After my first blog post someone asked what THEY could do to push their music into the world. Here is my response for all of you. It doesn’t matter where you are from (be it a small town in the Midwest or the giant monolith New York City) the answer is still the same. Music comes first. You need to work and work and write and then work some more on your craft. Once you have music that you are proud of you should start playing live. As I mentioned yesterday, playing live is the place for you to experiment with the songs you have and perfect them. You should have an email list at every show and pass it around so people can sign up because as my amazing manager Emily White says emails are GOLD. It is true though. You need to have fans and the best way to keep them updated is to email them with cool news, free songs, videos from shows, photos, you name it… but you don’t want to overwhelm them. Are you on any email list where they email you weekly? Daily? Well I am.. or should I say was. You don’t have time to read an email that frequently so why will your fans have the time? I usually send just one mailer a month (at the beginning of the month) to highlight key points of the upcoming weeks.
Fans will come. In the beginning it is about playing anywhere and everywhere. Invite your friends and family out to all your shows and just keep playing. In the beginning you will play for some fairly empty rooms but know it just gets better… and know that even when you make it big and are touring the world there are great shows and awful shows for EVERYONE. The more you play the more people will hear about you, see your name (and remember it), sign up on your mailing list. Eventually you will build a grass roots following of fans that are dedicated to you because they have been there from the beginning. They will be the ones that tell everyone they know about you. They will buy every album you have (well maybe they will download it, but that is OK… I’ll get to it later). They are the ones that you want to have your music. They are connectors (as Malcolm Gladwell calls them).
Side note: If you read yesterday’s post and this post you will see that Malcolm Gladwell is mentioned in both. READ Outliers AS SOON AS YOU CAN.
Downloading music is NOT bad. (well, a label may disagree but an artist wont). We live in a world where you can get anything you want on line. So free music has become somewhat of the standard in the states (Europe is a little bit behind on the downloading but they are catching up without hesitation). At the beginning you want people to have your music so burn cds from your computer and give them away at shows. Or have a link on your site where people can download a free song in exchange for an email address. As I mentioned above if you have an email address you have a fan and if you have a fan you are better off in the long run then if you just sold them a cd and didn’t get their email address.
People want to connect (sometimes in NYC it’s easy to forget that with all the hustle and bustling…but they do). Use Indaba, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace as tools to connect with fans, musicians, industry folks. We are past the age of the giant rock star who is too cool to sign CDs and meet fans. You should be tweeting about shows, life, art, flying squirrels, whatever it is that you like. Posting content up on your website, FB, Myspace, etc. Meeting and collaborating with artists here at Indaba is really important because it is easy to forget about music with all the promotion you need to do but remember MUSIC FIRST! Play around and have fun because if you aren’t having fun why are you doing this?
Last thing before I have to turn off my computer and land in Berlin is this…
It is hard work but keep it up because you have the ability to make music and spread it to the world. You can affect people and inspire people. Longevity in a music career isn’t about an instant success (yes it would be nice and easy) but to really last in this always changing industry is about defining your sound and slowly building a support of fans that want to hear everything you do, come to your shows, buy merchandise, etc but that can only come from steady hard work.