Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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


April 28, 2009

Gatekeepers & Music Promotion Overload: The Good News

It's the biggest frustration I hear uttered by independent artists and promoters worldwide: The growing workload.

How can I find the time to do all this social networking and guerrilla marketing stuff?

I've got so much on my plate already, how am I supposed to add even more to my overflowing to-do list?

I hear you. I know. And ISN'T IT WONDERFUL?

Huh? What in Jehovah's name is so wonderful about being overburdened by all that needs to be done to succeed with music?

I have a good answer. Let me explain ...
You've heard of "gatekeepers," right? In decades past, the gatekeepers of the music industry were A&R execs at major labels, prominent artist managers, radio station program directors, music magazine editors, big venue talent buyers, etc.

You needed to get the approval of some of these "special people" to have half a chance at fame, fortune and success with your music. If they didn't deem you worthy, you were damned to struggle in obscurity for the rest of your days.

I exaggerate to make a point, but that's the power that many aspiring artists gave to these gatekeepers in the past. Sadly, many artists still grovel at their feet today.

But now there are new gatekeepers. You can also call them "filters." And it's these new filters that help weed out and determine who is to be highly successful, moderately successful, and not very successful at all.

(Of course, "success" can be measured in many ways. There are no right or wrong definitions. But for the sake of this article, let's say that success is the ability to support yourself financially from your music-related income.)

One type of new gatekeeper are music consumers. You must get a response from at least a small slice of people in the marketplace to gain traction and grow your career.

Chris Anderson spells this out wonderfully in his book, The Long Tail. He describes the industry gatekeepers of old as "pre-filters." They decided who was worthy of being exposed to a wider audience. There was a weeding out process *before* the music was produced and distributed to the general public.

Nowadays, Anderson says, there are "post-filters." Because of the Internet and digital technologies, practically everything is made available to the public. And now music consumers decide what is worthy of their time, attention and money.

If you can break through the clutter and find your audience, and if what you create inspires fans to rave about it to their friends, your notoriety and career will grow.

I love that concept. But there's another new filter that has become more obvious to me in recent years. And that has to do with effort and workload.

The truth is, not everyone embraces marketing, publicity and social networking. In fact, a large percentage of artists have disdain for most marketing activities and curse the long list of things they must do to promote themselves effectively.

THAT'S GREAT!

And it's not just because the workload problem means there will always be a demand for my books :-) What I really like about it is how it has become a new organic filter that thins out the number of artists who succeed at higher levels.

Yes, the Internet and digital technologies have created a more level playing field. I've been saying that for years. But we need to clarify something:

It's more accurate to say that all artists now have "equal access to the field." How you play your role once you're on the field is a whole different ball game.

Just showing up does not guarantee you a full-time income. Some indie artists do amazingly well, some do moderately well, and many continue to struggle -- no matter how many opportunities and low-cost tools are at their disposal.

It really comes down to a new "survival of the fittest" paradigm. Only a small percentage of artists have that rare combination of musical chops, stage presence, likeable qualities, marketing smarts, communication and social skills, discipline, drive, passion, etc.

Sure, there are ways to lighten the workload, involve your fans, and pay people to do design work and other technical tasks. But the most effective artists are hands-on with many aspects of their promotion. It's something they accept and embrace and make the time for.

So I encourage you to reevaluate your relationship with marketing, social media, and your growing to-do list. Find a way to incorporate them into your life! Yes, it takes effort. Yes, it can be confusing and frustrating. YES, it's what you need to do to make an impact with your music!

This post may seem like it's not the most uplifting one I've ever written, but let me ask you this:

Wouldn't you rather have every artist's success be based on their unique ability to create remarkable music and find an ideal audience that supports them ... instead of success being based on what a small group of industry gatekeeper insiders feel is worthy?

I'll take the new filters and gatekeepers any day!

-Bob



Get your FREE copy of my Music Marketing Secrets special report. It shows you how to get more exposure, attract more fans, and sell more music! Go here to grab your copy now ...
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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:17 AM   19 comments


April 21, 2009

The Key to Creative Success & Fulfillment

There's a two-word phrase I've been using a lot in recent years. The words have a pretty profound meaning behind them -- and they have everything to do with achieving creative success and fulfillment.

But I've discovered a surprising thing about them: These words are often misunderstood by many people.

Here they are: "serve others."

And here's an example of I how used them in a recent ezine:

"There's no better way to create your own prosperity than to engage yourself in something you are passionate about -- and that serves others in the process."

Sounds simple enough. But the disconnect comes when people think about "service" in one of two ways:

1) They think that being of service to others only takes place when you are raising money for charity or working in a soup kitchen. Wrong. Doing charity work is certainly admirable and is one great example of serving. But it's only one aspect of a much larger picture.

2) Another misguided notion is that "serving others" means you are subservient -- meaning you have to be submissive, compliant and obedient to authority. Nope. Actually, quite the opposite is true. Being of service to others is often one of the most self-empowering things you can do.

The kind of service I talk about takes place when you focus on the benefit that your talents deliver to people who are attracted to it. It takes center stage when you are driven more by the need to make people feel good via your music and creativity than you are to gain fame and fortune.

