There is no music business
fairy anymore. There are no record deals to
be had, no advances to quit your job, no sexual
experience after the show that is going to make
you want to make music. These days, you are
an artist...that's it....you make music because
you have to make music to be a happy and fulfilled
person. People will feel that, you will make
fans, you will go viral and then you will generate
Unlike a lot of music marketing tactics you
hear about, this stuff is going to work fast
and should be used as part of a healthy balanced
music promotions diet. If you just send them
to your blog homepage, then you might get maybe
1.8% of the people signing up for your mailing
list. But if you send them to a simple page
with one goal, then you might get 30% of those
people if you are lucky.
Dear Guy Who Owns a Bar in
Tampa and wrote this letter to musicians on
I've been playing music for over 25 years. I've
worked in a lot of different places from absolute
ratholes to really wonderful venues. I've seen
all sorts of bad behavior on the part of musicians,
fans, sound guys, bartenders, bouncers, managers
and, yes, even bar owners.
I know you’re trying
to be nice by putting me in good company, but
musicians want to feel original. We don’t
want to hear we sound like everyone else. That
we’re unoriginal. It’s fine for
you to sell your friends on listening to someone
new by comparing them to well known artists,
but when talking to a musician, the best compliment
is “you sound like YOU and it’s
awesome.” Unless you’re talking
to a pop producer, then yeah, “it sounds
like Katy Perry” is probably the best
compliment you could give.
“Do you feel like the
live entertainment adds value to what your establishment
is doing?” It might be direct, but it
will help a booker to take a second look at
you the musician. If they feel live entertainment
encourages an increase in patrons, or encourages
patrons to stick around longer, then it is only
fair that they pay artists who are contributing
to their spaces success. If they don’t
feel it adds value, then why book live music?
As musicians who get all the
glory, we feel it’s time to thank those
whom we rely upon for the opportunity to showcase
our talent and express our creative faculty
to the local community. Because, as everyone
knows, musicians don’t really need the
money. We do it all for beer and blow jobs.
We’re artists. We have no time for such
trivialities as kids, mortgages, or car payments.
Sometimes, the stars align
and a gig goes just perfectly. You arrive early
at the venue, there’s time for an extensive
soundcheck, the crew is top notch, and the room
sounds just right. Your rig is totally dialed
in and the band is ready to fire on all cylinders.
During the gig, you’ve got the packed,
enthusiastic crowd in the palm of your hand,
there are no equipment or musical mishaps, and
you leave the stage feeling awesome.
I've been looking for gigs
lately, I’ve never seen so many free and
low paying gigs. Well the economy is bad, so
I can understand that a little bit. However,
it is no longer good enough for the musician
to be willing to perform for little compensation.
Now we are expected to also be the venue promoter?
The expectations are that the band will not
only provide great music, but also bring lots
of people to their venue. It is now the band’s
responsibility to make this happen, not the
Those of us who have been around
for over 40 years know a little bit more about the
evolution of the music industry than our younger counterparts.
Remember the 45? You know back when the Jackson 5
was a group and Michael Jackson had an afro? You had
an A side and a B side. Then there was the LP and
the 8 tracks. Most of us bought singles in those days
because it was all we could afford. However, we got
the music we wanted and record labels made money.
Even when the tape recorder came out and we started
recording our favorite songs off of the radio the
industry still made money.
A band is a unique and complex relationship,
and with so many different personalities and goals
among band members, things can sometimes get tricky.
Some people are direct, some are passive, some are
more organized than others. "Musicians are sensitive
and odd creatures," says songwriter/guitarist
Paul Hansen of indie folk band The Grownup Noise.
"So inevitably, it will be a dysfunctional, but
hopefully loving, family."
Mental illness and music isn't a subject that is
often discussed, but it is one that affects a disproportionate
number of musicians. Many, probably most of us, can
think of a time that music listening to it, playing
guitar, writing and performing songs helped us through
a difficult time in our lives. I know I can. Playing
music is a way of achieving catharsis, to deal with
our emotions by expressing them. I'm a long way from
the troubled teenager I once was, but even now, there's
nothing like grabbing an axe and rocking out to lift
my mood if I get low.
These are some of the worst and most common hoaxes
because they seem so benign but they can easily cost
you a lot of money without getting you anywhere. They
tend to disguise themselves in the form of some sort
of legitimate opportunity from a legitimate business
whether it be getting your song played on the radio,
getting you a record deal, or letting you play a showcase
in front of a big time A&R rep. The common thread
though is that they will all ask you for money to
get access. With the exception of membership-based
organizations like ASCAP or The Recording Academy,
press, marketing, or radio promotion agencies, or
a qualified professional industry consultant (determining
that requires research though), there are hardly any
legitimate music businesses that will charge you in
order to get access to a career opportunity (and honestly
the aforementioned companies aren't charging you for
access, they're charging for their services- but I
didn't want to confuse anyone into thinking they are
not legitimate businesses because they cost money).
Congratulations, your album is finally
finished and you are ready to share your masterpiece
with the world! You have already read "The Secret
to Using Social Media to Build a Massive Base"
and you are eager to implement those ideas and promote
your project. You have gathered a list of websites,
DJs, booking agents, A&R's and promoters to begin
networking. Well... on that list is a sketchy promoter,
an unethical booking agent and a commercial DJ waiting
to take your money. There are members of the music
community who prey on unsigned musicians. "The
music business is a cruel and shallow money trench,
a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run
free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative
side."-Hunter S. Thompson.