Sunday, May 1, 2011

10 truths about making it in music

10 truths about making it in music
This report is free and does not contain affiliate links. Feel free to share it with the world under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
2011 Dotted Music Written by Ben Brown.
Layout by logical. Concept by Andrew Apanov. | Written by Ben Brown 3

What do you do when you seek for useful advice or inspiration in something you are passionate about and want to succeed in? One of the most obvious answers (if you are not a member of a suicide club) is probably this - you listen to people who have already "made it" in your craft.
And in such a sleazy and poorly documented industry as music business, you better use this advice in full.
This was what I thought while thinking on a concept for the first Dotted Music ebook few months back. On the blog, we've got lots of fantastic quotes from successful musicians, and pretty diverse I must say - from Anthrax guitarist to frontman of OK Go, there are very different sayings.
So, the idea was born: to collect ten exceptional quotes and build a story around them. Why the story?
Well, there is one problem about musicians, specifically when they speak... With the vague nature of most artistic people, their expressions are often pretty generic. To correct this misunderstanding, we took risks to expose the ten chosen quotes of musicians, who indeed have "made it" in the music industry, and create a free ebook worth of 50+ pages.
Ben Brown, the Dotted Music writer and author of the inspiring work in front of you, created a truly fascinating story. I encourage you to read it from the beginning to the end, and believe that you can make it really big in music.
Just like these ten people.
Andrew Apanov Founder Dotted Music Media | Written by Ben Brown 4
10 truths about making it in music
Don’t believe the hype - the music industry isn’t dead! The digital age is quite simply the best time for music and musicians. Ever. We can’t get enough of new music, there’s never been more of it available and artists are retaking control of themselves.
A DIY career in music is possible but you have to be self-starting, entrepreneurial and creative-as-hell to stand out. This book will give you the tricks and advice you need to get started and help you turn your passion into a viable, sustainable living.
However, the tips and tricks in this book are not a magic solution. They work, but only if you work super-hard, have the music to back it up and are doing it because you genuinely love the music you are making.
So read on, follow the advice and I’ll see you on stage! Thanks for downloading this book and happy reading.
Ben Brown | Written by Ben Brown 5
table of contens
chapter 1. Puddle Of Mudd’'”””’s Paul Phillips: 8.
“Success Is Not In The Charts Anymore."
chapter 2. Reader's Wives' Niall James: 13. “No Point In Being Good At Music, And No Good At Business.”
chapter 3. 30 Second To Mars' Jared Leto: 17.
“We're Taking Full Advantage Of the Digital Age Here.”
chapter 4. Dire Straits' John Illsley: 22.
“How You Get Music Out There Is Irrelevant, As Long As People Can Hear It.”
chapter 5. Gama Bomb's Philly Byrn: 27.
“Music Should Be Free.”
chapter 6. Anthrax' Scott Ian: 32.
"You Better Show Up With A Good Sense Of Who You Are As An Artist”
chapter 7. OK-Go's Damian Kulash: 36.
“YouTube Is The Main Medium For Videos Now, Not MTV.”
chapter 8. Whitechapel'’s Alex Wade: 41.
“The Only Way We Can Really Make Any Money And Be Able To Do It As A Career Is To Tour."
chapter 9. Sevendust's Clint Lowery:
“Plant The Seed And It's Going To Grow.”
chapter 10. Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil:
“Just Believe In Yourself.”
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’””P“’ uddle Of Mudd's Paul Phillips: "Success is not in the charts anymore."
Getting signed? Number one in the charts? Forget it. Seriously.
Welcome to the new digital age where traditional measures of success don’t really apply anymore. The music industry looks a whole lot different to how it looked five years ago yet we are still judging artists by how many records they sell and whether or not they are ‘signed’.
What good are charts and record labels when people are barely even buying music anymore! Charts and labels represent only the record industry, which is a very small (and shrinking) tangent of the music industry.
Doom stories about the death of music are simply recounting the woes of the record industry. Music as whole is booming. We love it! We’re listening to more of it than ever before, just in a myriad of different ways.
We’re in a transition period where record sales are shrinking and, admittedly, the future’s a little cloudy as to where the next pay-check is going to come from, but five things are assured:
10 truths about making it in music
1. There’smoremusicthaneverbeforeandit’smostlybeing discovered and consumed online.
2. Thenextgenerationofmusiclistenerswon’texpecttohaveto pay for downloads.
3. Peoplewillalwayswatchlivemusic. 4. Yourfanbasewillalwaysbeyourmostimportantasset. 5. Buttheywillexpectmorecontent,attheirconvenience,withyour
Bear these things in mind and you’ll be able to generate a sustainable income from music.
The Decline of Sales.
Traditionally, you could only consume music through buying a physical copy of a CD, cassette or vinyl. These figures compiled national | Written by Ben Brown 8
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10 truths about making it in music
charts and represented, quite accurately, the music consumption patterns of a country. Now, music has moved online, file sharing is rampant and three times as many people listen to music on YouTube than legally download it. Artists are having to generate new streams of revenue and find alternative ways of making money from music.
So what does that mean for artists?
Actually it’s pretty great for artists. There are more opportunities than ever before and you retain more creative control over your music. There will be less importance attached to the actual selling of your music and more awarded to what else you do with it and how you use that music to generate alternative income.
Artists in the future will have multiple revenue streams and we’re moving back towards a place where the most creative will make a sustainable career, not just those with the big bucks behind them.
With record sales declining it is important that you are generating other creative content such as videos, creating new ways of packaging and distributing your music and finding innovative ways to harness your fans.
The future of music will revolve around you - the artist - not the record label, and you will have a much stronger hold on your career. With income generated from different outlets, record labels won’t be able to get a stranglehold on you. It also means you don’t necessarily need a record label anymore, you just need fans!
How many ‘super fans’ do you have?
There's a famous sciencey article floating around the internet that explains how you, as a musician, can make a living through having 1000 ‘super fans’. This applies in the digital age more than ever. A ‘super fan’ was traditionally someone who bought everything you put out, attended every gig within 200 miles of them and wrote you fan letters. Now these fans are online and not only are they following your every move online and still buying your content, but they are sharing your content with hundreds of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
The whole nature of marketing has changed in the digital music age. As an emerging artist, your fans are your number one marketing tool.
