Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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


February 26, 2010

The Time Factor: Are You Giving Yourself Enough?

Are you giving yourself time to develop -- and the space to experiment, screw up, and grow?

I just finished reading Steve Martin's book, Born Standing Up, and it really opened my mind to this important factor.

I was at the perfect age to appreciate Martin when he burst onto the national scene as that "wild and crazy guy" in the late '70s. I ate up his absurd appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, recited his bits with my friends, and saw him perform live at an arena in St. Louis.

But, as is the case with all overnight success stories, it took him decades to get there. In the book, Martin details his early years doing magic at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, and struggling with his unusual act in front of empty rooms and apathetic patrons at folk music venues in California.

By his late 20s, he was on the road a lot and treating his performances like a science project -- recording his act, measuring audience responses, experimenting with timing, honing his physical gestures, while gaining (and losing) confidence along the way.

These sure but steady improvements earned him more opportunities, and when he finally made it into the greater public awareness, he was well oiled and ready to deliver.

Compare that to the early rounds of American Idol, where kids who have barely spent any time on a stage are expected to stand up and deliver star power quality to millions on live TV.

That's insane. No doubt, some have a better handle on delivering the sound, the look, and the swagger ... but to expect much more out of them without years of work is nonsense.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that on average it takes 10,000 hours to master any craft. And getting in that many hours of practice can take 10 or more years.

Which leads back to some variations on my opening question ...

Are you giving yourself time to develop?

Are you putting in the time? For songwriting? For performing live? For recording? For self-promotion?

Are you giving yourself the space and room to experiment, to screw up, to learn, and to grow?


-Bob

Related links:

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Charlie Rose video interview with Steve Martin

NPR interview with Steve Martin

Arts Journal blog post on Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours
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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:49 AM   3 comments


February 22, 2010

The Kama Sutra of Music Marketing

When was the last time you thought about music promotion and romance at the same time? Been a while? Well, by the time you finish reading this post, you may do it more often. (Thinking about the combination, that is. How often you "do it" is up to you :-)
This whole idea started when I ran across an article by Desiree Gullan called "The Kama Sutra of Marketing." (In case you don't know, the Kuma Sutra is an ancient Indian text widely considered to be the first manual on love and human sexuality.)

It reminded me of an analogy I've often used: Marketing is a lot like dating.

But most self-promoting musicians don't think of it that way. And because of that, they struggle to get noticed, connect with fans, and make more money.

So, here are some valuable lessons from the world of romance you can apply to your music promotion efforts:

1) Don't settle for just anyone -- search for your music fan soul mates

You've heard the jokes. "He's not Mr. Right, but he's Mr. Right Now." When dating, especially if people feel desperate, they settle. Instead of finding the right match, they pursue relationships that have little long-term potential. "Well, it's better than being alone," they say.

Do you do the same with your music promotion? Are you out to catch the interest of anyone who will listen? Or are you more discerning? The best way to proceed with a music career is to first decide who your ideal fan is. Who is your music-related soul mate?

How old are they? Do they tend to be male or female? Where do they hang out online and off? Where do they shop? What magazines, blogs and web sites do they read?

Get a handle on who you want to attract. Then focus on reaching only those types of people.

2) Get to know your fans first

What do you do on a first date with someone you really think has potential? Do you talk endlessly about yourself and how great you are? Or do you listen a lot and have a two-way dialogue?

Sadly, most people feel the need to impress others with how cool they are. So they launch into a laundry list of everything they've ever accomplished in their lives. Unfortunately, this approach leaves the other person feeling more neglected than impressed.

It's the same with music promotion. It's not all about you and your needs. Get to know your audience and what their interests and concerns are. Listen more than you talk. Share some of yourself and your story as you get to know them better. Give your fans a chance to know, like and trust you.

3) Don't forget foreplay

Okay. You're excited. You met someone new who really likes you. You anticipate the potential pleasure you will both experience together so much, you can taste it. It's time to move in for the grand finale, right?

Wait! Hold your horses, Casanova Carl (or Valerie Vixen). Ease into the blessed event. Warm each other up first.

From a marketing standpoint, that means you don't have to be so quick to ask for the sale. Wine and dine your fans (figuratively) before you flash your "Buy Now" button. Tease them a little with samples and insights into your songs. Leave them wanting more!

Consumers generally need to be exposed to something they enjoy 7 to 10 times before they get out their wallet or credit card to make a purchase. So expect and allow for this delayed gratification as you promote yourself.

4) Be a great music lover

When the time comes to consummate the relationship, make sure you deliver the best goods you can. Make it a joyful and stimulating experience for all concerned -- one your fans will remember (and maybe even tell many others about) for years to come.

That means you must create an unforgettable experience (be it a CD, music download or live show) filled with benefits that make each fan feel good. Make yours the best music in your genre. Thrill your fan partners so much, they'll want to recreate the experience again and again.

That's your goal as a self-promoting musician: Create moments your fans will want to duplicate over and over -- all the while telling their friends about you and the great time they had.

5) Contact them and ask for another date

Finally, don't leave your fans hanging after your first meaningful encounter. Get back in touch soon to thank them and let them know how much you enjoyed the experience.

This means you must follow up after the sale or the live show. Why? Because, if it was good for both of you, you want the relationship to continue. You want to interact more and enjoy more positive experiences (including music and merchandise sales) together.

