Thursday, September 30, 2010

5th Tip Never To Be Forggotten

5. Design some decent looking promotional materials.

The topic of designing and creating effective promotional materials; bios, fact sheets, cover letters, photos, websites or whatever is a lengthy one to say the least. My tip to help musicians promote their careers, and contribute to their getting any deal offers, is to make the promo materials as compelling, and informative as possible.

Take an inventory of your accomplishments, positive reviews, past sales, and live appearance highlights, and organize them into professionally written bios etc. Having done that, time also needs to be taken to research who to send the materials to, and to ask each potential recipient what type of information they would like to have sent to them.

No ‘generic’ kit's, electronic or otherwise, should ever be created or sent out to any gatekeepers in the music business. Most gatekeepers in the industry today will want you to send any requested materials via email attachments.

Be sure though to ask them what they prefer; email attachments or snail mail goodies.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

4th Tip Never To Forget

4. Cough up the bucks to register your songs with the Copyright Office.

I never cease to be amazed how few artists are willing to spend $40 to register their copyrighted songs online with the U.S. Copyright Office.

By the way, these folks are often the same folks who complain about not getting paid to perform their unknown music. All I know is that when an inventor comes up with some new product that they think will appeal to a certain type of customer, the first thing they do is file for a patent on their invention. The same reaction to protecting songs should be there for any serious songwriter.

If you really intend to work hard and develop your career as a musician who writes your own songs, don’t wait too long to take care of this simple, but essential task. If you really believe in your unique and original music then take the time to learn the basics of copyright protection. With the Internet or your neighborhood library and/or bookstore there a number of easy ways to learn what it takes to file for copyright protection. Do it now!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Part 3: Third Tip Never To Be Forgotten

3. Never stop practicing your instrument.

One of the curious developments of the late 70’s was the huge increase in garage bands, punk bands, and ‘do-it yourselfers’, who just picked up an instrument, or started to sing with some friends, and 6 months later recorded a record and began to play live. Some great music, and new directions in music, came out of that situation. But now, 30 odd years later, the novelty of hearing amateurish thrashings has gotten a bit dull.

Prior to late 70’s, more often than not, the music that is our heritage was made by musicians who, from the time they took up their instrument, worshipped at the feet of some master bluesman, jazz player, folk legend, songwriter, or whatever. The habit of these inspired musicians was an appetite for perfection, the need to be not just ‘good enough’, but GREAT.

Why settle for less. Whatever developing stage you are at, go beyond it, re-commit yourself to your instrument or voice. Take lessons, or better yet, sit yourself down at your CD player and choose a favorite guitar player’s record, and listen closely to what they are playing. Then re-play it, and re-play it again. Challenge yourself to go beyond your limitations. Who knows, maybe you will discover some new territory, wherein you will find your ‘sound’, and increase your chance to stand out from all the mediocrity that is your competition. Believe it or not, the music industry loves to hear innovative, accessible new sounds. Actually in their heart of hearts, that is what they are really hoping to hear on every new demo music file or CD, and from every new act they go see at a live venue.

In the business of music, when we hear something new, original, and accessible to people, we can then invest in you with more security, believing that if we put our ‘label brand’ on you, with our talents of promotion and marketing coming to the front, then we ‘have something’, and your music becomes our music, and we work together to broaden you audience appeal. It’s kind of like a partnership between ‘Art and Commerce’. They do work together!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Part 2: Second Tip Never To Be Forgotten

Play live as often as you can.

Now, more than ever...The dedicated musician/band MUST play live every chance they get. Money-focused musicians whine about the fact that they can’t get club gigs that pay anything. Well, find other places to play live!

If you really think that you can make your living solely as a musician in the first three to four years of your career, you are headed for a breakdown and disappointment. Think about it...almost every legendary musician who has made a mark on our culture has been a musician who struggled long and hard at their craft, and NEVER stopped playing live!

