As a musician, producer, and American Idol judge, Randy Jackson has definitely spent enough time in the industry to see what it takes to succeed, and what things hold an artist back.
During the Mesa Music Festival seminar in Arizona, he shared his experience of the crucial practices necessary to succeed. Here are the biggest pieces of advice he had to share:
Mindset matters more than talent. You must be open-minded and able to take criticism, and willing to work hard. You could be the best songwriter ever, but if you don’t have the work ethic to actually write and finish the songs it doesn’t mean anything.
Be strategic. You need to have very specific goals in what image you want to portray and what you want to achieve with your career. In his words, “determine your true self and what you want to achieve, and then chart a course”. This includes finding a specific sound for your music, with a defined genre, but that brings something unique to music.
Work on your songs until you have hits. It’s a waste to spend time and money promoting music that isn’t good enough to make it mainstream. If you truly had hits, you would have found success. This again goes to work ethic and putting in the time and effort to be a solid brand.
When you have music that is ready to promote, don’t try and do it yourself. Finding an A&R rep to take care of this, or at least getting some guidance, will be much more effective than running your own facebook and instagram ads with no plan. Spotify streams are hugely important for impressing A&Rs.
The worst things you can do are: Get hooked on drugs or alcohol, or let your ego get in the way of your improvement.
If you’re only creating music to get rich and famous you will most likely fail. You have to have a passion and love for it.
At the end of the day, music is a business even at the smallest scale, and business means “selling a brand”. There’s a difference between being just a music artist and having a brand – which is essential for success. The first question is, “What is your brand?” For most artists to answer this, you must first determine “What is your image?”. Branding is projecting this image in EVERYTHING!
Branding is all about consistency. Your music is only one part, but there’s also your social media, photos, videos, merch, and even fonts and color schemes you use. It all needs to represent you and your music perfectly, or else your fans will be confused and your brand won’t come together.
Here are some questions to help you figure out if you even have a brand and what you can work on to make it stronger;
1. Do you have a logo? It’s not something we always think about, but any big artist has a logo. All of their promotional content will use the same font and color for their name and album or songs. It might change with projects over time, but it always stays consistent. If you don’t yet, you should consider creating your logo and carrying it across your merch, promotional material, and album covers.
2. Does your social media look professional? By professional, it means all of your platforms look similar and give the same idea about you. Even further, every photo and post should be of a similar quality and message. Some things to help look consistent are editing photos with the same styles and filters, using your logo consistently, and even carrying a color scheme in your photos.
3. Do you have a message? It doesn’t have to be anything extremely complicated, but can a fan easily describe you after they discover your music or socials? In fact, simple is the better way to go. Of course, you want to be creative and innovative as you work on your brand and music, but there should be similar themes in your work and what you promote. This could be anything from mental health awareness to simply having fun and spreading positivity.
The more thought and planning you put into developing your brand, the more success you’ll have in your career. If this seems like a lot to figure out, you can work with a talent agency (for a steep price), or try Rock the Dream’s mentorship program for one-on-one artist development advice. Plus, your first month is free!
It’s important for everyone to prioritize mental health, and musicians have even more reasons. Not only is this a high stress industry, but being creative and vulnerable in your work can take a lot out of an artist.
Struggling with issues like performance anxiety, fear before new releases, and lack of sleep, because of a busy schedule is very common. It’s not all sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Here are some tips to help artists stay healthy and focused on career goals:
Limit caffeine and sugar, this will help combat nerves and anxiety, and get better rest.
Visualize your success. Imagine people streaming, singing along, and sharing your music! This technique will keep you feeling positive.
Practice meditation and breathing exercises. Try to have a weekly, if not daily, meditation routine. And, when you’re feeling especially anxious or stressed, try this technique for a few minutes- close your eyes and count to 3 while inhaling, then count to 3 while exhaling, and it will calm you down immediately!
Another mindfulness technique is setting small goals. Set goals for yourself that are achievable soon! These small rewards along the way keep you motivated and on track to your long-term goals.
Journal about your experiences. Music might be your chosen method of expression, but journaling about the specific things that are stressing you out can help you think through problems, plus it might help inspire music!
Remember that anxious feelings about performing or making career decisions are inevitable. It all contributes to your growth as an artist, and it takes a long time to build up confidence!
With all projects, plans and endeavors, self-care is a high priority. Working hard is important, but you can’t achieve anything, if you aren’t in the right headspace to make it happen.
One huge benefit of today’s online environment is that anyone can learn to play an instrument or write songs completely on their own. Even if you aren’t a professionally trained musician, there are tons of free online resources at your disposal. Here are 5 apps we recommend that every songwriter use, no matter how long you’ve been writing music!
Rhymersblock- There are tons of apps that help with rhyming, and rhymer’s block is a great one. Just enter the word you want to rhyme and in a matter of seconds it will give you a thorough list. It will start with perfect rhymes, and then give plenty of closely-related rhymes to choose from.
Soundbrenner- Every musician needs a metronome! This app is free, and it has a special feature where you can tap a beat, and it will give you the tempo. This will save you tons of time instead of trying out different tempos one at a time.
Tunerlite- You’ll probably need a tuner at some point in your writing and recording. This app is especially useful, because it will listen to a note and tell you what it is.
Evernote Scannable- If you prefer writing lyrics with good old pen and paper, then this app will save you tons of time when you need to type it up. It will scan your handwriting and turn it into text.
Evernote- This is a great app to stay organized. You can write your lyrics and embed audio in the same note. It’s also great for collaboration, because you can easily share your notes, plus set reminders for due dates or for calls with co-writers.
These apps are essential to making your songwriting process more efficient and organized. Try them and see how much time you can save, and maybe even write better songs!
If your new year’s resolutions included being more disciplined in your songwriting, how is it going? The first few weeks of making a new plan or schedule always seem to go smoothly, and then the motivation starts to fade. If that’s how you’re feeling this year, here are some “challenges” to keep you writing:
1. Song a day challenge: This one is just what it sounds like, you will write one entire song everyday for a month – or longer! They can be about anything in any style, you just have to write one finished song a day. Of course, most won’t all be “hits”, but it will get you in a routine and maybe spark some new ideas.
2. Rewrite your favorite album: The goal here isn’t actually to “rewrite”, but it’s to create new songs from the titles off your favorite album. Your versions can and should be completely new and different, but use the album songs as your prompts or ideas for your own.
3. Art challenge: This one can be fun and really challenge your imagination. Pick out different pieces of art from your favorite artist – abstract, classic, whatever you want. Then, use each piece as your starting point and write a song based on whatever feeling, idea, or storyline it brings to mind.
These may not turn out to be your best songs ever (or maybe they will), but they will at least keep you on track to practice songwriting more this year. The most effective way to elevate your writing skills is to keep trying, so stop waiting and get writing!
Until recently, getting a degree in songwriting was almost unheard of. Nowadays, most big music schools offer a songwriting program, or at least a few classes. While a degree doesn’t mean much in the music industry, it takes more than just talent to write real “hits”. Songwriting is a craft that can be learned and developed; and, thankfully, it doesn’t require paying tuition to master it.
There aren’t any secret formulas that a class or degree program will teach you, but there is one technique they all use – analyzing successful songs. Writing as many songs as you can is helpful for sure, but you also need to be listening to music critically to learn how to actually improve your writing.
All the biggest hits, even across genres and different kinds of artists, share certain similarities, which change with the times. Picking up on these and applying them to your songs is key to creating what people want to hear today.
The elements to look at are — well all of them. You want to listen to top songs for their structure, instrumentation, tempo, lyrics and meanings. Write out everything you notice, and do it again and again. Eventually, you start to see the elements that appear over and over again in hit songs.
But, isn’t songwriting all about originality, and creating something totally new? Of course you want your song to offer something new, but it also has to fit into the mainstream expectations of music. The art is in combining borrowed elements and your own creative touch.
If you’re serious about being a songwriter, then keep on writing, but start listening, too! Whatever your routine is, make analyzing hit songs a part of it. If you want to be the best, then you have to learn from the best.
Have you noticed your posts receiving little interaction despite the effort you put in? Social media is actually a lot more complex than it may seem when it comes to promotion and growing a following. That’s why you need to strategize and plan ahead.
For an artist desiring to build a committed fanbase, social media scheduling is something to utilize. We all know how far and wide the media’s reach extends, but it is the user’s job to take advantage of it.
Although we at Rock the Dream are not a huge fan of duplicate posts on different online platforms, it’s better to have something than nothing at all. “SocialPilot” is one example of a site that can help you create a bulk schedule. You can create 500 posts and send them all over TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr. After a 14 day free trial, SocialPilot is priced at $50 for 5 users. Many tools are going to cost you something, but promoting your work is how you receive proceeds and new fans!
Another tip is to use calendar templates that can be found online where each post adds to your “long term social media goals”. It can be hard to envision posts for months in advance, but websites like “SocialSprout” can aid you in an “audit” which will show what got the highest level of engagement from your audience. Once you know what your followers appreciate the most, it will be easier to guide and plan your future posts.
Social media experts agree that the best time to receive recognition from followers is in the evening. Posts are best experienced later in the day. Around 6pm is the best, when more people are checking their phones.
With many helpful sites at your service, you can always schedule and plan your videos and posts by yourself. See what works best for you in the past, and then manage your own posting rhythm.
The most important thing is to be consistent, which will benefit your image. Your fans want to rely on you and your content. Growing your presence on social media is done by repeatedly standing out in one’s feed. Don’t let your content be swept under the wide web’s rug! Use the varying tools out there or make your own toolbox to allow your social media to soar.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of playlists in promoting your music, but how do you really get added to someone’s list?
Some have specific ways to submit music, but SubmitHub is one of the biggest platforms for finding and submitting to playlists, as well as some blogs. It’s a free website that playlist owner’s use to take submissions, and the easiest way to start looking for playlist promotion.
SubmitHub works by using “credits” for each submission. While it can be used totally free, you only get a few standard credits a day, and premium credits can be bought for more submissions at a time. They are relatively inexpensive, and they require that the curator listens to 20 seconds of your submission. Using only free credits, you will have to be more consistent and go on everyday in order to submit to a large number of playlists.
By utilizing SubmitHub, you can search through opportunities by type of submission, genre, and specific moods or styles. It works as a great database if you have no idea where to start looking, let alone to which playlist to submit music. It also lists the following size and percent of accepted submissions for each playlist opportunity to consider.
Music blogs are often overlooked nowadays, but can still be a huge way to promote new music. If you’re not familiar with any music blogs, you can also search through those submission opportunities on submithub and take advantage of them.
You’re much more likely to get responses and success using SubmitHub than sending out emails for blogs and curators that you found somewhere online. And, paying for premium submissions actually guarantees it, plus you’ll get feedback even if your song isn’t used. It’s a great tool, even when used for free, that all artists should be taking advantage of.
So you’ve written and recorded your song that’s sure to be a hit – if you could only get it in front of an audience. A lot of artists are in the same spot, and though it’s not quite so simple, a youtube curator could be the bridge you need to get heard.
There are tons of music promotion channels on youtube whose purposes are to find new music to fit their genre and niche, and deliver it to their audiences. Subscribers of these channels are people who are actively looking for new music and artists to listen to. Some of these channels have amassed audiences in the millions and have propelled songs and artists into success.
