building your to the max - LiveMusicMachine

building your to the max - LiveMusicMachine
W i t h D e s i g n & We b E x a m p l e s
by :
C a ra P e c ke n s
One Fan At A Time: Building Your Music Biz to the Max
by: David A. Sherbow with design/web examples by Cara Peckens
Copyright © 2010 by David A. Sherbow and One Fan Consulting, Inc.
Cover & Interior Designer: Cara Peckens
Editor: Lani Shadduck
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This document was created on April 2, 2010 - 1st Edition and is based on the best information
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Copyright Info
What You Can Do
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You are given the unlimited right to print this
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email, your website, or any other means).
You can print out pages and put them in your
favorite venue or your doctor’s waiting room.
You can transcribe the author’s words onto the
sidewalk, or you can hand out copies to ever
one you meet. You may not alter this e-book in
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This book is dedicated to the power that music has had
over my life and for the fact that without it my definition
as a human being would have been meaningless.
To My Mother: for her love who gave me my first radio in 1957 which started my love
of music and for her lifetime of encouragement in all things David.
To My Father: without whom I would never have been as independent a thinker, as
educated or as good as writer as I am today.
To my partner Cara Peckens: Whose total support, guidance and direction have been
of inestimable value to me over the past seven years.
To Kevin Brenner (wherever you are)- Whose fearless devotion and support for independent artists was second to none and from whom I have learned more than I can
ever repay.
To Andrew Dubber: Who without hardly knowing me, shared his time and amazing
mindset with me in ways that helped me that he will probably never realize
To Ric Fleisher and Toby Bray: for being two of the best sounding boards I have ever
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Your Music: Is it Good Enough?..........................................................................................................9
Chapter 3
Your Live Performance: How Much Better Can It Get?..................................................................13
Chapter 4
Your Image: Does One “Look” Convey the Power of Your Image and Vision?............................16
Chapter 5
Your Products: More than Just Merch - What Every Artist Should Have Ready To Roll............18
Chapter 6
Your Level of Effort: Keeping It Real - Is Your Level of Effort Enough?.........................................21
Chapter 7
Your End Game: Do You Believe You Can Make It Without Ever Getting A Record Deal?.........24
Chapter 8
Your 360 Deal: The Only 360 Deal You Should Do Is One With Yourself.....................................27
Chapter 9
Your Team: Teamwork Matters: Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime. But Who?...............32
Chapter 10 Your Fan: How to Profile Your Fan AND Potential Customer........................................................36
Chapter 11 Your Online Presence: Setting Up Your Online Presence to Maximize Your Offline
Chapter 12 Your Offline Presence: How To Effectively Work The Street.........................................................48
Chapter 13 Your Live Shows: Thinking In and Outside The Venue...................................................................55
Chapter 14 Your Booking Method: Booking and the Art of Self-Preservation – Everything You Ever
Wanted to Know About to Get Booked Into Clubs..............................................61
Chapter 15 Your Future: A Word on the Way Forward: If You Work It, They Will Come..............................68
Chapter 16 Resources...........................................................................................................................................71
“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
The music business is many things to many people. There are those who are incredibly
successful at making, breaking and selling music. Their passion and total commitment to music
makes it happen. Then, there are those who are drawn by the allure of stardom. Call it the “Gold
Rush syndrome”. The romance, non-conformity, power and money of music and its business
have become this past century’s California - the next American ‘Gold Rush’. However, like the
Wild West, not everyone makes it past the frontier, especially in the new world order of music.
There exists a great ‘wasteland’ of absolutely phenomenal music talent that never makes it to
the grand American musical landscape.
This book is about what it takes to move past the frontier and break through the surface of the
American musical landscape. It will walk you step by step through what it really takes to make
it in the new music business. It is told from the perspective of a passionate music man who has
since 1965 witnessed a large chunk of music history spanning Rock and Roll, R&B, and Hip Hop;
who, more importantly, has done it all in the music business including booking and managing
acts from all genres; who is currently working at the highest level of the record marketing and
promotion business; who has put out and promoted over twenty-five (25) independent record
releases; who has developed groups and artists where they have been signed to major labels or
distribution companies; who has been immersed in the new music space of the Internet as an
entrepreneur and blogger; and who, most importantly, has made most of the mistakes that can
be made in this business which hopefully will teach you to protect yourself from the pitfalls of a
difficult, frustrating and, at times, ruthless, business.
I will try and tell you the “real deal” about what and whom you are up against as you make
your personalized journey. Regardless of what segment of the business you wish to become
a part of: artist, songwriter, manager, lawyer, booking agent, or record company executive
or employee, if you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it, this book will become your
“bible” and first line of defense. Contrary to whatever you may think or may ever have been
told, there is no “luck” in the music business. People, who are willing to put the time in, will
make their own breaks and succeed in this frustrating, never easy business.
Let’s face it: Anybody that tells you if after six months of sitting at home, making a little music,
all the while tweeting to the masses and accruing a following Hari Krishna would be proud of,
that you can actually quit your day job is either an idiot or trying to sell you the music business
equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge. In order to succeed in the music business, you’ve got to build
a fan base and recognize how to build it. Some fans are created only after they listen to your
music, still others after they hear your music and are engaged by your online presence. Most
fans, however, are created when they meet you personally or see you perform live where they
can make an emotionally binding connection directly with you.
I want to give you a 2010 equivalent of electro shock therapy. Here are the facts; Record
labels are all but dead. You won’t win anything but heartache in trying to sign a “deal”. The
music machine, as we know it is run by old execs with their mind on the money and money on
their mind. Believe me, I’ve been there. The new music platform lies in things we know well:
networking and good old-fashioned pavement grinding. Really, it’s that easy.
One for the Records
In 1977, after graduating from law school, I was offered a special one-year job as a law clerk for
one of Maryland’s most powerful judges. Secretly, while working for the job I started booking
rock and roll bands right out of his chambers. One day, my judge caught me red handed
booking a band on his time. He didn’t fire me because he liked me too much. This was my
wake up call telling me that going into the music business was my destiny. So when my job as
a clerk was over, I walked away from the practice of law and certain financial success to totally
immerse myself in the music business. I found my first band to manage and boy was I in for a
rude awakening. I lived in poverty for the next 3 years. My father refused to speak to me, and
all of my upper middle class private school friends ridiculed me for walking away from the good
life. Clearly, I made a choice that defined the rest of my life and, to my credit; I have never once
looked back in regret.
As much as I loved music, I never learned how to play an instrument. I took guitar lessons for
a while but when the teacher refused to teach me how to play like Eric Clapton, I quit. In my
senior year of college at NYU, my grandmother rented me a piano and some friends and I took
lessons to do something different before we graduated. All of us practiced like dogs but none
of us were any good and the teacher hated us. He actually failed us and tried to keep us from
graduating. We lucked out because a friend’s father knew the head of the University who
turned our F’s intro C’s so we could graduate.
To add to my street credibility, 25 years ago, I stepped into artist mode, wrote the words and
music to a country song, had a friend play all the parts as I hummed them to him (I don’t play
an instrument) and then sang all the parts by myself, a notch above pathetic. Soon thereafter,
based on relationships I had built by myself in the music business, the song was played for over
two months on the biggest morning show on the biggest rock station in Central Pennsylvania
and I was interviewed live on the air by the station’s program director.
I accomplished something that most bands only dream of. But after watching an artist I
represented do exactly this and getting him a great record deal on Epic Records, I made up
my mind that if he could do it then so could I. And I did. Before you have a good laugh at the
expense of my artistry, realize what I, a non-musician, was able to accomplish on my very own
with relationships I had built exclusively by myself.
The fruits of my labor say it all.
This e-book is not meant to be just a primer for emerging bands. It is also meant to be a useful
tool against which any artist or band can measure their level of success to see if they are on
track for future stardom or, to see if they are missing a few key elements needed to improve
their chances of making it in the future. I want my 50 years of passion for popular music, my
successes, and, yes, failures in the music business to help any artist that wants to emerge from
the basement and chart a course for success in the new music business today and beyond.
Everything, you are going to read about from this point forward, are things I have actually done
myself or were done by artists I was directly involved with or actually managed.
(BTW, parts of this book will definitely seem repetitive. Because they are. This is all part of my
plan to make artists aware of those things that are most important to their success. Sometimes
things needs to be hammered in to really sink in (ask any mother).
In the world of popular
music, familiarity does
not breed contempt.
Most great songs remind
you of other great songs.
Your Music
Everything in the music business always comes down to the music and how good it really is. If
the only people that like your music are friends and family, start looking for a great day job.
If you’re really serious, talk to other artists, mangers, agents, producers, critics and industry
professionals and see what they really think about your music. To do this properly will require
some diligence and hard work on your part. Local bands that you respect probably have
managers whose email addresses and phone numbers can usually be found on a band’s
MySpace page or their personal website. Use the same process with booking agencies. Find the
number for the agent that books artists similar to you or into clubs that you feel you should play.
Talk to enough bands in your area and you will find out the names of the top local producers.
Get their numbers and call them. Be humble and ask the manager, agent or producer for five
minutes of their time for some guidance. If you are polite and persistent, most likely they will
listen to your music and give you their feedback. After listening to what they have to say, do
some soul searching: Do you truly have something different and special or is it just another sonic
waste of time? Will your friends and family buy your music or want it for free?
Overwhelming though it is, more music than ever finds its way out and onto the Internet.
Technology has made it possible for virtually anyone who wants to crank out a song to easily
and cheaply do so. User generated music used to be a really cool phenomenon, but now it has
become more of a pain in the ass. Just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean that every single
song created belongs uploaded onto the Internet. Before you give up life, limb and every
worldly cent you have to a career in music, take that once in a lifetime really hard listen to your
music. Remember: Anybody who pays for your music really likes it and wants it. When it comes
to discovering new music, less is definitely best. So help the music loving community out and
think before you indiscriminately put your music out for the world to hear.
Crafting the Perfect Song
Making great popular music always starts with a song -- yours or somebody else’s. A good song
has an appealing combination of words and music structured in to some acceptable format of
verses, choruses and bridges and always containing a repetitive, memorable hook.
Who really knows how a musical idea starts and becomes a song? It may develop from thoughts
in your mind; from a vibe or a gut feeling you may have; or from trying to imitate another
artist’s material. Good songs all use the same writing format and its very limited variations.
At the heart of every truly effective song, there will always be a strong musical and/or lyrical
“hook,” the simple repetitive, usually melodic, catchy part of a song that everyone remembers
after the first time they hear it.
To some, songwriting is an art where each piece of the whole is carefully crafted. To others it
is a natural talent. Gifted writers may only take minutes to crank out a “hit.” Nevertheless, all
great writers understand that every effective song is written within a tight “box” that comprises
a song’s structure. The writers for successful artists like Metallica, Garth Brooks, Jay-Z, Nirvana,
Beyonce et al. wrote inside this all-powerful “box.”
Understanding what a good writer understands does not take a rocket scientist. An educated
pair of ears and some simple musical common sense will do. In my lifetime, I have listened
to thousands of song demos and it still boggles the mind how people who have listened to
thousands of hours of music on CD’s, mp3’s and radio, just don’t get “it.”
If you listen carefully and study how a song is put together both by feel and actual structure,
you will see there is method to the madness. There is always going to be an enticing intro of 20
seconds or less (with the immediacy of the Internet 5-10 is becoming the norm), 2-3 melodic
and/or groove based verses, a catchy musical and/or lyrical chorus/hook which shows up within
the first 100 seconds of the song as well as some kind of musical and/or lyrical bridge that ties
the whole song together. There must be a beginning, middle and end. Usually, if any of these
parts are missing you don’t have a song.
With few exceptions, lyrics, except in the hook, are secondary to the flow and sound of the
music. The more familiar a song becomes, the more influence and power the lyrics have on the
In the world of popular music, familiarity does not breed contempt. Most great songs remind
you of other great songs. Twenty five years ago, Jerry Ade, one of the great booking agents
of the past 30 years, graphically proved this point to me. He sent me out to buy the top ten
singles on Billboard’s Top 100. He gave me a half hour to listen to them. He asked me what I had
observed. Honestly, I couldn’t tell him. We then listened to each song and he showed me the
secret: each song reminded us of something familiar from another well-known song, but yet was
still different. The genius of great songwriting is that it will always push the boundaries of the
“box” while at the same time maintaining a careful balance between the new and different and
the familiar.
Regardless of the format, today’s music is increasingly homogenous, i.e. everything sounds more
and more alike. Nothing is particularly bold and inventive. So the question is: What can you do
to push the envelope and truly set your music apart from others? First of all, in whatever genre
of music you are writing, take the time to develop an historical perspective.
