needs and if at all possible provides something that will help move their dream career forward at the same time. It’s hard as hell...but this is what I’ve seen work.
It’s easier to fill a room playing songs that people already know. I realize many of you are likely wincing at the notion but remember The Beatles started off as a cover band. Do I really have to drop any other names? It’s a great way to keep your chops up and it really does help to gel a band. Further, it gives the members some more time in with each other with more likelihood of playing successful shows earlier in their career. It also levels the playing field when it comes to the writing process in a group dynamic, which can be challenging at times. If you feel like you are selling out, then sell out only until your own work hits its stride. If you want to make a living selling your own songs to people remember this is just a means to make enough money to put towards that dream while improving your showmanship and range of flexibility on your instrument. Once, when playing a wedding gig, I felt pretty dirty when the cry went up for the Macarena and I delivered as requested but the cash I was paid to play weddings kept my band’s rehearsal space paid for that month.
2. Hired Gun
You want to be as great at your instrument as possible so don’t treat your main band like you would your significant other, cheat like a motherf***ker. Play with anyone and everyone who will have you (provided you are able to carve out enough time to give your main project the time and respect it deserves). You want to play music for a living the trick is to start playing as much as possible with as many people as possible. Be it live or studio just get out there and play. Do it for free at first (if you have to) but get that experience and get as many people to see and hear you play. Every performance and every recording is another trail of breadcrumbs that leads people back to you. Write songs with anyone and everyone you know whose writing you respect. Songwriting is a skill that can be developed just like learning guitar. If you are a vocalist consider voiceovers and do background vocals on as many albums as possible even if it means swallowing your pride and playing second fiddle to someone with less talent than you. I will warn anyone considering this route to be wary, as session cats can become very jaded and cold which ultimately does effect your playing. I don’t know how to advise you against this except to always have a goal for yourself beyond the next paid gig. Being a hired gun is a means to get your music where you want it on as close to your terms as you are able to in the present.
3. Live Shows
Hopefully you have enough people coming down to see you live and if this is not the case and you are not getting repeat customers at your gigs you should re-evaluate your show. Look at everything from stage show to songwriting to delivery and ask a cynical friend who has seen you what needs improving. The cynical need no prompting to offer up the awful truth. Be as communicative as you possibly can be with the venue owners where you play even if it is on amateur night. The simple act of introducing yourself and asking how you can help promote your own show with put you in better favor with whoever books the room. Make sure you have some means of collecting email addresses from those who show up and make sure your name is visible on stage (get a banner and hang it up behind you) and you can’t make a banner make sure to say your band name at least a few times during the set.
If you like what Rick has to say I highly suggest that you spend some time on the phone with him…. You will be one step closer to reaching your dreams with a great new team member to help you along.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Well, it's been a long week! The mastering is finished and safely on a courier's truck, artwork is finished and delivered, digi download preview in the process of being tested (thank you to everyone who is participating!) and I am in the process of tying everything together, websites, MySpace pages etc....
It's all very tiring, but has to be done.....so I was VERY thankful to receive an email from Kerry M with links to this program on Bill Evans. Watching it was so interesting and confirming (does that make sense?), that it was like having a cool drink on a hot day.
You don't have to be a jazz cat to understand his concepts, his philosophy is solid and is adaptable to any system or life experience.
I was never a huge fan of Steve Allen, so if you can get through the first half of part 1, you'll do well, and by part 3 you'll be hooked (if you can get around the out-of-sinc audio). Bill is being interviewed by his older brother Harry, so it's nice that they have that connection. (It made us think about other brothers, Stevie and Jimmie Vaughan, Robben and Mark Ford....and the differences between 'talent' and 'genius', and well, it made us think of a lot of other things too).
So thanks Kerry M, for the breath of fresh air....we're nearly done our heaviest work of the year, and now finish it up with a renewed interest.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Just checking out Jason's site and saw this..please spread the word!
(Jason Wilber is one of our guitar players, we share him with John Prine - Melissa's latest album is our 4th project together.)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Made it with 20 minutes to spare before another week went by for the lazy blogger..
We have been really busy mixing Melissa's album and for the past few days, trying to stay cool.