The question is; how do you get your music on these channels? It’s actually pretty easy. The first step is to find the right channels. Some of the big ones have established themselves over years and feature huge artists, but may also take rising and undiscovered music on occasion. Other curators are also just starting out, so they post smaller artists. You’ll want to submit to many different channels.
You can find these channels by searching on google and finding compiled lists, or go right through youtube. Start by searching one curator’s page or an artist similar to you who has been featured on one. Find the post from the promo page and use the suggested videos to find other channels or artists, and keep going.
Make sure to take the time to look through the channel and listen to the music they’ve posted before submitting. Your music needs to fit the genre and style of the page, or it’s not going to be used and it’ll be a waste of time for both you and the curator. Quality also matters, so don’t send in demos to a page posting higher quality music.
Submitting is actually the easiest part, almost all of these channels will have an email in their description that you can submit your music. In the email, put a direct link to only ONE song, unless instructed otherwise. Be polite and grateful, compliment their page, and give a very brief description and pitch of you and your song. Don’t ask for any other special requests or try to get all of your music featured at once.
If you don’t get a response, especially from a bigger page, it’s okay to send a follow up after a reasonable amount of time. They might not always respond if they choose not to feature you, or they could have not seen it yet. You can always send new submissions in the future, just don’t start spamming the same account that hasn’t responded.
When you do hear back from a page, be sure to keep up the relationship, so they will continue promoting your future releases. A lot of these curators also have spotify or soundcloud playlists and other social media, which they might promote you on as well if they come to like you. Don’t ever demand for more promotion than offered, though, or you could ruin the relationship.
Submitting to curators is a great strategy, because it doesn’t take much time or any money, and you can use it continuously for your releases. If you’re not getting any responses from any kinds of channels, re-evaluate your music’s writing and recording quality. Also, ask if you’re really targeting the right pages. Just one curator could transform your career, so don’t miss out on that chance!
Turning our passions into sustainable careers… while it’s everyone’s goal, we all know it’s easier said than done. As musicians, what are the ways to add extra money into our pockets? Read on to find some creative ways to become a profitable artist!
If you have a special musical talent, that skill can also be turned to a means of profit! Consider teaching music lessons, including vocal, songwriting, producing or instrument playing lessons. Not only will you add extra money to your profits, you will also be inspiring others to develop their talent!
If your forte is writing or producing, check out sites like Fiverr and Soundbetter to write and produce music for other artists. There is a massive community searching for and desiring your expertise, so put it into good use to make empowering, good music that will also bring in income.
Stay consistent on social media, especially sites such as YouTube, where you can generate extra income once you build a strong follower or subscriber base. Post consistently high-quality, creative, and engaging content that will be sure to create a buzz about you! You just might be able to make money through advertisements.
Organize a virtual concert with fellow musicians via Instagram or YouTube Live, and ask for monetary donations from audience members. This is a great way to share your music with others, support fellow musicians, and generate revenue. Just make sure to publicize and start planning early! The tools are all out there, so use them wisely.
What are you waiting for? Reflect on these tips and see how you can use your passion and skill to start generating revenue!
You may be wary of crowdfunding campaigns because you feel you’re just asking for handouts, or you may have never even thought of doing one. They’re actually a really common and successful way that musicians fund their projects. Crowdfunding gets your fanbase engaged and creates a community feel. Here’s how to run one!
Crowdfunding isn’t just asking for money from fans, it’s to support a project that they want just as much as you. This means you need to explain exactly what you need help in funding; for example, finishing an EP, producing a video for your new single, upgrading equipment, or whatever the project will be.
Also be transparent with the projected cost and set a goal for the campaign. This gives people a sense of how much they should contribute and how far along you are. It also shows legitimacy in that you have a plan in place for the funds.
There are plenty of ways to structure your campaign, but using a reliable crowdfunding platform is your best bet. People may recognize these and it will feel more professional and secure. The biggest ones are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which have been around for a while and have raised tons of money for independent projects. A newer one you might have heard of is Patreon, which is a little different in that it’s more an ongoing, subscription-like set up. It can be good for a long-term project, but you must keep it up-to-date.
Once you set up your campaign, don’t be afraid to advertise it. True fans will want to support you and to get more great content! Of course, not everyone can or wants to make financial contributions, so give an alternate request like sharing the campaign or your other projects on social media.
Make sure to express your gratitude to everyone who helps out, and don’t underdeliver! By creating your campaign, you’re making a promise to deliver something at the end, so stay on your timeline and don’t slack in effort.
In addition, keep everyone updated on the progress you’ve made, specifically on what their donation covered and on the entire project overall. This way they feel they are a part of your team and of your success. Plus, it is a sign that you’re grateful and this will get more people excited (which gets more donations!).
Crowdfunding can be really successful when done right. It will also show you how dedicated your fans are, and how many are really just “followers”. There’s always a way to get around barriers, and money shouldn’t be an excuse to hold off on your career!
Throughout the changing music industry, Youtube has stuck around as a huge platform, since its rise years ago. It’s also become a source of income for all kinds of creators, including musicians with huge audiences, as well as small and independent ones. If you associate with the latter, then be sure you’re making the most of your channel’s earning potential.
Most people know that as a free service, a large part of the money to be made on youtube comes from ad revenue. Your account must be set up correctly in order to receive your share. To do so, you should join the Youtube Partner Program through the creator studio, and connect an AdSense account. You’ll, then, get the revenue from ads for any videos you choose to monetize. This feature does require a minimum of 1000 subscribers, and 4,000 total watch hours in the past year.
If you use a distributor, you may also partake in the ad revenue from Youtube. Some distributors also use Content ID, which will direct the revenue back to you from any videos using your music not uploaded by you. There are also services-to-hire that will locate other videos not detected by Youtube, since they often miss around 40%.
So, all of this is only important once you have content or music generating a significant amount of views, as it takes a lot to add up to any substantial earnings. Your cut for views is even less than that for streaming services, at around $0.002 per view. This will come out to $1000-$2000 per million views, not to mention fees, shared ownership, and different kinds of ads that complicate things further.
If you’re not at this level of views yet, then focus on gaining more exposure to grow your following, and on other ways to monetize your channel. For starters, use your channel to promote your merch, tour dates, social media, and your songs on streaming services. Always have links in your video descriptions, but also take advantage of Youtube cards, which are the pop-up links you can add during the video.
Something else you can advertise is a crowdfunding campaign. This can be something like a Patreon account, where your viewers essentially make donations to fund more content they’ll enjoy. You can offer special access to content or accept requests for future videos as an incentive.
As you work on growing your subscribers and fanbase, you can also look for opportunities for branded or sponsored content, where a company will pay you directly for promoting them on your channel.
Think about your content in order to reach a point when you can collect ad revenue, and then start to increase it. Posting song audio or playing covers alone usually doesn’t amass views or a big following. Adding diverse content like vlogs, music videos, and behind-the-scenes videos will make your channel more interesting, thus gathering more views.
Also consider posting the types of videos that are most searched for, like instrument tutorials (for your own songs or others), and advice for musicians on things you’ve already accomplished. These will bring in viewers outside of just your music fanbase, and in turn drive up views and revenue.
Additionally, try to get your music uploaded in videos from other accounts. Encourage fans to make videos using you music. You can try something like creating a dance challenge or a contest for the best lip synch video.
Another way to drive up your numbers is to get on music curator channels, which will also help increase your fanbase. There are a ton of these channels of different sizes across genres. Usually there is an email listed for submitting music listed on their channel. They will post new music they like and fits their genre.
It may seem like a a lot of work for little reward, but once you start to get consistent views and a following, you can keep the money coming in by releasing new music and continuing to upload content. Youtube has helped many artists to make a living with their music, and it can help you, too, if you start today.
Rock the Dream puts to bed another great songwriting workshop with multi-platinum producer Loren Israel last weekend!
Aaron from An Awful Mess and from Australia, Seb Szabo, individually met with Loren to ask industry questions and music advice. As always, they got the honest truth about what it takes to make hits and make it in the music industry.
In the meeting session, Loren developed ideas on how he could help them advance their music and jumpstart their careers. The artists were definitely not expecting what he had in mind, but are excited to see what Loren can help them do.
In the days following the meeting, they’ll be working together to produce and record a top quality song, learning from his advice and taking the skills they acquired to all of their future projects.
If you are a songwriter and are interested in participating in future workshops, for free, apply at email@example.com. RTD will pay the $200 registration fee for those they feel are ready to learn.
Some people still believe that “making it” in a music career comes down to pure talent and getting noticed by the right people. If you’ve paid attention to how things have been working since the early 2000’s, you know that it also takes a business mindset. What it really comes down to, and always has, is the work.
I know you’ve heard that a lot, but what does it really mean? Think about the hours and effort you put into a job. Whether it’s selling fast food or working high up in a corporation, every job requires you to follow a schedule, meet requirements and deadlines, and do what’s expected of you whether you want to or not. You have to treat your music the same way, because the bottom-line is that it’s a business.
Taking on this mindset is the first step. Set aside time, a good amount, and seriously evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and what your plan is to get there. Actually write it out in a strategic plan. Set your goals and a realistic timeline for each. First, list what your overall goal is, and be truthful with yourself. Listing “love and kindness” won’t carry you through to success. Where do you want to be in 10 years? Be specific.
Then list the strategies you will implement to achieve this goal, each with a realistic due date to keep you on track. If it doesn’t help you directly reach your goal, throw it out. For example getting a certain number of new followers or Spotify streams in a certain number of weeks. Do some research on what a realistic goal would look like for where you’re at, and what things you can implement to actually get there.
If this is all new to you, then you’ll have to start by doing your research and learning the industry; and not about how huge record labels work, but what being a successful independent musician looks like. Some important things to really consider at first are; Do you have a brand? This means not just that you put out music under the same name, but you have a clear message and image that encompasses both your music and you as an artist. Do you do any promotion or just put songs out and hope for the best?
Once you get yourself organized on where you are and where you want to go, you need to create a workable, realistic budget. This will determine whether the steps you’ve listed to reach your goal are do-able. Moving forward costs a lot of money. How much money you have determines how quickly . . . or slowly, you can climb that ladder.
Consider how much money you can put just towards music, and how exactly it will be spent. You need a budget for your regular expenses, as well, to be able to do this. And, if you already make some money from music, is it profit or does it all go back into the music and then some? Consider this and maybe make a goal to start breaking even from your projects and eventually being profitable.
Next, you need to continuously follow your plan and implement the steps again and again, ensuring that you achieve the results you’ve outlined for each strategic step. Does your boss give you one huge project for the year and never give any tasks or deadlines in between? Probably not, a regular job usually has daily, weekly, and long term deadlines and assignments to keep everything on track. You should also have weekly schedules that put aside specific times to work on your social media and promotion, booking shows or collaborations, and working on songwriting or completing new projects.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but you can be assured that doing nothing but make music and hoping someone will find you will take you nowhere. However, to accomplish success requires a lot of work and a lot of time doing things you probably will hate doing. A quick solution is to hire a manager, if your budget allows. Be wary of those who will do it for free. They normally will either scam you or accomplish very little, because they lack the knowledge and skills.
There are legitimate artist development and management companies who can come to your rescue, however, they cost a lot of money. A third option is Rock the Dream, a nonprofit artist development organization who can walk you through everything you need to know and do at a very affordable cost.