10 truths about making it in music
They are free marketing for you! 78% of people trust peer recommendations where only 14% trust traditional advertising. And because conversations have moved online, the reach of one fan is further than ever when your content is shared through social media. ‘Super fans’ are a better advert for you than a banner ad.
Fans are your income stream and your marketing strategy. This means that connecting with your fans is now as important as making music; it’s part of your job. You’re not just a musician but a 24/7 entertainer, providing content and interacting with fans as often as possible. More than anything, fans are starting to expect this content and your interaction.
Your number one target as an artist is growing and nurturing your fan base. They will help generate the buzz that will then lead you to all kinds of income opportunities.
So, where are all these income opportunities?
Luckily, thanks to the internet, you now have complete control over your fans. You control where they buy your music from, what content they engage with and your relationship with them. You can find out how many of them there are and where they live. Good analysis and control of your fans will show you where your main streams of revenue are likely to come from in the future. This book will help you identify where they might be!
Therefore, instead of focusing simply on record sales, “The measuring stick could be mentions in the press, traffic to a website, email addresses collected or views of online videos.” (Tim Nordwind, OK- GO). It’s then a case of how you capitalise on these numbers to make money from them. It’s not as simple as just record sales any more.
Don’t forget live!
Live music is, and always will be, at the heart of a musician’s career no matter the state of record sales or the nature of online marketing. In my opinion, a band or artist still lives or dies by their live performance.
As Puddle of Mudd guitarist Paul Phillips explains, “Honestly, I don’t even look at [Billboard]. I have no idea where the single is. | Written by Ben Brown 10
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I have no idea how much MTV are playing our video. As long as I wake up and play a show and people are there and they know the words to the song and they’re having a good time, then I’m happy.”
That’s your measure of success right there.
But because fans might only see you live once every couple of years when you tour, online marketing and generating those other forms of revenue is absolutely fundamental to your survival and a sustainable career in music.
This means that not only do you need to be a good musician, but a good business person! So on to the business section. It gets more exciting. I promise.
Reader’s Wives' Niall James: "No point in being good at music, and no good at business.’"
The digital age really is awesome for independent artists. It has opened up so many opportunities that just weren’t available before the internet came along. As I mentioned in the first chapter, artists now have more control over their music and have more revenue streams than before. Sweet. However it does mean that you have to do a lot more yourself and this means having a good business head.
In the past there was a chance you could get lucky and sign a record deal on the back of a decent demo with an A&R guy who saw potential in you. They’d take care of all the necessary boring business bits and leave you to get on with being awesome at music.
Enter the digital age. Now record labels are broke and control only a portion of your entire income. This means that you need to get your band off the ground on your own, which means starting to make some money, start distributing your own music and putting on your own gigs.
You need to come up with innovative and creative ways to get your music out there. With more music available and more outlets for it than ever before, you’re competing with a much bigger pond of fish. You need to be a good business person to get ahead and get on the radar of important music people. The first step is just understanding the industry and understanding all the options available that can generate you money.
Do You Understand the Industry?
The music business is a confusing place and it's changing faster than most can keep up with. If you don’t understand what’s going on you won’t have a clue where your income should be coming from. If you want to make a living from music, but you don’t even understand how the industry works, you’re screwed!
Imagine you’re a banker and your ambition is to become Head of the World Bank, only you don’t understand exchange rate mechanisms or inflation. It’s the same thing. It’s just not going to happen.
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10 truths about making it in music
Do you understand how publishing works? How you get royalties from your records sales and airplay? Who you’d approach to get your music on the radio? What a label actually does?
This E-Book is a great start for figuring some of that stuff out. It will give you an insight into the music industry and how it works, it will give you tips on how to get your music out there and how to market yourself effectively. But it’s just a start. You need to be constantly updating yourself with what’s going on in the industry.
Start Building a Team.
If you really do suck at the business side of it, get someone on board who knows what they're on about!
1. Hireamanager.Hiringamanagercanbeagreatwayofgettingthe business and marketing side taken care of, while you focus on being great at music. However, they are expensive and you need to be at a certain high level before a professional manager will work with you. Unless you’re already fairly established and making a decent income, your best tactic is one of the following:
2. Getasmartfriendonboard.Ifyouknowsomeoneinterestedina future in the music industry, ask them to help you out with the business side of things. It will be mutually beneficial as your friend can gain experience and contacts and begin networking with those in the music industry. As a band you should still be inputting creative ideas and you will ultimately have the final say, but you can really benefit from someone looking after the admin side of things and putting together plans.
3. Consultancy. Rather than hiring a full time manager, music consulting firms and most management agencies will offer a consultancy where you can drop in and discuss your ideas and plans with a professional manager. They will be able to give you great advice that will get you started. A quick chat with someone who understands the business can really put you on the right path. You can then follow up every few months until you are at a point where you are ready for full time management. If you think this sounds good, look no further than Dotted Music Media, we will shortly be offering consultancy services for musicians.
10 truths about making it in music
In the early stages of your band, striking a balance is important. The management side is essential, but if you suck live because you’ve spent too much time managing and not enough time practicing, it’s all worthless. But don’t turn to professional management too soon. Consult rather than hire and start doing things yourself; you’ll be surprised how much you can get done. Get out and network, network, network! The more people you know, the easier it is to manage.
It’s also a really good idea to have this knowledge yourself so that when you enter into negotiations with people, you are aware what they do, what is a fair offer and if you are targeting the right area.
The simplest thing to do is subscribe to some music industry blogs and just read through a few articles a week to start building up some general knowledge.
Good artists are not simply great musicians, they are great businessmen too.
Finding the Niche.
Part of being a great business person is finding your niche or the target market and marketing directly to them. The digital age has made it infinitely easier to do this by giving everyone a voice.
Followers of certain music from all over the world and gather select places on the internet and you can find them with a simple search. Social media and blogs allow you to easily find your audience and control them. Once you’ve found them you can talk directly at them, advertise and promote to them and, better yet, become part of the community with them.
The digital age is all about finding the conversation, listening, joining in and starting your own. Your fans are sat there waiting, take advantage! | Written by Ben Brown 15
jared leto
30 Second To Mars' Jared Leto: "We're taking full advantage of the digital age here."
The digital age has bulldozed through, broken down barriers and removed traditional gatekeepers. It's brilliant for new music. It has opened up so many opportunities for independent artists and you need to be taking full advantage!
