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What Every Artist can learn from JoJo Siwa

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

If you haven’t heard of JoJo Siwa, she’s an 18-year-old who’s already amassed over 3.5 billion views on youtube, 36 million followers on Tik Tok, and 10 million followers on Instagram.  Her audience is very young, but her marketing techniques can be applied to any target audience. In her short time, she has perfected the most important element of finding success: Her brand. 

JoJo Siwa is hard to miss. Everything she does and wears is bright and bold, and she wears a signature bow in her hair. She started her career very young, and the life she displays is a fantasy for most kids. She was able to skyrocket her following by making slight adjustments to also appeal to a slightly older audience now that she’s an adult, while still maintaining her original audience.

 Specifically on Tik Tik, which has a widely Gen Z audience, Siwa jumped onto “transformation” trends to show how she’s matured, and even joined in on some jokes that people made about her. Her brand didn’t change completely, but simply evolved. She also makes consistent, high quality content across platforms to keep audiences engaged at all times.

Another thing Siwa does effectively is making content that sells. She’s constantly promoting her merch and music, but not in your face about it. For her music, she not only makes music videos, but also behind the scenes, live performances and bloopers. She’s constantly sporting her own merch, and even more subtly showing it, like giving a tour of her warehouse or making a funny video of how many of her bows she can wear at once. 

No one can deny the brilliance behind the empire of JoJo Siwa. Even if you have nothing in common with her brand, you can still implement the same strategies for your own. 

Its JoJo Siwa - YouTube
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How to do a SWOT Analysis on Your Career

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

Do you have a real plan for your music releases and promotion strategies, or are you just taking shots in the dark? If you are, you’re not alone, and this is a big reason why a lot of artists feel stuck in their careers. Regardless of talent, you have to be smart and have a real plan in place to succeed. 

One way to evaluate how you’re currently doing things and make a more efficient plan is with a SWOT analysis. This is a business strategy to define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Take the time to think these through and write them out. 

Strengths- What are you good at? For example; do you have good, unique style? Arrange more photoshoots. These are the things you want to play up in everything you do. 

Weaknesses- Everything you need to improve. Maybe your songs are great, but your live performance needs work. List that here. 

Opportunities- What connections do you have, collaborations you could be doing, or things you’ve been putting off? 

Threats- Anything urgent you need to address like debt, losing followers, not having any recent releases. 

First focus on opportunities and threats that are time sensitive. Then, think of ways to play up your strengths in your marketing and social media, and brainstorm what you need to do to address your weaknesses and schedule in time to do this every week with effective due dates. Re-evaluate this list regularly and update it. 

Source; https://youtu.be/5gRzr8Zwi-4

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How to use Instagram Reels for Promotion

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

Social media is a crucial part of promotion for every artist, but if you’re not utilizing it in the right ways, your posts won’t reach anyone.  Right now, videos are way more powerful than photos, and on instagram this means using reels. The format and algorithm for reels is similar to TikTok, so you can use the same content for both platforms. 

Regular posts will mostly be shown to your current followers and rarely pushed to new audiences. Reels, on the other hand, are favored by instagram and will be promoted to new users based on their performance. The better it performs, the more people will see it. That’s why you should be consistently working on new reels content to find out what works. 

As a musician trying to grow a following while also promoting your music, here are some reels tips:

-Use your own audio. Make sure you use a distributor that puts your music on Instagram. Then, if your reel blows up, your song gets more plays; and, if people like it enough they’ll use it in their own videos, or maybe even find it on a streaming platform. If you don’t select the audio through Instagram, then there will be no way for the viewer to find the title or link to the song, and they will quickly forget about it once they scroll past!

-Tell the story behind the song. A trend that has brought a lot of new artists attention has been to tell their personal inspiration behind a song before playing a clip. Be vulnerable and talk about something people will relate to!

-”If you’ve ever…   then this song is for you”. This is another trend to target people who relate to the song’s message. Use this intro with your song, and try to make the statement universally relatable, but still something unique and creative. 

-Steal a trend. If there’s a popular type of video that would work great to your song, re-make and give it your own twist, using your song.

-Ask a question. If you used any of the above video ideas, or something else, find a way to pose a question at the end for viewers to respond to in the comments. The more engagement on the post, the more it will be pushed to other users. 

Introducing Instagram Reels - About Facebook
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Why Lewis Capaldi is a Social Media Genius

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream 

Lewis Capaldi has become one of the biggest names in music, with his first single becoming the fastest to reach 25 million streams from an unsigned artist. Of course his music is exceptional, but there are other things to take away from his career, like his social media. 

