Often those of us in the business in any capacity have the opportunity to work with very successful artists or entertainers and those that are still trying to get there. Of course this applies to any type of successful business or entrepreneur but we are talking entertainment here so let’s leave it at that. We get to see and observe things that those that make it do and those that can’t seem to get any traction don’t do. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I am sure that there are many things that won’t be listed this blog but here are some things I want to point out to help make it easier for all who read this to hopefully put into action to make everyone’s job easier and make teams stronger and easier to work with.
Successful entertainers surround themselves with positive people and then they take care of them. They don’t look to get them to work as hard as possible for as little as possible. They reward them for their hard work. Any business owner knows you pay your people who are working to make you a success first not the other way around. They don’t bring people on board and then sit there waiting for something to happen. They bring people on board and keep busting their ass to give those people something to work with. They keep working as hard as possible to be able to create the opportunities to make things happen. They listen to advice and feedback from their team and those that the team interacts with and makes changes as needed. They don’t make excuses or avoid making the hard decisions for change. Whether it be personnel changes, style changes, business changes etc. Successful artists give positive feed back to their team. They show up for meetings and are a part of the overall vision and plan. They don’t sit around waiting for everyone to do it for them. They are proactive and constantly push for the next big thing.
Too often in this business, people rest on their laurels or they have something good happen and they sit back and coast. You cannot do that. You have to keep moving forward. You have to learn how to create opportunities out of what you have everyday. People who truly want to do this for a living find a way to make things happen. The others make excuses. This business is nothing but hard work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no other way. Not everything tried will work but they know that. They make adjustments and keep trying new things. Successful artists don’t take no for answer, they don’t blame everyone else for what isn’t happening for them. They know that they are the product and that it’s a constant work in progress. They know that not everyone will get them, their music or art and they keep trying to find the ones that do.
Unsuccessful entertainers listen to their 30 friends or fans and let that lull them into complacency and think that people aren’t working hard for them. They don’t understand that they have to work just as hard and actually harder than their team. They don’t understand it’s a business. They don’t understand it’s their responsibility to set the bar high. They don’t understand setting goals and working hard to achieve them. They don’t understand cutting out the people that are holding them back.
In most business books your will find examples like “every successful” business trims the bottom 20% of fat every year.” This means they get rid of the things not working, not making them money or holding them back. That could mean clients, marketing, personnel or anything preventing them from reaching their goals. You have to make hard decisions sometimes no matter whom it affects to be able to move forward. It sucks but it’s true.
Most entertainers especially it seems musical ones aren’t business minded and we all know that. They are creative people and in many ways avoid hard work. That is why they are artists or entertainers. They thrive in the creative and not the analytical or structured world. Unfortunately, if you are an entertainer, it is your business and you have to operate in both. There is no one to blame but you when things aren’t getting done and I guarantee you, if things aren’t getting done many times it’s because the entertainer isn’t doing it. They aren’t getting their work done on time. They aren’t showing up for meetings. They aren’t working all the time. The team won’t bust their ass for an artist that isn’t busting theirs.
I recently started working with an artist and we got more done in the first two weeks then we did with any other artist because that artist gets it. They work all day, all night. They have a vision and nothing will stop them from achieving it. They learn what they need to learn to get their career to the next level. They listen to advice, implement it and run with it as fast as they can. This is what people are looking for. Nothing else will do. You want to make a living at this business? You better get your head straight and learn from this artists example.
I know there are many artists that want this dream and work hard to achieve it. I know sometimes they are confused and overwhelmed. The first and best thing to do is to do something. Don’t sit there and do nothing. Learn to get done what needs to get done. Don’t skimp on your career by not investing in your self, your education and learning. Research your career choice and the things you need to know to get things done. If you don’t have a budget for websites, graphic design, etc… you better learn how to do it. Every business has to do this, not just artists. We all have to do this at times. We all have worked with people that don’t get it done even when paid so sometimes we just have to learn to do it ourselves unfortunately.
This business is so extremely hard. It’s very hard to make money in and it’s very hard to get noticed. Nothing but excellence will do. Do you have it in you?
Get out there and get it done! You can do it if you put your mind to it.
Now I am writing this and I am most definitely sometimes guilty of this myself because I have no patience personally for smart ass musicians on social media that think they have a need to post negative or what they deem to be “funny” comments but really just come across as arrogant or ignorant comments. This also applies to many different situations such as hitting on people who are married especially if you are married yourself, or ripping down someone’s career or event.
When on social media, the most important thing you should always think about is how you would in act in front of the people you are talking with if you were all there in person. If you wouldn’t do this in front of the person whom you are trashing, your wife or husband, friends, quittances or any other person, don’t do it at all. Never treat social media any different than if it were in public.
