events/ workshops/ networking/recording for Smart Musicians

Music Marketing

Five tips to kickstart your music career if you’ve never been on X Factor and you didn’t go to the BRIT school

on Oct 2, 2013 in Articles, Music Marketing |

Guest Post by Hazel Jane Maclaurin Piano poetess, singer-songwriter, lyrical obsessive and lover of life. Debut single ‘Keep the Change’ out 7/11/2013. Joking aside, it feels harder and harder to carve your own niche in the music industry today without some serious help or training. So what if you’re beyond school age and you don’t want to go down the talent contest route? Do you give up and settle for the day job? Do you try to bury your dreams under a mantra of ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘it’s too late’? Or do you keep going with no guarantee of reward or success? Well, if you want to make it, but you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, bemused, or even like you’re at square one, read on. This is meant to help. Tip #1 – Remember who you are Our culture really likes to put people into boxes, to categorise them – and there seems to be very clear definitions of what ‘success’ and ‘failure’ look like. And in music – whether you’re a singer, a songwriter, a musician, a producer, management, whatever – the difference between what most people think of as success and failure in the music industry is stark. Success means Adele-style mega-stardom (Adele was responsible for over 10% of UK music exports in 2011 – how’s that for a target to match). Failure means no income, no jobs, no prospects, and no hope. Disturbingly, non-musicians sometimes still equate non-megastar success with a lack of talent. Those within the artistic industries know that talent is an indicator, not a guarantor, of success. But hold on a minute – how does remembering who you are help this situation? Well, you know that saying, ‘to thine own self be true’? In my humble opinion, Oscar Wilde said it better. He said ‘you might as well be yourself – everyone else is already taken’. We already have an Adele. We already have a Rihanna. We’ve already had a Nina Simone, a Billie Holliday, a Sarah Vaughn, a Daphne Oram . And we’ve still got a Tori Amos, an Aretha Franklin, a Madonna…the list goes on. If you’re involved in another side of the music industry, substitute these names with your...

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I’m in with the in crowd – Crowd Surfing to Crowd Sourcing

on Mar 2, 2013 in Articles, Music Marketing |

We artists are famous for being long on creativity and short on funds. Lack of money can stop us in our tracks – indeed, lack of money can just plain stop the tracks (pun intended).   Crowdfunding (aka crowdsourcing or crowdsource funding) removes this barrier and empowers musicians by empowering their fans (in this scenario, ‘pledgers’). The idea is that everybody wins – pledgers gain exclusive access to their favourite artists and get to ‘collaborate with’ them rather than being ‘marketed at’; artists build a stronger relationship with pledgers which sets them up for a long-term career, and, crucially, get the money upfront to fund their project from people who believe in it.   Unsurprisingly, the independent artist has a choice of crowdfunding platforms to utilise, all promising the biggest amount of traffic and the most generous pledgers. The top four artists should check out are Kickstarter, WeFund, Indiegogo and PledgeMusic. So which is best for the independent musician?   Kickstarter   Amanda Palmer made big news in the music world when she fully funded her new album, artbook and worldwide tour through She was the first artist to raise $1,000,000 via crowdsourcing and her pledge video ‘This is the future of music’ clearly shows her rationale behind the strategy. But there is a cautionary sting in the tale, and it goes by the name of Bjork. Bjork cancelled her ‘Biophilia’ apps project ten days in because she hadn’t reached a fifth of her target.   There’s a crucial difference between these projects. Amanda Palmer was offering pledgers a raft of exclusive stuff before anything had been made. But Bjork followed the model of ‘marketing to’ her fans instead of collaborating with them. By the time she set up her Kickstarter fund, the Biophilia album was out, she’d been on tour, and even the remix album was old news. Would fans really fund a Windows 8 and Android app of Biophilia for the sum of £375,000 after they’d bought the merch and album and been to the concert? Really? Would you?   Kickstarter is the biggest fish in the crowdsourcing pond and therefore it generates the greatest levels of traffic. If you want to fund your music through...

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if you want to get rich quick in music, be a music lawyer..

on Jan 18, 2013 in Articles, Music Marketing |

In my mind there is a confusion with what is being taught to bands and musicians that they now have to go out and market themselves like snake oil salesmen – using the old marketing ploys of yesteryear. This is at the exact same time as lot of the leading snakeoils salesmen on the internet are discovering that hard sell is out of fashion right now and employing very different models of interacting with their customers. As i am running a Beginners Guide to Marketing for Musicians workshop next week I have been thing about this a lot.. So when I  heard   Andrew Dubber was in town giving a talk this  week, I booked a place pronto.         for those of you who don’t know him,  Andrew Dubber is Reader in Music Industries Innovation at Birmingham City University, an advisor to Bandcamp and Planzai, manages half a dozen blogs, and is the founder of New Music Strategies – a pan-European music think tank and strategy group. He is also an all round diamond geezer – who spends his whole time thinking about how everything works in our new digital music world in an academic style and then breaks it down into English for the rest of us. He is also crucially a huge music fan – he was waxing lyrical about his love of obscure Nordic strains of Jazz and using that as a prime example how the digital age allows tiny obscure niche areas of music to be financially viable. So there may only be pockets of fans for this music but globally there are enough lovers of Danish  jazz to keep a small record label afloat. ( or so Dubber was claiming !) The subject of his talk was independent music in the digital age. He said it all basically boiled down to one sentence – “its all about the conversation” i.e. it is not about using all the new ways of communicating with people who potentially are going to love your and support your music. Get to know them. His main piece of advice was  ” Be fucking Amazing!”  as in if what you are doing is really good -people will find...

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