Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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


September 27, 2007

Dealing With Anti-Marketers

I've encountered them many times over the years. But, as my career as an author has grown, not as much in recent years. So when I do run across them these days, I have to admit, there's a momentary sense that I've let someone down or somehow missed the boat.

I'm talking about "anti-marketers." These are the musicians who have an automatic disdain for anything related to the subject of "marketing." They feel it's unnatural or unbecoming of an "artist" or too analytical for their own good.

One reason I'm so surprised when I hear these people is because I pride myself on approaching this music marketing subject from a musician's perspective, not from a business person's dry point of view.

I was an active player and performer (guitarist/singer/songwriter) long before I wrote a word about music promotion. I continue to play part-time to this day. And I like to think I bring that perspective to everything I write and speak about now.

But, despite my best efforts, that doesn't always register with every musician who comes across my ideas. And you know what? That's perfectly fine.

All I can do is share what I've learned and talk about marketing through the only lens I can: my own experience. And my personal experience doesn't just hint at, but it screams that creativity and smart self-promotion can find a happy home together within an artist.

Some musicians disagree. And not just starving artists. There are successful and prosperous ones who see things a different way. They preach about the importance of following your passion, letting your intuition guide you, and allowing your career to organically unfold -- and suggest that thinking too much about marketing is detrimental to your career and level of happiness.

The crazy thing is, I agree with that philosophy ... to a point. I've always let passion and intuition guide me. I believe in doing what feels right and allowing "happy accidents" to take you in new directions. Absolutely.

BUT, I also believe in expanding your awareness, trying new things, pushing beyond your comfort zone, striving to be more effective, spending your time on productive activities, and always attempting to reach more people with your musical gifts.

For some musicians, success seems to happen "organically," with no forethought on their part. And if you can make that work for you, congratulations! For others, relying on passion and intuition alone leads to continued obscurity and little progress (as they themselves define it).

Learning and thinking about marketing doesn't suck the life out of your art. It doesn't turn you into a nerdy analyst who gets cut off from your natural creative flow. Quite the opposite. Being a student of music promotion expands your awareness of what's possible. It gives you more options and more tools at your disposal.

Just because I point out how a certain artist has established himself in a niche market doesn't mean you have to copy him or think that's your ticket to fame or shut yourself off from other opportunities.

Most musicians simply don't know the massive variety of ways that other artists have attained success. By making yourself aware of what others have done and what's possible, it might just put you in a frame of mind to recognize a new opportunity when it crosses your path -- an opportunity you might have missed if you were just doing your own thing and "winging it."

So, don't be afraid of marketing, sales and self-promotion. They don't weaken you. Knowing about them makes you a stronger, smarter and more empowered artist.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:53 AM   25 comments


September 19, 2007

My New Berklee 'Music Marketing 101' Course

A couple of weeks ago I hinted that a big announcement was coming. Well, now I can make it official. I'm proud to say that I have developed an online course for BerkleeMusic.com, the online educational arm of the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston.

The 12-week course, called "Music Marketing 101," launches Oct. 1. In addition to creating the course, I will also be the online instructor. Read all about it on this page.

It's an honor to be part of the Berklee family. Quincy Jones, Melissa Etheridge, Aimee Mann, John Mayer, Diana Krall, Steve Vai, Donald Fagen, John Scofield, Bruce Cockburn, Kevin Eubanks and Branford Marsalis are just some of the high-profile names that have attended the school in Boston.

While I never imagined being a part of academia when I started on this path 15 years ago, it's immensely gratifying to be among such great company with such a powerhouse educational institution.

Don't worry, though. You won't have to start calling me Professor Baker. After all, the "guerrilla" music marketing guy has to keep his edge. But, come to think of it, "Dr. Bob" has a nice ring to it :-)

Again, check out the "Music Marketing 101" course description here. Or all of Berklee's great online course offerings on this page.

-Bob
The "7 Secrets to Low-Cost Music Promotion" workshop comes to Chicago, IL, on Sunday, Oct 21. Get more details and reserve your seats on this page.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:45 AM   2 comments


September 17, 2007

Put Your Fans in the Spotlight

Want to know one of the best ways to promote yourself? Here it is: Take the focus off yourself and put it where it counts the most: on your fans.

