Copy of Facebook’s New Reach Objective: A Game Changer for Touring Musicians

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Don Bartlett, owner of No Door Agency, an Austin, TX-based boutique management and marketing agency. Don also hosts a seminar titled “Facebook Marketing For Musicians. Be sure to read his TuneCore Blog article on maximizing your Facebook ads on an indie budget.]

From it’s earliest days Facebook has used its powerful data algorithms to deliver incredibly well-targeted ads. It was a dream for most advertisers. They wouldn’t just put your ad in front of your target audience, they’d put it in front of the specific members of that audience who were most likely to engage with the ad. The success of this approach changed the entire landscape of advertising, and advertisers reaped the benefits. For musicians trying to promote tour dates, though, this presented a problem.

Bands are in a relatively unique position, from an advertising perspective. In each tour city we have small but very valuable target group of people we want to reach. It’s critical that we reach ALL of that group, not just the ones who might be prone to engaging with Facebook posts. If we’ve got 500 fans in New York City, we want all 500 to see the ad for our show.

Until now, the best objectives were “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” which deliver to those people who historically took those actions when viewing ads. In many cases that left a decent chunk of your fans out.

In late 2016 Facebook rolled out a new objective that solves this problem. When you choose the “Reach” objective you are now functionally telling Facebook that you want to reach as many people in your target audience as possible. After a few months of testing we’ve found that ads with the Reach objective perform significantly better for these small but valuable targets.

Note that that when you’re advertising to larger, non-fan target audiences….fans of similar bands, for example…you’re still better off using the “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” objective.

Another significant advantage to the Reach objective is that for the first time Facebook is allowing you to put a limit on how often people see your ads. Even an ad for your favorite band’s show can get annoying if it’s popping up in your newsfeed 4 times a day. This new feature lets you define an amount of time that a user will not see your ad again after viewing it.

It’s a very helpful tool that provides an extra degree of control to what your fans are seeing from your page. A good rule of thumb is to build in a frequency cap of at least two days for most campaigns.

Taken together these two new features provide a huge improvement to the tour marketing arsenal. Facebook ads have always been a one of the most effective ways to reach fans in a given city, but the effectiveness was often limited by their optimization algorithms. With the “Reach” objective we now have a concrete way to reach all of them.

The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

“You Can’t Use Up Creativity, the More You Use the More You Have.” –Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Time at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo.Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West, a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

 

2017 seems to be a bit of an odd year for SXSW. Between the visa controversy and the fact a good number of traditionally cornerstone participants are either scaling down their involvement or skipping the conference all together, a lot of artists who may have stretched their budget to attend may be starting to worry about whether it was the best use of their time and resources.

Well, fear not! At the end of the day any networking/showcase scenario will be exactly what you as an individual makes of it. Despite the scaled-down scope of this year’s festivities, there will still be more than enough industry professionals in attendance. From press tastemakers and music supervisors to label A&R reps and booking agents, if you play your cards right in Austin there is a very strong chance that you will return home afterwards in a better career situation than you are in today.

Here are five ways to optimize your time in Austin in between all the delicious tacos and BBQ you’ll be getting into:

1. One-On-One Meetings Will Be Your Most Important

A lot of emphasis is placed on getting the ‘right’ showcases and playing in front of the ‘right’ people. Personally, I feel that the real difference in generating lead opportunities comes when you’re not playing. Make sure your schedule is packed with one-on-one meetings when you’re not doing official showcases or attending networking events. Reach out to people you would want to work with in advance of getting to Austin to lock in a time to grab a drink or coffee. If your pre-determined list of people to meet with isn’t that extensive, improve it while you’re there. If you meet someone at an event don’t just bank on connecting after you get home. Take the time to meet with them later in the week in a more personal scenario. If you reside in different cities, this may be your last chance to talk face-to-face for a while.

