In the old days, consumers of music were able to flip through liner notes of an album in order to ascertain precisely who was behind their favorite tracks. Now, after a digital hiatus, new technology could once again make this information, plus more, easily accessible once again.


Until about fifteen years ago, it was fairly easy to tell who had produced, recorded, and mastered an album — just flip through the gatefold or booklet and you’d be able to find all the information you needed. Granted, not all that many fans took this step, but plenty of artists found the producer who changed their careers or the recording engineer who defined their sound through this old-school method. Since the rise of digital distribution, this information has been harder to come by — and while in some cases it can be found on artist websites or Wikipedia pages, it’s often nearly impossible to track down.

That’s a shame, because making that information readily available to the public is vitally important for the creatives who shape albums behind the scenes. Sure, those producers and engineers, as well as the studio musicians, are still getting paid for their time, but they’re missing out on the recognition they deserve. Not only that, the lack of a public record makes it harder for them to build careers and connect with other artists – some recording engineers have made the jump to LinkedIn to share the projects they’ve worked on, but it’s by no means standard practice.

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“Much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect”

New technology that allows users to see all this information has the power to change this. Not only can it make this data more widely available to fans and other artists, but it can also help keep track of items that the old liner notes of yore could only imagine. For instance, there are programs that allow data about recording and production to be entered and uploaded to a database directly from the studio, potentially averting conflicts over royalty splits and disagreements over who exactly did that behind the console.

Cleaner production data will also help those producers and studio musicians get paid on time, no small matter in an era when studios are closing their doors and musicians are having a hard time making ends meet. While so much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect, better information about everyone who was involved with a piece of music means that they can all share in the spoils of success, and no one is left out due to a missing piece of data.

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Creating A System That Works

The first part of making all this happen is creating a system that works for everyone and ensures a clean flow of information into the database. Once something is in place that can be widely used, then it’s up to the artists and producers to make sure everything is entered correctly so the right people can be credited. It’s not a foolproof system and never can be — there will always be disagreements over creative vision or hazy late nights that lead to data never making it into the system. But as long as there is something good in place that has buy-in from everyone, from engineers to artists to labels to streaming services, that’s a great start. Future generations might never know how much fun it was to flip through a booklet and decode liner notes, but they’ll at least have complete access to the information about the people who made the music happen.

musicIn creating an effective music marketing plan, so far we have discussed building a solid and complete online foundation and outlined strategies for a successful new release launch. Now it is time to kick back and relax for a little while before starting to write material for the next album that you’ll release a year or two down the road right…..Couldn’t be further from the truth!

To build off of all the progress you’ve been making up to this point, while you are working on that next record, you will have to keep supplying content on a consistent basis to strengthen your relationship and stay relevant with your current fans, and at the same time this content will also help to increase your fanbase.

Additional merchandise is one content idea, you can make vinyl for the last album or announce a new T-shirt design. Continue to release music videos for songs off the last album is another, for example take footage from the album release tour and edit to create an easy and fun music video to upload to your YouTube channel.

In the final post of this series I will discuss the three crucial content streams of Music, Social Media and Performing Live.

MUSIC

Gone are the days of releasing an album once every couple of years and leaving it at that, today’s artists need to be constantly feeding their fanbase new music. Releasing singles will keep people engaged while they are waiting on a full length, but you’re not limited to just releasing original new works.

Create alternate versions of your studio tracks:

Get a DJ to remix one of your songs. Not saying this has to be a famous DJ, just someone who knows the technology and is Sparlers Notescreative. If you’re interested in holding a remix contest should contact the folks over at Indaba Music, they put together some great remix campaigns for artists. Unless you’re already an acoustic act, take a page from Nirvana and release an album of stripped down “unplugged” versions of your studio tracks. A great way to show a different side of the band and appeal to potentially new listeners. Lastly release a live album, preferably from the CD release show, but any show will work as long as the audio is of top quality.

Record cover songs:

Music fans love covers. Recording cover songs is a great strategy for gaining awareness for new artists and providing fun content to share with your fans. Cover artists that inspire the music that you make and bigger name similar sounding artists to further entrench yourself within your genre. But also look outside of your genre as you never know, might end up tapping in to a whole new fanbase. This is exactly what the pianist Scott D. Davis did when he decided to combine his love of heavy metal with the beautiful piano pieces he was recording. The result was millions of youtube hits for his metal covers and new fans out of the heavy metal community, even of the artists themselves; Scott has been invited to open for Godsmack, Korn, P.O.D., Sevendust, Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe and Queensrÿche among others.

