When you start a band the idea of making the logos and going on tour is the dream, right? But, there’s always a catch. There are things that starting bands always seem to forget, something that can be very crucial for in the future.
Make sure you protect your logo and the band name you use. To find out if your name hasn’t been used before, the internet is your friend in this case. Don’t just Google the name, check social media too, because this is where you are going to spend your time promoting your music.
You don’t want to confuse people and you want to be original as possible.
What If the Band Splits?
Talk to the band about this. Don’t wait until you are in a courtroom. There are different things you need to discus, if the band ever splits. It doesn’t mean that you’re waiting to split, it means that you are preparing yourself for if anything does happen when there is a fight and the band wants to split.
Like, can the band still go on if 2 members have left? Can the remaining members still use the band name? Writing it all down on a written agreement makes things easier for later if this does happen.
That’s not the only thing you need to think about, what if one band member isn’t what you thought he was? And you want to get rid of him? What kind of vote in the band do you need to vote (or fire, it’s how you look at it) a member out of the band?
If you’re in a record label, this means a few other things too. Like, will the band be kicked out of the label if the band splits? What if someone gets out of the band to work on a solo project, will the label push the solo artists to be signed under them?
Remember this When you Start a Band
Ask yourself these questions when you start a band, do it while you’re still friends and everything is done on a friendly note.
You don’t want a split to be uglier than it needs to be.
The following includes sections from a blog written by Music Fibre – an online music industry directory and blog posting tips, tutorials and useful information for anyone working in the music industry. In this blog, they have delved into the world of Smart Links. This may be something you are already familiar with, or you may never have heard of them; either way, this blog will tell you what they are, why you need them and how you can use them to drive more sales of your music.
What Are Smart Links For Music And Why Should I Use Them?
The internet has made the world a very small place. Even if you are making beats in your bedroom or recording from your mates shed, your fans can be anywhere in the world.
Smart links will help you make sure that when they find your music, they are taken to the right music download or streaming site and can shop in the right language and currency. A smart link can offer your fans a choice of store or you can automatically direct them based on their location or device (e.g you may wish to send iPhone users directly to iTunes.)
It’s not just about making sure the shopping experience is good for your customers, it’s also an opportunity to track and monitor your fans. You can find out which stores they like best, find out where in the world your fans are and keep track of your marketing. The advanced analytics that smart links offer let you see exactly how your fans are discovering your music. If you have ever wanted to know if your Facebook campaign is working or if you should stick to Twitter, this will help you find out.
How Smart Links Can Save You Time
Smart Links save a huge amount of time. To get started you simply enter one link to your music in one store. The smart link provider will scan other stores for the same release and you then decide which stores to show on your landing page. When promoting your music you simply share one link instead of having to enter details for Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Beatport etc.
What Do Smart Links Look Like?
Help For Bands is aware of the ins and outs of Smart Links because Horus Music use them for their marketing campaigns. These are created for the artist to post and makes it easier for fans to access the artist’s music.
They also make it easier for publications to talk about the artist and their music. By having a smart link ready to go, a publication will find it easier to integrate into anything they write. Overall, it makes it much easier for anyone to listen to an artist’s music on their preferred platform. The easier the process is, the more likely someone is to listen to the music on offer.
Below, you can see an image that shows how the smart links work in the Soundplate Records website:
Want To Create Your Own Smart Links?
There are several providers that can help you create smart links for your music. These include SmartURL, LinkRedirector, LinkFire and Hive amongst others. The best part is, they are free to use! If you want to make it easier for fans to listen to your music, Smart Links are the way forwards!
You can see the original blog post by Music Fibre here: http://musicfibre.com/smart-links-music-101/
As hard as it can be, learning to accept criticism can be the most helpful thing you do. It is the first step in getting people to listen to your music. Although family and friends may want to spare your feelings, they are a good place to start, especially if one of them is particularly musical, creative or you just trust their honest opinion. It might not always be easy, but criticism isn’t always negative or personal and it’s a very simple way to learn and grow as an artist. Nobody says you have to take all (or any!) of their advice on board but putting fresh eyes on your work can give you new perspectives and will give you things to consider.
What Am I Writing For?
Before you can decide where to share your music and/or lyrics it might be important to work out who and what you are writing for. Are you writing for yourself or to sell to others? Are you wanting to make a career out of lyric writing or is it a hobby? What genre/s are you writing for?