2. Go to Networking Events

Unless you’ve got a string of top-billed showcases lined up and the industry is already buzzing about your band, a lot of your ‘wins’ are going to come in expanding your network offstage. If you’re a young artist that isn’t quite ‘on the inside’ of the industry yet, any networking event will give yourself the chance to make new contacts. When you’re not yet able to rely on the strong rolodex of a powerful manager, lawyer or label, it’s on you to really build your connections to create opportunities. That way next year you will have those high profile performance slots!

3. Turn Other Shows into Networking Events

We all love live music. That’s a big part of the reason why we work so hard to have a career in this business. But as a musician, it is best to keep in mind that you are working at these shows. Go see as many bands as you can and make it a point to connect with the artists you like after their sets. This may not be that fruitful if you’re trying to convince Run The Jewels to let you open their next tour, but if you find some good mid-tier bands there might be a chance to string together a few tour dates together to take advantage of each of your regional fanbases. Or if the band is a bit further along in their career than you are, maybe you can open for them when they come through your city.

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to approach them at SXSW and strike up a casual conversation. Just make sure you’re not coming across as if you were only reaching out to pitch them on your band. Let them know how much you like their set, ask them questions about their music and where they’re from. If that goes well, let them know you’d like to keep in touch and take it from there. Also, if you do somehow run into Killer Mike or El-P, the same rules apply!

4. Share Your Experience On Socials (And Optimize It)

There is nothing more important to creating opportunities than face-to-face interactions. Still, you have the digital realm at your disposal and you should do your best to optimize that. Take photos at the different events you attend and post them to your social networks. Make sure you’re using the proper hashtags when doing so to aggregate some attention from other people at the conference. Also, always tag the bands and companies that are involved in the showcase or event you’re snapping photos from and geo-tag your posts as well! After SXSW is over, this may also end up being a good way to stir up conversations with people you may not have gotten to talk to in person over the course of the week.

5. Organize Your Contacts and Follow Up!

This is perhaps the most important aspect of the conference and one that is often overlooked. Take as many business cards and other contact info as you can while you’re down there. Make sure you’re chronicling when and where you meet people (I like to keep a notebook that I update at the end of each day). That way when everyone goes back to their respective homes at the end of the week you can follow up letting them know how great it was to connect and set up a call to continue the conversation on how you can potentially work together. If there is no ‘next steps’ after Austin the trip may not have been worth your time and money afterall!

Also…the tacos. Eat all the tacos!

5 Tips & Taboos to Remember at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Jhoni Jackson, a music journalist and Puerto Rico-based venue owner.]

 

Planning is key to a successful SXSW experience, but there’s more to prepping than booking shows and finding a place to stay. Understanding what you could potentially get out of your time at the fest is equally important as accepting what’s very unlikely to happen; whether you’re a first-timer or returning band hoping for better results this year, this guide can help lay the foundation for your plans.

1. Tip: Set realistic networking goals

Getting noticed by important industry folk at SXSW would be a career-boosting dream, of course. But for most bands and artists, even if they’re on full display at an official showcase, enamoring a label rep or booking agent to a point that they sweep in and offer a massive deal that changes their lives forever—that’s simply not reality.

While the ultimate winning scenario isn’t impossible, your time at the festival is much better spent focusing on realistic networking goals. Instead of hoping for the ultimate opportunity, seek out connections with all types of people regardless of presumed influence. The founder of a tiny label you hadn’t heard of before, the blogger who’s there as official press but is covering events on their own accord, that person in the crowd who took a video of your set—any of these people could potentially help you in some way, big or small. Networking as a independent musician isn’t just about moving up the ranks, it’s about finding your people within that community, cultivating those connections and collaborating together to elevate each other’s work.

Taboo: Being obnoxious

Don’t let your eagerness to talk with someone in the industry obliterate common sense. Interrupting a conversation, grabbing at a passing person to get their attention, forcing a chat to keep going despite sensing the other party is trying to move on—all of these things are as unacceptable in industry networking as they are in any social setting. Being excited to meet someone and super-hyped by the possiblity of working together is not an excuse for being annoying or making other people uncomfortable.

