Focus on Four

Three months into the new year, and your project is still sitting dormant. You desperately want to take your music career to the next level, but you are just not sure how tTo approach it. Google searches keep bringing you back to a list full of “do it yourself” promotions, and you tend to lose traction every time you look at the list. I wish there was a simple, small list that I could incorporate into my game plan and my daily life that would help me further my career. Something that makes a little more sense. 

After years of interactions with musicians, venue owners and talent buyers I have narrowed down that giant DIY list to four essential components for creating a successful music career. The main component is to work hard each day on your career. That is what will give you the chance of being “discovered” Luck has very little to do with an industry thats survival rate is less than 5%. Let’s take a look at each one and dissect the advice. 

Communication – How many times have you showed up to a gig and the entire setup was drastically different than what you expected after communicating the gig requirements? Knowing what to expect when you play a venue, festival or event is extremely helpful and crucial to the success of your career. Most musicians and venue owners and/or talent buyers have different assumptions that they fail to communicate properly. For example, a local bar hires you to play Friday night, and when you show up they immediately ask you where the crowd is and where your fans are. You think back to when you booked the gig, and the criteria for the cover show never mentioned bringing twenty plus drinking patrons into the bar. Another situation is when they stick you in the corner under a flat screen television showcasing the big game for the evening, or when you told them that you had enough material for a three hour gig, and an hour into the show you start repeating songs or when you promise to pack the house and fail to do so.The question we should ask ourselves is how do we avoid these situations? It’s simple…we learn how to communicate our message so that it’s clear and understandable for both parties. Its easier to move on than confirm a unrealistic bond. 

Let’s look at the steps we need to take when communicating between musicians, venue owners and talent buyers. 

  • Listening : It’s a lot different than hearing. When you listen you are present, and you are aware and understanding of the exact information that is being relayed.
  • Processing : Before you respond back make sure that you are actually processing the information. I myself have had a slight hearing impairment my entire life and went through many of years of not not processing the information before responding because I was too embarrassed to ask the party to repeat themselves. Learn from your surroundings, and take the time to decipher the message. 
  • Organizing: To avoid mixed signals I recommend organizing the content and then repeating the message back so that both parties are on the same path. 
  • Responding : This step should confirm what both parties have spoken about. It is always good to take an extra step and solidify all details into a contract or form. This simple action keep both parties honest. 

Here is what I recommend. Visit your local Toastmasters Club. They do a terrific job of teaching you how to speak in public along with cultivating listening and leadership skills. 

Marketing – When it comes down to marketing we need to learn the essentials of good marketing planning. I believe this is why social media marketing is so popular. The core elements of a marketing agenda go directly to the wayside, and all you need to do is write your message or post a generic meme and hit send. We need to stand out from the masses, which takes time to develop and implement. Here are my top four favorite marketing strategies for musicians and bands.    The Rules of 7 – Simply says that the prospect buyer should hear or see the marketing message at least 7 times before they buy it from you. This doesn’t mean that you need to post the same message or send the same email seven times. Get creative and hit them from different angles. Put together a fan and client profile. Figure out where they get their news from and what their favorite social media site is. Your fan profile will help you generate information on where he or she looks for new music. Your client profile should target talent buyers. What resources do they use when searching for new talent? The more you know about your prospective buyer, the better chance that you will have at creating a marketing plan with an ROI.  Content Marketing – Videos, Vblog, blog and social media post. What’s the difference between posting and posting content marketing? Content is stimulating and engaging. The post is meaningful and catches the eye. To stand out you need to think about your core message and who that message is intended for. One of the helpful tips I have gathered over the years is, if someone posted the same message that I posted, would I be engaged. Read your content from a buyer’s point of view. Why is your music different that the other band down the street? Guerrilla Marketing – My favorite form of marketing that I have yet to master or even implement into my businesses game plan. I am hoping that by discussing this it will shed some light on a good tactic for my business. Guerrilla marketing is all about taking your message to the street and applying it through a non-traditional method such as publicity stunts, art displays, creative use of stickers and visuals that are eye catching.  Word of Mouth Marketing – The easiest and most sincere way of spreading a message is by simply conversing. When you talk one on one with someone about your music, they can see first hand how passionate you are about taking your career to the next level. When I reach out to someone over the phone or in person, I am able to convey the message a lot easier than I would be able to do by email, text or message. My favorite example comes from an artist who plays cover gigs. During his break he puts on his original music over the PA and talks to the crowd and tells them about his drive and goals with the project. This does two things. It gets the crowd interested in his originals and even gets them to either sign up for an email list or to purchase merchandise that is centered around the originals and not the covers. Jamie Salvatore describes his out to lunch with the industry as one of the most beneficial attributes his career had seen. You can hear him talk about this in the length on my podcast, Hold That Thought Here is what I recommend for Marketing – Any book by Seth Godin or his award winning daily blog. His insight into marketing is simply phenomenal. I also recommend Ari Herstand’s new book, “How to Make It in the New Music Business.” In this book, he has an excerpt about Product Market Fit that is geared towards fans.

Create  – Each project will be drastically different. With each new creation comes lessons that are invaluable. The more you create, the more diverse and polished your music project will become. To sit dormant is to idle in your comfort zone, which will never propel your music career further. Strive to write, learn, read and create on a daily basis.  Scientists use The Equal Odds Rule. I have broken down this rule to follow a musicians path.  The average release of an album from a musician does not have a statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other average release. In other words any given musician is equally likely to create a game changing piece of work as they are to create something average that is quickly abandoned. If you want to create a masterpiece, then you have to be willing to create a little junk along the way. But you need to create daily. 

Networking –  For the last six years I have made a gigantic mistake. I tried relentlessly to only network via online (social media , email, etc.). This mistake was very costly. I should have been out shaking hands and meeting people in person. Good networking is done in person. It’s similar to word of mouth marketing. The more people that can see and hear your passion, the easier it is to connect with them on a level that no online server can provide. I recently listened to a podcast where the interview was based on getting to know the talent buyer. He said the best thing you can do is get to know them on a personal level. A level outside of the music industry. What are their hobbies, passions and aspirations? This interview was on Chris G’s podcast, “Making It”. We love learning about this ever changing industry and can only grow stronger by hearing your feedback and comments. So drop us a comment or send us an email at


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