Archive for the ‘ Making Money ’ Category

The Bitter Truth: Artists Must Sacrifice to Find Success

This is a very well-written, painfully truthful, thought provoking story about the hardships of life as an artist. I found it on Digital Music News and it is written by Paul Resnikoff. He offers some advice for all DIY artists: unless we are prepared to sacrifice the luxuries of a “normal” life, we most certainly will not find success as an artist because it won’t simply come to us. With the vast array of tools available to us through the Internet, and affordable recording options, success may seem just within our reach. Because it is so easy now to look and sound like the big boys, we get comfortable with mediocrity. We get excited when new fans are added on our various social media sites while losing site of the big (money making) picture. “Pretending to pursue a professional career – while actually living the life of a hobbyist,” Resnikoff argues, “is a tragedy.”
Having recently graduated from college last May, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to get a “real job” and have the security that comes with it. Many friends of mine have gotten jobs in finance, accounting, marketing, etc. and they all work long hours that leave absolutely no time for something like music, even as a hobby. All of them tell me the same thing when I say that I am pursuing a career in music: “Stick with it! You don’t want to be where I am!” Your 20’s are your most creative years, and I don’t want to see them pass by as a slave to some company that doesn’t appreciate my talents because of my age. I have faith that I am talented enough to make it, so now it is a matter of getting others to agree. I will fight until I find success or it becomes impossible. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself later in life if I didn’t give it a full shot.
Here is the Full Article from Digital Music News
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Want Serious Success? Then Start Losing Everything, Right Now…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What will we be laughing at five years from now?  The notion that somehow, direct-to-fan connectivity means that fans will care or connect.  That somehow, just having a straight fan connection is more important than writing incredible music.  Or, the idea that millions of other artists aren’t getting the same exact memo on direct-to-fan channels.

The idea that skipping a label and giving $50 to Tunecore is what makes a career.  Not even Corey Smith believes that.  Do you?

The numbers are telling a completely different story, over and over again.  So which is better, a fairy tale or a realistic assessment of the terrain?  “I feel like there are a lot of people in my position frankly – in the software space – who just said ‘yeah, you’re going to make it,’ and it’s definitely statistically untrue,” Ian Rogers recently told an artist audience in Santa Barbara.

How untrue?  Rogers himself revealed a stat showing that less than 30,000 artists are actually making a living.  Soon thereafter, the UK-based Musicians’ Union revealed that 87 percent of its members are making less than $25,000 a year.  Earlier this year, Tom Silverman found that roughly a dozen DIY artists (if that) were selling north of 10,000 albums.

If you’re a hobbyist, then enjoy the considerable fruits that come from musical composition, performance, and direct distribution.  Music is one of the greatest pleasures in life, whether performing, listening, mashing-up, or discussing.  But pretending to pursue a professional career – while actually living the life of a hobbyist – is a tragedy.

So if your statistical chances of making it are close to zero, what’s the better approach?  It’s not a romantic, DIY, Long Tail-inspired game plan.  It’s slogging it out on the road for 200-plus dates a year, sleeping in the van, getting your stuff stolen, finding it again, getting ripped off by the club owner a day later, fighting with your bandmates.

It’s sitting in a room for hours writing incredible music.  And recording, performing and perfecting that music every day.  Even on Thanksgiving.

It’s saying goodbye to comfy nights on the couch with your girlfriend, a round of beers with your buddies, or two-week vacations.  And the same thing goes for the team, which needs to be equally committed to sacrifice and total success.

Why not just get a real job?  It’s also explaining to everyone – including your family – why you’re barely surviving, why your art takes precedence over everything else in your life.  And this is not a modern-day reality: artists have struggled for centuries to make ends meet.  The numbers have always been stacked against musicians, internet or not.

And then, when all of those sacrifices are made, when you cut out all the comforts you think you’re entitled to… then what?  You get a lottery ticket, to possibly become self-sustaining and even wildly successful.

And if your number comes up, what happens then?  If you actually get substantial traction, if you can fill 200 rooms a year, then you’re now ready to work some more – a lot more.  To expand the base, structure partnerships with professionals, distribution partners, management agencies, and even labels.  Because even total control needs to be sacrificed at some point.

Thoughts by Paul Resnikoff, Publisher.  Written while listening to Mozart, Sepultura, Daft Punk, Icepick, and Hatebreed.

