Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros


July 27, 2006

Trusting Your Music Fans to Support You

Here's an uplifting email I just received in response to an ezine issue and blog post a few days ago ...

Hi Bob,

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for publishing the "How to 'Fix' the Music Industry" article. I have been enjoying your newsletter for years, but this article really hit home.

After five years in the San Francisco Bay Area scene, my band got tired of charging $20 for CDs, seeing kids walk away not having enough for merch, and other bands complaining about low turnout and how the scene needs to change.

A year ago, my band started operating on a "donation-based" approach to all merch and CDs, as well as releasing all of our music online for free. Ever since adopting this new approach, we've seen our income increase triple-fold and show attendance is up.

More kids know our material, sing along, have fun and buy ... and many times, where we would normally charge $10 for a CD, we'll get $20 for a CD and sticker ... all for giving the person a choice.

I just wanted to thank you for believing in "being the change" rather than just complaining and trying to force change around you.

We are operating in our own little bubble, and regardless of whether it continues to work or not, this is the utopian way that we think the music industry should be. It's controversial ... but liberating!

Thanks for supporting that way of thinking. It was certainly a GREAT read!

Zack

Rivals
www.rivals.ws
www.myspace.com/rivals

This reminds me of how a number of church events and spiritual workshops allow anyone to attend ... and then ask for a "love offering." Money comes in, but it's based on what each person feels it's worth and what they can afford to pay. Surprisingly, many audience members don't automatically take the cheap way out.

Could you apply this concept to your music events and products?

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:03 AM   2 comments


July 26, 2006

Not-So-Silent Bob's Indie Film Bonanza


I don't know what's going on this year, but I seem to be attracting more opportunities in the film world. First there was my appearance in the Beatle Bob documentary trailer. Then a music video for my song "Sin Is On Your Face."

Now a QuickTime video of On the Road with Ian Jejune, a 48 Hour Film Project piece I co-wrote and acted in this year, was just posted. Watch it here. (Yes, I'm the nerd character ... and no, it's not type casting.) The guy playing Ian is Lee Mueller, who produced the "Sin" music video.

Coming soon is Heidi Meets Death, in which I play Death -- but not with the predictable Grim Reaper vibe. Heidi is played by my friend Erin Marie Hogan. Check out some early screen shots here.

Don't worry. I'm not going to trade being an author to pursue acting. After years of doing theatre as a hobby, I'm just exploring my creativity, feeding my soul, and having a blast doing it.

Hope you're doing the same thing -- in your own special way.

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:34 PM   1 comments


July 25, 2006

'MySpace Music Marketing' in Amazon Top 10

The "MySpace Music Marketing" paperback is only a couple weeks old and already it's cracked the Top 10 Music Business book bestseller list on Amazon. (Note: These rankings change by the hour.) Right now it has a sales rank of 15,343 among all books on Amazon. Not bad on a site that offers about 2 million titles.

As of this writing, the "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook" is at #3 in Music Business books and 4,413 in Amazon sales overall.

This is the first time I've had TWO books in Amazon's Music Business books Top 10. By the way, Amazon is currently offering nice discounts on each book. Grab 'em while you can.

Thank you for reading and spreading the word about my work. I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:30 PM   3 comments


July 24, 2006

How to 'Fix' the Music Industry

There are many reasons to get frustrated by the music business "system." Lack of variety and access to mainstream radio and retail. Live venues that don't seem to support new artists. Record labels that are mostly concerned with safe, least-common-denominator hits. The sad reality that Nick and Jessica couldn't make it :-)

When these factors rip at a musician's heart, there are often two results:

1) The musician feels like throwing up his hands, walking away from music, and spending the rest of his days as a Buddhist monk in isolation.

2) The musician rages against the system, gets angry about the way things are, insists that things need to change, then joins a Motley Crue tribute band.

Well, if you're truly passionate about your music, walking away from it should not even be an option. And if you're one of those creative types who wants to cure all the ills of "the industry," here are some thoughts for you ...

Changing the music industry is not unlike trying to change where and when the sun rises every morning. You can expend all the anger and energy you can muster, but the sun is still going to do its thing -- blissfully unaware that you're even unhappy with it.

Stop trying to fix everything and change everybody else. Your focus on frustration just creates more of it. The best way to make an impact in areas that need improvement is to take Gandhi's advice:

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Unless you're Clive Davis or one of the Dixie Chicks, you won't be able to influence the industry at large. (Okay, let's amend that to "unless you're Clive Davis ...")

