Thoughts On How To Approach Music Bloggers

[Editors Note: This article is derived from the “Question and Answer” format found over at MusicPreneurHub.com, a site that connects artists and music industry experts. It was written by Jack Ought, a musician, freelance writer and digital artist from the UK.]

 

1. Start With Empathy

I’d say start with empathy. Empathy is a vital skill for dealing with other humans, whether they blog or not. Try to put yourself into the head of the music blogger before you contact one. What do they want out of life and how can you help them get it with your music? Put another way, ‘what’s in it for them’?

It’s a bit like submitting to A&Rs at major labels. If they’re really big, they’re getting more submissions than they can possibly deal with. They’re getting generic/irrelevant pitches all the time, and they might have grown to resent ‘bad pitches’. They don’t want to read War and Peace, even if your content is relevant to them – instead, they’re looking for short, informative, and ’to the point’ releases that allow them to learn more, if they want to. And they are always looking to uncover music that they feel has real value, why else would they do what they do?

If it’s a commercial blog (i.e they have ads), understand their revenue model – they want more page views, which generate more ad revenue. How can you help them generate more page views? One of the things that always gets my interest as a journalist or blogger is an exclusive – I’m not interested in posting content that a bunch of other people have put out before me. Do you have something new to announce that they can post first? A new tour perhaps, or a new single? Perhaps consider: “if it’s not new, it’s not news”

2. Your Mindset

Perhaps consider your mindset too; in the sense that you are here to serve and provide value. You are here to give them something very exciting to show to their readership. You have something genuinely valuable to share with them in the form of your art.

What to do when you pitch a blogger:

Have a strong headline: It’s worth bearing in mind that your email subject is a bit like your headline – you really have to get it right, because if they don’t like the title they won’t even read your email.

Do your homework on the blog: Some blogs ask you to do certain things in your email to help them better process your submission. If you don’t, the blogger will likely reject your message outright.

Personalize your pitch: Make sure the salutation references them by name, if you can. If not, name of the blog that they write for. Don’t start an email with something like ‘Dear Blogger’, please. Tailor it to the blogger in question, ideally in the first paragraph by referencing something they have written about in the past: And why what you have to OFFER them is RELEVANT. I speak from experience when I say that if someone shows that they have taken the time to research what I am writing, I am much more inclined to respond. It’s not flattery per se, more an example that you’re a professional who has taken the time and thought to do their research.

Expect a low hit rate: Sad but true, even the best crafted, most targetted pitches will often evaporate into nothing. This is very often the case and not something to take personally. People are busy, people forget stuff, sometime spam filters get excited, there are many reasons. Which leads us to the next bit… Follow up: 3-5 days later, politely. A short, friendly follow up email to remind them. There’s a trade off between emailing indefinitely until they get back to you or tell you to stop, or not. I think it’s like a lot of stuff in life in that persistence pays. Remember, you have something useful for them to see. An optional step – you could pick up the phone and call them (or try to get them onto Skype). If you are the kind of person who is good on the phone, this may be better for you.

Provide easily accessible links to your content: Either download links to music and imagery on a site like 4shared, or your EPK. Say thank you at the end: Everyone is busy, the fact that the blogger has taken the time to read all the way to the end is great. Politeness will get you around. Here’s an example of an email title (first introduction) that could work for you: “Hi [NAME OF JOURNALIST], I read your piece on [SOMETHING THEY WROTE] & thought you may like this…”

3. On Bloggers (Big and Small)

Please don’t rule out smaller bloggers. Just because they’re ‘small’ doesn’t mean they’re not important – even though a blogger may not have the following of a bigger publication, they often have a highly engaged and super niche following of the kind of people you want to get in front of. For example, they can be followed by journalists at bigger publications looking to catch new bands before they take off. Big outlets often get their ideas from smaller ones.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bloggers are, on the main part, fanatical about what they like and they can be some of your biggest champions, if they like you. Most of the time, the ones who went into it purely for the money were quickly weeded out when they realized that they’re probably not going to get rich and famous overnight.

As Recording Technology Advances, How Does the “Live Experience” Change?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Sabrina Bucknole. Sabrina has been singing in musical theater for over eight years, and wrote this as a deep dive into how live and theatrical singers can adapt their vocals for the studio and offers five practical tips for singers recording in the studio.]

