The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

 

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.

Buying Social Media Followers – Should You Do It?

[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Hugh writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.]  

These days, musicians aren’t just selling their art, they are selling themselves. Fans don’t just want to hear songs every so often and go see your live show, they want to feel a real connection with the musicians they love so much, and that’s all thanks to social media. The advent of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a myriad of others has been both a blessing a curse for the world at large, especially artists. It helps forge powerful, lasting, valuable relationships with fans all around the world that previously weren’t possible, but it is also a new demand placed on those working hard to stay afloat.

As is the case with almost anything related to your career as a musician, just getting started and off the ground when it comes to social media can be one of the toughest things about the entire endeavor. It’s so easy to look at both musicians and social celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers and more interactions than they can handle and wonder, “How did they get there? What am I doing wrong?” Well, I can’t help everybody with that second question, but I have a suggestion for the former.

It might be controversial, but I often suggest to those acts just getting started, both in their careers and online, to purchase some social media followers. Yes, that’s right—you should pay money to have people follow you on the various social platforms where you should have a presence, but don’t tell anyone you did (and certainly don’t tell anybody I said to do it).

The idea of purchasing followers, likes, views, and everything else on social media is nothing new, but it is one that has always been despised by many. It is maligned with negative connotations, but it can also be extremely helpful when it comes to kicking things off on social channels, which is very important to you as somebody trying to get the masses to fall in love with who you are and what you create.

When explaining why I believe purchasing social media followers is a good thing, I always use the analogy of a party.

Nobody wants to go to a party until there are plenty of people there and it’s in full force, right? But if that’s the case, how is one supposed to get a party started? The same can be said for your Twitter or Instagram page. Why would anybody want to click the follow button on an account with 25 followers, even if the content seems to be great upon first glance?

Feel free to invite all of your friends and pre-existing fans to join you in these places, and then do a quick Google search to see about upping those numbers. You don’t need many, and in fact, why purchasing, you should do so intelligently. If you are an artist with only a few songs out and yet you have 50,000 followers on Twitter—we’ve all seen these people—nobody is going to believe you, and your efforts will end up backfiring, making you look like a fool in the process.

Think before you buy.

Will 500 followers make you look appear to be on your way? 1,000? Maybe start with one and eventually spend your way to that second figure? There are many different ways to go about this, but you need to be aware that people are going to quickly glance at your follower counts and judge you instinctively based on them.

Now, you may be thinking that this is all an exercise in vanity, and I’d say you’re right, but only partially. Having a respectable follower count on popular platforms shows that some people have invested in you, if even in some small way (and even if they aren’t real, but that’s just between you and I). It tells those that might be potentially interested in booking you to play a venue, a festival, or even to sign to a label that there are people out there that are interested, and that there might actually be something to the artist in front of them.

Buying social media followers, as well as likes on various posts you may upload to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and so on, is something you should consider, and that I’d suggest, but it doesn’t have to be a necessity for everybody. If you want to go the traditional route, feel free, but keep in mind that even the biggest and most successful artists partake in this strategy. Pop stars, rock bands, and rappers all up their counts from time to time with fake followers, just as they do with real ones. You won’t be buying in the same bulk as them, but don’t feel like this is just a no-man’s game.

This tactic shouldn’t cost you much, as all of these services come pretty cheap, which probably won’t surprise you when you take a look at some of the options that pop up on Google (they’re fairly sketchy looking). Think about what I’ve said as you set up or begin to invest time and effort into your social channels, and decide if this is the way you want to go, but don’t worry or think too hard—it is just social media, after all.

6 Essential Tools for Indie Artists

By W. Tyler Allen

Being a DIY musician in today’s industry requires, work and hustle — but it’s possible. Straight up, it’s completely possible to become a successful independent artist in today’s digital landscape. How exciting is that?!

You can make it, but like any profession or task, you need tools. Throughout my career working with artists and management teams, I find that there’s a lot of tools out there that are simply overlooked, or just not known about.

Here are some items to add to your “tool kit” to ensure that you’re marketing and managing your work properly.