You can't control what happens to the overall music business, but there is something you can control directly: How you conduct yourself and your own place in music. Focus on pursuing a career on you your own terms -- not terms imposed by the industry.

The more successful you are living by your own set of standards, the more energy and attention you'll create. And if other indie artists are likewise successful operating outside the traditional lines, that influence will grow stronger.

Rosa Parks didn't set out to change the entire civil rights system. She simply did what see thought was right and sat down where she felt she was entitled. That simple act of conviction created a social tidal wave that's still felt today.

Use that same philosophy with your music career. Be the change you want to see in the music world. Steer away from people who don't support your indie values. Find victories where you can. Build on them.

Through your positive example, people will take notice and ... the music industry may be slightly altered forever. Heck, maybe even Nick and Jessica will get back together.

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 9:08 AM   4 comments


July 18, 2006

Three Simple Marketing Words

(Here's one from the Buzz Factor ezine archives.)

Here's a fresh idea that I think will give you a healthy perspective on your music career and marketing activities.

While reading an article I came across a phrase that caused alarm bells to go off in my brain. I was so inspired, I wrote down these three simple words so I wouldn't forget them:

"Recognize your uniqueness."

In the article (sorry, but I forgot the original source), the phrase was meant to motivate people to take a look at their own talents and qualities. As I'm sure you're aware, people (perhaps you?) often don't give themselves the credit they deserve when it comes to their individual attributes and accomplishments.

But it also occurred to me that this is exactly what effective music marketing is all about -- only you must shift the focus away from yourself. In other words, self-promotion is about inspiring other people to "recognize your uniqueness" as a musical artist. And it's the "uniqueness" aspect of that effort that makes all the difference.

Many musicians make the mistake of simply trying to get the general public to recognize them as musicians. That's a start, but it doesn't complete your ultimate mission, which is to connect with the music fans who are most likely to be blown away by the specific type of music you create.

So when you promote yourself, always ask if you are communicating who you are clearly enough that people will immediately "recognize your uniqueness."

However, there's another all-important side to this equation. For you to communicate your uniqueness, YOU must have a firm understanding of it yourself. If you are fuzzy about the kind of music you play, how can you ever convey the essence of who you are to others?

That's the problem with most of the shoddy music marketing campaigns that litter the promotional roadway. Artists are sometimes too close to their own creations. They assume people will just "get it" on their own. But that's not always the case. Music fans need solid clues. More than clues, they need clear descriptions, obvious indications, and specific details about what you play and how they'll benefit from it.

So from now on, make sure you help both yourself and others "recognize your uniqueness."

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:17 AM   0 comments


July 10, 2006

College Radio Airplay Tips

Subscriber David Anderson just made me aware of a great discussion thread at Ask.Metafilter.com. A number of program directors and show hosts offered their best tips on getting college radio spins for an independent artist. As you'd expect, a common theme was this:

"I worked at a college radio station as a program manager. The amount of material the station got each week was staggering. I'd say up to 90% of the CDs we received never made it on air."

But it's not all doom and gloom. Here are my favorite radio airplay tip highlights:

  • "These days, most DJs can be contacted by e-mail. I've occasionally received e-mails from bands offering their music. I always listen to stuff that people send directly to me, and I've definitely ended up playing some of it."

  • "Simply calling up and asking DJs to play the CD will work pretty good, if you can put in the hours necessary to call lots of stations."

  • "A station member sorts the stuff into genres, and it's put into a new music section. DJs look through the new music selection and play whatever strikes them as cool." (Lesson: Make sure your style of music is crystal clear to whomever opens your package.)

  • "Putting a big sticker on the front cover that says "SOUNDS LIKE:" helps. Compare yourself to heavily played college radio music."

  • "List the tracks you think are the best and describe them in basic terms (poppy folk, folky slowcore, whatever)."

  • "Don't use the words 'lush' or 'soundscape' anywhere on your promo material."

  • "[Point out] your best track. No music director has the time to skip through six tracks -- they're probably doing it between classes, or while they're eating lunch."

Good stuff. Read the entire discussion at
http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/41432

-Bob

P.S. For more indie radio airplay tips, check out the Fundamentals of DIY Radio Promotion.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:00 AM   1 comments