An artist’s social media numbers don’t always line up with music sales, but Capaldi’s follower counts have grown almost as fast as his career. He’s only been releasing music since late 2017, and he’s now at over 3 million followers on Tik Tok and 5.5 million on instagram. 

Capaldi was able to identify and utilize a strength of his; his hilarious personality. He’s extremely funny and quirky and shares this through his social media pages, often posting unflattering pictures of himself in funny outfits or sunglasses, and making internet-relevant jokes. 

Another thing about Capaldi is that he’s super relatable. He makes jokes about still living with his parents, still being broke because his royalty checks haven’t come in, and things that anyone can relate to. He doesn’t try to flash his money or success, which might work for some artists, but wouldn’t work for Capaldi as he comes across as a humble, genuine guy. 

This kind of content made tons of people want to follow him, probably even if they didn’t listen to his music. This means that he has a huge audience to promote his music to, and those that weren’t fans yet probably became them. 

You shouldn’t try to copy Capaldi’s social media, chances are you aren’t quite as funny. You should identify your own strengths and focus on those. Maybe it is humor for you, or it could be that you’re open and honest and share personal stories behind your music, or maybe you’re a great visual artist. Whatever it is, curate your social media to be unique to you and your brand, and put time into it as it’s one of the best ways to market music today. 

Lewis Capaldi declares himself 'Scottish Beyonce' on London Underground  billboard - Daily Record

Source; 4-lessons-from-lewis-capaldi-on-how-to-rule-social-media

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Writing a Good Spotify Pitch

Written By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

If you aren’t already, you should be submitting EVERY song you release to Spotify Editorial Playlists before their release dates. Spotify editors actually review these and put artists on huge playlists that can jumpstart their careers. This is only if the music and pitch is good enough.

In a pitch, you have a chance to choose genre, subgenre, and moods for the song, and describe yourself and the song within 500 characters. You can explain the background on the song, and why it’s worthy of promotion, so take the time to do this well. Here’s how to write a proper Spotify pitch;

  • Submit your song as early a possible before release (at least 4 weeks).
  • Know what makes you special. You need to sell the exciting things about you or your band. Where you’re from or your musical influences don’t make you special, think about what really makes you unique. Once you figure this out, make it the first sentence of your pitch.
  • Name drop. If you have any cosigns from someone prominent in the industry or your genre, quote them in your pitch. Also, include any well-known blogs or platforms you’ve been featured on or that will feature this release — this builds your credibility as an artist.  
  • Mention if you’ve previously been added to an editorial or very large playlist.
  • Know your genre/subgenre. Use specific identifier terms to show where your song belongs, and that you know what you’re talking about. For example, if your music could be considered “hyperpop”, say it, don’t just call it pop. Also, use other terms this music is related to (i.e., lo-fi pop, future pop, etc.).
  • If you really can’t figure out what’s important about your band, hire a professional experienced in musician bios to write an artist bio for you and pull the best parts for your pitch. This will go a long way, and not just for playlist submissions.
  • Keep your pitch simple and precise. No unnecessary words or thoughts that do not relate directly to the pitch.
  • Edit! Rewrite the pitch a few times to make sure it’s as good as it can be, and to ensure you don’t miss anything important. 
29 of the Best Spotify Playlists in 2021 - Audiohype

Source; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7z9T0ydXso

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The Tortoise or the Hare?

By Kerry Oliver, Rock the Dream

Which are you? The Tortoise or the Hare? Many musicians jump out the gate on fire, putting all their time, effort and money into their music career, but soon suffer from the worst case of burn-out. Others never even leave the gate, lamenting excuse after excuse. Then, there are those who start slow and steady, learning the basics, setting their goals, achieving results.

Consistency is the key to success! It establishes habits. The habits form the actions we take every day. This action then leads to SUCCESS! Leadership guru John Maxwell said, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”

Here’s a brain test on whether you are currently consistent. What are you most consistent at (job, school, etc.). Why? No matter what your thoughts, it’s really because you’re putting in a lot of time, effort and money toward it.

