“Thank you SO much for putting this on!” a concert attendee gleefully expressed. “Are you going to be back next weekend? If so, I’ll be here!”. And, although the Rock the Quad Charity Concert only happens once annually, we were ecstatic to be back as the first live concert since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Viewers erupted into cheers as the performers, Maybe By Fall, Sarah Shipley, Toxic Hearts, Rosahlee and An Awful Mess, played live music for the first time in over 7 months.
Our MC, Kris with a K, did a fantastic job of introducing the performers and raffling away prizes from our sponsors, Target, Kohl’s, Avon and Safeway.
Rock the Dream thanks the hundreds of people who attended the concert and did it safely by wearing a mask and socially distancing!
Think about your own taste in music. There are most likely songs that you can appreciate but cannot relate to, or certain sounds that just don’t excite your ears. It may not have anything to do with quality of the music, every individual just has different tastes. It is important, as an artist, to realize that not everyone needs to love your work. However, it is important to pinpoint and focus on those that do (i.e., choose your target market).
Once you decide on the best demographic for your “target market”, you can create marketing campaigns that directly reach and resonate with your intended audience. For example, if your target market ranges from ages 15-21, a quick google search will show that this age group uses Instagram as it’s prime form of social media. Instead of putting time and effort into your Facebook content, you now know that your efforts will be better spent focusing on your Instagram content and engaging with your fans there. Not to say that Facebook would not still be important, just lower on the priority list.
Deciding on your target market will help you generate interest in your music, which help you increase your numbers on all platforms. Even a minimal target audience is beneficial. Many people surround themselves with those who share similar interests. They are likely to share new discoveries and interests with each other. Your original listeners will generate new interest from other music consumers outside of the small target market you began with.
The ability to build your marketing campaigns and promotions in a way that resonates with your audience, will allow you to retain this audience for a longer period. Your listeners will remain loyal supporters and stay interested in your work. This core audience will keep your career afloat and keep you competitive in the industry.
If you’re an artist or band that wants to book gigs and you don’t have a DPK yet, don’t wait any longer. A DPK, or digital press kit, is your musician’s resume. It will tell venues, promotors, journalists, and professionals in the industry what you bring as an artist. The more accessible information you have for these people to find, the more publicity and opportunities you can get.
Important people in the industry have little time, with a whole lot of people wanting that precious time. Make your DPK simple, easy to navigate with all the info concisely placed together with very little scrolling.
A DPK puts all of the important information about you and your music neatly together, and should include the following;
Your music. The most important thing any one in the industry is looking for is your music. Make sure your most recent releases are listed, and you should also link them, so they play directly from the page. Make sure you list your best songs first. The best marketable songs will be those that are under 3:30 and contain a memorable hook!
Pictures. You need professional quality photos of you or your band that represent you well. Include some options here that are vertical, horizontal, and different sizes so they can be used for any purpose. You can also add live performance photos and album covers. Choose a background that is highly unusual or very simple (no backyard shots against a fence). Studio shots are best for press photos.
Bio. List only the important things, such as notable venues, events, concerts, tours you’ve played, or industry people you’ve worked with. Include a brief discography of your recent albums, only if you’ve worked with established industry professionals. What are the most important things about you or your band that will draw in fans? Include what makes you stand out as an artist. Use a brief version when promoting yourself to industry circles, and keep a longer version that is more personable for your fans.
Videos. If you have good quality music videos, include your best ones. Live performances are also great, especially when a venue is considering booking you for a show. You can showcase your stage presence here. BUT, make sure you have “Stage Presence” first!
Press. If you have any notable features in articles or reviews, or have won notable contests or awards, list them and include any relevant quotes from industry professionals. Include interview videos, and an electronic press kit (EPK) if you have one. These are similar to movie trailers which makes the viewer want to see more of you.
Contact and links. You need to be easy to contact when you impress someone with your DPK. List all your contact info, as well as any booking agents or team members. Your social media links should also be available.
Finally, what might be the most important thing to attach on a DPK is a one-sheet. This will have the most important points to grab the attention of a VIP within one page, which can be printed. This should have a bio that highlights your music and accomplishments in a few paragraphs, a photo, and contact and social media information.
If you’re serious about being a professional musician, you need to present yourself as one. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity by not being prepared with a DPK!
Most up-and-coming bands dream of the day they can pack their suitcase and hit the road with their band mates. It’s no secret, artists love touring and for good reason, it’s one of the best ways to grow your fanbase. But, touring is costly. It can cost an arm and a leg if you don’t do the prep work before cramming into the car with your gear. Here are a few ways to make sure you use your budget effectively while touring.
KEEP COSTS LOW – We’re not talking about sleeping in the car and eating top ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a Google search, you can find good deals on lodging and transportation. Book your rooms ahead of time and use sites like Priceline and Kayak. Opt for hotels that include complimentary breakfast, so it’s one less expense to worry about.
We know a big, shiny tour bus is #bandgoals, but when you’re starting out, it’ll be cheaper to rent a trailer and hook it up to a car. Use MapQuest to plan your route and download an app like GasBuddy that will let you know where the cheapest gas is available.