Therefore, you must put a huge emphasis on building and using a fan mailing list. Capture the name and email address of everyone who has a positive experience with your music. Then input those details into a database and send messages to your fan list on a regular basis.

See, there is a connection between the Kama Sutra and music marketing.

So, from now on, when you're engaged in music promotion activities, I encourage you to think about dating and making love.

But vice versa ... you might think twice about that one :-)

-Bob


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posted by Bob Baker @ 3:02 PM   7 comments


February 16, 2010

9 Places to Find Affordable Graphic Design

Need to have some good-looking artwork done for your next T-shirt, poster, or album cover?

No sweat. These days there are dozens of web sites where designers and other creative freelancers can be found.
Here are 9 of the best ones I found that cater to graphic designers:

Crowdspring.com
Set your price & deadline. Choose from actual custom design work submitted by freelancers.

99designs.com
Works a lot like Crowdspring above.

GeniusRocket.com
Ditto for this one too.

Threadless.com
A site where hundreds of designers submit t-shirt art.

DeviantArt.com
A place where visual artists showcase and sell their work. A good place to discover a fresh indie designer for your project.

These next two sites are focused more on logo design:

LogoTournament.com

DesignContest.net

Of course, you can also find good, affordable designers at the bigger freelance marketplace sites, such as:

Elance.com

Guru.com

Happy design hunting!

-Bob



Welcome to a New Kind of Multimedia Learning Experience for 2010

The Virtual Music Coach
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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:16 AM   1 comments


February 11, 2010

Can You Handle What They'll Say About You?

One of the highlights of the movie Spiritual Liberation for me was when Michael Beckwith asked, "Will you be able to handle what people say about you when you start to let your light shine?"

That question hit home with me just the other day. And I bet there are times when it has (or will) hit home for you too.

I'll explain. But first a little background ...

This year my goal is to step things up and expand. To try new things and formats, to impact more people, to crank out more useful resources, etc.

One of the factors that led to this new level of inspiration is my involvement with a mastermind group of local friends in St. Louis. We meet about every three weeks and listen, encourage and inspire each other.

Among other things, my mastermind pals have encouraged me to play an even bigger game, realize my true worth, and step into a greater expression of who I am -- things we should all be encouraged to do.

That led to the launch of my new Virtual Music Coach site last month. And just the other day, I sent an email to my whole list about another new way I can serve: a four-week Guerrilla Music Marketing Mastermind & Brainstorming Group project, limited to 10 people.

I wanted to extend that mastermind group vibe I've enjoyed so much to a conference call environment. I was excited about it and a bit apprehensive, wondering what kind of response I'd get.

Here are examples of the types of email reactions I've received so far:
  • "Great idea, Bob! I'm VERY interested in this. I hope I'm one of the lucky 10!"
  • "Sure. I'm game."
  • "I'm very interested, but I can't afford it right now. Maybe in a couple months."
  • "A little pricey, don't you think?"
  • "I'm very interested, but I don't want to pay. With my experience level, I'd be a great asset to the group. You should comp me in."
  • "This is a terrible idea! I can't believe you would charge people for such a mundane service. I'm tired of everyone trying to make a buck by any means necessary. Take me off your email list!"
Hmmm ...

So, which of these reactions should I pay attention to? Which ones are valid?

The truth is, they are ALL valid. They are very real for each person who took the time to respond. Each one represents that person's reality.

So, as the creative person stepping out to try something new, how do I handle this variety of opinions?

Actually, I honor them all. But I have no choice but to focus my efforts on the people who see the value and resonate with my message.

I read, respect and consider the other responses. But I don't allow them to take hold and create fear and limitations in my thinking. I won't water down my ambitions or lower my prices on this particular offering (since I have tons of no-cost and low-cost resources that make up for it).

The real question is ...

How will YOU handle what people say about you when you start to let YOUR light shine?

By being scared and apprehensive? By playing small so you don't offend anyone?

Or ... by being the empowered artist that you are!

-Bob

P.S. Luckily, it appears I have about 35 people who are genuinely excited and interested in getting one of the 10 spots. Wish me luck as I explore this new way to serve.

Question mark clipart above from Clipartheaven.com.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:03 PM   3 comments


February 03, 2010

What Should I Ask Music Biz Innovator Terry McBride Today?

Later today I'll speak with Terry McBride during a live online radio show. In 1984, Terry co-founded Nettwerk Music Group from his apartment in Vancouver.

In the 26 years since then, the company has released over 500 albums and sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. Nettwerk manages the careers of Sarah McLachlan, Jamiroquai, Stereophonics, Jars of Clay, and many others. He also co-founded the Lilith Fair, which will return in 2010.

In recent years, Terry has been outspoken about advances in digital technology and the future of music. He's been covered in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Wired magazine. He also gave a presentation at TEDxVancouver recently (watch the video here).

Terry will be the guest today on David Mathison's show on Blog Talk Radio. David, who is a media expert and author of "Be the Media," has asked me to co-host the show with him. I'm thrilled. I've been following Terry McBride's new ideas about music consumption and distribution for years, but have never met him. This will be a treat.

The show streams live online from 5 to 6 PM EST today (Feb 3) from this page. Or use this player:


So, what should I ask him?

David and I already have a good list of questions ready. But in case we're overlooking something, what would you ask Terry McBride if you had the chance?

Leave a comment below and let me know. But do it quick! The show starts in a few hours.

If you miss the live stream, you can always listen to it later on this page.

-Bob
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posted by Bob Baker @ 12:32 PM   0 comments