If you are in a crowd and I am talking with a friend who is promoting something for me to someone standing there with me, are you just going to walk up and say “oh what a waste of time and money, you don’t need that!” Of course you wouldn’t, but we seem to have no problem doing it on social media. When someone is posting about a seminar I am giving, it never fails that someone will get on there and say, “Don’t waste your money!” Who are you to say that and what compels you to? You don’t know me or my work so what experience do you have to give that makes you feel like you need to say that when you wouldn’t in public. In public if you did that, I’d fix you in a hurry. On social media we are much braver and feel invulnerable so we say what we want. Just because something is an open forum doesn’t mean that you “should,” say something just because you “can.”
On my blogs, I usually get very positive responses and feed back is ok even if I don’t agree with it, but post feedback on the blogs message board, not on the link of the person promoting it for me or whomever. It just makes you look like an ass when you have something smart to say. If you have a negative comment about something post it in YOUR own timeline. Not in the timeline of the person who is trying to do something nice.
Recently an article was written about one of my artists, and a former member of the original band started a negative rant on my clients article for no reason what so ever. It was completely and utterly ridiculous. A person’s need to take the spotlight away from someone else to showcase him or herself is so narcissistic it’s not even funny. It was a very well written article that a journalist put a lot of time and attention into writing and some “very nice person” decides to start a rant on it. Not only is it an insult to the person in the article, it is to the writer as well. As a professional or wannabe professional, keep your negative comments to yourself. There is no room for it in this business. You need to separate yourselves from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam out there.
One last thing, when someone on Facebook is showcasing another person’s link on THEIR timeline, don’t ruin it by posting your link on it too. That link wasn’t for you. I don’t care if you know the person, think its funny or for what ever lame reason you are going to give. That is the equivalent of you putting your concert poster over their concert poster. All of you in bands know how much that angers us and it is childish. You wouldn’t do it in front of me so don’t do it on Facebook either. If you want someone to post for you or get your name out there for you, develop a relationship with that person and if they like you and your music, movie (insert form of entertainment here) then maybe they will do it for you.
Quit all the stupid comments, bashing, trashing or anything else you may be thinking that is negative towards someone. Unless you are the greatest thing on the planet with a ton of success, you have no right, experience or clout to trash anyone else.
P.S. It’s usually the ones who have no success or success from WAY back in the day who do this.
One of the great frustrations in being a manager for bands is the lack of drive or work ethic that come from certain members. They think they can just sit back and do basically nothing and everyone else does it for them. And then they complain when nothing is happening for them. They don’t realize that all they are doing is showing everyone how un-dedicated they are, how the band will never get anywhere and how the team around them will just quit trying to help them if they can’t even handle simple things like self-promotion.
I hear the most ridiculous things from local bands all the time, that it’s a new music business so they aren’t going to do things the old way. They think they don’t have to be professional anymore, that if they did things the old way, they wouldn’t be where they are now, which is still basically nowhere. They don’t get that professionalism and hard work never change no matter what state the music industry is in.
Without buzz about your band, you really have nothing. You are only as good as good as your last show and if you aren’t gigging at least four times a month you are in trouble. The buzz is what gets you noticed by anyone with the clout or money that can truly help you achieve your dream and it grows your fan base faster than anything else. Your branding campaign is a big part of this, so if you don’t have one, you should spend some time planning and implementing one.
Anyone who is in the business for more than 6 months knows it’s all about the buzz for a band and yet band members would rather post about football then their latest interview or show. Creating a buzz takes time and hard work, but if a band does it all together, it will be much easier for them and will go so much faster. Too many members of bands leave it up to one member of the band to do all the work, especially if the band is named after one person. But once you committed to a band, you committed to all of it no matter whose name is on the logo.
If you have time to post about sports, someone else’s music videos, what you had for dinner or what you are doing with your family, then you have time to post about your band. If you can’t handle that, get out of the band. If you are too busy to post and create a “buzz” about your band, you don’t have time to be in a band in the first place. Quit taking up space on someone’s roster or taking gigs you aren’t going to promote and let the people who really want it have the spot. By not doing this you are simply destroying all opportunities for your band. This is simply the most pathetic thing I see from bands.
If you spend any time studying social media marketing, you will know that only 7% of your audience sees your posts on Facebook. So if you think posting once is enough, especially right before a gig is enough you are fooling yourself. It takes a strategy and consistency to create a “buzz” about you from everything like your live performances to your social media campaign.
As an artist or a band member, when someone posts your music on a site or does an interview about your band, it is YOUR responsibility to promote it and keep the buzz going about you. Many of these people who write interviews for you spend hours transcribing and editing and many members of bands can’t take 10 seconds to post it. These interviewers get paid based on the amount of clicks that come from these articles. So basically, the interview busted their butts to give you some PR for free and you didn’t do a thing to help them or recognize them or their effort on your behalf and worse you did nothing for yourself. You shoot your self and your band’s name in the foot with these people who will never cover you again because of your unprofessionalism and laziness. You can’t just rely on someone else’s fan or viewer base to spread the word about you. It takes everyone and a very concerted effort to make this buzz happen.
