ManageMental Episode 108: How To Build Your Network in 15 Minutes

Hypebot article "Growing Your Music Industry Network In 15 Minutes A Day" by Suzanne Paulinksi of The Rock/Star Advocate and The TuneCore Blog.

Let me guess – you’re working on new music, but you keep hearing about the importance of having an engaged, growing fanbase and solid connections within in the industry in order to get ahead. But with a demanding day job and the time spent on that new music, your main thought is, “Who’s got the time for all of that networking and socializing?”

It’s understandable. Relationships take time and when time is something you’re constantly short on, how can any real connections be made? So you turn to the “get followers quick” schemes and pay for more followers/adds (and so on), with the hope of attracting industry connections alongside your growing numbers.

The thing is, that doesn’t work. It’s not sustainable and it’s not going to get you engagement and real relationships.

No matter how digital this business gets, real connections are always going to be your career’s best currency.

So how can you make connections that count when you feel like Father Time is not working in your favor?

Networking is a habit. Building that habit into your daily routine – for just 15 minutes a day – can really make a difference in your fanbase growth, as well as your industry relationships.

It’s all about batching tasks and staying focused on your ideal contacts.

Below is an example of how you can get the ball rolling during the week. With only 15 minutes each day of the week you can make progress and keep building this habit, so that down the road you’ll have a strong foundation for reaching out to new fans and potential industry collaborators with ease and confidence.

Monday: Spend 15 minutes determining the type of audience you want to connect with this week. Do you want to get more leads for potential clients? More email subscribers? More venue contacts to reach out to for booking shows? What about more playlist curators to pitch new music to?

Don’t try to focus on all of them at once. Spend 15 minutes getting clear on ONE type of audience and why you want to reach out to them – what result do you want to come from reaching out?

Tuesday: Spend 15 minutes determining where this audience hangs out. Are they on Twitter? LinkedIn? Instagram? Facebook Groups? Sit and think about it for a moment. If you’re looking to find more music supervisors, hit up IMDB. If you’re looking at playlist curators, think more along the lines of Spotify and YouTube.

You don’t have to start finding any yet. Just make a plan for how tomorrow’s 15 minutes will be spent. Don’t rush this. Use the full block of time to really think this through and do some initial research.

Wednesday: Once you have determined what platform you’ll focus your energy on, spend 15 minutes commenting/sharing/liking posts by the type of people you want to connect with (it may be best to set a timer, specifically for today’s task, as it can be easy to fall into a social media hole and lose time and focus). Use this time to leave thoughtful (i.e. relevant) comments that will spark engagement and likely follow-backs.

This falls under Gary Vee’s “$1.80 strategy” where you leave you 2¢ on the top 9 posts of your top 10 most relevant hashtags. Now 15 mins may not be enough time to leave comments/likes on 90 posts… but check out his explanation of his strategy and apply it to a few hashtags a week. Even if the 15 mins is spent engaging with one to three people the results from small progress are still worth it.

Thursday: Spend 15 minutes writing a (templated) message to use when reaching out to contacts directly. If you are looking for more fans or growing your network with industry leaders in general, the actions above are a great place to start engagement. However, if there are specific contacts you have come across in your research thus far and you have a specific request for them (i.e. asking a blogger to review your music, asking a tastemaker to add a song to their playlists, asking your super fans to share your latest YouTube video, etc.) then use this time to create a template you can use each time you reach out to people.

Keep it respectful and to the point. If you’re emailing, send links, NOT attachments.

Friday: Spend 15 minutes reaching out to those contacts! Fridays aren’t always the best days to reach out so you may want to use a service like Boomerang to schedule your emails/messages in advance and have them go out on a Monday. This list is just to illustrate what you can get done in 15 minutes.

When you have a template written and you’re clear on who you want to reach out to, choose three people each week to send your personalized template to. Could you send it out to more people? Sure. But if you only have 15 minutes, reaching out to three people a week is better than none. And, once you’ve done the research and you’ve written the template as outlined above, each following day you can use your 15 minutes to reach out to three more people. The important thing is to turn these tasks into habits that you work into your routine each and every day.

You could get to 15 people in a workweek if you wanted.

And don’t forget to schedule a follow-up a week from when you’ve first made contact. Some weeks will be “reaching out” heavy and others will be “follow-up” heavy. Following up is so important and so many don’t do it. Make sure you keep track of whom you’ve reached out to, their status, and when you’re following up.

So what do you want?

You may not have the opportunity to contact that hot producer you were hoping to slip your demo to – don’t worry about it. Worry about who you did connect with because there’s a very good chance they already know that producer or someone just as important for your career.