Eat determination for breakfast! Go out there and play on the streets if you have to, play at schools, fairs, festivals, do benefits to help other people and organizations. Offer your services to non- profits, charities, church groups, and any other companies or organizations you can think of. Hang out at clubs, look for jamming possibilities, or start your own jam sessions.

Look around where you live and you will see many places and venues where musicians can play. As you establish yourself and more and more people show up at your shows, the paid gigs will increase. Remember... play live, and then after you play live, play live again, that’s what musicians are supposed to do.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

10 Tips Never To Be Forgotten-Part 1

10 Tips Never To Be Forgotten
By Christopher Knab (@2010)

I got an email the other day from a young musician who was seeking advice about a 6 song demo he and his band had put together. He had plans to ‘shop it around’ to some labels to see if he could get a recording contract. He was a very polite guy, and wanted me to be very honest with him about what his band should do with their demo. The more we talked the more I realized how clueless he was. When the call was over, I couldn’t get it him out of my mind. How could he be so clueless in this day and age? What closet was this band living in, thinking that a demo of 6 songs was all he needed to get a ‘deal’.

I get upset when I encounter naiveté, or blissful ignorance…it ticks me off.

On the one hand we have a slew of entrepreneurial bands around these days that are very hip to using traditional and non-traditional marketing tactics to get their careers launched. Many bands are out their playing live as much as possible, using the web to get their music circulated and sold, These bands are working hard day and night to get their music into the marketplace, and they realize that the business of music is a ruthless business that demands as much from you as you are willing to give it, with no guarantees of any success coming your way.

And then there are the clueless, the naïve, and the blissfully ignorant. “Why won’t they just go away?” I ask myself. Because regretfully, “ignorance is bliss” is still a permanent state of mind for many aspiring musicians. These idiots will never go away regardless of the dozens of outstanding books, articles, regional and national music conferences, and webinars, blogs and social networking tools that are out there spreading the gospel of ‘do-it-yourself’.

It is one thing to be naïve, and another thing to voluntarily remain ignorant of music business realities. But wait, why should I complain?

I am a music business consultant. I should be happy that there are so many clueless musicians out there. They could become my next client.

But they won’t because they have no desire to educate themselves. Even when I tell them they can get a lot of free information at my, they won’t even go there and read the free articles because…they are too lazy.

So, what’s a music business consultant to do?

Will I surrender to the clueless? Will I let the naïve get to me? Will I stop my crusade to help musicians with the business of music?


So, to prove it…here are a bunch of FREE TIPS for the taking: one a day for the next 10 days!

Tip #1: 1. Learn how to write a song!

We live in a time when everybody and their sister can and does make their own music. That doesn’t mean however that your music has what it takes for record labels to invest their money and time developing, promoting, and marketing that music. A&R Reps are always saying, when asked what they are looking for, “We don’t know what we are looking for, but we’ll recognize it when we hear it.” What we can read into their comment is that your music must truly stand out in some significant, original, dynamic, and creative way.

95% of the original music out there contains regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians. Challenge yourself! Talent scouts in this business hear hundreds of mediocre songs every week. What is it about your songs that make them stand out from all the rest?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Petethediehard offers up cool questions for bands

My friend and fellow new-band advocate for getting bands educated about the music business wrote this awhile  back:

Pete Salazar is his name, and he books bands and tries to help them with biz stuff in Fresno, Ca.
He also invited me back to Fresno on Sunday November 7th for a 1 day workshop there. Check this out:

"Times have changed, the Music Industry is changing, you have to do for yourself, but you don't have to do it alone, that's why I believe so strongly in what I am a part of, D4D MUSIC was created to become an Organization that helps build or add to a Musician's plan, whether your opinion is positive or negative about what I wrote, I'd like to hear it. 
Musician's Blueprint (16 Point Plan)