Creating buzz is huge part of your musical career. Every thing you do should be a part of your campaign. Every gig, radio show, interview, site you are added too should be promoted for weeks before the event if possible and after the fact. Every form of media of media should be used to brand your band and create buzz. Most of the bands reading this at their stage of the game in their career, nothing should be left out from posting flyers, to radio, both internet and terrestrial and social media…. Everything.
Bands have to realize that their fans are reading their teams stream to find the latest news on you. They have to understand the amount of “white noise” that get’s tuned out by people on social media because they know what pages are posting in general and it doesn’t interest them. Fans want to find out from the band and it’s members not their business people.
Think of it like this: statistically every person knows at 220 people in their lives. If you are a band member or businessperson you will know way more than this number. If you ignore your warm market so to speak, you are ignoring your greatest potential to gain new fans. For every person in your circle, they have at least 220 people in theirs that could find out about you, but won’t if you don’t promote. Your snow ball/viral effect starts here, not on the bands page. Most bands only have a few hundred to a few thousand fans. How is that going to be enough to promote especially if something is only being posted once? Utilize your power, your strength and make it happen. Most bands are missing out on this because certain people can’t be bothered long enough to put down the “vice” of the week and work.
When you are at a gig and you have only 20 or fewer people there, you and your band mates should be texting, calling and reminding people to show up. It is your responsibility to create buzz about your band until you can PAY someone else to do it and even then you still have to promote. Bands should be doing whatever they can to get people at their show. This is priority #1 in their career.
The band and its members should be “liking” all posts related to their careers. They should be doing it on their pages, their teams pages and any others they see in their streams. They should thank everyone who posts for them. The more attention a post gets, the more other people see it, especially by people who have never heard of them before. This is the most basic concept that has been social media for years now and everyone knows it, but they ignore it. Not only that but again, it just shows disrespect to all the people posting for them. Of course you won’t catch everything, but you can catch most of it and people notice that.
There is no point whatsoever for anyone to help your band with your dream if you can’t even do the minimal promoting of yourself on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social media platforms you are using as a bare minimum. Your band should be let go from any contract to make room for the ones that are serious and working as hard as they can to make it. When a band or it’s members refuse to create buzz, promote or try and get people to a show, it’s a very bad reflection on their management, booking agents or what ever team members they have. No company has to or should put up with that. It’s not their teams responsibility to get people to the shows, it’s the bands.
So put down the beer, get off Facebook except to promote quickly, turn of Skyrim and then have a band meeting to get bands act together. Make it abundantly clear what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they don’t help and then put together a campaign. Come up with goals, time frames, standard operating procedures or whatever you have to do to make it happen.
This business is hard enough as it is without people giving 100%. It’s not the same as it used to be with management or agents, everyone has to work even harder to separate their clients out of the clutter of other bands and the money isn’t there like it used to be to make it worth it if the band can’t commit to the dream. Local bands had better realize this and get it together or their will be nobody their to help them at all. Nobody is obligated to help some one for free, for the small percentage of the $150 gig a band is doing or who doesn’t want it bad enough to work as hard as they possibly can to achieve their dream they said they wanted.
It’s your dream, only you are responsible for making it happen. No one else will care until you show them that you do. Not your team, not your fans, and evidently not even some of your band.
One of the most exciting things about being a musician is getting that endorsement deal! Playing that guitar or amp you love or maybe banging that drum kit you have been salivating over for years and it’s finally in your hands. It’s a great feeling! The questions are how do you get one? Who deserves one? What are you going to do with it once you get it? What are your responsibilities once you get one?
I find that like most aspects of the music business the artist completely doesn’t get it when it comes to endorsement deals. They all want them when they have absolutely nothing to offer the endorsement company. Bands want everything handed to them. They want someone to book all their shows because they don’t want to do it. They want management to make things happen because they don’t know how and they want free gear, clothes or what ever else they can get for free and giving nothing in return.
Endorsement deals have to be a win-win situation for both parties involved. Sometimes as musicians we forget that it takes money to make anything happen and that these companies need to make money for them to be able to endorse or sponsor artists. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the artist asking for the endorsement has nothing to offer the company whose product they are asking an endorsement for. Granted there are always exceptions to the rule in any given situation but for the most part this is the way it is and you would do well to act professional and always give yourselves the best chance possible.
So what does an artist need to bring to the table before asking for an endorsement deal? Well number one it’s all about the exposure for the endorsee. How many shows are you playing a year? How many people per average show? How good is your social media campaign? How good are your photos and videos? How influential are you among your peers and people who look up to you as a musician? Do you understand marketing and branding? Usually these questions are answered within the first 30 seconds of reading the artists email and looking at their press kits.
