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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Gripe With MySpace Musicians!

Ok, I'm going to interrupt my usual blog entries with a gripe that has really been bugging me! And it's happened again today!!

As you know from my previous blogs, I have the band I manage involved in several of the popular social networking sites. MySpace is one of the most 'musician-friendly' ones, and it certainly serves it's purpose. But one thing is really getting on my nerves!

We get a tonne of friend requests from bands, and that is all good - on EVERY friend request the guys get, I go and comment on that persons page, just to say thanks, good to meet you, whatever. The general public always respond... but bands don't!

I don't get it, I think it's really rude! Ok, I know that when you 'add a friend' on MySpace (especially from a band), they are not REALLY friends - it's just basically a networking tactic, and I'm all good with that. But how hard is it to comment back and show a little interest? Who knows, you could network with some great bands and you never know what opportunities could arise from that...!

Instead, it's like they add you simply to add another number to their friend count and make themselves look popular.. is there much point to that if you never communicate in any other way?!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "You are in this world to create history either for yourself or for this world. The choice lies with you"

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Ever heard of the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'?
Basically, it is slang for the tendency to criticise highly successful people (i.e tall poppies), and 'cut them down'.

New Zealand has a terrible case of tall poppy syndrome with people constantly being knocked down, simply for letting themselves shine. People are criticised by their peers for merely striving to achieve the best, yet society wonders why a lot of young people settle for mere mediocrity in their chosen field.

In December last year, I sent a copy of the band's album to a VIP in the New Zealand music industry. He absolutely loved it and he met with myself and the singer to have a chat. He wisely advised us to watch out for 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' here in New Zealand. At the time I didn't greatly understand that point he made, but I took the advice on board anyway.

I guess the main point here is that when you have something good, something that has the potential to be very successful - you have to watch out. There are people that will try and cut you down (generally those that are in the same industry, i.e in this case - the local struggling musician circle), that don't want to see you succeed - because it shows that they are not as good.

When that happens, you need to be at your strongest. Don't let it get to you - recognise it for what it is - jealousy. Let it be your motivator. That is exactly how I am now. I have a point to prove, but not only that - I know that this band is that good. I'm not biased - but I do know what it takes to 'make it' and it's also proven from the email, comments and response we receive from the general public. We also have the support from very prominent NZ music figure (more on that later). Whatever happens, stay strong, keep focussed on your goals, keep your live show polished and finally - keep writing great songs!

Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer - you will see that in this case, there are people that have gone to great lengths to try and bring this band down... stay tuned and I will tell you what happened...

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: " If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sabotage In The Music Industry... (Part 2)

[....Read Part 1] The guys got through it and to the untrained ear it would have sounded ok. Obviously after that gig we had a few questions for our sound guy. After all, it was only the two bands on that evening (the opening band and the one I manage), and they had sound checked at 3pm that afternoon for at least two hours. So, understandably, we wanted some answers.

He told us that the "PA was out of phase" and that was the cause of all the sound problems. The question I have - but unfortunately never asked him was why the hell did the opening band sound good then? No problems with the phasing then!

The band and I regrouped and had a chat about it as we had a local festival coming up here in our city. It was a festival that I was organising myself, along with our sound guy. We had chosen 4 other bands to take part - the headlining band being very well-known within New Zealand, and the band I manage opening for them. I was pretty happy with that and it was going to be great exposure for them.

The event turned out to be a huge success with an audience of approx 3,000. The whole event was going really well, the bands all sounded fine so I was glad that the PA was fine this time and there were no problems. The third band comes off and the band I manage set their gear up and hit the stage. Only... there were no vocals!!! The backing tracks were playing, the drums, bass, guitar (only just) but no damn vocals!! I looked up at our "sound guy" who was twiddling his thumbs... but halfway through the first song he managed to "fix" it.

Their sound this time was ok... at least the singer could hear himself this time and was able to hit the notes. But the sound, as far as we were concerned, was nowhere near quality - you hear the headline act come on after (they used their own sound man of course) and their sound was perfect. Absolutely different from any other band that had been on! Since then... we have sacked the sound guy and the guys do the sound themselves. They had a recent gig where they did that and there were no problems at all - in fact, the sound was awesome.. not the muddy/drum/bass at previous gigs.

