Wednesday Video Diversion: April 12, 2017

Whoa…on this day 17 long, long years ago, members of the legendary heavy metal group Metallica filed a lawsuit against Napster, – who are now our friends and partners! – Yale, USC and Indiana University for copyright infringement. This was a big first step in the fight against piracy, and it was a lot to get through. Thank goodness for streaming, right?! Anyhow, with that fun fact in mind for the day, enjoy this line-up of awesome TuneCore Artist music videos which are provided to further distract you from whatever work you had hoped to accomplish:

 

High Waisted, “Party in the Back”

The Shondes, “Everything Good”

Linda May Han Oh, “Footfall”

Aaron Goodvin, “Lonely Drum”

Moosh & Twist, “All of a Sudden”

Tsyphur Zalan, “Spinal Bolt”

Lions Lions, “Between Us”

Samsara Blues Experiment, “Into the Black”

AirLands, “SpaceShips”

How Open Mics Can Open Doors in Your Local Music Scene

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Mason Hoberg. Mason is a freelance writer who covers music-related topics and is a regular contributor to Equipboard.]

 

A hard truth of the world is that it’s never what you know. Rather, it’s almost always who you know. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, or how much time you’ve put into honing your writing or performing talents. If you can’t make valuable connections in your local music scene, odds are you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time in making any significant process in your career as a musician.

With that being said, there are a variety of different ways that you can open doors for yourself. This article is going to focus on open mics, and since this is the exclusive focus of the article we can get into the nitty gritty of how you can use them to help start your career as a musician.

1. Friends Talk To Friends Talk to Friends (Etc.)

If you’re looking for a talented musician, who are the first people you’re going to ask? Odds are, most of you are going to talk to friends who either are musicians or who are in contact with people in the local music scene.

Now believe it or not, the best way to take advantage of this, (aside from showing up and playing at least competently, obviously), is to always be professional and kind to those around you. Just about any band in the world would rather have a nice and dependable member than one who’s a jerk and causes the band problems.

Never talk down to your fellow performers, and for the love of God, don’t heckle. If you’re a musician who heckles your peers, get up right now and go look in a mirror. And then smash your face into it. The scars you gain from doing so will definitely add an element of mystique to your next performance. (Note: TuneCore is not liable for any heckler who smashes his/her face into a mirror. Even if it is kind of funny).

2. Networking With Other Musicians

While word of mouth is a powerful ally, it’s just as important to actually make connections with your fellow musicians. Imagine this scenario: You’re looking for a place to play gigs and you see a local gigging musician at an open mic night (which believe it or not, a lot of them do actually show up there to work on new songs or just to stay in practice with performing). You two get to talking and you mention that you’ve been having a hard time finding gigs, and then you ask if he/she would be able to recommend any venue owners who are pleasant to work with. Now you have a focused list of venue owners who host live music, and an idea of how it is to work with them. You can also ask about how the crowds were in different venues throughout town, giving you an idea as to which venues you should work on based on your genre.

While doing this once is helpful, doing it a dozen times is probably going to give you a pretty comprehensive list of the venues in the area, the type of music that works best in them, and how these venue owners treat their musicians. This is incredibly valuable information to have, because one of the most important parts of putting on a good show is finding a venue that works well for your music.

3. It Shows You What Type Of Music Is Best Received In The Area

Something many musicians don’t think about is how their audiences are going to react to the music they play, and not in regards to its quality. Rather, what is the demographic of listeners in your area like? Do they prefer metal? Soft acoustic music? Country? Folk? Do you have an idea of what these percentages are like?

While open mics are going to give you pretty skewed results due to the fact that most of the people who attend are likely to be more interested in acoustic music, odds are the overall reactions are still going to be at least somewhat representative. For example, if the crowd present likes Garth Brooks covers odds are that there will at least be some venues in town where country is well received.

Likewise, if the crowd loses their mind over a particularly inspired “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” cover for example, you can be pretty sure that there will be areas where Green Day will go over well.

4. You Get To Learn A Variety Of Approaches To Working A Crowd

Working a crowd is an art, and just like any other art there are a variety of different ways to approach it. Learning to time jokes well, figuring out how to introduce a song, and learning how to build a set-list are all fundamental skills for a musician.

While practice is important, so is being exposed to a variety of different approaches. You always want to be learning and trying new things, and there’s no better way to think up a new approach than to see what others are doing. Odds are they’ll do at least one thing that you never do that goes over well, and if they happen to be really bad at working a crowd, you get a few lessons in what not to do.

Wrapping It All Up

Being a musician requires a collection of several different skills, and open mics are a good place to hone them – aside from being an awesome place to make the connections that you’ll need to advance your career. They’re not always pretty, and the musicians who attend them may not always be the most pleasant to listen to, but there are a variety of things to learn and a huge population of musicians to network with.

Is Posting Covers on YouTube the BEST Use Of Your Time?

By Carlos Castillo

d lot of music biz teachers will tell you that you should commit time to releasing cover songs on YouTube because you’ll get all kinds of organic growth and attention.