Here are some secrets on how to stay consistent:

  1. Be honest! Do you LOVE being an artist, making music? If you don’t absolutely LOVE it, choose another profession, because you won’t stick with it. Specifically, state your goal in becoming a musician: fame, fortune, career, whatever it may be.
  1. Recognize the basics. List everything you need to accomplish in order to become a successful musician from learning to play an instrument, to singing, performing, self-promotion, etc.
  1. Write down your daily, weekly and monthly goals with a due date and look at them first thing every day. CONSISTENCY IS KEY! It can be just one goal or even a partial goal, no matter how small, focus in on completing it.
  1. Find someone to bug you EVERY day, holding you accountable for completing these tasks. It’s too easy to ignore your phone reminders.
  1. Analyze your biggest distractions, list notable obstacles. If they are not more important than your success, eliminate them. As new ones arise, keep eliminating them.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Compare your evolving self to your old self. This is the true mark of progress.
  1. Whether a solo artists or a band member, no one will help you. You are on your own. Don’t depend on anyone else. The frustration will just slow you down.
  1. Try different things, even to the point of unique ideas. Do covers, collaboration with other artists, posting on a new social site. Where is your target audience? Keep reaching out in different ways to find them.
  1. Enjoy the good parts of your improvement, but always put all your energy toward improving your weaknesses.  
  1. Budget your money. Allocate to the most effective tools of your career and stick to it.
  1. Limit your circle. There are a lot of advice-happy do-not-know-it-alls out there. Keep only trusted sources.
  1. Study success. Why re-invent the wheel? Find successful people. Analyze their success. You will find it all boils down to CONSISTENCY. Do what they do, in your way. Surround yourself with successful people. It does rub off.

Source:  18 Secrets on How To Stay Consistent in Music” by Slick for SFR Beats, March 18, 2019.

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Real World Marketing Ideas

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream 

With streaming and now the pandemic, music is increasingly accessed, performed, and marketed virtually.  This doesn’t mean that old school marketing techniques should be totally forgotten, though. And, since so many artists do forget them nowadays, it will make your name stand out even more. Here are some marketing ideas for the real world:

  • Show posters. You want a poster that’s eye-catching and captures your image. You can use it to market online as well, but make physical copies to post at the venue and any local places you can find (coffee shops, music stores, tattoo shops, etc.; wherever your target market would frequent)
  • Exit flyering. Be aware that some places require a permit for this, so do your research. Also, get permission from the venue! With your show flyers, you can find performances a few days before your own whose audience you want to target and hand out flyers as people exit that show. 
  • Stickers. Make stickers with your name or logo that stand out and place them anywhere you can (where allowed). You should also put a QR code on them, so people can scan it and get a link to your website or music. 
  • Hand out merch at big shows or festivals. A lot of artists already do this, so stickers and flyers will probably get thrown out. But, if you make tote bags, sunglasses -something useful- with your name and logo on it, people will appreciate it and remember your name. 
  • Promo Packages for Media. Create a beautiful promotional package to give to local radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, etc. Research each for the best contact person who can give you the publicity you want. Then create a basket with things they like. Call their receptionist, explain that you’re making a basket, and get your contact’s favorite foods, and size for merch. Pack it with these items, a T-shirt and your CD, along with your press kit — DO NOT DISPLAY the press kit, just put it in the basket.

Everyone is overloaded with online advertising, so having face-to-face interactions or something physical for people to remember you by makes a huge impact.  The more you stand out from the crowd, the more people will listen to your music and become a fan. 

Top 10 Favorite Featured Rock Venues in the U.S. | VenueMaps.net
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Musicians Guide to Twitch

Written by Alana Lai, Rock the Dream

Twitch is a live streaming platform where creators from any niche can livestream and interact with fans all over the world. Plus, you can earn a pretty significant income if you grow your following. Although Twitch is primarily thought of as a gaming platform, there are a ton of independent artists who stream, as well. Here’s a guide on how to use twitch as a musician.

  • First, make an account with Twitch; https://www.twitch.tv/ In your bio, tell viewers who you are and what to expect from your channel. Include your genre, how often you’ll be on, and what kinds of streams you’ll do (i.e. live concerts, requested covers, freestyles).
  • Customize your page by adding links (known as “panels”)  to your music, social media, website, and merch. You can also set up a schedule on this page, so people know exactly what days and what times you plan on streaming. 
  • Promote your Twitch account across all your social media and let your followers know when your first stream will be! It’s a good idea to run some kind of contest or giveaway to encourage your fanbase to support your new page. 
  • Before your first stream, give it a title and list the category as “Music and performing arts”.  Write a brief introduction that will show in a notification to all of your followers when you go live. 
  • To stream from your desktop, download Twitch studio: Twitch Studio Download

It’s a really good idea to use an audio interface (Focusrite is an affordable option) to connect your microphones and/or instruments. This will make your sound much clearer and professional. Using a quality camera also helps. 