Some genres of music lend themselves more to performance, some to public environments and some to individual listening. You should consider these when you begin to think about sharing or selling your lyrics, compositions or music.
Finding People to Work With
If you are looking for people to work with, whether it’s co-writers, performers, or producers, there are many places to look.
If you’re at university, even if you aren’t studying a music related subject, you’re in luck; universities are breeding grounds for creative types. Once you get talking to people it’s likely you’ll find someone that play instruments, are writers themselves, or are studying music in some shape or form.
The same goes for the workplace, although it maybe less likely to find these creative types if you don’t already work in the creative industries, it’s still worth having the conversation! You never know what people do in their spare time, or if not them personally, they may know people who could help you.
Social media is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get your name out there. You could make posts on your own social media pages promoting yourself or asking around for other musicians. Of course there are also websites that specifically cater to ‘musicians finding musicians’ that will be specific to your local area.
It may be useful to look out for music industry networking events. They are a chance to meet with other like minded people and other musicians, you never know where it could lead.
The main take-away from this should be to talk. Keep people in the loop about what you’re working on, what you’re looking for, get your name out there so people know to think about you.
Recording a Demo
It’s easier than ever to record your own demo without spending a ton of money. Firstly, you need to choose where you a going to record. Are you going to book a studio or are you recording at home? If you are recording at home, you may need to consider what equipment you will need and what the acoustics are going to be like.
The next thing to think about is how are you going to be recording and/or producing your track. You can choose to record a live demo; with all instruments and vocals being recorded in one take. Or you can choose multi-track recording, with each instrument being recorded independently. Again, this may depend on what exactly you are producing. You could also use MIDI instruments rather than live instruments and then record a vocals over the top.
After recording, your track needs to be mixed. You may want to get someone to help you with this if you aren’t used to mixing but as it’s a demo a rough mix is fine, so don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on it. You can then master your track. Nobody expects a demo to be perfect, it just needs to showcase your potential.
Soundcloud, YouTube etc.
When you have your finished demo, its time to share it, which is very easy to do. There are so many platforms online now where you can share music for free – SoundCloud and YouTube as well as social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even LinkedIn.
The main thing to consider when sharing your work in this way is intellectual property protection. Once your content is online pretty much anyone can access it so be sure to cover yourself. This is where copyright comes in.
Copyright allows, by law, an original work to be considered a property that is owned by somebody. Copyright happens automatically once the ‘product’ is created so it is not necessary to register (except in the U.S where there is a registration process). Intellectual property protection comes in many forms (copyrights, patents, trademarks etc.) which must be made tangible in order to be protected. It is important to have proof of ownership. One way to do this is to post a copy of your recording, composition or lyrics etc. to yourself, keep the envelope sealed.
As a copyright owner you hold the right to copy, distribute, rent, lend, perform, show, communicate/broadcast and adapt your work.
Selling Your Lyrics
Music publishers are responsible for ensuring that songwriters and composers are paid for commercial use of their compositions. As a songwriter or composer, you can assign your copyright to a publisher, who will then license, safeguard and monitor the composition, and collect royalties and distribute them back to the songwriter/composer. Publishers also deal with synchronisation, so that the composition may be used for television and film.
If you are interested in music publishing see our sister company Anara Publishing.
So, you’ve found the inspiration and you’re ready to write (see part one). Great! Now what? There are a lot of factors that go into writing a song, many of which are down to personal style and preference but your choices and decisions during the writing process all affect the end product so it’s worth knowing some of the basics!
Avoiding Clichés (Or How to Make Them Work for You)
Songs are interpreted in many ways and if you want to make your meaning clear you may fall into the trap of clichés. In fact, this may have the opposite effect, by using clichés you run the risk of your song losing not only it’s effectiveness, but its meaning too. A way of avoiding these clichés is to flip them completely on their head by changing an aspect of the line so it has a completely different meaning. For example, take an idiom such as ‘water under the bridge’ find the opposite of water, perhaps fire, so that it becomes ‘fire under the bridge’, which switches the meaning and then brings up connotations of a bad break up, a fight etc.
Another example would be taking ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ and altering it be something such as ‘wearing your heart under your coat’, for example, which has completely the opposite meaning. This way you give a nod to the original cliché so your meaning is clear but also can create double meanings and avoid the lyrics sounding too contrived.