Go 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years and listen to the great artists of your genre. Study and appreciate
their songs. For example, if you are writing rock, then for the 50’s listen to Elvis, Buddy Holly
and Chuck Berry; in the 60’s listen to the Beatles, Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Who,
The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan; in the 70’s listen to Led Zeppelin,
Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, the Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, Creedence Clearwater
Revival, Elton John, the Eagles and ZZ Top; in the 80’s listen to U2, The Police, Billy Joel, Journey,
Foreigner, Kiss, Judas Priest, Genesis, and Tom Petty; and in the 90’s listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam
and Metallica. These are just my quick suggestions. Any of a hundred others will do.
Once you have taken a listening inventory of the great songs and artists of the genre you are
trying to write, ideas will come easier; and since you now have an idea of where your genre
of music came from as well as its evolution, you should have a much better grasp of your own
music writing and the direction you want to pursue. Taking ideas from the past and putting your
personal stamp upon them has been a standard writing tool since the beginning of popular
Most great songs are 3 to 4 minutes in length or have been edited down to that length for radio
play. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, most notably: Light My Fire by the Doors and Jose
Feliciano; Inna Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly; Macarthur Park by Richard Harris and Donna
Summer and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Don’t ask me why but these songs still worked at
radio. They were powerful, mesmerizing and addictive songs.
Secondly, listen to radio, terrestrial, satellite or Internet, and listen carefully. It doesn’t matter
if you like what you hear or, for that matter, if you think that your music is better. At this point,
you are trying to learn what’s radio friendly -- what radio thinks is on the cutting edge in today’s
music. Anyway you look at it, this is your competition. If you can’t compete with what you are
hearing, the possibility that your music will be acceptable and emotionally binding to many will
seriously diminish.
Thirdly, wherever you are, try and network with other up and coming writers. This is true
whether you are a solo artist or writer or a member of a group. Song writing is a craft that
constantly needs to be improved. The more a person exposes him or herself to better and more
creative writers, the quicker their skills will develop.
Every town has a scene for the type of music you want to write. Find it. If you are unable to
write by yourself, look for a collaborator. In the rap and hip hop world, collaboration is essential
for success. On most songs, one artist usually makes music tracks while another artist writes
the lyrics. Sooner or later - if you are serious about your craft - an artist or group or someone
with industry connections will take notice and you will be on your way.
Start off easy. After you have compared your songs to those written by artists you respect
and love as well as to those songs getting played on terrestrial, satellite or Internet radio, take
a deep breath. Concentrate and really listen to your own music with a critical ear. Above all,
before you listen, check your ego at the door. Most people who truly love music are totally
honest with themselves, and in their heart of hearts can really tell if their music stacks up to the
competition. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, if your music doesn’t stack up to at
least an 8, have a seat, take a deeper breath and ask yourself if you can improve what you have.
Can you make it that much better? Whatever you do, please don’t turn people off to new music
because yours is really bad, rather turn them on to new music because yours is really good.
That being said, there are plenty of resources you can use to get a trusted opinion about your
music. If there is a blogger out there you think has a great ear for music, contact them, offer
them a 100 bucks to give their honest opinion about your music and how good it is. Services
like Hit Song Science, Music X Ray, WeAreListening, Taxi and discovery sites like The SixtyOne
and Garageband can validate your music by trusted opinion or crowd sourcing. Don’t ask for a
trusted opinion if you are not going to consider the opinion once it’s given. Only you can make
the final decision as to how good your music really is. Hopefully, you will make the right one.
Some people are born
to play live and others
have to work at it to be
good. Work through
your fear to perform if
you have any. Fearless
execution is the goal.
Once you have determined that your music is really that good, whether you make any money in
the music business will depend largely on your personality, charisma and, most importantly, on
how good your live performance is.
An artist’s live performance is the core to their success. It must be constantly improved through
a labor of love as long as the artist is performing. Regardless of what kind of artist you are, be
it a band, singer, rapper or DJ, practice makes perfect. Formulating a live show and practicing it
until you can do it in your sleep will make it seem all the more spontaneous when you perform
before a live audience. Furthermore, reaching a certain level of confidence and comfort with
your live performance will enable you to deliver an engaging product that will resonate with
your fans and, ultimately will put you on the path towards greatness.
The greatest musical artists combine incredible music with a compelling performance. Of course,
a great song can stand on its own without an accompanying live performance. But great music
played live by a powerful, exciting, charismatic performer gets taken to a much higher, more
memorable level. Some people are born to play live and others have to work at it to be good.
Work through your fear to perform if you have any. Fearless execution is the goal. Practice until
your vocals are flawless and your instrument becomes a part of your body. Work on integrating
your chosen image carefully with your live performance until it is seamless. Deliver the same
high caliber performance whether there is one person or 10,000 in your audience. Live music
connections are all important and almost singlehandedly drive every aspect of an artist’s
success financially and otherwise.
Case in point: Truly compelling live rock acts like Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The
Who, Aerosmith, Kiss, The Grateful Dead and AC/DC didn’t become that way overnight. These
great acts:
•Toured Incessantly
•Had charisma
•Had performance confidence
•And had a unique stage shtick
Interestingly enough, these artists almost always are in the top 10 of money-making artists for
the years in which they tour. What does this tell you about why having a great live act makes
such an incredible difference?
These fundamental elements made them into consistently successful touring acts for the ages.
Bear in mind they didn’t just get good, they practiced their craft. Greatness was a product of
focus, drive and an unwavering belief in themselves. Every single one of these acts worked hard
to develop an ability to make a live connection with their fans. Without such a connection, it is
impossible for any artist to achieve greatness as a live performer.
One more thing: Work the crowd. Before and after every show, until you require a security
detail to protect you from your fans, talk to as many of them as you can.
•Show them you are a real human being.
•Let them know how important they are to you.
•Never be too tired to say a kind word.
In the end you will build an army of “true fans” who will help push you towards greatness as
well as feed you along the way.
A true image cannot be
contrived or forced. It
comes naturally, feels
right and fits you and
your artistry. Your image
must be one you can
convincingly sell to your
fans both on and off
Does One “Look” Convey the Power of Your
Image and Vision?
You have the music and the live chops, now you just need to establish your own unique image
– a self-brand, if you will. Make sure your image has some unique properties that attracts and
draws fans to you. Put as much thought into your image as you can. Think about what you wear
and how you look. Don’t look like other artists especially if they play the same kind of music
as you do. Try and find that soft spot that will resonate with people and turn them on to what
you are doing rather than off (in other words, not everyone can rock guy-liner). Talk to as many
women as you can to see what they really think about your image. Don’t ever fool yourself into
thinking that your music and image are directed only towards men. No matter how much your
music may appeal to men, the glue that holds your niche or community together will almost
always come from the women who support you.
Be advised, “shock” is an image that rarely works. Alice Cooper, Kiss, Ozzie Osbourne, Marilyn
Manson, and Twisted Sister may have successfully rocked the crazy look into something
successful, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Finally, don’t be dull. Rocking the
ordinary image or, worse, having no image at all, won’t get you far – and forget about tips for
playing in subways. Unless you are that one-in-a-million artist whose natural charisma, innate
artistry, and utter charm are so thoroughly compelling that people recognize how good you
really are without trying, then I would suggest that you pay a great deal of attention to creating
a strong and unique image.
In the final analysis, you need to create and develop an appealing image that is comfortable
for you, yet edgy enough to define and differentiate who you are as an artist. You must have
the confidence to live your image and explore it in every way you can. Great artists evolve
their image and eventually it becomes a brand unique only to them. A true image cannot be
contrived or forced. It comes naturally, feels right and fits you and your artistry. Your image
must be one you can convincingly sell to your fans both on and off stage. Ultimately, your image
must become a part of who you really are; it is the visual link that connects you with your fans
and vice versa.
Once you have found an image that you are comfortable with, create a logo. Think of Batman’s
bat signal – simple yet effective. You need a clear-cut, well thought out logo that truly defines
your image. It needs to be an instantly recognizable symbol that will brand every aspect of your
image from visuals to marketing and promotional materials to product and merchandise lines.
If you believe in yourself
and your music, making
a minimal investment in
these things should go
without saying.
More than Just Merch - What Every Artist
Should Have Ready To Roll
At the outset, every serious artist needs to think about what basic types of products they
need to create and have on hand so they can build, maintain and maximize their exposure and
profitability. The amount and quality of these products is dependent on several things: the
time you can put in, the skills you have to contribute and the money you have to offset your
costs, when and if they arise. You will also require several basic items:
•Music (final mixes) in digital, physical and live performance formats - Minimum of 3 completed songs produced with a well-defined sound unique to the artist.
•Lyrics - format them into a graphically pleasing digital format
•Visual products
•Photos - A set taken by a professional or experienced photographer
who captures the artist’s image as cool but human and not too distant for marketing and promotional use
•Video Showcasing:
the artist’s on stage performance in the best possible light;
a concept video with YouTube in mind
a personal video showing the human side of the artist
•Graphic Art - Any digitally formatted art that relates to you as an artist or to a specific song or project
At the very least, prepare designs for the types of merchandise you would like to sell. No,
you don’t have to buy a bunch of stuff to sell unless you have the money and think the time is
right to order product. There are many online options for stores that will make, sell and fulfill
products for you one piece at a time, e.g. Reverbnation Store, Café Press, Zazzle. Of course,
with these one-off companies, you make much less per piece sold than you would by buying
in bulk and fulfilling orders yourself. Should you decide to fulfill your own product sales, you
can add your overhead costs as a separate shipping and handling fee. This is a clever way to
legitimately make a few much-needed dollars and is pretty resourceful on your part. After all,
you never send anything out until it’s paid for, right?
None of the above items should cost you very much money to create and should be easy to
develop. If you believe in yourself and your music, making a minimal investment in these things
should go without saying. Money or not, a resourceful, focused and committed artist always
manages to find a way to get these things done and done well. Without them, you won’t even
make it to the starting line in time for the race.
At a very bare minimum,
if you are not motivated
enough to put in 20-30
hours a week, simply
pack it up.
Keeping It Real - Is Your Level of Effort
Many artists get to this point (let’s call it ego) where they think they are ready to move forward
and conquer the music business. Think again. Sit yourself down and take a good assessment of
1). your personal limitations and 2). the quality and level of effort you are seriously willing to
commit to your career in music. At a very bare minimum, if you are not motivated enough to
put in 20-30 hours a week, simply pack it up. If you really plan on giving it your best effort, this
means total immersion - at least 50 hours a week. If music is your life, you should at least treat it
as such. Think of it this way: a normal nine-to-five job is 40 hours a week and, for most people,
it isn’t their passion. If anything else takes up more time than your music, then, in reality, that’s
your real job and music is nothing more than a hobby.
At the end of 2009, David Hooper, a well known music marketing guru and interviewer in
the new music business, wrote a telling piece for musicians on what it will take them to be
successful entitled, The Best Way to Be Successful at Anything. In it he imparts these little
nuggets of wisdom:
Being successful within the music business is a lot like learning a new language...
What’s the best way to learn a foreign language? Go to a country where they speak it all the
time and you’ll learn more in a month than you would in years of “school.” Total immersion is
the best classroom.
Are You Pavlov’s Dog?
If you’re working a day job, you’ve got a tremendous amount of inertia to overcome. Most
people have years of heavy social programming, which makes them think they “need” a day job.
Beyond that though, a “weekly paycheck” trains us in its own way.
We’re more like animals than we think. Do a trick, get rewarded.
Just worked 40 hours? Here’s a paycheck. Good boy!
That’s hard to walk away from!! I get it. But understanding this will help you do just that.
How to Change Your Music Business Career in a Single Day
In my years of working with musicians, the two biggest problems most have are:
1. Comfort
2. Treating music like a job
Total immersion solves both of these very quickly. It immediately takes you out of your comfort
zone of a regular paycheck (and what comes with it-- food, clothing, shelter, etc) and puts you in
a place where you have to make things happen in order to survive.
Have a problem asking for what you’re worth? Giving away CDs? Playing for free? Do music
fulltime, get a little hungry, and watch what happens...
Have friends who think what you’re doing is a “hobby” and want to attend your shows for free?
Do music fulltime and the problem is solved.
And the list goes on and on...
So let me repeat my advice one more time...
Do it Now
Seriously, do it now. If you really want this as much as you say you do, do it now. Otherwise,
the upcoming year will end up just like this one did.
For starters, work through the exercises in Ariel Hyatt’s step by step guide: Music Success in
Nine Weeks. Consider this your crash course in setting goals and building a roadmap for your
music business.
If you decide this killer level of effort is not is not up to your capabilities, you can always play
your songs for friends and family and let them keep telling you how good your stuff is while you
as an artist go nowhere except (eventually) to bed.
Do you want to ride the
old record company
horse until it drops
dead? Or do you want
to forge ahead into an
exciting, innovative
music business that
begs for new ideas and
solutions, and most
importantly, actually
makes you enough
money to survive?
