[Editors Note:This awesome and helpful infographic first appeared on TakeLessons.com, written and created by Suzy St. George.]
Musicians – how often do you think about your physical health? Do you take the time to exercise to keep yourself fit, strong, and healthy? The reality is, staying fit is just as important as practicing your instrument. Moreover, certain exercises lend themselves to different kinds of musicians. As a brass player, for example, lifting weights can train you for holding up your instrument during long performances. And everyone can benefit from the calming effects of yoga and meditation.
Taking place in Brighton from Thursday, May 19th to Saturday, May 21st, The Great Escape takes over the whole of Brighton, staging hundreds of gigs from more than 800 artists in dozens of music venues. Some of these gigs are part of the official Great Escape programme, and others part of the “Alt Escape” line up of showcases and stages organised by blogs, venues, country hosts and music companies from the UK and beyond. As Europe’s biggest new music showcase, The Great Escape brings together a huge number of bands, artists and industry professionals in one place, and offers an unrivalled opportunity to meet and network with like minded people.
Described by Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq as “The Cannes Film Festival of the music world”, The Great Escape is one of the most significant events in the UK’s musical calendar, and for independent and emerging artists it offers a great opportunity not only to be seen and heard, but to learn genuinely useful tips from industry experts.
This year, to mark the launch of TuneCore’s UK office, we have partnered with CMU:DIY at The Great Escape to deliver a day of content aimed at guiding independent and emerging musicians through the complexities of the modern music industry.
This day of content – led by industry experts Chris Cooke, (CMU), Jen Long (Dice FM), DJ John 00 Fleming and supported by TuneCore – brings together a wide range of people from across the industry to share their knowledge and expertise. Taking place on Saturday 21st May, CMU:DIY at The Great Escape tickets are only £25 – to book, click here.
The focus of this year’s DIY Day is “Going Live” – once you’ve written songs and honed your performance, the next task for artists is building their fanbase, and live performance is one of the best ways to do this. I sat down with three of the experts sharing their advice – Dave Gamble, Programming Manager at the Royal Albert Hall; Rosie James, Head of Press & Radio at Tru Thoughts/DEC Promotions; and social media strategist Aria Alagha who works with a range of music festival and artists, including Lee Fest, Lovebox and Wilderness Festival.
“One mistake I see artists make is going into things unprepared,” says Dave Gamble. “It might seem boring, but making sure that you’re properly prepared is really important. I don’t just mean for the performance, but everything that surrounds it – making sure that you’ve got good press shots in the right size; having a good paragraph written up about who you are, what people can expect, and that clearly communicates how you want to be portrayed as an artist. If your photos don’t portray you properly, if the information you send out doesn’t communicate what you’re about, then you’re missing your first opportunity – before people see you live – to cut through and capture people’s attention”.
Rosie of Tru Thoughts agrees, saying, “It’s important when you’re starting your promotional campaigns that you really think about the sort of tracks you are sending, and the kind of music you are putting out there – that it’s working to show off how you want to be seen.”
“I think artists who are fully prepared do tend to be the most successful,” continues Dave. “Artists who have an idea, a strong artistic vision, and have crafted their narrative as artists tend to be able to cut through. By understanding what you want to say, you become comfortable presenting yourself and your material to an audience who have come to see you – or more importantly, an audience who haven’t come to see you but just happen to be there, or came with friends, or whatever”.
Aria says that these core principles apply as much to the on stage performance as they do to your digital presence. “A lot of emerging artists target their social activity in the wrong way – so often, I see people creating adverts on Facebook, which are targeting towards people who like similar artists. People don’t really respond well to that, because they have a much more emotional connection with music. Go too much down the route of saying ‘OK, I sound like this artist you like so you’ll love me’ and it can be too sales-y. Inject a personal element into things, communicate something about yourself, and be more creative in your approaches. Facebook is a really powerful promotional opportunity – and so is Twitter, and Instagram – but I think you need to be quite creative in how you can engage people effectively. Video is very engaging on Facebook – creating really great video content and promoting that can be really powerful when you’re trying to get your foot in the door. It doesn’t need to be expensive; pull in people from your wider network, use illustrators, animators, create great content that captures people’s attention quickly.”