Working hard gains you the respect of those in the industry, as well as of your fans, and everyone will applaud your efforts in working towards your dream. The longer you wait to take control of your music career, the farther away success will be.
If you’ve looked into how to promote your music in recent years, you’ve probably come across countless strategies to outsmart the “algorithms” on streaming and social media platforms. Maybe you’ve tried them, or paid for services that promise this, or you thought it was too complicated to waste your time on.
Algorithms are real ways that social media, and yes, Spotify, put your content in front of people. And, they do impact how your songs and following grow, or don’t. Though you don’t need to “outsmart” them, or pay your way around them, you can absolutely use algorithms to your advantage if you take the time to understand them.
So what is the algorithm on Spotify? With the thousands of tracks uploaded each day, Spotify can’t have real people listening to all of them to find the best and put them on playlists. Instead, they use data and their algorithm to do this. It’s intended to help good music get noticed amongst all the white noise. The data that Spotify collects comes from what you input when you upload; genre, mood, etc., as well as the numbers of listens, skips, new followers, or getting added to playlists. The goal for Spotify is to identify which listeners will like your style of music, and to put it in front of more of those people.
What does this mean for you? Contrary to some beliefs, the algorithm is really meant to work in favor of the artist, regardless of the size of their following. To do this, you need to consider the data that Spotify uses and how your own tracks are doing. The first part is listing your song with the correct genre and mood labels. Take the time to really listen to the song, compare it to other songs in the genre and playlists that you think it should be next to, and even ask for some outside opinions. Being honest with this is only going to help you.
Next, think about your promotion strategy. We all know playlists are huge in promoting music today. It sounds logical that the more playlists you get on, the better your music will do since more people will hear it. While this may get you more listens at first, doing this wrong can reflect negatively to the algorithm. It notices your number of plays, but also the number of skips and saves in relation. If your song is on 10 playlists, but it really only fits into the genre and style of one of them, while it will get more plays, the 9 others will be racking up people who skip the song and don’t save it, because it’s not what they’re looking for. This essentially tells Spotify the song is “bad”, when it really was just shown to the wrong people.
In this case, less really is more. Finding those few playlists that your song actually fits, and pitching to those is a much better strategy. This is also why paying for playlist promotion can be tricky. There is always the issue of “bots” and fake streams, and the fact that paying for streams can get you kicked off of Spotify. But, it’s hard to know if even services that promise “organic” promotion, or real listeners, will be beneficial. While you will get exposure, you run the same risk of being put in front of “any” audience, and not the right one. It’s best to steer clear of this all together, and save money to put into more music and other types of promotion.
The goal of all of this “promotion” is to get your music in front of new people, so your fanbase will grow. The algorithm will work to do this even at the smallest scale. The best way it does this is by putting songs into people’s “release radar”, for people who have listened to you before, and “discover weekly”, for new people that will probably like your music. This process is going to be slow, but it will work for you in the long run.
Don’t skip promoting to your current audience, even if it’s just friends and family! Post on your social media, and simply ask for anyone that likes your music and wants to support you to follow you on Spotify, like your song, share it, and pre-save new releases. Having followers on Spotify is often overlooked, but it’s another piece of data that can help you, and it guarantees your releases to be put on “release radar” playlists.
The same goes for likes on Spotify. Even if your following is only in the hundreds, anyone who shares your music probably has a similar size following, which increases your exposure exponentially. Getting pre-saves is one of the best ways to show the algorithm that people want to hear your music! The moment your song is released, you’ve already gotten saved to playlists. Even if it’s just a few, something is always better than nothing, at least in the eyes of the algorithm.
This strategy will continue to work with every release, so you should try to do so as often as possible. This means singles are the way to go. Especially when just starting out, there is no benefit to releasing an EP or an album. This way, you have a chance to promote every song, and have continuous positive feedback for the algorithm to pick up. The industry in general is moving away from albums, so save that dream for when you’re more established.
A final tip is to pitch to editorial playlists before you release. This isn’t exactly using the algorithm, but it offers an opportunity you should not pass up. As long as you schedule your release date at least 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time, you can pitch it to Spotify editors directly. There will be a link on your Spotify for artists page to submit the song and have a chance to get onto a Spotify editorial playlist.
These are the official playlists that no promotion service can pay to get you on. There is obviously a lot of competition here, but they have put small artists, even with their very first release, on these playlists. This comes down to the quality of your music, but make sure to fill out the form as precisely as possible.
Like always, make the genre and mood selections that are most accurate. You also have a chance to explain a bit about the song, so tell them your promotion strategies and why your song fits certain playlists and will do well. It is a PITCH, not just a backstory. Also, update your profile and artist bio beforehand to look as professional as possible.
I know that as an artist you want to focus on the craft and let the music speak for itself, but it’s very rare to succeed that way today. The industry is falling more and more into the hands of artists and out of the control of record labels. This means you have a much greater chance of being able to accomplish your goals as a musician, but you have to focus on the business side and put as much work into it as in the music. Just like learning an instrument, it takes time and practice to succeed, but diligence pays off.
So, you’re at a point in your career where you know the value of music videos and how this will definitely grow your following. The issue now becomes . . . doesn’t making videos cost a lot of money?
Sure, they can cost tons for top of the line production, but you don’t need to create a cinematic masterpiece just to showcase your song. With some creativity, there’s no need to break the bank!
Start with making a budget. Decide how much you want to invest, if anything, so you can then decide whether it will go to equipment, a videographer, etc. Your own skills and equipment, and the concept for the video will help you decide where the money is best spent. For example, most phones record at a high enough quality for great footage, no need for expensive cameras.
If you want an intentional “lo-fi” vibe, which can be very successful, then you don’t need to spend your budget on equipment. If recording quality is important, then save by using free locations (like somewhere outdoors), or consider a live performance video that won’t need much editing.
Think about concept, this is the most important part. Many videos have been successful or even viral on a low budget because of the actual content. Think about what would go best with the song; a dance, a heart wrenching story line, or maybe something funny. Just like with making great music, creativity is key. The one thing most viral videos all have in common is that they’re original.
Something else worthy of investing in is lighting. This is probably more important than camera quality. You can find some cheap film lighting options by looking for used equipment or renting it (unless you can borrow it for free!). If you have no lighting, it’s best to film outside, especially if shooting on a phone.
Filming outside provides a free background, so take advantage of the best nature or city views near you. For filming inside, using a backdrop or an empty wall is much better than seeing your bedroom in the background. A bright colored backdrop can help you stand out, and they’re pretty inexpensive to buy. Or, a green screen, allows you to edit in any backdrop from a number of free sources.
A great idea to save money is to look for free or cheap help. Just like there are countless musicians always looking to collaborate on projects, tons of aspiring filmmakers and videographers are the same. Think of anyone you may know, or look around your area, especially for film students. Chances are they’ll do it for free or very cheap. It’s an opportunity for them, as well as you, to work on their craft and to add to their portfolio.
Finally, a huge difference is made with the editing. You can learn how to use editing software yourself by searching for free youtube tutorials. Or, you may consider putting some money into it by hiring someone to do this part. Even for a lo-fi type video, you need good editing to convey how you envisioned your concept and give it a professional look.
People will remember you more if they can connect your music with your face, or any kind of visual, for that matter. They also appreciate new kinds of content, especially when it adds to you and your song’s message. So, rather than waiting for the day when you’ll have a huge budget to work with, make a great video today!
Each year thousands of bands and artists join the music industry, performing and recording; however, less than 1% achieve success beyond the local scene. Why?
Some have terrible music and shouldn’t be in the industry at all, but most are missing the business element, which is crucial to their success. What is the first thing a major label does when signing an artist? Turn them into a company, hopefully a profitable one.
Without the business factor, how do you book shows effectively? Create profitable merch booths? Successfully market your brand? Take it from the big guys, to reach that national touring level and a chance for fame, an artist must master the business side.
To begin with, decide if you wish to be an LLC company or partnership. Lots of things to consider in making this choice, so do your research. You will need to get an Employer ID number from the IRS, and check into your state requirements. Also, remember you must file your taxes each year. This all sounds horrible. Who would want to do this? The good news is, it will take about an hour of your time to set this baseline for your business.
Next, create a budget which outlines your income, and then defines your expenses. Can’t spend what you don’t have. If you find yourself short, like everyone else, it’s time to increase your income. I suggest you establish 2 sources of income. One, from your shows and music, such as performance guarantees, merch sales, song downloads, etc. And the other should not be music-related.
An example would be fundraising efforts, such as car washing, yard cleaning, second-hand sales, etc. The main point is it shouldn’t come from your personal earnings. You will need that to live on. Climbing the music industry ladder takes a lot of money, about $1500 each month as you enter the regional touring round, so be prepared. The biggest source of discouragement is when you don’t have enough money to exist and still keep your artistry going; ergo, the fundraising element instead of digging in your own pocket.
Does it seem that Artists with managers reap the biggest achievements? It’s true because he/she is managing the entire business end. The professional industry takes these artists more seriously. They offer bigger shows, more money, better opportunities. Good managers communicate quickly, supply the info in the proper format, and the brand is promoted effectively.
What should you do next? Establish your target market, not more than 7 years for the age range. You don’t have enough money to to reach everyone, so you need to narrow it down. Then, create an image that fits your personality and music. Now take this information, and promote your image to reach this market.
You will need an artist website; management email address using your website domain (never use gmail, yahoo, etc.); a business checking account; four prime social media sites, including Facebook; and, a P.O. Box. Most industry professionals use Facebook as a research source.
Yes, this is A LOT of work, but these steps are necessary to separate you from the other 99.9% of the struggling artists in the world. And, once done, maintaining and updating is a breeze if you do it regularly. If you need help with all of this, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, we go back to the original question, Why do most bands and artists fail? Now that you have the answer, it’s up to you to create your own success.
If you’re a songwriter, you’ve probably had times where it felt like words and inspiration just flowed out of you and onto the page. And, other times I’m sure you’ve felt the exact opposite, when you desperately want to write, but . . . nothing.
Don’t let this hold you back from creating new music, though. Here are some ways to crush writer’s block and find your voice.
Practice sense writing; Pick an object, place, or person and describe it with all of your senses. Don’t hold back, just write everything that comes to mind for a few minutes. This “thing” doesn’t have to become the topic of a song, but after your free write, hopefully a line or two, or even just an idea, has been generated that you can translate into the start of a song.
Try a new perspective. If you always write about yourself or your own experiences, think of a friend or a fictional character that might be going through something you never have, and see if you can write from their perspective. An example is one of Taylor Swift’s new hits, “Betty”, which is from the perspective of a teenage boy with his first broken heart.
Start with titles, some writers always start this way. Start listing interesting titles of songs that you’d want to put out. When something sparks an idea, keep going with it. Even if the title ends up totally changing, it got the idea moving.
Go back to your song graveyard. You probably have at least a few, if not a few hundred, unfinished songs or forgotten ideas laying around. Start looking through them, even go years back if needed, and look for a line, melody, or an idea that still strikes you. Go over it again and see if you have a new perspective to finish it, or make an entirely new song from it. Don’t have an idea/lyric journal yet? Then, start one. You’ll always have a bank of ideas to draw from.
Try something ridiculous, like Tom Waits’ technique — turning on multiple radios at once and listening. He would tune in for interesting overlaps in the noise and anything that stood out, then use that idea for his own writing. This one might only work for Tom Waits, but it’s sure to produce something totally unique. Or, maybe, try scribbling in a beat on the piano roll of your music software, or any way to generate something random, and see if there’s any sounds you can pull out to turn into actual music.
