March 1, 2014
December 2, 2013
[EDIT] A couple of weeks ago, mid November, Francis Gane of Chartburst (a platform for unsigned artists, that says they will get you heard by major labels, producers, bloggers, pluggers, etc.) asked me if I would be interested in contributing to Chartburst’s blog. Very flattered, I said, “Yes.”
However, on reflection, I have got to decline the tempting invitation, because I haven’t got time to write for myself! Blogging, as informative content creation, is such a time consuming taskmaster. Sorry, but LibreRock Records and UnsignedBandPromotion must come first. Being independent means taking responsibility for yourself, and that’s what I’ve got to do!
Anyway, How To Become A Successful Independent Recording Artist WAS destined for Chartburst; I’m sure Francis will be pleased that I posted it here instead.
“How do I become a successful independent recording artist?” is just the sort of puerile question a schoolboy would Google right after he had Googled, “How do I get a girlfriend?” I can hardly believe someone posed this innocent question so sincerely to me. But they did, and I can’t believe that I am actually going to genuinely bother to answer it. I’ll not over inflate the article with fluff, and as a convention, I’ll use “artist” meaning artist, musician, band, etc….
Firstly, at what point would you say, “I have become a successful indie artist?” Here are a couple of my favourite answers: 1. When I can jack in the day job and earn a living playing music. 2. When the mainstream media starts to take notice. I’m sure you’ve got your own individual answer, maybe it’s relative to the artist? Set your goals - and maybe that’s too unfluffy for you!
How good at doing it are you?
It’s my belief that if an artist wants to become a success on the music scene and make a living from their music, the most important area to get right is their musicianship and stage act (Music and Performance). This is The Core Essential and best indicator of whether you are going to make it or not.
Seek criticism and advice from an independent and qualified person whose opinion you value and trust. Then act on their advice and continue to seek their feedback for continuity. I am Not talking about crowd-sourced, public opinion here; I am talking about a qualified individual who can tell you the truth.
Do you have a Business Plan?
To make a money out of your music, you need a Business Plan - talent is sometimes (usually) not enough! Running a business is a big subject, too big for this blog post anyway; it includes: finances, technology, marketing & PR, sales, staff, regulations & legal stuff - and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, off the top of my head!
Being an independent artist doesn’t mean you that have to do everything yourself, you will need professional help and advice - maybe it’s an accountant or maybe it’s a website designer? Find the right professional for the job. There are a number of music industry pros. worth contacting, here’s a list: 22 champions of the independent music community - one should be able to set you on the right path. Personally, I’d start off by talking to a specialist music industry accountant.
How do you connect with people?
The third element in this trilogy is Connectivity. Actually it’s a subsection within business - Marketing and PR. It is how you connect with people and how you get them to take notice. It’s being on the same wavelength as the person with whom you are talking, it’s empathy and rapport. It’s marketing - bringing yourself to the attention and consciousness of your potential fans. Yet another massive subject, however, it’s a key factor in becoming a successful indie artist. Talk to LibreRock Records for some personalised information and help.
So there you have it, a simple, candid answer to a puerile question! The Three Core Essentials are: Music and Performance, Business and Connectivity - get them all right and you’ll do okay …even though in reality, the odds are set against you ;)
July 29, 2013
@CheltenhamUnder Tweeted to me:
Here’s my reply:
Even in a world where a Sex Pistols marketing strategy has become acceptable, is there ever a good time to call a potential customer a c*nt?
Sorry Cheltenham Underground, but I think that you’ve lost the plot, categorizing customers into subspecies of a c*nt: the deaf, dumb and blind, is truly offensive; it demonstrates appalling customer relations and a complete lack of understanding of how to deal with people - I’m surprised that you’ve got any Regulars!
When I was in my late teens and early twenties (1973-1978) I used to walk past Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop (430 King’s Road - it’s now called World’s End) many times a week on my way to and from work on the King’s Road, Chelsea - occasionally I’d pop in on a Saturday afternoon. The shop had a number of guises and names; when it was called Seditionaries (Christmas ‘76) I bought myself a very expensive T-shirt. I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for a discount - it wasn’t the done thing! BDSM Nazi bondage sex war upside down images of bombed out London and faux threats, were all very subversive, provocative, anarchistic, anti-establishment and anti-christian; but quite frankly, the shop workers were very welcoming and wanted to help, I can’t ever remember having any agro, the only difficulty I had was having enough cash to spend! …questioning cost would have been even more radical and rebellious!
How times have changed. My wife works in a local charity shop that funds a day centre for the elderly; regularly a customer will stand confrontationally in front of her brandishing their chosen item, “What’s your best price?” they usually say in a hostile, barefaced tone.