“Content doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming,” says Rosie. “I think everything you do should be focused on driving things forward – if you get a radio play, or a piece of coverage on a blog, you should be putting that out on your social channels. That’s content in its own right, it’s something that people who follow you will probably be interested in. I often say that one thing that is as important as getting some coverage is telling everyone about that coverage when it happens. A lot of online publications, the coverage can be really fleeting – even if it’s a site that is getting 50,000 readers a day, it may be that a much smaller number of people actually see that. So by taking that coverage and using it as a new piece of content for your social channels means that you’re maximising the value”.
“The most powerful thing is to hyper-target things,” says Aria. “If you have even a micro-budget, you can take a particular piece of content and get stuff seen by specific people, people who are going to really bring you something. Through Facebook, you can target people based on where they work and what job position they hold. You could target people who work at Sony or MTV or who work in talent agencies, or management or anything like that.”
“Making that personal interaction and connection is key,” says Dave. “Word of mouth – whether spoken or digital – can be one of the very most powerful tools to find your audience, find your network of people. I’m convinced that word or mouth is still the best way to get the word out and get known, find new fans, get more gigs, and get in front of the people you need to to progress your career.”
“I think especially at a smaller level, having a personal interaction with your audience AFTER your set can be incredibly important,” continues Dave. “Fans can become friends, friends can become fans – when you’re playing in rooms of 50 people, 30 people, 100 people, those are the people who are out at gigs and are talking about music, and are going to become your strongest evangelists. You need to engage with them, connecting through your music, and then enforce that connection. Get an email address, tell them about what you’re doing next, where they can find out more about what you’re doing.”
“It’s the one most important thing,” agrees Aria. “Every emerging artist – every artist at any level – should have a rock solid email list. Build up on that, make sure you are telling people about things you have coming up. It’s useful as a channel in its own right, but also, you can take that list and plug it into Facebook, and find your fans there as well. Email is so powerful.”
It’s Day Two of A3C Festival 2015 and hip hop artists from all over have ascended to Atlanta to perform, shake hands, and, well, party! Before the festival kicked off, we reached out to some of our TuneCore MCs and producers to get a feel for how they’re planning on making the most of A3C this year, and grab their thoughts on what it means to be an in independent artist in 2015.
Per usual, our insightful community didn’t disappoint! Whether they’re veterans on the scene or they’ve head to Atlanta for the first time, take a look at what they had to say…
On making the most of A3C. . .
“I plan on going to as many conference panels as possible to network and get advice from industry veterans on how to improve what I’m currently doing and continue to improve my musical success.”
“Aside from the obvious answer of making connections and witnessing legends speak/perform, I find A3C and Atlanta in general, a huge inspiration for my song writing. The rich culture and southern lifestyle spark a different kind of creativity I wouldn’t normally experience at home in Canada.” – Quake Matthews
“This is my first year at A3C, after doing SXSW four years in a row and having great success, I’m really excited to start the A3C chapter in my career. After the festival, I hope to gain the notice of music lovers that enjoy spreading the word on new artists as myself.”
– Erreon Lee
“I plan on taking advantage of every opportunity to engage with the supporters of indie hip hop; performing as much as possible, building with people on a one-on-one level, etc. In terms of the “creative” side of things, I’m there to have fun and make sure I remain as visible as possible to those who I may want to engage with in the near future.”
“As an independent artist it’s key to be out and about networking. You don’t have a big team behind you, so you have to play street team sometimes down to the manager. We plan on killing shows and building with like minded artist with the same goals. A3C is the perfect opportunity to make more opportunities just have to apply yourself.” –Goldyard
“As an independent artist I plan on making the most of my time at A3C this year by personally connecting with my current and potential fans. I already have a pretty nice fanbase in ATL, so I will be looking to expand on that. Other ways I will be making the most of my experience in A3C this year are by promoting with CDs, download cards and promotional flyers for the project I released this year through TuneCore. I will also have my personal artist/brand apparel on hand at every show and media event I attend. I’m scheduled to do tons of interviews and a few shows, so I plan to make the most of every opportunity. ”
– Weasel Sims
“As an independent artist it’s hard getting your music heard and recognized. A3C gives upcoming independent artists a platform to be heard, so if I don’t connect with as many people and artists as possible I’d be wasting my time.”