Ask Yourself: Do You Believe You Can Make It
Without Ever Getting A Record Deal?
There is one last thing to consider before you can move forward with a clear path to your
potential success: your endgame. What’s your goal? Is your dream of fame and fortune in the
music biz contingent upon getting a major label record deal? If so, you are setting yourself up
for a huge disappointment and might as well bid your music career farewell.
The record business as we once knew it is in a state of total collapse. If there’s a lifeline
for them, they haven’t come close to finding it. The Internet has leveled the playing field.
Traditional channels of distribution, terrestrial radio, television such as MTV and BET, as well
as physical and legal digital distribution, no longer get it done. Nobody has yet figured out a
marketing strategy in the new music business that not only works, but also works repeatedly.
Moreover, a strategy that guarantees a high rate of success for multiple emerging artists let
alone massive success that enables a few victors to carry a gang of losers on the side all the
while still managing to make a company profit no longer exists. Like I said, the old model is dead
and gone.
Record companies, for the most part, have all but abandoned the artist development process.
In today’s ever risky marketplace, record companies want to see proof of your concept, i.e., a
proven base of sales and/or media exposure, before they will even contemplate investing in you.
Also, unless they are complete idiots, when they do sign an artist they will insist on doing a 360
deal with you. The infamous 360 deal, really shouldn’t be called a deal at all - it gives the record
company a percentage of everything an artist makes; this means pieces of publishing, touring
and merchandise sales. Unfortunately, when a record company does a 360 deal, thus far, there
really is no indication that they are seriously working on behalf of the artist to develop any of
these additional revenue streams.
Marketing muscle aside, right now, the only tangible thing a record company has to offer is
money. And both are becoming a rare commodity. However, alternate means of funding artists
are cropping up. For example, Terry McBride and Brian Message’s Polyphonic label offers what
amounts to venture capitalist funding for various artist’s projects; corporate sponsors also
continue to generate cash; and web financing plays like Kickstarter and Sellaband provide new
ways to fund your musical endeavors.
The means for developing and marketing emerging artists successfully is in major transition.
Answers are not immediately forthcoming. The real question is: Do you want to ride the old
record company horse until it drops dead? Or do you want to forge ahead into an exciting,
innovative music business that begs for new ideas and solutions, and most importantly,
actually makes you enough money to survive? If the answer to this question is obvious to you,
welcome to the new music business!!
For solo artists, an
income within the $4060,000 range after
expenses is a realistic
goal. For band members
at least $35,000 after
expenses is reasonable.
YOUR 360 deal
The Only 360 Deal You Should Do Is One With
A 360 deal in the new music business puts the artist in complete control of every aspect of their
business and financial affairs. Think of the wheel. The center sprocket represents the artist.
Each spoke on the wheel represents a different way the artist can make money from their ability
to write and play music. The diagram below should clarify what a 360 deal is.
For simplicity’s sake, there are five principal ways that artists make most of their money, which
can then lead to other cash filled avenues. These five (5) key sources of income for artists are (in
no special order) :
1. Music Sales
2. Publishing and Licensing of Music
3. Touring and Live Shows
4. Sales of Product and Merchandise
5. Corporate Sponsorships and Endorsements
On his blog, MusicBizGuy has been organizing and updating a list of ways that artists can make
money. As you can see, the list below is pretty extensive. Has he left anything out?
1. Publishing
a. Mechanical royalties
b. Performance Royalties from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC
c. Synch rights, TV Shows, Commercials, Movies, Video Games
2. Digital Sales – Individual or in Combination
a. Music Album (Studio & Live) – Physical & Digital, Single – Digital, Ringtone, Ringback, Podcasts
b. Instant Post Gig Live Recording via download, mobile streaming or flash drives
c. Video – Live, Concept, Personal, – Physical & Digital
d. Video and Internet Games featuring or about the artist
e. Photographs
f. Graphics and Art Work, Screen Savers, Wall Paper
g. Lyrics
h. Sheet Music
i. Compilations
3. Digital Performance Royalties from Sound Exchange
4. Products and Merchandise – Clothes, USB Packs, Posters, other things
5. Live Performances
a. Live Show – Gig
b. Live Show – After Party
c. Meet and Greet
d. Personal Appearance
e. Studio Session Work
6. Sponsorships, and Endorsements
7. Advertising
a. Band Newsletter Emails
b. Blog/Website
c. Videos
d. Music Player
8. Fan Clubs and subscriptions for all of an artist’s music
9. Selling Fan Created Products like Videos and Mashups
10. YouTube Subscription channel for more popular artists
11. Artist Programmed Internet Radio Station. A mid-level or higher artist with a fan base could create customized playlists including personal tunes. Fans pay for shout-outs while sponsors pay for blocks of time or ads to support it. Another approach could be a podcast that people subscribe to for a couple of bucks a month.
12. Financial Contributions of Support – Tip Jar or Direct Donations
13. Patronage Model – Artist Fan Exclusives – e.g. paying to sing on a song in studio or have artist write one for you
14. Mobile Apps
15. Affiliate Sales for Other Artists and Websites
16. Artist Specific Revenue Streams - unique streams customized to the specific artist, e.g. Amanda Palmer
17. Music Teaching – Lessons and Workshops
18. Music Employment – orchestras, bands, choir directors, ministers of music, etc.
19. Music Production – Studio and Live
20. Any job available to survive and keep making music
21. Getting Help From Other Artists and Helping Them - Whatever Goes Around Comes Around.
Be Realistic
Obviously, looking at the above list, there are a multitude of ways for artists to make money in
the music business. Find the ones that make the most sense in your case; work them to the max;
and combine them together into a stream of cash great enough to guarantee your survival as an
artist. For solo artists, an income within the $40-60,000 range after expenses is a realistic goal.
For band members at least $35,000 after expenses is reasonable.
If, after two years of total immersion in the new music business, these income figures are not
within range, take a careful look at what income streams are in use and see if there are not
any others that can be tapped. If not, maybe survival in the music business is not a realistic
possibility. Another career path may be better. It may sound harsh, but in order to make it in the
new music business including the option of a record deal, it’s all about building and monetizing a
large and loyal fan base with a minimum of at least 5,000 (regularly spending) individuals.
A 360 deal is about money and control – who has it? In the new music business there is no
reason for you as the artist or your designated manager not to have control over your own
money. Make sure that if you offer anyone other than yourself control of possible sources of
revenue, they maximize the opportunity given them. If not, fire them. Collecting the money is
easy. Maximizing potential cash flow takes a lot more effort.
Remember, good looks are never worth a free lunch. Make them work hard for whatever bone
you decide to throw them. Treat your 360 business like any other business. Sell it if you want
to, especially if you’re offered what you think it’s really worth. Look at Jay-Z and Madonna’s
deals with Live Nation. They essentially sold themselves out and snagged a respective $120
million and $180 million by doing so. You never look a gift horse in the mouth even if it’s one
you are riding into the ground.
The basement game
of passing the buck to
an agent or manager in
return for superstardom
doesn’t exactly fly these
days. Success in these
times requires real
commitment and a lot
more effort.
Teamwork Matters: Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime. But Who?
At this point, you know you’ve got the music, the live show and the image. You are prepared to
commit your full time to being an artist and you realize that chasing the record deal dream is
just that – a dream. You don’t need it to be successful. However, you do to need to realize that
Doing It Yourself (DIY) does not mean doing it without help. No matter who you are – be it artist,
politician, or bored housewife – you’ve probably realized that you can’t make it alone. A word
of advice: an effective team does wonders for a chance to succeed in the new music business.
Your team can have as many or as few people as you like. The help you need depends on what
you deem necessary to get the job done. However, at the very least, you need to cover the
following bases:
The Visionary
This is the person (or persons) that provides the creativity and artistic force behind an artist’s
music, live show and image - the artist’s reason for being, if you will. It’s always preferable to
have one visionary to ensure that the artistic vision is clear and focused. Infighting can mean
death to any band. The Visionary should be prepared and unafraid to make decisions that affect
the integrity of the art and how it is made and portrayed to the world.
The Salesperson
This is that charismatic, resourceful person who can sell your musical product to the world
convincingly and passionately. Ideally, this person should be a member of the band or the artist
himself. Whoever it is, they must have a serious stake in the success of the artist, and be, at
the very least, the artist’s manager. Like it or not this is SHOW business. Engaging the public
and building and maintaining a fan base takes an adept sales person. If you don’t have one, you
better find one.
Get out of that basement mentality. While it may be great for creating music, staying in the
basement will never make you famous no matter what you do. If you think it will, you must be
out of your mind or smoking something besides cigarettes. Great art always requires someone
capable of selling the vision and the artist that created it. Family members, relatives, close
friends, boyfriends or girlfriends are too close emotionally. They can be too easily compromised
in ways that can destroy everything. The artist himself is always the best at this because he or
she will do whatever it takes to realize the dream.
The Community Manager and Online Technician
This is the person who is solely and individually responsible for developing and maintaining the
artist’s online presence,- the IT guy, if you will. For best results, they need to have a financial
stake in the artist’s success. More importantly, respect for the artist as well as the ability to
supervise his or her online conduct and presence to maximize fan engagement is absolutely
necessary. Without it, mishaps can and will occur.
The Administrator
Simply put, this is the person who organizes and supervises the artist’s day-to-day business and
career affairs – a bureaucrat of sorts, but with benefits. Initially, this can be the artist or, if a
band, a member of the band. However, in order to maximize artistic creativity and productivity,
this function should be given to a full-time manager when possible.
For the tech savvy bands that have or do not have managers and want to better organize their
business affairs, software from companies like Bandize and IndieBandManager, will enable them
to do it. Also, services like ArtistData and Ping, allow artists to aggregate information and push
it out to multiple sites they are maintaining.
The Pitfalls
As you consider think about those people that will fit your team best, there are certain obvious
pitfalls that you need to consider and avoid or else they can destroy you and your artistic efforts
1. Drugs and alcohol – regardless of what anyone tells you or what you yourself may think, any
mood or mind altering substance will always work against your ability to grow and produce as
an artist.
2. Controlling girlfriends, parents, friends or relatives – any of these involved in your career or
artistic direction will eventually destroy you as an artist. Never let anybody close to you be
able to control your decision making as an artist or performer. Under no circumstances does
this preclude the free flow of ideas between members of a band or between writing partners.
This is directed solely at those people who push their agendas at the expense of yours. . I know
that love is hard to find but please try and find it with someone who is not in your band. Not
following this advice is a recipe for disaster.
3. Ego – too much or too little of this can destroy your artistic endeavors.
4. Bad management or a controlling producer– listening to the wrong people and their advice
will usually destroy your artistic endeavors.
There are a lot of questionable characters out there, solely in it for their own interests and
not yours. Never follow the piper. Remember, you are your own business and boss. Trust your
instincts, but don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
Successful artists today are more entrepreneurial in spirit and action. The new music business
model calls for today’s emerging artists to be a combination of transparency, common sense,
business sense, tech savvy and PR genius. The basement game of passing the buck to an agent
or manager in return for superstardom doesn’t exactly fly these days. Success in these times
requires real commitment and a lot more effort. Eighty percent of an artist’s work is sweat
equity. The other 20 percent? Great Music - without which you are as good as dead in the water.
Don’t think that because
you know more about
your music and artistry
than anybody else you
are going to know what
your customers truly
want from you.
How to Profile Your Fan AND Potential
An artist’s product consists of artist and music. As Eric Hebert of and Label 2.0, so
aptly puts it:
“the experience you create with people in getting them to listen to your music, whether sending
an email to get a press review or playing in front of one thousand people, determines whether
people will become a fan of your music and ultimately how successful you can be.”
Pretend for a minute that you are a big company like Proctor & Gamble and are about to
roll out a brand new product. Before launching that product, P&G has usually spent millions
of dollars doing market research. They want to discover who their primary customer will be,
what qualities/features of the product they like and what differentiates their product from the
competition - in other words, why you or I would want to buy such a product. As an artist, think
about what traits your potential fan or customer will possess.
Defining Your Fan
From a business standpoint, defining your true fan (and customer) and learning how best to
serve them, is absolutely necessary if your want to make bank in the music business. Don’t
think that because you know more about your music and artistry than anybody else you are
going to know what your customers truly want from you.
Steve Blank, an entertaining and brilliant Stanford professor who also made a fortune practicing
what he preaches, spells out everything you will need to know about building a great customer
service product model. Everything he says can and should be applied to how you develop your
product for your fans and potential customers. Consider his hour-long presentation (it’s broken
down into three parts on YouTube):
Part 1 -;
Part 2 -; and
Part 3 -
Watch and learn.