The album has gone to mastering, which although it is also a very intensive process, there are long periods in between phone calls and edits, so there is a small relaxation window as well.
A very busy few days will be coming up with updating websites and MySpace pages, getting the album cover finished as well as the pre-order ready to go. It's all a bit of a balancing and juggling act...but it is also the exciting part, full of anticipation, hope and a lot of dreaming!
It's also going to stay hot I've read, thank goodness we bought the last paddle pool the hardware store had. It eases my mind considerably to know Buster is comfortable.
On another random note: In my spare moments now, I have been trying to catch up on my reading etc and last night I listened to a pod-cast interview with Jeremiah Owyang (www.web-strategist.com). He was talking about the new social media and how it will effect marketing. He was mentioning that many sites now have places where the consumer can log on and comment and drive sales (or not!)...and how that actually effects advertising. It made me start thinking about how it's true, people today want information, not a sales 'pitch', that's how social media works.
A very important point for anyone trying to sell anything.
Ok that's me over and out, I have promised myself to actually do a #FollowFriday this week...more very soon with lots of album updates...and you can hear more from Melissa herself at: http://www.youtube.com/TheMelissaEndean
Stay cool out there and remember a general rule of thumb is that you should be drinking half your body wght in ounces (of water!!) every day, and that thirst is not an indicator of dehydration - wght loss is!
There, knew I went to that fancy school for something....
(Photo courtesy Patrick Wong)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Mixing can be hard on your ears without a break and a bit of a change up...so it's perfect timing that the wonderful Richard King is coming over tonight for a bit of a jam. Rich's style of music, Georgia-by-way-of-Santa-Cruz-blues always gets us sorted and back on track. We're so fortunate to know this musical legend (he would laugh if he read that), and I always try and record his visits with audio or video...I'll post something up soon...just so you can have your own taste.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Days like this are required once in a while....reading, eating, laughing,(minimal work - I only sent out 4 emails!) and remembering favorite songs...
We were remembering a song we use to listen to a lot 'Mo' Better Blues', and were going to download it with one of our free iTunes credits. I looked for it, and oddly enough it is not on the soundtrack album??huh?
But a great thing happened instead I found a version that was so amazing to me, I stopped dead in my tracks. Ok, high drama- (What do you expect I've had my nose in a book all day and I'm all cracked up on oatmeal cookies) - but seriously, these guys are so cool: SOIL & “PIMP” SESSIONS, a wild jazz sextet from Japan.
Their version of Mo' is so cool, I mean, I have no words for how cool this song has become in their hands, it's seriously chilly, I mean get a sweater!
(I could only find the live version of their 'maxi' single (our version of a 3 song EP), but the studio version is on 'Pimp Master').
It looks like they're probably well known in the UK, but I have never had a sniff of them over here until today.
They are described as 'death jazz', but I would have to disagree, because this find brought me back to life today.
Monday, July 13, 2009
We have been throwing around so many ideas for Melissa's album cover but have still not nailed it...do you, your 3 year old, your guide troop, choir or studio cat have an idea, suggestion or cunning bit of art? Let us know!
You can post it up here as a comment:
or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to hearing from you!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Well, yes, the lazy blogger has had a wake up call. Thomas told me about Google Analytics and now that I actually know how many of you read this blog, I am determined to get back into a regular groove!
So, I'll start with an update....
We've finished tracking for Bobby Richards' solo project and are working on the last few of Melissa's tunes. We're doing guitar here and Jerry Cook and Terry Townson are tracking horn's at Terry's place next Friday - I can't wait to hear! I had the sound in my head of an old SNL band horn section for the song 'Evolve', and Jerry grabbed onto that vibe right away, so I'm really excited, especially since we get to add Terry to our amazing team!
Alex's (myspace.com/alexhighton) Cd has gone to manufacture and this week I am sending out the advanced copies to radio etc. I hope he's having a great vacation in Italy!
The RoadShow is doing well and I am still looking for more facilities and hospitals, need to get on that.