The digital age has allowed two major breakthroughs for emerging artists. The first is the ability to target and connect directly with your fans. You can create and control a community in a way that has never been previously possible. This means it’s even easier to create your 1000 ‘super-fans’ and keep them excited.
The second is the ability to distribute, promote and manage your music. Skip across to the next chapter if you’re looking for the know- how on this.
Fan Engagement.
The first step in gathering those 1000 super-fans that will sustain your career is creating a community that you can control; keeping them in one place and reaching out to them.
Jared Letho explains: “I was always interested in a very active participation from the audience and the bands... Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or the Who – they certainly had an idea of community that went along with their bands.” The difference is that Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd could only ever interact with fans when they were on tour, or doing signings or appearances. And even then it was difficult to engage on a one-to-one level with fans as well as all fans simultaneously.
Now you can interact with your fans 24/7. You can speak to an individual fan with a tweet just as you can speak to the entire community at once through the same medium. Artist-fan relationships are changing. Fans are beginning to expect personal interaction with communication straight from the source. So, where to start?
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10 truths about making it in music
Wrong! Put your tracks on there and get the hell away from it! You need it for its brilliance in search engines. Keep your songs on there, keep dates up to er, date, and make sure it looks fairly smart too. But DO NOT try and interact with fans, network, send messages, anything with it. Just put it down. Leave it alone. It’s not a social network anymore and all your fans are hanging out at Facebook. Join the party.
Facebook is about to surpass 600 million active users. Even your mum is on Facebook. Whatever your target audience, you’ll find them here.
What it does brilliantly is share content. Facebook is your place for getting viral content out to your fans. People love to share stuff, interact and comment, so give them plenty of stuff to comment on. Start with setting up a fan page for your band.
Although Facebook isn’t a music service, you can use widgets to create a ‘band page’ tab. Check out the Reverbnation Facebook app or the BandPage app from Root Music, which will allow you to host your music, photos and biography without having to direct your fans elsewhere.
Don’t just bombard your fans with content on Facebook. Talk to them, interact with them. Use it to crowd-source by asking for opinions, get fans to post photos and artwork, and organise your events here. You’ll find that you’ll get loads more interaction from inane status updates that aren't pushing content. Treat your fans like friends.
Facebook has some clever little algorithms, which mean that the more active you are and the more people engage with you, the more your updates will appear on people’s news feeds. This means that when you do post content you’ll get plenty of click-throughs. Lovely!
Follow a similar vein with Twitter. Twitter is even more attuned to fan engagement. But it sucks at driving traffic, so don't push content on
10 truths about making it in music
people through it, it's not worth it. What it will do is build your online presence, help you make connections and network and keep you up to date with what’s going on.
Twitter works a whole lot better if you use it to listen, not shout.
If all you do on Twitter is promote your own content you’ll get nothing out of it. Talk to people, listen and reply to fans, make connections with other local bands and promoters and use it to get an idea of who blogs are talking about, where bands are playing and who their fans are.
Dotted Music has an in depth study on how to use Twitter effectively
Get one! Sure there are plenty of platforms that let you create your own profile and have your own little space, but ideally you need a space that you have complete control over, will be there no matter what trends come and go and where you retain all the information.
Plus it makes you instantly look more professional.
Wordpress have some really simple and easy templates that you can use to create a website. Check it out and have a look at some YouTube tutorials which will help you build your website.
Email lists.
An email gives you a direct link to your fans where you can send them all sorts of cool things direct to their inbox.
Use an email service such as Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor or Fanbridge which lets you easily build awesome emails using templates. You can input photos, logos, links and text to make a really dynamic mail-out.
Best of all, you’ll get a full report on who opened your emails, who clicked on links and who unsubscribed, so you can keep track of your | Written by Ben Brown 19
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10 truths about making it in music
most interactive fans and where they live. This will help you market your next campaign and plan your next tour to make sure you hit the places your most loyal fans live.
To build up a mailing list you need to provide some sort of incentive. People won’t just throw their email address at you. A free download, free tickets and the promise of exclusive things are a good place to start, but be as creative as possible.
The beauty of the digital age is that anyone can become influential no matter who they are. You no longer have to rely on a major publication to dictate what is good, bad or popular. Anyone with access to the internet can write their opinions. Many of these opinions have become hugely influential and respected.
On top of that, blogs are generally genre specific so you can target your exact audience. Tastemaker blogs really can break your band and are the best way to grow a ground-level fan base that extends beyond a few mates.
Check out The Hype Machine and They are both great sites that bring together hundreds of blogs. Look through their blog directory and find the ones most relevant to your music and send them a personal email with some of your music. Try to form a relationship with the blogger and don’t just blanket email people. This article will give you a good idea of how to approach blogs and editorials and how to make sure you get your music heard.
Social is the New Marketing.
The music industry is a direct-to-fan market and social media just blew it wide open. No-one is quite sure how to monetise it directly yet, but get ahead by building up solid relationships with your fans from day one.
“We don’t have choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we do it.” – Erik Qualman
If you’re still not convinced, watch this video. It’s genuinely mind- boggling stuff... Get on board now!
Dire Straits' John Illsley: "“ How you et music out there is irrelevant, as long as people can hear it.’"
For the only time in this e-book I’m actually going to use the title quote as an example of what not to do... Sorry John Illsley!
Actually that’s a little unfair, it’s half right: “As long as people can hear it” is good advice. There should be absolutely no restrictions for people to listen to your music. “How you get your music out there is irrelevant” however, is bad advice.
The digital age means you are a record label. You can now host, promote and sell your own music all online yourself. The digital age allows you to get your music out to everyone and anyone. You can get your music on iTunes, Napster, YouTube etc. which puts you on a level playing field with established artists and record labels.
However, because there are so many online outlets available, it means you're now competing with more artists than ever. Which is why “how you get your music out there is irrelevant”, doesn’t actually make a lot of sense. Every band in the world is making their music available online whether with MySpace/ Just ‘putting it out there’ isn’t enough, you need a clever plan to get your music out there and to get people to hear it.
Take advantage of the digital age here as well. There are endless opportunities for inventive and creative ways of getting your music out there so start thinking outside the box. Despite that, you’re still going to need to plan a release which should follow a fairly consistent template.
