The RightOutTV Ripple - Being a creative artist and entrepreneur in this DIY market
They say that the touring indie musician is a dying breed. Not enough venues, too far apart, very little money. In most places, touring is really only feasible during the summer anyway, so why not tighten up your touring time. Shrink it, let's say June to August and spend the rest of the year working on your internet exposure and finding other ways to get your music heard and maybe make some money.
If you've got a good library of recorded songs, check into getting them into film and television. Taxi.com is a good site for connecting you with music libraries, A&R people looking for new acts and music supervisors looking for music for current projects. When possible, you will also get constructive feedback on what you could do to get more forwards to the ears that count.
CD Baby is currently advertising a service called MusicXray although I haven't tried it yet, it looks like it could be good. The point is, it's not easy to make a great living only playing live so why not spend the other 9 months out of the year, exploring opportunities that may take some time now, but could pay off big down the road. Most listings on Taxi.com call for submitted songs to be broadcast quality which can mean simple, clean home recordings. You can do these on anything from Garage Band to ProTools and Logic. In fact whatever you've got at home, if its been good enough for your CD's, chances are it's good enough for film and TV.
Most of what they are looking for is a universal lyric with no dates, places or peoples names. More general lyrics with not too much detail that can interfere with a storyline. Often the less production the better...you and a guitar, ukelele, sitar, whatever, it's about creating a mood, emotion or atmosphere for a scene. You also need to own 100% of the copyrights to your songs. Pay attention to the songs underscoring the shows and movies you watch, think you can do just as well? I'll bet you can too!
Do you spend time worrying about how you could look or sound like another artist that you think is cool? How you could fit in a little more to the mainstream? Maybe if you just added the same cover song to your original set, that you saw someone else do, that really went over well....maybe then you'd get noticed?
We've all had these thoughts fly through our brain at some point but hopefully they flew out just as fast. You've heard this before, but we wanted to remind you that what makes you uniquely you is always the thing that will endear your audience to you and get you attention. Not how much you remind them of Lady Gaga, Maroon 5 or LMFAO.
What is your true nature? How do you love to dress? Are you androgynous? Butch? Flaming? Wild? Dorky? Whatever it is, embrace it to build your image. Take what feels right and comfortable, then take it one step further...maybe two...you are on stage after all. Would you really like to shave your head, wear your big black reading glasses or do you have a passion for odd hats or feathers? Maybe you'd just like to take your dog on stage with you.
Build your website, fonts, colors, photo shoots all around this image. You will evolve as an artist and you can change this image when you have changed but let this current brand of you be, 'full on' the you that you are right now. Let others see you and think, "OMG they are so cool, maybe I should be more like them?"
If you can fill a room or bring in a large crowd to a festival to see you then of course an event coordinator will want to hire you to perform. However, if they do and find you difficult or inflexible, it may be the last time you grace that particular stage.
The bottom line is that people want to hire artists that they like and know they can count on.
If you show up late for your backstage call or arrive slightly drunk or stoned... baby you are toast. As indie artists, we have to be 'more pro than the pros' to build trust and carve a great reputation for ourselves. Do want you want on your off time but when you arrive for your show, be at your best, well rehearsed, image thought out, on time or even early and be respectful to everyone involved... particularly the sound crew. Get to know your technicians' names so that if you need to get their attention over the mic, you aren't yelling "Hey dude behind the board, I can't hear myself!"
Festivals in particular can have last minute schedule changes and although it's important not to let anyone mistreat you, you need to keep an open mind and go with the flow when it comes to dealing with the unexpected. I have heard many horror stories about high and mid level artists whose behavior resembled that of a spoiled two year old and although they certainly would have pulled in a crowd, you won't hear the organizer say, "I can't wait to have them back!"
If you spend any time reading marketing books and blogs you will have noticed that the whole way we're supposed to promote ourselves has changed. Drastically!
Some basics still exist, people need to know you, like you and trust you before they will be interested in buying from you or helping you.