1: What is your band/group’s business plan?
(You need goals and an outline of what you are doing)
2: What are you doing now to be heard?
(Over booking is not being effective, book effectively, smart)
3: What’s your marketing plan or campaign?
(Your promotions and are you recording anything yet)
4: Do you take advantage of local radio shows and local media?
(Have you tried to get on local radio shows & the news paper or various websites)
5: Is your band on the same page? Do you have meetings?
(Is there a complete understanding & communication & chemistry)
6: Does your band work equally?
(Are you all working together as one force or is someone lagging)
7: Are you working on new music, tightening current music & stage performance?
(Is your stage performance worth seeing & does your music sound good to others & are you allowing growth)
8: Do you have a band agreement or contract?
(Most bands do not have anything in writing, major problems ahead if you don’t have a agreement in writing)
9: Is your band name/music trademarked yet?
(Make sure your name/music is protected and covered)
10: Are you utilizing myspace, facebook or twitter or emails?
(What a waste of free advertisement if your not using these free services, your network is unlimited and many opportunities are there)
11: Is your band/group legit? Bank account and business license?
(Money creates problems so have it documented and organized, be a business that’s what this industry is)
12: Are you prepared, organized, professional and on time?
(Being unorganized & late is very unprofessional & a big turn off.  Eventually no one wants to work with you)
13: Fund raising, merchandising
(Creative ideas & demos & merch will help you afford to be a musician, you have spend money to make money, invest in you)
14: Are you supportive of the local scene and working/networking with everyone possible?
(Do you attend other shows & support, are you networking with everyone you can)
15: Is your music on itunes, napster, amazon, etc.?
(Put your demo or full length cd to work on the web)
16: Are you constantly building your fan base period?
(Bottom line you need to earn & grab every fan, period)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Realistic Music Radio Promotion Plan For Today

A Realistic Radio Promotion Plan

The commercial radio industry, at this time in history, couldn’t be less friendly to the independent musician. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some significant radio airplay available to you if you know what you’re doing. Outlined below is a plan to consider if you have the three important ingredients necessary for working your record to radio.
The money to fund the campaign
The time to spend working all the stations consistently
A product that is ready for national airplay

When it comes to commercial radio, the chances of getting significant national airplay for your independent record are next to none. We live in an era when a small group of powerful media conglomerates own and control the most important radio stations in the land. Unless you are connected to a major label, or are independently wealthy, the costs of promoting your songs nationally to commercial radio have spiraled out of sight.

There are, however, lots of mix shows and specialty shows on commercial stations that may offer limited airplay, and at least will get you some awareness in the markets across the country. There will be a lot of work involved in finding these stations yourself, city by city, and music format by music format. I suggest you subscribe to or get a copy of the annual CMJ Directory.

If you have money to invest in radio promotion it’s possible to hire an independent promoter who may be able to open some doors to these shows for you. Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars a week for their services.

A more realistic approach for airplay is to consider the options available on the noncommercial side of the FM dial. (88.1 FM to 91.9 FM) With the combination of college radio stations, community stations, and even some of the larger National Public Radio affiliated stations, your chances of getting your record played are much better.

Also, don't forget the thousands of Internet radio stations that stream millions of songs a day. Google the phrase " Internet radio stations list", and you will be amazed how many stations on the web play independent music of every imaginable type. If you own a Blackberry or an iPhone, there are several free apps that will give you access to these web broadcasters.

Here is an outline based on how professional record labels plan for their radio promotions:

You need to prepare:
• A database of commercial, non-commercial and Internet stations that you realistically think may play your music.
• A timeline you'll use to put the promotional material together (basically setting your deadlines).
Remember that your plan may be distributed to any helpers or employees you may have for your own label, and any independent promotion people you may hire. This plan will be their introduction to your or your artist, and is the plan they will base their work on.