*Please note, to legally sell a cover song you will need to obtain and pay for a mechanical license. Harry Fox Agency is the foremost mechanical licensing agency in the US. Or work with Limelight who will get the license for a small fee per song on top of the mechanical license fee.

SOCIAL MEDIA, NEWSLETTER, BLOG Social MediaReal simple here, keep doing it. Just because you may not have a big ticket item like a new album that doesn’t mean you should stop communicating with your fans on a regular basis. You should be updating daily to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Newsletters should still be going out once a month and keep your blog active with a couple new entries per month. In addition to all the content ideas I’ve gone over in this blog post thus far that you can share, post about things happening in your personal life, such as a vacation you just went on or a great movie you recently saw. Repost interesting articles you’ve just read or a post song from a band you recently discovered that you love. News, politics, sports, parenting, art and fashion all make good topics for people to engage and connect around. Now that you have continued to stay present with fans, you’ll have a stronger and larger online audience when you’re ready to release the next album.

PERFORMING LIVE

Continue to tour, hitting the same markets that you played while supporting the new album to build on the momentum that has been made. There are undoubtedly limitations though on how often you can tour and you more than likely won’t be able to tour to every market where there are fans. Live streaming is a great solution to these limitations and if you use a platform like Stageit or Concert Window you will also be able to monetize these performances. There are also some great features that they offer to reward supporters and create tip rewards for an enhanced and more financial rewarding experience. Then spread the word by making a Facebook invite with all the details and sending to your fans, posting on twitter and letting everyone on your mailing list know.

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Keeping the shows fresh and different will help with increasing viewership from show-to-show:

Play a game at some point during the performance using the live streaming platforms chat feature, a fun way to interact with the viewers. Trivia would be a very easy game to execute, where people could win merch or any other prizes that you can get your hands on for being the first to answer the question correctly. Learn a new cover song for each performance, or better yet, ask people what covers you should play for the next live streaming show. Post the question to Facebook as well and the song suggestion that gets the most likes will be the one(s) you cover. Invite a guest performer to join you, a great way to add a new element to the live stream, while cross promoting to each others fans at the same time.

LEADING UP TO THE NEXT RELEASE TAKE PEOPLE ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU

People like to follow along to real life stories that are interesting and different from their own lives, hence the popularity of realityStart TV. Used by an artist around a specific story, such as the making of a new album, is a great way to form a stronger bond with your current fans. The types of content that you could be sending are updates on how the recording is going using text posts, videos and pics via your social media channels, blog and newsletter. But also engage with your following on things like artwork and song titles by polling your fans and holding contests to select what cover or title to go with. The goal of all this activity is to get people excited so they are telling their friends about the upcoming release and will buy it the minute it’s available!

Register Your Business Name
Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.

This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.

What is a “Doing Business As” Name?

A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

It’s important to note that when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business, unless you choose to rename it and register it as a DBA name.

For example, consider this scenario: John Smith sets up a painting business. Rather than operate under his own name, John instead chooses to name his business: “John Smith Painting”. This name is considered an assumed name and John will need to register it with the appropriate local government agency.

The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.

Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?

A DBA is needed in the following scenarios:

Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a DBA.
Note: Not all states require the registering of fictitious business names or DBAs.

How to Register your “Doing Business As” Name

Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located. There are a few states that do not require the registering of fictitious business names.