Clichés can also be used ironically, this depends on the phrasing of the line and the surrounding lyrics. This can create a kind of self-aware humour within your lyrics.
This idea of clichés doesn’t just apply to the lyrics but also to the phrasing and structure. Don’t feel pressured to conform to standards of song and rhyme structure and don’t force rhymes just because you think it should! It will sound forced if it is and this will ruin the flow of the song.
Below we will be listing the typical definitions of song elements but this does not mean that you cannot use them differently.
- Introduction – The section at the beginning of a song generally before the lyrics start.
- Verse – Usually recognisable due its melodic repetition although the lyrics usually differ. Typically uses rhyme in an AABB or ABAB format. This is where you can be more wordy and detailed, verses can tell a story.
- Pre-Chorus – A transitional section between verse and chorus which can create a build up to the chorus.
- Chorus / Refrain – A repeating section heard throughout the song that contains the hook and the main idea / theme of the song. This is where you want to keep the lyrics more simple. A refrain may also refer to a shorter repeated passage (such as ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ in basically every pop song ever).
- Bridge – A contrasting and transitional section of the song which breaks up the repetitive pattern of a song.
- Middle Eight – Named so because it is typically eight bars long, a type of bridge that has different characteristics to the rest of the song.
- Outro / Coda – A way of ending the song, how the song winds down or fades out etc.
- Interlude – Defined usually as a break or a gap, in music an interlude can be part of a song or a whole song that is part of an album (‘Interlude’ on My Chemical Romance’s album ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’).
- Instrumental Break / Solo – Pretty self explanatory; similar to an interlude but may be longer and more involved. Can be a showcase of a certain instrument and can tell a story. As with an interlude, it can be part of a track or a whole track itself.
We find it best not to force it. Let the words come first and then arrange it because, let’s be honest, that’s the fun part. Also don’t be afraid to stray from the norm, let it happen naturally.
Making it Scan
Making words ‘scan’ in a song is making them fit well in the melody. There should not be any awkward jumps, gaps or change in tempo due to the amount of words in a line. This can be the most difficult part of writing a song. It doesn’t matter how great the line is on paper if you cram a load of words in and it doesn’t scan it will not sound good.
If you can’t bare to part with your words, you may be able to change the melody to fit. Sometimes it is best to compromise; changes that you make don’t just affect that one line but also the surrounding lines.
Sometimes known as an ‘earworm’, a catchy song is usually created through the use of repetition. There have even been studies on it which should tell you how effective it is! Quite simply, the repeated exposure to a line or melodic phrase will make it more likely to stick in someone’s head.
This kind of repetition is usually the hook which is usually found within the chorus. There is no hard and fast rule and nothing is stopping you from having multiple repetitions or hooks within the song if you wanted.
You could run into issues, however, if the song is overly repetitive. Eventually, if something is repeated too often people will just stop listening. So finding that middle ground is important.
Finding the Hook
The effectiveness of the hook will be shown in how recognisable your track is. There are a lot of factors to aid the recognisability of your song, but a main one is the hook.
In order to create a hook here are some things to consider: Keep it simple. Make it rhyme. Make it repeat. Try to sum up the song in one line and use that to create your hook.
How Genre and Style Affect Your Writing
If you want to write a punchy, memorable, upbeat song then you probably want to keep the lines short and the words simple. Whereas, if you’re writing a ballad, you can afford to be wordier. It is slow and lingering and therefore you can use longer lines and words with more syllables.
Genre is also important, punk for example, is very reliant on it’s topic, usually the theming is quite political. Again, you don’t necessarily have to stick to these ideas completely but it helps if you are aiming for a certain feel.
Your style may also be affected by your motivation for writing. If you are a primarily a writer and you are wanting to make a career out of writing for other artists, then this doesn’t mean that you can’t write from personal experience but that it may be useful to practise writing to a brief. This also gives you the opportunity write for a variety of different genres and styles.
If you are primarily a musician and a performer and are writing for your own use, then it may be useful be more aware of the style and feel that you are creating for yourself through your song writing. If you have a vision you can completely mould this creation from lyrics, music and sound.
Whether it’s writing your first ever song or simply finding inspiration to write the next, a lot of people would agree that it’s the starting that is most difficult. Thankfully, there are many places lyricists can find inspiration and many ways to use it. It’s all about finding your inspiration and making a start.