As many industry professionals have stated, to be successful, a songwriter should write at least 5 new songs a week, good or bad. It’s the practice of doing!
Inspiration is a fleeting thing, but you don’t need to wait around for whenever it wants to strike. Part of the work of a musician is to put in time to rewrite and brainstorm to take those random creative moments and mold them into finished products. Don’t make excuses for your writer’s block anymore!
Ever hear of “fake it ’til you make it”? Well if you want to be famous, start dressing like you already are! Turn eyes as you walk down the street, confident and unique in your sense of fashion. Branding is key in the music industry and helps stir new talk about you. Here are several tips, so take notes!
Wear bold colors on stage. Rock the reds and yellows, you want to look put together and ready to put on a show. Select opaque, richer colors that will not wash out under the lighting, and opt for short sleeves since you’ll work up a sweat from performing. Also, clothes that fit are important, try on outfits and plan them carefully beforehand, and get alterations if you need them. If someone were watching from the farthest seat in the arena, think––would they still be able to admire your outfit?
Dress professionally during press interviews and on TV. Artist branding is key to be taken seriously and growing your fanbase. No sandals or shorts! Dress classy and clean, and you will be sure to attract more attention. Even for big-name celebrities, their clothing choice is important and constantly captured by the cameras! Be sure to look camera-ready when the situation calls for it.
Accessorize! Draw more attention to your look by adorning yourself with statement jewelry and accessories like bracelets, necklaces, hats, etc. Using flashy pieces can elevate even a simple outfit and add a unique flair, plus save money on buying tons of new clothes. (And for the guys – don’t be afraid to try accessories too!)
Most importantly, be true to YOU. Wear clothes that compliment your features and your personal style. You want to brand yourself as an artist with a defined image, and fashion plays a huge part. It’s another extension to express yourself, so take creative risks and embrace your unique style. And whatever you wear, do it confidently.
So, what are you waiting for? Start dressing like you’re famous and keep all eyes on you–– dress for success!
A professional sounding artist bio really is important – some people even pay to have one written for them. But, you can do it yourself if you take the time and effort. Why is it so important you ask?
As the industry evolves, more artists are able to find success and steadily grow independently. While this is a good thing, it also means more competition on all levels of the industry. Whether it’s to be noticed by labels, promoters, blogs, collaborators, or just more fans, you’re always marketing either yourself or your music. The bio you have published on your Spotify, DPK, or anywhere else, is how you can make the connection between who you are as an artist and your music, which is what really grabs people. WHO ARE YOU?
Here is what to consider when writing your bio:
Organize your bio into short paragraphs, so it’s easy reading and doesn’t turn people off. The most important things go in the first paragraph, where you need to catch attention. What are the most notable accomplishments you’ve achieved to date.
For each piece of information you decide to include, ask yourself; why is it important? What does it convey? Why will someone care? Does it make you stand out? For example, the fact that you’ve loved music ever since you were a kid – well so has every artist, it goes without saying. If you did something EXTREMELY remarkable with music younger than everyone else, then that’s intriguing. And aside from what you have done, we need to know what you’re working on. Why should people be excited enough to keep following you?
Convey your aesthetic by trying to conceptualize your sound and message. Don’t go on and on, but give a description of your musical identity in your own words. Don’t come across like you think you’re the best thing to come around, or use opinionated phrases like “influential” or “super talented”, people can decide that themselves. Don’t play yourself down either, though, you’re trying to capture an audience.
Name drop only if it’s really relevant. If you worked with an artist who the average person will know, and it was a turn in your career, it is a big deal. If we want to know every person you’ve ever collab’ed with, we’ll check out your music. In addition, don’t talk about the artists that you think you sound like or want to be like, you’re promoting YOU here.
Write with a neutral and professional tone. Your bio should be in third person, it’s not coming from you, it’s about you. Always write with an active voice; “Her music creates emotion” not “emotion is created by her music”.
Don’t forget that editing is key, you don’t usually release the first draft of a song, right? Spellcheck is your friend, and there are plenty of examples to find for reference. Plus, get feedback from other people to see how you’re really coming across.
The length and depth may change depending where and how it’s used, but always make it intriguing. People need to hear why they want to listen and follow you. You should write a short bio to target music industry professionals, because they want just the highlights of your career. Anything longer, they will not read. For your fans, a longer bio with more background information works.
Something brought them to your bio, whether it was advertised or they went looking. Pull them in, so they keep reading, and keep you on their mind.
Most musicians have a goal to play live shows and go on tour. If you’ve made it to this point, then you’re doing something right, but make sure you’re making the most of these opportunities. Music by itself generates very little income, even for big artists, so things like concert tickets and merchandise are crucial in being profitable as an artist. You should always be advertising your merch, but especially at shows.
These are things to check off for your merch booth from an experienced merch seller:
1. SET-UP: Set up your merch display where it’s highly visible and most convenient for fans to access, probably near the entrance/exit. Make sure the merch itself is visible, especially clothes, and have a set up that looks professional. There are affordable options on amazon for different sizes and kinds of displays. You can use fold up tables, but consider investing in tablecloths if they look cheap.
2. SIGNS & LIGHTING: Post signs that are big, clear, and to the point. List what forms of payment are accepted. In the darkness of a music venue, your merch booth should shine and glow. Have your signs light up, and/or use glow-sticks, string lights, etc. to stand out.
3. CASH & CARDS: Be ready with plenty of change for cash purchases, but make sure you can accept card payments as well. You will lose out on sales if you don’t. Accepting Apple Pay, Zelle, PayPal and even Venmo is a plus too.
4. WHAT TO SELL: Having a large inventory can be expensive and is unnecessary. For clothing, when there are more than 2 choices of artwork design, it often confuses the buyer, especially male buyers. For the average touring band/artist promote 2 designs in T-shirt and spaghetti strap women’s tops or boy beaters. Supply in black and one other color that is currently the hot fashion trend. Make sure you put thought into the design so people will want to buy for the look, even if not for you logo.
Add 1-2 other merch options, such as hats, CD’s, posters, wristbands, stickers, to offer different price ranges, so you maximize that last consumer dollar. Limit the choices, so you can better manage your inventory budget. Be creative here and think about what your fans would love.
5. CONNECT WITH FANS: Too many bands leave their booths abandoned during their sets. Have someone in charge of running it the entire night. You should also use it as a meet n’ greet spot to interact personally with your fans before and after each show. Not only will audience members be more likely to come to the booth and buy your merch, but they’ll also become more dedicated fans and attend more shows. Many diehard fans are met and made at the merch booth.
6. FAN LIST: Always encourage people to sign up for your Fan List. Make sure your signup sheet or link is visible, and let customers know when they make a purchase. You can even offer a discount or free download music card for signing up, which will definitely get more people. Ensure that your email list includes their name, city, state, email address and cell, so you can specifically contact them when advertising for events in their area.
7.ORGANIZATION: You or someone on your team must be a good record-keeper and track sales. You want to see which items sold and in what quantity, so you’ll know what to re-stock, the sizes that sell best in what areas, the pricing levels, and profitability.
A suggestion to help organize sales inventory while touring is to wrap your clothing merch with masking tape, marking the item and size. With each sale, tape this label into a small notebook with the pages dated. The best way to keep a count of the other, lower-priced items is by counting after each show, sorry not much help there.
8. NEW ITEMS: Sell something new on every tour. If you’ve been touring for a while and return to the same areas, make sure there are new options for fans that have your old merch. Plus, you’ll want to be advertising your newer releases.
9. BARGAINS/UPSELL: Everyone loves a discount, so consider doing sales such as “CDs are $12; any two CDs for $20,” or “Buy two t-shirts, get a free CD.” This will capitalize on the fans already interested in making a purchase.
And, consider making a sale even when a fan is short a few dollars. This strategy is debatable, but I think bands who are working to become full-time should have a “sliding-scale” mentality when it comes to merch. As long as you at least break even, If you make a new fan who helps spread your name, that “loss” of profit may have been well worth it.
“Thank you SO much for putting this on!” a concert attendee gleefully expressed. “Are you going to be back next weekend? If so, I’ll be here!”. And, although the Rock the Quad Charity Concert only happens once annually, we were ecstatic to be back as the first live concert since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Viewers erupted into cheers as the performers, Maybe By Fall, Sarah Shipley, Toxic Hearts, Rosahlee and An Awful Mess, played live music for the first time in over 7 months.
Our MC, Kris with a K, did a fantastic job of introducing the performers and raffling away prizes from our sponsors, Target, Kohl’s, Avon and Safeway.
Rock the Dream thanks the hundreds of people who attended the concert and did it safely by wearing a mask and socially distancing!
Think about your own taste in music. There are most likely songs that you can appreciate but cannot relate to, or certain sounds that just don’t excite your ears. It may not have anything to do with quality of the music, every individual just has different tastes. It is important, as an artist, to realize that not everyone needs to love your work. However, it is important to pinpoint and focus on those that do (i.e., choose your target market).
Once you decide on the best demographic for your “target market”, you can create marketing campaigns that directly reach and resonate with your intended audience. For example, if your target market ranges from ages 15-21, a quick google search will show that this age group uses Instagram as it’s prime form of social media. Instead of putting time and effort into your Facebook content, you now know that your efforts will be better spent focusing on your Instagram content and engaging with your fans there. Not to say that Facebook would not still be important, just lower on the priority list.
Deciding on your target market will help you generate interest in your music, which help you increase your numbers on all platforms. Even a minimal target audience is beneficial. Many people surround themselves with those who share similar interests. They are likely to share new discoveries and interests with each other. Your original listeners will generate new interest from other music consumers outside of the small target market you began with.
The ability to build your marketing campaigns and promotions in a way that resonates with your audience, will allow you to retain this audience for a longer period. Your listeners will remain loyal supporters and stay interested in your work. This core audience will keep your career afloat and keep you competitive in the industry.
If you’re an artist or band that wants to book gigs and you don’t have a DPK yet, don’t wait any longer. A DPK, or digital press kit, is your musician’s resume. It will tell venues, promotors, journalists, and professionals in the industry what you bring as an artist. The more accessible information you have for these people to find, the more publicity and opportunities you can get.
Important people in the industry have little time, with a whole lot of people wanting that precious time. Make your DPK simple, easy to navigate with all the info concisely placed together with very little scrolling.
A DPK puts all of the important information about you and your music neatly together, and should include the following;
Your music. The most important thing any one in the industry is looking for is your music. Make sure your most recent releases are listed, and you should also link them, so they play directly from the page. Make sure you list your best songs first. The best marketable songs will be those that are under 3:30 and contain a memorable hook!
Pictures. You need professional quality photos of you or your band that represent you well. Include some options here that are vertical, horizontal, and different sizes so they can be used for any purpose. You can also add live performance photos and album covers. Choose a background that is highly unusual or very simple (no backyard shots against a fence). Studio shots are best for press photos.
Bio. List only the important things, such as notable venues, events, concerts, tours you’ve played, or industry people you’ve worked with. Include a brief discography of your recent albums, only if you’ve worked with established industry professionals. What are the most important things about you or your band that will draw in fans? Include what makes you stand out as an artist. Use a brief version when promoting yourself to industry circles, and keep a longer version that is more personable for your fans.