1. First, The Things You Already Have…

I find that often in the music industry, we are signed up for certain memberships or use certain programs, but we really aren’t using them to their fullest potential.

For instance, did you know that TuneCore offers publishing administration services, for a small one-time fee? With this service  they actively assist in the process of getting your work licensed in TV and film.  This is just one of many services that your distributor can provide for you. Do your research, as there is plenty more!

Similarly, is your music registered under a PRO (performing rights organization), such as BMI or ASCAP? It really should be. A PRO is how to ensure you’re getting actively compensated for your work.

But did you also know that PRO’s also have workshops, networking events and even pitch sessions? While some of these may require some travel, your PRO tends to do more than just look out for royalties. For instance, many PRO’s will have music supervisor sessions, where a supervisor listens to pitches and considers your music for placement in TV and film.

Your distributor may also offer conferences, speaking series, or even concerts. Look into these events — and see how they can benefit you.

Research the tools you’re already using and see how you can ensure you’re optimizing them.

2. Buffer and/or HooteSuite

I believe that artists should tweet and post in real-time. Scheduling too much of your content can come off as impersonal. However, you also want a consistent presence. So I do recommend looking into scheduling programs such as Buffer or HooteSuite.

These are especially useful for when you’re touring or busy recording — however, I find them the most useful for certain “pieces” of content. A good content mix, which I’ve discussed before, is about 70% branding, 20% personal posts and 10% sales posts.

A scheduling tool can take care of those occasional promo posts, or brand building posts — so you can focus on simply interacting with others, and using your social channels as you normally would.

Buffer and Hootesuite are two of the more popular platforms, however, there exists dozens of similar outlets. I prefer Buffer as it automatically posts during your customized “peak hours”. So you simply schedule, and it posts automatically during times that are the most active for your follower-base. This feature is also optional as you can schedule whenever you’d like.

I also dig Buffer as it automatically pulls photos from links, where as with HooteSuite you have to manually insert the link.

HooteSuite, on the other hand has integration with Instagram, and if you’re a manager or agency, you can manage multiple accounts for free — and an unlimited amount for only $10 a month.

Regardless of how you go about handling your social media, a scheduler is key to having a solid content mix. It allows you to consistently have a social media presence even when you’re on the road, touring — or maybe just not feeling up to it that day.

Although, remember that you need to schedule a mix of content — so, re-share your videos, but also throw up new music you like, or local events you want to check out. Be dynamic — but also, with a scheduling tool, you can also remain consistent.

3. Canva

I always recommend an artist hires a designer for any kind of complex design campaign. This might be an album cover, or a banner for a website. However, images go beyond that — artists need visual content on their social media channels. Images always do better than text posts — so, little things like “Coming Soon” graphics, simple show reminders, or even graphics with your lyrics on them can go a long way.

However, these aren’t really worth investing in a designer, especially when tools like Canva exist. Canva allows for simple graphics, and also gives templates that include dimensions for certain social outlets, as well as text tools. It doesn’t have great “photoshop”-level editing functions. But it does allow you to quickly edit a photo, as well as add in lines and other tools to really create some compelling and simple social media (or blog) graphics.

I highly recommend you check Canva out if you need a quick image boost on your social media.

4. Boomerang

Boomerang is one of my secret weapons. Boomerang allows Gmail users to schedule emails — while this might seem like a small feature, it’s actually huge for artists who want to pitch press, but don’t have access to a professional email tool. Sure, you can use MailChimp for this, but email inboxes register it as as a “marketing” program, so it goes to a “promo” or even a spam folder.

To use Boomerang, first, I activate up Gmails “canned response” feature. This allows you to quickly pull up pre-written text without having to go and copy/paste. That way you can tweak a pre-written pitch, quickly.

(Note: Always tweak your pitch, state the writer’s name, tell them how you found their info.. make ’em feel special. This is key.)

Then, you simply go to the Boomerang icon, that now appears in your email window, and schedule it! You can schedule a certain amount a week for free, or for a small fee you can schedule a larger amount. It’s certainly worth the cost.