Advocacy_EmailHeader_FINAL1. The Standing-Out Strategy

The first thing that jumps to mind for most musicians when they think promotion is to get their album reviewed by a music publication and played on the radio. You don’t have to start there. Publications and media that cater solely to music are probably the hardest place to get your music noticed. Plus, they won’t write about you or play your music until there’s something interesting to find when they do a search on your name – which is the first thing they’ll do. The competition for attention in music publications and sites is overwhelming. For instance, National Public Radio’s “All Songs Considered” receives 200 to 300 CDs a week. Out of that, only eight get featured – and those are sandwiched in between other songs, and played just once. The same is true with music reviews. Although they are good for getting quotes for your press kit, it probably won’t get you many new fans, since it’s just one music review in a pile of music reviews. Instead of focusing on music publications and media, think in terms of audiences. Put your music where it will stand out from the crowd. Consider one of the biggest sellers in the early days of CD Baby: an album about sailing. Instead of following the crowd and sending the album to a music magazine, the band instead cleverly sent their album to a sailing magazine. The sailing magazine, which wasn’t used to receiving music, much less an entire album dedicated to exactly what the magazine was about, ended up reviewing the CD. The band’s CD didn’t have to compete against stacks and stacks of other CDs to get noticed. And because the magazine had a large audience and the CD got a great review, sales shot through the roof. The great thing about the standing-out strategy is there is room for everyone. While your music has a style or genre, just targeting the people that like that kind of music represents only one, highly competitive channel for your music. By putting your music where there usually isn’t any, you can get noticed.

2. The Piggybacking Strategy

The quickest way to get the word out there is to piggyback on something that people already know about. One of the best known forms of piggybacking is listing out the bands you sound like on your website, CD Baby page, and press correspondences. This gives new listeners a clue as to what to expect by drawing on what they already know. Of course, another popular piggybacking tactic is to cover a well-known song. Often, these covers become your initial best-sellers. But they also act as a gateway. If listeners like your version, they’ll likely check out your original material. But piggybacking on other bands or cover songs isn’t the only way to employ this technique: you can piggyback on anything that already has an audience. When a topic is hot, a large number of people will be searching for information about it.

3. The Agent Strategy

Most bands start out promoting and representing themselves because they start out small. But it’s human nature to take an artist more seriously when someone else promotes or acts on their behalf. In fact, it’s been shown to be true in various psychological and sociological studies. Even if you’re just starting out, find someone to represent you and you might just have more successes. It doesn’t have to be a professional – it can even be a friend of family member. Having an agent is even more useful during negotiations, because they can be as tough as you want them to be. If you negotiate for yourself and you give the other side a particularly hard time, they might start to dislike you, rather than your agent.

4. The Multitasking Strategy

The musicians that have the most success don’t just rely on one project for their income. Most of them work on many things beyond playing live, selling albums, and selling merchandise. For instance: • Guapo by day works in a management position for a well know promotions company, by night he’s either on stage preforming as the artist he is, or managing his long time hit maker Deonte’Noah GZ is known for brining the hottest artist’ in town and throwing the livest venue concerts. But ask the next person in line and their jamming his newest single on their ipod  • Drumma Boy platinum producer for some of the largest names in the urban music Industry. Drumma Boy also has Drum Squad DJ’s, an urban music DJ coalition with DJs in every state in the US.  Drumma Boy has an alter ego as well, goes by the name of D Boy Fresh, thats right…an artist himself.

5. The Long-Haul Strategy

While major labels had to focus on making one-hit-wonders because of their business model, that was never the best situation for the musician. Furthermore, it’s not even similar to the way that most businesses work – they build their name over the long term, and eventually get consistent income over time. A musician looking to make money with music is no different.

Marketing

If you’re running an Indie record label or production company and you don’t have a marketing plan or budget, then you’re playing yourself. Even Funeral Homes Advertise. (Think About That For A Moment.) So what makes you think that artists and producers shouldn’t have a marketing plan and budget .

Every successful company invests in Marketing and Promotion. FACT! The purpose of having a Marketing strategy is to enhance “the price of your commodity ” in the marketplace.

Your mission is to capitalize on the growing music market across the world through the production and promotion of high quality entertainment.

In order to be effective in selling your product or service you have to know the difference between marketing and promotion. Marketing is your over all strategy. Promotion involves the implementation of selling points to be executed to fulfill your strategy.

Marketing is about engaging and connecting with your target base. Marketing involves building trust. Promotion is about Getting them to Act. An effective Marketing strategy incorporates a promotional agenda that taps into the various targeted revenue streams to generate a potential R.O.I

Promotional implementation is a business marketing strategy designed to stimulate a customer to take action towards a buying decision.

A Marketing Plan involves the following Promotional tactics: Budget, Sales projections, Demographics, Geographics , Psychographics , Branding, Advertising Mediums ( TV, radio, Internet, print), Public Relations, Products, Timeline of execution of the campaign , USP(Unique Selling Proposition), SWAT Analysis, Economic trends, roles of management, mission and goals.

Look to capture a certain percentage of the market place. Know your lane and target market and analyze your competition and make a better product. No matter how good your music is, you must create and steadily increase consumer demand for it in order to continue to prosper.