Get to know them. Ask them what it is you can do for them. Having them pass on your demo with a glowing recommendation of how awesome you are will go a lot farther than you trying to get a hold of someone who has zero time for you.

#StopTheSpam. Blasting each new follower with a DM that says “Thanks for following, check out my music” does NOT count as making connections. Doing so, while maybe it gained you a few views, did NOT help with your career. These cheap, shallow gestures will not get you far in the long run.

Try picking a new follower and striking up a conversation. Ask what it is they do. Check out their work, comment on it. Then, once you’ve established a connection, asking them to take time out of their day to listen to your music will not seem like an annoyance, but rather a genuine request.

If you put true passion behind what you’re doing people will notice. If you put true energy into caring about them and what they have going on, they will reciprocate. And it only takes a few minutes a day.

Cover Art Ideas You Need to Consider.

ManageMental Episode 107: More Industry Predictions for 2019

Hypebot article "5 Music Industry Predictions 2019: Fan Clubs, Apple Music, Chart Decline and More" by Haulix Daily.

The Music Business is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Less than ten years ago no one knew if consumers would embrace premium streaming platforms, and Less than five years ago the idea of communicating with a speaker in your home still sounded like something from The Jetsons. 2019 is shaping up to be just as wild as any year prior. Streaming is now the most popular way to access music, but there continues to be a demand for physical product. Smart speakers are helping people consume more material than ever, yet many fear the access those products give corporations into consumers’ private lives. There’s also an entire generation of music legends embarking on farewell tours, young acts trying to establish themselves as the next big thing, and an ever-present chance that someone no one has ever heard of will spring to the top of the charts thanks to a viral video, meme, or song stream. We cannot and would not pretend to know what the future holds, but there are things we feel would benefit that could easily happen in the months ahead. Here are a few:

Fan clubs are back and more beneficial than ever. There’s also a problem with exposure on social media. An artist can have 10,000 fans on either platform, but the number of people who see their updates is far less. The only way to guarantee reach is through paid promotions, and many in the industry are struggling to see the point of giving money to third-party services to reach their fans. The potential solution to this issue is fan clubs. Anyone can choose to follow an artist on social media, but those who want direct access and knowledge of new developments can do so through direct support that benefits the artist and makes it easier for music to be their sole source of income. Artists, in turn, thank fans with exclusive announcement, chats, pre-sales, new music streams, merchandise, and anything else that comes to mind. Everyone wins!

Competition for booking grows as tribute bands gain popularity.  The legends of modern music have begun to leave the spotlight. Some have died, but others are choosing to retire. In the last year alone, Paul Simon, Ozzy Osbourne, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Slayer, Bob Seger, Elton John, and George Clinton have all announced or embarked upon farewell tours. The solution, both for fans and venues in need of talent alike, are tribute bands. The cost to book these acts is low, which means tickets are reasonable, and the target market is old enough to ensure strong beer and liquor sales. Tribute bands make it possible for venues of all sizes to host events promoting the biggest hits of all time for a fraction of the price demanded by the original songwriters/performers. They also make it easy for people to have a night out with live music without taking risks on artists that might not entertain them.

Apple Music almost catches up to Spotify. Spotify is the reigning champ of music streaming. For the last decade, no other premium streaming platform has been able to compete with the popularity of Spotify, but that could change in 2019?

Streaming services become news outlets. Think about consumption for a moment. Virtually everyone is accessing music through streaming services. Blogs still host premieres, of course, but the vast majority of consumers are hearing new songs for the first time through their preferred streaming platform. With that in mind, it makes sense that those services would also consider offering tour dates and other relevant information. That could be achieved by hiring writers or through further empowering artists. Either way, value would be added.

Charts matter less and less. Billboard charts have been considered the best way to gauge the interests of the public for the last half-century. The charts have attempted to evolve with the times, introducing new rules that consider streams as sales, but the influence they carry in the music industry has begun to wane. The new way to gauge popularity is playlists. After all, it’s the songs topping the Spotify and Apple Music charts that inevitably decide what tops Billboard. Streaming services have up to the minute information on the pulse of music culture. They know what’s going to be popular next before anyone else, so why should we continue looking elsewhere for information we can find ourselves with a few clicks on our phone or desktop computers?

Should You Record an Album or EP? found.ee/album

ManageMental Episode 106: Advice From the Industry: Part 3

Hypebot article "19 Marketing Predictions From Music Industry Experts" by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

Janelle Rogers - Green Light Go Publicity: Blend Old School With New. The key to success in 2019 is blending old school with new school. As musicians embrace direct to fan social media tools and streaming options, they should also look at how to connect with the gatekeepers in media and influencers who can spread the word to the masses about their music. Blog coverage has been proven influential with the powers that be on the streaming platforms and also with booking opportunities. Streaming engagement and social media followings are just as important with influencing bloggers. Everything you do in 2019 should be with the interconnectivity in mind.”