Making Money – 7 Merchandising Tips from DJ Shadow’s US Tour

The fourth installment of Michael Fiebach’s blogs while on tour with DJ Shadow was posted to Hypebot the other day. Michael offers 7 good tips about merchandising while on tour. The major takeaways from these tips are that you must really know your fans and you should take extreme care in planning out what type of merchandise you sell and how you sell it. As a fan, I have seen a whole range of displays for merchandise, from a few t-shirts lying around to a whole wall of different items like hats, signed posters, cds, sweatshirts, frisbess, etc. The degree of organization of merchandise is almost always in direct correlation with how professional the band or artist is (and how much they sell). So merchandise offers two pretty important opportunities – 1. An added revenue stream that can be extremely lucrative, and 2. A reputation booster.

The Full Article on Hypebot

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On The Road With DJ Shadow Part 4: The Merchandising Approach

by Michael Fiebach
image from www.djshadow.com
Michael Fiebach is the Project, Marketing and Merchandise Manager for DJ Shadow. As they’ve crossed North America on tour, Michael has offered an exclusive look inside how they market and stay connected to fans.(Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3)

Only 2 more shows.  I cannot believe it is almost over… I have never worked in a traditional retail store, but I am an entrepreneur and salesman by heart.  As a kid (we’re talking, like 8 years old) I used to hold Yard Sales in front of my parents house.

They still love to make fun of the fact that I would wake them up with my 8AM “YARD SALE!” screams as curious people walked along Delancey Street in Philadelphia.  Some people stopped to simply humor this crazy kid, and some actually stopped to buy some hand-me-down clothing, or an old video game.  Approaching music merchandising, is, in my opinion, the same as approaching product sales in ANY arena:

1) Demonstrate Product Value. This comes down to the music itself, and the packaging.  Make someone want to shell out the $10-$15 for a CD, even though they can easily get the same music online for free.  Don’t just press single sleeve jewel cases; make the packaging interesting, and most importantly, the music MUST SOUND GOOD!

2) Present The Products Professionally. Whether it is on your online web store, or at a merchandise booth at a venue; the products should be displayed in an organized and visually pleasing manner.  This is the reason large retail stores pay specialists for product presentation; there is a big difference between a nicely presented product space, and a sloppy one, and it will show in the sales figures.  I will admit that in terms of tour merchandise, I am not the best at making a nice product presentation, but I have been working on it, and I think  it has improved as the tour has gone on (and the sales have improved along with it!).

3)  Offer Products That Cater To Your Fanbase. For Justin Bieber, teen-sized tees and tank tops work.  For DJ Shadow, 180-gram limited press vinyl, and hand-stamped and assembled accessory packs work.  The point is, shape your product offering around what your fans want.  Don’t try to be something you’re not in terms of the merchandise (or in anything for that matter).  Not every fan-base is full of collectors, and not every band has 12 year old fans; create accordingly.

4). Create a Product Line. Again, whether it is for tour, or for online sales- I believe creating product lines is a good approach for music merchandise sales.  A tour tee, a tour accessories pack, a tour CD, and a Tour hoodie, and then maybe a bundle packaging all of those things together, with a bonus CD.  The latter (bundle), is something we opted out for this time around, but we have done it in the past, and it can certainly work.  Either way, create a line of products with a cohesive theme.

5).  Array of Pricing Offers. I mentioned this before, but just to reiterate: create offerings that fans of any sub-demographic will be able to purchase.  Everything from the $10 CD, to the $15 tee, to the $50 hoodie, and finally to the $100 bundle, or special product.  Not only is this about catering to budgets, it is also catering to fan segments (Casual, Regular, and Super-Fans).

6). Tee Shirt Designs. I think it is smart to have some straight-forward designs with just the band logo, and maybe a simple back-print, but also to have 1-2 abstract tees that don’t necessarily shout the band name.  Most bands just go for the former, and have a few different designs with their band name plastered across the front of the tee, but I have found that sometimes people like a more artistic approach to their band merchandise.  Having both options is a good idea if you can afford the up front tee manufacturing costs.