Company’s really only want artists or bands that love and use their product, not people looking for any deal they can get. You should be passionate about what you are playing or using before you approach a company for an endorsement deal. Send an email and ask what information they would like to see but most importantly why you think you are a good fit for this company. Highlight to your prospective endorsement company with the appropriate information such as your fan base size, social media coverage and plan, professional electronic press kit with professional photography and not just a one-line email with your Reverbnation link. The key here is to make sure the company is seeing how many fans you have. Facebook fan pages are great because then they can also see what your fans are saying about you. Make sure you state how many shows a year you play on average and average crowd size per show as well. Mention your touring and media plans for the upcoming year this why having a marketing plan is imperative. Have past calendars available if possible to prove you how busy you are. You need to make sure that your exposure coverage is worth it to a company before they give you any of their gear. It’s also good sometimes to mention what products of theirs you may have purchased in the past and are currently using. Remember here that not every artist-relations person is the same so this may alter slightly.
Make sure you understand that if you get a deal you will have to put their logos on all you concert posters, your websites with hyperlinks attached and you should mention and thank them regularly in your social media campaign. You have a responsibility to growing their brand. That is why they gave you the deal in first place. Most musicians are horrible about doing this. Also please realize that just because you get a deal doesn’t mean you are going to get a ton of exposure from them. You may or may not be listed on their website or at least not prominently until you are a big enough artist to really influence the average buyer. You really want to be building a long-term business relationship with these companies so work hard at giving this the proper attention.
Most companies are not giving full endorsement deals anymore so please don’t ask for a deal if you have no money to at least pay cost on the equipment you are asking for. Make sure you are prepared to be professional with them at all times and represent them to the best of your ability.
Last but not least please don’t be “Horshack” from “Welcome Back Kotter” with your arm up squealing ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! Me! Especially after a friend or a band you know gets a deal so you run to Facebook and spam their page asking for a deal too. Remember there is a reason they got the deal. It wasn’t just handed to them.
Remember these blogs are here to help you become more professional and help you stand out from the crowd. Head the advice and you should see greater results.
Dealing with the local music scene these days is very challenging for management, booking, promotion companies and record labels. To be able to get any artist to the next level requires being able to take the package and sell it to the public or other entertainment professionals or companies. Unfortunately, too often the product is rarely worth buying or even helping to promote further. Bands and artists tend to have this notion that, “Without the music you have nothing,” when dealing with industry professionals. While this is true to an extent, it’s not the whole story. In the industry, we can hire songwriters that have a proven track record, hire musicians to record it and make our own successful bands that we own completely and can control. We don’t need local artists with attitudes, little work ethic or strive not be productive in furthering their own careers. We all do what we love for a reason. It’s not always about being successful but for the satisfaction for seeing someone achieve their dreams so we keep diving into the murky waters of local musicians to find those that are worth partnering with.
The package, as we refer to the artist’s business plan or presentation, has to be ready to go and that is the artist’s responsibility to get there. It doesn’t fall on anyone’s shoulders to make this happen except for you. There is no excuse, what with all the free info out on the internet in books and magazines, that an artist can’t figure out the basics of the business, create a presentation and become attractive to the people that can help them get to the next level. Until that happens, it’s hard to get a manager, booking agent or anyone else to be excited about making 0% of 0% because the artist has created absolutely no demand for themselves. The money isn’t available in the industry for developmental deals as it was say 15-years ago. Thus the artist’s chances of getting signed on with professional representations are slimmer if they don’t present an attractive market value. Here are a few of the reasons that artists intentionally shoot themselves in the proverbial foot. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some very obvious points.
Not Booking Enough Shows: Most bands/artists want others to do this for them but in truth and reality, the artist should be booking their own shows until they are gigging at least 80-dates a year regionally and making money doing it. Why would anyone in the industry want to waste time booking a band that isn’t willing to do it themselves, does not understand the basics of promotion and end up making a small percentage of absolutely nothing for their work? There are no short cuts here. Pick up the phone and dial for dollars.
Poor Promotion: Most artists spend very little time and effort promoting and usually post a gig once or twice on some form of social media expecting people to see it and show up on such short notice. This is absolutely pathetic. Especially in a band with several members, usually only one person promotes it. In no way shape or form is this acceptable, nor will anyone in the industry look kindly on an artist that does this. You don’t deserve to get paid at all if this is how you sell your band. Believe it or not, we all look at this and notice how well people promote themselves. Also, social media sites are not the only form or promotion needed. You still need flyers, advertisements and many other forms of creative promotion. It is not everyone else’s job to do all your promotion. When you are looking for opportunities with your gigs and no one shows up for your shows, you lose on many levels and miss out on opportunities.