– Kidd Adamz
“In my eyes, the biggest thing that needs to happen during my time at A3C this year is to go from a shy introverted artist to the very outgoing personable being that I am. The best way to do so is by meeting as many people as possible!”
On being an independent hip hop artist in 2015…
“Being an indie artist in 2015 has it’s ups and downs. As far as myself, I tend to try and look towards the positive, which is freedom. Sometimes the freedom to be you creatively makes a lot of difference – your sound, your look, and your perception always has a chance to be the next thing!” –Boxx A Million
“Being an [independent] hip hop artist, there are many obstacles and challenges – but it’s my job to continue to make interesting music and be as interactive with my fans as possible.” – ChellaH
“We’re the next wave of music. Of course labels will always be around, but everyday another indie artist is going viral without them. We’re the future.” – Trev Rich
“As an independent artist in 2015 with the Internet at our fingertips, the power is in my hands. As much as I love the art, I understand that I’m a business. The more energy you invest into your business, the larger it can grow!”
“It means to be able to control your own future. Being able to ride the wave and keep up with the changes by releasing music whenever you choose to. It also means having a close relationship with your fans; they’re like your team.”
– Shawn Chrystopher
“Any thing is possible even without a label support if you work hard for it.”
– ILL BOYZ
“To have been signed to a boutique label before and to be independent and thriving at the same time is just a blessing from God. It’s an amazing opportunity and honor to be respected as an independent artist and it makes more sense business-wise for me at the moment; so the timing is perfect for me to succeed as a self-contained force. Shout out my team!”
– Super Spodee
Last week we shared some input from some TuneCore Artists who are heading down to SXSW 2015, marking their return to the behemoth music fest. Whether this year will only be their second trip, or they’ve made it to Austin over five times, these artists chimed in with insightful lessons they learned on their previous go-around as well as super practical advice that any SXSW-bound indie could benefit from.
With the music portion of SXSW kicking off tomorrow, we thought it’d be cool to share the thoughts and pulse of our TuneCore Artists who are making that debut trip! Let’s face it, if you’re an indie artist, you’ve likely heard plenty of stories from SXSW. Maybe you’ve even mapped out plans in your head for when it’s your turn to join the party?
We asked these artists how they planned to make the most of their first SXSW experience – let’s see what they shared!
“To travel from Mexico to USA and spread our music. As simple as that!”
DJ Mullah (Hip Hop/Rap)
“I plan to network, network, network.”
El Extraño (Rock/Latin)
“It’s hard work, SXSW shows tons and tons – and tons – of interesting stuff in music, cinema and technology, and we are trying to review schedules every day so we can submerge ourselves in all of what is out there during the festival.”
Jetty Rae (Folk)
“Attending panels – especially those pertaining to copyright.”
“We plan to play our best sets ever! And go see other bands, try to contact them through social networks to see if we can partner up and do great things together.”
J Ramon Jackson (Pop)
“I wanna connect and collaborate with artists of multiple genres to develop better creative music that shows my true talent and the kinda fans I’m capable of reaching out to.”
“We’re looking forward to experiencing something as special as SXSW. We hope to go out, have fun, and put on a great show.”
“I’m just gonna headbang my way through Austin and talk to everyone I meet.”
Hand Job Academy (Hip Hop)
“Well, we’re definitely going to turn all the way up at our official showcase! Other than that, it’s all about watching artists we love, discovering new ones, nerding-out at some of the panels, meeting new people, collecting whatever is in the artist gift lounge, and eating tacos and BBQ and drinking Topo Chicos.”
“Be in the moment, put on a kick-ass show and pretend like we’re used to the heat and like we don’t have polar bears walking around on the streets back in Sweden…
Also gonna have fun and support other acts playing – the best way to get inspired and to make new friends and epic memories. It’s not a competition, it’s a festival!”