And, when it comes to food, cheap fast food can quickly get old. When possible, hit the closest supermarket for fresh fruit & veggies. You’ll stay healthier, while touring. The deli section always has cheap, yummy alternatives that won’t break your food budget.
SELL MERCH – Design really cool, unique merch your fans will WANT to buy, even without your logo on it. Make sure it looks ATTRACTIVE and is good QUALITY. Stay away from Fruit of the Loom. It’s cheaper in inventory cost, but it falls apart when washed. You want your fans to continue wearing your T’s as long as possible. There are many cheap brands out there that still hold their shape.
Take just a few items per price range with you. Too big a variety eats up your inventory budget and confuses most buyers. Display just 2 types/color of apparel with 2 types of artwork design; and, choose just one of the $2-$3 items like stickers, wristbands, temporary tattoos, etc. Always display all your current CD’s and bring download cards to sell.
Price your items so you’re making at least a 75% net profit. Bundle your merch into discount deals so you can up-sell at your booth, such as pairing a T-shirt with a CD and a free sticker, thereby offering an attractive discount, because they are purchasing numerous items.
Make sure you can accept all forms of payment including PayPal, Zelle, Cash App and a credit card processor you can hook up to a phone. I suggest you don’t use Venmo, because everyone can see everyone you work with financially on the site.
EXTRA SHOWS – Supplement your gig income by booking private shows on your days off. Weddings and house shows can be an easy way to make a little side money. You might even get lucky and get tips or offered some of the delicious catering!
SPONSORSHIPS – Securing a sponsorship is my personal favorite type of touring income. Create a professional sponsorship packet offering promotional opportunities at different price levels and pitch it to businesses you know are trying to reach your band’s target demographic. Most business will say no, but this is a numbers game. And, the more you do this, the better you will get at pitching and eventually you will be able to think about securing a sponsor. Make sure you follow through on your end of the promo and take pictures/video to send to your sponsor afterwards to keep up the excitement level.
YOUTUBE – Record all of your concerts and random candid moments of your band on the road – shopping at the supermarket, setting up for a show, bloopers, playing games at the motel, etc. You can upload your concerts to YouTube or create really cool behind-the-scenes vlogs and monetize your channel, so you can continue receiving money from YouTube for years to come. Remember that the more creative and fun the video is, the more views you will get!
Use these tools to plan your next tour and see how it makes a difference on your finances! And remember not to get disappointed if you make a costly mistake. Touring is a learning experience that will improve the more your band does it. After a few gigs, your band will be pros on the road!
You’ve probably imagined a crowd of fans singing back the lyrics of one of your songs. It takes a really dedicated fan to know every line of your songs, but a real hit will have a hook that EVERYONE remembers.
The hook is the catchiest part of the song that people will remember most. It’s often part of the chorus, and many times the title of the song. Sometimes the hook is the whole chorus, though it’s usually only a few measures. It’s the part that the listener is waiting for and the rest of the song seems to be leading up to or supporting it. A song with no real hook can be disappointing or feel repetitive for a listener, like it’s going no where.
What are the qualities of a good hook? First off, keep it simple. Even if you’re an incredible vocalist, all of your fans are not, so make it something they can keep singing as they leave your show, and for long after. Show off your vocals in other parts of the song, but let the hook speak for itself. Melody is easier remembered than words, so keep this in mind.
Words are just as important, though, and the lyrics of the hook are probably the most important of the song. What message do you really want to be remembered? Simplicity with language is key here, too, as you want a line that is relatable and reaches something inside your audience. It could be deeply emotional, humorous, or inspiring, so long as it creates a strong feeling.
Next, repeat it throughout the song. It wouldn’t really be a hook if it only appeared once. And, if you write a really good one, listeners will be waiting to hear it again and again. People like repetition, that’s what music basically is, and the more something’s heard, the more likely it will be remembered.
There are ways to get creative with writing a hook. You can have an instrumental hook that stands out without any lyrics. You can also try putting your hook in the introduction and then bringing it back throughout the song. Try exploring vocal effects, like pitching up or down, using an unexpected instrument or sound, or even a featured voice.
The limits of songwriting are being pushed all the time, and many artists are straying from traditional song forms. It’s great to explore and innovate, but make sure every song has something that really holds it together and makes it memorable.
Source; Lavoie, Alex. “6 Ideas to Help You Write Catchier Songs.” Landr, 3 Apr. 2020, blog.landr.com/what-is-a-hook-in-a-song/.
Part of being a successful artist is understanding your target audience and fans. While you still can’t interact face to face during Covid, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with them through the Internet and social media. Doing so requires you to understand your fanbase and know how to most effectively reach out to them.
Run online advertisements through platforms, such as Facebook and Ad Builder to promote your music. For instance, through Ad Builder, you can identify your target audience and most effectively promote your music to them. Through Spotify and iHeartRadio ads, listeners can learn more about your work, and you can build a more diverse, dynamic audience. Most importantly, Ad Builder provides analysis on the effectiveness of your ads, which is vital feedback that will allow you to most successfully target and build your fanbase.