Anyway, we learnt a lot from all this drama - so just remember, only work with people you trust... always!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Success is not how quick you reach the top, it's how fast you bounce back when you hit the bottom"

Sabotage In The Music Industry... (Part 1)

As with every industry there's a lot of backstabbing and general nonsense that goes on. I now have two rules:

1.) Never work with someone you don't trust; and
2.) Never divulge your plans unless you explicitly trust that person; otherwise, they may screw you over

I learnt this the hard way!

Some people in this industry just don't want to see you succeed, and that's what happened in this case - or at least, that's what I have pinned it down to. A question for you: Your sound man, do you trust him? Ask yourself this question. If the answer is yes, that's great - keep him on. If not, lose him. It's that simple. A sound man can make or break your live performance - and if you don't trust him, or he doesn't give a damn about your music - you need to move on and find someone that does. A sound man is like another member of the band, hence the focus on them for this post.

The band I manage had finished recording their album and were putting together their live show. They practiced hard and got it perfect and were ready for their debut performance at a New Years festival. We did our part, arrived at the venue on time and the guys were ready to do their thing. The opening band sounded pretty good - and we heard that they were mates with our sound guy - which is how they got the opening slot. Cool.

They finish up, the changeover happens and the guys hit the stage. Their keyboard intro kicks in - the lights flicker and do their thing and I'm sitting back thinking "it's all good, I can relax". Then I notice that something is wrong with the sound - there was heaps of drum and bass, but there were no guitars and the vocals were somewhere in the mix!

I was getting pretty frustrated because we had specifically met with and talked to the sound guy about the sound we were wanting (i.e. as close to the sound on CD as possible). The mix was completely wrong, the singer couldn't reach the notes because he couldn't hear himself on stage and when he could it was so weak and had no guts - so it ended up being a struggle for him, and to be honest - the mix sounded like cr*p. What a let down... [to be continued here...]

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Success is falling nine times and getting up ten." - Jon Bon Jovi

Sunday, April 27, 2008

10 Tips To Get New Fans ...

1. Promote on YouTube - get some good sounding acoustic video's of your music up, keep them interesting. Also video 'behind the scenes' footage and upload that - give fans a glimpse into the 'Rockstar Life'!

2. Social Networking - Get involved in the online social networking buzz e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, MOG etc - promote your music, upload some tracks and comment on people's profiles. Remember to always reply to every comment or message.

3. Blogging - Yep, it's the new buzz, and another great way to show people the 'behind the scenes' of it all. The good, the bad and the downright ugly - blog it all!

4. Live Gigs - Go out and play live as often as you can - your first gig might start off with a small amount of people (friends and friends of friends), but if you have put the work in and put on a great show, then next time those friends will bring along another friend etc and so on...

5. Internet Radio - Don't underestimate the power of internet radio. It's a great source for getting your music to people that are keen to hear new indie music! That's where they go to get away from the commercial mainstream music that's shoved down their throats.

6. Opinion Leaders - There are internet-only publications with readerships in the tens of thousands, whose writers may wish to say nice things about your music - find them and contact them! Their readers rely on their opinion and it will drive traffic to your site.

7. Local Press - Don't forget your local music magazines/newspapers - they will generally be pretty supportive of local talent, so ensure you develop a great relationship with them. Let them know about your album and any news that you wish to announce - they may even have a music section that will review your album.

8. Website - Ensure you have your own website up and running! Not just a random little website that's like a publication - that was Web 1.0 - make it fun, interactive and keep people coming back for more - Google 'Web 2.0' to get an idea of what your website should have!

9. Email List - Whatever you do - ensure that you have an email list!! Those that sign up for it want to hear more from you!!!! So... make it easy for them - it's simple, just name and email space - if you're not sure how, or aren't html literate - visit Freedback Forms, easy as!

10. Promowhoring - Now you're sitting there wondering what the hell this one is?! Once your MySpace and other social networking sites start developing - head to bands sites that have a similar sound to you (that reach the same target market), check out their friends lists or those that leave comments on their page - recommend them your music. Ensure that it's done in a polite manner..! And you're on your way!

