New Music Friday: February 23, 2018

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

Follow Music Made Me – a Spotify playlist that’s updated every Friday with new releases from TuneCore Artists – stream it below!


Ain’t Nobody Hotter
Kyle Park

Country


Evergreen
Audrey Assad

Christian/Gospel


’89 Chevy
Ben Johnson

Country


Could Be
Glded

Alternative


Drama (feat. Big Data)
NoMBe

Alternative


Ritual
ASTR

Alternative, Pop


Goldyard
Goldyard

Hip Hop/Rap


Kids On The Corner
The People The Poet

Rock, Folk


Call Ya
Zāna

Pop


Rearview
Jagertown

Country, Rock


Rooftops
Bishop Nehru

Hip Hop/Rap

 

4 Merch Items You’re Not Offering At Your Show (That You Should)

[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]

 

Making money as a musician has always been tough, but it’s harder than ever these days, so you need to put in the extra effort to sell what you can, when you can. Since physical record sales are down, most artists tour more often to make up for the lack of people owning albums. Ticket sales and guarantees are great, but most acts can also make a few extra bucks selling merch, especially if they have a growing fan base and some awesome offerings.

There are plenty of items that will obviously be featured in your “store,” such as t-shirts and albums (both in CD and vinyl form, if you can make it work), but don’t stop there! There are many other things you should be selling, and below are a handful of products you might never have even considered, but which should be a part of your moving pop-up shop (otherwise known as the rather unglamorous merch table).

1. Download Cards

Selling music has taken a backseat to streaming, and it has become incredibly difficult to convince people to hand over their hard-earned cash for a copy of your tunes…especially when they can access them on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms. Having said that, after seeing a stellar live showing, some fans want nothing more than to own the music they just heard, and you should move quickly to make sure you capture those customers, and that you have something that works for every kind of listener.

Download cards come with a specific, unique code, and once listeners get online, they can go to a specific website and download your music.

You can have download cards made for your singles, your albums, and any other collection you’ve released. The prices for these products vary from just over $100 to well over $250 for 1,000, depending on which company you go for (a quick Google search turns up many different options), and while you’d think you could just suggest to someone that they go on iTunes when they get home…chances are by then, they’ll have moved on. Sure, it will cost you a few bucks upfront, but it’s better to be prepared and to sell when the selling is good than to lose out on all those potential customers.

2. Special CDs

Your shows will be perhaps the best opportunity to sell your new album, but that doesn’t mean you should expect to move tons of product while trekking across the country. In addition to offering your latest record (which you’re probably touring to promote) and your older material, why not have a CD pressed that can only be purchased at your shows?

Once you have a sizable enough fan base (it doesn’t need to be huge, but this idea probably won’t work if you’re only playing to people who are discovering you for the first time), you can entertain the idea of having a special CD made specifically to sell while on tour. This disc can be filled with many different kinds of music, and what will work for you depends on what kind of artist you are and what your fans are most interested in. I wouldn’t suggest creating a full album of completely original material to sell exclusively at your concerts, because the time and effort that will go into that might be too much to expend for a small return.

Instead, use your tour as an opportunity to sell your most ardent fans an acoustic EP, a remix collection, or perhaps even a live album, which could mimic what they just fell in love with on stage. Make sure you not only tell people in the audience that the record will only be purchasable at your merch table, but let them know before the concert as well. That might convince a few people to also turn up and see the show!

3. Buttons and Stickers

Buttons and stickers are typically the cheapest items sold at merch tables, and they don’t bring in much cash. They’re not costly to make, but you also can’t get away with pricing them very high, so don’t start thinking that you’re going to pad your wallet by offering stickers…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still sell them!

Offering these small-ticket items allows you to have something on your merch table that everyone can afford, and that can be very important to your younger or less financially well-off fans. Not everyone has the money to buy your album or a t-shirt, but providing an option that allows your supporters to feel like they are a part of your success, if even a tiny part, is a great way to keep them invested in you and your career.

Also, once they own these items, they’ll either wear them or place them somewhere that others will see, and that’s not just advertising—it’s advertising someone else paid for! Sure, selling pins to young fans wont turn you into a superstar, but it also doesn’t hurt to have something people can attach to their clothing that others might ask about. Keep this in mind as you create your designs as well.

4. Pens

Selling people your music is great, but selling people an item they will use or wear for weeks or months that features your logo or name is even better, at least in some regards. You’d love to sell them t-shirts or hoodies, but not everybody is looking to spend that much money, and while pins and stickers (which we just discussed above) are great options, they won’t appeal to everyone.