Plan a merchandise or album giveaway. Take advantage of your social media platforms to set up your own giveaway events. This is a great way to engage fans and reward them with a physical piece that showcases their dedication as a fan. Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for launching giveaways and is a quick way to grow your fanbase. To be eligible for winning giveaways, ask your fans to follow your account and tag their friends. This is an effective method to engage fans, reward them for their dedication, and build an even larger fanbase!
Create a song cover contest where fans can post their own creative song covers of one of your songs on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. This is a wonderful opportunity for fans to demonstrate their own abilities and passion. Not only will their song covers serve as a powerful marketing tool for your music, this is a smart way for you to learn more about your fans, interact with them, and show that you appreciate their dedication.
What are you waiting for? Plan out your next action steps to continue building strong, tight connections with your fans through the universal language of music. Think outside of the box, and most importantly, remember to stay consistently creative!
Every artist dreams of the chance to work with an industry pro, and Rock the Dream is giving songwriters the opportunity with our free Songwriting Workshop with multi-platinum producer Loren Israel.
Major label A&R Consultant Loren Israel has worked with Coldplay, Plain White T’s, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Eat World, Sugarcult, Neon Trees, and The Unlikely Candidates, to name a few. He will lend his expertise in a writing session where you’ll produce a song together and learn to elevate your music and create hits.
In this month’s sessions, artists Mitchel Madak and Rosahlee met with Loren one-on-one to discuss their styles and goals for their music. Now, over this month, Loren will produce a verse and chorus of one song for each.
Our next workshop is September 19th and takes place over zoom. The $200 registration fee will be covered by Rock the Dream, and includes a free month in our artist development mentorship program.
A big part of the allure of signing a record deal is getting an advance (aka, the money). There is much to consider before taking a check from a label, however. Understanding how the advance works and the terms of your deal will help you make the right decision.
A common misconception about record deals is that the artist gets paid just for the deal. The payment the artist receives is only an “advance”, and has to be made back for the label. The label is making an investment in you and your brand, and is expecting a return. Your advance might be between $50,000- $350,000 (sometimes much more or much less), but the label will also put much more money into your recording, production, and promotion.
The advance you get is simply a living wage while you work on producing music, plus performing and promoting it. One thing to consider is the size of the label. While a major label has the resources for a large budget, a small label may be limited. A larger advance in this case could mean a smaller marketing and promotion budget, so consider how this will impact your goals. A larger advance does not always mean a better deal.
Keep in mind that this “advance” is just that, a credit that you have to pay back. Regardless of what percentage of revenue you are entitled to in the deal, all of your royalties will be taken by the label until their investment is repaid. This means you have to make back the entire advance, as well as recording costs and other expenses specified in the deal. You can end up personally liable for these costs if your music does not generate enough income, and likely be dropped from the label. It’s a good idea to consult an entertainment lawyer, so you understand what you are signing.
If your “break even” point is far out of reach, you might not see any more money from your music for years to come, if ever. When considering an advance make sure you’re ready for the commitment you are entering, and that it will take you further in the direction of your goals instead of halting you.
August 1st brings another Virtual Live Concert from Rock the Dream! Featured artists are Onella, Mitchel Madak, Sarah Shipley, Corry Michaels, and Nojac, and our MC is Kam Cinnamon. Tune in at 5pm PTD/ 8pm EDT on instagram and vote for your favorite performer!
While in person concerts are on hold, you can still enjoy live music from home. And you can help support us and our artists with a donation. Join us @rockthedreamnonprofit on instagram, see you there!
Instagram Live has been popular since it came out four years ago, but now with in-person concerts on hold it is more valuable than ever. Instagram offers features that make it the perfect platform for your live performances.
You can see your viewer count and their likes and feedback while broadcasting. Comments can be turned off if they’re distracting, but are a great way to engage and interact with fans. We’ve been forced to keep our entertainment virtual for now, so take advantage of live streaming for your fans!
Use these tips to make your live stream top notch;
Plan ahead. Before you start a live stream, make sure you have a plan for the entire time. If it’s a performance, write out your set list, practice, and time it (You can go live for up to an hour). You may want to be more interactive with fans like with a Q&A, but have something else to talk about or get some questions beforehand, so that you don’t end up sitting in silence with no questions!
Promote. After you plan your actual performance, plan when you’ll go live. Starting on a whim could be hit or miss depending how many of your followers are online. Post on your story or page, and on other social media, at least a few hours before, so your fans will know when to find you.
Background. Even though it’s a pretty informal way to put on a show, make sure it still looks clean and professional. Plan your backdrop and outfit to fit the vibe of your performance. Your messy bedroom as a background won’t scream professional artist to your fans! Also, set up any equipment and a place to set your phone before starting, so you’re not fumbling around on camera.
Lighting. Adequate lighting makes a huge difference. If your room lighting isn’t up to par, it might be worth it to invest in some more professional lighting, like a small ring light. Amazon has some affordable options starting around $30.
Review. You can save your live streams to your camera roll. Take advantage of this and watch back any live concerts that you do to see where you can improve for next time. The comments won’t save, so try to read feedback between songs or at the end, or tell fans they can DM you after.
You don’t have to make your fans wait until the pandemic is over to see you perform, go live for them now!