Marketing is all about building relationships. Not just fake, "I'll be nice to you so I can get what I want from you" kind of relationships but sincere, taking an interest in others,supporting them, giving them helpful information...sharing the love so to speak.
We're building a relationship with you now. We're happy to share information we've learned in hopes that you will find it useful, trust that our intentions are good (which of course they are) and we give you this "cleanly" without an expectation of getting something from you in return.
Now you see what happens is that you remember it was us who gave you this information and now you might have some trust for us as a result and sometime in the future, you might see another blog we've written, and you might think, "Hey my friend could use this info" so you share it. Now that wasn't our expectation but it sure was nice of you. Now, if we see your share/tweet/comment we'll make sure we let you know how grateful we are for your support. That's it...we are building a marketing relationship.
The days of artists staying separate and aloof from their fans and media contacts, are over. As they need to know you and like you, get making your vlogs, blogs, behind the scenes clips, tweets, facebook...they want to see the real you. Why do you think reality TV is so big right now? We all crave connection.
You want a blogger to notice you and write about you? Go onto their site and give them some positive comments on the content you like. The last thing you want to do is lead with "Hey would you like to know about ME?!"
As artists we are not entitled to people supporting us so when they do, it's a gift. So give it back, because kindness is still the cornerstone of every great relationship.
Your stage introduction is one of the most important aspects of your show. It gives the audience a sense of who you are and what you've accomplished. It can set you up for instant respect from a crowd and an expectation that something special is about to happen.
If you went to a party and a friend came over to you and said "I want you to meet this woman, she was the head of a major label and has launched hundreds of careers," your perception and interest in this person would be totally different that if you just ran into her at the punchbowl without knowing any of her background.
When you are set to perform in a show especially when there are multiple performers, send in an introduction that you have written to be forwarded to the MC or host of that event. Save them the time of going onto your website and looking up something to say about you.
Make it no longer than about 95 words and give your career highlights, awards won, well known artists you may have opened for or worked with, big gigs you've done, get creative...even make it funny if you can.
Now here's the best advice, take a copy of that intro and print it in big font, at least 22 (so it can be read without using glasses) and keep it in your pocket to hand to the MC at the event about 30 min before your set time. You want to give them enough time to look it over but not enough time to lose it. If they already have it, fantastic! If not, they will be grateful.
Take this responsibility on and control how you are presented. It's too important to leave it to very busy event coordinators.
If you are doing more laid back acoustic gigs, why not write something up and get a friend or room manager to read it before you start? You will still need to deliver a great show of course, but you'll be miles ahead with an audience who hears your first song knowing that you've done some amazing things and deserve their full attention.
The world is moving so much faster than it was and there an expectation that business emails are replied to promptly.
If you are self managed it is key that you have access to and are managing your business email even when you are on the road. We're not unrealistic - take a vacation when you need it and turn off your devices but the rest of the time you need to be on top of things.
If you travel a lot, look into a phone with a good data plan or get yourself a small laptop. These shouldn't be treated as luxuries that you purchase only when you have extra money. Keeping in touch is essential and investing in your career is what serious artists do.
Great opportunities often come with a quick deadline and it's a 'snooze you lose situation' in this business. Artists who get back to us fast and meet deadlines are much more likely to be at the top of our opportunity list next time.
This is one of the hardest things not to do. Many of us by nature, are sensitive and yes...sometimes we're even a little insecure so when someone doesn't get back to us right away or hasn't picked us for something we feel we should have been offered, we can assume all sorts of really nasty things, about them, about ourselves, most of which are very far from the truth. It's important to always take a deep breath and remember that EVERYONE is busy and your email can be sitting at number 75 of 150 that came in today. Sometimes that big gig or opportunity simply wasn't meant for us right now. Perhaps we needed to be freed up to accept a better offer that's on its way. Whether or not it's easy for us look at things this way, isn't it a whole lot better than stewing, stressing or sticking pins into a doll that looks just like that guy who said he was going to get you to open up for the Black Eyed Peas?