Videos. If you have good quality music videos, include your best ones. Live performances are also great, especially when a venue is considering booking you for a show. You can showcase your stage presence here. BUT, make sure you have “Stage Presence” first!
Press. If you have any notable features in articles or reviews, or have won notable contests or awards, list them and include any relevant quotes from industry professionals. Include interview videos, and an electronic press kit (EPK) if you have one. These are similar to movie trailers which makes the viewer want to see more of you.
Contact and links. You need to be easy to contact when you impress someone with your DPK. List all your contact info, as well as any booking agents or team members. Your social media links should also be available.
Finally, what might be the most important thing to attach on a DPK is a one-sheet. This will have the most important points to grab the attention of a VIP within one page, which can be printed. This should have a bio that highlights your music and accomplishments in a few paragraphs, a photo, and contact and social media information.
If you’re serious about being a professional musician, you need to present yourself as one. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity by not being prepared with a DPK!
Most up-and-coming bands dream of the day they can pack their suitcase and hit the road with their band mates. It’s no secret, artists love touring and for good reason, it’s one of the best ways to grow your fanbase. But, touring is costly. It can cost an arm and a leg if you don’t do the prep work before cramming into the car with your gear. Here are a few ways to make sure you use your budget effectively while touring.
KEEP COSTS LOW – We’re not talking about sleeping in the car and eating top ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a Google search, you can find good deals on lodging and transportation. Book your rooms ahead of time and use sites like Priceline and Kayak. Opt for hotels that include complimentary breakfast, so it’s one less expense to worry about.
We know a big, shiny tour bus is #bandgoals, but when you’re starting out, it’ll be cheaper to rent a trailer and hook it up to a car. Use MapQuest to plan your route and download an app like GasBuddy that will let you know where the cheapest gas is available.
And, when it comes to food, cheap fast food can quickly get old. When possible, hit the closest supermarket for fresh fruit & veggies. You’ll stay healthier, while touring. The deli section always has cheap, yummy alternatives that won’t break your food budget.
SELL MERCH – Design really cool, unique merch your fans will WANT to buy, even without your logo on it. Make sure it looks ATTRACTIVE and is good QUALITY. Stay away from Fruit of the Loom. It’s cheaper in inventory cost, but it falls apart when washed. You want your fans to continue wearing your T’s as long as possible. There are many cheap brands out there that still hold their shape.
Take just a few items per price range with you. Too big a variety eats up your inventory budget and confuses most buyers. Display just 2 types/color of apparel with 2 types of artwork design; and, choose just one of the $2-$3 items like stickers, wristbands, temporary tattoos, etc. Always display all your current CD’s and bring download cards to sell.
Price your items so you’re making at least a 75% net profit. Bundle your merch into discount deals so you can up-sell at your booth, such as pairing a T-shirt with a CD and a free sticker, thereby offering an attractive discount, because they are purchasing numerous items.
Make sure you can accept all forms of payment including PayPal, Zelle, Cash App and a credit card processor you can hook up to a phone. I suggest you don’t use Venmo, because everyone can see everyone you work with financially on the site.
EXTRA SHOWS – Supplement your gig income by booking private shows on your days off. Weddings and house shows can be an easy way to make a little side money. You might even get lucky and get tips or offered some of the delicious catering!
SPONSORSHIPS – Securing a sponsorship is my personal favorite type of touring income. Create a professional sponsorship packet offering promotional opportunities at different price levels and pitch it to businesses you know are trying to reach your band’s target demographic. Most business will say no, but this is a numbers game. And, the more you do this, the better you will get at pitching and eventually you will be able to think about securing a sponsor. Make sure you follow through on your end of the promo and take pictures/video to send to your sponsor afterwards to keep up the excitement level.
YOUTUBE – Record all of your concerts and random candid moments of your band on the road – shopping at the supermarket, setting up for a show, bloopers, playing games at the motel, etc. You can upload your concerts to YouTube or create really cool behind-the-scenes vlogs and monetize your channel, so you can continue receiving money from YouTube for years to come. Remember that the more creative and fun the video is, the more views you will get!
Use these tools to plan your next tour and see how it makes a difference on your finances! And remember not to get disappointed if you make a costly mistake. Touring is a learning experience that will improve the more your band does it. After a few gigs, your band will be pros on the road!
You’ve probably imagined a crowd of fans singing back the lyrics of one of your songs. It takes a really dedicated fan to know every line of your songs, but a real hit will have a hook that EVERYONE remembers.
The hook is the catchiest part of the song that people will remember most. It’s often part of the chorus, and many times the title of the song. Sometimes the hook is the whole chorus, though it’s usually only a few measures. It’s the part that the listener is waiting for and the rest of the song seems to be leading up to or supporting it. A song with no real hook can be disappointing or feel repetitive for a listener, like it’s going no where.
What are the qualities of a good hook? First off, keep it simple. Even if you’re an incredible vocalist, all of your fans are not, so make it something they can keep singing as they leave your show, and for long after. Show off your vocals in other parts of the song, but let the hook speak for itself. Melody is easier remembered than words, so keep this in mind.
Words are just as important, though, and the lyrics of the hook are probably the most important of the song. What message do you really want to be remembered? Simplicity with language is key here, too, as you want a line that is relatable and reaches something inside your audience. It could be deeply emotional, humorous, or inspiring, so long as it creates a strong feeling.
Next, repeat it throughout the song. It wouldn’t really be a hook if it only appeared once. And, if you write a really good one, listeners will be waiting to hear it again and again. People like repetition, that’s what music basically is, and the more something’s heard, the more likely it will be remembered.
There are ways to get creative with writing a hook. You can have an instrumental hook that stands out without any lyrics. You can also try putting your hook in the introduction and then bringing it back throughout the song. Try exploring vocal effects, like pitching up or down, using an unexpected instrument or sound, or even a featured voice.
The limits of songwriting are being pushed all the time, and many artists are straying from traditional song forms. It’s great to explore and innovate, but make sure every song has something that really holds it together and makes it memorable.
Source; Lavoie, Alex. “6 Ideas to Help You Write Catchier Songs.” Landr, 3 Apr. 2020, blog.landr.com/what-is-a-hook-in-a-song/.
Part of being a successful artist is understanding your target audience and fans. While you still can’t interact face to face during Covid, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with them through the Internet and social media. Doing so requires you to understand your fanbase and know how to most effectively reach out to them.
Run online advertisements through platforms, such as Facebook and Ad Builder to promote your music. For instance, through Ad Builder, you can identify your target audience and most effectively promote your music to them. Through Spotify and iHeartRadio ads, listeners can learn more about your work, and you can build a more diverse, dynamic audience. Most importantly, Ad Builder provides analysis on the effectiveness of your ads, which is vital feedback that will allow you to most successfully target and build your fanbase.
Plan a merchandise or album giveaway. Take advantage of your social media platforms to set up your own giveaway events. This is a great way to engage fans and reward them with a physical piece that showcases their dedication as a fan. Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for launching giveaways and is a quick way to grow your fanbase. To be eligible for winning giveaways, ask your fans to follow your account and tag their friends. This is an effective method to engage fans, reward them for their dedication, and build an even larger fanbase!
Create a song cover contest where fans can post their own creative song covers of one of your songs on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. This is a wonderful opportunity for fans to demonstrate their own abilities and passion. Not only will their song covers serve as a powerful marketing tool for your music, this is a smart way for you to learn more about your fans, interact with them, and show that you appreciate their dedication.
What are you waiting for? Plan out your next action steps to continue building strong, tight connections with your fans through the universal language of music. Think outside of the box, and most importantly, remember to stay consistently creative!
Every artist dreams of the chance to work with an industry pro, and Rock the Dream is giving songwriters the opportunity with our free Songwriting Workshop with multi-platinum producer Loren Israel.
Major label A&R Consultant Loren Israel has worked with Coldplay, Plain White T’s, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Eat World, Sugarcult, Neon Trees, and The Unlikely Candidates, to name a few. He will lend his expertise in a writing session where you’ll produce a song together and learn to elevate your music and create hits.
In this month’s sessions, artists Mitchel Madak and Rosahlee met with Loren one-on-one to discuss their styles and goals for their music. Now, over this month, Loren will produce a verse and chorus of one song for each.
Our next workshop is September 19th and takes place over zoom. The $200 registration fee will be covered by Rock the Dream, and includes a free month in our artist development mentorship program.
A big part of the allure of signing a record deal is getting an advance (aka, the money). There is much to consider before taking a check from a label, however. Understanding how the advance works and the terms of your deal will help you make the right decision.
A common misconception about record deals is that the artist gets paid just for the deal. The payment the artist receives is only an “advance”, and has to be made back for the label. The label is making an investment in you and your brand, and is expecting a return. Your advance might be between $50,000- $350,000 (sometimes much more or much less), but the label will also put much more money into your recording, production, and promotion.
The advance you get is simply a living wage while you work on producing music, plus performing and promoting it. One thing to consider is the size of the label. While a major label has the resources for a large budget, a small label may be limited. A larger advance in this case could mean a smaller marketing and promotion budget, so consider how this will impact your goals. A larger advance does not always mean a better deal.
Keep in mind that this “advance” is just that, a credit that you have to pay back. Regardless of what percentage of revenue you are entitled to in the deal, all of your royalties will be taken by the label until their investment is repaid. This means you have to make back the entire advance, as well as recording costs and other expenses specified in the deal. You can end up personally liable for these costs if your music does not generate enough income, and likely be dropped from the label. It’s a good idea to consult an entertainment lawyer, so you understand what you are signing.
If your “break even” point is far out of reach, you might not see any more money from your music for years to come, if ever. When considering an advance make sure you’re ready for the commitment you are entering, and that it will take you further in the direction of your goals instead of halting you.
August 1st brings another Virtual Live Concert from Rock the Dream! Featured artists are Onella, Mitchel Madak, Sarah Shipley, Corry Michaels, and Nojac, and our MC is Kam Cinnamon. Tune in at 5pm PTD/ 8pm EDT on instagram and vote for your favorite performer!
While in person concerts are on hold, you can still enjoy live music from home. And you can help support us and our artists with a donation. Join us @rockthedreamnonprofit on instagram, see you there!
Instagram Live has been popular since it came out four years ago, but now with in-person concerts on hold it is more valuable than ever. Instagram offers features that make it the perfect platform for your live performances.
You can see your viewer count and their likes and feedback while broadcasting. Comments can be turned off if they’re distracting, but are a great way to engage and interact with fans. We’ve been forced to keep our entertainment virtual for now, so take advantage of live streaming for your fans!
Use these tips to make your live stream top notch;
Plan ahead. Before you start a live stream, make sure you have a plan for the entire time. If it’s a performance, write out your set list, practice, and time it (You can go live for up to an hour). You may want to be more interactive with fans like with a Q&A, but have something else to talk about or get some questions beforehand, so that you don’t end up sitting in silence with no questions!
Promote. After you plan your actual performance, plan when you’ll go live. Starting on a whim could be hit or miss depending how many of your followers are online. Post on your story or page, and on other social media, at least a few hours before, so your fans will know when to find you.
Background. Even though it’s a pretty informal way to put on a show, make sure it still looks clean and professional. Plan your backdrop and outfit to fit the vibe of your performance. Your messy bedroom as a background won’t scream professional artist to your fans! Also, set up any equipment and a place to set your phone before starting, so you’re not fumbling around on camera.