YouTube.. Is It Worth It For Musicians?

Now, here's where it all gets interesting. I thought it was time to forget about the so called "commericial" avenues and work on getting it out to the people instead - after all, it is the 'people' that make the difference - always remember that! Don't get hooked on trying to be "commercial". If the people love you, then you'll make it there eventually.

So armed and ready, we uploaded the video to YouTube. In the first 5 days it received over 300,000 views!! How the hell did we do that? I'll tell you how. It all goes back to two crucial elements: 1.) have a damn good song; 2.) look after your fans! The latter one is most important. Reply to every comment - even if it's just to say "thanks". It shows that you actually give a damn and that they are appreciated. After all - they take the time out to not only listen to your music but to comment. Always remember - you never know WHO they are or WHAT they do. Every comment my artist receives gets a reply.

So, in answer to the question of how we 'worked it' on YouTube: it turned out that one of the guys I replied to absolutely loved the song and just happened to run an internet TV station! He decided he really wanted to help promote this band and threw it up on his front page. We were pretty stoked! After that, the views rapidly increased - and so did the email messages of people wanting to know when they are touring!

So... in a nutshell - is YouTube worth it for musicians? Hell YES! That is the people talking! Get the picture? Every single fan has the potential to help you - one way or another, some more than others - but ALL are important!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions"

Music Video Time... Did It Work?!

...[continued..] Well, I certainly didn't let the lack of support from commercial radio stations bother me. Actually, it empowered me and made me more determined. I was completely committed to getting this artist out there, and I still am. Next up on my list of things to do, was to get a video done. We had already created a YouTube account and thrown up a couple of acoustic versions, which people really seemed to enjoy.

Time for a real video, now that the album was finished and fully produced and mastered - let's see if the TV stations are any more helpful than radio! We created the video - we did it on a very limited budget, and had a lot of help from friends and contacts we had made - came together nicely. Not the best video - looking back, there are many things I would change - but it was what we could do on little or no budget. Comparing it to other New Zealand music videos - it was in the same league.

So, we sent that off to 2 of the main music video stations here in New Zealand - C4TV and Juice. Result? C4 said they might show it in their Homegrown section - they thought the song was awesome, but didn't think the video did it justice. I'm happy to agree with that. Juice? They were just downright rude! They were not interested - I inquired as to what they thought of the song itself... and they said "it wouldn't fit in amongst Beyonce and Justin Timberlake" (I still have the email - with the very rude tone in it!). I must admit, I had to laugh, because whilst they do play that kind of thing - there's also a tonne of New Zealand content, and this track is by far, as good as (if not better) than any other New Zealand song currently playing.

How the hell do you break into the commercial world ...??? More soon!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A hidden wisdom is like a hidden star; it shines nowhere"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting Radio Airplay.... Or Not!

Today is a wet, rainy day and it's Sunday, so thought I might just give you a recap on where I'm at so far.

I've been running an indie record label/management company full time for about 6 months now. I currently manage only one band at this stage as I would rather focus on one act that has 'hit' potential, rather than 3 that are just pretty good. I spend a lot of time doing the upkeep of all sites (website, Bebo, MySpace etc), replying to every message and every comment, commenting back, adding blogs etc. That alone is a full time job!

We put together a video for the first single this band released off their album, and posted it up on YouTube. Within 5 days it had received over 300,000 views! So I was pretty happy with that, considering that the biggest rock band here in New Zealand has only received 57,000 views! It proved to me that the public were loving it - we received a lot of honours on YouTube and the emails flowed in. It confirmed to me that we had hit the mark with choosing that first song.

So, using the YouTube feedback as our credibility I decided that one way or another, we need to get this song on air. I got hold of the name of every programme director at each radio station fitting the genre, called them and introduced myself. I mentioned that I would like to send them a copy of the album and a couple of weeks later, I called back to follow up. The result I got from them, collectively, were that it was "cheesy" and "wouldn't fit into the playlist" etc. CHEESY???? What the heck? Were they listening to the same track that I was? And the other 300,000 people? I was too polite to mention that many of the current tracks on their playlist were what I would term as "cheesy"! I have sinced learned that getting any kind of air play is a very political venture! In the music industry.. it is not WHAT you know, is is definitely WHO you know.