 

Seeing a “live” performance has changed in meaning throughout recent years. With the introduction of new technology to the stage and online spaces such as YouTube and Facebook, the meaning of “live” has evolved and become something everybody with a smartphone or tablet can experience.

Bringing the Studio to the Stage

Technology once only found in the recording studio has recently been adapted and used for on-stage performances. According to vocalist, electronic music composer and lecturer Donna Hewitt, “Recording and performance practices are trending towards each other and this is being propelled by a combination of technological shifts, a broad change in the level of production literacy of musicians, and an increasing shift towards more technologically intensive performance, either on stage (in terms of the musician’s own performance tools) or off stage.”

In other words, the use of technology on stage has greatly increased, with artists becoming more experimental with the use of technology in their live performances.

The introduction of recording equipment and new pieces of tech to the stage has evolved and shaped the term “live performance”. For instance, loop pedals record vocals and instruments in real time, then loop the sound back to the artist. These nifty pieces of tech allow you to create layers of sound and add textures to live performance.

There are plenty of new and up-and-coming artists who use loop pedals for live performances, including Grace McClean who creates what can only be described as a witty form of jazz using clever yet comic lyrics and snappy vocals. A great example of this is in her live performance of “Natural Disaster”. Hite (aka Julia Eastern) is another example of a growing artist who uses the loop pedal in an innovative and experimental way during live performances. She uses the pedal to add smooth textures through holding long notes, creating an enchanting sound which is evident in her performance of “Eyes on the Prize”.

But it’s not only smaller artists who use these nifty pieces of tech during live sets. Pedals are becoming increasingly popular mostly due to the likes of famous artists including Imogen Heap, Radiohead, and of course, Ed Sheeran. With only an acoustic guitar and loop pedal by his side, Ed Sheeran became the first-ever artist to play Wembley stadium solo over three consecutive nights in 2015.

There were concerns that Sheeran wouldn’t be able to pull it off because usually audience members in an arena as immense as this require a grand spectacle. Plus, being able to fill a stadium with sound generated by only a guitar and pedal seemed impractical, but as history shows, the performance was a complete success. The pedal was able to create a richer and fuller sound, contributing towards Sheeran’s impressive achievement.

Livestreaming

Livestreaming music festivals and concerts are also becoming increasingly popular. In fact, 81% of internet and mobile audiences watched more live video in 2016 than in 2015. YouTube for instance, livestreams large events including Coachella and Ultra, giving new meaning to the concept of seeing a performance “live”. The BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury is another good example of this because even though the viewers are not physically there, they are seeing the action in real time.

As well as growing in popularity, live streaming is becoming increasingly normal thanks to Facebook’s new tool which allows users to go “live” and watch videos as they are happening. Facebook’s “live” feature can also be a great benefit to up-and-coming artists when they’re trying to promote themselves through their pages, from live covers to never-heard-before originals. What makes the “live” tool different and possibly more effective than uploading a music video is that artists can interact with their viewers in real time as well as reach new audiences.

As the concept of watching things “live” becomes more of a normality, how does this affect the way audiences view an artist’s performance?

Of course, seeing your favorite artist perform through a screen is not the same as seeing them in the flesh, but if more and more people are watching performances live, would this not decrease the number of people attending live shows?

Actually, 67% of live video viewers are more likely to buy a ticket to a concert or event after watching a live video of that event or a similar one. The use of technology here then acts as great advertising for artists by increasing attendees and therefore ticket sales. It’s also clear that people value the experience of being physically “there” at a concert more because they are part of an exclusive group experiencing a special moment in time.

Holograms

Holograms have also been used in recent years as an experimental piece of tech in live performance. In 2012, a hologram of world-famous rapper Tupac was resurrected on stage alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Stunning more than 80,000 audience members at Coachella, they performed popular hits including “Hail Mary” and “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted”.

The illusion created, was not technically a hologram because a hologram by definition is a “3-D image produced by the interference of light beams that reflect off a physical object and can be seen with the naked eye”. Instead, the illusion was created by adapting a nineteenth century theatrical trick known as “Pepper’s Ghost” which used a sheet of glass and a light to project the actor’s reflection onto the stage. This technique was used in supernatural plays around this period to create an image of a ghost-like, ethereal being.