Try assembling a profile of your future fan. Start by taking a close look at yourself as an artist
and as a person. Detailing and understanding everything about your makeup will help you and,
your band mates, if you have them, to define your community of fans. Ask yourself the following
1. What type of music, other than the kind you play, are you into? Who do you like to listen to?
2. What artists have influenced your music and motivated your style of play?
3. What really matters to you? What do you have strong opinions about?
4. What activities do you like to participate in on a regular basis? Do you have any hobbies?
5. What type of people do you like to be around and feel most comfortable with?
6. Where do you and your friends like to hang out? What kind of places?
7. What bands and artists do you and the people who like your music relate to most?
Answering these questions and others like them will identify the fundamental traits that your
future fan possesses. Basically, you create your own pool of potentials to draw from. Start by
finding niche communities that hold common interests, and then promote yourself to them.
Doing this ensures a slow but sure build up of your very own fans. Building a targeted fan base
is an essential exercise every artist needs to complete. From time to time, there will always
be casual fans who like your music and become committed to a particular song. However, you
should focus initially on developing your “true” fan profile and build your community out from
Additionally, the ability to communicate with your fans one on one as well as connect with a
large audience has become more important than ever. Be passionate about your music both in
the studio and live. Retain your fans by including them in your creative process and doing things
that make them feel exclusive. Ask fans to create graphics, videos, lyrics or mashups that require
your feedback. Every artist should personally host exclusive chats, videos or live performances.
To make either of these tools truly effective requires your active participation and hands-on
communication. It’s never the same when others talk for you. People eventually will figure out
that it’s not you regardless of the medium.
Your honest communication only strengthens the connection you have with your fans. Practice
what you say to your audience at a live performance until you feel so comfortable that talking to
your audience becomes second nature. Look at your audience. Eye contact is crucial and it’s an
immediate connection that people in your audience really feel. Whatever you do, do not be self
conscious about how your fans will perceive you. Be real and be yourself. No matter how many
mistakes you make, a true fan will love you for who you really are.
Focus Groups Do Work
Here’s another compelling idea: create a focus group on the cheap. This will help establish what
exactly motivates a person to like you and your music; it’ll also help you figure out where you
need some improvement. Of course, this would only be suggested for artists who have their
proverbial sh*t together, i.e. great music and a charismatic personality capable of the Sell.
Go to a local high school or college. Be extremely presentable and personable with the goal of
establishing a focus group in mind. Set up a specific time and invite a group of at least 3 people
to a restaurant to talk about you and your music. People love free stuff. Shell out a couple of
dollars and offer to buy them lunch in exchange for their opinions about you and your product.
Sell yourself. Give out cool tee shirts or tickets to your next show. Lock them in.
This is PR 101. Once you’ve established rapport, get their accurate contact information. It’s kind
of like landing a date – be persistent but not obnoxious and always follow through. If you handle
the situation with passion and confidence, you’ll be able to get however many people your heart
(and pocketbook) desires. Follow up with a quick email and phone to confirm. Once the day
arrives, have an agenda - prepare questions about you and your music, even play them your
music or show them videos if you have them. Listen more than you talk. Maybe even try a little
impromptu number for them at the restaurant. When your lunch is over, you’ll have a good idea
of what they thought about your music. Not to mention, it will be an excellent gauge of how
effective your charm and charisma were. You will know if you knocked them dead or not.
You Are Proctor and Gamble. Think about it: you got some strangers to tell you to your face
what they really think about you, and all for less than $100. If you’re really charming (and
smart), you can probably get away with a few pizzas and your living room as a location (what
college kid doesn’t like pizza?). Also, be prepared for criticism. No one is invincible.
Think of your website
the same way you would
a perfectly executed,
produced and mixed
song. All the parts need
to come together into a
product that instantly
impacts the user.
Setting Up YOUR Online Presence to Maximize
YOUR Offline Engagement
Now comes the really hard stuff, a road map for building your fan base from Day One. This
involves pounding the pavement till your soles wear through. Seriously. If you’re the lethargicno-personality-people-hating-condescending-outright-ass-type that doesn’t handle rejection
well, read no further. In fact, quit immediately and save your breath for something you can feel
really passionate about.
In a Music Coaching Interview, Paul Conroy, a successful music industry veteran, puts it best:
…prepare your lifestyle to dive into the music business and from there, one issue I think right now
is so many bands put so much emphasis on building themselves up through community sites,
which is awesome – MySpace, Facebook, etc. – but you also have to get out of your apartment
and out of your house and physically be a part of it. When you’re not rehearsing and when you’re
not playing shows, you have to be at shows. Seven days a week, even if it’s not the kind of music
you’re playing, you have to be out there, you have to be active, you have to be visible. That’s the
lifestyle you have to live. By doing that you’re going to make connections. And if you’ve got the
right music and you’ve got the right work ethic, it’s going to happen. It’s really that simple.
I am fairly convinced that building a money-making fan base online using solely brand new,
out-of-the-box artists as well as emerging artists, is a limited proposition. Without a substantial
offline street presence accompanying the online effort, it’s quite possibly a big waste of time.
Having said this, at present, there is no question that you have to be heavily vested in MySpace,
Facebook and Twitter to engage fans.
A debate is raging (lol) on the Internet between those who believe that a band should have a
personal website where they can totally control every aspect of their online presence and those
who think that a well designed and functional MySpace artist profile is more than enough.
Building a decent personal website costs anywhere between $500 and $5,000 and requires
a great deal of design and technical skills as well as search engine optimization if you want to
rank high in a Google search. For a cheaper but not quite as effective alternative, you can use
services like Bandzoogle, FourFour, or ReverbNation which will build and host your personal
band/artist website for a monthly fee.
And then, there’s the other side. Some music business experts would have you believe that the
way to go is actually to build a personal website and then redirect fan traffic from other places
such as a MySpace profile, for example. They assume people who want something from you
will click through page after page until they get it. This makes little sense. They call it ‘Brandbuilding’. How many straight-out-of-mama’s-basement and brand-ready bands do you know?
They may have a carefully worked out and constructed image (which I absolutely encourage),
but a Brand, never. Building a brand is a methodology for established middle class acts and up.
Just Say KISS and Let MySpace Do All the Work for You
I am a guy that strongly believes in the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid. Every great mind I
have encountered in my life took the saying to heart and parlayed it into success. In my humble
opinion, focus everything – time, money, and energy - into building one location and driving
your fans there. Despite all of its limitations, MySpace is as good a place as any to start. For
one, it’s free. Also, if you haven’t noticed, every band of note on the planet has a profile there
regardless of how they feel about MySpace. Not to mention, anytime anyone wants to find you,
MySpace is almost always at the top of everyone’s search. Plus, it’s definitely the first place
people go to find a band they never heard but, want to listen to.
Never miss an opportunity to engage old fans or to develop new ones. From the outset, it is
essential that the artist’s principal website be well constructed and able to provide any and all
information fans may want to know. The website should also showcase available merchandise
and product that fans may want to buy. Never miss a sales opportunity or the opportunity for
better than average exposure either.
As long as people know where to find you, hear your music, see your videos and buy your stuff,
you will have a chance of converting them into engaged and paying fans, be it casual or true. If
you do insist on someplace else, go for it. Everything I say in this book is universal in application.
However, if you really believe that building a separate artist site is where you need to be, heed
my advice, use WordPress (everything but the very basic version costs money). The ability to
customize your site is limited only by your imagination. WordPress arms you with an arsenal of
themes, plug-ins, stats, support and third party widgets, making anything possible. It also keeps
it short and simple. Bear in mind, any site outside of MySpace puts your fans one more click
away from you. In fact, most marketers will tell you it’s much easier to build something using a
branded entity with a large and well-defined customer base like MySpace than it is to create a
one-off site.
Even with all its artists and hoards of fans, the independent music community still uses MySpace
regardless of whether they like being there or not. Just because MySpace has done nothing to
advance the cause of independent music, doesn’t mean there is not a ready-made opportunity
for a smart band to take advantage of. Bands that work hard and focus make their own success.
They don’t wait for a place like MySpace to hand it to them on a silver platter. They know that
will never happen.
Wherever it is, your principal, ongoing web presence should become the hub of your future
empire. Here, fans can find your newest music, personal updates, upcoming show info as well
as buy stuff from you directly or from a third-party. Add iTunes and Amazon buttons here too.
There are definitely some people who are more comfortable using these services to buy music
than purchasing directly from you. It’s all about covering your bases and leaving as little to
chance as possible.
The Key to Online Success
In the new music business, it is almost impossible to be successful without having an online
presence. Of course, this requires a special someone to devote himself/herself full-time
to creating and maintaining your online presence. An enormous variety of online tools are
currently available for artists that can be used to increase band exposure and sales as well as
maximize an artist’s 360-business environment. If you can’t seem to figure out what tools to
use or how to assemble them in an intelligent way on your page, get some help. There are
tech geeks on every block dying to devote their time just for a chance to claim themselves as
the newest band member. This person is every bit as essential to the success of an artist as the
artist himself/herself.
The tech guy should be as passionate about your music as you are. Treat him/her like a member
of the band and give him/her a percentage equal to other band members or, if you are a solo
artist, offer at least 15 percent of your income. An online presence is crucial for any artist and
needs to grow with the artist from Day One.
As far as the web presence goes don’t fret over design. Unless it’s an artistic statement, in the
new music business, graphic design is really secondary to a website’s utility and functionality.
The days of pimped out profiles and excessive design have been replaced in favor of functional
sites that disperse information and sell products quickly and effectively in an appealing, notover-the-top environment. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the time, people come to your website
with a specific purpose in mind. You are doing yourself a disservice if they can’t find what
they want immediately. Here are a few key elements necessary for having a compelling artist
1. The best sounding and user-friendly music player from which your songs can be downloaded for free in exchange for an email address or for a small fee.
2. An email capture tool that allows for creative ways to help you acquire and manage fan email addresses.
3. A store widget to sell all of your band’s merchandise. Be sure to utilize various creative bundling strategies (i.e. combining different products into high and low end packages depending on the type of fan as well as pricing stuff from free, to fixed, to pay whatever you want).
4. Serious digital distribution. Compare Tunecore, CDBaby, Reverbnation, and Zimbalam. Each is priced differently and has different distribution destinations. Put your songs up immediately on iTunes and Amazon at the very least as soon as you complete them. Leak your own music instead of getting bamboozled. I would put your songs up for sale the minute they are completed. If you don’t and your music is worthy, somebody will leak them. If you miss one sale, that’s
money left on the table. Most people buy on impulse; the urge to buy passes quickly especially if your song is not available for purchase. In today’s new music business, a release schedule should only be a date from which other actions can be coordinated.
5. An organized photo presentation using Flickr of PhotoBucket
6. An organized presentation of your YouTube videos. If you have a lot of videos, 43
create your own YouTube channel.
Use’s music booking widget as your default calendar. Put it up on your MySpace profile, Facebook fan page and use their “Book Us’ button on your YouTube videos. Put it everywhere you can so that when fans or clubs get the urge to book you they can do so immediately.
8. If blogging is an important part of your band’s culture as it really should be, use WordPress to set up your blog, and tie it in with your primary website
9. A Twitter feed
10. A Facebook fan page link
11. A MySpace link if you insist upon having a separate band website
Looks like a lot of stuff to put in a small space. You’re right, it is. This is another reason your
web presence should be confined to one easy to use location. The new music business, from an
Internet standpoint, is all about presentation and functionality. The goal is to move people as
quickly as possible around your site so they can find exactly what they want.
No disrespect, but for a killer artist’s web presence to come together, it takes a deft
combination of artistic and design sensibility, a serious knowledge of music business technology,
understanding the musician’s way of thinking, some common sense and real business savvy.
Basically, it takes a team effort. Think of your website the same way you would a perfectly
executed, produced and mixed song. All the parts need to come together into a product that
instantly impacts the user. Find a tech genius to help present your art and artistry to the world
in the most fan-friendly way with the easiest to use tools. Make him/her a key part of your
team. You are building a gateway for a specific community of like-minded people who want to
be engaged by your music and artistic lifestyle. When that person arrives, he/she needs to feel
like they came to the right place.
The New Music Business Model
In the interests of keeping everything simple, my partner, Cara Peckens, and I have put a year
of thinking into what needs to be done to make artists prosper today. One solution we came up
with was a reinvention of the MySpace artist profile. We found a cheap and easy way for every
artist to have not only a dynamic web presence, but also a new, operational music business
environment. We chose MySpace because it works and, by using a little creative thinking, we
have developed a simple, extremely functional design, complete with all the tools you will need
to totally control your music business environment from one place. For example, take a look at
the DC Don Juan page, our hip-hop version, or the Iration
page, our rock version,
You can see that the page has a stripped down design where every element you need for a
functional website is included. The key to this artist’s profile is its navigation bar. Notice it on
the left side of your page, it clearly lists all the key places to go on your site AND floats with you
wherever you are on the page. With one click and, without ever having to scroll up or down,
users can move anywhere within the site in a matter of seconds.