Magnificent J.O. (R&B/Soul)
“My main focus will be to network and become more familiar with the music business. Also, see what collabs I can cook up and do my best for a second appearance next year.”
Rebecca Perl (Pop/Folk)
“I moved to Austin, TX about 5 months ago from New York City. My goal was to play as much as I could in the Austin area from the moment I arrived and another goal of mine was to grab the attention of the locals in order to get accepted into SXSW. I worked hard to get myself noticed and I won’t let down the people who accepted me and the people who are coming to watch! I plan to practice and put on the best show I can.”
Social Club (Hip Hop)
“We have signed up for multiple lunches and events before time. If you don’t you will miss out!”
“We are planning to play our show, doing the best for the crowd that has never seen us live before. We are going to take with us all of our albums, videos and other stuff in a cards/flash drives to give out for free after.”
If you’ve ever been, you know firsthand that SXSW is a chaotic conference where instead of a few massive stages in a confined setting, you’re navigating venues and bars, and the festival grounds is downtown Austin itself. With 1/3 of artists performing at SXSW having distributed through TuneCore, we reached out to a group of Austin-bound indies to get their take on what lessons they’ve learned from performing years past and what advice they’d offer to those making their debut trip.
We’ve broken these lessons and tips into groups: TuneCore Artists who are making their second trip to SXSW, those who have played three or four times already, and those who are seasoned vets, having been to SXSW five or more times. Take note, TuneCore Artists!
Humming House (Americana) Lessons: “We spent some time talking to our stage manager and the sound crew at our official SXSW showcase last year and learned a bit about what goes on behind the scenes. Become friends with the people working at your showcase and take into consideration what that week looks like for them. It’ll make everyone’s lives easier.” Advice: “Go see some acts that you haven’t heard of or that you haven’t seen before. Be kind to the SXSW crew and treat Austin like it’s your home town; thousands of people descend on that city for three weeks straight and the transformation is absolutely wild. So live it up, but be considerate of the Austin denizens and the people around you!”
Sean C. Johnson (Hip Hop/Soul) Lessons: “Plan, plan, plan! Look over the schedule for the week and highlight the shows and events you want to attend. Then plan your week around those. Last year I missed out on a lot of cool stuff because I didn’t know when and where it was happening.” Advice: “Sleep when you get back home. Take this week to soak up as much of SXSW as possible and network with as many people as you can.”
Lyric Michelle (Hip Hop) Lessons: “Always be prepared and have a plan for everything! What no one ever told me is that you might get separated from your group and that’s ok. You need to have a plan to what you are trying to accomplish and how.” Advice: “This is the time to meet all the important people. Meeting Jay-Z would be incredible, but the person that booked Jay-Z, now that would be even better.”
LAB Records (Rock/Pop Label) Lessons: “Be organized. Plans can change last minute and not everyone will have their mobile phone attached to them as on a normal working week. Be as flexible as possible with others but as punctual as possible with plans you have made.” Advice: “Meet everyone you can – split into a couple of teams if it helps. Sometimes the most productive meetings can come from the most unlikely of sources!”
OptivioN (Alternative) Lessons: “Have your housing arrangements ready.” Advice: “Meet as many people possible. Don’t sleep.”
Joe Herter and the Rainbow Seekers (Folk/Rock) Lessons: “Be prepared for lines at shows. Also, it really pays off to book a place to stay early in advance. If a better deal comes up, you can always sell your room to another band (there are websites that will help you with this).” Advice: “SXSW can be really overwhelming. Don’t let the partying get the best of you. If you’re playing SX, then you’ve likely worked hard to get there, so make sure that you’re focused on playing your best. This also includes being healthy. Take care of your bodies! Also, SX presents an awesome opportunity to connect with other people. Attend other shows and try to make some friends. I always seem to find myself favoring a particular venue (one that hopefully provides free drinks for artists) that I spend most of my time at. When you party with a similar group of people over a few days, you’re bound to make some lasting friendships.”