I even have access to major PR databases and scheduling programs, but I still find myself using Boomerang for the scheduling aspect. I simply feel that it’s easier to tweak the pitches in Boomerang, and make them more personalized towards the writer. Rather than just launching them all out in bulk.

This is also good for artists with small media lists, or who just want to send pitches out to a few key people before a launch.

Bonus Tips: Searching for writer emails? Use outlets like ZoomInfo for press contacts — another good way? Google ’em. Seriously, try searching a writer’s name and you’ll be surprised with how often you find some form of contact info.

5. Google Drive

If you’ve worked for any agency, start-up, or company with a lot of moving parts — you may be familiar with project management programs such as Slack, Trello, and BaseCamp. These are all great tools, and I’ve used them with a few labels — however, they’re only really necessary for large teams with numerous projects.

So… if you have an in-house PR team, booking agent, a designer, an inventory specialist and a manager — then sure, use these programs! But if you’re reading this, you’re likely a team of less than 5 folks and having project management tools may be a bit overkill.

While I’ve used these tools with large management teams and indie labels, most of my clients work directly off of Google Drive. Google Drive is just like Dropbox, though since it’s cloud base — it’s a bit easier to navigate and edit documents in real-time. Here’s what I use in Google Drive:

  • Google Drive Folders

Obvious, but great for separating out photos, PR documents, tracks, and organizational documents.

  • Google Sheets

This is my go-to tool for weekly status updates. I have columns for “Task”, “Status”, “Next Steps” and “Responsibility”. Then we work with the team (managers and/or artists) to fill out each item.

I also use Google Sheets to keep up with media lists, budgeting, track what writers I’ve pitched, venue contacts and more.

  • Google Docs

Another obvious but good tool is the Google Doc. Google Docs allow for one document to be shared with your team for collaboration. So, this could be a marketing plan you’re working on with your manager, or it could be a social media content calendar.

It’s a great tool to create a document, and have a team give insight and feedback.

6. Good Ole’ Fashion Knowledge.

Hey! I know you wanted some hacks and quick tips, but I can’t stress this piece enough. Simply, educate yourselves.

One of the largest ways artists step towards failure is by trying to rush success. This might be going broke paying for sketchy promo deals, or maybe just giving up because they aren’t seeing results soon enough. However, the real success comes in understanding the industry. It goes into knowing what makes a good pitch, how to network, what makes a good social media presence.

You might say, well — I can have a PR team handle that. Yes! But… how are you going to know if they’re doing a good job? How do you know if your manager is doing their par? If you don’t understand what goes into these two arenas, you can’t gauge their productivity.

Recently, I started offering musicians my Artist Launch Kit which, instead of blindly pitching on the artist’s behalf, I give them all of the tools they need to pitch press and operate their brand. This includes a series of pitches, an EPK, a custom media list, as well as a marketing plan.

However, it goes beyond working directly with folks like me. TuneCore’s blog has become a great resource for artists, same with HypebotSonicbids, and more. There’s also some incredible social media influencers out there who talk about music marketing (without trying to sell you something too often.)

Read blogs, connect and network with folks in the industry, education is everything, especially as our industry continues to grow.


w tyler allenAs a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more about Tyler Allen’s music consulting and background on his website here.

Why You Should Treat Your Music Career Like a Startup

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rory Seydel and originally appeared on the LANDR Blog. Remember – if you need your songs polished instantly, give LANDR a try!]

The music biz is still the wild west — Here’s how to be an outlaw.

Howdy stranger.

Music promotion and growing your career as an artist is the most difficult thing you can do on this earth (trust me, I know).

I’d argue that growing a startup is the second hardest. (I know about that too).

For some reason I’ve been fortunate—or crazy—enough to try music and startups. It turns out it’s a lot easier if you learn from both.

Rory_Collage_1200x744

They each require constant GROWTH. That six letter word that that can’t be ignored in any career — be it creative or business. Or creative business.

Here’s what I’ve learned, and what you should too:

MAKE A PLAN

This sounds obvious, but let’s face it: musicians aren’t the best at thinking ahead.