Still, this nineteenth century technique adapted and enhanced with the use of current technology offers audience members a seemingly impossible opportunity to witness deceased artists perform live.

Holograms and technology which produce holographic effects are also being used by living artists to add to the dynamics of the performance. For instance, in 2017’s Grammy Awards, Beyoncé used Holo-Gauze to deliver 3D visual special effects in her spell-binding performance. The hologram features Beyoncé, her daughter Blue Ivy, and her mother Tina Knowles.

Holotronica CEO Stuart Warren-Hill, who supplied the Holo-Gauze screen, said, “Holo-Gauze is ideal for live events such as this, allowing live performers to be situated behind our near-invisible gauze while visually stunning holographic effects appear to float in front of them. Holo-Gauze makes the seemingly impossible possible.”

Rather than using holographic effects to replace the live experience, they enhance the performance and add extra dimensions. It’s clear that artists are embracing the idea of using holographic effects in their live performances, manipulating the term “live” even further.

Whether it’s livestreaming performances for the benefit of the audience, using loop pedals to add textures and dimensions to the music itself, or introducing holograms to enhance the on-stage performance, the meaning of “live” is changing due to advances in technology. But this does not mean, seeing artists live, in the flesh is no longer of value.

While technology can enhance performance, audiences still appreciate and value the authenticity of live performance, especially when artists with “real” voices perform without technology like auto-tune to aid them. Modern technology found in studios allows artists to refine and perfect their sound including autotuned vocals, automatically mapped virtual instruments, and sound proofing foam to manipulate the acoustics.

While using high-tech recording equipment such as this can create a “perfect” final product, this can also raise the audience’s expectations when seeing an artist perform live. Audiences can sometimes feel let down when they see an artist performing live because the reality does not always live up to the expectation set by studio recordings.

This is why even though technology can enhance a performance, most people appreciate and value hearing “real vocals” and watching artists perform live, in the flesh, rather than through a screen.

Making That First Sale: 5 TuneCore Artists Sound Off

By Dwight Brown & Kevin Cornell

Jay Z, The Civil Wars, Nine Inch Nails, Ed Sheeran, Drake, Sara Bareilles, La Santana Cecilia, Joan Jett, Hunter Hayes, Boyce Avenue… What do they all have in common, besides having had their music distributed by TuneCore at some point?  They all had to sell their first single or album to start their recording careers.

Just like these successful musicians, you have to get started somehow. And when you finally make that first-sale, you’ll never forget it.

These 5 TuneCore Artists recently talked about their “First Time.” Check it out:

“I sent out emails to my fans letting them know if they set up a PayPal account and didn’t like my song, I would refund ‘em a dollar or $8.99 plus taxes, all to make my fans happy. I haven’t had to refund a song yet.”
KoBoogie (Hip Hop)

“I was a senior in high school and I had just released my first single. I remember anxiously checking my TuneCore account to see how many songs I had sold. When the report came in, I was blown away by the amount of support the community had shown.”
Dylan Russell (Country)

“I put my song “Dreamin” on iTunes. I was so excited, I told everyone at work. A sweet lady bought it. So exciting!”
John Scott (Singer/Songwriter)

“My first album sale made me feel like I was Michael Jackson… I ain’t a gospel artist, but when I saw that sale I was singing ‘Hallelujah, thank you Jesus & praise the Lord.’ It’s a good feeling when the time you put into an album gets rewarded with a sale.”
Great Grand Daddy (Hip Hop)

“Shortly after I began distributing music via TuneCore, I began performing at concerts, doing small tours, etc. After I finished my very first show, I was asked about my music, and it felt good to have people go in iTunes and have access to my records.”
Lmntry (Hip Hop)

When you sell your first single, EP or album it’ll be a euphoric moment you’ll never forget.

Making that first sale? You will get there. And if you remember that ‘first sale feeling’, whenever it was, share ’em with us below in the comments – don’t be shy!

How TuneCore Artists Are Using iTunes & Google Play Pre-Orders to Their Benefit

You already know TuneCore is your go-to resource for getting your music live worldwide in 150+ stores online, but what you may have overlooked was the option to set up a pre-order for your latest release on iTunes and Google Play. These two popular stores allow artists to put their album, single or EP available for sale in advance of their official release dates in order to build excitement and engage their diehard fan base.