2. Tip: SXSW is not just about networking

Don’t forget so wrapped up in making connections that you forget the festival is a stellar opportunity for growing your fanbase. If you’ve landed an official showcase, congratulations—but don’t ignore the unofficial parties. If there’s no stipulation in your contract against playing outside the official fest, then definitely, absolutely look into official shows.

Music passes cost between $800 and $1,000; not everyone wants to or has the option to spend that much for access to legit SXSW events. Naturally, the overflow of unofficial parties is immense. Those crowds are real opportunities to grow your fanbase. If you’re not already playing an unofficial event, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hop on an existing bill at this point. Still, you can search for shows featuring likeminded bands—go check them out, meet people, watch other bands perform, and talk about your band and pass out CDs or cards with download codes when you can.

Taboo: Forgetting the unofficial shows

Seriously, it’s where the action is. As an independent artist, putting too much importance on official showcases and dismissing unofficial shows altogether is basically sacrilege. If you weren’t contracted for an official showcase, you can still play these unofficial shows and have a productive experience.

3. Tip: Prepare thoroughly

If you’ve got a lot of shows lined up, your time at SXSW will inevitably be chaotic. You already know it will be incredibly crowded, and schedules are incredibly compact, packed to the gills with back-to-back sets. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to crumble under the festival’s inherently stressful pressure.

Map out your schedule, taking care to allow for time spent traveling from set to set. Whenever possible, include extra time for the possibility of fighting through a mass of immovable party people. Grabbing a bite seems relatively easy in theory, but the crowds can cause serious delays so you’ll want to figure in some time to eat, too.

Carry a snack on you, just in case. Bring along a refillable water bottle, too. Lastly, keep a portable phone charger handy, bring back-ups like strings and cables and, unless you want to feel miserable for the bulk of your trip, consistently use sunscreen during daylight hours.

Taboo: Freaking out when your schedule goes awry

No matter how meticulously you plan, it’s very possible that some outside factor will negatively affect your schedule. Do your best to adapt to whatever changes you encounter. After all, if a situation is out of your control, the best you can do is minimize additional damage: try to be constructive, but above all else, stay calm.

4. Tip: Use SXSW as a chance to try something new

Is there an idea you’ve been holding onto for fear of it not working in your local scene? Sometimes the habits you develop working your city’s circuit—even the positive ones—hold you back from trying new things. You’ve established a certain rapport with your crowd; suddenly switching things up could put off existing fans.

Handing out flyers with your social media info and album download codes in your own city might feel like overdoing it if you’re under the impression that anyone who wanted to check your band out already knows you exist. Austin during SXSW, totally jam-packed with people who’ve never heard of you, is an ideal opportunity to employ that promo strategy.

That’s only one example—you could incorporate new ideas almost anywhere, from your live setup, to how you deliver a particular song or the kind or cost of merch you sell.

Taboo: Not being yourself

Trying out something new is generally a positive thing, but you shouldn’t go so far as to present a version of yourself that isn’t genuine. It’s a fine line between entertaining a possible change and forcing one. Trust your instincts—you know when something feels insincere or contrived.

5. Tip: Enjoy yourself!

As stressful as SXSW can be, you should still be able to have a good time. Following the aforementioned tips will help you avoid major let-downs and stay chill in times of trouble. You’ll make the most out of the fest if you employ all of them—and you can still do that while having a good time.

If you don’t pile up so many expectations about networking, you’ll find it more enjoyable to connect with people. You can make new connections while hanging out and watching bands at an unofficial show—and that should be fun, duh! And that water bottle you’ve been lugging around will prove especially useful in moderating the effects of booze consumption.

Taboo: Having too good of a time, i.e. getting totally sloshed

It should go without saying that if you hit the booze (or whatever else) too hard, you’ll weaken your chances of making SXSW a productive experience. In a too-wasted state, you could screw up a set, miss an opportunity to talk with industry rep or give a music writer a really terrible first impression. Know your limits, and stick to them. The fest is good reason to party, sure—but don’t forget why you’re really there.