Third & Fourth Timers
The Racer (Alternative) Lessons: “Mass un-targeted flyering on the street is a waste of time and a significant source of litter. Renting a big house seems worth the extra money, but if it’s all cozy and comfy it’ll keep you away from all the action! Austin is a party, so have fun, but avoid the urge to treat this as a vacation. If this is going to be your career then this is a business trip.” Advice: “Network! It can be a grind, but MAKE and KEEP plans to meet up with as many people/groups/companies as you can. They won’t all be worth it but you never know who you’ll run into. Also, travel light.”
Ben Aqua (Electronic) Lessons: “Pace yourself! Spread your energy out over multiple days and rest and relax as much as possible so you don’t burn out/get sick/throw up everywhere.” Advice: “Be friendly, kind, and loving to everybody you meet.”
Andrew Duhon (Folk/Blues) Lessons: “I think I learned that its more about listening than performing. There’s a ton going on, and its coming from all over the map. There’s plenty to be inspired by. That, and I learned I need to call my Austin buddy sooner than later to reserve a spot on his couch before the other 5 friends with bands do.” Advice: “Make a schedule for the morning panels you want to check out, but don’t bother doing so with the night music showcases. There’s so much music that going with the flow at night is as likely to put you in the right place as anything else. “
Vandaveer (Folk/Pop) Lessons: “Take your own pillow and sunscreen. Eat lots of Torchy’s.” Advice: “Assume you will achieve nothing at SXSW, then feel good about your experience matching your expectations. In the event things go exceedingly well, bask in your good fortune.”
PaperWhite (Pop) Lessons: “SXSW is a crazy scene. Imagine the downtown area of a major city with the streets filled to the brim with people! I think it’s really easy for a band to get lost in the whole thing. Something I’ve noticed in the past that worked for me, was trying to have a specific focus on who I wanted to come to our shows, and to try to make meaningful connections with a few people rather than just trying to meet and play for as many people as humanly possible.” Advice: “Have fun! Go see as many bands as you can. Be inspired, keep an open mind, and let it be something that fuels your creative energy!”
Dead Leaf Echo (Alternative/Pop) Lessons: “Stay away from 6th St if possible. Give yourself enough time to get by the cops even if you have a parking permit most of the time they won’t let you by. Don’t trust a lot of the free food.” Advice: “Go crazy but not on consecutive nights. Stay away from the big shows unless your playing them.”
Dre Prince (Hip Hop) Lessons: “If you can make it then go. Even if you’re not playing or scheduled to play you might run into people who put on showcases for next year or they might ask you to fill in then.” Advice: “Don’t be afraid to get out there and network & make things happen for yourself. You never know who you’ll run into.”
Nightmare Air (Rock/Alternative) Lessons: “Networking is everything! Drink water. Texas can get cold at night in March so bring a long sleeve if you’ll be out all night…I’ve been freezing in a T shirt miles away from my hotel one too many SXSW nights.” Advice: “Get out there, talk to people. Take cards, remember names, get contacts and follow up in the weeks after SXSW.”
The Octopus Project (Pop/Experimental) Lessons: “Don’t kill yourself by trying to play a million shows! Pick a handful of good ones & stick with those. You won’t be completely exhausted & that will give you time to meet people & check out all the other fantastic folks playing! “ Advice: “Make as many friends as you can! There are literally thousands of people all converging in the same place that have your same interests & are in the exact same boat as you. Make buddies! Don’t try to get “discovered.” Just have fun!”
Bill Baird (Rock/Folk) Lessons: “Don’t get distracted by the mayhem. There is a lot of corporate bullshit but just keep walking by it if it’s not your thing. Use the festival as an opportunity to introduce yourself to bands you like (go to their shows and say hi afterwards) and, most important, try to meet up with other like-minded folks from around the country, folks who you might not ordinarily get to see. The most valuable things are relationships you cultivate.” Advice: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never really know what’s happening until after it’s finished. That unassuming dude you met might actually be an amazing songwriter, an inspiring artist, a label owner, or might be friends with somebody like that.”
A lot of artists find excuses to ignore the concept of selling merch. Maybe you don’t play live too often yet, or you just distributed your first single or album. Or maybe you’re playing regularly but you just don’t see merch as a necessity. Because after all, how could it really be that big of a piece of the puzzle, right?