Two great aspects of iTunes pre-orders are Instant Gratification Tracks and Pre-order Pricing. “Instant Grat” tracks are delivered immediately to fans who purchase the pre-order; these songs are also available for purchase as an advanced single. Pre-order pricing is an option to offer a release at a lower price in advance of release date, encouraging early purchases. Listen: we could go on and on all day about the benefits of setting up a pre-order for your next release and the facts you need to know about beforehand, but why not take it from your fellow TuneCore Artists? We invited a handful of artists, labels & managers to chime in and offer their thoughts on setting up pre-orders…

“TuneCore and YouTubers are the two mediums that makes it possible for me to be an independent musician. They give me the tools to build an audience and the freedom to connect with my fans in my own way.

Pre-order sales are key because they build anticipation for a release. Just like movies use movie trailers to build hype, an album pre-order gets fans excited. Also, the early release of a track or two on that pre-order gives expectant fans a taste of what this new album is going to sound like.

The hardcore fans – the ones that unite themselves under a self-proclaimed name (mine call themselves Stirlingites), or the ones who want to support your art just as much as they want to have the art – want to be a part of the experience as much as possible. If they feel they are getting an early piece of the album before its even officially released to the rest of the world, then they will be there to get it.”
Lindsey Stirling, Electronic

“Bottom line, you want to create awareness and excitement for your new album before it comes out so you can have a big first week of sales. And a big first week can generate even more excitement. Having your album on the iTunes Store as a pre-order makes it look the same as many of the major label artists, so to your fan base you will be perceived in a similar light. Sometimes it’s that perception that is enough to help create more awareness as people pass your music along via the iTunes links and word of mouth. Plus, the longer its up as a pre-order, the more potential pre-orders you’ll get which all count as first week sales. To me, it was a no-brainer doing the iTunes pre-order with Tunecore. It was easy and very cost effective.”
Brian Culbertson, Jazz/R&B

“Implementing pre-orders for releases have played an important role in evaluating the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns for releases. This allows us to adjust marketing strategies in real time.”
– Michael Cammarata, Manager, Heffron Drive, Big Time Rush, Jai Waetford

“We recommend for every independent artist to choose the pre-order option for their next single or album. For us, it generated momentum pushing our album into the Top 10 Hip-Hop chart on iTunes before we even released it, as well as giving our fans a gratis track as an incentive.

We do not have a label or a big budget for our album but with the tools provided by TuneCore, we were able to look like we did.”
Social ClubHip Hop/Rap

“The decision to use TuneCore for our Monstercat 019 – Endeavour album was an integral one. We’ve found that from the time we announce the release date, maintaining excitement all the way through the release day is key. Teaming up with TuneCore for our pre-order of the album allowed us to keep that buzz going which in turn had a clear translation into sales. Their effective and stress-free system to set up pre-orders allowed us to shift our attention to other key elements of the campaign, and consequently have a successful album.”
– Conor Systrom, Monstercat Records

“Setting up a pre-order through Tunecore was one of the things that helped my album’s first-week sales be as successful as they were. We released a single with the pre-order, and the excitement from that drove people to the iTunes store to pre-order the album. Thanks to TuneCore for always coming up with new things to help us indie artists.”
Thi’sl, Hip Hop/Rap

“A pre-order is a really awesome way to get your fans stoked for the record. It’s also a great way to gauge how your upcoming sales will look. It’s always awesome to give your fans a song or two before the album is out so you can get some feedback!”
Rajiv Dhall, Pop/Country


Setting up an iTunes & Google Play pre-order for your next release is easy and painless – we promise! Sales from your pre-order impact your release date sales and could drive you up iTunes sales charts increasing your presence. Learn more about how you can generate excitement for your next album, single or EP here.

Don’t be afraid to take this time during your pre-order to take advantage of the TuneCore SoundOut service to gauge fan reaction to your release. This might influence what songs you focus your campaigns around.

6 Essential Tools for Indie Artists

By W. Tyler Allen

Being a DIY musician in today’s industry requires, work and hustle — but it’s possible. Straight up, it’s completely possible to become a successful independent artist in today’s digital landscape. How exciting is that?!