Most of the people that show up to a band’s MySpace page are not randomly browsing to find
unknown music; rather, they already have a specific (and rather obvious) purpose in mind (in no
specific order) :
Purpose 1 - To get information or updates:
Fans want to stay updated. Casual fans want the essentials. Super fans want updates on
Purpose 2 - To listen to an artist they already know about:
Whether previously recommended, or previously discovered, or from a MySpace/Google search,
fans are often clicking to have a (another) listen.
Purpose 3 - To acquire or purchase something:
Fans may simply want to shop or get free stuff (a free download, tickets, merch, music, book the
band, etc).
Purpose 4 - To interact with a specific artist:
Some fans want to personally interact with a band or with a band member; interactions can be
free or premium (use your imagination).
Fans, more often than not, want to GIGIGO
Most of the time, fans want to Get In, Get Information, and to Get Out (GIGIGO); they don’t
want to get sucked into a rat hole of confusing graphics, spinning banner ads, ad-covered music
players, fake friends and overwhelming choice.
In addition to our floating navigation bar, a second key element is the integration of the music
booking widget from LiveMusicMachine as our default calendar (the artist’s lifeline - remember
live shows are the key to success). MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. all represent huge
missed opportunities for artists to generate live performance revenue. LiveMusicMachine’s
flexible platform can be accessed from virtually anywhere on the Internet. What’s more, by
placing its unique calendar widget throughout the Internet gives artists everything they need to
promote their availability to perform and create opportunities to be booked. It also makes the
booking process incredibly easy for their fans to use.
The LiveMusicMachine (see diagram on next page) calendar has three distinct, interchangeable
views: Gig List, Google Tour Map, and Artist Availability. Together, they enable fans to check
schedules, buy tickets, get directions and, most importantly, book bands directly. The pure
utility and portability of LiveMusicMachine combined with its ability to sync with Artist Data,
should make it the obvious choice for an artist’s default calendaring system.
LiveMusicMachine’s intuitive user interface provides a start-to-finish solution for any artist to
be booked directly by anyone, at anytime, from virtually anywhere on the Internet. The above
widget can easily be placed on social media profiles, blogs, even on an artist’s YouTube videos,
putting fans one click away from booking their favorite artist. Each booking scheduled through
LiveMusicMachine comes with foolproof checklists for both artists and those who book them to
ensure every gig will go off smoothly.
For artist managers, booking agents and record companies, LiveMusicMachine provides a
multi-artist dashboard that allows them to oversee all their artists’ calendars and field booking
opportunities from one place. Plus, it requires just one user-name and password.
Some artists feel a compelling need to have profiles everywhere possible and live show
information on any event/schedule sites that exist on the Internet. For these artists there are
two extremely useful sites, ArtistData and Ping, which enable you to push information out from
one location to as many sites as you want.
The principal tools for communication within your new music world will be through MySpace,
Facebook and Twitter, with the latter two being most important for building your fan base and
community. Email remains king however, and should only be used for a more exclusive, deeper
level of communication reserved for fans or for developing music business relationships. From
the outset of your artist development, I would chronicle the day-to-day events that consist of
your life as an artist. Put these personal thoughts into the blog on your website on a daily basis.
Expose your personal side - don’t simply write what you think your fans want to hear. If you talk
about yourself personally and what you are into, who you are, and what you are doing musically,
your fans will love you even more for it.
Do not pass this simple responsibility off to someone who is not deeply involved in the ongoing
development of your artistry. If someone else is being you, your fans, will find out and it will
cost you deeply. With the ease of using Facebook and Twitter on your mobile phone, you
have no excuse not to do this stuff yourself. When you speak to your audience make it count.
Say things that your fans will truly find interesting or engaging. Be honest and transparent.
Communication is key. Communicate a few times a day and more so only IF it’s truly engaging.
Should some excellent, credible information come along that you think will resonate with your
fans and followers, by all means, pass it on. Soon you will have deeper connections with your
fans. They will actually want to hear what you have to say. If they believe in you, they will want
to follow your journey through the treacherous yet, exciting waters of your making and playing
music. As these connections develop and your fans become more engaged, ask them to send
you their personal email addresses and for permission to update them on matters of exclusive
importance to your loyal fans.
Professional Grade Software For Mid Level to Major Artists
For former or current major and big indie label artists with established large fan bases and those
unsigned artists with fairly large proactive fan bases, there is the Topspin Media’s Direct to Fan
Platform. “Topspin is professional-grade software for artists and their managers. It’s the most
complete technology platform for creating your own retail channel, effectively promoting your
music and connecting directly with your fans.” I am personally acquainted with the Topspin
platform having taken the Berklee Music Course, “Online Music Marketing With Topspin.”
Topsin’s widgets and analytics capabilities are second to none. To take a closer look visit www.
Whether or not you
become a successful
artist depends almost
entirely on your ability
to initiate, build and
maintain relationships.
How To Effectively Work The Street
Having finished describing the basics of an artist’s online presence, it’s necessary for every artist
to figure out how to reach a balance between online and offline presences. Accomplishing
this creates the most efficient and effective path for any artist to maximize a connection with
their fan base. Though the on and offline worlds have similar features, in reality, they are
totally different. A virtual world is a much easier place to communicate. As long as you have
a computer at hand you never have to leave your house, office or bed for that matter. You
can talk to anybody you want and be any kind of person you want to be, always hiding behind
the comfort of the screen. Unfortunately, too many artists take the easy way out. Today’s
generation of artists are far more comfortable acting virtually than connecting personally.
Without an aggressive, personally-driven street presence, this strategy will barely get you out
the door.
In the Internet world a great song and even a bad one, can traverse the planet in seconds.
Anyone with Internet access can see photos of what an artist looks like, see videos of how an
artist performs on stage or even watch how they act in real life. Nothing is sacred. However,
for all but a few aberrant showbiz personalities, it takes more than a cyber presence, even a
compelling one, for a person to truly connect with an artist.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS. It takes a human, personal, street connection to emotionally
bind a true fan to an artist. The connection can only be achieved by attending a live show, or
meeting an artist up close and personal and really can’t be replicated online. Whenever an artist
can physically reach out and touch a person, people are won over. Look at President Obama. He
hit the ground running with a grass roots meet-as-many-people-as-possible approach. Combine
that with the greatest online presence a Presidential candidate ever had and the results are
undeniable - he won. Nothing can ever replace the human connection especially when it comes
to music and building an artist’s fan base.
If I were a band starting out, or for that matter, any band trying to improve its fan base, I would
literally be hitting the streets, giving away free downloads and CD’s (simple, engaging, cheap
flyers with a link on them work too). If I could afford to, I’d include songs, photos, personal
interviews, and videos. Depending on the audience I was seeking, I would be canvassing high
schools, local colleges, malls, and even office buildings and business complexes. People love to
meet a hard working, hustling musician with a good personality who is not too annoying as he/
she/they purvey their musical wares. Set a daily goal of how many people you and your band
mates want to personally connect with. Believe me, goals are important in every aspect of life
– it’ll keep you motivated. Money will dictate what freebies you offer, whether it be flyers, USB
sticks, download cards or CD’s. Always leave them with a little something extra in addition to
your charismatic personality, of course.
AN INTERESTING ASIDE: There is nothing to stop any artist from digging in and engaging
with their potential fans in the street from the get go. The technology is here and relatively easy
to use., and, enable an artist to provide an immediate impact
through the use of video. Your mobile phones and laptops become command central for the
immediate distribution of killer video content. Wherever you go and whatever you are doing can
be distributed immediately to your real and potential fans. Let’s say you are hustling hard in the
street and playing your music to anybody who will listen. Pass out the link to your video feed;
now anybody you meet can join in the excitement of your ongoing video public parade. People
can see what you are doing immediately, become engaged and rally to your support. Word of
mouth can start from a well-positioned mobile phone anywhere in the world and help you build
a fan base faster than ever.
OF MAXIMUM IMPORTANCE. Whenever you give something away to people, ALWAYS get
their name, email address, zip code and home address and cell phone number if they will give
it up. You’ll be surprised at what a little charm and swag can get you. Before hitting the streets,
think about your target fan base – who they are, and what they expect and want. Then go for it.
Profile. (See the discussion earlier at page 37). The TSA does it, why not you? Seriously it works.
Video them as they come out and hand them a flyer so they can immediately sign in with their
email and check themselves out on video. If your music appeals to females, hit the high schools
around 3pm and offer free access to downloads in exchange for emails. If you’re the death metal
type, head to blue-collar work places, bars, and bowling alleys to pass out music. Where ever
you go, fit in, not out.
SUPER IMPORTANT: When you give away a CD or flyer, download, etc make sure you
include all your key contact info: artist name, best email address and contact number, MySpace
URL, and how you can be booked. I suggest using’s booking widget for
its ability to be used virtually everywhere online. Make sure the promotional product or flyer
you offer is well designed and looks good. People are turned off by a “cheap” look. Ever since
the advent of the Web, incredible images and killer design have been bombarding people. With
today’s cheap and readily available technology for graphic arts design and the large pool of
people who know how to use it well, leaves no excuse for any artist to not have a well designed
look on all of their promotional materials and products for sale. Finding graphic artists who are
just starting out and want to build up their portfolios is easy (Craigslist is chocked full of them).
Most of them are hungry and willing to work for little or no money. Dig around a little and find
one. You will be glad you did.
Harness the Power of Women
Believe it of not, for the overwhelming majority of musical genres, women are the key to your
success. Developing a female fan base works for every artist because women are more apt
to emotionally connect with an artist and then go out and recommend them to their friends.
Women love to shop. Take advantage. They are more likely to buy merch even if they illegally
downloaded the song. Recognize that women have really been running the music business for
years despite the fact that the men on top thought they were in control. Women can take
an artist viral while guys are still in their bedrooms asleep, nursing a hangover, or voraciously
downloading music from torrent sites.
In order to separate yourself from the millions of other artists scratching their way to the top,
you need to grow a set of balls (sad but true ladies), no matter who you are. Great music alone
doesn’t guarantee success. Make your own luck. Work hard:
Get out and play:
•Get yourself into the public’s eye every chance you get. Give your stuff away at other band’s shows with a similar fan base.
•Play for free anyplace anyone will let you.
•Beg friends in other bands to let you open for free wherever they play. Pay them if you have to.
•Show up where people are parking for other shows and play your music. Meet and greet, pass out flyers and give away free music
•Play acoustically to the lines of people at shows and movies that target your potential fans.
•Have your own house party, invite all your friends and tell them to bring at least one friend with them.
Guerrilla marketing and one-on-one meet and greets in the street will build a base quicker than
anything imaginable.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO while running the streets is to get email
addresses. In today’s e-commerce permission oriented e-world, an email address that is willingly
given to you by its owner is more valuable than gold. Over 30% of all an artist’s sales are
attributable to people from their email list Just ask, and most people will oblige especially after
you’ve given them some free stuff to show for it. Or, even better, obtain cell phone numbers
for future SMS alerts; and real addresses for a snail mail campaign, which in some cases can be
more effective than email. Scoring 100 real email addresses is a realistic goal for a one-night
foray into the streets.
Always follow through within 24 hours of contact. Thank them for joining your world of fans.
Give them something free to make them feel good about their decision. Compose a short,
but engaging email that includes a little info about you, links to your MySpace, Facebook and
Twitter accounts and something else free, perhaps a bundle with another free song, lyrics, a
great photo of you and your band and a cool graphic or personal video. This lets people know
that you care about them being your fan. Ask them their opinion of your music, and if playing
a show anywhere, invite them. As you build your base, you can easily engage your fans with
various online tactics, band exclusives and slowly start generating income from them. According
to Topspin Media, 30 percent of an artist’s sales come from email marketing. Over 50 percent of
what an artist sells to its fans are high-dollar items.
Seth Godin, in a response to a question by Derek Sivers, put it best,
“What you can sell, what you better be able to sell, is intimacy. It’s interactions in public.
Souvenirs. Limited things of value. Experiences. Memories. People will pay for those things, IF:
your art is actually great and if you make it possible for them to buy them.”
Whenever you have a live show regardless of the pay you receive, if any, you need to maximize
making money from your interactions in public.