It might sound silly, but pens that feature your band’s name or logo are a small, cheap item that is actually functional, and that might be enough to convince those difficult shoppers to go home with something from your merch table. Keep the price low and make sure those who don’t seem enthused by everything else being offered see them and you might be able to make a sale. Again, it won’t net you much cash, but once you’ve sold something to them, they’ll remember you, and they’ll see your name every time they use that pen, which could subconsciously turn them into bigger fans and keep you top of mind. If all goes well, they’ll stream your tunes more often, and maybe even come see you the next time you’re in town.

Pens are, of course, not the only product you can have customized relatively cheaply, but I wanted to put the idea out there with something that would be very easy to have made. Don’t go overboard, but if you can insert yourself into a fan’s every day in any way, it could wind up being a big win for you.


Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.

Wednesday Video Diversion: February 21, 2018

Predictably, we’ve reached another Wednesday. If you’ve avoided slipping into REM-cycle sleep at this point in the afternoon, good for you! Just think: on this day back in 1968, Pink Floyd hit the EMI studios in London to get started on their debut album, Piper At The Gates of Dawn (an important rock ‘n roll album!) — meanwhile, four gents named John, Paul, George and Ringo were down the hall chipping away at a record that’d be known as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s a lotta British rock power in one building! With that weekly dose of random music trivia, we present another stunning lineup of TuneCore Artist music videos to distract and delight:

 

LoveCollide, “Mother of the Son”


DeVante, “Gin & Juice”


James Quick, “Oceanside”


Josh Grider, “Good People”


Knox Fortune, “Lil Thing”


BOOTS, “Delete Delete (feat. Run The Jewels & Cristin Milioti)”


Raz Simone, “Clout”


Peach Pit, “Drop The Guillotine”


Stars and Rabbit, “Man Upon the Hill”


CupcakKe, “Fullest”

How to Successfully Build Relationships in the Music Industry

[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]

 

When you first entered the music industry, you may have expected that your talents would be enough to carry you. While talent is an important part of creating a lasting career, there’s another piece that’s just as, if not more, important: who you know. While some might find that unfair or daunting, I see it as an incredible opportunity to build connection and opportunities based off friendships and human connection.

The key to relationship building, is to treat it as you would any other relationship or friendship. This means giving more than you get, learning to listen, and respecting boundaries. It also means being completely genuine in your approach. If you go into it with a clear agenda of “here’s what Person A can do for me”, and view them only as a means to an end, they’ll see right through it, and you’ll almost certainly alienate them and hinder your chances at a fruitful interaction.

So, where do you start when it comes to relationship building, and how do you build these connections in an honest, productive way?

Make your own opportunities

The first thing I want to mention is that if something isn’t going your way, if you can’t find the solution you’re looking for, it’s ok (encouraged even) to create your own. This means if there’s not a show for you to jump on because you’re a brand new artist that no one is willing to take a chance on, organize your own and use it as an opportunity to get to know other emerging bands. If you want to tour but you’re waiting for a major label to scoop you up and pay for it, stop waiting, start saving money, and begin routing your tour to make it happen yourself.

The music industry is a beautiful place, but it is also complicated, messy, and at times chaotic, so if you want something that doesn’t already exist, sometimes you just have to figure out a way to make it happen yourself.

Oftentimes, it’s these acts of self-reliance that end up leading to the most memorable, significant moments and connections.

Attend conferences

Conferences are a wonderful place to network. If you know there’s a certain person you want to meet while there, the best way to get in front of them is to plan ahead. Have an idea of who you want to meet, what you want to accomplish, and how you’ll go about it well before you actually get to the conference. If you can, try to set up the meeting via email before you arrive.

Either way, it’s best to have your approach solidified beforehand. Then, get to know the person via past interviews, social media, etc, and see what makes them tick. By approaching them and introducing yourself, then bringing up something that interests them vs just talking about what they can do for you, you’ll capture (and keep!) their attention much longer.

Bonus tip: I also recommend attending as many smaller conferences as possible, rather than just sticking to the larger ones. While there’s a lot of value in giant festivals like SXSW, attending some of the smaller ones (Launch Music Conference, for instance) allows you to be in the same room as the same few hundred people for several days in a row, making it much easier to connect with both other attendees and panelists. The more you see someone, the more natural small talk becomes. As a bonus, small conferences are also a lot cheaper to attend!

Utilize social media

Is there anything more convenient for the introverted musician than social media? It’s the perfect way to get in front of new people and build relationships, without ever having to leave the house.

While some of the simpler tactics apply here—follow people you want to get to know on social media, interact with their posts with comments, etc, are valid, I want to introduce you to one of my absolute favorite ways to network online, and that is through Facebook Groups.