Well, while you’re overlooking the values of a well-stocked merch table at your shows or even a small selection of items on your website, artists just like you are turning their fans into walking brand ambassadors for their music. Shirts, hats, posters, stickers, buttons, drink coozies – the list goes on. And if bands like the Misfits and KISS have taught us anything, it’s that you can slap your brand on just that: ANYTHING! Can’t you remember showing off your first band t-shirt or hanging that awesome artist poster in your room?
What’s even better about merch aside from just making extra dough is the unlimited amount of creativity you can put into it! Not feeling creative? That’s fine too – you can use merch to help sell your music, too: by pairing a t-shirt or poster with a copy of your album at a lower ‘bundle’ price, a new fan might feel as though they’re getting more value out of that purchase!
We asked the experts within the TuneCore Community to share their thoughts on the values of merch. Artists of varying genres and career levels weighed in with some awesome words of wisdom…
“We recommend putting together packages that encourage customers to buy more product by giving them a volume discount, for example: 1 CD = $13 and 1 T-shirt = $15 but when bought together as a package your customer will pay $25 – this “up sell” technique is important because it will help put more of your branded product in your customers hands. Also make sure not to overcharge your fans, they will respond by NOT buying your product. Make your merch reasonably priced and a good value. ”
– Calling Glory
“Limited edition and novelty items are a great way to engage fans. Having a varied selection of merchandise at all times allows fans to express themselves and support you in any style they wish.”
– Ennui Breathes Malice
“At shows, your performance will have a lot to do with the merch you sell. If you work hard to engage the audience, they’ll be more likely to follow you to the merch booth. And DO go to the merch booth after a show – that’s part of your job as a performer. If you don’t want to be too overt about the merch booth onstage, tell the audience you’ll be there after the show to meet and greet, and say thanks in person!
Your merch booth is your storefront. Make sure it is visible, portable, and as attractive as possible. Carrying extension cords and lights to illuminate your products is an easy way to attract more customers, and have everything organized so that customers don’t have to wait long for you to find the right size/color/type of product they want.”
“I like to have a little contest at some point in my show and the winner gets a piece of my merch.
For our upcoming tour, we are planning on having fans at the show post the answer to our trivia question (either about the venue, or about a cover song we are playing) on our Facebook fan page. This will help get them to our page (bonus!) and the winner of gets a T-shirt and CD. So we have a reason to show everyone our great merch, without coming across as sales-y.”
– Scott Shea
“Not everyone has cash in hand when walking past the merch stand, so something I’ve started doing which works great is using a modern card terminal. They’re now a lot more easily and cheaply available, such as the type PayPal offers.”
“If you don’t have money to invest in merchandise, put up the design on a mock for pre-order, and use that money to place your order with the printer!”
– Mark Rosas
“Of course you have to have the standard offerings: CDs, posters, T-shirts, but it’s also good to think creatively and have a couple ‘stand-out’ items that no one has ever seen before, (or sees less often). It also helps if these items are on the less-expensive side: lighters, shot glasses, etc…be creative, your fans will thank you later!”
– Ships Have Sailed
“What’s most important is trying different things. We’ve had shirt designs that we thought would sell like hot cakes, and they’d do poorly. The opposite was just as true. Try to anticipate sales by thinking not in terms of what you would buy, but what the people coming to the show would buy.”
– Fifth On The Floor
“All our merchandise ideas came from us, we sketched designs according to the demand of audiences, We use Adobe Photoshop to create album covers or ideas for logos.
Creativity will be lost, if we don’t dare to innovate.”
“After live shows, merch often supersedes music sales as the second largest revenue stream. Don’t be afraid to invest in a bulk-buy on your T-shirts, hoodies, etc. in order to secure a greater discount per unit; any money that helps you make music for a living is worth getting.”
– Sùilean Dubha
Don’t forget that with TuneCore, you don’t just get top notch digital distribution & music publishing administration – we offer our artists great deals via MerchLink! This month, you can save 10% on orders of customized Beanie hats. Just use the promo code BEANIE to your order, and stay tuned for more monthly exclusives from MerchLink!