This is a proven strategy that has been working for several years. But, especially now that so many musicians are applying it, I’m not sure it’s all that it’s cracked up to be anymore. And it’s not as simple as picking songs you like and recording your own versions.

It’s true that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. Which means that if you post songs that people are ALREADY looking for, you can show up in those searches. So your Lady Gaga covers might get some traction. But your Journey covers probably won’t.

In order to REALLY make that strategy work, what you have to do is cover POPULAR songs as soon as they are released. I’m talking the DAY they are released or within a few days at most.

Remember when Adele released “Hello” and everybody and their cousin covered it on YouTube?

The problem there is that you put yourself in a situation with a LOT of competition…

…AND you’re playing someone else’s songs.

So if your goal is to build an audience for your ORIGINAL music, before you put any more time into YouTube covers you should try something different.

Just trust me…

And follow my instructions exactly for a 7-day Facebook Live challenge.

Here are the rules:

Each day go on Facebook Live and play one of YOUR songs.

Don’t do it from your fan page. Do it from your personal profile. More people will see it that way.

Before you hit “Go Live” add a link to your squeeze page in the video description.

Mention 3 different calls-to-action during the broadcast:

1: “Please turn on my live notifications.”
2: “Please share this video or invite people to join.”
3: “Please subscribe to my email list.”

That’s it.

I promise that if you do that for 7 days in a row, you will not only get MORE subscribers and engagement out of it than your last attempt at a YouTube cover, you’ll do it playing your own songs.

For extra credit try it out on other platforms where you can broadcast live like: Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube.

Not only will it help you identify which social media platforms are the most responsive for YOUR original music, you can also repurpose the videos as blog posts for your own website and put them into rotation as content that sends traffic there!


For more actionable advice, tips, and Musicpreneur wisdom, click here to join the Schwilly Family Musicians Community.

Carlos Castillo is a Musicpreneur, Artist Business Developer, International Road-Tripper, Lap Steel Player, and Captain of the Schwilly Family Musicians. Find him at Schwilly Family Musicians, or on Twitter at @CaptainSchwilly

3 Easy Tips to Consider Before Pitching to Music Bloggers

[Editor’s NoteThis blog was written by Janelle Rogers, the founder of  Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.]

 

You found a list online entitled, “100 Blogs You Should Contact Now.” You’re ready to start emailing those 100 blogs about your album right away, because like the list says, those are all blogs you should contact now.

There’s just one small problem. They might not be.

Lists like those are often a generic compiling of the most read blogs or the blogs that are most receptive to unknown bands. They don’t delineate between a blog focusing on hip hop and a blog focusing on folk.

Those lists are a great starting point to find the blog right for you, but there are a few steps you need to take first.

1. Determine the Genre

First and foremost, you want to make sure they cover your genre before you reach out to the blog. Often a first glance of the site will make it glaringly clear if you are the right fit. If you’re an Americana band and the site is clearly only covering electronic or dream pop, you remove it from your list. In some cases, it’s not as clear at first glance. In those cases, start by finding a column that could be a fit for your band. Then look at the last five bands they’ve covered.

Do any of them fall within your genre? If not, remove them from the list as well. You may still be thinking, but it looks like they cover all genres, so there’s a chance they could cover my music as well. If you’ve looked at five articles and none of them have covered your genre, you’ll have a less than 20% chance of coverage on that blog. That low rate of return is neither worth your time or the blog you’re targeting. If at least one of those articles represent your genre, add the blog and move on to the next step.

2. Determine the Musician Career Level

When my music pr company, Green Light Go Publicity, is determining if a blog will cover a band at the level we’re working, we first break the stages down into five categories. Those categories are unknown, emerging, buzz, indie established, established and superstar. As a general rule, if you’re unsure of a band’s level you can look at Facebook as a guide.

For instance, we categorize unknown bands as less than 2k Facebook likes. Emerging have between 2-5K. If you fall into either of those categories, you want to make sure at least one of the five bands who were just covered by the blog are also within the same range as you. Like the above example, if they only cover established bands, the chances of you being covered are really low if you’re an unknown band.

This is also why it’s really important to look for columns that could be a fit for you at the forefront. A high profile site like Stereogum may only cover established and celebrity musicians in their news features, but could potentially premiere an unknown artist whose music they really love.

3. Determine the Best Contact

Once you’ve found a site that fits within the first two parameters, you want to determine the best contact at the outlet. Start with a writer who wrote the article or articles featuring a band matching your career level and genre. If you want to get even closer, look at writers who have covered artists similar to your sound.

Add that writer or writers to your list while noting the specific article so you can individually tailor your message when you reach out. If the writer isn’t clearly noted, then take a look at the contacts on the contact page and see if you can find the editor who best fits the column or type of coverage who fits your band.

That’s it. It’s really that simple to target the right contact. By taking a little extra time at the beginning to determine who would be most interested in your band, you’ll be able to invest time appropriately in those who’d most likely turn it into coverage.

When Will Then Be Now? 3 Music Tech Trends in 2017

[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.]