Who is your target market? In order to market your music, it is imperative that you tailor your marketing and sales efforts to specifically reach the segment of the population that will most likely buy your music. It is critical that you first determine or clearly identify your primary market. Your energies and funds then can be spent more efficiently.

Sometimes you can be more successful by catering to a niche market instead of trying to sell your brand to the masses. You must have a firm grasp on what your music is about. And you must be able to define it clearly. Being a generic Rock, Pop or Hip-Hop act won’t cut it. Dig deeper and discover your unique identity. You have to determine what is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What is it about you or your music that separates you from the competition?

Most unsigned artists just want to perform and nothing else. They give little thought to any other marketing strategy or career enhancement. Many Producers don’t get placements because they don’t market themselves well, they don’t network and they don’t take meetings. They do a few beat battles, pass out a few beat CD’s and call it a day.

Some artists spend hundreds of dollars on studio time to create an album, but will not allocate a dime to a marketing budget to promote it. Performing in showcases only and sending out a bulletin on Twitter or Facebook twice a week about your album or mixtape is not an effective marketing plan. An effective Marketing strategy incorporates a promotional agenda that taps into the various targeted revenue streams to generate a potential Return On Investment.

An Effective Music Marketing Plan includes: Press/Publicity, Radio Promo, Video Promo, E-Blast Implementation, Shows/Tours, Online Promo, Press Releases & Street Team/Club Promo

Activate grassroots marketing initiatives that spur word of mouth buzz. Target schools, studios, clubs, barbershops etc. Develop relationships with music/lifestyle retailers and outlets. Increase your fan base on college campuses and the surrounding community.

Attract fans by executing strategic campaigns with sales driven initiatives that enhance the overall goal of increased visibility and ROI. An Intense, calculated and relentless promotional campaign will enable your label to earn revenues and capture a larger percentage of the market

Moreover, Merchandising is an essential element to any successful marketing plan. The biggest mistake an artist could make after playing a great show is to have nothing of any interest for sale immediately afterwards.

In order to create hype around your release develop a contest. Do give aways. Interact with your fans and make them part of the experience. “Gimmicks” can work for a short term. But don’t revolve your entire marketing approach around a gimmick..

It’s imperative for indie artists to compile a comprehensive email database of fans, supporters and affiliates for E-blast marketing purposes. Indie Artists should send out a bi-weekly Newsletter informing their fans of new releases, upcoming shows, merchandise for sale and give aways.

And remember this important marketing tip: People don’t buy products; they buy the feeling, the benefits and the solutions they believe the products provide. Take Note! Hence, artists you must understand that your Fans don’t just buy your music, they buy your Lifestyle, your Brand and your Movement as well.

So, Don’t Freestyle Your Marketing Efforts! Have a specific strategy and plan of attack. “Marketing With A Mission” Is The Key to A Successful Campaign.

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Branding

In terms of Branding you must articulate the following: Who you are. What you Do. And What is your distinct Identity.

The “music business” has been transformed into a “Multimedia and Branding business” where the music, the songs & artists are the drivers. You’re in the business of “YOU”. You’re a brand and how you manage your brand is important. How’s your customer service? Your marketing? etc.

Nowadays it’s no longer just about selling CD’s; It’s about brand development and selling “Content” and conveying the mission of your movement. Get the price of your commodity up by matching your band with other top level brands in the marketplace. Enhance your visibility and presence.

As an indie artist or producer, one of the best ways to expand your brand is to partner with a Non-Profit organization for a worthy cause. Strategic Branding Plus Positioning Equals Increased Sales & Greater Market Share! An effective marketing plan gives you a competitive edge.

The value of a brand resides, for the audience, in the hope that the product or service will deliver what it promises. The term “Goodwill” reflects the “prudent value” of a label or firm beyond its assets, such as the reputation it enjoys with its clients or fans. Are you “Goodwill Hunting?”

Your brand is what your company stands for and what it’s known for. If you can’t define your brand, your customers won’t be able to either. The key to building a music brand revolves around the fact that as an artist you have to be able to convey your story and the philosophy behind your music. Let your fans take a journey into your world.

Your fans must either want to be you or believe you. You must know your target market and your music has to resonate with them.

Nielsen estimates that “by the end of 2011, [there were] 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006.”