1. Design a detailed overview of your radio promotion plan.
Consider all marketing and promotional ideas listed below.
Propose what you think would work best in each of the areas to help market the record to radio.
Remember to keep cohesiveness between all areas: Give reasons why your music is appropriate to each station you approach.
Remember you will need several practical tools/materials to achieve your goals. (Computers, Smartphones, reliable Internet connection, hardware/software, office supplies, etc.).

Address the following specific topics in your plan:
Background/Goals: Give a brief history of the artist, and describe your goals
Image: Describe/ maintain the artist's image consistently in all promo materials.
Radio: What radio format(s) will be targeted? What markets? Which songs? Any station promotions? (On-air concerts?) Hiring any Independent promoters?
Publicity: Describe your plans to create a “buzz” in the print media. Any press releases to the music industry trades? Update any bios, fact sheets, and electronic press materials.
Sales: Describe Distribution and Retail plans. Any in-store play/ promotions?
Other specific sales opportunities? Mail order, live shows, Internet sales
Any store promotional tie-ins with radio stations?
Video: Is a video cost effective? What airplay opportunities are there for the video?
Touring: Describe the time frame for touring, and other promotional events to coordinate while on the road. Consider specific clubs, halls, fairs, festivals,
Any club/venue promotional tie-ins with radio stations

Misc.: Having a record release party? Novelty items? Any other clever ideas?
Explain each idea in-depth !

2. Design a 12 week plan for the product and promotional tools.
* Lay out what needs to be accomplished each week to get the record out.
* Consider the: artwork, mastering, credits, sequencing, printing, pressing, booklets,
layout/design. And be sure to convert your songs for online downloading!
* Include in the timeline when to start working on your promotional tools
* Design the timeline with deadlines for each element of your project.

Remember that your radio promotion campaign is part of what I refer to as the 'Four-Fronts of Music Marketing', and your plan must connect to all the other Fronts in order to be successful.

(Refer to my website, for more on these Four crucial music marketing principles.)

Always have distribution and sales plans, as well as publicity, advertising and touring plans coordinated carefully with your airplay campaign. The worst thing that can happen to any song on the radio is that someone hears the song, but can’t find a way to buy it.

Professional record labels always have distribution and sales connections set up before they secure airplay. You should do the same.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Weird Music Marketing Ideas: Part 2

Use Your Business Card To Promote Your Favorite Lyrics

On the front cover of a folded card, place a catchy lyric from one of your songs. Inside, or some place other than where your traditional contact information is printed ,briefly list information about your CD and other merchandise you have for sale, and where people can buy your releases. (internet, live shows, mail order)
On the back get creative and list other interesting facts about yourself or your music than fans and industry people might appreciate knowing about.

Become a Music Marketing Matchmaker

Maintain a supply of local music related businesses business cards and distributes them to likely musician and music lovers you know. Using return address labels, create a sticker that says " referred by (your name or band name here)"
Placed on the back of other people's business cards, the stickers reminds the person who you are, and you get great word of mouth name recognition over time, and you’ve helped a local music related business get some customers, as well as helped your music fans learn about where to get the best local help for the their music needs.
The customer is reminded of a cool business, and your name is the first one the prospect hears. (“ So and so recommended that I talk to you”)
Turn Your Fans Onto Other Cool Music

On your website, (you DO have your own website don’t you?) create a section where you and your fellow musicians regularly recommend other local bands and great music that you think your fans would enjoy.
The benefit of this is that you are not seen as strictly a selfish musician obsessed with promoting your own music. Your fans will benefit and thank you over time for all the cool music you have turned them onto.
On a professional level, as you recommend other bands and acts, they will get the word from others that you have recommended their music. Can’t hurt when it comes to finding other artists to perform live with at various gigs.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Off The Wall Music Marketing Ideas:Part 1

Make fans a birthday and Christmas card!