Misuse Of Social Media: If all you do is complain about the venues, management or any other form of the music business, you are signing your death warrant. Again, people in the industry and your peers see this and who would want to book you back at a venue or assist your band if this is your level of professionalism. You are a business, act like it. Grow up and quit using your bands page to complain. If you want to do that, do it in private where we can’t see it. This is common sense that seems to have escaped many artists.
Wasting Time Goofing Off On Facebook: If you have time to post a million personal things on Facebook but don’t promote your show then you aren’t serious about this business. Stop spending time goofing off and start making things happen for your music. Facebook is a great networking tool when used right. The excuse, “I am so busy,” is quite weak when we can see your profile. This goes for both sides of the business, not just artists.
Not Getting Back To People: When you approach someone and ask for their advice, services or whatever else and say, “I’ll get back to you,” then do it. The usual excuse again is, “Sorry, I was so sick” or “I have been so busy” but again we can see your social media so if you are well enough or have time to do that, you are well enough to practice a common courtesy and get back in touch with people, regardless of the outcome you decide on. This applies to getting back to people on booking a show, a meeting, or any other situation involving your band, music or related promotions. It is also basic good business manners.
Not Doing Your Research: Approaching people about services they don’t even offer. This happens all of the time. You see a business name and just assume at what they do but don’t even research the company. You are wasting everyone’s time and showing how lazy and unprofessional you are.
Not Accepting Gigs Because You Don’t Have The Money: “Sorry we don’t have the money to drive that far,” is a ridiculous excuse for a local or regional booking. You don’t have the money to drive to open a new market but you do have money to buy beer, party with your friends, buy drugs, go camping or visit someone three states away. Again, your Facebook page gives this all away. If you do not want to play a show for specific reasons, then politely decline, thus hopefully leaving the door open for future shows. If you aren’t able to be dedicated to your vision and dream by planning in advance and having a band fund for specific use: gear, travel, other expenses then don’t even bother approaching anyone. You can’t build a solid fan base if you aren’t playing out.
Not Having An Appropriate Press Kit: Everyone has been doing this long enough to know you need one. No matter if you are a band, solo artist or musician looking for extra work. Everyone should have an electronic press kit (EPK) and/or hard copy press kit. Sending someone to Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation, YouTube or other social music site, while a plus, is not a replacement for a professional media kit. If you don’t have one, you do not show serious business regard for your own career so why should anyone in the industry.
Sending One Line Emails Saying You Need Representation: Again if you don’t have a press kit and you can’t take the time to compose proper business letter and introduction about yourself or your band, don’t even bother. All you are doing is showing how lazy you really are. Be professional, always.
Only Being Able To Play Weekends: We are all looking for bands than can tour, not just play every now and then. It’s hard to break a new market and build a fan base when you can only play one quarter of the year. Not only that, but you are competing with so many other bands for these bookings when weeknights are so much easier to get. This is why people with families often get passed by. It’s too hard to coordinate everything. We all make choices in life and once you decide to get married and have kids more often than not you aren’t able to be on the road enough. This does not apply to everyone, as many do have support systems in place to allow for travel. If you are serious about your career, have this support system in place. No one makes any money if you can’t play so they won’t sign you. It may not be fair but everyone involved has to pay their bills so why would anyone sign a band that can’t make them money? It’s not about the music when it comes to getting signed, it’s about people earning a living.
Expecting To Work Without A Contract: First of all, one of the main rules of the music business is…always get a contract, so why you would you even consider asking someone to work with you without one? Why would a smart business owner work relentlessly to help you further your career just so you can walk away with the success they brought you? If another agency comes along and offers you a deal and you choose to go with them, with out a contract featuring a ‘buy-out clause’ your former manager or agent is screwed and may be liable for future booking, promotions or business deals being worked for your project. The standard industry rap goes that the “industry and music business” people are the ones that screw over the artists but I know from experience that artists are fabulous about breaching contracts because they do not want to pay someone. Our courts are full of artists being sued by companies for breach of contract so it goes both ways. No one should EVER work without a contract, period. No one should risk his or her business on a promise or handshake agreement. You will get the short end of the stick every time.
After years of doing this and dealing with all types and genres of artists, the most common reason for artists not getting signed is that they are not focused on their end goal. They spend money on things they don’t need such as alcohol, drugs or video games instead of putting it into their careers and business package where it needs to go. To be successful means spending money on your career, missing friends because you are busting your butt working hard, and taking your act on the road into new markets. Don’t expect your team to do it for you, to be focused on you and your career when you can’t even do it for yourselves. This makes no sense what so ever. Again, no one in the industry will get involved with an artist that can’t and won’t work as hard as everyone else.
These are also many of the reasons most artists will be let go by a professional company. More often then not, these reasons make it very, very difficult to promote you and sell your package and product or in general, make anything happen for you. This is a business and the artist needs to treat it like one. Be professional at all times, work hard always and get focused. Quit blaming everyone else for what you are not doing for yourself.