Let that sink in for a moment…

Now, ask yourself, how many of those blogs are producing hits?

I’m talking about the kind of stuff viral dreams are made of – shares, links, comments, buzz, traffic, massive subscription lists, sales, etc.

The answer? Very few.

Now ask yourself this: How many think theirs has hit potential?

The answer? All of them!

And many are trying to create an online brand. But not everyone has what it takes to create a hit industry blog, which is why you only have a few breakout stars in each industry. And if you’re using your company blog or website to build an influential brand, this is what you are up against.

Sound impossible? It’s not.

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I put in a lot of hard work around a simple brand concept I call “The A & R Perspective”.

The A & R Man Said, “I Don’t Hear a Single”

I’ll get to the details in a moment, but first a quick marketing lesson about the music industry.

In a nutshell, here’s what record labels are looking for:

A talented artist and a hit single.

The talented singer part is probably no shock to you, but why a hit single? Because that’s what leads to multi-platinum album sales, sold out concerts, and legions of fans buying merchandise.

In other words, a musician doesn’t have a brand until they have a hit.

So, the record companies create A&R (Artist and Repertoire) departments and hire executives to scout new talent and hit songs. These people have a pretty sweet job. But don’t be fooled, scouting isn’t easy.

Why? Because every artist thinks they’ve got the “it factor” and the next smash song. And 99% of them don’t. (Hmm… sound familiar?)

So, what does an A & R executive look for?

Oh, they’re just looking for talent and:

Buzz factor, a strong work ethic, an established fan base, strong web presence, a proven ability to sell songs, someone who isn’t overwhelmed with other commitments or debt, someone that is compatible with recent trends, and strongly positioned with a fresh image, look, and sound.

You didn’t think they just want talent, did you?

So how does this lesson apply to you and your business?

• YOUR ENEMY IS BEING UNKNOWN…..NOT PIRACY

Stop holding your music back and promote it everywhere. Your main goal is to get noticed and get people talking about you. How can you turn online viewers/listeners into fans? Target different promotional outlets to help spread your music, videos and images. Everyone is connected, thanks to the internet and mobile devices, use that to your advantage. Remember, people are more likely to listen to your songs if they hear it from a friend.

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• POWER TO THE PEOPLE
If you have a viral hit on your hands, the people will show you with more views, more hits, more downloads. Music consumers have more options of what they want to hear, when they want to hear it and how they want listen to it than ever before. If your video, your music or photos doesn’t keep their attention they will click elsewhere. How can you keep their attention? Consumers have the power.

• ENTERTAIN YOUR CROWD
Social networking, communicating and updating your website should be priorities. People want instant updated information about you at their fingertips. Interesting content is needed like videos, photos, and music. Your fans should be pushed to share your music with their friends. Understand that it is your job to get people interested about your career.

• FIND YOUR AUDIENCE
Narrowing down your target audience will give you more open ears and help you from throwing money away. Online statistics help you learn the gender, age, amount of hits you are getting. Once you find your group promote to them. Study your target audience’s habits. What do they listen to? Who do they follow? What are they talking about?

• LEARNING THE OUTLETS & HOW TO USE THEM
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and the list goes on. It may seem overwhelming but you should have a presence on any website that benefits your promotions. Learn about which websites, blogs or people that your audience follows so you can work with them.

Social media is a complicated path to navigate. Consumers have more ways than ever to discover and purchase new products. Since I work primarily in the music industry, this is an issue that can’t be ignored as we mull over how to engage and expose artists to consumers. The traditional mediums of music video channels, radio promotions, print, television, and big media buys are slow and archaic when compared to the current age of algorithm data and social networks. This infograph shines some light on just how murky the social media channels can be.

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How do you reach an audience that has scattered, like a group of kids who have shattered a shop window while playing baseball on the street, into an insurmountable number of specialized niches? Whether it’s Tumblr, the nostalgic simulation of Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter, there is a flavor for everyone’s social taste. Major labels are struggling to stay afloat in this ocean of innovation, employing companies like us to make sense of this fragmented world.

There is no harm in sharing the tools that we use, because in a few months the whole set might look completely different. New companies emerge over night with explosive rounds of funding, but that’s not enough to guarantee success as well known digital platform companies have crashed even after accruing massive user bases.

“Here today gone tomorrow.” Welcome to the digital age.