You won’t make any income from your first streams, but it can be well worth it if you take the time to build an audience. To earn revenue from your streams, you have to apply for the affiliate program, which requires you to:  1. Gain a minimum of 50 subscribers over the last 30 days; 2. Broadcast minutes must be a minimum of 500 minutes or more; 3. Seven unique broadcast days;  and 4. Three or more concurrent viewers on average.  

If you have the time and dedication to build your page, Twitch is a great platform to share music, engage directly with fans and other artists, and earn regular income.

Twitch on Twitter: "His journey is an epic one forged from hoodies, death  metal, and CHAOS. We also heard he's a really nice guy. The legend of  @timthetatman continues on Twitch.… https://t.co/JDf2mGirpA"

Sources; https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/twitch-music-getting-started?language=en_US

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How to Get Played on Pandora Radio

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

Pandora radio, owned by siriusxm, makes personally curated music stations for its listeners. It’s great for discovering new artists, because it plays similar music to what someone already listens to from all different artists. 

Currently, it is only in the US, but it has a huge audience nonetheless. Every independent artist should take advantage of this goldmine of potential fans. 

To get music on Pandora, your song must be released by a distributor (i.e. Cdbaby, distrokid, etc.). Your distributor might already send your music to Pandora, but the following process is still necessary for it to be added to the general catalogue and pushed out to new listener stations. 

First, make a pandora account if you don’t have one, and then log into the Artist Marketing Platform with the same credentials. You can upload songs through the “submission portal”. 

Copy the UPC from your distributor site and paste it into the form. Keep in mind that the song must already be released, so it’s best to do this on the release date. Then, enter a description and genre. 

It will then be received by Pandora and show as “In review”. After this step, a decision will be made, and then you will be notified with either “Live” or “Rejected” once it’s been reviewed. 

Pandora even offers free tools for promotion right in the Artist Marketing Platform. These include an artist audio message that plays when someone selects your station; a featured track that is pushed out to the most stations; and Pandora stories, which allows you to make playlists with mini podcasts to share your story and perspectives with listeners. 

Once your music is uploaded all that’s left is to keep on promoting! There are listeners waiting to hear your new music right now, so don’t wait to get on Pandora!

Pandora - Streaming Music, Radio & Podcasts - Apps on Google Play

Source: https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/releasing-music/pandora-radio/

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How to Grow on Instagram in 2021

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

If you’re working on growing your instagram page, which every artist should be, then you might be stressed about all the things you hear regarding changing algorithms. While there have been a few major adjustments in the past year, the algorithm doesn’t change that often. So, your main focus should be about making a plan to push your content to new fans and sticking to it. Here are some up-to-date tips.

You probably hear people saying “post as much as possible”. This is only partly true. On your feed, you want to post as much quality content as you can. A few solid posts a week is much better than posting randomly from your camera feed everyday. These should be professional looking photos and content pieces that promote your brand; and, try to keep a similar theme and look to them.

Your story is where you want to be posting more constantly. Use your story everyday, posting  when you can. Here, you can be less professional and show your fans your personality. You want to interact as much as possible by reposting fan shoutouts, asking questions and polls, and simply talking candidly.

Reels, the newest feature on the app, are what instagram promotes the most, so take advantage of them. Post as often as you can, and if you use TikTok (which you should be), reposting content from there will save you tons of time. 

Interaction on every post is really important to get instagram to push you out to the explore page. Take time to think about captions that people will actually read, as the longer they stay on your post the better it looks to the app. Also, always ask questions and engage in discussion in the comments. 

You also want to make content that is shareable. Whether you’re good at making really funny content, can write really inspiring and compelling captions, or are on top of trends, focus on making posts that people are likely to send to a friend. You can also remind people in your caption by adding, “share with a friend who (fill in the blank)”.  

Social media comes down to being real, showing your personality and connecting with fans, but it is also one of the biggest self-promotion tools around, so put in the time to do it right!

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Randy Jackson’s Advice to Artists

Written By Lindsey Batista, Rock the dream

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The worst things you can do are: Get hooked on drugs or alcohol, or let your ego get in the way of your improvement.
  6. 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. 
Who is Randy Jackson? American Idol star's career, age, net worth and more  facts - Smooth
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Do You Have a Brand?

Written by; Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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! 