Without having a great package to work with and sell, people just aren’t interested in not being able to make any money. It is the artist’s responsibility to build their business to an appropriate level before expecting or seeking help. Remember this is business and everyone needs to make money, not just the artist.
I am posting a list of 20 things to do to not get noticed by entertainment pros or endorsement companies. It’s a sad thing that I am having to post this because it’s common sense but this what we get hit with all day everyday and it is the quickest way to make sure you get no attention from us even if you do it correctly later because you have already put a bad taste in our mouth. There are of course many more things that could be listed but this should open your eyes enough to “get it” and start thinking about what you are doing or how you are damaging your career by not being professional.
Spamming our Facebook or Twitter private message boxes with out having ever talked with us before and developing a relationship.
Spamming our Facebook or Twitter feeds telling us to check you out.
Visibly spamming contact after contact in your feed so everyone can see it.
Chasing down every endorsement your friends’ band just got.
Not properly following submission policies posted on their websites.
Asking for free product when you haven’t proven your effectiveness as an artist in getting a brand out there.
Following your friends’ contacts on social media hoping to get “in” with them instead of asking for a proper introduction.
Sending sub-par material for your photos, press kits, songs or websites.
Expecting anything with less than 80 gigs a year.
A visible social media base of very low numbers and then saying how big your fan base is.
Not knowing the correct info about your bands statistics.
Posting constantly negative stuff on your Twitter or Facebook accounts whether it’s personal or business but especially about the business.
Trashing other bands, promoter, agents, managers or venues etc…
Writing very poor lazy introductions with properly submitting a cover letter/email and electronic press kit. Sending a one or two line email with a website is nowhere near enough, that’s just plain lazy.
Sending generic emails that haven’t been addressed or written specifically for the contact intended.
Trying to go through the back door so to speak. Don’t contact anyone except whom you are supposed to unless a friend has an “in” and offers to help you.
Wasting a professional’s time with stupid questions i.e. “Are you taking new clients?” when their site specifically say’s “Not accepting new clients at this time.”
Contacting a professional about services they don’t offer because you didn’t do your research.
Showing up to gigs in no shape to play due to being drunk or stoned.
Being unprofessional at gigs by being late, rude, poor performance, not setting up your merchandise properly, not working the crowd etc…
If you avoid these very simple and common sense things then you can greatly improve your chances of getting noticed or hopefully even more than that.
With the use of social media networks, artists have a whole new world to tap into and a means of developing their business by launching an online fan base. This is a very cool world that generates potential success for artists but it also hosts many possible dangers. I have run into many issues with social media in the music business and it also has affected my life personally because of it I have noticed that some of the social interactions found on these networks can cause real harm in the lives of artists, affecting their personal relationships. Although my job is to help artists achieve their dreams, it is now appropriate to protect their personal lives –and even defend those they love–from poor networking decisions and the occasional disruptive fan(s).
When an artist develops a fan page, the concept is to get people to interact with them on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms of their choice. If the artist is an attractive one, they are obviously going to stir a lot of attention. Some of the feedback can be positive, encouraging, and innocent; on other occasions it can be rude, unwelcome, improper — even childish at times. These situations create not only a conflict between the artist and the fan, but also potential issues affecting the spouse or significant other of the artist.
Not everyone will agree with me on this blog and that is ok, but I feel I have a considerable amount of experience in this subject. I want to correct the misconception as follows: Many people believe an artist has to keep his personal life private if married or involved with another person, in order to keep the mystery out there. Some think that when you are a “rock star” you get to live by different standards when it comes to flirting, online interactions, or live performance behavior. The idea is that it is always important to have an air of availability to keep people attracted and interested in you. You feel you should not offend anybody because you cannot afford to lose fans, or ticket and merchandise sales. These are the circumstances in which an artist allows inappropriate conduct via social media. The things that would not be tolerated in every day, real life.
I feel we should never act any different online than we do in public with our spouses or significant others there. If you made a decision to be in a relationship, honor that decision. There is no job in the world that allows you to treat others without consideration for their feelings. If you are in an entertainment career, these situations need to be discussed with each other and decisions need to be made on how to handle it. Hopefully both people can get on the same page and work it out.
We can interact with, and respond to people who are maybe a little too flirtatious in a professional manner and let them know we appreciate their interest in our music or careers rather than resort to flirting with them in return or getting ourselves into trouble. If you have a more open relationship with your partner and they don’t mind innocent flirting that is up to you, but just remember that this type of relationship doesn’t usually last forever. As an artist you should always protect yourself from the people with no moral boundaries in order to protect your personal relationships. It is completely amazing how many people send sexual or flirtatious advances to attached artists and this from both male and female fans, equally. Many of the people sending these inappropriate messages are married or involved themselves. This is wrong on so many levels I can’t even begin to explain. If you are an artist who receives these types of messages and that would probably be most of us, then politely thank them for their comments but also tell them to be respectful of your relationship and you would be more than happy to interact with them appropriately. Trust me you will earn more respect this way, not only from your fans but also from your partner.