We live in the moment. And that’s fine.

But a little foresight goes a long way. Especially when it comes to the lifecycle of recording, releasing, promoting and touring.

makeaplan_1200x627

Every good startup has a roadmap — or in musicians terms a longterm plan (hello dreams!).

They also have a short term plan (reality!). Just don’t be afraid to be fluid— ’cause when life happens, you need to be able to adapt.

RELEASE FAST

Think of it this way: you spend 3-years working on your first record. But then you realize that your brand of obscure underground music resonates with no one.

Music changes at an insanely rapid pace, the internet decides the speed of consumption and taste.

So how do you stay ahead of the curve? Easy. Release your music while you’re making it.

Publish it to SoundCloud. See what resonates with your community, your audience, your friends.

Take the feedback you get and make more music. Your community is a super supportive laboratory where you should test all kinds of stuff. When it doubt test it!

If something works do it again—but better. If it fails then ditch it quick.

Release constantly and listen to your audience. They will guide you to your best work.

STAY HUNGRY STAY FOCUSED

Remember that roadmap from your original plan? Use it.

Take 5 minutes a day to be inspired by your hopes and dreams. Don’t be afraid to be hungry.  Sacrifice in the name of your art.

Work in the moment and remember why you started creating music in the first place.

Stay in and work on your projects instead of going out. It’ll pay off faster than you think.

FAIL EARLY FAIL OFTEN

This saying gets thrown around constantly in business but it’s essential to quick growth.

People are afraid of failure. But as the startup gods have taught us: Failure is awesome!

It sounds weird but think of it this way: you learn a heap load more from failure than you do from mediocrity.

In mediocrity we pat each other on the back, learn nothing and don’t grow.

In failure we have no choice but to look at what can be done better, pick up the pieces and go back to the drawing board knowing what to avoid.

USE TECHNOLOGY

Startups are not afraid of technology (probably because they are too busy making it).

But musicians often are. Don’t be afraid. There are tons of hyper useful and creative music technologies being developed right now.

Get used to the idea that good technologies exist to make your life better. It’ll open up a whole world of possibilities.

Native Instruments, Ableton, LANDR, SoundCloud and Echo Nest are a few examples of technologies that are pushing the envelope to help you.

And with new music tech popping up daily there’s no sign of it slowing down. Get involved or get left behind.

COLLABORATE

Think Jobs and Wozniak — Lennon and McCartney. Kraftwerk or the way Kanye manages a teame of hundreds.

You need people around you. You need them to bring out the best in you, and you need to bring out the best in them.

The role of the conductor is often under regarded.

Apple+Beatles_1200x627

BE DIGITAL

There’s a community for everything online. The sooner you find yours, the more successful you’ll be.

Look at the way Radiohead sells records. From booking a tour to setting up a website, you should be pouring most of your promotion time into music promotion. That means digital marketing, communities, sales and PR.

Don’t underestimate IRL. Hit the road and get involved face to face. Just make sure to update your Instagram as you go.

Having an antiquated business plan for your music career won’t cut it any more — you need a lean startup plan with smart strategists (AKA awesome bandmates).

So make a new plan. One that fits today AND tomorrow. And enjoy some rapid growth.

Store Update: Rhapsody is Now 'Napster'

If you were born before the late 80s or early 90s, the word ‘Napster‘ is synonymous with completely disrupting the way anyone with access to a computer equipped with dial-up Internet service could consume music.

Sketchy song titles, people mixing up  artists like “Soft Cell” and “The Clash”, slow downloads, and the first-ever DIY ‘mix CDs’ once those ‘burners’ came long – to music lovers who felt, rightly or wrongly, that they’d been subjected to overpaying for albums for the past five years, it was a welcome, hands-on process.

But even younger music fans and creators remember what would come next for Napster. (Read: Confusion, fear, and some wealthy artists taking legal action…catch up here.)

A Web 2.0 relic that laid the foundation for a wave of music piracy while simultaneously inspiring the future of digital music consumption, the Napster brand was ultimately bought by Rhapsody – a popular music streaming platform that TuneCore has proudly distributed independent artists’ music to for years – in 2011.