Create a Sensible Release Plan
It does matter how you get your music out because this is where you can set yourself apart from every other MySpace band. Make a sensible release plan, put aside time to promote it and set a budget. You need to build up excitement for the tracks, put out teasers, put a live plot together and build a buzz about it through your fans and put together a plan for getting it featured on radio and in the press.
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Timescale of release
3 months before 10 weeks before
2 months before
6 weeks before
4 weeks before
Release day
Have the song written and get in the studio to record
Shoot the music video, get artwork together, brainstorm release ideas, book a launch party gig.
Song is recorded, mixed, mastered with accompanying artwork and video all good to go. Announce release with a promo teaser and begin campaign through online sources, send tracks to digital aggregator and get promo CDs pressed.
Begin sending out your press pack and promo CDs to radio and press. Make the track available to stream, make the physical copy available to pre-order and (I would suggest) make it available to download.
Full promotion through your online outlets, book a small local tour over the next four weeks to generate more interest. Release lots of bits of content and generate lots of fan interaction
The official release. Available on iTunes etc. By this point people should already have access to the download and people should be enjoying your music!
10 truths about making it in music
So where to start?
Start with your best track and release it as a single. Why? Firstly because albums are dead and secondly because you need to entice potential fans, press and radio with bite-sized tastes of your music rather than bombarding them with lots of tracks.
Here’s a brief time-table to follow for a general release. It looks like a lot (and it is hard work) but it is all stuff you can do yourself. Three months seems like a long time as well but it’ll creep up on you! This gives you plenty of time in case anything goes wrong too.
This is literally your skeleton. Remember to be as creative as possible with your content, your press pack and promos and your campaign in order to stand out.
10 truths about making it in music
If MySpace is so crappy, where should I host my music?
Soundcloud is ace for hosting music. You can’t dress up your profile or anything fancy like that, but that’s not what it’s for. It’s the best music player available and you can embed it anywhere. Most bloggers, press, labels etc want soundcloud links now or have a ‘dropbox’ where your soundcloud link will go directly to them. If you’re sharing your music or trying to get yourself heard, get a Soundcloud account and send that link out.
I want to sell my music though, how do I do this?
The short answer: Bandcamp. Quite simply the best home for your music on the internet. You can create your own customisable home with your logo, artwork and custom URL (without all the adverts and disease that come packaged with a MySpace profile).
You can then sell your music, give it away for free, exchange it for an email address, or get fans to ‘name their price.’ They also give you a whole bunch of useful stats which tell you where your fans live, what websites are directing them to you and which are your most popular songs.
If you’re going to sell your music, you’re much better off selling it here than anywhere else (sshhh, don’t tell iTunes!) You keep 85% of your profit and get direct fan information and stats. Plus your fans feel like they’re buying straight from you rather than a big corporation.
But iTunes looks pretty swish, how can I get my music there?
Pretty easily actually. There’s no need to wait around for a record label to come along and do it for you, just get on and do it yourself!
Digital aggregators will distribute your music to online stores, some will service physical copies to shops as well, depending on what you want. Tunecore is a good place to start for emerging artists and if you’re a bit more established, PIAS and AWAL are worth a look.
They do charge, some will take an up-front payment, others will take it as percentage of whatever you sell. Have a scout around and get a feel of which service is best for you. | Written by Ben Brown 24
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10 truths about making it in music
Awesome, my songs are now available on iTunes, how about some radio play?
You’re probably going to need a radio plugger. Radio pluggers are responsible for taking your new release to producers and presenters of radio programmes and trying to persuade them to play it!
They come at a price but their direct relationships with the presenters and producers means your record is significantly more likely to get listened to rather than being dumped on an endlessly growing stack of demo CDs. It also means the plugger can explain direct to the producer about you and really try to sell you in a way that a bio or press release can’t.
Wouldn’t mind getting my music on a TV show or film either...
In that case you’re looking for a publisher. Publishers should be one of your big targets as an independent band and they will become one of your main sources of income when you make it big. They license your music to sync on TV shows, films and games. They also help collect any royalties you are owed through radio play, TV spots and live performances.
Pluggers, publishers and digital aggregators do cost but are often worth investing in if you want to really get your music out there.
John Illsley is still half right, you need to get your music out there as easily as possible and make it accessible. There is one very organic way of spreading your music that doesn’t cost a fortune...
Give your music away for free.
Philly Byrn
be should free
“ Gama Bomb's Philly Byrn: "Music should be free."
Music is free.
If people want music they can get it for free with no ramifications (OK so the RIAA might hunt you down and try to kill you, but based on previous attempts they’d probably get the wrong person).
Whether music is downloaded illegally, shared between friends, streamed on YouTube or Spotify, music is available for free everywhere. And, despite best efforts, it’s only going to get worse.
Check out these fairly worrying stats that help paint a picture of the future of music.
• 70% of 15-24 year olds don’t feel guilty about free downloading. • 61% didn’t believe they should have to pay for music.
And it’s closer to 90% with 15 and 16 year olds.
The next generation of music listeners don’t expect to, and won’t, pay for an MP3 download.
So where does that leave us humble musicians trying to make a living?
Let’s Build the Bandwagon.
In 20 years time, people won’t pay to download music. They’ll think we’re crazy for ever charging for it in the first place. So start putting your music out there for free.
If people are going to get your music for free anyway (and not feel bad about it), then at the very least make sure they get it from you. That way you can keep track of how many people downloaded it, where they live and their email address. With this information you can plan your marketing strategy even better and make money in other areas.
Modern-music marketing geniuses OK-GO explain this point pretty well: “Obviously we'd love for anyone who has our music to buy a copy. But again, we're realistic enough to know that most music can be found online for
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10 truths about making it in music
free. And trying to block people's access to it isn't good for bands or music. If music is going to be free, then musicians will simply have to find alternative methods to make a living in the music business. That's ok, but it's just a different world now, and bands must learn to adjust.”
The inevitability of freely available music however is not the only reason you should be offering free downloads. It’s actually a brilliant marketing strategy itself.
Despite what Sony, Warner and Simon Cowell tell you, giving your music away for free is a good thing. (Hear me out!) Putting your music out for free will draw in more fans and allow you to monetise them in different ways.
People’s attention spans in the digital age are about this big *mimics thumb and finger very close together.* Don’t make it difficult for potential fans/reviewers/labels to get hold of your music.
Andrew Dubber can explain this better than me so here’s his take on
Music is pretty much unique when it comes to media consumption. You don’t buy a movie ticket because you liked the film so much, typically you’ll purchase first, then consume.