Cherie Hu – Freelance Journalist: Get With The Power of Music Subscriptions. The dominant business model for digital music today seems to revolve around a user subscribing to a platform, rather than to an individual artist, with the platform dictating revenue distribution. But a growing number of companies like Patreon, Kickstarter’s Drip and the newly-launched Mixcloud Select are offering fans the opportunity to subscribe directly to their favorite artists or labels for a monthly fee, in exchange for exclusive content, access to subscriber events and other perks. In this scenario, the artist owns a direct line of communication with fans, keeps the lion’s share of revenue and can more effectively segment and service these fans than what is currently possible in a mass-market streaming environment.

Cheryl B. Engelhardt – In The Key Of Success: Do The Thing. My biggest piece of advice is to stop buzzing for a few days and do The Thing. What does that mean? For me, I am constantly juggling multiple projects, which I love. But at some point, something is getting pushed to the back-burner. The Thing, for me, was finishing writing my email series to my fans. Get good at email this year. Take the time to do it right. It’s your gold mine. It’s your relationship with your fans. It’s your access to growing your career. Stop buzzing, and set it up right. You will be relieved when you do.

Meghann Wright - Symphonic Distribution: Evolve To Thrive. As the industry changes, the best advice I can give is to be adaptive. Just like animals in the wild, you need to evolve to thrive. This means staying on top of trends, constantly educating yourself through podcasts, books, and timely articles. Whether you’re an artist or an industry player, the more you know, the more you can present yourself as a professional in your field. I can say this also from the artist’s perspective. I taught myself almost everything I know about independent marketing and release strategy, and curated symbiotic relationships in the industry through networking and scene involvement while I was an active professional touring artist. That means going to shows, going to events, and putting yourself out there. If you want to make it in the jungle, be a beast!

Melissa Nastasi - City Bird Publicity: Be Patient. One piece of advice I would strongly give to artists is to be patient. With the world of marketing and publicity forever changing, mainly on a year-to-year basis, the game often isn’t the same as you remember, or how your friends told you it would be.  Before heading out into the world, be sure you are putting together a strong timeline and string of assets going out, which will help to give a cohesive push moving forward. Remember success doesn’t usually happen overnight! Writers who may have covered your music or prior band in the past may no longer be writing at a certain publication, etc. The same goes for Spotify playlists. Don’t get discouraged if publications and playlists do not pick up your music and story immediately, as sometimes they have an inbox full of new music to digest on the daily.

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Pre-Order Release It Right: The Silver Scream Edition HERE.

Do You Need to Hire a Producer?

ManageMental Episode 105: Advice From the Industry: Part 2

Hypebot article "19 Marketing Predictions From Music Industry Experts" by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

Chris Robley –  DIY Musician Podcast: Pay For Social Media Ads & Boosts Without Bitterness. 2019 will be the year your AVERAGE independent musician starts budgeting for online advertising without feeling nauseous or bitter AF. We’re getting used to the idea that reach requires money, especially the highly-targeted reach enabled by big social platforms. So you can count on organic/viral engagement and be disappointed 999 times out of 1000;  you can reluctantly pay to boost a post, feel cheated, and walk away from your fans on a particular platform; or you can embrace the fact that social ad platforms provide you with tools worth paying for.

Ryan Kairilla – Break The Business: Embrace Live Streaming. Embrace live streaming! Platforms like Twitch and Facebook Live are becoming very important platforms for musicians. Live streaming presents an exciting opportunity for artists to not only present their art but also cultivate deeper relationships and have genuine interaction with their fans.

Melissa Garcia - Collective Entertainment: Get Creative On Socials. Don’t be afraid to get creative with how you connect with your fans. The vast majority of artists out there are all communicating with their fans the same way. Instead, create unique experiences to draw your fans in and find ways to get to know them. This can be in the form of dinner gatherings at a city you’re touring in. Creating conversation by harnessing social media/communication tools. Starting a Fan group on Facebook to communicate with your fans directly (as opposed to depending on Facebook’s algorithm).

Rick Barker – Rick Barker Music: Meet Your Fans Where They Want to Meet You. One of the biggest mistakes I see artists make is that they make it hard for fans to find them. Discovery happens in so many ways today. Social shares, playlist, word of mouth. It is what happens next that determines whether or not they truly discover who you really are. Meet them where they are at, not where you want them. What I mean by that is, make sure you have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. You don’t have to be crazy active on all 4 but you at least better have something recent. They will use their social media platform of choice, not yours.