Lighting. Adequate lighting makes a huge difference. If your room lighting isn’t up to par, it might be worth it to invest in some more professional lighting, like a small ring light. Amazon has some affordable options starting around $30.
Review. You can save your live streams to your camera roll. Take advantage of this and watch back any live concerts that you do to see where you can improve for next time. The comments won’t save, so try to read feedback between songs or at the end, or tell fans they can DM you after.
You don’t have to make your fans wait until the pandemic is over to see you perform, go live for them now!
Every credible source advises to “network” with industry professionals as the sure fire way of getting ahead. “It’s WHO you know” that determines your level of success in the music world. Great advice, but two questions come to mind: One, how do I meet these mover n’ shakers; and, two, what is the right protocol in approaching them.
To seek out how you meet these important people, first you must determine what you wish to achieve. Do you want to be signed by a major label or just license your music? Or, do you want to work as a booking agent or tour manager? There are many facets to the industry, so it’s important to narrow down your focus of who you NEED to meet.
For example and because we are Rock the Dream, let’s use “signing to a record label” as your goal. For this, the most practical path is to build relationships with Major Label A&R Consultants. These are the people who can connect you to the right labels. Watch industry news pieces for when they are speaking at an event, go up and introduce yourself, be prepared with an intelligent question. Other routes are to ask other artists you know who have representation for their rep’s contact info; also, check the industry social media news on up-and-coming artists you are now hearing about, because they normally have A&R and that is why you are hearing about them.
Of course, you can go through the traditional information sources who can give you all the names of those who you can approach, but knowing someone who knows someone is your best bet to open a door. There are many of these sources out there selling various lists of names.
Treat opportunities to meet industry professionals tied to your eventual goal as gold. Take advantage of every opportunity, no matter the cost, because it will cost you a lot more in the long run by not jumping on it. These opportunities are very rare.
At Rock the Dream, we are fortunate to work with Loren Israel who is a multi-platinum producer as well as an impactful A&R Consultant. His resume includes Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay, Sugarcult, Less Than Jake, Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, and many more. His current band, The Unlikely Candidates, recently had the #1 hit song on the Alternative Charts.
This leads us to Question #2 — protocol. Here’s a quick story that will explain it all. One of our interns wanted to train as an A&R person. She had an opportunity to attend one of Loren’s Workshops that we hosted for free. She chose not to attend, and then emailed him directly without our permission. She asked him to train her for free. To add insult to injury, she also stated that she needed these private sessions with him, because she didn’t have time to attend his workshop. I’m sure you can spot several problems here already.
Don’t be this person! You are not the VIP’s most important item on his/her agenda. In fact, your first thought in approaching them, should be “what’s in it for them?” It never works to rush in with a “Hi, my name is, will you do this for me?” Take the time to build a relationship with the person, try to assist them with whatever they allow you to do — for free. Show them your value, first!
Don’t sing your accolades, they don’t care. You’re wasting their time. You are asking them for help, they did not seek you out. SHOW them what you’re worth.
Random communication with different A&R consultants or any industry professional may possibly work, but most often is not an efficient use of your time. “Find someone who knows someone.”
Do you feel like you’re constantly promoting your music on social media and not getting much traction? You’re not alone. Lil Nas X, in an interview, said “I’d post a funny meme and get 2,000 retweets. Then I’d post a song and get 10.” So, he quit sharing links to his music and started posting funny memes he could pair with his lyrics. Because of the memes, his Twitter account grew quickly to 30,000 followers.
In December 2018, he posted a video of a dancing cowboy with his song “Old Town Road” and the rest is history. Not only did the video go viral, it also climbed to the top of the Billboard charts and had several remixes with famous musicians who wanted to jump onto the hit.
Another artist who had one of the most underrated marketing strategies, was Soulja Boy with his song “Crank That” in 2007. He was unknown and had no connections to promote his music. So, he would listen to the radio and take note of the most popular songs across a variety of genres. Then, he would upload his song to LimeWire, title it with whatever song was popular at the time, for example “Umbrella” by Rihanna, and when the user downloaded it and liked it, they would google the lyrics to find out who the unexpected artist was. This is how Soulja got his debut song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the young age of 16.
Pair a catchy song with a unique marketing ploy, and any up-and-coming artist can create an opportunity to go viral. These artists were clever enough to know who their target audience was, where to find them and what content to put out to attract their attention. If you follow the formula, you too can have a successful marketing strategy for your next single.
“Hip Hop History: Soulja Boy Trolls Limewire.” WIUX, wiux.org/read/hip-hop-history-soulja-boy-trolls-limewire/#:~:text=Although%20you%20may%20remember%20him. Accessed 17 July 2020.
“The Marketing Genius of Lil Nas X.” Marketingexamples.Com, marketingexamples.com/viral/lil-nas-x. Accessed 15 July 2020.
The best thing that can happen to an artist who hopes to top charts and make it big is that one of their songs goes viral. In the era of social media, this has become more common and a goal attained by a number of artists, even with small followings. Whether on the new sensation, Tik Tok, which has propelled many songs into the spotlight, or some other way, what you do after a song or video goes viral is crucial to your career.
A lot of people think that getting your “15 minutes” of fame is all that it takes to show the world who you are and launch into stardom. This is not always the case, though, as many of these viral stars fade out of the limelight nearly as fast as they arrived. It takes effort to turn this into an opportunity to capture long term fans.
You want to keep your song on people’s radars for as long as you can, since you know your viral stint won’t last forever. The more time it’s trending, though, the more listeners it will reach. Make sure to promote anything big related to the song on your social medias, like a well known artist posting a cover or comment, or if you get added to a major playlist. Ask friends to do the same, and be grateful to everyone who helps promote it.
If the song doesn’t already have a video, you should start working on one right away. Try to release it while it’s still a recent memory, and this might give the song a whole new life in the spotlight, or even make it a bigger hit. And, don’t slack on the quality either, put in time and effort since you know you have a big audience right now.
Many videos, whether the official one or ones responding to it, have a dance or theme that contributes to them going viral. This is something to consider, because if this isn’t why the song went viral, you may have the opportunity to turn it into a challenge or trend. Be creative and try to start one that you think can catch on, or turn to collaborators who might help blow up the song even more.
In your “15 minutes” you’ll have more success reaching out to other big creators or artists who might want to collaborate or help you promote. Maybe you won’t get a response, but this could be a chance to gain allies and friends in the industry.
Some songs that go viral are an artist’s first release, but this is rare. You probably already have other music out or created. You, of course, want the viral song to keep being successful, but you really want to promote yourself as an artist while you have this new audience.
One artist who went viral and has kept up the success afterward is Doja Cat. This was highly due to the fact that she had a strong catalog of music, to which she directed new fans. You should actively promote your other music and make it accessible to fans of your viral song. If you don’t have much other music, start working on new releases as soon as you can.
Having a viral song will help your career in many ways, but it probably won’t make you a ton of money like you may think. Streams alone don’t produce much revenue for an artist, even big ones. That’s why you should promote your whole brand during this time. This includes merch and live shows or tours. If you don’t already have these in the works, start planning them as soon as you can. Although, don’t rush to make something that doesn’t represent you well, as that can have the opposite effect on continuing your success.
Finally, you may be thinking about how to turn this virality into a record deal. You should first add the song to your press kit or EPK. Know your stats about the song, so you’re ready to discuss it if the right people come your way. But don’t use this song as your only selling point. You want people to believe in you as an artist, not a one hit wonder.
Enjoy your success, but don’t think that’s the end of the hard work, because it’s only just beginning!
Stuck at home with your creative musical juices? With over 800 million active users, Tik Tok is undoubtedly one of the best platforms to take advantage of when promoting your music. While we may still be social distancing right now, your music can powerfully connect people all over the world! Read on, and you will be steps away from making your song a hit on Tik Tok.
Which song should you promote? Choose a memorable song, one with catchy and easily learnable lyrics and beats. Tik Tok users love lip syncing and dancing to snappy songs, so ensure that your song is suitable. If your lyrics can be matched with simple and fun dance moves, even better! Users are looking for entertaining, lively, and exciting music to jam out to. The trendier and friendlier your music is, the more likely you are to experience success on Tik Tok!
Tik Tok users also create thousands of hashtags for all kinds of videos. When promoting your music, make sure to include related hashtags that already have a substantial following, such as #music, #foryoupage, #fyp, and #challenge. Because the Tik Tok community is worldwide, users love sharing videos where they lip sync and dance to popularly shared songs. By including hashtags, your music will spread quickly through Tik Tok!
Also consider creating your own memorable hashtag related to your song. For example, the successful promotion of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X is heavily attributed to the hashtag “#yeehaw,” which resulted in thousands of videos with over 67 million plays. Your’s can be next!
Most importantly, have fun and be consistent! Think about ways to make your video more quirky, such as by adding unique filters or including hilarious outfits and props. When promoting your music, it is important to frequently interact with other Tik Tok users. Comment and like other posts, share new videos, take on Tik Tok challenges yourself, and believe that you are fully capable of promoting your music. Be confident that your music is powerful and can connect millions of people––keep it up!
Source: “Get Your Music to Go Viral Using TikTok: How Musicians Can Use TikTok.” Burstimo, 15 June 2019, burstimo.com/promote-your-music-on-tik-tok/.
As streaming continues to take over the music industry, it might seem like even music videos are becoming obsolete. Many things in the industry have begun to fade over time, like physical albums, long release build ups, and even albums themselves. It may seem like videos could be next, but don’t write them off just yet.
Videos are still a huge part of music from both an artistic and business standpoint. Youtube is still the largest music streaming platform in the world, and only second to google of all search engines. And you can’t have music on youtube without a video! You can always upload a title screen or single picture as the visual of the entire video, but this can be a missed opportunity for creativity.
In terms of your art, a video is an opportunity to further convey your vision and message to your audience. No matter how simple or thought out the video is, it can enhance whatever mood you are going for and make fans feel even more connected to your music. A video will also bring more attention to you and your song. It’s another way to draw in fans and keep their interest to listen to an entire song, and maybe look for more after.
Some videos even end up becoming more popular than the song itself. You can probably think of at least a few dances from music videos that became huge trends, even if you don’t remember the song, (think Gangnam Style, and more than one Drake video), or some really notable videos, like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.
An example of a video success story is Mike Cover’ video of “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish on youtube. He made a simple but well made video for this cover, which was noticed by a popular Tik Tok promoter. The video blew up and became his most viewed video, claiming 119k views and counting. The cover probably wouldn’t have found the same success posted elsewhere.
Even the biggest artists don’t make videos for every song they release, and it’s not necessary for you either. Not every video needs to be super complex or high budget too, just intentional and relevant to the project. If you can, try to make a video for at least one, if not a few songs as you release new projects throughout your career. It can also be a way to keep promoting a song if it was already released on an album or single recently.
Spotify and other platforms are even starting to add more video elements to their services. Just log onto one, or youtube, to see that the music video is still very much alive!
As many musicians find out early in their career, talent isn’t everything. Your music has to be high quality, but what will set you apart is hard work. This is also what will impress booking agents. As an artist you have to market and advocate for yourself, but at some point you will want the help of an agent to really evolve your career.