But music is different. By far the most reliable way to promote music is to have people hear it. Repeatedly, if possible — and for free. After a while, if you’re lucky, people get to know and love the music. Sooner or later, they’re going to want to own it.
The key is very simple: people have to hear music, then they will grow to like it, and then finally, if you’re lucky, they will engage in an economic relationship in order to consume (not just buy and listen to) that music.
That’s the order it has to happen in. It can’t happen in any other order. There’s no point in hoping that people will buy the music, then hear it, then like it. They just won’t.
Nobody really wants to buy a piece of music they don’t know — let alone one they haven’t heard. Especially if it’s by someone who lies outside their usual frame of reference.
10 truths about making it in music
Let them hear it, keep it, live with it. And then bring them back as a fan.
More than ever before, you have to build that relationship, because it’s easier than ever before to just not bother and simply go elsewhere. No matter how good your music, it’s competing with millions of other choices. Millions.
Free doesn’t have to mean free.
Stop thinking in terms of monetary profit and start thinking in terms of fan growth. What is more important? An instant $1 sale (which you might only see 30c of anyway) or ensnaring a long term fan who will then come to your gigs, tell 10 other people about you, buy a T-Shirt and your deluxe super-fan signed geek box set.
There are loads of ways you can benefit and grow a fan base by giving stuff away.
• Offer a free download in exchange for an email address. Remember we talked about how important email addresses are. Yep. Bandcamp allows you to do this easy-peasy. You can also use an email service that will automatically send a free download to those who sign up.
Tweet for a track – Fans will get a free song in return for a single tweet that mentions you. • Facebook share – Offer fans a free download in exchange for tagging you in a post or linking to your page or website.
Giving fans access to free content directly from you generates fan loyalty and trust, you get some information and/or a bit of a plug and it’s a wholly more healthy way for fans to get access to your music.
Should all music be free?
So giving your music away free can work well if you’re an emerging band trying to get a bit more exposure and grow your fan base.
But let’s think on big scale for a second – what if all music was free. I started this chapter by saying that the younger generation don’t expect to pay for music and I’m not suggesting that you should be able to wander into your local record store, pick up a CD and wander out without paying for it. What I am suggesting is that: | Written by Ben Brown 29
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All MP3 downloads of single tracks should be free.
The industry needs to stop fighting against it, and find alternative ways to monetise. People are still willing to spend money on music, just in different ways.
Different entry points.
One thing that has worked particularly well in the past is having different entry levels to your music.
At the lowest level there should be the free downloadable track. This will hook passive fans or newcomers to music and make sure they at least give you a chance. Think of it like a free sample.
But fans will always want more and will be willing to pay for it. Offer a fuller package, a CD, vinyl or other physical product (a USB stick perhaps) full of loads of exclusive extras. Include videos, additional tracks, acoustic versions, remixes. Anything cool and additional that you can! Throw in some quirky stuff too. Behind the scenes content or something personal is especially good. This is for your super-fans remember and they are willing to pay for your output. Make sure you reward these hard-core fans and give them as much as possible.
Nurture the super-fans with exclusive content and keep passive fans happy with free downloads and there’s every chance you’ll turn them into a super-fan as well.
An emerging band called Killola without label backing recently offered deluxe USB packages that included full albums, live recordings and access to two future private online concerts for $40 as well as offering a standard download. Killola ended up grossed $18,000.
Different entry points allow all your varying level of fans to be accommodated.
Anthrax' Scott Ian:"You better show up with a good sense of who you are as an artist."”
The one thing that will really set you apart in the music industry is being unique. I’ve already explained how your music project is a business and being a business means you’ve got to find a market niche – a demographic of people to appeal to who will consume what you produce.
The first step in doing this is creating and defining your image and sound. And by this I don’t mean manufacture your sound for commercial success. I am saying give it some thought when you’re writing. Is there a market for the music you’re producing? If there is, great, target them. If there isn’t, create it!
Defining who you are as an artist or band is the first step to defining your target audience. If you have a target audience then you can generate a much more effective use of time and funds and it makes you much more likely to get noticed by those interested in what you’re doing.
Sit down as a band and chat about what you think your sound is. Chances are your drummer has a very different idea in his head to your lead guitarist and same again for the singer. Everyone has different music tastes and influences that they want to get into the music they’re making. But if you’re all forcing different styles and competing for the sound, it’s probably going to sound crap, lead to fights and be impossible to sell yourself.
Even if you decide you want four different styles and influences all mashed into one avante-garde musical fusion project then great! You’ve just shown up with a good sense of who you are as an artist. That’s your selling point, that’s your marketability.
Your Unique Selling Point.
Find it and multiply it by a million.
Put it everywhere, artwork, songs, live performance, press release, bio, video. All of these elements of your output should complement each other, be consistent and show off that unique selling point.
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It is the full package that sells an artist, not just their songs. As an emerging band you should begin to think about building your own image to compliment your music by trying to highlight your USP in all areas.
You need to make sure that your music and your image are consistent with each other. In other words, there’s a reason you don’t see Kanye West sporting eye liner and an emo fringe. Know your target audience and reach out to them. Then you can start getting creative. There are hundreds of moody-looking indie bands with floppy hair, trench coats and guitars. And that’s good. That’s the indie look and that’s what you’re appealing to, but make sure you stand out above all the other moody-looking indie bands! Record labels, publishers and press will all be asking, “What makes you different?”
Identify the thing about your band that makes you unique and exaggerate it in every way possible. If you have a charismatic front-man or front-woman, then have them at the front of your photos looking charismatic! Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a great example of this. Singer Karen O’s eccentricity is the selling point of the band so it is highlighted and exaggerated. Their music is eccentric, punk and creative, which is complemented by the enigma created by the iconic fashionista frontwoman. This is what makes them so marketable and has ensured their longevity.
It can also work if you aren’t lucky enough to have Karen O or Freddie Mercury up your sleeve. The XX achieved huge success this year with their eponymous debut album. Not blessed with movie-star-good- looks, charisma or ego, the band accentuated what was unique about them; their minimalist, bleak, almost insular sound. Accentuating this, their album cover is simply a white ‘x’ on black background and their stage show is dimly lit and unassuming. Modest yet powerful imagery; perfectly complimenting their sound.