“I’m sorry, we can’t reduce the price, all prices are as marked. We’re all volunteers here and all the profit goes to the Day Centre.” she politely replies.
“Oh come on, there’s a dirty mark, I don’t want to pay the full price.”
“I really can’t reduce the price, all prices have been carefully thought about by the manager, if there wasn’t a superficial mark it would be much more expensive.” The customer either buys the item or leaves it! My wife returns home frustrated and uptight, however, never once have I heard her call them f***ing c*nts, not because she’s a saint (obviously she is), but because she knows that that customer will be back next week saying exactly the same thing and maybe making a purchase or worse, joining as a new volunteer!
Maybe The Cheltenham Underground are using their article, All our shows from here on in will be FREE ENTRY as a cheap promotional gimmick by being f***ing controversial to boost their business. Promotional Bullshit more like!
I do of course have strong views on the live music scene as I am a founding member of the open source record label LibreRock Records, please have a read of our Live Event Ethos - it states exactly where I am coming from.
July 23, 2013
Well that says it all really! If you want a track reviewed, sign up to LibreRock Records, upload your tracks, and your music will instantly start getting reviews. Obviously it’s a BETA version, so stay tuned for more information!
July 6, 2013
Andrew @dubber, founder of New Music Strategies, academic, author, public speaker, blogger, music reviewer and all round music industry guru, has set up Any And All Records; their mission is to sign up our planet’s entire list of unsigned artists, and beat the word Unsigned to ignominy and extinction! You might think that I’d be affronted as I use the name Unsigned Band Promotion (God knows what Unsigned.com think?), but no, I’m not upset, I’m pleased; many unsigned artists, or maybe I should now say independent artists, Do beleive that being signed to a record label is the panacea to all their problems, and it’s often their only goal.
Of course it’s all about the money. Money. Money. Money - the three reasons bands are so desperate to get signed to a record label. It’s the deal and how much is in the advance that attracts so much attention, it’s a lot like the deluded expectation of making a music video go viral, they’re nothing but pipe dreams for most independent bands.
That clinking, clanking, clunking sound. Is all that makes the world go round. It makes the world go round!
The benefits of getting signed to a major record label are pretty obvious; they mainly revolve around huge investment and music industry expertise, power and influence, especially within the marketing sector, which could easily account for thirty percent of the overall investment. This article Investing in music [ifpi edited link since publication] is well worth a gander. So, giving it a shot is very understandable!
Okay, well, this blog post is meant to be about championing unsigned bands! I’ve been standing up for them and supporting them fervently since 2004; I’m no guru, I’m a website promotion geek and that’s something I’ve been doing since ‘94.
And now for something completely different: Releasing It Yourself…
My mate Matt Early and I have set up LibreRock Records, an open source record label that empowers indie bands to be truly independent and liberated. We’re not about the semantics of Unsigned, we’re about freedom. We will help and support you to release your music yourself, under our name. (I’ve left LibreRock Records)
Here is a list of resources for all of you unsigned bands who want to release your music yourselves and are proud of the title Unsigned (Independent)
- Bandcamp - A publishing platform for publishing your music on/ through!
- Band Name - World-wide band names registry. Register your band’s name to help protect it.
- CDbaby - is one of the most popular websites for selling music.
- Couchsurfing - “You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet.” Handy site for giging bands, discover new friends around the world, rediscover your city and host new friends. It’s a travel community.
- CreativeCommons - Copyright Information, make a copyright license. We like: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
- CreateSpace - Self publishing and free distribution for books, CD, DVD. A little like Lulu and Amazon!
- Crowdfunder - UK fundraising platform for social and creative projects. “Crowdfunder is a great way to gain a massive fan base and test your idea out on the crowd, thus validating your idea. A fun, easy and fast way of raising money without borrowing from the banks.”
- dmoz Open Directory Project - A great place to get a linkback to your website.
- feiyr.com - German, European website, sell your music on all download stores worldwide, inc. iTunes. One-time account activation payment due before publishing: 9.90 €, they also take 20% (at time of writing)! So why am I recommending them?
- Gig Guide Ltd UK - Gigs, band listings and music information… it’s got the lot!
- Gracenote - “Has the largest database of music and video meta-data, powering the world’s hottest entertainment products, apps and services. The numbers say it all. Gracenote is the standard for music and video meta-data, featured in more than a billion devices and entertainment platforms.” That’s what They say folks! You’d better have a gander at: FAQ - Artists, Labels & Publishers!