Whether or not you become a successful artist depends almost entirely on your ability to
initiate, build and maintain relationships. I cannot think of any part of the music or music
business process that is not defined by the relationships you have built. Like anything else in
your career, relationships have to be worked at. They never come easy and many in the music
business come with a price that is not necessarily financial. While some relationships take a few
minutes to build and others take years, each solidified relationship, brings you one step closer to
The Art of Networking
In the new music business, critical tastemakers include bloggers, terrestrial radio, - especially
college radio - Internet radio and heavyweights on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, and
LinkedIn. Rarely, will these tastemakers respond immediately to your initial communications on
or offline. Determine which tastemakers and the people associated with them are most likely
to be into you and your music. Then slowly start building your rapport with them and then your
relationship. You know the drill: find something you have in common as your in. If it’s terrestrial
radio, attend any events you can get into where a program director, music director or DJ is also
attending. Talk to them. Buy them a drink, get to know them and purposely run into them at
a few different events before you start talking to them about your music. Work on things you
have in common initially. Just don’t be such a nuisance that they avoid you when they see you
If you are anywhere in public and run into a key influencer, i.e. someone who could really help
you, like an artist you revere, a radio programmer, a club owner, a record company executive,
a major producer or a big time writer or blogger, do not attack them!! Approach and introduce
yourself. If you can, try and engage them in a conversation, all the better. If they’re busy or
occupied, wait until they are free. Patience really is a virtue in the music business. Listen to their
conversation while you are waiting. You never know what nuggets of great information will
be dropped in your lap If you are at a conference and you meet them, whatever you do, don’t
give them any of your music even if they ask for it. That’s what everybody is trying to do. Think
smart and force yourself to be different. Ask them for a card and the name of their secretary or
assistant. Then ask them for their permission to contact them, send them some material, talk to
them or set up a meeting if they seem like they might be receptive. Get to know their assistant.
Build a relationship with him or her. You will be surprised how much they will go out of their way
to help you get to the boss.
If it’s a radio programmer, visit the station on a day when you can play your music for a
programmer. Every station should have a music day when you can make appointments to talk
to someone in the programming department personally or by phone. This goes for college,
commercial, and non-commercial radio stations, whether terrestrial or internet based. If you
have met that person before in public somewhere, by all means reintroduce yourself. Don’t
send a CD or MP3 and then repeatedly call or email a programmer or major music blogger.
Be humble and patient. Sooner or later (usually, later), you will get your chance to present
your music. Be professional and well prepared when this opportunity presents itself. These
people are important. Court them, don’t thwart them. If they don’t like your music, don’t get
defensive and make a fool of yourself. Thank them for their time and come back next week
with something else or convince them to change their minds with facts and a good story about
forward progress regarding your music. If your music is really good it will rise to the top.
As you improve your people skills, learn how to network. A friend of a friend might be able to
introduce you to the person you want to know. A warm introduction from a person who knows
the person you want to meet is by far the best kind of introduction.
Networking at Conferences: Keep it Simple
RESEARCH in depth conference panels and participants – know your target audience and
target the panelists that your research determines may be the most helpful to your project.
PLAN where to cross paths – If you miss them in the conference room then hotel lobbies and
bars produce great results.
DON’T BE CHEAP - spend a few bucks if it will help your cause. Offer to buy them a drink or
breakfast, lunch or dinner. You never know what a free meal will get you.
PREPARE in advance what you are going to say – opportunity must be capitalized upon not
wasted – figure you have about 60 seconds to engage your target - make them all count.
BE POLITE and humble when you interact
SHARE something in common to initiate rapport
LISTEN to what they have to say
ASK PERMISSION to contact them in the near future. Get their assistant’s name, email and
phone number.
LEAVE NOTHING with them other than your business card and pleasant personality
FOLLOW UP ASAP. They have given their permission so take advantage of your opportunity.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS with the panelists you have targeted will be your key. Every
one you make brings you that much closer to success.
Never underestimate the value of respect; it goes far beyond money and favors. I can name
countless instances from my own experience where a little respect went a long way. A couple of
Story #1
In 2000 I was at the Impact Urban Music conference in Nashville, Tennessee being held at
Opryland. I was working for the VP of Marketing and Promotion at Def Jam running his
independent record promotion company. I was always looking for something new. I was invited
to many showcases. One of them was for a small North Carolina independent label called
Soulife Records. I went. The room was huge, the audience not so much. Basically, the audience
consisted of yours truly, a few guys from the label and eight stuff-shirted Indian doctors from
the pharmaceutical business who had backed the label. No one else bothered to show up. It
was kind of depressing. So, I started making small talk with the doctors and building a great
rapport until the first act came up - a beautiful girl named Sunshine Anderson. I loved her act.
I told the doctors and the label guys that I thought that her song “I Heard It All Before” was
definitely a hit and asked them if they wanted any help getting a deal. They said ‘thanks for the
offer’ but they had it covered. They really appreciated the fact I treated them with respect and
that I had the decency and common courtesy to show up for their show when no one else did.
It paid off. A year and a half later, I got a call from the VP of Promotion at Atlantic Records who
said they just signed Sunshine Anderson and that her label insisted that I work the record at
radio. I took it to No. 1. The guys at Soulife said I landed the job because they got the respect
from me when no one else gave it to them.
Story #2
In the early 1980’s I managed a major regional heavy metal band that played in front of 1,000
people a night from Virginia to Maine. We used to play this club in the blue collar section of
Baltimore called the Seagull Inn. It was stuck in an out of the way place, but held 1,000 people
and we always packed it. This 6’2 Irish kid used to come out religiously and was always wasted
on alcohol (and Quaaludes). At the end of our shows we’d peel him off the floor and a member
of our crew would always drive him home.
For about a year, he kept telling me his uncle was the VP of A&R for RCA Records. He would
constantly ask me if I wanted him to bring his uncle out. It seemed like the drunken ramblings
of a goof, but I would always politely say ‘yes’ with the utmost respect. The band and I always
joked about it, but we liked him and showed him consideration when everybody else made fun
of him. One night he walks into the room with his uncle who, lo and behold, happened to be
Eddie DeJoy, VP of A&R from RCA.
Uncle Eddie had just signed the hottest act in the country - Rick Springfield, not to mention,
Dejoy was also infamous for signing Judas Priest and Al Stewart among many. Although we
never got the big deal, Dejoy produced a 6 song demo in RCA’s famous NYC studios for free. We
eventually released the demo as an EP. It sold 25,000 copies. I also gained a mentor. For two
years, he taught me everything he knew.
Respect is easy to give. Don’t forget it - you may just be rewarded in the most unlikely of
The most important
concept that I want to
get across is that the
only person who can
hold you back from
launching your career is
Thinking In and Outside The Venue
“Most new bands approach the first part of their careers like this: We need to find an audience,
but in order to find an audience we have to play shows. If we want to play shows we have to get
a talent buyer to book us, but talent buyers are going to want to know we can draw an audience
before they’ll ever consider letting us play. It’s a frustrating catch-22. Thankfully, it’s also not the
only (or even the best) route to finding your first audience or building your initial fan base. It just
means that you’re going to have to go around the gatekeepers and find fans somewhere else”.
The simple secret to making money playing live music is:
1. Create exciting market-worthy music products, both recorded and live
2. Expose your music through every possible avenue at your disposal, both terrestrial and digital.
3. Focus more of your time on selling live music interactions to your fans than to nightclubs.
Unfortunately, most artists think that making it onto the club circuit will pave the way to
financial security and, eventually, that almighty record deal. This is not true. Until artists truly
understand their position in today’s music marketplace, clubs will maintain leverage and have
the upper hand. By working smarter not harder, artists can change this perception. They can
build their own moneymaking base of individuals and clubs who will pay them for live music
interactions. Here’s how.
Fans are desperate for more personal interactions with the artists they love. Because booking
has been an intimidating task for most fans and something they have never really known how
to do, the average person has never booked an artist. On the other hand, most artists fail to
realize that the best source of live music interactions for them is their own fan base.
When a fan wants to book an artist for a house party, private concert or any other type of
special event, they rarely know how to go about doing it. Most booking agents generally don’t
want to deal with small-scale bookings. More than likely, cost is not the same determining factor
for fans that it is for clubs. When a fan is booking an artist they love, their priority is to make
a personal connection with that artist. They are willing to pay well for that connection because
they have full control and get to deal with the artist directly. The price point will usually be
much higher for a fan than a club. A fan is buying from emotion whereas a club wants to fills its
calendar with the best talent it can find for the cheapest price. The online booking widget at
LiveMusicMachine can help.
Sometimes playing for free makes a lot of sense. Find artists with large followings and sell
yourself to them as a free opening act. Go to restaurants and bars with moderate to large
client bases that don’t have live music and offer to play for free as long as you can sell some
merchandise. Remember, the more you play out live, the tighter your live music product
becomes. If friends are have parties, offer to play for free. A party is always better with live
music and it makes you seem cool and provides great exposure. Slowly, you will lock in a base
of “True Fans.” These are the people most likely to pay you money for a music product. Go
to malls and offer to play for free. Pass out flyers for future paid gigs and sell merchandise.
Talk to high schools and offer to play for free but make sure that you will help the school with
something that’s important to them, like raising money for band instruments or team sports.
It is extremely important that you put your music everywhere you can for free. Give free
downloads of your music away on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and on any other website that
people into music are exposed to. Give away a new download away every week. Figure out
which music blogs talk about your kind of music (use’s Promobot to find the right
blogs), email them, or better yet, talk to them and tell them they can give your music away for
free. However: Don’t blindly send out songs and hope they will be posted. Engage the blogger,
email them, find them on Twitter and Direct Message (DM) them or reply to one of their tweets
If you are an emerging artist with no real base, the more you give away your music for free, the
more of a chance you have of converting people into becoming true believers. The bottom line
is, giving away music for free is an extremely cost effective way to advertise yourself as an artist.
This may be repetitive, but make sure, at the very least, you get an email address in return for
any thing you give away to a potential fan for free.
Most bands are not organized enough to get booked through their MySpace page or from
anywhere else on the Internet. Most MySpace pages are so cluttered; it’s hard to know what’s
going on. Most artist pages never have a phone number where they can be contacted for
bookings. Many have no email address either. No contact information means no gigs. Truly
great bands will connect with as many of their fans as possible. This means handing out cards,
answering emails, hitting the street etc. By using the previously discussed booking widget at, you can increase your ability to get booked. BUT be careful as to whom
and how often you send out your one sheet. People who get bombarded with stuff they don’t
want get turned off quickly. Before you send something, get permission and things will go a
whole lot smoother.
Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!
Always promote your band’s website as well as any free or give-aways, the cool stuff you are
selling and the ability to be easily booked through LiveMusicMachine. With the knowledge that
they can book you online, fans will reach out and book you. What’s more, you’ll probably get
more money from a fan than you will from a club. Besides, your future as an artist ultimately lies
in the hands and hearts of your fans. If you can emotionally bond with them as an artist, you
can pretty much sell your “true fans” almost anything.
One of the first questions an emerging artist always asks is: How do they get their first gig? First
off, make a list of all the artists in your area that play music similar to yours and what clubs,
venues and type of events they play. Then, create a list of dates and venues they have played at
for the past 6-9 months and note the respective contact person for both. Nine out of ten times,
a successful band’s best contact information will be found on their MySpace profile or Facebook
fan page. Based on your research, determine which clubs best suit your kind of band.
Prepare an artist one sheet with all of the necessary information about you as an artist. I
would either sign up for ReverbNation and use their RPK format or Sonicbids and use their EPK
format. Both will produce a professional piece of documentation that you can send out. If it
were my choice I would go with Reverbnation’s RPK with its more dynamic look. However,
until the landscape changes, Sonicbids does post more live opportunities to compete for than
Reverbnation does.
Refe Tuma, an artist centric writer who blogs at, has put together
a list of three somewhat unorthodox suggestions to help you break free of the Catch-22
mentioned at the beginning of this section and think outside the venue. Each of these three
activities is designed to help you find an audience when no talent buyer in town will let you play
1. Play to the line.
This first idea comes from Martin Atkins. You may not be welcome to play inside, but they can’t
stop you from playing outside, can they? Keep track of when big acts come into town. Make sure
you’re there and bring something to play. Perform for the line outside the door.
Think about it – they’ve come for music and here they are just waiting outside with nothing to
do. So, give them something to listen to! Put up a sign with your band name and pass out demos
for free. Give away bottled water if it’s hot, or hot chocolate or cider if it’s cold. Bring someone
along to walk around with a clipboard to take down names and email addresses in exchange for
buttons or even the demos.
2. Host a living room show.
Leverage the resources and connections that you already have. You have friends, right? Well,
invite them all over to your place and tell each of them to bring a friend of their own. Put on an
awesome show and hang out afterward to connect and find out who enjoyed your music.
Take down names, email addresses and network to see if anyone might have an in with a more
established band or even a venue. At the very least you’ve built a solid list of people you can
count on when you approach that talent buyer next time.
3. Target local listeners online.
I talked about the various online tools available to bands for uncovering potential fans in a
recent post. If you are really starting from scratch I would suggest using these online tools first
to drill down into your local scene. The line outside the show of an established band in your
genre is all but guaranteed to contain people likely to enjoy your own music. In the same way,
targeting an established band’s fans online will greatly increase your chances of finding new
Once you figure out where to find potential listeners you need to initiate a conversation.