A booking agent will do exactly what’s in the name, manage your bookings. They will also work to get you fair compensation, set up tours, manage budgets for entire shows and tours, as well as arranging more press coverage to grow your fan base. Though this is something you can do yourself, an agent will have the connections to get you gigs that you wouldn’t be able to on your own.
Before you’re ready for a booking agent, you should be regularly playing live and filling venues. You also should have a good amount of experience playing live, as an agent will definitely be able to tell the difference. Once you feel you are at the point where a booking agent can help boost your career, there are a few things to help you stand out.
One of the biggest things is professional and active social media accounts, as well as a website. This means having active accounts on multiple platforms, quality photos and promotional posts, and of course, a solid following. This is one of the first points of contact a lot of fans and agents will have with you, so make sure it represents you well. You should also link your artist website to your accounts, so people can quickly connect to your music and live show schedule.
Something else to put together before looking for booking agents is a digital press kit, or DPK. This is your music resume, and brings together your artist bio, music releases, tour dates, music videos, social media and contact info. Most booking agents find DPK’s on sites like Sonicbids, reverberation, etc. annoying because the format is not a quick and easy to follow. It’s best to hire a graphic artist to design a “One-Sheet” with all your information, and then create an online version on wix or your artist website, which essentially mimics the one-sheet design, but with videos.
Actually finding a booking agent is like most other things in the industry; through connections. Agents often find artists through managers, promoters, publicists, venue owners, and even other artists or producers. Occasionally, they will find artists through a popular song on a certain playlist or a popular chart. You also have the option of reaching out to booking agents yourself. Remember to keep it professional and start with an email with links to your music and inviting them to a live performance. Or, try calling their office, but be very weary of cold calling an agent directly. Do not brag about your music or yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Let your music and/or your numbers do the talking.
If you are ready for a booking agent, or once you work up to that point, make sure to put your brand together as professionally as possible, and then start your search for a booking agent. You get just one chance to make a first impression!
We want to send a huge thank you to everyone who submitted a 30-second video and helped make it a success!
The contest served as a fun way to raise money for the charity as Rock the Dream and the entire music industry has been significantly devastated by Covid-19 and the stay-at-home mandates implemented throughout the country.
All of the video submissions were funny and incredibly creative, and we want to give a special congratulations to Emerson Jones, the winner of the $50 Target Gift Card in our “It’s QuaranTIME Contest! His video submission (see below) received 39% of the votes, the most of any entrant, and has been awarded the gift card!
Every artist would love to have a competent manager. Someone to do all the work of booking, licensing, distribution, publicity, branding, merchandising, all of it! Unfortunately, these quality managers are not available to the average up-and-coming artists, unless you have a whole lot of money to pay them. So, most settle for mom, dad or the girlfriend.
How do you attract the viable managers if you’re a regular struggling artist? One way, is to be superior to everyone else — in reality, not just your mind. Managers love securing artists with strong potential. Networking is the easier path, but you still have to be superior. No manager worth their salt, will take on a client who cannot make them money.
Managers normally draw a varying percentage of the artist’s income; this is how they make most of their money. Make sure they earn it! Beware the wannabe managers or worse the scammer managers who prey on artists who show a little success. Their tell is that they over-praise your ability in order to “sell” you on their services.
Now that you know what they are looking for, what are you looking for? Competent managers have knowledge and skills. They have connections with industry movers n’ shakers within the booking arena, as well as the promotional, A&R and distribution world. They must also be the ultimate artist development expert, as this is usually what needs the most attention with new talent.
One of the first criteria is that they are honest. They must tell you the truth, not sugar-coat issues that will hold you back. Whether it be about obstacles, opportunities, or their ability or yours. A manager must have excellent follow-through skills, communication abilities, and be a goal-setter. Throw in a dash of patience, marketing, legal and accounting knowledge and you’re almost there. My best advice, learn all of the operational skills to become a successful artist, then find a more qualified professional to replace you. If you don’t know the job description, then how can you find the person you are looking for.
While we may all be stuck at home right now, our creative possibilities are still limitless! As an artist, you can still take advantage of a plethora of ideas to make and connect with new fans. Keep reading, and you will be one step closer towards creating successful fan relationships!
People love surprises! Are you in the works of writing new music? Give people a tease of your new craftsmanship, either by sharing a special video message through social media or even a short demo of new music. Promising listeners awesome new releases will surely capture more people’s attention and lingering curiosity.
Go live on social media! Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are popular platforms to build strong connections with new fans. Be authentic and create a comfortable atmosphere, so fans feel invited into the creative musical process. Update them with what you have been doing, and interact with them by responding to questions or comments.
Share your favorite playlist through social media, and include some of your own songs within the playlist! This is a brilliant way to actively engage fans or anyone who may stumble across your social media. If people share similar musical tastes or hear your music for the first time, you will be on the right track towards making new fans!
Through YouTube, create collaboration videos with other artists, especially those with a large follower base. Be confident and show off your power vocals, and always ask listeners to check out your music afterwards!
If possible, plan merchandise giveaways or virtual contests! For example, if current followers post a photo of them listening to your newest music with a specific hashtag you created, you can choose a few winners to receive free T-shirts! This is a great way to engage existing fans and to expand your fan base.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your action steps. As long as you keep working diligently and creatively, remember that no physical boundary can stop you from becoming a better and more established artist!
Bands and Artists are normally short on cash, but now more than ever musicians are suffering financially with the loss of performances, touring and merch sales. Good news! In collaboration with Cash App, Paypal and GoFundMe artists can now create a fundraising button on their Spotify page.
First, if you don’t have one already, create a Spotify Artist account, then log in. There will be a blue tab at the top that declares you can now add a fundraising link to your profile. A list of options will appear: Cash App, GoFundMe, PayPal or you can donate your money to a Music Relief charity. You must already have an account at the option you choose.
Ensure the link you choose is correct by pulling it up in a different tab, click the “next” button and confirm it is correct. A page will appear informing you that your fundraising link has been received.
Then promote, promote, promote! The more people driven to your Spotify page to either donate or listen to your music, the more popular you will become and potentially the more money you will raise . . . That is, IF your music is marketable. But, that’s another story.
Every artists’ success comes down to the same thing: the fanbase. That’s why the relationship between artists and fans is crucial, especially for those who are up and coming. In our streaming and social media ruled world, fans are bombarded by new music and artists all the time. It’s important for artists, then, to be creative in how they reach and respond to their fans.
One way for artists to have personal interactions with fans is by texting them. This goes against the typical rules of “fame”, but all kinds of artists have been successfully texting with fans through special services, like the startup “Community”. This service, among others, allows for celebrities or rising artists to have a separate number (not their personal cell), to give to their fanbase to send updates or reply directly to messages.
The amount of personal interaction depends on the artist, and sometimes the only responses are automatic replies. Many artists though, like P. Diddy, reach out to loyal fans, send personalized responses, and even invite them to parties. Other artists who text with fans include the likes of Paul McCartney and Marshmello, along with a number of other celebrities.
For huge stars, texting is mostly a way to say thank you and give back to their existing fans. It’s also a great way for emerging artists to grow and solidify their fanbase. Fans are more likely to be loyal, show up to more shows, and spread the name of an artist who personally reaches out to thank them and takes their feedback.
On the other side, artists can send out messages to promote shows and merch, announce new music, have a giveaway, or anything else that will promote them.
A service like this is more useful now than ever for artists since most concerts and festivals are cancelled for the near future. With most of the country and world in lockdown, it’s the perfect time to work on your craft, and also your brand. Fans, too, probably have more time and attention to give to music. Sending your fans a reminder of all that you’ve been working on will help you long after quarantine is over.
We can add lyrics to Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” and Katy Perry’s “Roar” to our Instagram stories, but do you know that you can also add your own song lyrics? Yes, you can! Read through, and you’ll be on track towards adding your own song lyrics to your next IG story.
Using your mobile device, download Musixmatch, a free application that allows lyrics to be paired with music. After setting up your account, follow these three important steps:
First, get verified as an artist! There are many ways to receive verification, but the easiest way is to fill out this link here. This link is provided by CD Baby, a digital music distributor, which has partnered with Musixmatch so that you can receive fast artist verification!
Next, add the lyrics for your songs into your Musixmatch account by pressing the “Add Lyrics” button. Make sure to adhere to all Musixmatch guidelines when transcribing lyrics, such as adding lyrical content only, transcribing all lyrics (including repeated ones), placing secondary lyrics into parentheses, etc.
When formatting lyrics, it’s important to break them up into individual lines. This way, your followers will have an easier time reading through your lyrics when they reach your IG story. Musixmatch recommends against copying and pasting lyrics from other websites, since this may cause formatting issues. Here are a few other tips: separate sections to your song with double breaks, capitalize the first letter to every song line, and insert all numbers as words.
You’re almost finished, so hang in there! Now, you have arrived at the final and best part, which is syncing your lyrics with your music. Search for your song on Musixmatch, ensuring that the lyrics you previously entered appear with your song. Make sure to connect the application with either your Spotify, Amazon Music, or Apple Music account, and then press “Sync Lyrics.”
Your song will start playing, so make sure that all your lyrics are in sync with the song. After reaching the end, all you need to do now is wait for your Instagram to update, which may take some time. So open your IG story frequently and be patient!
Congratulations, you did it! Now, you don’t have to add Taylor Swift’s “ME!” to your story anymore. Add your OWN lyrics that demonstrate your unique tastes and creative musical styles!
Written by Kerry Oliver, CEO of Dream A Dream Records
Dream A Dream Records has showcased hundreds of bands and artists over the years. Their common belief is that their music is good . . . or good enough to be signed by a major label. Then, when we ask for their live show attendance and social media numbers, it tells a whole different story.
If artists are not drawing at least 500 fans at every show; if their social media numbers are a couple of thousands instead of 100,000+ across their media platforms, then they should be asking themselves, why and make the improvements, not excuses. Mentors work well for this elevating endeavor.
Labels look at numbers — why? Because it gauges the success level of the artist through their appeal and marketability. Fans love their artists to dress professionally, perform at a highly entertaining level, and most importantly, their songs are memorable. If an artist is achieving these levels, then their marketability points are normally visible to the A&R consultants who find the talent to present to the major and indie labels.
Another aspect that labels hold most dear, is the personality of the artists. Are they humble? Are they confident? Are they easy to work with? Are they hardworking? These traits are most often more important than the musical talent itself. You can buy songs, dress up a band, teach them to perform; BUT, you cannot teach them to be likable.
There are thousands of artists with amazing talent, amazing songs. There are so few that are likable and humble. Labels want artists they like.
Traveling hundreds of miles through Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in just five days, Inconsistent Me marks the end to another FUN High School Tour with a twist. Getting to each state, right before the school systems closed was pure luck, until Michigan where he missed the last closure by 24 hours.
“We crossed our fingers that the tour wouldn’t be cancelled, and he made it through all but one . . . that’s a win!” stated Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream Concert Coordinator.
Since he launched his solo career on his first tour back in April 2019, he has accomplished three tours in over five states and 14 schools, performing in front of hundreds of new fans.
Due to the virus outbreak and the question of when and how schools will re-open, his next Rock the Campus tour is delayed to the Spring of 2021 with plans to squeeze in at least four tour routes through December.
Being a musician during the chaos of Coronavirus can be difficult. It is hard to stay motivated to produce new music when your energy may be focused elsewhere, like calming your anxiety.