‘Why?’ people wondered, ‘What are they gonna do with that?’

Well, yesterday Rhapsody has announced that it is rebranding as Napster in the U.S. They had already been using the Napster brand in other countries. The company said:

“Rhapsody is becoming Napster. No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!”

While we’re not sure exactly what’s next for the brand, we’re excited to continue calling them our partner! As they suggest, stay tuned – we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any developing details.

Rhapster
Photo c/o GadgetPipeline.com

If you’re a TuneCore Artist who doesn’t yet distribute to Rhaps—er, Napster, head over to your Store Manager and add your music today! Remember, any connotations you had with Napster can be shaken off, as it’s functioning as a totally legal streaming service on the main stage helping artists earn revenue – and we’re psyched to be partnered with them.

TuneCore Helps Present CMU:DIY at The Great Escape This Weekend

16th May 2016 – TuneCore UK announced today a partnership with The Great Escape festival to present CMU:DIY, a dedicated ‘DIY Day’ designed to educate, guide and support UK independent artists and emerging musicians.

TuneCore, the leading independent music distribution service, will co-host CMU:DIY on Saturday 21st May at 10:30am. The ‘DIY Day’ will provide a platform for independent and emerging musicians to build their knowledge of the often complex modern music industry, bringing together industry experts, artists and other speakers, including singer songwriter Chris T-T, Lucinda Brown (TicketScript), Rosie James (Tru Thoughts), Joe Porn (Music Glue) and Seymour Stein (Sire Records), in a series of panel discussions, Q&As and other exclusive content.

Led by experts Chris Cooke (CMU), Jen Long (Dice FM) and DJ John 00 Fleming, CMU:DIY supported by TuneCore UK draws upon the wealth of talent and expertise attending Brighton during The Great Escape. The event marks TuneCore UK’s commitment to investing in the UK independent music community.

TuneCore is committed to investing in the global independent music scene, and we understand how important it is for artists to feel supported locally as they take charge of their careers. As our core mission is to empower and expand the careers of independent and emerging musicians, partnering with The Great Escape has been a great way to align our shared goals.” said Scott Ackerman, CEO of TuneCore “With events like CMU:DIY and others in the UK, we continue to innovate and create new opportunities to support independent artists.”

Taking place in Brighton from Thursday May 19th to Saturday May 21st, The Great Escape takes over the whole of Brighton, with hundreds of gigs from nearly 800 artists in dozens of music venues across the city. TuneCore.co.uk has distributed music for an impressive one in three artists playing this year’s Great Escape, including Heavytrackerz and Astroid Boys.

TuneCore UK continues the company’s mission of bringing more music to more people globally and helping musicians and songwriters increase revenue opportunities, while ensuring artists keep 100% ownership and revenue to take charge of their careers. The UK service has been created exclusively for local artists to collect revenue from streams, downloads, royalties and sync licensing in local currency.

“It is important for TuneCore UK to engage with, support and find opportunities for our local independent and emerging artist communities, CMU:DIY will be the first among many events where we will do just that.” said Sam Taylor, Tunecore UK Brand Manager. “Our aim is to be at the beating heart of the UK’s independent music scene, helping artists find their fans so that they can make their passion a career.

CMU:DIY at The Great Escape tickets are only £25 for non TGE ticket holders, and all performing artists get free admission. Tickets are available at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/CGP2105

CMU:DIY takes place at The Old Courtroom (Church Street) and The Lighthouse (Kensington Street) in Brighton on Saturday 21st of May from 10:30am to 5pm.

To see a full line up of speakers for the day’s event, please visit www.cmudiy.com/thegreatescape.

About The Great Escape

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 music calendar and Europe’s biggest new music showcase. The three-day festival brings together a huge number of bands, artists and industry professionals in one place. It offers independent and emerging artists a great opportunity not only to be seen and heard, but to receive support and guidance on their music careers from industry experts, meanwhile industry insiders get an unrivalled opportunity to meet, network and discover new music.