The Downsides of Releasing Music Often vs. Rarely

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Hugh McIntyre and is the second installment in a two-part series about how the timeliness and/or frequency of your release schedule can impact your career.]

 

Recently, I looked at the upsides that can come with releasing music either fairly often or rarely. There are plenty of good reasons to consider either one of those options, but what I didn’t discuss in detail in my piece was what could be wrong with these choices. What are the downsides to dropping albums and singles constantly, or only every so often?

Often

Ask any artist that releases a new album every year and you’ll probably hear them all say the same thing: they’re tired. Operating as a musician that shares that much material that often is exhausting in almost every way, and while it might sound terribly romantic to be so committed to your art that you’re willing to wear yourself thin to make it and put it out into the world, it’s incredibly difficult to keep up.

Between writing, recording, finishing everything else that comes with an album, and then properly promoting that new project—which means filming music videos, doing media outreach, and composing entire marketing campaigns—and that’s to say nothing of touring, it isn’t actually too difficult to imagine that refusing to take breaks in between album cycles is the sort of thing that can run anybody down, even the most ambitious and talented of artists.

If you’re constantly creating and releasing music without taking time to refresh and relax (at least for a little while), it may not take long for your art to suffer. Time is one of the necessary components to creating great music, and if you’re always working, you will see the quality of your work decrease…and everybody else will eventually notice as well. Sure, you may be selling more albums than you would if you only dropped a full length every few years, but can you keep up the pace for long? Are you really willing to all but kill yourself to get to a place where you’re worn out and creating music that may be beneath the best you can?

Also, just because you’re not taking time in between albums, that doesn’t mean that creating singles and albums (and everything else connected to these products) can be finished faster. It’s likely that putting together a 10-track record will take you essentially the same amount of time no matter how you’re doing it…so don’t you want your art to be appreciated? Putting new things out into the world constantly doesn’t let fans and the media give each piece the right amount of time and attention. If there’s always something else to hear, everybody will move on, and that can cheapen your art!

Rarely

It’s quite simple: if you don’t release a lot of music, you’ll have fewer things to sell. Even your biggest and most ardent fans are only going to buy every album you release once (or perhaps twice, depending on how you market different formats). Releasing an album every few years may help in some departments, and it may be the absolute best art you can possibly create, but you can still only sell it so many times. Sharing new tunes less frequently means you’ll need to focus on selling more copies to different people, which means more time spent promoting your limited output in the hopes of attracting new fans. Adding to your fan base sounds great (and of course it is), but it’s far easier to sell something, anything, to a fan you already have than to turn a stranger into a paying customer.

On top of having fewer opportunities to sell music, releasing music only occasionally only gives you so many chances to promote yourself, at least via traditional methods. Few blogs will want to interview an up-and-coming artist with nothing new to push, and larger publications that may only be potentially interested in you during the beginning of a cycle may miss you once, and then you’ll need to wait a long time before having a good reason to pitch them again. Even if you spend the money to hire a publicist, they’ll likely tell you that your best chances of getting press come when there is something new and exciting coming.

The same can be said for touring. Much like selling music, only the biggest and most adoring fans will come see you more than once if you have nothing new to play them. Tickets always sell better when you’re in full promotional mode, which comes with a new “era.” Plus, does it sound like fun to you as an artist to continually travel across the country playing nothing but the same few tracks?

One of the least talked-about issues facing artists that take lengthy breaks in between album cycles (or whatever we want to call it in today’s post-album economy) is that of lost momentum. Sometimes when a new or lesser-known artist starts to see their single become well known, be it on the charts or via a streaming platform like Spotify, they have already released an album or an EP that had been in the works. While some tracks become overnight sensations, it still takes a lot of acts months to see their songs go viral. Once that happens, musicians need to do everything they can to capitalize on their newfound, growing popularity. To disappear for a few years shortly after a potential fan base becomes interested is a huge wasted opportunity.