Your story is the tagline to your product. It is something descriptive about your band that sets you apart from others and it should be a fundamental part of your press releases and biographies. It must be something quirky and original that will get people talking about you. Again, take what is unique about you and embellish it. Don’t lie, but be creative.
10 truths about making it in music
One band in the UK currently making some noise is The Little Comets. They achieved popularity after circulating YouTube videos of themselves bursting onto public transport and into college lecture theatres to play unannounced guerrilla gigs. They became known as “the guys who crash lectures.” Now, every interviewer wants to question them about it and people are telling their friends! In reality, they backed this up with relentless touring, original songs and strong commitment. It does however highlight the importance of creating a marketable tagline that helps define your band. They are using themselves and their personality to help sell their music.
As well as having a story that is marketable, the little details that comprise your band make you far more engaging to your audience. The more you know about a band, the more you love them. It is important to include interesting and intriguing bits of information on your press release as bloggers will often paraphrase or often copy straight from it. You are making their job easier by giving them a good story to quote and you get a strong say in how your band is defined. If you don’t, they will define you. As Scott Ian suggests, “Somebody is going to mold you into something you’re not and then you are going to suck.”
You better show up with a good sense of who you are as an artist.
If you have defined where your music fits into the market, created an image and story to complement it then you are in a brilliant position to sell yourself. If you’ve got a good sense of who you are, who your audience is and how you’re going to sell to them then you look very attractive to music industry people and the fans themselves.
One of the best outlets for defining yourself and your image is through video content where YouTube has now become the dominant platform. | Written by Ben Brown 34
“OK-Go' Damian Kulash: "YouTube is the main medium for videos now, not MTV."
You’ve got a YouTube channel right?
No? Are you crazy? YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. Three times as much music is consumed by watching videos on YouTube as by legal downloading.
If you haven’t got one go and do it. Now! I’ll wait here... OK, done? Good. OK-GO do a pretty good job at explaining this one themselves: “Make cool shit. It’s so ridiculously over-simplified.”
They’re right. YouTube is all about “making cool shit” and sharing it with people. You can’t argue with over 50 million people watching guys dance on a treadmill.
A Rough Guide to making a cool YouTube Video.
Got a mac or an iPhone? Sweet, you’re good to go. This video was shot entirely on an iPhone. It looks pretty good as well right? You don’t need an expensive camera team, lighting crews, stunt actors, exploding buildings and Steven Spielberg at the helm. Sure that’d be pretty cool, but it’s not necessary.
Don’t use ‘lack of good equipment’ as an excuse for not making video content. You can make something cool with next to nothing. People don’t care about camera quality if you’re producing good content that they can share.
An awesome little piece of equipment, if you want slightly better quality than an iPhone, is a Flip Camera. They’re small, cheap and great quality. Carry them with you and capture everything you do as a band. The best material will be spontaneous.
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Anything has the potential to go viral.
As I mentioned before, the digital era has created a level playing field to create, upload and share content on the same platform as established artists. MTV doesn’t exist anymore to create the divide. The digital age has bought popularity contests online and people want to be the first to share the coolest content, so give it to them!
However, established artists do have one thing that you don’t as an independent artist: money. This means that, although there is every potential...
...your video probably won’t go viral.
OK-GO had a huge YouTube hit with ‘Here it Goes Again’ but that wasn’t the result of just uploading a video and hoping for the best. OK- GO were an established band when they released that video. They will have had a PR team and a budget for advertising that video. Yeah it took off and became a viral hit but it needed a kick-start of money to get it to the large audience that would then share it.
As with all the new online outlets for your music, they don’t do the work for you. Just uploading content isn’t enough.
Network on YouTube.
The other thing you’ll notice about all those viral videos is that the creators of those videos are very active on YouTube and have grown a community through subscribers and friends. Very often they have videos thanking their watchers and talking directly to their community. YouTube is a social network, not just a place to host videos.
Cheeky tricks for musicians.
1. Cover songs are a great way of driving traffic to your channel. Post videos of yourself covering songs by artists similar to you. You will attract those searching for the other artists and people are much more likely to watch a song that they already know. If they like it they’ll probably venture into your own material and your other videos.
10 truths about making it in music
2. Make sure you have all your songs up with just your band name and logo behind them. You probably haven’t got a proper music video for every one of your songs but you still need a YouTube presence for when people search you.
3. Use annotations. Link between your videos with YouTube annotations. For example do a promo video where you say to your fans that you are taking cover suggestions from fans. At that point in the video use an annotation to link to a video where you covered a song suggested by a fan. There are loads of creative possibilities with this and it’s a great way to bump up views all across your YouTube channel.
Remember that fan interaction thing I was on about...
YouTube is bloody brilliant for it!
Record all the behind-the-scenes stuff like rehearsals, travelling on tour, backstage or even just you chilling out. It might seem trivial to you, but fans want to see this stuff. The more you know about a band and the more you connect and get to know the band members, the more you love about them.
If you let them into all the extra stuff that goes into being a band, the more your fans feel like a part of what you’re doing. This means they’re even more likely to follow you, buy your output and share your content.
“They Expect If Of Us!”
That’s a Future of the Left reference. If you got it, then you’re my favourite reader so far :)
If you’re in the music industry, selling records is no longer your only concern. Congratulations, you’re now also a film-maker.
As awesome as the digital era is for musicians, it has also lead to a certain expectancy from fans. Your fans expect you to have a full package now. They expect to see behind the scenes, see interviews with you and other exclusive content. And if you’re not giving it to them they’ll find another band that will.
That’s great but, if people are listening to my music on YouTube, shouldn’t I get some money somehow?
The major labels thought the same thing and so created Vevo (you’ve probably seen it). Vevo hosts music from 3 of the 4 major labels (Universal, Sony and EMI) and generates income through attaching advertising to it. | Written by Ben Brown 38
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However, unless you’re signed to a major and you’re super-famous you can’t earn (any useful sum of) money directly from YouTube. If you’re producing ‘cool shit’ on a regular basis though, there’s a cut to be made through different sources.
OK-GO’s 50 million views have undoubtedly transferred into an increased fan base who will have then converted to record sales/gig tickets. However, it has also moved OK-GO into the world of corporate sponsorship.
“SELL OUTS!” Yeah I hear you, but come on, a band’s got to eat. Bands need to make money to keep making the music you love! If no- one’s buying music anymore, someone’s got to pay them to do it. This is one way in which artists are making money now and, for the most part, it is done fairly subtly.