Marcio Novelli – Bridge The Atlantic: Don’t quit your day job. Don’t quit your day job… But don’t give up on your dreams either. The old adage that it takes money to make money is almost always true, even in the music business. And, it’s just that – a business. As artists, we don’t want to admit that but it’s true. And, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, a more empowering term is to call ourselves music entrepreneurs. We all want to support ourselves doing what we love but, until we have the financial support of a label (and, sometimes, even when we do), the reality is that we need to pay to record, release and market our music, not to mention all costs associated with touring, online presence and merchandising, to name just a few. So, there is no shame in having a day job that provides consistent income in order to pursue our dreams. Just make sure to never wake up!

Check out Finn McKenty's Punk Rock MBA Website and YouTube Channel.

What’s the Difference Between the Producer, Engineer, and Mixer?

ManageMental Episode 104: Advice From the Industry: Part 1

Hypebot article "19 Marketing Predictions From Music Industry Experts" by Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

Ariel Hyatt, Cyber PR: Have A Plan With Your Goals Included. If you don’t have a written plan and a long-term strategy, it will be very hard to get where you want to go. I see way too many artists wasting their hard earned money on publicists, Spotify Playlisting companies and radio promotion before they are really ready.

Bryan Calhoun, Music Business Toolbox: Don’t Blow Your Budget on Recording Only. The biggest mistake I see indie artists make is to spend all of their money on recording, leaving nothing for marketing.

Bree Noble, Profitable Musician, Female Entrepreneur Musician & WOS Radio: Clearly Communicate Your Story. My biggest piece of marketing advice for 2019 is to know how to communicate your story.

Suzanne Paulinski, The Rock/Star Advocate: Put Your Fans First. As we move forward in this new era of the music industry, it’s become more and more apparent that the only gatekeepers in the industry are the fans.

Emily White, Collective Entertainment: Build An Industry Email List. Retain email addresses of journos, bloggers, and playlist/tastemakers so you can contact them in the future about your work.

How to Save Money in the Recording Studio.

ManageMental Episode 103: Basic Concepts for Music Success: Part 2

Hypebot article "10 Basic Concepts For Success In Today’s Music Business" by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0.

Much has changed in the music industry over the last few years that affect an artist’s ability to be successful. Some of it is brand new and a result of the technology we use, while some of it is good common sense that’s been used over and over over many decades of the business.

1. Major labels want radio hits. They want an easy sell, so unless you create music that can get on radio immediately, a major label won’t be interested. This is what they do and they do it well, so if that’s your goal, you must give them what they want.

2. You must create on a regular basis. Fans have a very short attention span and need to be fed with new material constantly in order to stay at the forefront of their minds. What should you create? Anything and everything, from new original tunes to cover tunes, to electric versions to acoustic versions, to remixes to outtakes, to behind the scenes videos to lyric videos, and more. You may create it all at once, but release it on a consistent basis so you always have some fresh content available.

3. YouTube and Facebook are the new radio. Nurture your following there and release on a consistent basis. It’s where the people you want to reach are discovering new music, at least for now.

4. Growing your audience organically is best. Don’t expect your friends and family to spread the word, as they don’t count. If you can’t find an audience on your own merits, there’s something wrong with your music or your presentation. Find the problem, fix it, and try it again. The trick is finding that audience.

5. First and foremost, it all starts with the song. If you can’t write a great song that appeals to even a small audience, none of the other things matter much.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the music business is both exciting and invigorating in it’s current form. It’s not dying and it’s not wilting, unlike what you’ll hear and read from the old school naysayers. It is constantly evolving and progressing, and those who don’t progress with it will fall behind. That said, these 10 concepts will help anyone navigate the road to success.

Songwriting Collaborator - Do You Need One?

ManageMental Episode 102: Basic Concepts for Music Success: Part 1

Hypebot article "10 Basic Concepts For Success In Today’s Music Business" by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0.

Much has changed in the music industry over the last few years that affect an artist’s ability to be successful. Some of it is brand new and a result of the technology we use, while some of it is good common sense that’s been used over and over over many decades of the business.

1. It’s all about scale. You can’t think about numbers the same way as in the old days when sales ruled. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (album and single) may have 500 million YouTube views or Spotify streams or more. Once upon a time, a sales number like that would’ve been deemed a failure, today, it’s a success. Views don’t equal sales, and vice-versa.

2. The scale is not the same. In the past, 1 million of anything was considered a large number and meant you were a success. Today anything with that number hardly gets a mention, as it takes at least 10 million streams or views to get a label or manager’s attention. 50 million is only a minor hit, while a major hit is in the hundreds of millions.

3. There will be fewer digital distributors in the future. It’s an expensive business to get into and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find a few gone.

