Tips to Keep You on the
by Christopher Knab ,
Back to The Academy
Good music isnít good
If you think your music is
Ďgoodí....then just keep it as a hobby. The music marketplace doesnít need more
Ďgood Ď music, it needs truly GREAT music, which is a lot easier to get people
excited about, and to market. The low cost and advertising hype surrounding the
making and manufacturing of music has given musicians the illusion that their
music is worthwhile. The sad fact is that in this new millennium mediocre music
is commonplace and increasingly more difficult to promote and sell. These days
not only can everybody and their sister make bland music, they are
making and releasing bland music; so the marketplace is flooded with
mediocrity. MUNDANE might be a good name for a band, but keep it to yourself!
Know thy audience.
see my updated article on this topic at this website)
The minute you decide you
want someone to listen to your songs, you have entered the music business. If
you donít know who would like your music, why would you make it in the first
place? Art and commerce not only can work together, in todayís
marketplace they must work together. Gone are the days when a musicianís
talent alone is all that is needed to succeed. These days record companies
develop new artists through time-tested career development tactics that start
with finding the right niche to break the artist from. Spend a lot of time
asking yourself who your average fan is, and get to know everything about their
lifestyle, ages, sex, and income levels. Do that, and a whole universe of
inspired opportunities on how to reach them will open up to you.
good idea is worth more than a big budget.
a music career off the ground is not only hard work; it also costs money. But
the simplest ideas can deliver big payoffs. Look around where you live, and
find simple ways to get your career moving. Create Podcasts to entertain and inform your
fans. Or, are there schools nearby where you can play live? Are there
non-profit organizations that need volunteer entertainers for fund-raisers? Is
there a fair or festival coming up that showcases local or regional talent? How
about a retailer or service company that might be approached to distribute and
sell your music? THINK!!!Ö Ideas come to us when we give ourselves time to
think. Watch for any bad habits you may have (watching too much TV, too much
partying etc.). Use your time creatively and challenge yourself to come up with
one original music marketing idea a week! You will be surprised how many good
ideas you can come up with, and most of them wonít cost much money at all, if
Being nearsighted may make
If you donít know clearly
where you are going, you can easily lose sight of your goal, and miss an
opportunity that may come your way.
Donít see only what you think needs to be done with your music.
Find out as much as you can about how the music business is set up, and how it
works as an industry. See the broad picture, and how all aspects of developing
your career are related. Remember that every
job, responsibility, and profession involved with creating, developing,
and marketing music is related to another part, and they all need each other
and work together for the mutual benefit of each other. Do you have a realistic
plan for yourself that puts the whole picture into clear focus?
Get the job done, and get
the job done well.
Do what you say you are
going to do, and donít use any excuses for not getting things done. Everybody
you meet in this business, who agrees to help you in some way with your career,
may also benefit from your success. When an opportunity arises to get your foot
in the door, keep it there. If you treat
people unprofessionally, they will remember you. If you treat them
professionally, they will remember you. You decide what kind of reputation you
want to establish. Also, whatever you do, make it the highest quality you can.
Your competition in this business is every successful musician out there. Are
you as dedicated to perfection as your competition? Remember, the music
business has enough flakes, so donít become the dandruff everybody wants to get
Weave a thread of
consistency in everything you do.
Like it or not, as a
musician you are part of Ďshow bizí, and as such should be very conscious of
developing a clear, honest, and definitive IMAGE of who you are, and what your
music is about. If you believe you donít have an image, go ahead and let the
music business create one for you...but donít complain when they call you
something you are not. Only you know what is inside of you. Be sure your
artwork, press materials, live stage appearance, and your songs reflect who you
are, so that every time you work on a part of your career development, you are
thinking consistently about any and all aspects of your image.
Work with people, donít
work on people.
music business is built on relationships. Donít take advantage of people.
Nurture the contacts you make, and spend time building these relationships
within the particular music scene that exists for your music. Learn who
the key players are in each area of music marketing; the distributors and
stores, the broadcast media, the press, and the live performance industry. Give
them solid business reasons to want to work with you. Once you have them on
your team, communicate with them regularly, and become a team player who is
genuinely in it not only for yourself, but for the mutual benefit of each team
are different from goals. They imply that you deserve something because of some
inflated, premature ego that has put you on your own pedestal; when in reality
you havenít even built the stairs up to a pedestal yet. Youíve met people like
this. When any early recognition comes their way they absorb praise like a
sponge, and become impossible to work with. Nothing is ever good enough for
people like this. They Ďexpectí recognition and can easily get sidetracked into
abandoning any plans or goals they have set for themselves. They may rest on
their laurels, waiting for some invisible momentum to carry them to a new
level. A sure way to fail as a musician is to get the reputation of being
difficult to work with, and a pain in the ass. Donít shoot yourself in the
foot; you wonít look good limping about in front of your mirror.
the road to success, there are many detours.
trouble and find a way out. If there are any guarantees in the music business,
you can bet your amplifier that stumbling blocks to success abound. Knowing
that problems will arise, and finding solutions to your problems is half the
challenge. The other half is implementing your strategies and tactics consistently
and professionally. Many Ďwanna-beísí give up when rejection arrives. Rejection
is a coat of armor that must be worn at all times. For every yes, there will be
countless noís. Learn from the rejections, the missed opportunities, the failed
promises, the lousy reviews, the insensitive label personnel, the crooked
agents and managers that you may encounter. Turn every negative into some kind
of a positive. See what can be learned from the bad experience, so that the
next experience might be good.
and smell the roses.
music and nothing else is a bad idea! Too many musicians forget that to grow as
an artist, experiences are what matter most. It is so easy to get carried away
with your music to the exclusion of everything else... friendships, family, the
other arts, nature, and other interests are essential to keep the creative
juices inspired and flowing. Do things you have never done before. Go out and
eat a gourmet meal, read a poem, hike or go fishing. In fact, go out and do the
one thing that you feel is the last thing you have any interest in....that
should give you something to write about. Music is a business, no doubt about
it, but music is also an art, and as an artist you need to nourish your soul as
well as your pocketbook.
Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He
is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Knab's book, 'Music Is Your Business'
is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.
Visit the FourFront Media and
Music website for more information on the business of music from