7)  Create A Genuine Shopping Experience.  Again, whether it is on your web store, or on tour; buying merchandise from your band should not be much different than buying merchandise from Gap, Amazon, or iTunes, etc. Strive for merchandising greatness, just as a large company would!  For Tour merch: bring shopping bags, maybe even brand the bags with your band logo.  People don’t want to carry vinyl or tees around with them the whole show.  Having a bag gives them something to carry their merch in, and it also encourages larger buys.  I have seen this work time and time again.  Here is an example of a typical tour-merch interaction:

Fan: “I want to buy a bunch of vinyl, but I don’t want to carry it around all night, you guys don’t have bags, do you?”

Seller: “Yes, we have bags!  You can either walk around with it, or check it at the coat check.”

Fan: “Wow, great, give me 1 of each vinyl, and you know what- throw in the tour tee shirt in size L as well.”

That is NOT embellished, that exact interaction has happened way more times than I can count.  Most people are very surprised that we even have bags.  This is an example of going the extra mile, and spending a few extra bucks to make a genuine shopping experience, and the return has far exceeded the investment.  Our acceptance of credit cards using Square has also contributed to the genuine shopping experience, and has also encouraged larger buys.

Online Distribution (Tunecore, ReverbNation, and CD Baby)

Here’s how to get your music on iTunes and a number of other outlets where people can buy your music:

You have a few choices for distributors, each with their own benefits.  Tunecore is the one I went with for a few reasons. I wanted my music to be added quickly because I have been promoting the song and the timing is right right now. Tunecore guarantees that your song will be on iTunes within 72 hours. In my case, it took only a few! The other service I looked at, ReverbNation distribution, could have taken between 4-6 weeks. Way too long to wait. Another reason I went with Tunecore is because there is a deal through Myspace Music right now that gets you 50% off on Tunecore’s distribution services for your first year. Instead of paying $50 to distribute an album, and $10 to distribute a single, it’s only $25 and $5, respectively. To get the deal go to Myspace Artist HQ and click on the link for that Tunecore promotion. Tunecore allows you to select from a number of different outlets to place your music. They offer iTunes (US, CAN, JAP, EU, AUS and MEX), Amazon MP3 store (where you have some control over your price), Napster (the newer legal version), Medianet (powers music and media delivery for brands like iLike, Zune, HMV, Tesco, MOG, Ultimate Guitar and more), Spotify, Myspace Music, Rhapsody, eMusic, and a few others. I signed up to be placed on all those services for one flat rate of $5 for the single. Not bad, eh? The delivery to iTunes is guaranteed within 72 hours, and delivery to the rest of the services is guaranteed within 2-3 weeks.

ReverbNation just recently launched it’s own distribution service. They place your music in most of the same outlets as Tunecore, but the pricing is different and the delivery is slower. Instead of a one time fee, like Tunecore charges, they offer a yearlong service called the essentials package for $34.95/year. It includes all the above mentioned outlets as well as some lesser known ones like La Curacao, Intertech Media, and Moozone. ReverbNation also offers a pro package for $58.95/year that includes Pandora, Wal-Mart, Amie Street, We 7, Myxer, Puretracks, Think Indie, Shockhound and Nokia. They guarantee delivery within 4-6 weeks.

Another prominent independent distribution service is CD Baby. CD Baby is the world’s leading online distributor of independent music. It operates like a record store that only sells music that is sent directly to them by artists. They listen to every single album before it is posted for sale so that they can help find other new artists for you to hear as well. In addition to selling your digital music in the CD Baby store, and stores like iTunes, CD Baby can also distribute physical CDs or vinyl, assist you with making those physical copies, and hold the excess inventory in their warehouse. The cost per album is $35/album and $9/single. They deliver your music within 48 hours.

4 Services that Help Artists Make Money Online

Here is a shortened article I found on Hypebot originally on Mashable that might be useful.

Full Article

Mashable writer Brenna Ehrlich has done a great job at outlining four services that can help unsigned bands make money online. Each of them have been profiled on Hypebot in the past. However, she has given a much more in-depth look at how these services work and who they have been working for. From music licensing to online collaboration to becoming sponsored on a torrent site, these are all real ways that bands can make money online without the help of a major label. Here is a look at the services but click over to get more insight:

  1. Jingle Punks is a music licensing company that specializes in providing pre-cleared music for use in various media productions.
  2. Indaba Music is an online collaboration tool that enables musicians to team up across the globe and also work on commerical projects.
  3. YouTube’s Musicians Wanted Program enables musicians to earn money from advertising that runs before and during videos.
  4. BitTorrent Featured Artist Program spotlights artists and gives them instant global distrobution and exposure to new audiences.
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