You can make it, but like any profession or task, you need tools. Throughout my career working with artists and management teams, I find that there’s a lot of tools out there that are simply overlooked, or just not known about.

Here are some items to add to your “tool kit” to ensure that you’re marketing and managing your work properly.

1. First, The Things You Already Have…

I find that often in the music industry, we are signed up for certain memberships or use certain programs, but we really aren’t using them to their fullest potential.

For instance, did you know that TuneCore offers publishing administration services, for a small one-time fee? With this service  they actively assist in the process of getting your work licensed in TV and film.  This is just one of many services that your distributor can provide for you. Do your research, as there is plenty more!

Similarly, is your music registered under a PRO (performing rights organization), such as BMI or ASCAP? It really should be. A PRO is how to ensure you’re getting actively compensated for your work.

But did you also know that PRO’s also have workshops, networking events and even pitch sessions? While some of these may require some travel, your PRO tends to do more than just look out for royalties. For instance, many PRO’s will have music supervisor sessions, where a supervisor listens to pitches and considers your music for placement in TV and film.

Your distributor may also offer conferences, speaking series, or even concerts. Look into these events — and see how they can benefit you.

Research the tools you’re already using and see how you can ensure you’re optimizing them.

2. Buffer and/or HooteSuite

I believe that artists should tweet and post in real-time. Scheduling too much of your content can come off as impersonal. However, you also want a consistent presence. So I do recommend looking into scheduling programs such as Buffer or HooteSuite.

These are especially useful for when you’re touring or busy recording — however, I find them the most useful for certain “pieces” of content. A good content mix, which I’ve discussed before, is about 70% branding, 20% personal posts and 10% sales posts.

A scheduling tool can take care of those occasional promo posts, or brand building posts — so you can focus on simply interacting with others, and using your social channels as you normally would.

Buffer and Hootesuite are two of the more popular platforms, however, there exists dozens of similar outlets. I prefer Buffer as it automatically posts during your customized “peak hours”. So you simply schedule, and it posts automatically during times that are the most active for your follower-base. This feature is also optional as you can schedule whenever you’d like.

I also dig Buffer as it automatically pulls photos from links, where as with HooteSuite you have to manually insert the link.

HooteSuite, on the other hand has integration with Instagram, and if you’re a manager or agency, you can manage multiple accounts for free — and an unlimited amount for only $10 a month.

Regardless of how you go about handling your social media, a scheduler is key to having a solid content mix. It allows you to consistently have a social media presence even when you’re on the road, touring — or maybe just not feeling up to it that day.

Although, remember that you need to schedule a mix of content — so, re-share your videos, but also throw up new music you like, or local events you want to check out. Be dynamic — but also, with a scheduling tool, you can also remain consistent.

3. Canva

I always recommend an artist hires a designer for any kind of complex design campaign. This might be an album cover, or a banner for a website. However, images go beyond that — artists need visual content on their social media channels. Images always do better than text posts — so, little things like “Coming Soon” graphics, simple show reminders, or even graphics with your lyrics on them can go a long way.

However, these aren’t really worth investing in a designer, especially when tools like Canva exist. Canva allows for simple graphics, and also gives templates that include dimensions for certain social outlets, as well as text tools. It doesn’t have great “photoshop”-level editing functions. But it does allow you to quickly edit a photo, as well as add in lines and other tools to really create some compelling and simple social media (or blog) graphics.

I highly recommend you check Canva out if you need a quick image boost on your social media.

4. Boomerang

Boomerang is one of my secret weapons. Boomerang allows Gmail users to schedule emails — while this might seem like a small feature, it’s actually huge for artists who want to pitch press, but don’t have access to a professional email tool. Sure, you can use MailChimp for this, but email inboxes register it as as a “marketing” program, so it goes to a “promo” or even a spam folder.

To use Boomerang, first, I activate up Gmails “canned response” feature. This allows you to quickly pull up pre-written text without having to go and copy/paste. That way you can tweak a pre-written pitch, quickly.

(Note: Always tweak your pitch, state the writer’s name, tell them how you found their info.. make ’em feel special. This is key.)

Then, you simply go to the Boomerang icon, that now appears in your email window, and schedule it! You can schedule a certain amount a week for free, or for a small fee you can schedule a larger amount. It’s certainly worth the cost.