Notice that I didn’t say, send them messages along the lines of “Check out my MySpace page!”
or “Listen to our new album for free!” Those messages are completely unnatural and you’d
be better off trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner. A real conversation starts with a simple
introduction. You both live in the same city or region (because that’s who you’re targeting
right now.) Immediately, you have something in common. Sending someone a free track will be
much more meaningful after it has been established that you are a human being rather than an
automated account or a marketing intern.
These online connections can be leveraged in several ways for landing that elusive first gig.
Crowd-source them – find out who would come if you had a show, and where they like to see
bands play the most. Offer an incentive if they commit to coming – a free piece of merch or an
exclusive track. If you are really successful in connecting with a decent number of people on
Twitter, MySpace or Facebook consider forming a ‘petition’ that includes your new fans’ names
and email addresses. I would imagine that your friendly neighborhood talent buyers would be
much more receptive to you with something like that in their hands.
No Excuses
The most important concept that I want to get across is that the only person who can hold you
back from launching your career is yourself. Booking agents, talent buyers, and club owners these people owe you nothing. They are never going to care as much about what you are doing
as you do, and you shouldn’t expect them to. If one of these gatekeepers is standing in your
way, there is no reason why you shouldn’t simply find a way to go around them. Independent
artists live and die on their ability to find creative solutions for difficult problems.
In addition to Refe’s great advice, get creative, follow these 8 simple things below and start
making your new music business happen:
1. Contact any band you want to open for or swap gigs with and offer to help them in any way you can when they are in your town.
2. Under no circumstance ever disrespect or criticize another band, manager, agent, promoter or club owner or manager. It will always come back to bite you in your ass.
3. Don’t wait for people to sign up for your email list, ask them to do it. Before and after every gig, go out into the audience with a pad and pen and personally ask everyone whether they are there to see you or not and to give you their email
address and zip code. Your fans feel your heat and your email list grows exponentially.
4. Whenever you play a gig, always be polite and treat your host with the utmost respect even if you know they are a pig.
5. When you play live, no matter how small your audience is, play as if every person in the room is the most important person in the world. Before and after you play, go out and tell them so. Show them your human side and leave your ego at home or up on the stage.
6. If you are a headlining act, don’t, under any circumstance, screw your opening act. You never know who will turn out to be the next big dog in town.
Man your own merch table no matter how big and important you are. Direct to fan relationships are everything. The funny thing is, the more your fans bond with you the more money they will throw your way. Put out a tip jar and if you are really nice and engaging you will see it fill up with free money.
8. Always be on time. There is never an excuse for being late. If for some reason you have to be late call and let the other party know before the time you were supposed to arrive.
Make no mistake, the
only thing the club cares
about is how many
people you can bring to
the club and how much
alcohol you can sell.
Booking and the Art of Self-Preservation:
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About
GETTING Booked Into Clubs
The power of the live performance is undeniable. For most bands, it’s everything: your
opportunity to create a fan base, sell merchandise, make money, and network with other artists
and industry people. Getting the gigs that can make these things possible is the hard part.
Having been an agent who has developed unsigned original talent for many years, I can tell you
that there is nothing more important (and, unfortunately, nothing more difficult) then getting
Since most booking agents are not interested in acts with no record label, no history, no base,
and, therefore, no immediate potential for generating revenue, the majority of bands starting
out have to book themselves. In most cases, one person in the group agrees to become
responsible for getting gigs, and running the calendar. So what’s next after you have placed your
LiveMusicMachine widget everywhere you can?
For starters, identify who your business man or point person is going to be. In some situations,
it’s obvious who these people are, and, in others, it may only be realized after a painful period of
trial and error. Whomever you choose, remember that this person is at the top of the “thankless
job list,” and takes all the heat. If the shows they dig up work, everything’s fine and everyone’s
happy. If the shows suck, then the point person not only gets to play in miserable shows, but
also gets to feast on such barbs as, “What were you thinking?!” and the ever-popular, “Maybe
someone else should take over the booking!” Limit your grief, point people: start small. Learn to
love the “no’s”, eat them like candy.
Secondly, identify, plan and attack! Isolate the market you want to seize. Look at a map, mark
out a territory that’s three or four hours from your center base, and make a list of the cities
and the rooms in those areas. There are a number of ways to figure where the clubs and other
places to play are located. Most small towns and every major metropolitan area have magazines
and newspapers with band and nightclub schedules. Thumb through these and make a list of all
the clubs that seem to book music similar to what you play.
Listen to the radio station that plays your kind of music, if there is one, and take down the
names of the clubs that advertise live music. Visit the MySpace pages of artists that play in your
region. See what clubs they are playing in and what bands they are playing with. Start visiting
these clubs. Talk to the bands and musicians who play in them. Listen to what they say and
who to talk to about a booking. If you like the venue, introduce yourself to the club owner or
better yet, have a member of a band already booked in that particular club introduce you to
the club owner, club manager or the agent in charge of booking the club. Remember, a warm
introduction from someone who knows the person you want to meet is always the best way to
Meeting other bands and musicians who play music similar to yours and networking with them
will reveal other clubs that are suitable for you to play in. Moreover, making friends with other
artists or groups already playing in rooms you like may lead to opening gigs that will get you into
a room. It might even get you paid. For this reason alone, hitting clubs as many nights a week
as you can, networking with bands and club personnel will reap benefits for you quickly. Always
keep an ear to the ground and you’ll soon learn where to play (and conversely, where definitely
not to play). Most artists or bands will find at least half a dozen places that they really want to
play and a dozen or more places that they could care less about. Grade all these venues as “A,”
“B,” and “C” rooms.
Getting “In”
Starting out, unless you are already an amazing live act or you are already a proven commodity
in another market, count on working the “C” rooms until you get something going. At first
don’t worry about getting paid, just get in the door and blow everybody away with your show.
If you start to make money, don’t be surprised that some of the places you would rather not
play become the ones that pay the most, and unconditionally welcome you back. Try to keep
perspective. As you progress, you can eliminate rooms off of your list, and focus on the “A” and
“B” rooms-but never burn bridges. Constantly stay in touch and market yourselves to anyone
in charge of booking the clubs you want to play. Sometimes it will take you months to break
into a room even if you are worthy of playing that room. Offer to open up for another act in
the room at little or no fee just to get into the room. Tell the club owner that you will play for
free on a slow night or come in during the day for a showcase. Focusing on the job at hand, total
dedication and maximum effort will always pay off in the music business.
Try and make an appointment to see a club owner or manager during daytime business
hours. Find out what day the club takes liquor delivery and usually you will find the owner or
manager on the premises. Usually, they are more than willing to talk to you. Don’t squander the
opportunity. Tell him or her what you can do for the club. Make no mistake, the only thing the
club cares about is how many people you can bring to the club and how much alcohol you can
sell. Don’t lie about anything in order to get into a club. Don’t tell them you are good for 100
people when all you are good for is 5. It may take time, but if you are any good and have spent
time building the right relationships, you will eventually get to play that club
If you are financially able, do a simple live video at one of your gigs or, if you really have money,
at a local sound stage, perform 3 to 5 songs that showcase your band or artist’s vocal ability,
showmanship and musicianship. Edit the video into a 3-5 minute presentation showing the
best that you have to offer and putting your act in the best light possible. Along with a great
looking picture and relevant press materials, make your video or DVD (cheap to burn these) the
centerpiece of your booking presentation.
Getting in the door is the hard part. Your band’s chances to get a gig simply by sending out a
press kit are less than 50/50. If you have to send one out, choose between the Sonicbids EPK
and the Reverbnation RPK. Sometimes you have to find other ways to wedge your foot in the
door. Many clubs have shows on off nights just so they can look at up and coming talent. This
may be an open mic night or battle of the bands format. Starting out, these situations can be
very useful. Money is usually non-existent for these gigs, but, more importantly, you’ll not only
get a chance to play the room, but also have the powers-that-be see and hear your band. You’ll
also get to network with other musicians that are in the same boat as you.
If you can bring people out on these “off nights”-Sunday through Wednesday, for instance - then
you may be able do it on a weekend. You may have to play a room half a dozen times, maybe
more, but when you finally get an opportunity to play the room on a desired night, by all means,
attack! Go in with everything you’ve got. Flyer your brains out, send out an email to your fans in
the area, call up your friends and family, give away cold beers if you have to, but ALWAYS make
sure there is a crowd to see you. Once you have successfully brought in a crowd, simply do it
again and again. Eventually, that particular club becomes your home.
A Few Things to Consider Now That You’re In…
Once you have a room (a place your fans call home), you have something to offer. Your band
will not only have a place to make money, but will also have a bone to throw to other bands.
Swapping is the currency bands trade with. I have broken more markets and more rooms via
swapping than I have with press kits, radio, and recommendations combined. Try to give as
much as you get. If you see a band in a room that you want to play, and you think you could fit
with them, offer up a date at your home for a date at theirs.
Once you get to play, it’s up to you to maximize the opportunity. Do your homework. Even
though you are opening, arrive on time, start on time, end on time, and thank all of those
involved. Be sure to stick around after your set and catch the headliners show. These things
could be the difference in whether or not you are asked back to the club, or asked to play with
the headliner again.
In every room that you work, start compiling an email list of everyone who comes in the door.
Bands are lazy and usually market themselves very poorly. Don’t wait for people to sign up
on your mailing list – force them to sign up. If you are any good as a live act, sooner or later
you will start playing gigs in front of lots of people even if you are only the opening act. Clear
it with the club owner and the headliner that you are going to be gathering names. Get some
personable hot babes, even if you have to pay them, to collect the names of everyone who
attends your gigs. Tell the headliner and the club you will give them a copy of your list just to
get them to permit you to do it.
The bigger the list you build, the more powerful your band will become. Your ability to pack a
room, sell merchandise and sell CD’s becomes greatly enhanced. The more people you bring
in the more clubs will want to book your band. Additionally, if you have a rabid fan base then
occasionally you can promote your own shows and make much more money than you would in
a nightclub setting. Knowing that you have a fan base will stand you in good stead when you
finally get record companies out to see you or your band if for some strange reason this really
matters to you.
With one room under your belt, start building up. Set your goal for two rooms, than three
rooms, and so on and so forth. Swapping will help you break territory, but nothing opens doors
like success. If one club knows you are worth people, others will follow. Your guarantees can
go up and your door percentage can increase when a club is trying to lure you away from their
It’s amazing how the same club who was charging you for water two months ago will be
throwing you a free case of beer when you pack their room with your fans. This is when you
must be the most careful. Expansion is good, but don’t forget where home base is until you have
more than one room making money. Going up the road for more cash is always tempting, but
there’s always the possibility that your act won’t work in certain rooms. Just in case it doesn’t,
make sure to keep your bridges intact when you go upstream. Always make sure you can return
to the places that helped build your act. Resist the urge to whore yourself into oblivion. Poverty
sucks, but obscurity is worse.
Playing out live will always improve and strengthen your act. Playing in a commercial Top
40 band is a great way to build your musical chops and make some money. However, if your
ultimate goal is to write, record and perform original music and build a career in the new music
business, then, at some point, you have to stop playing Top 40 music and totally devote yourself
to writing and playing original music. You will need to accept that you will make substantially
less money playing as an original music act unless you or your band have an already well
established fan base when you transition from Top 40 to original music. If you do the things I
have talked about in this book, then, by the time you get to the point where you have to be an
original act, your email list from your Top 40 life should be in the thousands.
Ninety-five percent (95%) of the time those who play in Top 40 bands never make it. You can
never serve two musical masters. When you are playing the hits every night, the music you
write is invariably derivative and, unless you’re lucky, you will never get a grip on a totally
original sound. Playing Top 40 can be big money. But to make it as an original artist you most
definitely will have to walk away from your commercial music life and focus solely on original
music where there is a long and winding and very difficult road to the top.
Landing An Agent
Now that you’ve been booking your band on your own for a while, you’ve created a name for
yourself, and have proven that you can make money, it may be time to look for an agent who
can take you to the next level. Finding a good booking agent can be tough. Here are some points
worth considering as you embark on your quest for the right fit. Be careful what you ask for.
Bigger is not always better. If you are an unsigned band, the chances that one of the big agencies
(William Morris, CAA, Monterey Peninsula, Pinnacle, etc.) will represent you, is slim at best.
Like everything in life, there are always exceptions. If you’re grossing over $10,000 a month
on your own, and creating a wicked buzz in the industry, someone may bite. If you can make
somebody a lot of money, you can always find someone who’s willing to take it. The truth of
the matter is that most major agencies are not in the business of developing artists from the
basement up. In many cases, it’s more appealing for “the industry” to work on major label “baby
bands” that have a shot at radio play with tour support, than to work with an independent with
limited resources. And besides, do you really want to be band number 16 on an agent’s roster
with your itinerary buried under the pile of his more established and profitable acts?
The vanity of working with some of the big agencies is just that – all vanity, and no substance.