I have been in relationships with artists that let people flirt with them. It is never easy to watch people hit on the ones you love. I watched my partner let the conversation continue even after they confronted the person about their behavior. Instead of simply blocking the person who wouldn’t stop, that one fan or CD sale was more important than my feelings. This person was even spreading lies about me to my partner and many others and my partner still kept interacting with him because the fan was nice to them and bought her CD and she didn’t want to hurt their feelings. No matter how I felt about the constant flirting with her and her not dealing with it appropriately, it wasn’t worth it to her to deal with it in the right way and put me first. You as the artist need to decide which is more important, your career (which for most of the artists reading this really doesn’t exist yet), the fan who will never be there for you, or the one who loves you and gives everything they have to you.
When dealing with your “fans” just let me say that unless they are buying your merchandise, tickets and so forth, they are not keeping you in a career. Even if they purchase your $15.00 CD, you don’t have to put up with inappropriate behavior. You can’t be afraid to lose a fan over inappropriate conduct. For every fan you lose you will gain 100 more.
For the fans who read this, if you know the artist is married or in a relationship and you cross those boundaries, shame on you. I am pretty sure I would know how you would feel if your partner was doing the same thing to you. Grow up and act appropriately. As a fan of the artist, I would hope you would only want the best for them and to truly support them. Don’t risk someone else’s relationship for your need to flirt with someone else’s partner. That is completely disrespectful and pathetic.
Artists: use social media for its strengths but don’t get caught up in the games or risk your relationships for someone you don’t even know. Make smart decisions, be respectful to your partners and let your music do the talking. It should be more than enough to win over your fans without the need for inappropriate behavior.
Meeting after meeting, artists tell me they need to record a new CD, or are just about to record, or are in the process of recording one. The first question I ask is “Great! What are you going to do with it?”
They look at me dumbfounded as if I am stupid. “Well we are gonna try and sell it of course” they say.
“To who?” I ask. “Well, our fans” is the usual response.
“What fans?” I ask probing further. “You mean the 176 fans on your twitter account?” “The same 30 fans that keep coming to your shows in the same city that you never get out of?”
“What are you going to do with the rest of the CD’s that are sitting in your garage after you sell 50 of them and have run out of fans?”
“What is your marketing plan?” “Who are you going to distribute it through?” “Better yet, why are you recording a CD for a fan base that doesn’t exist yet?”
“Do you have a provable demand for new music that will at least allow you to recover the investment cost of making the new CD?” 99% of the time the is of course “No.”
Needless to say from a business standpoint this is bad business. You don’t invest money into something that you have no idea or plan to make money/a profit on.
My point is: If you haven’t developed a sizeable fan base from shows and social media, you have no need for a CD until there is an actual demand for it or at least a big enough fan base to market it to. Let’s say you have a CD but you have only managed to sell 100 copies of it and you still have plenty left over. Don’t you think you should sell those first before making a new CD?
Obviously at this point you still don’t have a demand for your music, so why do you need a new CD? Your current CD still hasn’t been heard by anyone yet, so it isn’t old music to anyone but you. Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to focus on developing a demand for new music by selling your current CD and generating a fan base who actually want to purchase it?
You need to resist the “artist” urge or need to create before it is time. That doesn’t mean stop writing, it means don’t pay for something you can’t sell. Don’t be fooled by the numbers on your social media accounts. I am talking about actual true fans, not just people who follow you because you followed them or because you bought a program to add followers.
The first thing the artist needs to realize is the CD is NOT the product; it’s a piece of merchandise. TheARTIST is the product. The artist has to create the demand for themselves/live performance before sinking a ton of money into multiple CDs, let alone one CD.
You can have t-shirts and other things to sell as merchandise through a developing rabid fan base that actually wants to purchase your merchandise. This will help keep costs down. The priority is developing the artist not the CD. The artist should be working on his/her/their image, social media campaign, the best live show possible and booking only. Once this has achieved a certain level, the artist can then worry about a CD that their fan base will demand. Bottom line is that if no one wants to see you live, you have no need for anything. You have to make them want to see you live and want to make the purchase. That comes from a killer live show. Practice, practice, practice, write killer songs that have a hook and melody and blow them away onstage. Period.
The proof is in the pudding with the live show. You have to win over the audience and develop them into fans. If you do this, they will stay fans and will buy your CD when you finally do release it. Not only that, you will have a nice building up to — and can actually pull off — a great “launch” and have impressive stats from the fan base that is actually demanding and waiting for this merchandise.