There are no doubt tons of options depending on your genre/city and a quick search can bring them up, but a few of my favorites for supportive, helpful discussion and support across all genres and cities, incorporating advice from musicians and industry professionals alike are the Music Launch Hub, Rock/Star Collective, and for ladies only Music Biz Besties and GBTRS.

Join these groups, introduce yourself, and then take a few minutes each day to peruse the groups that resonate most with you and see where you can chime in. Is someone asking a question that you know the answer to? Are they asking for advice that you could be helpful on? This is a great opportunity to employ that “give more than you take” strategy I mentioned earlier. The more people see your name pop up in a group, offering helpful, informative advice, the more they’ll begin to think of you as someone trustworthy, knowledgeable and yes, worth checking out/following.

By being a constant presence in these groups, you’ll begin to find a new group of followers and supporters to help you navigate and grow your career. Not to mention, you’ll come across some truly profound advice for advancing your career!  

Get involved with your local scene

One of the best ways to really get in front of people is to take advantage of your local scene. Go to shows, talk to the other bands, get to know the people in the audience, and you’ll start to develop a sense of community.

Many times, the same people will attend the same shows (i.e. the same crowd goes to the Tuesday open mic) so the more you show up, the more familiar faces you’ll see, and just like I mentioned with Facebook groups above, the more people begin to trust and recognize you, and the more embedded in the community you become. This means you get invited to more shows, events, and opportunities.

Likewise, if your city has a meet up, get out there and attend it! Face to face interaction is still one of the absolute best ways to make a strong impression and build relationships. There’s a variety of meet ups all over the place, but one that I’ve been deeply involved in and has chapters across North America is called Balanced Breakfast. With active chapters currently in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, and more, there’s probably one in your city—you can check event listings here.

But if there’s not? Start your own meetup! It doesn’t have to be huge, even just a few interested people meeting regularly to talk shop about the music industry and support one another is enough to begin building a strong foundation. Trust me, before long you’ll see that meet up grow, and with it, your network.

Ask for an introduction

Is there someone you’d love to talk to, but just can’t seem to get a response from? The music industry is relatively small, so if you don’t have a personal connection to the person you want to get in front of, and you’ve done your due diligence thus far with relationship building, odds are you know someone who can do that intro for you.

Don’t abuse this by constantly asking for intros, but trust that an email intro from a mutual acquaintance is far more likely to get a response than a cold email from someone they don’t know.


Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.

New Music Friday: February 16, 2018

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?

Follow Music Made Me – a Spotify playlist that’s updated every Friday with new releases from TuneCore Artists – stream it below!


More This Than That
Frank Famous

R&B/Soul, Alternative


Wonderchild
Hot Shade & Christian Walz

Dance


Our Gospel
DAYSHWNX

R&B/Soul


Born 2 Ball
ZO

Hip Hop/Rap


Out Of Focus
Chelsea Cutler

Pop


I Need You

Paris Hilton
Pop


Karma (feat. Alex Mali)
Thutmose

R&B/Soul, Hip Hop/Rap


#DARKDAZE
BOOTS

Alternative


Here I Am
The Boxer Rebellion

Alternative, Electronic


Church With No Ceiling
Lostboycrow

Pop, R&B/Soul


Life In Pink
The Ready Set

Pop, Alternative


Great Ideas
Sam Lewis

Singer/Songwriter, Rock


Drop
SUMR CAMP

Dance, Electronic


Lies
Lieza

Alternative, Singer/Songwriter


Let’s Stay Together
Low

Alternative, Rock


Falling 4 You
Alfred Jackson

R&B/Soul, Pop


French Girls
Swimming With Bears

Alternative, Rock


Trap Ye Season 2
Southside

Hip Hop/Rap


Fear Of Missing Out
FOMO

R&B/Soul, Electronic


A Lazy Kind of Pain
Daggy Man

Folk, Singer/Songwriter


Tonight I’m Wearing Silk
Vundabar
Rock, Pop


Too Many Hearts To Break
Kelsy Karter

Pop


Our Land
Alexis Krauss & Our Land Collective

Alternative

How Are People Finding New Independent Music?

[Editors Note: This article was written by Rich Nardo.]

 

New music discovery is a highly personalized process. Fans of different genres tend to find music in different ways and, obviously, people of varying age and geographical demographics also tend to favor different manners of discovery. Unless you have a major label or an indie with a large budget putting out your music, it’s very difficult to cover all of your bases. Your best bet is to hone in on who is most likely to enjoy your music and focus heavily in the areas where that sort of fan is most likely to be searching for new tunes. That’s not to say, allocating some time and energy in other areas is not beneficial, but with limited resources it’s always best to be more focused on the areas where you will get the most bang for your buck.