 

As we’ve all grown accustomed to over the past decade, the music industry we will come to know over the next 300 some odd days will look very different than the year we just bid farewell to. That’s not to say you should abandon that focus on building your Spotify numbers or that Facebook Live, Snapchat and Instagram stories should be removed from your marketing agenda, but a lot of what will likely become essential to an innovative and successful marketing campaign for independent artists this year probably wasn’t particularly of importance for you when you were putting out music or going on tour in 2016.

As we move into 2017, here are a few things that artists should be aware of and, when budget or personal connections allow, incorporate into their next release.

360 Video | Virtual Reality

Those of you who have released music videos over the past six months have probably noticed that they don’t get quite as much mileage as they used to. Many of the top-tier press outlets are starting to shy away from ‘premiering’ or posting new music videos if it is not also the first listen for a new track. This is due in large part to the fact that in the current “discover-via-streaming” world of music consumption, very few people that you would consider ravenous seekers of new music are sitting down to watch anything other than dog videos as they scroll through their social media feeds. Instead, they want new music that they can listen to while they’re doing other things.

While this will likely continue, the next phase in having a visual component to your music is poised to hit the internet hard in the form of more ‘experiential’ videos. At the base level, we are already beginning to see 360 video creep more into use. Over the next few months, we will likely see those artists with a bit more of a budget start delving into the world of virtual reality to add another level for fan’s to enjoy their projects.

I imagine that at some point in the relatively near future we will get our first multimedia release where an artist creates an entire album where listeners are able to take a virtual reality journey set to each song, creating a ‘concept album’ of sorts.

More Applications Built on the Spotify Platform

One of the biggest trends of 2016 was the importance of growing your presence on Spotify. According a report by Nielsen music, streaming has become the number one way in which people consume music, accounting for about 38% of the market in the United States. That number increased by about 76% from 2015, passing digital downloads for the first time ever. With Apple apparently undertaking an aggressive plan to terminate music downloads in the iTunes store over the next two years, that seems to be a trend we should get used to. While Apple Music is growing quickly in this arena, Spotify still rules the roost with over 40% of the streaming market.

Most people in the music industry have already accepted that fact and shifted focus to upping streams as opposed to downloads in their marketing efforts. In 2016, this was accomplished by official Spotify playlsting, as well as, by getting your music on playlists by unofficial tastemakers such as brands, blogs and individuals with large followings.

These will remain essential to growing streaming numbers, but in 2017 we will see more applications built directly on the Spotify platform that will become essential to increasing plays. Right now Cymbal.fm is the best of these services, at least in my experience. But I personally know of several competitors in that world with plans to enter the market over the next few months, each of which have several points of separation that will appeal to different sects of music fans. I tend to view Spotify playlistings much in the capacity of the “new blogosphere” for music discovery.

My feeling is that these new services are set to become a crowd sourced variation on the way we traditionally view radio.

RFID & Beacon Technology

This is another technology that has, with larger artists, already started making headway. A lot of festivals and arena tours are already using RFID (radio frequency identification) and Beacon technology to incentivize fan purchases and form other initiatives with sponsors. I’m hearing a lot of buzz that this technology will start to trickle down to smaller venues in 2017, creating new revenue sources for the promoter/venue and bands alike.

Another aspect of this technology is adding an interactive or gaming component to the live music experience. Particularly in the electronic music world, I’m very intrigued to see how artists do so this year.

(It’s Not Digital but…) Cassettes Will Replace Vinyl As The Most Popular Physical Product

I know this article is supposed to be digital based, but I feel as though this is a point worth mentioning for up-and-coming artists. Yes, vinyl is beautiful and it sounds great, but it’s expensive. Often way too costly to be worthwhile for an independent artist doing a small run for a tour. In 2017, I believe we’ll see cassettes overtake vinyl as the most popular physical product at merch tables for artists on tour. It’s way cheaper and faster to create and it still holds a particular sense of nostalgia for fans, harkening back to the ‘good old days’ of music.

Truth is, a large portion of those people that are buying vinyl aren’t listening to it anyway. They just want a keepsake from one of their favorite bands to display in their home, and to offer support to the artists they love. Cassettes are a cheaper, more convenient way to satisfy those desires for both the artist and the fan.

Wednesday Video Diversion: January 18, 2017

There’s something interesting about the date January 18th. Well, at least there was something pretty interesting happening on this date in the 1960s: in ’64, the Beatles entered the US Charts with ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ for the first time; a year later, the Stones recorded two iconic songs, ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Play With Fire’ with Phil Spector; and just two years later, The Jimi Hendrix Experience belted out ‘Hey Joe’ for the first time on Top of the Pops! Let us all revel in that classic rock trivia and distract ourselves with something a little more modern:

 


Chrysalis, “My Eternity”


Carrie Lane, “If I Can’t Be With You”


Raylin Joy, “Sunny Grey”


Los Rabanes, “Funky Movimiento”


Epic Rap Battles of History, “Nice Peter vs. Epic Lloyd”


Lee Mazin, “I’m Her”


Nobigdyl., “Purple Dinosaur”


Lennon & Maisy, “Up and Up (Coldplay Cover)”


Ryan McCartan, “When You Went Away (Acoustic)”