Exposing yourself to language in all of it’s forms whether it’s other lyrics, poetry or novels is important; it’s helpful and rewarding as a writer to expand your vocabulary and your skills. Learning new words or literary techniques can also help to inspire you to write something new.
Certain literary devices can be important for lyricists to know and utilise in their writing. They can affect how your lyrics scan and how the song flows.
Assonance takes place when two or more words close to each other have the same vowel sound e.g. “I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless.” – Thin Lizzy
- Internal rhyme:
As apposed to ‘end rhymes’, where the last word of a line rhymes with the last word of another line. Internal rhyme is when a word in the middle of the line rhymes with one at the end of a line. Half or slant rhymes are when the words almost rhyme but it is not a perfect rhyme. This often works well within songs because it means you are avoiding contrived and forced rhymes. It is worth making yourself familiar with the different types of rhymes and rhyme schemes considering songs can rely on them so heavily.
Lyricists can use some of the same devices that poets do. Therefore, even though the writing process is different, reading poetry can be useful in learning these techniques.
Wordplay and double meanings are other types of literary techniques that can add another layer to your lyrics. For example, Panic! at the Disco’s ‘Nicotine’ includes the line “Your love’s a f**king drag”, which is a double meaning due to the title (and theming) of the song. Creating these hidden meanings within metaphorical language can assist you to create a theme and a feeling for a song.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or lines for a song it may be useful to first think of a theme. It helps if this theme isn’t too vague (as ‘love’ is a very broad topic and probably wouldn’t get you very far). That said, it doesn’t need to be anything too fixed or literal, the theme can be an image, a word or just a sentence that sums up the meaning of the song.
Again, thinking about the feel of a song can be helpful too. For example, you may want your song to conjure up images of a nightclub (this is where connotation comes in!) You could create a spider diagram (even if it’s a mental one) of relevant words and this may eventually turn into full lines. At this point the lines you come up with don’t need to be particularly poetic; just note down what you want to say in plain language and you can make it sound better later!
You can base metaphorical language around this theme (as mentioned earlier with the Panic! at the Disco song). Or you can just use these ideas as reference so that you don’t stray too far from your original meaning when writing. Having a strong theme can help the audience empathise and can make an overall more powerful song.
If you are a visual person you may want to create a mood board instead of, or alongside, your theme. Visuals and aesthetics can help to stimulate and inspire you to come up with new ideas for the feel or content of your song.
We often do this by accident but as well as simply listening to or reading other work it can help to start analysing this work. You may find this comes quite naturally or you may need to work at it. however as somebody who is interested in writing themselves you will probably find it quite easy to analyse other people’s work.
This will also help you develop your own sense of style within your lyrics. Try to work out why you do or don’t like certain lyrics.
This can also be applied to the music, down to specific techniques used or just the feel of the song. Try to work out how they’ve created this.
Just Press Record
If you aren’t sure where to start or you’re stuck in a rut don’t underestimate your subconscious! It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly so just press record and start singing.
It may feel uncomfortable for a start and sure, some of it won’t make sense but you may come up with a line totally by accident that you end up using. It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly!
Another helpful method is to set yourself ‘songwriting tasks’ – come up with a topic for each week or month and write about that. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s just a way of getting you writing if you perhaps haven’t for a while or have never seriously started.
You could get somebody else to come up with these themes or topics if you need more incentive. This is also a good way of writing about something different and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Similarly, there is a method called the Seinfeld Strategy, in which the idea is basically to write everyday. You can make yourself a small goal to reach everyday (e.g. write for 15 minutes a day) and every time you do it cross it off. The point isn’t to reach a certain achievement but simply not to break the chain, this builds habit.
A lot of people may think that planning a song is blasphemy; that it destroys the art of it, that things should just happen. But let’s be real, writing is writing and sometimes it doesn’t ‘just happen’ as much as you would like it to. A novelist wouldn’t write a book without planning, why should lyricists be any different? Of course some of it will come to you when you’re in the shower or in bed (it’s never at a good time is it?) but some parts may need to be planned, and that’s okay! This plan can be based around your mood board and/or your theme. It doesn’t have to be solid and you can stray from it and change it as much as you want.