Music Branding 101: How To Build A Brand As A Music Artist
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Mindfulness for Musicians

Written by Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

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. 

24 Mindfulness Tips for Beginners to Bring Balance to Daily Life

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Apps Every Songwriter Needs!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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!

Image result for musician apps
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Not Writing Enough Songs? Try These Challenges!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

3 Ways to Create Your Project Manager Calendar
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The Secret Way to Master Songwriting

Written By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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. 

Copyright Law: Navigating the Songwriting Process and Staying out of  (Legal) Trouble - EDM.com - The Latest Electronic Dance Music News, Reviews  & Artists
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Why You Should Have a Social Media Schedule

Written By; Ava Spolec, Rock the Dream

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. 

Sources; https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-calendar , https://bloggingwizard.com/best-social-media-scheduling-tools/

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How to Use SubmitHub

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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. 

The Pros & Cons of SubmitHub - An Honest Review - Musician Wave

Source; https://spinnup.com/uc/blog/submithub-how-does-it-work/

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Youtube Curators – The Secret that Can Help Your Career

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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! 

14 Hip Hop and R&B YouTube Music Promoters - The Future of Viral Music
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FROM PASSION TO PROFIT – Ways to Make Extra Money From Music

Written by Jessie Cheng, Rock the Dream

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!

  1. 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! 
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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! 

Theater Steps - Music Lessons in New Jersey
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Guide to Crowdfunding – It Actually Works!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Patreon compared

source; https://blog.landr.com/crowdfunding-for-musicians/

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Can You Really Make Money on Youtube?

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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.

How Much Money Do YouTubers Make? - A YouTuber Explains - The Money  Algorithm

Sources; https://www.complex.com/music/2017/11/how-artists-make-money-on-youtube , https://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2020/04/5-ways-musicians-earn-revenue-via-youtube.html

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“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”- October Songwriting Workshop

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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 contact@rockthedream.org. RTD will pay the $200 registration fee for those they feel are ready to learn.

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Treat Music Like It’s Your Job – Even if It’s Not!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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.  

New Year, New Goals for Your Funeral Home
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What You Need to Know about Spotify’s Algorithm

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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. 

Why the Release Radar playlist is Spotify's secret weapon

Source: https://artists.spotify.com/faq/promotion#how-do-i-get-my-music-on-a-spotify-curated-playlist

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How To Make a Music Video Without Breaking the Bank

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

Sources; https://aristake.com/how-to-make-a-music-video-on-a-tiny-budget https://www.prescriptionmusicpruk.com/the-prescription/how-to-make-a-music-video

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WHY MOST BANDS AND ARTISTS FAIL

By Kerry Oliver, Rock the Dream

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 contact@rockthedream.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. 

Music Business | UCLA Continuing Education Online

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Beat Writer’s Block!

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.

  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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!

Source; Seydel, Rory. “13 Ridiculous Songwriting Tips That Actually Work”. 2019. https://blog.landr.com/10-songwriting-techniques/

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DRESS LIKE THE NEXT BIGGEST HIT

Written by Jessie Cheng, Rock the Dream

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!

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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!)
  4. 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!

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How To Save your Artist Bio from the Discard Pile!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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.   

The Do's and Don'ts of Writing Your Spotify Bio – News – Spotify for Artists

Source; Trandafir, Leticia. “How to Write an Effective Music Bio: The Musician’s Guide“. 2017. https://blog.landr.com/music-bio/

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Make Your Merch Booth Do Its Job!

Written by Diane Martin, Rock the Dream

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.

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Rock the Quad Makes a Triumphant Comeback Post-Coronavirus

Written by Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream

“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!

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Focus on Your Target Market- You Can’t Please Everyone

Written by Grace Moran, Rock The Dream

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.

Instagram vs. Facebook - Why Instagram Seems to be the Clear Winner -  Business 2 Community

Source;  Handlin, A. (2019, August 08). The Importance of the Target Market. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://bizfluent.com/about-7369454-importance-target-market.html

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One Look At Your DPK Could Make or Break Your Career

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

Source; Sonicbids, “How to Create and EPK and what to put in it”, 2016 https://blog.sonicbids.com/how-to-make-an-epk

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5 SMART WAYS TO MAKE MONEY ON TOUR

Written by Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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!

6 Smart Ways to Make Money in Music While You're Still Waiting for ...
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How to “Hook” Your Listeners

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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/.





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How to Engage and Grow your Fanbase

Written by Jessie Cheng, Rock the Dream

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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! 
  3. 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! 