I even have access to major PR databases and scheduling programs, but I still find myself using Boomerang for the scheduling aspect. I simply feel that it’s easier to tweak the pitches in Boomerang, and make them more personalized towards the writer. Rather than just launching them all out in bulk.

This is also good for artists with small media lists, or who just want to send pitches out to a few key people before a launch.

Bonus Tips: Searching for writer emails? Use outlets like ZoomInfo for press contacts — another good way? Google ’em. Seriously, try searching a writer’s name and you’ll be surprised with how often you find some form of contact info.

5. Google Drive

If you’ve worked for any agency, start-up, or company with a lot of moving parts — you may be familiar with project management programs such as Slack, Trello, and BaseCamp. These are all great tools, and I’ve used them with a few labels — however, they’re only really necessary for large teams with numerous projects.

So… if you have an in-house PR team, booking agent, a designer, an inventory specialist and a manager — then sure, use these programs! But if you’re reading this, you’re likely a team of less than 5 folks and having project management tools may be a bit overkill.

While I’ve used these tools with large management teams and indie labels, most of my clients work directly off of Google Drive. Google Drive is just like Dropbox, though since it’s cloud base — it’s a bit easier to navigate and edit documents in real-time. Here’s what I use in Google Drive:

  • Google Drive Folders

Obvious, but great for separating out photos, PR documents, tracks, and organizational documents.

  • Google Sheets

This is my go-to tool for weekly status updates. I have columns for “Task”, “Status”, “Next Steps” and “Responsibility”. Then we work with the team (managers and/or artists) to fill out each item.

I also use Google Sheets to keep up with media lists, budgeting, track what writers I’ve pitched, venue contacts and more.

  • Google Docs

Another obvious but good tool is the Google Doc. Google Docs allow for one document to be shared with your team for collaboration. So, this could be a marketing plan you’re working on with your manager, or it could be a social media content calendar.

It’s a great tool to create a document, and have a team give insight and feedback.

6. Good Ole’ Fashion Knowledge.

Hey! I know you wanted some hacks and quick tips, but I can’t stress this piece enough. Simply, educate yourselves.

One of the largest ways artists step towards failure is by trying to rush success. This might be going broke paying for sketchy promo deals, or maybe just giving up because they aren’t seeing results soon enough. However, the real success comes in understanding the industry. It goes into knowing what makes a good pitch, how to network, what makes a good social media presence.

You might say, well — I can have a PR team handle that. Yes! But… how are you going to know if they’re doing a good job? How do you know if your manager is doing their par? If you don’t understand what goes into these two arenas, you can’t gauge their productivity.

Recently, I started offering musicians my Artist Launch Kit which, instead of blindly pitching on the artist’s behalf, I give them all of the tools they need to pitch press and operate their brand. This includes a series of pitches, an EPK, a custom media list, as well as a marketing plan.

However, it goes beyond working directly with folks like me. TuneCore’s blog has become a great resource for artists, same with HypebotSonicbids, and more. There’s also some incredible social media influencers out there who talk about music marketing (without trying to sell you something too often.)

Read blogs, connect and network with folks in the industry, education is everything, especially as our industry continues to grow.


w tyler allenAs a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more about Tyler Allen’s music consulting and background on his website here.

Building Your Team as You Build Your Career

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Eugene Foley – founder and president of Foley Entertainment, a full service music industry consulting firm and licensed entertainment agency.]

As the career of an artist evolves, so will their support team.   In the early days of someone’s career in the music business, they often have to handle all aspects of their career without help from experienced professionals. For the artists who are fortunate to have success, eventually their team will grow. That will allow the artist to focus on writing, rehearsing and performing, while their support team handles the business, financial, legal and marketing aspects of their career.

Let’s take a look at the most common team members and at what stage of someone’s career do they generally come onboard.

Level One

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney

During ‘Level One’ of an emerging artist’s career, the main focus is on songwriting, recording, tightening up live performances, creating marketing materials, building a web site and social media pages, and increasing the size of their fan base. Once those things are addressed, artists usually start reaching out to clubs and other venues to begin securing live performance opportunities.

During this phase of a career, an entertainment attorney can help an artist get important legal matters in place, including, but not limited to, matters related to copyright and trademark, drafting an inter-band agreement, setting up a business entity and other tasks along those lines.