You Gotta Start Somewhere
Finally, the big take away is to just get writing. Try not to let perfectionism or judgement get in the way. You don’t have to write a masterpiece every time you sit down. Practise makes perfect, even if that practise doesn’t amount to a full song each time. If you’re passionate about it keep going! You’ve got to start somewhere. Most, if not all, artists do not start out being brilliant lyricists.
Part 2 covers what you should do once you’ve started writing.
Organising a music festival can be stressful and there can be many factors which are beyond your control. But there are also many top tips on how to build and organise a music festival.
Work With the Right People
Find people who are really interested in what you are doing and are willing to be hands-on. Then split up the responsibilities and make sure everyone is clear on what they need to do. Organising a music festival doesn’t just come down to the organisers though. You need to think about people who are skilled in other key areas. This includes music, production, bar, marketing etc. try to spread out the world as much as possible, many people may be working as unpaid volunteers so it is important to make sure everyone is 100% committed.
Have a Strong Vision
Festivals are crowded marketplace so make sure you know what you stand for and what makes you different. Will you be a “Fun, Family-Friendly, Feel-good Festival” or will you be the opposite. Define who you are before hand to help you make decisions about what to include.
Get Some Investment
Unless you’re able to pay for everything yourself, the best way to get started is to persuade one or two people to believe in your vision and lend you a few thousand £. Even on a shoestring budget, you’ll probably break even in year 3 and start paying them back in year 5.
Think About Becoming a Company
Putting on a smaller festival for friends is a great way to start, but as soon as you start collecting ticket money from the public everything changes. You’ll need to think about setting up a company and completing your end of year accounts. The gov.uk website is a great resource.
Have a Great Relationship with your Venue/s
Noise complaints, damaged access roads or lack of a proper licence could be enough to close you down. Make sure you take the time to get to know your venue’s management personally. Manage their expectations from day 1. Don’t be afraid to ask early on about noise, access, traffic, litter etc. it will benefit you both in the long run. Whatever is agreed, make sure you seal the deal with a written agreement!
Don’t Do it All Yourself
Trying to do everything yourself seems like a good idea, but that can be time-consuming and stressful. i.e. Day professional to take care of your recycling or you’ll probably find yourself feeding thousands of cans into your local recycling bank. Not my idea of fun!
Take Time to Enjoy it
Until you reach a point where you can turn your music festival into a profitable business this is going to be your most time-consuming year-round hobby. Make sure you give yourself time at your event to stand back, and enjoy / appreciate the fact that you’re doing what you love and you’ve pulled it off.
Nothing beats the feeling of standing back and seeing a festival full of people having fun and thinking “we did that”.
The UK plays host to hundreds of record labels including the three major record companies and a thriving community of hundreds of independent labels and music companies (also see the role of a record label in a previous blog).
The three major record companies are Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music. And each of these organisations are home to smaller labels. These often group together musicians of a specific genre which can be served by the label’s expertise.
Regardless of the size of the record company, there are various roles that need to be fulfilled in order to discover talent, make a record, market and distribute a single or an album, and finally deliver that content to music fans. Behind the end product is a whole range of people who work with an artist to ensure that their creative vision is brought to life.
How Can a Record Company Help
Whilst a Chief Executive will be the person in charge of the entire company – and a President may be appointed to look after the affairs of a specific label – the success of an artist will need the support of those within the sales, publicity, promotions, marketing, legal, business affairs, and A&R departments. And, of course, every company requires financial and IT experts and secretarial staff.
Record companies provide the money for the recording and manufacturing processes. They also find producers for artists to work with and pay to promote the record once it is finished. Because they pay for everything, artists may find themselves with less control and also receive less royalties as a result. The company needs to recoup their costs first before passing on any additional royalties.
Whether an artist used a record company or remains independent depends on their situation and what they’re hoping to achieve. An artist should weigh up all of their available options before deciding to sign with a record company. It is important to sign with the right label, not the first one that comes along.
The music industry is currently going through unprecedented changes, with an emphasis on digital media instead of the old physical ones. Whereas CD keeps losing market share year-after-year, vinyl has been experiencing an amazing resurgence for nearly a decade.
The thing is, increase in sales doesn’t necessarily mean vinyl is still a suitable platform in a society that relies heavily on digital services. Hence the question: why are some artists still releasing music on vinyl in 2016?