Melissa has a photo shoot on the 25th. We have had some interesting ideas for the album cover so we're going to see if we can make it work, and would also like to update the website and make it more interactive. I just love what Imogene is doing with her Vlog as well, so Melissa has begun her own - check it out: http://www.youtube.com/TheMelissaEndean, I'll see if she can post something up just for you!
Hummm, let's see...Buster is well and making great friends on Twitter! I'm nearly finished reading Dove (Thanks Paul Laine), by Robin Lee Graham, that plus the amazing weather we're having really makes me want to sail.
Ok music, yes, after Melissa's album we'll take a few months off...unheard of! I need to finish book and get Christmas album organized, and we'll know near the end of Aug if we'll have a film project....hey wait did I say time off? Not sure why my list is growing....
Anyway, blathering on here..also wanted to link you to this interesting take on the United Airlines/Taylor Guitar story: He's tied it in nicely with the way one needs to work in the music industry and really any area these days, make it about the fans, your people!
Ok and please, if you can, mark Olga's show on your calendar, it's her Vancouver debut and it's going to light the place up!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Well Meat Free Monday is not about music per se, but it was started by the McCartneys and we are trying to follow it...(although it seems more like we end up having a meat free Wed/Thursdays for some reason...)..it just makes so much sense, and not really wanting to go all the way with no meat, I am a carnivore through and through, I feel that we are helping and doing our part.
Please check it out and join in: www.supportmfm.org
On another happy note, the lovely Dave Hopia (who I believe is a herbivore!) is ready and set to perform some awesome Paul McCartney (and Wings!) just for you, so please check him out at: http://www.hopiamusicstudio.com
Have a great week everyone!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We have in our possession OGWT - 1971-77 (After that I heard it was tosh). It's so different from Midnight Special, Graemme says it's because in the UK they used PAL. It just looks and sounds so much better. They know their music over there.
I love these old music shows, I can't get enough - lip sinc-ing and all.
I couldn't decide which was my favorite clip to post, but this would be it for me tonight. Wow, would you look at those guys? Who says you have to take your clothes off to be hot? Apparently you just need to be in love.
It's been a long, long day.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I have come across some great stuff this week. Here it is, short and sweet:
1) Brian had a great blog about the 'Online, Artist Report Card'. This was a good eye opener and a good general checklist to keep you focused when you are are starting out and as a check in later on.
2) I found another cool site MTT that seems to have some interesting bits of information, like this article about booking agents:
3) And one more quickly to watch, a video about Pandora. Of course, we can't use it in Canada, but the conversations are interesting and the advice is good at the end.
Melissa and I were talking about it tonight, about how even though you can be a 'solo' artist, it's difficult make it solely on your own. It really takes a team, it makes it a lot easier and way more fun. She even says, wise person that she is:
"I think it's so unfair the artist gets the biggest piece of the pie...it's a team effort...we all make each other stronger...I think anyways./ The artist doesn't have to negate business or his art, s/he can focus on music, but get a team together, like we've got, and it's all part of the machine. No one part any less important than the others. "
Have a great week everyone!
(Art by Melissa Endean)
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Some friends have been asking about the value of Twitter. Having never had a Facebook page I cannot tell you the differences but I can give you some information about Twitter and speaking from experience, it works.
You will hear my example in the very near future.
First of all a great quote from Tom Ziglar:
"This quote really sums up my Twitter strategy, and it should be yours as well. Make your Tweets positive and supportive. Give valuable information. Build trust. Listen and respond to those in need. If you do, others will pass on your Tweets and people will find out about what you have to offer."
(Read more here: http://tomziglar.com/2009/02/22/ziglar-twitter-strategy/)
I believe this specific form of social media is about making connections and staying right on top of things - it is literally the news as it happens. It is fast paced and does require effort and time, but it is well worth it.
I have seen some people using it as just another event posting forum, but it's much more than that.
I found this presentation as well (see above), and it explains some simple strategy that can be carried over into many different forums. It is well worth the 51 clicks.
It's funny you know, it has actually presented somewhat of an even playing field for everyone. You don't consider race, education, background, wealth, celebrity, religion, age when you are on twitter (unless that is what you are looking for), it's just people doing people things and sharing. So although we are not connecting with our physical neighbors as much any more, at least we are still connecting.