4. It’s all about what you can do for other people. Promoters, agents, and club owners are dying to book you if they know you’ll make them money. Record labels are dying to sign you if you have have an audience they can sell to. Managers will want to sign you if you have a line around the block waiting to see you. If you can’t do any of the above, your chances of success decrease substantially.

5. Money often comes late. It may not seem like it, but success is slow. You grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely you’ll have a long career. An overnight sensation usually means you’ll also be forgotten overnight. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much through the years. 

Three Ways To Determine Songwriting Credits.

ManageMental Episode 101: Industry Predictions for 2019 Part 2

Hypebot article "10 Music Industry Predictions For 2019" by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0.

Predictions can be a tricky thing, but if we look at the trends in the music business over the last year we can see where things might be going. Here are 5 more predictions for how the industry will fare in 2019.

1. Streaming Services Remain Unprofitable. Almost all dedicated streaming services are very good at what they do except for one thing – making money. Choked by the weight of label licensing deals, these platforms struggle to find a way to become profitable, leading to a major market consolidation that begins in the new year.

2. Article 13 Brings YouTube Chaos. Be careful what you wish for, major labels, as YouTube is plunged into chaos following the passage of EU Article 13, which holds streaming platforms responsible for the files that their users upload. With YouTube (and other streaming platforms) having to purge so many videos, artists and labels take a big hit in revenue, but even worse, in exposure as well.

3. Artists Use Social Media For Promo Less. Many artists have relied on social media as a method of both growing and engaging their fan bases, but that changes in 2019 as the only way to large-scale engagement comes from paid promotion on the various social platforms. Many artists drop off because of principle – even more because of the cost. Instagram carries the load, at least for a while until it focuses more on revenue that users.

4. Live Music Legends Replaced By New Faces. The concert industry has long worried about what would happen after the 60s, 70s and 80s legends stopped touring, but a new crop of superstars prove that there are stadiums that they can fill. The live portion of the industry continues to grow despite higher ticket prices and perceived price gouging.

5. Streaming Changes Song Structure Even More. Over the last couple of years song structure has changed because of streaming, with fades giving way to beginning a song right on the chorus to hard endings. Now song length will be the next to change as artists make songs shorter. After all, it’s more profitable to have a fan listen twice instead of to only one longer song.

Four Ways To Make Your Recording Demos Work For You.

ManageMental Episode 100: Industry Predictions for 2019 - Part 1

Hypebot article "10 Music Industry Predictions For 2019" by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0.

Predictions can be a tricky thing, but if we look at the trends in the music business over the last year we can see where things might be going. Here are 5 predictions for how the industry will fare in 2019.

1. Apple Music Nearly Catches Spotify. Spotify is still the king of the hill when it comes to streaming with 83 million paid subscribers, but Apple Music is coming on strong at 57 million at years end. Apple Music’s growth was significant in 2018, so look for the gap between the two streaming powerhouses to close even more in the coming year.

2. Tencent Music Makes Its Move. Now that Tencent Music had its more or less timid yet successful IPO, look for the company to set its eyes on acquiring more if not all of Spotify. Of course, this only happens if the market rebounds and tech stocks (especially music related ones) again become investor favorites. If not, look for an acquisition down the road.

3. Smart Speaker Growth Is Kind To Amazon Music. Love them or hate them, smart speakers are here to stay and that market will grow even more in 2019. The biggest beneficiary of that has been Amazon Music, and the trend helps it even more, especially right after a holiday with big Echo sales and a boost in Prime memberships.

4. The Charts Mean Less And Less. Billboard has ruled the music world for more than 50 years and its charts have been the bible for artists and labels everywhere. That ceases in 2019, as the charts become more irrelevant and playlists (especially from the major streaming services) gain more influence.

5. Major Labels Lose Their Mojo. Once the dream of every artist, today’s artist is more likely to shun a major to go it independently, since so many of the benefits of a major can be had without actually signing to one. Indie and boutique labels continue to grow both in numbers and revenue as artists thrive in a more DIY world.

ManageMental Episode 99: How To Use Rejection to your Advantage

Hypebot article "5 Ways to Deal with Rejections in the Music Industry" by Alice Berg.

Beatles were rejected by Decca in 1962; Lady Gaga was kicked out by Island Def Jam Records after only three months, Beethoven was called “hopeless compositor” by his teacher. "American Idol" has rejected Colbie Caillat, Hillary Scott, Bebe Rexha and many others. As you can see, producers make huge mistakes sometimes. However, there is no possibility to promote every singer or music band – some have to be rejected.   If you feel you have been treated unfairly, there’s no reason to stress about it as well. All you need to do is to learn how to deal with those refusals and find the motivation to go on trying even when dealing with constant rejection. Here we discuss 5 simple steps that help to overcome the failure and grab the needed inspiration.