While it may be tiring, the smart thing is to try to get something out in time for those people that just arrived to the party to snap up more material, thus cementing them as fans. If you step away for a time and return years later, it might be too late for many of them, and you’ll have lost some could-have-been fans.

“Ahh, It’ll Be Fine!”

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Gabe Anderson, a TuneCore Artist and blogger. Check out his thoughts and perspective on music and the industry over at his site, Gabe The Bass Player!]

 

When you show up and the stage is a weird size or shape: Here’s what most likely happened…

…A few hours earlier when the people were done setting it up, they had a back and forth conversation with each other about whether or not they should make the stage less weird, because they kinda had a feeling it was a little off. But that conversation that ultimately ended with, “…ahh, it’ll be fine.”

But now you’re the one who has to deal with the consequences of “It’ll be fine.”

When the venue decides to use other green room for extra beer storage and cleaning supplies…can’t you just hear that conversation?! Also a conversation that ended with “…ahh, it’ll be fine.”

And now all 3 bands and crews, roughly a bazillion people, have to mash into a room designed for 8.

When the designated merch area is located far far away from the main entrance/exit of the venue…”…the people who want merch will still find the march table…it’ll be fine,” said the person who had to make the decision but was not well informed enough to make a good one.

But you and I both know the location of merchandise at the venue swings merch sales by a million percent.

“It’ll be fine” in so many cases usually means, “This decision works for me right now. I don’t want to work harder to figure out a better solution and I won’t have to personally deal with the consequences, so for me it really will be fine.”

Musicians and artists find themselves on the receiving end of “it’ll be fine” conversations and consequences all the time, especially on the road. And the truth is these little wrinkles in the day can literally make the whole thing crumble in an instant. I know you’ve been there, the rock in your shoe that keeps on stinging.

So per the situations above: after someone has left you with one of these “ahh, it’ll be fine” situations…you’re still the one left with a weird stage, a crammed green room and poorly located merch.

What are you suppose to do with this blatant injustice?

Well the first thing is just that…ARE you going to do anything at all?

Hold on…first things first…take a few minutes and get it out. Vent it. Because you’re right…what on God’s green earth were they thinking doing it that way? You’re right, you could have done a better job and you don’t even run a venue for a living. You’re right, the shouldn’t get to screw up while the consequences get placed upon your shoulders.

Let it out baby, I understand, it’s warranted.

Now then…If all you’re going to DO is complain, take your two minutes of rage and then shut up about it. If you’re not going to DO anything, let it go, make the most of it, move the conversation and your brain onto something else.

If you decide you are going to try and improve the situation, be realistic about the possible outcomes. You know how venue managers are notorious for being a ball of laughs and extremely helpful to artists.

But just to emphasize the idea of being realistic with improving the situations…let’s keep going with the examples from above:

  • You’re probably not going to get them to re-do the stage, it’ll just piss them off if you ask because to them it’s way too much work to pull off in a short amount of time. But you might ask to make more room on stage by putting the amps off stage, or putting the drum kit a little to the left so the keys player can squeeze in back there too as oppose to being up front.
  • You’re probably not going to get them to clear out the beer and cleaning supplies from the other green room. Don’t ask. They just did the awful work of getting all that crap in there. But you could make a deal with the other acts that each band gets the green room to themselves the 30mins before their set time.
  • You can probably move the merch wherever you want as long as YOU are willing to move it and it doesn’t violate fire code or access to the bar.

So I’ll leave you with two things to close:

When you find yourself about to utter the words “Ahh, it’ll be fine…”, remember how much it can put others in a pinch.

When you have to shoulder the consequences of “Ahh, it’ll be fine…”, as quickly as possible, decide whether or not you’re going to DO anything about it. If not, move on. If so, fight to employ a realistic approach on your part.

p.s. This could be fun: In what ways have you been on the receiving end of the “Ahh, it’ll be fine” mentality? Let us know in the comments!