2 Vital Phases Artists *Must* Now Implement!
Hear Ye! Hear ye! Friends! Romans! Countrymen! For, I come not to tease
thee, but to please thee!
(*Wait a minute...that's not how it goes...*)
Okay, but hear me out anyway...since I've lain that on ya, allow me to this
on ye lay as well...
Trying to operate in today's unrequited Music industry feels like watching
an espionage cat-and-mouse chess game played out by Bond.James Bond
(independents) and Dr. No (RIAA et al). "Bond" makes a move, then "Dr. No"
counters by blowing something up...anything...and always out of proportion.
Therefore, I am stepping in even closer to the game, and portraying one of
those little pip squeak guys who is on Bond's team and so readily provides
him with all of the neat little gadgets for counterintelligence and,
Amidst all of the mad confusion, evolution and obtrusive incidents that are
occurring by "the powers who think they still are," there are 2, I dare say,
TWO phases of marketing and promotion that, not only has the RIAA not (yet)
considered but, at the same time, 2 things you can immediately take
advantage of that will help your career out tremendously.
Actually, I must give Derek Sivers (CD Baby.com)
due credit for inspiring me with one
of these ideas, and into pursuing it to further fruition. And, in regard to
the current state of it, it was immediately apparent of Derek's distaste for
it, as he used a rather colorful metaphor when discussing it.
From this, I determined that it was not among his favorite things. But, I
won't reiterate the term here, as the readership might also include priests,
nuns, rabbis, monks and, saints be praised, Mrs. Arnold, my former college
English teacher whom is otherwise known after hours as the "fingernail
extractor".a true bird of prey whom might take serious offense with my
First of all, through a few previous issues, I have advised independent
artists to pursue the "video" aspect of their careers, if for no other
reason than radio across-the-board is becoming quite saturated with artists
seeking airplay. However, after doing so, I felt that my admonishment had,
for the most part, fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.
I believe this is, largely, due to the myth that all music videos must cost
the same as the videos of such superstars as Eminem, Avril Lavigne, P. Diddy
and others, which range in the area of $4.72 billion dollar$. But, this is
far from the truth...in fact, artists have now forced me to take one last
stab at trying to convince them to start producing videos of their singles
by my now pulling out a *really* heavy weapon called Jeffrey P. Fisher.
If you don't know Jeffrey, he is the author of several of the few music
industry references that I deem to contain solid, real life workable
information that you can immediately put to use in benefiting your music
career. But, in regard to the video aspect, do yourself a favor and read
just how cheaply Jeffrey managed to get a video produced for a client at
In fact, I am so convinced that his article will serve you so well, and show
you just how inexpensively and simply a video can be produced, that I am
going to move on to the next pressing subject at hand. Now, this is a basic
video production, so if you want to include a 747 jet, or you need to have
Star Wars special effects that allow you to disappear, then reappear in anot
her location, I am now going to disappoint you by informing you that this
level of production is going to probably cost you an extra $50, or so. :-)
Oh, by the way...upon completion of your review of his article and, as a
result, you decide to pursue the video avenue, contact me for the creation
of your video script.
In contrast to one of my recent articles, "Declining Online Music $ales..."
whereby, I stressed the importance of offline retail distribution, I believe
that I must now do a bit of backpedaling by somewhat opposing that argument.
It is often said that the first sign of insanity, is when a person begins to
argue, discuss, debate and differ with himself. But, please humor me for a
while longer...don't write me off just yet. For, I believe you will agree
with my newfound reasons for somewhat of a change on perspective. And, here
1. Through the dark madness affectionately known as the "corporate" sector
of the Music industry, the Internet has become a beacon of light for
unsigned/independent artists who refuse to be taken by the "suits" for a joy
ride with a 1-way ticket to financial Hell, with no possible hope for a
return trip. Worse yet, not even a customary glass of ice water awaits them
at the entrance. But, simultaneously, the Internet has also become a
Catch-22 blessing/curse. How so?
Well, it is fairly difficult to put up a web site of your music, but keep it
a "local store." People, literally, across the world will soon find you out
and stumble into your virtual store. And, if they like your music, they
will hunt you down like a bloodhound on a convict's trail. There's just no
stopping them, and that is the blessing.
The curse, is trying to get product to them through offline distributors.