1. Don’t Take It Personally
2. Work on Your Mistakes
3. Be Confident and Persistent
4. Reflect on Your Music and Ask for More Comments
5. Music Failures: Use That Rejection as a Tool

All things considered, keep doing what you love as it is the most valuable thing ever. Don’t lose that passion that made you fall in love with music and start writing or performing songs. Keep it fun driving engagement with new songs! Remember that competition in the music industry shouldn’t have a big influence on you as an artist. Almost every music legend has faced dozens of rejections on the way towards worldwide fame. Grab inspiration from them and go on working on your masterpieces.

ManageMental Episode 98: Tips For The "Stay At Home" Musician

This week Blasko & Mike take some questions from one of our loyal listeners.

Hey guys, thanks for the show! I hugely appreciate what you're doing for aspiring musicians like myself. I've got a topic that I don't think you've covered yet that I know applies to not only myself, but to a massive contingent of my fellow musicians!

I'm a full-time mechanical engineer with a demanding job and commute, so I've opted to devote my limited available free time resources to creating the best music that I can. I’m starting work on my second album, and trying to build some hype and a modest fanbase prior to release, and am looking for advice on the best path forward that maximizes the effectiveness of my time!

Thanks for your time! Cheers!
Dan

The specific questions:

What, in your experience, is the most effective way to connect with and build a fanbase as a non-gigging solo studio musician? 

Are low-effort real-time updates more or less effective than infrequent high-production-quality posts? Would I risk losing connection with my fanbase by posting too infrequently, or do fans tend to wait it out and stick with you for months between updates?

How can I self promote to fans directly without turning them off or participating in online groups like it's a full-time job? Maintaining one or two requires enough of my time as it is!

Are there legitimately beneficial label arrangements available to solo artists to market and distribute physical merch, or do they tend to not really work out in the artist's favor? Are labels only interested if the music has not yet been made public?

How do I get taken seriously as a total nobody with no real connections without needing to quit my career? 

ManageMental Episode 97: Revisiting Our Predictions for 2018

This week, Blasko & Mike recap Episode 49: 10 Predictions for 2018.

1. Traditional record sales will continue to decrease. 
2. Apple will begin to shut down the iTunes music store with an estimated final closure date of Jan 2019. 
3. Spotify will go public.
4. VR technology will not replace the live experience.
5. Cryptocurrency will not become an overly accepted form of payment for anything music related.
6. Print on demand services will become more of a necessity.
7. More independent artists will cross over to the mainstream.
8. Streaming only record labels will begin to sign and break bands.
9. Festival attendance will level off or decrease.
10. If we are looking for different results we will need to implement different strategies. 

ManageMental Episode 96: Marketing Strategies That Work!

Music Think Tank article "7 Top Marketing Strategies For Musicians" by Patrick McGuire of The Bandzoogle Blog.

For many artists, marketing is somewhat at odds with who they are and what they do. Since music and the act writing songs is often deeply personal and emotional, getting into a music marketing strategy mindset might seem foreign, fake or forced for some musicians.

Sadly, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s never been more difficult for new artists to put their music in front of listeners. Between music streaming platforms and the cheap cost of DIY home recording technology, there’s more music being released now than at any other point in history.

Tens of thousands of new songs are being released each day, and, in many cases, what determines whether each of these songs will go on to find an audience or not depends on how they’re marketed. 

ManageMental Episode 95: How to Connect With Your Fans

Hypebot article "5 Things You Should Share With Your Fans Besides Music" by Michael Hahn of LANDR.

While sharing the music they've created should certainly be an artist's number one priority when it comes to interacting with fans, but as the distance between audience and creator shrinks, it becomes important for artists to share other information with fans as well. Today’s communication tools have broken down boundaries between audience and creator. It’s clear that sharing your music with your fans is the number one priority. But your community is looking for more than just tracks. They want the extra details that bring the sounds to life. Your music has a story, and it’s up to you to bring that story to your fans—it’s the part of speaking to your audience that’s more than just music. There’s tons of ways to tell the story around your sound. But to get you started here’s 5 useful ideas of what to share with your fans beyond your music.

1. Why you make music
2. Your studio, gear and recording process 
3. Your influences
4. Other creative projects you’re into
5. Other artists in your community 

ManageMental Episode 94: Are You Threatin Me?

Threatin coverage on MetalSucks: http://www.metalsucks.net/tag/threatin/

Jered Eames, who goes by the stage name Jered Threatin, began Threatin as a solo act after his departure from Abigail Williams. In 2015, Threatin released a single, "Living Is Dying". In 2017, the album Breaking the World was released, with Jered Threatin performing all instruments. 
 