“Jesse James Dupree” of “Jackyl” was on my radio show “Live From Music City” and flat out said (which I wholeheartedly agree with) that they didn’t approach anybody in the business or do anything until the were constantly selling out shows at the bars they played all up and down the east coast. That was when they had a need for a team and were ready to shop for a record deal. Then they could take their pick of labels because all the labels wanted them. It was the single best piece of advice on my show ever. Here is the interview for you to listen to: http://ht.ly/4EErD. There is simply no need for much of what most artists THINK they need until there is a demand for the artist themselves.
Simply put, if the artist would focus on the essentials; booking, image, developing a fan base and PR the rest would take care of itself. Everyone wants to do it backwards; they want everything now and have no patience. Business doesn’t work that way and when you work harder and not smarter you tend to not succeed and also are in danger of completely burning yourself out.
A simple strategy you can adopt is to record two or three songs that you can offer on digital download to tide people over until there is a need for a CD and that you can use to help market yourself with.
You can make a couple of videos to put on YouTube that should be very high quality. Rehearse your band till they are perfect and then pay a professional company to video record your performance of these songs at a good venue with a sound man who knows your sound.
Put them up as single songs and market the heck out of it with social media. YouTube is the destination spot for new music discoveries now. This is a much smarter use of your money. This not only allows for people to discover you, but share your music. Most importantly, assuming you play very well live, you can use this to show venues that you are worth booking based on the crowd in front of you and your actual performance and stage presence.
Develop the artist first then once you have a fan base you can create a CD to sell. No point paying for something you can’t sell to anyone. Be strategic in your plans and definitely plan! Don’t just do something without thought of the benefit of it and how you will get it out there.
When Does an Artist or Band Need a Manager? Part II
In the first blog I wrote on this subject http://wp.me/pu8Se-E, I commented on some of the basic requirements that bands should have before approaching management for help with their career. So that the artist or band knows what to have in place before approaching a manager, let’s dig a little deeper into what a manager is looking for in a band before he is willing to take them on.
First and foremost, an artist or band does not ever really need a manager if they are not gigging consistently for pay. The manager has to have something to work with and if the artist or band isn’t running a business, there is nothing to manage. An artist has to put in the work, sweat, blood and tears sometimes for years before approaching management. That probably means doing all the work first by yourself or hopefully with some help if you can find it.. A manager doesn’t want to manage an artist or band that isn’t willing to bust their butt as hard as the artist or band is expecting the manager to bust it for them.
The role of an Artist Manager is a more than full time job and it requires the same ability to deal with rejection, frustration and being overwhelmed as the artist or band deals with but on a much bigger level. A manager should add structure and stability to the current situation, but doing management takes a lot of work and the artist or band needs to have proven ahead of time that they have what it takes to make it in the business at least with work ethic.
An artist or band doesn’t get the excuse about how overwhelmed they are with personal life, health, work or anything else because the manager they chose doesn’t either. Everyone expects the world from their manager and very rarely has the money or wants to pay for the help and the unbelievable amount of work it takes to launch a career and keep it going. If the artist can’t put the appropriate amount of time and hard work into their career in the beginning — such as booking their own shows, researching appropriately who they need to contact, what are the proper steps of submissions, having a consistent image that is original, a good sized fan base and this does not mean less that 25,000 fans at least, a branding campaign and a good understanding of social media — then the manager has nothing to work with to get them to the next level. This also shows the manager that this particular artist or band isn’t willing to do what it takes in most cases.
There is so much information out there for an artist or band to read and learn about the business that there really is no excuse to not know the basics anymore. Assuming that a person really wants to make a career of this, then they will do all the research it takes just like any other business owner has to do to be successful.
The manager has to take this artist or band and sell it the labels, booking agents, publicists and anyone else that is needed to make their career happen. The manager should have something to start with that might need to be refined, smoothed over and sometimes even rebranded, but at least the manager gets a good feel for what the artist is capable of and how hard they worked to get there. Often this will require a good amount of time and money that the artist has to be willing to put in to launch their career, but there is really no other way around it. The artist should expect to work as hard as they need to, to make this happen for themselves especially since they expect their manager too.
In the beginning an artist or band might need to pay for hourly consultation instead of full-time management. This is something they can do with a manager who offers these consultation services and it can greatly help an artist or band develop a road map or direction for their career. They can work on it at their pace and have more consultations when the goals laid out have been reached. It is highly recommended that a band do this to help avoid a lot of the pitfalls of the music business and it can put them on a “fast track” to launch their career.
Another important thing to remember is that the manager has to do the very same thing for their own business. While they are managing everyone elses careers and businesses, they also have to do the exact same for themselves. It takes just as much planning, branding, design, phone calls, etc., for a manager to build his own business in order to be effective for his clients. If he can juggle all these responsibilities, it is fair that he expects any new prospective clients to have been actively working their careers with the same amount of work ethic.
Take the time to time to really look at your careers and work towards your goals. When you have achieved those, then approach management appropriate with the proper cover letter and press kit.