Remember your fan’s birthdays by creating a musical birthday card you create yourself. Email them the card that is imbedded with a mp3 file of a birthday song you wrote.
Use old school psychology, (if you can afford it) send a real birthday card to each fan that has a simple chip attached to it with a sound file that begins to play when you open the card.
You will obviously have to have your database setup to include a place for your fans to give you their birth dates, but after that, at the beginning of every month simply sort out who has a birthday coming up and mail them off. Be sure to do this at least a week before the beginning of each month.
Think of how appreciative your fans will be for having been thought of, and as your career and goes on and gets more established, your past musical birthday cards will become valuable collector items.
The Beatles used actual Christmas greetings recordings that their fan club members got! Ah-hah….now you’re getting it….how about an annual, original Christmas song, written in your unique sounding way, that you can also send out to your fans!
A Sticky Way To Be Remembered: an analog idea

Print up promotional “sticky notes” using the Post-It note method for upcoming gigs and send or pass them out to music fans attending live shows. Have your latest shows printed up on them, so fans can use them as reminders to attend your shows and can put them up on their home bulletin boards or refrigerators. You can also use this idea for reminders to buy your latest CD or merchandise you have for sale at your website, blog, or live shows.

Be The Musical Entertainment For Your Favorite Local Record Store
Work with a local record store that carries your genre of music and ask them about participating in a special “ after hours” party and special sale where you get to be the band or artist to supply the music for the event. Have them put your CD on sale at a special price during the party only. Take time to sign autographs, and get the customers to sign up on your mailing/database list. The store can add whatever added incentives they want to make the event a special sale and you get to go along for the ride.
Talking House ® Brings Your Music To Unique Places: Yes a Weird Idea!
A company called Talking House ® has invented a unique ‘broadcasting’ tool It was first used by real estate people to transmit descriptions of a house that is for sale. It works like this; a small radio transmitter sits inside a location (such as a local business in your area). Prospects just tune in on their ordinary car radio, while parked out front, and hear a customized broadcast, in this case…your music…while they are nearby.
Talking House ® can be used by restaurants, bars, taverns nightclubs, music and record stores, independent fast food restaurants...whatever. You name it, Talking House ® can broadcast it.
For more infgormation, visit the Web site at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

About Playing Live

Local shows will most likely be your first "major" source of income. Expenses involved in local/regional shows will be limited to gas and maybe per diems. - In order to get booked at a local or regional club you will not need the services of a booking agent, instead you will be able to do it yourselves. All you need is a complete and updated press kit, lots of persistence, and the ability and confidence to play a 45 - 60 min. set.

Once you've selected local and regional clubs you want to perform at, send out the complete press kit and follow up with a phone call within 5 to 7 working days.. The club will then tell you whether they're interested in booking you for a show or not. If they are, it will be your turn to tell the venue how much money you want for your performance. Once you've negotiated a deal you will have to gather all the pertinent information and set up a contract. (Note that after you've played a club for a couple of times and established a working relationship, the venue might not insist on a written contract anymore.) Nevertheless, getting things is writing is a very good habit to get into.

Here's a list of issues you will have to address and particularize in a contract:
"Purchaser" or "Buyer" (Name of the Club Promoter)
“"Deal" - The deal you accepted and the amount of money you will get paid.
Here are the four most common deals you will encounter:
Flat or Guarantee Ex.: $ 300
Versus Ex.: $ 300 versus 30% door, whatever's higher.
Plus Ex.: $ 300 plus 30% door
Points/Split Ex.: 50/30/20 of Net
· Date of Event
· Set Length
· Deposit (if any)
· Who will pay to whom how much and when
· Admission Fee (Ticket Price)
· Capacity
· Act of Nature (Force Majeure)
The force majeure (literally "superior force") clause is applied when there is an unexpected event that causes performance of the contract to become impossible; it releases one or both parties from their rights and obligations.
· Cancellation Fees
· Recording by Permission Only
· Promotional Commitment
This, for instance, specifies the minimum amount of money you, the band, expect the club to invest in advertising the show.
· Merchandise: How much the club will take from the gross of merchandise sold (usually 10%)