In November 2018, Threatin was booked to tour the United Kingdom and Europe having informed venues they had sold hundreds of tickets and had paid the hire fee before each gig. However, the tour achieved widespread news coverage when it became known that the shows had been played to empty rooms. 
 
It was later discovered that the 38,000 likes on the band's Facebook page had been bought. It was also found that Threatin created a series of fake websites for a booking agency (StageRight Bookings), a record label (Superlative Music Recordings), a PR company (Magnified Media PR), a music recording studio (Mindframe Studios), a film production company (Glass Castle Film & Photography), and various music press websites (Top Rock Press, New York Music Review, Celebrity Music Scene) in an attempt to give his band credibility and secure the tour, and referenced other made-up companies (Universal Web Group) and bands/artists. Doctored footage of Threatin performing in an arena to audience stock footage was used to produce a promotional video for the European tour. 

ManageMental Episode 93: Is Your Album Release Ready?

Hypebot article "Checklist To Decide If Your Album Is Release Ready" by Angela Mastrogiacomo of Muddy Paw PR & The Symphonic Blog.

So you’ve just recorded an incredible new EP or album and you’re dying to get it out into the world. After all, this is your latest masterpiece—your best work to date—and your fans are going to love it! Plus, you’ve been promising them something new for a while and it’s time to deliver on that promise.

Before you go releasing an album on a whim, make sure you are release ready so you get the maximum impact and exposure for the album. Ask yourself, do you have the following?

1. Enough Time
2. A Gameplan
3. Hi-Res Press Photos
4. A Professionally Written Bio
5. Active Social Media
6. Grit

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ManageMental Episode 92: How To Crush Your Next Release

In this week's episode, Blasko & Mike discuss the Hypebot article "3 Reasons Your Last Music Release Failed" by Suz Paulinski of The Rock/Star Advocate & Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR.

Reason # 1 You Took Your Time Writing & Recording But Then You Felt a Sense of URGENCY to Release (So You Did Without Really Preparing!)

Reason # 2 You Hired A Music Publicist or A Radio Promoter and They Didn’t Get The Results You Expected

Reason # 3 You Put Off Learning How to Release Your Music Properly Because You Thought that “Great Music Will Always Find it’s Way and “The Cream Always Rises To The Top”

ManageMental Episode 91: Likeness Rights, Trademarks & Partnerships

This week Mike is joined by special guest Ryan J. Downey. Ryan is the founder of Superhero Artist Management, representing Demon Hunter, Killer Be Killed, Throwdown, and Zeuss (whose producer credits include Rob Zombie, Queensrÿche, Hatebreed). He is a longtime journalist who has contributed to MTV News, Billboard, the Hollywood Reporter, and other outlets. Downey hosts Speak N’ Destroy, a podcast about all things Metallica, and No-Prize from God, which features conversations with creative people about belief, unbelief, and everything between.

You can find Ryan on Twitter @ryandowney and Instagram @superherohq.

Original article "ACE FREHLEY Would Only Participate In KISS's Final Tour If He Could 'Take Back' His 'Make-Up, Costume And Character'" on Blabbermouth.net.

"Don’t give up your face! Ace Frehley has said he will only return to KISS if he is able to take back his makeup, costume, and character. How does someone end up without the rights to their own likeness? We dive in to the complicated histories of some legendary hard rock and punk acts to stress the importance of protecting your beautiful mug.”

ManageMental Episode 90: 5 Steps to Success for New Artists

Hypebot article "5 Key Priorities for New Artists" from The TuneCore Blog.

1. YOU HAVE TO BUILD A TEAM

If you have decided to pursue a career as an artist, you must know that you cannot do it alone. Having a strong team with experience and connections can be the key to furthering your career. These people will represent you and guide you through the tumultuous early days as an artist, as well as through the many challenges you will face on the road to success and beyond. This team can include, (but is not limited to), a personal manager, business manager, booking agent, attorney, publicist, publisher, tour manager, and producer.

As your career continues to grow, the more of these positions will need to be filled. For many, the most effective starting point for building a team is with a personal manager. A personal manager can be integral to an artist’s career. The key is to find a manager who also has time and energy to dedicate to your career. (A seasoned manager will know the ins and outs of the industry and will help you navigate different obstacles.)

While beginning with a personal manager is beneficial, it is by no means the only route to building your team. You can start by filling any of the positions mentioned. For example, a live show is integral to building an audience for a lot of artists, so it may be that a good booking agent could be first on the list.

2. CRAFT

As an artist, you have to practice your musical craft like a professional athlete practices their sport. Even the best practice; only the best practice the small stuff. There are two main categories of your craft: musical/technical ability and live performance.