After the success of their viral videos OK-GO were approached by Land Rover who sponsored a subsequent video. You probably didn’t even notice. It’s a contentious issue in the music industry at the moment and certainly one fans don’t always approve of.
Perhaps the most famous is Justin McTimberlake and his partnership with McDonalds. This is an extreme example and not one I think we will see as a template for corporate sponsorship, but it is a valid income avenue for artists and if done well, can enhance the quality of content and help your favourite band keep making music.
Whitechapel'’ s Alex Wade: ““”"So the only way we can really make any money and be able to do it as a career is to tour."
Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. The idolised musician way of life is immortalised by the archetypal world tour. Smashing up hotel rooms, backstage parties and sold-out shows all-included.
Your tour will probably look a little different. Think crashing on any floor you can find, squeezing 6 people and a drum-kit into a tiny van and playing to 10 people a night and you're getting warmer.
This doesn't mean that you can't get out on the road and make a massive success of your tour and have the time of your life doing it, it just means that a huge amount of thought and effort needs to go into the tour, and if you're not ready it can be one of the most destructive things your band can do. All the new shiny online marketing tools are great but bands still prove themselves through their live performance. If you don't cut it live, you don't make it.
Before the tour.
Planning your tour is hugely important. Take the time to make sure you are hitting the right towns by utilising your online outlets. There are a few things that can help you organise a targeted and successful tour...
10 truths about making it in music
1. Analyse your online stats – Use results from your email campaigns, stats from Facebook, Bandcamp and your website to see where you have a strong fan base. Hit those places on tour!
2. Crowdsource – Ask Facebook fans and Twitter followers where you should tour. This will also start building a buzz around the tour amongst your fans. Make sure they know you're coming to their
3. Contacts and relationships – Where do you have strong contacts with bands, promoters or fans? Target bands with potential for gig
swapping. 4. Budget – Set a sensible budget and projections and and stick to it, | Written by Ben Brown 41
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Touring is an investment in your band, if you're looking for instant profit and return then you're in the wrong place and, quite frankly, the wrong profession. What you should be aiming to do is lay the groundwork for the future. Pull in as many new fans as possible, make loads of connections and don't look for an instant profit.
Making the Most of Your Tour.
Maximise your time on the road. Don’t just play the gig. Get some radio interviews with local radio and student radio stations, play some guerrilla gigs, record a tour diary, make as much noise as possible in every town you hit. Your tour has to have a lasting impact way beyond the tour itself. You need to be generating content, buzz and long-term relationships and fans.
You will occassionaly play gigs to 10 people and you probably won't make much from ticket sales. It’s easy to get frustrated with low turnouts but NEVER stop taking it seriously. The worst thing to see in a band is watching them perform live and knowing they don't give a shit. I don't care if you've written the best song ever, we're leaving. Play every gig like it’s Wembley Arena and even if you turn only one person there into a fan, you’re onto a winner.
If there’s only 10 people there you’ve got an even better chance of making sure every single one becomes a fan. Engage them in conversation from the stage, chat to them afterwards, get them to sign up to your mailing list, give them free stuff. Be their friend. They’ll go home telling all their friends about this awesome band they saw last night. Through word of Facebook 10 fans can potentially become 100.
Networking is the single most important thing your band can do. In the industry the cliche is alive and well and very much applies. It’s all about who you know.
Everyone in the industry is connected to each other. A&R reps speak to promoters all over the country. Promoters and sound engineers all talk to each other and (strangely enough) their favoured topic of conversation is music. Make sure they’re talking about you! These guys are huge music fans and if you’ve given it absolutely everything you’ve got on stage (even if there’s no one in the crowd) and you’ve chatted to them after the gig you’ll make a lasting impression and they’ll tell the world.
10 truths about making it in music
Give them shoutouts on Facebook and Twitter, be as friendly as possible. Just say thanks and buy them a beer! You’ll be surprised how far it’ll get you.
Using Social Media on Tour.
Facebook and Twitter are your friends on tour, as are mailing lists and blogs. Keep a tour diary and keep it interactive with photos and videos. Avoid blatent promotion, fun and cool clips and photos are enough to remind people that you're on tour promoting a single or album and keep your online profiles active.
Make sure all of your online outlets are set up with incentives and hooks to grab all the potential new fans that will check you out as a result of your tour. Have limited period downloads, loads of interaction going on and easy sign up links to make sure that when people check you out, they stick around.
Reintroduce yourself online to everyone you meet on the road and reply to every fan that follows you as a result of being on tour. After every gig We Are Scientists would send photos and a thankyou message to everyone who signed up to their mailing list at a particular show. Something as simple and easy as this is a great way to make a lasting impression well after your tour.
Touring is not a holiday!
It’s work. At least it should be. If you're not exhausted and drained at the end of it, you haven't done enough! If you treat it like a holiday, get drunk every night and spend all day hungover you're wasting your time. Touring is relentless. You’re with the same people 24 hours a day. I’m about to go on tour with a brother and sister in the band. Nightmare! It takes a special kind of disposition to get out on tour with your band and make it back in one piece.
But hey, good luck! If you get it right you'll have an awesome time and make real progress with your career. Best of all, you're getting out and playing every night. This is why you're in music right? So have fun! | Written by Ben Brown 43
Clint Lowery
the plant andseed
itsgoingto grow
Sevendust guitarist on music marketing: "Plant the seed and it's going to grow."
So, checklist time:
10 truths about making it in music
• Music, yep. • Regular, creative video content, yep. • Kick-ass press pack, yep. • Sexy, moody looking indie band promo photos, yep. • A sweet array of online platforms, yep. • Loads of interaction and presence on these platforms, yep. • You’ve been out on the road and honed your live performance, yep. • You’ve made some contacts, befriended all the important music
types, yep. • Your fan base is growing nicely, yep.
Sweet. You’ve just got started.
Depressing huh? This really is just the start. All this is your seed. But, like a seed, if you don’t keep feeding it, it will just die.
Your music career should be a continuous snowball effect. One gig should lead to another, one fan should lead to another, one blog review should catch the attention of another and you will slowly get to one fan after another.
It’s a slow process at the start, but the more fans you grow the faster the process should be as there are more of them to pass the word on.