First, you must convince the distributor to "like" your music, in terms of
the marketing and promotional game plan you will use to move product out of
their doors and onto retail shelves. Next, you must consider that, if you
happen to get even a mediocre "hit" on a worldwide basis, if you try to
fulfill retail, you are going to find it necessary to sell the house, the
car and anything else you own, in an effort to keep up with the product
Hence, since fulfilling the supply obligations of a demanding public on a
worldwide scale is unrealistic for most musicians going it alone (unless
their surnames happen to be Rockefeller, Gates or Buffet), to assist you in
avoiding a diet consisting solely of Maalox and Jim Beam, I am now
suggesting you to exclusively market your product online.
The great thing is, again, in opposition to my previous advice that most
people are offline (which is true), is that as an independent artist, you do
not require the high profits that traditional labels require, simply because
their operating expenses are incredibly high.
Yet, simultaneously as an artist, your sales income will bring a much higher
royalty than major label artists could ever hope to receive, and even
superstar artists at the pinnacle of their careers. I believe the current
scenario is approximately $1-$2 (major label artist mechanical royalty)
versus $5-$6 (independent artist mechanical royalty). With that return, in
terms of income, you can readily see why it is unimportant to have a million
seller and why it is important to remain independent.
Online, with proactive and aggressive marketing and promotion in both online
and offline environments, and with a competitive recording, an independent
artist should, reasonably, be able to sell a *minimum* of 5,000 units within
a year's time and, most likely, a great deal more.
That online amount, well, amounts to a minimum of $25,000 for a year. Now,
add on the money you will make from gigging and see the close-to-home
dollars you can earn on your own. Yeah, with that amount, you can afford to
eat out at McDonald's an extra day in the week now, can't you?
Again, as an unsigned/independent artist, you want to market and promote
both online and offline, but you want to strictly distribute "online," in
the effort of saving you from the distribution experience of bankruptcy.
My point now, is to convince you to not become financially "in the red" at
the distribution level because, again, as an average Indie artist, it is not
a law of probability but, practically, an assurance that if you attempt to
distribute solo without deep pockets, and in competition with traditional
labels with deep pockets, you will eventually find yourself financially
'broke' to the point that you cannot even afford to take a bath. For,
distribution can quickly become like a beast that is never sated, but ever
hungering to be fed.
3. Stage Banners:
I, initially, said I wanted to advise you of 2 things, but I must also take
this opportunity to advise you on another vital tool for self-promotion that
seems to be a rare consideration of performing artists...stage banners. By
all means, for your gigs, consider investing in a large enough banner that
can be strung a good distance across the back of your band or, even better,
suspended overhead, if possible. This is the type of banner that you
usually find at car dealerships, and is made of plastic with ties at its
ends. These banners usually promote a special sale that is taking place.
For your own banner, you should simply include the name of your act, along
with an even more important element...your web site address. Even if you
sell your music at your gigs, your banner will still have a great effect, as
it will allow people to later peruse your site for more information. Also,
as club lighting is, naturally (or unnaturally) darkened, have your banner
created with a black background while your lettering is either white or
And, in addition to displaying the banner, also hand out any cards, fliers
or other promotional material after your show as well. If you have a
manager or assistant with you, have this done sometime during your
performance in order to catch people who may leave early. By the way, this
promo info *does* have your web site address on it as well, doesn't it?
But, perhaps, the most important aspect, is not only the technological,
marketing and promotion power that is afforded to artists today, that
translates into financial power, but the opportunity for a direct connection
that artists now have with their fans through artist web sites, email
addresses, discussion lists and newsletter mailing lists.
Through the years, I have observed a common denominator that assures and
insures long-term successful career artists. No, it is not how well they
sing, play, or perform. Alternatively, it is, how well they connect with
their audience...how much they are willing to reach out and become "in
synch" with their fans and music buyers through their singing, lyrics, and
live performance interaction. In other words, sending the message that they
can relate to, are accessible and appreciative of the loyalty, support and
devotion of their fans.financial or otherwise.
If you don't believe me, just recall the times you have entered a business
establishment to make a purchase. How did you feel when store clerks
directed you to help yourself *without* their assistance, as opposed to
clerks who greeted you with a smile, while readily offering their
assistance? That's exactly what I'm talking about...shaking the prima donna
attitude, coming down to earth, and making your fans a part of your extended
"family." After all, your debut release probably isn't (hopefully) the one
and only release of your career.
Bottom line...this state that we find ourselves in today in the Music
industry, should not focus on an Indie vs. Major competitive playoff. As an
artist, it should, otherwise, focus on your partaking of the married
blessings known individually as freedom and technology to, ultimately,
acquire an enjoyable lifestyle through your art, such as you have never
Editor's Note: Kenny Love has an extensive background in the Music and
Writing industries. Learn about his services for gigging and recording
artists by sending requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
and email@example.com .
Written By: Kenny Love