Wax Is The New Trend
Online distribution services guarantee any artist, even independent ones, distribution of their music to every online musical platform (from iTunes to Spotify, including Tidal and Google Play). Vinyl releases have no assurance that their music will actually reach an audience. With high production costs and much lower exposure, vinyl doesn’t seem to be a sound investment at first sight.
Yet everyone knows that money is not the only issue ruling music production. Vinyl production offers strong material and graphic assets – in this instance: large artwork, strong sleeve, and a warmer sound. By engaging the senses, vinyl goes beyond the musical framework.
Unlike vinyl, CDs have become incapable of attracting customers in stores today. Why would they bother buying an album when they can enjoy unlimited access to music on their computer for the same price? In contrast, vinyl managed to keep them interested in buying music thanks to its classy and appealing nature.
Vinyl is far from being a trivial format. Not only can it be a selling point for artists, but it can also help them distinguish themselves from their peers. By offering their fans the opportunity to buy their music on vinyl, they develop their identity beyond the boundaries of music. Graphic design, packaging, or thematic concepts are some elements that help define their universe – and make vinyl still very popular.
Collectible items, synonymous with vintage and their reputation for sound quality are all reasons that explain the strong comeback of vinyl.
Vinyl sales skyrocketed overseas, with a staggering 1,250% growth between 2005 and 2015 in the US alone! The vinyl market has never been so healthy since its heyday back in the 70s. Vinyl increasingly reinforces its status as music enthusiasts’ favourite physical medium.
What Vinyl Solutions Are There For Artists?
A stronger consumer demand that pushes market players to increase their annual output. However, it’s quite hard for artists to stay competitive without financial support from labels. Although self-production can be an alternative, there still are both major and obvious constraints:
- There is currently no reliable way to predict sales for vinyl records, which can lead to under/overproduction.
- Artists generally cannot afford to pay for the high production expenses of vinyl pressing.
- Similarly, they generally receive very little support from industry’s professionals.
- Market fragmentation makes it hard to find the best partners, making the production process much more difficult.
Direct involvement from fans within that process is an interesting solution since there’s almost no intermediary. Funds raised by crowdfunding campaigns are fully invested in making a project successful. This makes the financial relationship between an artist and their fans closer as the fans get to directly support the artists they like.
The growing number of successful crowdfunded projects highlights the efficiency and popularity of crowdfunding. This is an appealing model for artists and labels alike, the latter only having to promote and distribute a finished product without funding its production.
The great majority of “regular” platforms only raise funds for a project’s production without actually promoting or distributing the final product afterwards. By connecting artists, labels and fans within a pre-order platform, Diggers Factory aspires to match supply and demand and offers a real alternative to the traditional vinyl distribution circuit.
An Online Pre-Order Social Platform
The artist, label, or rights holder submits vinyl on the platform and sets a sales objective and price. Then the community comes into play. Diggers Factory and its members (“Diggers”) are the ones who bring projects to fruition.
People can support a production project by pre-ordering one or more records from the artist. As soon as the sales objective is reached, Diggers are notified, production is launched and the artist earns their margin. Should the sales objective not be reached on time, Diggers are fully refunded, free of charge.
Pre-orders alone provide the funds for a project’s production and distribution under the condition that it reaches its sales objective. Diggers are then guaranteed to get their orders by home delivery, wherever they are in the world.
By reducing intermediaries between artists and fans, Diggers Factory aspires to make vinyl more accessible whilst favouring independent music. It’s now up to Diggers to unite to produce and fund tomorrow’s promising artists.
To become a successful artist, you need to work hard on building your fanbase, until you reach a point where you can sell your products to sustain and grow your career. A loyal fan is built from multiple, valuable connections with you. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure you get the contact details of those people who have invested their time in you by either watching you live, liking your fan page or browsing your website. It all starts by building your mailing list.
Firstly, get yourself signed up to Mailchimp. This is a free platform that organises your mailing list and helps you create professional looking mail outs. You can create the best looking content for your subscribers.
At Live Shows…
After your performance, make sure to have a printed mailing list sign up sheet prominently displayed at the merchandise stand, or even better, go round the audience asking people to sign up. If you’re too busy after your set to do this, (or too shy), ask an outgoing friend to help you. It usually helps to have some sort of incentive for people signing up, such as a free demo CD, digital single download code or a badge for example. You’ll then need to add in those contact details into your mailchimp list.