An important part of artistry is creating a distinguished sound. When practicing, you should find a common theme in your songs and develop a unique style. Practice is the most important part of developing your musical and writing abilities.

Additionally, taking lessons, playing with other artists, learning music theory, and listening to music enhances your craft. Extend your musical palette to find new material that will influence you and inspire you as you make your own music. Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. There is no shame in taking lessons because a teacher can drastically speed up your progress. Practice takes time and dedication; the benefits will not arrive overnight, but they will come.

The second aspect of craft is live performance. Performing live is a requirement in entertainment, so having the tightest band on stage will give you an edge. Your set should be built around your audience. From song choice to stories between songs, every decision should have a purpose. You need to develop the presence you create on stage and the image you project to the audience. You should be genuine, but remember that you are putting on a show. There is no better way to develop your live set than to start playing shows. More on that next!

3. BUILDING A GREAT LIVE SHOW

When it comes to establishing a position within the industry as a new artist, putting together a great live show is crucial. Live shows contribute to an artist’s income, and also give them the opportunity to potentially develop their fanbase early on.

In putting on a great live show, it is important for new artists to be on time. When starting out, it is essential that the artist establishes a good reputation among promoters, venue owners, and potential fans. If an artist is constantly running late, people will be less likely to be willing to work with them in the future.

An artist’s genre will influence the direction of the live show. With pop artists, the audience will typically expect more production, such as lights and dancers, to accompany the singer. On the other hand, a singer/songwriter is typically judged purely on their instrumental and vocal talent, with little or no bells and whistles in the production department.

No matter the genre, live shows cannot happen without fans. To heighten an artist’s performance, they should focus on stage presence and fan interaction. It is important to keep fans interested and engaged so that they will come back to the show next time you’re in town.

4. MEDIA

Record labels are not signing artists anymore – they are signing audiences. The first step a new artist can take to attract record labels is to build and establish a digital presence.

A firmly established social media presence, as an example, can strengthen an artist’s credibility and help accumulate a fan base across channels. Social media platforms have become a crucial part of an artist’s marketability to potential labels. A strong fan base lessens the risk of investment, because a label will have to put in as much time and money into an artist to get them to the next level in their career.

Having a social media presence comes with more benefits than just a potential record deal. An artist can also attract the attention of potential managers or booking agents for gigs. Social media channels also function as safes zones for unsigned artists to soft release new singles, tracks, videos, etc. This allows the artist to interact with and receive constructive criticism from fans without the cost of publishing new materials through formal retail outlets. Fans want to have access to their favorite artist as much as possible, and they want to feel like they know them in real life. Social media is a powerful tool to facilitate a fan/artist relationship that can grow an artist’s audience and further their career.

5. BRANDING

The fifth priority for a new artist is branding. Once you have put time and effort into your craft, building your team, establishing a digital presence, and getting comfortable on stage, your personal brand should fall right into place. Your brand is what separates you from every other artist in your genre.

For example, take up-and-coming artist Lainey Wilson (ed. note: also a TuneCore Artist!). She has a thick country accent and sings about whiskey; however, she dresses like a hippie with flare jeans, retro glasses, and printed shirts. She sounds like any other country singer, but her appearance helps to set her apart from other country artists.

When creating your brand, it is important to balance staying true to yourself with representing a personal style/image that correlates with the genre of music you play. There is a range of style and image norms within the different genres. Sometimes, breaking or bending those norms can be a good thing in order to stand out, but stark violations of them runs the risk of alienating a large portion of the intended audience.

Branding is one of the most compelling parts of the music industry because it can be changed and manipulated in different ways. In order for a brand to further an artist’s career, it has to be distinct. Although it may seem simple, it can take years of hard work and patience to change people’s perceptions. Branding is about the little details that build up over time to create something marketable and unique. Many opportunities for corporate sponsorships are available to an artist with a distinct brand and a positive public image. 

ManageMental Episode 89: 5 Hot Digital Marketing Tips

Original Article: "Five trends for digital music marketing in 2018" by Music Ally.

There are three pillars for music marketing in 2018: what you do with social media; what you do with digital service providers (DSPs, principally streaming services); and what you do with your own platforms – mailing lists, most obviously, and direct-to-fan sales be it on your own site or something like Bandcamp.

But what are the trends around those three pillars? That’s something we think about a lot at Music Ally, particularly for our fortnightly Sandbox music-marketing reports, and that has influenced the programming for our upcoming Sandbox Summit conference in London. Here are five trends we’d pick out:

1. Shifting responsibilities between managers and labels.
2. YouTube throwing its weight behind artist marketing.
3. Labels are bringing advertising in-house.
4. Augmented Reality offers playful potential for artists.
5. Flexibility is everything in the modern music-marketing campaign.