Moving Forward

My name is Myron. I am a local musician who plays cover music for a living. About a year ago, I decided to start playing my originals again. After a long hiatus, a declaration to play songs that revived the soul finally took hold of me. 
 
From the get go, it was a struggle. My website that I had spent years crafting showcased none of my originals and was geared towards my day gig. My content was just not attractive. Frustration took hold of my senses, and I briefly de-railed. For over a month I put everything on the back burner and started doing my normal gigs. My breaking point or my ah ha moment came when I was at a show and started playing one of my original tunes.The crowd was into the song, and afterwards everyone was asking me who sang that tune. It was at the that moment that I decided to pursue my desired career path. The half-assed attempt I had put forth in the past would stay in the past. It was time to move forward. 
 
 
 

I was very nervous about failing again and not reaching my desired goals. As I sat around and pondered a game plan, I started researching online. One website I happened to stumble upon was called Score ( https://www.score.org ) the main goal of SCORE is to help small businesses get off the ground and achieve their goals. 
 
Now I know a lot of you are probably thinking that a business mentor would know very little about the music industry and would be useless in helping obtain more gigs. I had the same thoughts. I also pondered about how many musicians knew nothing about business. Going into the meeting, I would need to keep an open mind on all aspects of business. 
 
So I scheduled a meeting with a mentor, and the following week I had a sit down with a retired marketer  whose main career took place in the magazine industry. I told him all about the last ten years of playing around town. He asked me about my business plan, my sales plan, marketing, content, merchandise, branding, social media, and SEO ( search engine optimization)  for my website. I was taken aback by all the questions. I had never really thought about the content that I had placed on my social media feed or the content that I had on my website. This was probably the reason that so many original venues would not return my call or email. Maybe at first glance an outsider found nothing exciting about my material. What made my music any different than the next band’s ? Sure, it was different, but my online presence didn’t say that. As the meeting continued, the mentor helped me put together a game plan that had me traveling a new path: selling my music and playing a schedule of half covers and half originals. I was finally heading in the right direction. 
 
I left the meeting with a new sense of direction. The first thing I did was to evaluate all of my online content. I tried to envision my material as a  prospective buyer and not from my eyes. I quickly realized that I barely showcased any of my original music. The video clips I found posted on my social media were all posted by friends, and the video quality was poor and not very enticing to an aspiring buyer. I also realized that none of my social media had any links to my website. So if someone stumbled on to my Facebook fan page and they wanted more information about my music, then they one would need to search for my website. I also realized that if you did a Google search  for ” Music by Myron”, then all the social media appeared instead of my website. It is a wonder that I was able to book  any private shows over the last couple of years. The more I looked at these key areas, the more I realized why and how I would never get discovered. My to-do list got bigger! 
 
Implementing what I learned was a fairly simple process. The tough part was following through with my game plan. Updating social media, engaging with fans, placing the merchandise order, creating new content, posting scheduled shows, and winning over new crowds all took time. I broke down key areas that needed the most work and started attacking them like I do when learning a new cover song or perfecting one of my originals. I’ve created a list of some of my most important steps here:
 
Consult an outsider to give you an honest opinion about both your music and business approach. For my business, I chose to consult with a mentor from Score. Musically, I reached out to an old music teacher for advice on my originals. 
 
– Social Media & Updating the website  – I scheduled three weekly check ins on all my social media. I would set aside 30 minutes for each check in. This gave me time to post new content, engage with fans, and to check my insights and activity on my pages. I also set aside two days a week to check my website. I would check my page stats to see what pages were being visited. This gives gave me an idea on how to improve the overall look of the site. I have been able to follow through with this is by sending myself reminders. I noticed once I started a consistent posting that I received more feed back from fans, friends, and family. This time spent was only on my fan page, as I ditched the personal page. 
 
– Placing the Merchandise order. For years I had neglected this crucial area of business. I was just too lazy to follow through and reorder shirts, hats, koozies, and playing cards. Once I started my initial order, I set a reminder on my Gmaicalendar to notify me when I needed to re-order. This was done regardless of whether I sold everything from the first order or not. By doing this, I was  reminded to bring my merch with me to every gig and to actively sell my merch when I was on break. When I released my new EP, I added a small insert into the CD that showcased t-shirts and all of my swag that I was selling. I realized by doing this people were much more inclined to visit my website. I also added a square, so that I could capitalize on all the folks who didn’t carry cash on them at shows. Over a six month period, I added 300 per month in profits from my merchandise sales. This was the equivalent to about two extra cover shows per month. This helped my finances drastically. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a start, and I plan on increasing the sales aspect of my merchandise along with adding new items. 
 
-Creating new Content: This was a tough one as well. I needed new material for my social media and my website. I needed content that would help me engage with the fans and to create new fans. I needed to stand out from the pack. I needed to have a voice of my own. So I started writing. Writing every day. I used to do this when I first started playing, and I probably did this consistently for a couple of years, but I soon fell out of the habit. So I started off simple with 15 minutes a day. I brain stormed on new ideas and old ideas that I used in the past that were successful. I also implemented two resources that helped spark new ideas. One source was the blog Copy Blogger. This website/blog offers content, marketing, and internet marketing ideas, and it is probably one of the most resourceful content materials available online. The other resource was my local library where I started picking up biographies on musicians, specifically from artists who had played before the social media craze. I wanted to learn how they were able to make it.How they marketed their shows before they got big, how they toured, how they engaged, and how they sold merchandise. My idea for adding a merchandise flyer into my new cd came from KISS, as they added one to each new records they released. 
 
-Posted schedule : This is where a website comes into play. For years I neglected my schedule on my website and only posted my shows on Facebook. The problem with posting only on your social media is that only a small percentage of fans actually get the update, whereas on my website, everyone who clicked onto the site was able to view my next show. I made sure this was on the home page so that new or old fans knew right away where to catch me at. I also added links to my show listings on all my social media sites. 
 
Email Marketing – Email marketing allows you to reach your fan base in a direct manner. Send them a monthly email with all of your shows and any new, streamlined music or videos. Make sure that the content on the email is enticing and not pushy. The last things you want to do is spam your fans. Also make sure to only send your email notifications to fans who have signed up for your email list. I recommend Mail Chimp for your email marketing campaign. 
 
Follow through- Nothing will work if you don’t actively pursue each project. Set aside time each day to improve certain areas of your music and business model. I use the 1% approach. Each day I strive to improve 1% in everything that I do. 
 
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