- GS1 UK - “GS1 UK are an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to make UK organisations more efficient by getting everybody speaking the same language when it comes to locating, transporting and trading goods.” Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) we’re talking bar codes for your physicals! See: GS1 UK - music
- LondonGigs - Gig Promotion London! I love websites like these, they need supporting, they’re great resources for independent artists, musicians and bands.
- LibreRock Records - Open Source Record Label - They (we) strive to empower indie Artists, Musicians, Bands and Songwriters to be truly independent by taking an open source approach. “We assist and support artists who release their music under our name. We share the know-how and the artists get all the Kudos and Revenue.”
- lulu.com - Are very good for self publishing resources? Lulu.com lets you publish and sell and print on demand books, eBooks, online music, images, custom calendars and books. Did I mention books?
- Music Law Advice - The first ever Independent Music Law site for musicians in the U.K.
- musicmoz The Open Music Project - A comprehensive directory of all things music, edited by volunteers, listing music-related reviews, articles, factual information, biographies and websites.
- BBC Introducing - Bringing together all of the BBC’s supporters of unsigned music. Upload your music here. All you need to make it! [worth a gander anyway!]
- PayPal - Allows you to accept credit cards and handle customer contact like invoices, receipts and returns. They do take a small percentage from each transaction, on the sale of a CD it should be less than £0.50, but there is no minimum or monthly charge. The PayPal shopping cart is very easy to set up and integrate with your website. Sign up now and start accepting credit card payments instantly.
- PledgeMusic - “A direct-to-fan platform that provides artists and labels with the tools needed to get fans to engage early. The PledgeMusic direct-to-fan campaign allows fans to pledge without any transfer of money until a specific fund-raising goal is met.” PledgeMusic take 15% (at time of writing).
- Pressbox - Free press release distribution service, they also provide a professional copywriting services to targeted audiences globally.
- PPL - A performance rights organization. Licenses recorded music played in public and distributes the fees as royalties to its members. Free to join! What’s the difference between PPL and PRS? PPL collects and distributes money on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects and distributes money on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.
- PRS for Music - Three companies exist under the PRS for Music umbrella: Performing Right Society Limited (PRS), Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society Limited (MCPS) and The MCPS-PRS Alliance Limited (the Alliance)! Songwriters, composers and music publishers become members of PRS in order to get paid for the use of their music.
- PRWeb - Press release distribution for small businesses (that’s you if you’re in a band). (PRweb charge).
- Radar Music Videos - An online network enabling record labels and independent artists to connect with professional, affordable music video directors worldwide. “New music video directors worldwide. Affordable music videos.” Want to make a video, need a director and crew, start here!
- Songkick - Allows you to organize and track your favourite bands and track concerts and dates. Get instant tour dates from your music library. Songkick Tourbox allows artists to add their tour dates to a number of websites.
- Soundcloud - An almost essential site for indie bands who want to give out and promote their digital music.
- Tourdates - A gig listing website for both signed and unsigned bands, side by side, in one place. Tour Support - is a site offering tour support, however, it may be a little juicy for most indie bands!
- TuneCore - “Sell your music, not your soul” (good strap line)! Get your music into all the leading digital stores: iTunes, Spotify, eMusic, AmazonMP3, Google Play… fast and easy, and keep all your rights.
- Villa Music Rights - A Dutch company that makes it possible for artists, who write their own songs, to make their music available online. Free for home users. Business users, like shops and restaurants, pay a fee, on the basis of licenses in which the composers themselves determine the price and the duration of the license.
- Web Presence - Facebook and Twitter - for social networking!
Tumblr or WordPress - for free a blog that would happily double up as a website. If you’ve got the energy, create several websites, tailored to attract different groups of fans!
YouTube or Vimeo - for video networking!
- Word of Mouth Marketing Association - The official non-profit trade association dedicated to the word of mouth and social media marketing industry. Through best practices, industry education and member value, WOMMA advocates word of mouth as a solution to business challenges and a key component in the creation of Talkable Brands.
Written by Ian Robson
Unsigned Band Promotion help musicians and artists to get their websites noticed by fans, search engines and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own. Find UBP on Google+ and Twitter. Ian has been working on website promotion techniques since 1994.
Championing Unsigned Bands by Unsigned Band Promotion is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
January 22, 2013
The LibreRock Circle Opens It’s Doors
- LibreRock Records - Magazine that promotes independent artists, musicians and bands, offering free downloads
- LibreRock HQ - Get signed up to an Open Source Record Label that empowers indie musicians & bands to be truly independent & liberated
- Matt Early - Music industry related resource with an extensive FAQ (in development)
- UBP Blog - This blog! Focusing on Band Promotion and Website Promotion
- UK Musician Forums - Discuss anything especially topics related to the wonderful world of music.