The 6 Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians - Music Industry ...

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FREE Songwriting Workshop with Multi Platinum Producer – Register Now!

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.  

More info at contact@rockthedream.org

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“Record Label Advances – Is it Free Money?”

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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. 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing a Record Deal - SmileCelebs




Source; Weibe, David Andrew. “How Much Advance Do Record Labels Give, And How Much Should You Try and Get. ” Music Industry How To, https://www.musicindustryhowto.com/how-much-advance-do-record-labels-give-and-how-much-should-you-try-and-get/

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Virtual Live Concert Tomorrow!

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!

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Step Up your Instagram Live Performances

Written By Diane Martin, Rock the Dream

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;

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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.   
  5. 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!

Virtual concert fills the void left by live music festivals ...
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The Do’s & Don’ts of Networking with Industry Professionals

By Kerry Oliver, CEO Rock the Dream

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.”

Collage of Record Labels

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TROLL OR MARKETING GENIUS?

Written by Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream

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.

SOURCES:

“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.

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Your Song Went Viral, What’s Next?

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

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!

Doja Cat "Mooo!" Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified - YouTube

Source; Fitzgerald, Kiana. “What It’s Like for an Artist to Go Viral- and Move Past It” Complex, 7 Jan. 2019, https://www.complex.com/music/2019/01/what-its-like-to-go-viral-move-past-it

 

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Turning Your Song into the Next Hit on TIK TOK

Written by Jessie Cheng, Rock The Dream

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/. 

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Music Videos Aren’t Going Anywhere!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock The Dream

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!

Source; Medium. 4 Feb. 2016, medium.com/@pulsefilms/ why-music-videos-are-still-so-important-views-from-inside-the-industry-ebaa7d4758d2.

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Virtual Songwriting Workshop!

Rock the Dream is sponsoring select artists to participate in a Virtual Songwriting Workshop with multi-platinum producer and A&R Consultant, Loren Israel.

Loren, who worked as an A&R for Capitol Records for over 15 years, is well known for discovering and developing the Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, Jimmy Eat World and most recently, Unlikely Candidates.

The workshop will take place on Sunday, June 28th at 12pm PDT via Zoom. The participating artists will receive one free month in the Rock the Dream mentoring program.

To register or for more info, email contact@rockthedream.org.

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Do You Have What Booking Agents Are Looking For?

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock The Dream

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!

Source Articles;

https://artists.spotify.com/blog/booking-agents-how-to-get-%27em-and-why

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Announcing the Winner of our “It’s QuaranTIME” Contest

Written by Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream

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!

Exercise Ouch by Emerson Jones

Click here to see all of the video submissions.

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Artist Seeking Quality Manager

Written by Kerry Oliver, CEO of Rock The Dream

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.

How to Play Music Festivals

By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream 

It’s that time of year, and music festivals are finally back. For musicians, festivals are huge opportunities for exposure, which means there’s a lot of competition to get on rosters.  Here’s our tips on how to get one of these coveted spots. 

  1. Perfect your live performance. It’s no use to book a major festival if you aren’t an amazing performer yet. Every artist and band needs ‘hit’ songs, practice and experiences to put on a great live show, so work on your stage presence before wasting time trying to book a festival. How do you know if your performance is ready to hit the main stage? If you cannot draw a crowd of 100 people, without counting your relatives and friends, you’re not amazing enough. If you can draw 100, 500+ is a reality at a music festival.
  1. Start local. Building a solid fanbase in your hometown and surrounding area is really important for new acts. Look for festivals and events around you and apply. Even if it seems small, it’s still a chance to be discovered by potential fans and for you to perfect your performance, so you can draw that crowd of 100.
  1. Update your social media. When applying for a festival, your social media presence will be a big factor in deciding whether to book you. Large following numbers will help, of course, but it’s also important to show that you’re active and interacting with your audience. This shows that you will actively promote the festival if you get the spot. 
  1. Have an updated DPK, (Digital Press Kit. Find more details on our blog.)
  1. Choose festivals wisely. It’s a waste of your time, not to mention the festival to apply to ones that don’t fit your genre and level, so research properly. Finding festival opportunities can happen through networking, booking agents or your own research. Tools like Sonicbids festival finder: https://discover.sonicbids.com/festivals/  can help you find ones accepting applications. 
Is it safe to go to an outdoor concert or music festival during Covid

Source: https://spinnup.com/blog/how-to-apply-to-american-music-festivals-2021/