The next team members to join are often a publicist and a radio promoter.   You can have amazing songs and a fantastic live show, but consumers have to find out that you exist. An experienced and well-connected PR firm and college radio promotion company can secure a tremendous amount of favorable exposure for your music, videos and live performances. They will target newspapers, magazines, blogs, regional TV Talk shows, college and online radio stations and anywhere else that would be willing to give you coverage and exposure.

In these early days of someone’s career, little to no income is being generated and what little may come in from music and merchandise sales and gigs is often just reinvested right back into the project.   So the artist has to wear many hats at this stage of a career before attracting an experienced manager or a booking agent.

Traditionally, managers and booking agents work on commission-based compensation with managers generally earning 15% to 20% and booking agents 10%. So unless a good amount of money is coming in, or serious major label interest in on the table, most top-notch managers and agents will not express interest.

So the artist has to guide their career on a day-to-day basis and turn to the entertainment attorney or a top music industry consultant for advice whenever needed. Most ‘Level One’ artists also book their own gigs at clubs, small theaters, colleges and local festivals. For those who are successful, graduate up and evolve into a ‘Level Two’ artist, help is on the way.

Level Two

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney
– Personal Manager
– Booking Agent

By the time the artist reaches ‘Level Two’, their publicist and radio promoter will have the buzz and leverage high enough to start targeting bigger press, bigger radio stations and large market TV talk shows.   By now the social media followers should be a high number and it’s time for the artist to get on the radar of top managers and booking agencies.

Once those two team members are added, the artist will finally have full-time help with the day-to-day operations of their career and begin securing well-paying gigs at respected, popular venues. Opportunities to tour with headlining major label acts may even arise thanks to the booking agent’s contacts and connections.

Quite a few artists and groups reach ‘Level Two’ and build a very respectable, long-term career and make a nice living doing what they love. The best of the best climb the career ladder one more notch and reach ‘Level Three’.

Level Three

– Publicist & Radio Promoter
– Entertainment Attorney
– Personal Manager
– Business Manager & CPA
– Booking Agent
– Music Publisher
– Record Company

By the time an artist reaches ‘Level Three’, several new team members join the mix, including a business manager, CPA, music publisher and a record company.   At this point, many artists add a commercial radio promoter to the team, while keeping the college promoter who has been onboard since ‘Level One’.

By this stage in someone’s career, they are touring globally, performing at venues that have a capacity of 10,000+ and selling a great deal of, downloads/streams, merchandise, and CDs/vinyl. Income is also coming in from their music publisher and numerous licensing opportunities offered to ‘Level Three’ artists.

The personal manager, attorney, business manager and CPA all work closely together to guide the artist’s career and the booking agent keeps the well-paying live shows flowing in.   A record company would be helping the artist record and market new songs and helping with financial support, especially in areas of publicity, promotion, marketing, advertising and tour support.

The artist would continue to focus on the creative aspects of their career and all of the team members are working like a well-oiled machine driving the project to the top of the charts.

An industry with a similar climb is baseball.   A baseball player starts out in youth leagues and the better players keep climbing the ranks through high school, college and minor league baseball.   As their career rolls along, they’re securing better trainers, more experienced coaches and managers, they’re adding new professionals to their team, such as an agent, nutritionist, physician and sports psychologist – along with marketing and endorsement executives. As a baseball player’s career takes off and they reach the major leagues, their needs change and evolve and so does their support team.

It’s the same thing in the music business. If someone has a great deal of talent, works hard, builds the right team, formulates a smart game plan and everyone is steering the ship in the same direction, they have a real shot to climb from ‘Level One’ to ‘Level Three’ over a period of time. Good luck on your climb!


Eugene Foley represents artists, bands, songwriters, labels, managers, producers, engineers and other industry participants. Clients have earned nearly 40 Gold & Platinum Records & three GRAMMY® Awards. Foley is the author of the acclaimed educational book, “Artist Development – A Distinctive Guide To The Music Industry’s Lost Art.”   He’s a frequent music biz expert guest on television and radio and lectures extensively on topics including artist development, marketing, music publishing and intellectual property. Foley offers a free music & career evaluation to all unsigned artists, visit: www.FoleyEntertainment.com.