Something that we have found has worked well for larger scale events is a text marketer. This is where you ask audiences to text a keyword (selected by you) to a short number, and they get an automatic text response. The response may contain a link to your website, a free music download or tour dates for example. Think of the old Orange Wednesday 2 for 1 deal on cinema tickets where you texted FILM to 241 and got a code in reply.
Look at www.textmarketer.co.uk which is free to set up an account. You then pay a small subscription fee for a chosen keyword and then purchase a number of credits. For every automatic response that sent is out, a credit will be used up. If you then make it so that in order to access the incentive, an email address is required then you can then collect email addresses for your mailing list too. Noisetrade is a useful site for this.
All of the numbers of people texting in are stored on your account, so when it comes to releasing your EP for example, you can send out a text marketing message with the download link to all of those people directly to their phones.
We highly recommend setting up a Sign Up box to your website. Mailchimp helps you integrate a sign up button into your website easily. Make this prominent on the home page. Add a clear call to action and make it obvious what the benefits are for subscribers.
Use social media to get people signed up to your mailing list. With Facebook making it ever harder to reach your fans without spending money, it is well worth working on migrating as many Facebook followers to your mailing list as possible. Again, use incentives such as raffle give aways, priority on tour tickets etc. You can get creative with this!
What To Do With Your Mailing List?
- Make sure to put out regular, quality content to your mailing list subscribers.
- Send exclusive and engaging content. Anytime you have a major announcement, such as a new release, festival appearance etc – announce it to your mailing list first. They will appreciate being told before anyone else and value the subscription to your mailing list.
- Run competitions exclusively open to your mailing list subscribers.
- Don’t over do it – You’ll see large numbers of people unsubscribing if you’re bombarding them with promotion. Keep things engaging and interesting, which means you have to keep yourself busy doing fun and interesting things!
Influencers are individuals or companies in the industry that are considered tastemakers. They look out for new music and blog/tweet/post/discuss and basically talk about what they think of this music or at least give it some exposure. They are (usually) trusted names in the blogosphere or across social media and people look to them for guidance on what music to listen to. If you get picked up by an influencer, this can obviously do you some favours!
The first influencers were the fanzines of the 1980s such as The Sounds, NME and Melody Maker. Music fans found new music from printed publications such as these. Now, in the digital age, most of this has moved online in the form of blogs and social media. But, contrary to popular belief, being an influencer doesn’t necessarily mean having a large number of followers, it’s to do with having an engaged and relevant audience that interact and appreciate the opinions of influencers.
Accounts on SoundCloud
Accounts that repost songs from new artists are an example of a modern day influencer. There are many accounts that do this but the key is to find the ones that aren’t too spammy. On some accounts, all they do is repost and you can see that even though these accounts may have a large number of followers, there actually isn’t that much engagement with the reposts because people just get bored of seeing them being posted all the time. The accounts worth targeting are the ones who are more selective of what they repost and therefore have a higher engagement rate. Even if they have a lot less followers than other accounts, if the engagement is there then it is a lot more worthwhile to try to contact these accounts and negotiate a repost. This article gives you an in-depth analysis on SoundCloud reposts and their value.
People on Twitter and Facebook
Connect with those who post about the music industry and about new music are another example. Direct message these accounts and see if you can get a dedicated post. Analyse who they talk about and see if you can figure out where they are finding these bands. If you can present yourself in a similar way to what they’re interested in, you’re more likely to get exposure.
Some are dedicated to music are another obvious influencer. Digital Music News posted the Top 20 Most Influential Music Blogs, all of which have a loyal and active following. A lot of blogs are genre specific or have a certain type of audience or feel about them. Most also focus on the particular country in which they are based so check where they are from beforehand… there’s no point approaching a blog in Australia if you’re in the UK (unless they’re posting about artists internationally).
Research into what you think is most relevant to you and target these blogs for exposure. A good way of doing this is to find out who the specific writers are behind the blogs and reach out to them individually via social media or email rather than the general blog accounts. Your message is probably more likely to be read and considered.
When reaching out to anyone in the industry, you need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity. You could get some A&R attention if you manage to get exposure from an influencer, so if you are not ready to receive that attention then it’s a waste of all that effort and it will take a long time for you to be featured again. By then, the momentum will have passed. Check out the blog I did for Music Gateway on what you must prepare before approaching anyone in the industry.