There is a time and a place for everything. Learn how to assess your needs, and determine who
is right for you. Most artists have to look outside the mainstream for an agent. Smaller agencies
can be great, and I personally know several “boutique” agencies/independent agents that do
great work. These people may not have all of the restrictions and requirements that some of the
big boys have, and for this reason, many can wield these advantages to work in your favor.
These agents may know more of the nook-and-cranny venues that can make you money
immediately. Conversely, but still to your advantage, they may even be willing to take dates a
week out if you still have a hole to fill, booking a $50 gig if it’s in your band’s best interest-not
to mention that they may also have a more personal relationship with some of the venues and
talent buyers in your immediate area because they work a specific territory more frequently. In
many instances, your calendar will look better at the end of the month because the independent
agent keeps looking for opportunities within that same month. Subsequently, your band
may pick up more work then you might have expected. Most major agencies will not book
dates that are not at least a month out. For many developing artists, that can be costly. Don’t
underestimate the power of personal attention and flexibility.
Make a list and do your homework. Before you start calling people, and sending out material,
put together a list of what you want in an agent. Get a list together, and be prepared to give it to
your prospective agent:
1. How many dates a month you want to play (minimum to maximum).
2. What area of coverage you want to work either nationally or regionally (i.e., Mid- Atlantic, East Coast, mid-west to East Coast, South of Virginia, Alaska, California, etc.).
3. Minimum amount of money the band will play for in-town and out-of-town.
4. Minimum monthly gross for all dates (be sure to deduct commissions from this figure so your numbers are accurate).
5. What commission percentage will be charged, and when the agent gets paid.
6. Band restrictions; anything that would cause you to turn down a gig (i.e., jobs, spouses, kids, venues you will never play again, people you will not work with, etc.)
7. The band “Wish List”: touring plans, band swaps, national openings, festivals, radio, and TV shows (be specific).
Look at the agents existing roster. Are there bands that you recognize? This is important because
many agents will piggyback their acts together. You can get a gig simply because one of the
agent’s bands happens to be the biggest draw in a particular venue, and you may get a chance
to open for them.
Have you played with any of these bands before? If you have, call them up, and get their spin
on the agent in question. Is this agent genre specific? If he’s booking six different jam bands and
you sound like Tool, this probably isn’t the place to go. This isn’t to say that a good agent can’t
represent many different styles, but make sure that you’re not an experiment. Also, be certain
the agent can handle another band. If it’s just one guy in his basement with no assistant, and
he’s responsible for six bands, and books two clubs, and you want to play sixteen dates a month
in six new markets, you might be asking too much from the wrong agent. Don’t be afraid to be
selective, and, at all cost, avoid desperate decisions.
Once you’ve found the right agent, and both parties join forces to conquer the music world,
remember this: PAY YOUR AGENT ON TIME! This is the number one killer of the agent/artist
relationship, and is by far the most avoidable. Nothing will unplug agents faster than not paying
them. Once you get paid for a show that your agent has booked, you owe the commission. It’s
that simple. The soundman won’t be leaving the venue that night without getting paid, and he
wouldn’t even be there if your agent hadn’t booked the show in the first place.
Whatever payment arrangement you’ve made with your agent, once a week, once every two
weeks, once a month, then stick to it! Your agent has already spent money to make the show
happen by the time you play it. And, believe me, the phone company will not accept, “My bands
haven’t paid me yet” as an excuse for a delinquent phone bill. Remember, it’s not a privilege
to book your band, it’s work. For every show that an agent makes good money on, he loses his
ass on the developmental gigs that help your career. Moreover, not every show is going to be
a home run. Everyone makes mistakes. If you can find an agent who works hard to find you the
best opportunities available, who promotes your band accurately, who makes you good money,
hold on to that agent with both hands.
Tour Marketing
For those artists that are in an advanced touring mode, Ben Coe from The Artist Farm, an
artist management company, with the help of his partner, Michael Allenby, has written an
excellent free e-book, entitled, “Squeezing The Show.” In it they have developed the perfect
tour marketing system which combines tasks, timelines, procedures and databases to effectively
increase awareness of the artist and brand in every market in which they are touring. These
guys are formerly from Red Light one of the major management firms in the US and really know
what they are talking about from first hand experience. You can download the pdf here:
There are still many,
myself included, that
want not just a middle
class of artists but also
an upper class of truly
great ones that the
music loving public can
share with each other.
A Word on the Way Forward: If You Work It,
They Will Come
In the past, the music business has mostly been a dog-eat-dog world with only a few artists
really getting a shot at fame and fortune. The new music business of the future is about building
a platform of opportunity for many different artists. There are still many, myself included, that
want not just a middle class of artists but also an upper class of truly great ones that the music
loving public can share with each other. Unfortunately, no one has figured out a surefire way for
artists of the future to build a guaranteed base for big time popularity. We are working on it.
A few years back a guy named Kevin Kelly wrote an article called, “1000 True Fans. “ Basically
he said that if you can find 1000 rabid, super fans totally into your act, so-called, “true fans”
and, assuming they will spend “an average days wage or about $100 on your act each year, that
you will make $100,000 a year - obviously a good living for one or two people, but not for a 3-5
person group. Needless to say, everyone jumped on this model as the artist’s path for success. It
has clearly helped to fuel the direct to fan movement and has given many artists hope that they
can make it without a record deal.
It may sound like a fantastic idea, but it also takes focus, a tremendous amount of effort (10,000
hours like Malcolm Gladwell says) and more like 5-10,000 fans, spending smaller amounts. In a
recent article for Music Think Tank, Ariel Hyatt interviewed the Chicago band, I Fight Dragons,
about their experience and thoughts on the 1000 true fan scenario. They say it’s great in theory,
but in practice, it’s much harder to accomplish and will likely become more of a reality in the
future .
Certainly, the “1000 True Fans” theory gives you something to shoot for. Like any other
reasonable goal, once you achieve it, take a look at your financials, and keep moving forward.
You are engaged in the business of making and selling music. Always keep growing your
business – as they say, ‘Always Be Closing’. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a
system for garnering 1000 true fans and more, but it really has to be analyzed on a case by case
basis to really come up with a workable, and universal model, viable for multiple artists. The aim
of this book is precisely that – to create a workable system that many artists can use.
As someone who was part of the biggest hit making machine of all time. I have realized over the
past five years that the old music business model is dead and a new one must be invented. I
have jumped in and totally immersed myself, at great risk financially, to help create a solution.
For this new music business to happen, I believe that artists as well as companies engaged in the
discovery, presentation, distribution and management of artists and their music will be required
to collaborate far more then they did in the past. A whole new culture and ecosystem around
the development and selling of music will have to be created. When that day comes, there
will be a large middle class of artists from which the real talents will be able to rise to the top
and deliver an all encompassing shared musical experience with whatever is left of the music
mainstream. Though music can totally be an individual experience, when it is shared with many,
it becomes an experience truly for the ages.
By now, if you have read this short little e-book and begun to put the majority of the suggestions
I have made into play in your music business, you will be well on your way to seeing whether
you have what it takes to make it as an artist. If I haven’t scared you away from being in the
music business by now, then you probably have the heart and the persistence to survive and to
hopefully flourish in a career built with your very own music and artistry.
The art of your music should never cater to commerce but it should always be aware of it. As
technology and innovation constantly change the channels of music distribution in our world,
embrace these changes, and never turn a blind eye towards them. Always remain on the cutting
edge of this change and never allow yourself to be co-opted by whatever system is in place.
Always be flexible. Dare to be different, keep your sense of humor and most importantly keep
things simple. Remember: Life is just never meant to be that complicated. Nor is the music
I have, by no means produced a final product here, but the beginning of what will become a
great one that works. I would appreciate it if anyone who wants to will share their experience
and knowledge with me so that I can keep updating this free e-book and it can continue to
function as a powerful tool to steer emerging artists into a new and more productive music
business. Please send all thoughts, suggestions, and sections for the next version, comments
and concerns to me at Thank you all and good luck in
with your future in the new music business.
“People and places on
the Internet you should
be aware of and who
together provide a
wealth of phenomenal
People and places on the Internet you should be aware of and who together provide a wealth of
phenomenal information:
Blogs, Press, & Events - Jerry Del Colliano - Andrew
Goodrich - David Rose - Ariel Hyatt - George Howard - Justin Boland - David Sherbow - Refe Tuma - Rick Goetz - Ned Sherman - Heather McDonald - Paul Resnikoff - Dave Kusek - Alan Khalfin - Bruce Warila - Eric Hebert - Andrew Dubber - Ian Rogers - Clyde Smith
Future of Music Coalition
San Fran Music Tech and Brian Zisk
Genyrockstars - Greg Rollett - Seth Godin - Bruce Houghton & Kyle Bylin - Derek Sivers - Anthony Volodkin - Duncan Freeman - Martin Atkins - Moe Arora
People - Booking
Janet Hansen - @scout66 - Store
Ted Cohen - TAG Strategic - Email Capture
Terry McBride - The Nettwerk Group - Extras for Fans - Profiles
Books - Analytics
All You Need to Know About the Music
Business: 7th Edition (Free Press 2009) by
Donald Passman - Push Data to Profiles
Music Marketing: Press, Promotion,
Distribution and Retail (Berklee Press 2009)
by Mike King - Direct to Fan
Music Success in Nine Weeks: A Step-ByStep Guide To Supercharging Your PR,
Building Your Fan-base and Earning More
Money (Ariel Publicity 2008) by Ariel Hyatt - Player
Tour:Smart: And Break the Band (Soluble
LLC 2007) by Martin Atkins - Distribution
Online Services & Tools - Store - Push Data to Profiles - Distribition - Store
Must Read Articles - Video - EPKs - Store - Direct to Fan - Video - Player - Advice for Musicians - Analytics - Potential Artist
Revenue Streams - Website Builder - Store - Seth Godin on the
Music Business - Distribution - Reinventing MySpace - Analytics - Player - Think Outside the
Venue - Email Capture - 1,000 True Fans - Extras for Fans - In Defense of 1,000
True Fans - Website Builder - Paul Conroy: Fighting
the Good Fight - Video
David Sherbow is a visionary in the
new music business with a clear understanding of
where the record and radio businesses came from,
why their current business models are failing,
where the new music business needs to go in the
digital age — and the passion to take it there.
David’s perspective in the rock, pop, R&B and
hip-hop music business comes from watching
thousands of concerts from Elvis to U2 to Jay-Z, a
deep-seated devotion to the music industry and
over forty years of experience with artists and
their music.
In his 35 year music business career, David has
managed and booked major regional and national
rock, r&b, and hip-hop artists, owned and operated a rock-n-roll booking agency, put out over
25 independent releases, made numerous record
deals and was head of promotion for WMG’s Asylum Records (2004). For the past 15 years,
David has been a major cog in the hip-hop hit-making machinery where his independent record
promotion companies have broken over 100 No. 1 records nationally.
For the past four years David has been immersed in the Internet music space. Along with his
partner, Cara Peckens, David is spending much of the music collateral he has amassed launching
their music booking widget and web platform, LiveMusicMachine.Com and their reinvention
of the MySpace Artist profile at both of which will help take the new
music business where it needs to go in the digital age.
David also writes a regular blog,, and has attracted 2000 followers on
Twitter as MusicBizGuy.
Please direct all comments, inquiries and requests for consultation or design proposals to or feel free to call me at 443-552-0332 .
Cara Peckens is a successful
technologist and graphic designer. For the
past 5 years, Cara has been immersed in the
digital music space and has co-founded the
internet properties and with her business partner
David A. Sherbow.
Functioning as CTO (Chief Technical Officer) and
Creative Director at the age of 22, Cara was
forced to learn and adapt quickly. In a startup environment, it is essential to be on the
cutting-edge at all times, and to be conversant in
current and emerging technologies and services.
Through her education and work experience
Cara has become skilled in a variety of programs,
languages, technologies, and strategies including:
HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, XML, Actionscript,
Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Premiere, various
CMS, and more. Cara is a jack-of-all-trades and is always willing to learn or teach herself the
tools to execute the right solution.
Cara graduated with honors from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD with a BA in Media Studies
& Women’s Studies. Before taking a leave of absence to work fulltime on LiveMusicMachine,
Cara finished her first year at the top of her class at the University of Denver’s prestigious
Masters Program in Digital Media.
Cara believes that graphic design and web development are more than just providing great
design or great code. Every design or development project starts with a problem, and
her job is to provide the innovative solution. You can view a sample of her portfolio at She believes that it is important to take the mystery out of technology,
and provide artists with not only the image/brand they desire, but also the tools to maintain
that image/brand as they move forward. It is this philosophy that has led her to make education
a huge priority while working with artists.
Please direct all comments, inquiries and requests for consultation or design proposals to or feel free to call her at 410-756-0196 .
One Fan Consulting
P.O. Box 6368
Baltimore, MD 21230
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