There are many ways to do that, but one cool way is to record your musical journeys and interactions with fans ... and then share them. When I say record, I'm not talking audio (although that would be good too). You should also use video and good, old-fashioned still photos using a digital camera.

Here are some examples of how I put this idea into practice using photos on my Flickr account to highlight some of the people I've met in recent weeks:
Posing with workshop co-presenter Christine Kane (far right) and Asheville friends Shawn Gallaway and Lyna Farkas, after the "Empowered Artist" class in Asheville, NC.
Instructor Kim Wangler (far left) and three of her Appalachian State University music promotion class students drove more than two hours to attend the Asheville, NC, workshop. The class is using Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook as a textbook.
Posing with Judith Baker (no relation) after the "7 Secrets to Low-Cost Music Promotion" workshop in Nashville.
Hawking respective wares with Jon Heisserer of the band Building Rome in St. Louis.

See how this works? Can you find a way to use this idea to highlight and thank your fans?

-Bob

P.S. All the photos above were taken by Pooki.

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Guerrilla Music Marketing HandbookCheck out Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook, the classic guide to indie music promotion. Now revised and updated, with four new chapters on Internet and Web 2.0 music marketing. Get more details here.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:22 AM   0 comments


September 14, 2007

'7 Secrets' Workshop Comes to Chicago Oct 21

Some things are worth getting tired over, especially when it comes to interacting with fans and people who are passionate about the same things you are.

I may be exhausted, but the past week was exhilarating, with workshops in Nashville, TN, and Asheville, NC -- and a pleasure stop in Myrtle Beach, SC, in between.

If you reside a bit further north, I'll be bringing the "7 Secrets to Low-Cost Music Promotion" workshop to Chicago, IL, on Sunday, Oct. 21, for an afternoon event. Check out this page for details.

Before moving on to upcoming events, I want to thank David Hooper, Keith Mohr, Julie Blake, and Doak Turner for being my surprise guest speakers in Nashville. They each did a fantastic job adding valuable music career advice. I wish I had had more time for them all. (As one attendee remarked, "this could have been an all-day event.")

A big thanks to friends RyLee Madison and Clay Krasner, who allowed Pooki and I to stay at the Madison Writing Room. (If you need a great place to sleep and write in Nashville, check out their awesome place here.)

Christine Kane is a smart and inspiring indie artist, and it was a joy to co-present with her in Asheville. Every musician should read her blog to get her unique perspective on life and creativity. A big thanks also to Lyna Farkas, an Asheville decorative painter and radio show co-host who proved to be an invaluable friend and supporter there.

Now I'm looking forward to many more live events:

PLAY:stl Music Festival & Conference
Sept. 21-22, St. Louis, MO

TAXI Road Rally
Nov. 8-11, Los Angeles, CA

Self-Employment in the Arts Conference
Feb. 29 to Mar. 1, 2008, Lisle, IL

CIA Summit
March 29-30, 2008, Franklin, TN

And a very cool first-annual indie music career bootcamp I will launch in St. Louis the third weekend in June 2008. Stay tuned.

Check out my live events page for the latest details on my speaking schedule. Hope to see you on the road soon!

-Bob

P.S. Remember, I'll be in Chicago next month. If you'll be in the area, or know someone who will, send them to this page.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 4:53 PM   0 comments


September 04, 2007

4 Indie Music Career Success Tips

Using some blog posts you might have missed as my reference points, here are four solid pieces of music career advice:
1) Sure, treat your career like a business, but ultimately understand that music is personal.

2) One of the surest paths to success is to serve a niche.

3) When marketing online, attract subscribers ... not visitors.

4) And, while you're at it, practice the right kind of link love.

There ya go.

-Bob

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Promote Your Music on MySpace
Make the most of the world's biggest social networking web site with this great primer on MySpace Music Marketing. Available in paperback or ebook format. Get more details here.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:59 PM   1 comments