The best way to keep momentum going is to make sure you always have something going on. Do this by having a business plan with strict goals and time-tables. Make sure there is always something for your fans to get excited about and share.
Having a plan and setting goals makes you more likely to achieve them. Just write stuff down! Buy a calendar and write down important goals and where you want to be. Working towards something specific will give you direction and the drive to achieve it. | Written by Ben Brown 45
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You Should Have a Solid Business Plan and Stick to it!
You’ve got to have a plan that makes sure there’s always something going on. You should be planning up to a year in advance. It doesn’t have to be in great detail, just make sure you have a clear idea of your goals and a long term plan which outlines how to get there.
Start with a month by month plan with a brief outline of what you will be doing in each month and how that will generate your next move. Obviously each band or artist will have a different plot but your year plan should include two or three major releases, a full live plan and a strong marketing campaigns.
Plan for continuous content and regular updates and interaction through online media. Don’t just be active when you have a song to promote.
Include key targets that you want to hit. Is there a particular festival you think you’d be great for or a venue you wish you could sell out in your town? Use that as a target and set yourself smaller short-term goals that will help you achieve the larger target.
Try booking the venue four months in advance then you know that you have to achieve those mini-goals to get there and make it a success.
Start small!
Goals invariably get forgotten because you aim too high so keep them manageable and practical. Getting signed for example is a terrible goal – it is massively ambitious, has no focus and has no scope for how you will actually do this.
Start with something like:
Subscribe to a few music industry blogs and read 3 articles a week from them.
Gain ten new Facebook fans or Twitter followers through sharing content this week.
Add ten email addresses to your mailing list in two weeks.
10 truths about making it in music
Recordabehind-the-scenesvideoandget500YouTubehits. Writethebriefyearplan
Short-term, easily achievable goals like these will help you keep motivated and make small steps towards growing your band.
Fans, Creativity and Sheer Freakin’ hard work...
...are three things that will help you secure a long term career in music. If you’ve got a strong, loyal fan base you will always have an income because fans will always consume your output. If you’re producing creative and quality content, people will always share it and talk about it. And if you’re working hard to continuously produce this content and grow your relationship with fans you will keep the momentum going, keep the seed growing and create a sustainable business.
So don’t worry about getting thousands of fans and over-night success, make super-fans one by one and make sure they stick around. Overnight success is for Pop Idol winners, disposable flash-in-the-pan celebrities that disappear as quickly as they got here. And really, who reading this book wants that? | Written by Ben Brown 47
Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil: "Just believe in yourself.’"
10 truths about making it in music
There is no marketing technique, no online outlet, no money you can pay someone that can equal the impact of simply believing in yourself.
There’s nothing more effective than playing every gig with passion and love for the music you’re making.
I’ve mentioned before that a band nowadays has to be more than just the music. But don’t forget the music. I’ve written this book in the hope that it will help you make the most of your music and get it out to more people, but first and foremost I’m a musician. Music is my passion and that comes before any of the marketing and business for the bands that I work with.
For me, a band can have all the online, digital, social marketing brilliance but, as I said before, they will still live and die by their live performance. It is the one place where you can really tell if a band believes in themselves and the music they are creating. Music is an emotional outlet and when an artist believes in themselves and loves what they’re doing, you can tell in their live performance.
Confidence and Self-Belief is Infectious
If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect a label, manager, your fans, anyone(!) to. Progress as a band requires financial input and people won’t invest in you if you haven’t proven how much you believe in yourself by investing yourself first.
If you have self belief it will naturally trickle through in all of your outlets. You will put every last hour of the day into the band whether it’s through writing and practicing, putting together business plans, sending your music out, updating social outlets or getting out to gigs every night and talking to people.
If you believe in the music you are creating and you truly love doing it, it shows. It comes through your live performance, your recorded tracks, the way you look in photos and the way your press release reads. Why do you think Rock ‘n’ Roll is immortalised by arrogant and over-confident rock stars? | Written by Ben Brown 49
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They don’t wait for other people and reviews to tell them they are good. They tell the world themselves.
Building a Team.
Handing over responsibility to a manager, publisher, PR company, Plugger or label can sometimes feel like you lose the direct connection and enthusiasm that you can portray when trying to sell yourself. This is why one of the most important things to look for when approaching (or being approached by) third parties is whether or not they actually love what you’re doing.
If you’re hiring a plugger or PR to try and gain you exposure or a manager to try and take you further then you need to know that when they’re telling everyone how great you are, that they really mean it. They need to be a huge fan and believe in the music as much as you do.
If you don’t think they do, don’t hire them. Nothing convinces people more than sheer enthusiasm for a band or artist. It puts a preconceived idea in the listener’s head before they even hear it. If they’re expecting it to be amazing because they’ve been told how great it is they’ll automatically hear all the best bits and reflect on it positively.
Haters Gon’ Hate.
Some people won’t like you. Some people won’t believe in you and some people will tell you to give up but the real success stories in music are those who have ignored this and powered through knowing that what they are doing is amazing and more importantly, just doing it because they love it.
Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro explains how they made it to where they are simply through self-belief and love for music: “If we didn’t have the belief in ourselves, we still wouldn’t be doing it. If we were doing this to make money or to meet tons of girls we would have given up after about a year. For us it’s really about the thrill of making music.”
And that’s it. None of these shiny new marketing things I’ve been telling you about work if you don’t have the belief and motivation to put into them.
More than anything, do it because you love it. It’s the only way it’ll work.
10 truths about making it in music
Did you enjoy the book? Share it!
If you found few bits of inspiration and got something useful out of what you just read, we will really appreciate it if you help us spreading the word about this free ebook. Maybe it will help the next Damian Kulash to kick off his career and thrive, who knows?
Please help doing the following: • Tweet about the ebook. For that, just follow this link.
• Link to the ebook. If you've got a blog or a website, mentioning the ebook will be spectacular. But if you go even further and review the ebook, we will write about that on Dotted Music and everywhere we can, and simply will be the happiest dudes in the world!
• Tell your friends! You can share the ebook with your friends by sending it via email, for example. Let your fellow musicians know about it. | By Ben Brown 51
10 truths about making it in music
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Used Interviews For a full list of links to original interviews used for create this
ebook, head over to the dedicated page on Dotted Music. | Written by Ben Brown 52

1 comment:

  1. Great Article. Thanks for taking the time to inform Indie Artist. All good info counts and helps!