Below are several sources people tend to tap into for music discovery:

Terrestrial Radio 

According to a 2017 Study by Larry S. Miller of the  NYU’s Steinhart Music Business Program, if your fans tends to be members of Generation Z (born after 1995), this is largely a waste of time. Due in large part to having grown up in an ‘on demand’ culture, the number of teens that tune in on their AM/FM dial dropped 50% between 2006 and 2016. As more and more new cars are coming equipped with streaming service integration (a projected 75% by 2020) and people are turning more towards “Smart Home” devices like Amazon Alexa in their households, this number is expected to decrease further unless Radio undergoes an extreme makeover.

Traditional radio campaigns tend to be very expensive and have high barriers of entry, so unless you’re an established pop star selling out arenas, putting any eggs in this basket is probably not worth the investment.

XM Radio 

Sirius XM is a weird sort of hybrid in this scenario. The barriers to entry are high (though not as high as their terrestrial counterparts), but there are a handful of bands that break nationally in large part due to XM every year. In particular, getting rotation on a station like AltNation, XMU, Octane or The Highway can really help kickstart a band. The biggest issue with XM is that, even if you find yourself in a DJ’s favor, you need to be able to show that your marketing campaign is firing on all cylinders before they’ll really jump behind a project.

If you’re at the stage in your career where your streaming numbers are high, press is coming in and you’re touring consistently at mid-sized venues, investing in a College & Specialty Radio campaign that builds towards pitching XM is worthwhile. If you’re not quite there yet, you may be better off investing more time in building your fan foundation and business model out first.

Social Media

Social Media is another unique situation, as it isn’t necessary a traditional “new music discovery” platform but is integral to success on most other platforms. Without a doubt, major streaming services, radio stations, press, venues and other industry types that can open doors for an up-and-coming artist pay attention to your social numbers. As we mentioned last month, Instagram has established innovative new ways for musicians to interact with fans and is leading the way in terms of music discovery via social media.

With Facebook’s recent algorithm shift away from business pages showing up in people’s feeds, it’s more difficult to reach people there. Still, allocating some budget to Facebook (and Instagram) advertising can help get your music in front of new ears in a highly efficient and cost effective way.

Music Blogs and Publications 

Press has always been a staple of new music discovery. The ‘gatekeepers of cool’ have been a primary resource for finding what’s coming next for decades, but we’re seeing a changing of the guards as of late. Press will always be important, but unless you’re being featured as part of a larger editorial piece, the reach of even the top outlets is starting to diminish. A few years ago, a big premiere on a press outlet like Noisey or The Fader could result in tens of thousands of plays. Today, it might only be a couple of hundred.

Most top-tier sites are altering the way they approach music coverage to respond to this fact, but I would not rely solely on getting a review in one of the most respected publications to really break you as an artist. In fact, I would wager to say that the value in press lays largely in getting quotes from tastemakers to help enhance other elements of your marketing campaign as opposed to new fan acquisition.

That being said, press is still very important and there are chances to grow your fanbase with a well run press campaign. This should be one of the first places you allocate money when it comes to music marketing.

Streaming Services, Pandora & YouTube

Not surprisingly, this is the big one. According to Variety, a recent poll of 12-24 year olds who find music discovery important, these were the three biggest resources for finding new music – YouTube (80%), Spotify (59%) and Pandora (53%). While doing something officially with any of these outlets might be hard, there are plenty of ways to still utilize their reach. Blogs, Brands and unofficial tastemakers are more approachable for streaming playlists and there are vlogs such as Suicide Sheep, Majestic Casual or MORindie that get hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of plays for their posts.

With over 78 million monthly listeners, Pandora is still the largest music streaming service in the world. Their advertising campaigns are relatively affordable and can help boost your ranking in their algorithm in a way that makes a genuine difference. As Amazon, Google and Apple all evolve their streaming services in 2018, the possibilities are only multiplying for a savvy artist who stays up to date on the world of streaming.

The Good Ol’ Fashioned Way 

The above listed outlets are all extremely important, but nothing will aid a new artist as much as good ol’ fashioned performances. Music fans are fickle these days and tend to fall out of love with songs quickly as they move on to the next big thing. Only the intimate connection of winning a fan over in a live setting can really imprint an artist enough on a group of fans to really make that adoration stick.

If you plan on building a sustainable career as a musician, get really good live and make the effort to meet fans at your shows. Those encounters and memories of your performance are what will build a long-term fanbase that evolves with you from release to release.


Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.