Having this attitude turns marketing into a completely new endeavor. It's not just about you and your needs. It becomes more about your audience and how you can spread your feel-good vibe to more and more people.

Dexter Bryant Jr. gets this. Here's part of an email he sent me last week:

I couldn't agree with you more, Bob!

The first time I read a Jay Conrad Levinson's Guerrilla Marketing book (about 10 months ago) my eyes were opened to new possibilities. My research since then, including reading your excellent Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook, teaches me time and time again the value of engaging oneself with one's passions while also serving others.

It is the best life mantra I could ever want. I can't think of a better way to live a happy and fulfilling life than this. The gratification received from serving others is an unbelievable feeling in and of itself, but to be able to do that while pursuing your passions is amazing.

The connection between these two things for me is the ingredient to happiness in life. I have always been the type of person who was unwilling to accept an average 9-to-5 life doing work I wasn't interested in.

Discovering guerrilla marketing has truly changed my life. I never have to worry about a 9-to-5 or about retirement because I'll never tire of helping others and engaging my deepest passions.

A big thanks to Dexter for reminding us all of the keys to success and fulfillment!

-Bob

Guerrilla Music Marketing HandbookIf you don't own it yet, check 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 tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.


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posted by Bob Baker @ 2:28 PM   7 comments


April 08, 2009

Radio & Podcast Interview Tips for Musicians

So you've just booked an interview on a major radio show or podcast. Congratulations! Your voice and message about your music will reach hundreds or maybe even thousands of listeners. This interview will make a huge impact!

Or will it?


Make the most of your radio and podcast interviews by being prepared. Here are a dozen of the best tips I found from three different online sources.

1) Disable call waiting: dial *70 first and then call the studio number. This disables call waiting for the duration of the phone call. As soon as you hang up, it will be reactivated.

2) Smile, smile, smile! Whether you are on radio or TV ... SMILE. You'll feel better and sound a lot more interesting too.

3) Know exactly how much time you will have on the air as a guest. Three minutes or 30 minutes? You want to tailor your answers to the time allotted.

4) Practice some prepared sound bites before the interview. Communicate your main points succinctly. How do you describe your music? What inspired your new album? What's so special about your next gig? Practice this out loud.

5) Have three key messages. Short ones, not sermons. Sometimes the host opens the door, other times you have to answer a question and segue to a key message. A compelling message will have the host asking for more. But even if you squeeze in only one or two, you'll get a big return for the time invested.

Source: Scott Lorenz

6) Try to avoid doing interviews using a cell phone or a headset. Both are unreliable.

7) Submit suggested questions ahead of time, and focus on giving your best answers to the questions you have provided. But never assume the interviewer will use your questions. Be ready for anything.

8) Compliment the host when a good question is asked: "That's an excellent question" or "I'm glad you asked that." It also helps to draw in your audience.

9) Use the interviewer's name in conversation. It creates a more intimate connection that the audience feels privy to. And it makes the interviewer feel good too.

Source: AnnieJenningsPR.com

10) Have a glass of water handy (at room temperature). When your throat is lubricated it's easier to talk. Plus, the water serves as a "cough button" if needed.

11) Try standing while you speak -- even for a phone interview. Your voice will carry further and you'll sound more animated.

12) Get your listeners involved. For example, before a commercial break, ask them to get a pencil and paper to write down the web site you are about to share where listeners can get your free downloads. Then they'll have something to write with when you plug your web site later.

Source: Joe Sabah

I hope these 12 tips help you make the most of your next interview!

-Bob



Get your FREE copy of my Music Marketing Secrets special report. It shows you how to get more exposure, attract more fans, and sell more music! Go here to grab your copy now ...
Get more tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.


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posted by Bob Baker @ 1:48 PM   4 comments


April 07, 2009

Want to See Your Name in My Next Book?

Last week I officially pre-launched my newest book, called "55 Ways to Promote & Sell Your Book on the Internet."

But I did it in a very unusual way. Some might even call it "revolutionary."

See what I'm talking about at www.IndieBookPromotion.com.

Actually, I borrowed this idea from a familiar source: the indie music world. As I wrote about recently in my fan funding and donation sites post, many bands over the years have turned to their fans for help. They pre-sell a new CD before it's even recorded. And they give the fans who support them early on a lot of perks, like free downloads of early song demos, their names in the CD sleeve credits, etc.

I'm doing something very similar with this next book, which will be my 7th published paperback -- and my very first title specifically geared for authors and book publishers. (A survey a few years ago showed that 8 out of 10 people want to publish a book at some point in their life. Are you one of them?)

So I invite you to be part of this unconventional book launch. You'll get your name and web address in the printed book, along with lots of other goodies. See all the details at www.IndieBookPromotion.com.

Yes, this isn't your typical book publishing formula. Then again, I'm not your typical author :-)

I encourage you to think outside the octagon as you build your own music (or book) career too.

-Bob

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 tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.


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posted by Bob Baker @ 6:43 PM   0 comments