But... I wasn't about to stop there! No way were they going to knock me down and put me in my place. I was more determined than ever.... [to be continued..]

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Success is your responsibility. You will only accomplish what you believe you can and do what you think is possible"

Promote Your Music .. but where to start?

Let's face it, with the millions of bands (and there's some damn good ones) out there, and the likes of platforms such as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook etc how does one rise above the rest to stand out?

Yes, getting your music out there is damn hard. But I believe it's by winning over one fan at a time. There are so many questions and so many opinions - neither necessarily right or wrong. For example: do you offer free downloads? Do you stream music? If so, just a couple of the songs, or a full album? If people have that so freely, will they bother to buy or download them? There are so many different opinions on these questions that you have to just do what fits right for you and what you're comfortable with. There are pros and cons to it all.

For my artist, I allow all tracks to be downloaded individually - this is because I can remember how often I have been put off buying an album because I was really only loving one or two tracks. This way, people can pick and choose - and if they don't want to buy a full album, they may buy up to half a dozen tracks - but at least it's songs that they really want. I only stream 3 songs across all mediums as I feel that it's better to leave people wanting more. If they want to hear more, then there are previews on the website.

I also decided to sell the album via CD Baby as after reading up about them, it's a great way to sell worldwide and not have to worry about the posting of CD's etc. They do it all for you - and you still get all the information of who buys your CD. They also provide great digital services with the companies they have partnered up with. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already. My artist's album was up there 2 days (I hadn't even confirmed the setup for digital distribution) and we already had a sale!

What you also need is one really good song - get that really good song out there, on every medium you can - YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Mog etc. Use something like ReverbNation's widgets to collect fans. These are little widgets you can place on many social networking sites, as well as your own website, where people can input their name and email and ReverbNation collects the details for you. Then you can mass email your fans with news, updates, new tracks etc.

Once you start getting your fans - look after them!! The single most important rule! Personally write to them - don't use formal, corporate language, talk to them like you would a good mate, let them feel part of what you're doing. Continue the fantasy that they have that they are hanging with a 'rock star'. Answer every comment you get on YouTube or MySpace etc, don't let them go un-noticed. They will really appreciate it. I have had a few fans really surprised that they got a reply from the singer!! They were really taken aback, and I know that they are now a fan for life.
Now, I have an awesome resource that has really helped me - I don't agree with everything in it - but like I said, take what you want out of things and do what fits for you. It's a 96 page e-book, so if you're keen for help with new music strategies for the online world, just get in touch.

Ok, well I'll be back!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Opportunity is like a door; when it swings open, you quickly enter because it will not be open forever"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Join Me On My Journey...

I manage a rock band here in New Zealand - they're a pretty wicked band (and no, I'm not just being biassed - I couldn't promote or stand behind something I didn't believe it). And please note: this blog is NOT for promotional purposes, hence I won't be mentioning the band.

It's a hard industry to break into, especially being a female, I don't feel that there's the respect that there would be if I was male - but I might be wrong there. Either way, I feel that I'm slowly making some headway - completely believing in your artist and having that passion for their music is a major part of it all.

In saying all this, the most important thing I have learned is to leave all the nay-sayers behind. You don't need that - and anyone that just sees the negative in what you're doing is not worth the time or effort. It used to bother me, whenever I talked about what I was doing, or the goals I had, I felt like I had to defend myself, my thoughts and my actions - it became draining and I didn't enjoy those conversations. I can no longer be bothered with it and I fully believe you can achieve anything if you really put your mind to it and really focus on it. Any backlash I get now - it drives me and motivates me. I have a point to prove and I will prove it. Already on this journey I am on, I have left behind several people... because their negativity drains me.

That said, join me on this journey to getting a band to world-wide fame. My goal is to write on this every single day (forgive me if I miss a day!), and to diary the ways and means by which I get there. Maybe it will help some of you along the way. But the whole reason I know it will happen for me is because this band I manage has the ability to make it huge! You will see.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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