I have compiled some suggestions on how to keep productive and use this time as an opportunity to focus on your music career.
First and foremost, focus on your Mental Health. Go outside for a jog or walk. Renew your hobbies or find new ones. Stay engaged in the music culture through your favorite podcasts, virtual live concerts, and fun events.
Instead of focusing on the news of a changing world, try to become more ‘you’. Staying at home can be daunting, but you can make it engaging, so take time to focus on your mental health. I started meditating and it helps me to stay centered. Writing your music or playing your instrument can have the same effect. Take this time to hone your craft!
Your feelings are valid. It’s okay if you are scared and nervous about the future. How you react to it is what matters. If you are worried, make time to worry; no seriously! Set aside time each day to establish worry time. This can be 10 to 20 minutes to focus on your anxiety, and then turn it into energy to productively move forward.
Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, and eating properly, so you’re prepared for the day — 8 hours of sleep a night. Many musicians say they pass the time by working out. This will definitely keep you in shape when festivals and concerts re-open, but don’t forget to practice your sets and write new music.
Social media can be really destructive to your mental health, unplug . . . restrict your fan interactions to just 2 hours per day on your various platforms. Find positive ways to promote your music or new video. Look for new networking opportunities within the music industry. Make sure you are staying visually engaged with close friends and family on Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or whatever you choose.
For me, helping others always makes me happy. One charity that you can donate to, and will directly help us all during this quarantine time, is the Coronavirus Global Relief at unicef.com.
I recommend taking this time to focus on your mental health, make sure that you are doing okay first, then move forward with your music.
Need a break from your schoolwork? Are the kids driving you crazy? Are you looking for ideas to pass the time in lockdown?
Here’s your chance to show us the crazy, wacky, creative ways that you’ve found to keep yourself entertained during this Corona season…and maybe win a prize!
Starting April 10th, “It’s QuaranTIME!” contest is going live. We want to see your videos (up to 30-seconds) showing us how you are keeping sane while stuck inside.
As an organization that relies on events, fundraisers, and concerts for income, we at Rock the Dream have taken a major hit. “Its QuaranTIME!” is a fun way to get the community involved, while helping to keep our charity afloat.
Once you submit your video, tell all your friends and family to vote! The video with the most votes will win a $50 Target gift card. That’s a lot of toilet paper!
Bring smiles during this uncertain time and submit your video! All proceeds benefit the nonprofit 501(c)(3) Rock the Dream, who is applying the funds to keep their staff employed, and its doors open to support struggling bands and artists to achieve their dreams.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the music industry. From halting album releases and cancelling tours to decimating gigs for musicians, sound techs and thousands of others who rely on income from concerts and public gatherings. Those who live and work in the music industry professionally, have been significantly affected.
Rock The Dream, like many others, is one of the small businesses that have had to decrease our staff’s hours dramatically and let some go, which has affected our ability to fulfill our mission to help these struggling musicians and bands, who have suffered a huge blow economically.
Would you join us in making a difference? We’re raising money to care for our staff and their families, and to ensure we can continue to help artists pursue their dreams in the music industry. Any donation will make an impact! Because we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, all donations are tax deductible.
The link to RTD’s Small Business Relief GoFund Me is here:
In a world where CD’s and iTunes libraries are a thing of the past, artists often struggle to make money from their music releases. Streaming is the newest and most popular way to listen to music, making mechanical royalties an important portion of an artist’s income.
Spotify is the largest and most well-known streaming subscription service, and an artist’s best chance at reaching an audience and making some money in the process. One way to gain traction on this platform is utilizing CD Baby.
The first step to success on Spotify is to get verified. Normally, this process would take a few days to complete; however, if you are registered through CD Baby, this is instantaneous. Make all of your artist information available to your audience – bio, concert calendar, press photos, etc.
Be sure to plan ahead. This is the most important factor to take away from this article. To effectively promote your music, you will need to plan at least 3-4 weeks ahead of your release date.
Sign your music up for distribution and Show.co (free for CD Baby clients). This will allow you to run Pre-save & Follow Campaigns, giving your current fans first access to your music. All you need is your single’s UPC, a good press photo and a catchy hook or reward.
Seven days before your release, submit your song to Spotify’s editorial team. Include your current pre-save and follow plans, your advertising budget, and any other campaigns you are using to promote your content. This will guarantee that your song is placed on your follower’s Release and Radar playlists.
Finally, invest in your music and make sure you have an advertising budget. Running ads is your best tool to reach a new audience. Don’t rush. Plan ahead. Put in the effort and you will see your Spotify numbers begin to rise.
Radio may seem like something of the past, but it’s actually still a huge way to get exposure for your music! You should always be marketing in a variety of ways, don’t rely only on playlists. Here’s a guide to pitching your music to radio.
The first step is to decide what type of radio station to approach. There’s regular commercial radio, college radio, community/ non-commercial, and SiriusXM. The best place for independent artists to start is with college and community stations, since many are actually looking for up-and-coming artists, unlike bigger stations. Second, choose those that fit your demographic and genre.
Definitely hit up your local stations, as they’ll be likely to want to support you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to farther ones, even overseas, too. Finding stations is relatively easy, just listen to your local stations, and for others you can use a simple google search, or a site like www.indieonthemove.com/radio.
Most stations have contact info or even a link to submit music to on their websites. It’s important that you actually listen to the station and do some research, as you’ll be wasting their time if your music isn’t a good fit. You also wouldn’t be reaching an audience that would like your music anyways. When you send your song, include a brief pitch on why you fit the station’s audience.
When it’s time to reach out, don’t just send your link and move on. Unless there’s clear instructions on how to submit, reach out with your request and ask how they would like the song sent (link, mp3 attachment, or cd). Always send a digital press kit (DPK), which must include a One-Sheet and should also include a professional press photo.
It doesn’t hurt to show up on their doorstep with a basket of goodies, such as merch, favorite snacks, etc., and don’t forget the CD/mp3. Research who the contact person is for playing new music (it’s usually the program director), then call the station, asking the receptionist what some of his/her favorite snacks are. You probably won’t be allowed to “say hi” but the basket will make it to its destination.
Follow up with a thank you! You want to foster the relationship, so you can send out future releases to those who respond. Also, promote the stations that play you! You don’t get on the radio by magic, so start promoting yourself to radio now!
Thinking of selling merch on your website? Without revenue from live shows, finding new streams of income right now is crucial. Selling custom merch is a brilliant way to get your name out there, plus increase your income. Your brand can be on display for everyone to own and wear.
You’ve seen typical merchandise collections of T-shirts, sweatshirts and bracelets, but there are other items that are cheaper. The trick is, just as in your clothing inventory, keep the choices at one or two items. Fans become confused if there are too many choices, plus it cuts back your inventory costs.
Knowing your fanbase is also important, especially when you’re ordering items to open up a merchandise shop. Start out with a low quantity of merchandise and increase your inventory as demand grows.
Order in bulk for an even lower price. Choose from pins, pens, guitar pics, mints, gum, ball caps, stickers, patches, posters and koozies — printed with your logo or name. You can get a wide variety for cheap bulk prices on these websites: Bands on a Budget and Awesome Merchandise, such as 100 custom pins for $69.
For items like shirts and hoodies, companies must quote a price after viewing your logo – it can range anywhere from $5 to $14 each, depending on quality level of the clothing and number of screen-printed colors. A good suggestion is to check local screen-printing shops. You can save money on shipping, plus most are normally much cheaper and of better quality than online services.
FYI, Gilden is a safe quality, yet economical T-shirt brand to choose. Never use Fruit of the Loom, they don’t keep their shape and fall apart quickly. Clothing doesn’t have to be the highest quality for your fans, but they should have the life expectancy of at least 2 years, so the quality level of Gilden is fine and will keep your wholesale pricing down.
Before launching new merch, model some pieces on social media, and even give some away to event promoters, close friends and radio stations who will help promote them. At major tours, give T-shirts to the sound guys and backstage workers. I guarantee, they will wear them. It’s also great to get fan input when designing and picking out merchandise, so you can give them something they’ll want to buy!
Selling merchandise on your website can be a huge success if you take the time to explore options, stick to your budget, and advertise like there’s no tomorrow.
When designing your album cover, it’s common to experience a creative block or struggle to decide on a design. Do you want a minimalistic appearance, a psychedelic look, a still life, a photography portrait? When it’s all said and done, what you want is for the cover to fit the artist’s image and album title, and to be visually show-stopping.
First, think about what route you want to go, a real life photo shoot or a digitally made cover. For a photoshoot, think about local spots with the right aesthetic — maybe a room in your house, an abandoned town, or even the junkyard. You can get really eccentric with hair, makeup and wardrobe design. Check your local thrift stores for outfits and props for cheap.
You can use visual effect tools to spice it up, too. Play around with effects like smoke, fire, shadows, mirrors, water or iridescent bubbles in your background. Although it would be an extra cost, a projector can be an excellent tool to set up entrancing backdrops for many covers to come.
Picsart has various features to edit photos, or you can create digital art from scratch. It has thousands of free backgrounds. You can add text with shadow effects in over 20 fonts. Stickers are also available. You can pay for the Pro Version ($41 annually), although, the free version is just as useful. You can make a personal sticker from a photo in your camera roll; use filters, photo masks such as flames and broken glass; blend images on top of each other and distorting effects like mirroring images, chopping them, and making them look like an oil painting.
Canva is another digital app with an interesting comic book feature, and plenty of templates to inspire you. It costs just $12 a month, or you can download the free version.
With a little creativity, using the many editing apps out there, or just working with an iphone camera and some cheap equipment, you can make the perfect cover art on your own.
For some artists, TV and Film placement is the ultimate goal, but others never even give it a thought. These kinds of placements are called sync licensing, and can be a huge stream of income for musicians. If it’s something you’ve never heard of or never tried, now’s the time to give it a thought.
The market for sync licensing is huge, think about all the tv and movies being produced, which all need music, not to mention video games, youtube videos and advertisements. And the best part is in this part of the music industry, the quality of music is much more important than fame and credibility.
There are a few ways to get into the sync licensing world — one is through music catalogues. This is probably the easiest place to start. And, there’s not much work to do after placing your music, the deals will come to you. There are tons of music libraries, so it’s sometimes hard to figure out which ones to place your music in. Do your research and try multiple. The biggest thing is to look for non-exclusive deals, so you can license your music in more than one place.
Another route is to work with a publisher. A publishing company will do most of the work promoting and getting placements, leaving you more time to work on music. However, you will be sharing royalties with the publisher. These deals will also often be exclusive, so be sure you know what you’re getting into. Never sign a lifetime exclusivity deal as you never know how it’s going to work out in the long run. Try to make any exclusive agreement deals as short as possible.
You can also try to DIY and make your own deals, but it takes a lot of time through trial and error to build these kinds of connections. It’s best to start by reaching out to smaller companies, gamers, and youtube channels with this strategy.
Although it sounds like a dream set up, it can be very difficult to get into this market and to be successful. It’s also very rare to make a full income from sync licensing. However, it can definitely be a valuable time investment, plus big placements can be good promotion for you as an artist.
If you find you are not having any success with licensing, reevaluate your music. It has to be top broadcasting quality, no demos, and must meet the genres and styles in demand. Also, keep trying different music libraries and researching for opportunities that fit your music best. It can be a long journey to success, so if music licensing sounds right for you get started now!