Most people are very proud of where they come from. A few months ago, I wrote my feelings about how an anthem for your city is a great way to connect with fans.
Below is a video of a song that follows that formula. Cost of the video was only $1800.
So far, it's had 1,295,266 views on YouTube. Coincidence?
I've been actively marketing online for almost 20 years. And I've missed a ton of great domain names...
For example, this blog was originally called indiemusician.com. I had to buy musicmarketing.com on the aftermarket...and it wasn't cheap.
Buying the domain you want from somebody who already owns it may be a good option, assuming the domain is for sale. If it's not, then what?
A few alternative domain names you can try, if you're not able to get YourBand.com...
What I do not suggest is getting a domain name with .net, .org, or .biz. When it comes to domain names, people think .com and nothing else.
1. Stay away from names with hyphens.
2. If you must have a number, get two domains, one with numerals and one with the number spelled out.
3. If your name has a "weird" spelling or there is one way to spell your name, get different versions of it and direct them to your main site...even if it seems obvious. For example, direct an uncommon spelling, like indymusician.com, to indiemusician.com.
Obviously, having a great domain name is an important part of your marketing strategy. To help you come up with one, here are some questions to ask yourself...
1. Is your band so new that you can change your name to something that would enable you to get YourBand.com?
2. Is there an aspect of your marketing that would make sense with a .com after it? For example, Kiss' fanclub is known as the Kiss Army. KissArmy.com would work for them as well as put focus on the fans, which is a good marketing strategy.
3. Is there a generic term for what you're doing that would make a good domain name? For example, indiemusician.com or popsinger.com.
4. Is there a common word or phrase that would make for a good domain name? For example, underarms.com for a deodorant company or ifyoucouldknow.com for a psychic.
Post more suggestions, as well as your creative domain names, below...
Musicians in the Nashville music community had their livelihoods compromised when, in May 2010, floodwaters overtook key storage areas, performance venues, and residences where musical instruments and other gear were stored. Homes were ruined, studios were flooded, and innumerable items were damaged.
ReTune Nashville has taken these now silent, water-damaged instruments and given them new life as physical art. The finished masterpieces will be auctioned off to the highest bidder this Saturday, October 23rd. The funds raised will directly benefit Nashville’s working musicians through MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief and The Nashville Musicians Association Flood Relief Fund.
I get a ton of emails asking what I think about certain services for musicians. One of the companies I most frequently get asked about is Taxi.
Should you sign up? Maybe...
To help you decide, ask youself these questions.
1. How do you define opportunity?
Here is my definition. If you think like I do, you may very well have a good experience with Taxi.
2. How do you feel about the following comments?
"I found the critiques and forwarding of songs to be very hit or miss - depending on who listens to your submissions each time (which you have no control over). For instance, I would have the same song criticized by one person, and then applauded and forwarded by another critic several times. Once I was told by one listener that the reason they didn't like one of my songs was because they didn't like the way I wrote a specific lyric (one sentence - it was too "poetic" and not natural speech) - yet another listener mentioned that they loved that specific lyric and forwarded the song!"
These are comments from a former Taxi member that I took from a discussion on a popular music business mailing list. Even if you have absolutely no interest in Taxi, I think they still bring up a very important aspect of the music business.
Here is the reality of how your songs, your performance, your muscianship, your stage presence, and anything else about you is judged...
1. Everybody will have a different opinion of your music, regardless of how good (or bad) it is.
People like different things. Some people, as this example illustrates, like "poetic" lyrics. Others don't.
This is a good thing. If somebody doesn't like your stuff, keep moving, because there is likely somebody who does.
The problem happens when nobody likes what you're doing. If you're not getting people to your shows or your music isn't selling, it may be time to look at your music. But if you've got that going for you, don't worry about one or two "critiques" saying you suck. Yes, they have industry experience and some specialized knowledge of what makes good music, but the only thing that really matters in the music business is whether your fans like your stuff and are willing to pay money that will enable you to keep doing it.
Lots of well-known albums have been panned by critics. The first Led Zeppelin album got a bad review by Rolling Stone. And the magazine hated everything Journey did.
So don't get your panties in a wad when somebody doesn't like what you're doing...especially if they're asking for something specific and the comment is in relation to that. Not only do people like different things, they also define things differently. A "happy" song for one person might be totally different than a "happy" song for somebody else.
2. It matters who you associate with.
A lone tree looks bigger than a tree with a bunch of other trees around it.
When you submit music to something like Taxi, where lots of music is reviewed at once, you'll be sandwiched between other music. You'll be compared to what's before you. If the music before you is amazing, it will affect how your music is perceived. If it was not so good, it will affect how your music is perceived.
When you submit to a music conference, you have to deal with the same thing.
When you submit your music to me at Music Business Radio, you have to deal with the same thing...on the air.
If it fair? No. That's the way it works though.
Taxi sends out a list of what people in the industry are looking for. The more you "write to order" and send in music for these listings, the better you'll get at providing what people are looking for. To me, that is worth fees they charge, regardless of whether or not you get a cut directly through them.
Taxi membership gets you into their conference in Los Angeles every year. Hundreds of people go and it's a great way to meet and network with like-minded people. To me, that is worth the fees they charge, even if you don't do anything with the information they send you during the year.
I'm not a fan of the "middle man" aspect of Taxi. If you're in Nashville, or LA, or NYC, or are good at making direct connections with people, you're probably better off striking out on your own, getting a tip sheet like New on the Charts, or a directory of record label people like Music Registry. If you like somebody to hold your hand though, even though it doesn't give you the freedom of striking out on your own, Taxi will probably be a positive experience for you. If nothing else, it can be a great motivator to write more.
If you've got a catalog of stuff and want to "make existing songs fit" the listings that Taxi sends, I'd skip it. If you want to "write to order" or are flexible with what you've already written, meaning that you're willing to change things based on what people are looking for, you may very well have a great Taxi experience.
Regardless of the direction you choose, keep moving forward with your music. In the music business, timing is everything. If a song doesn't work right now, it might work later, so keep pitching it. With that said, don't let the possibility of a great future be an excuse for not trying to make what you've got now better. Songs are never done. Keep improving and keep trying to better your odds of success.
Yestersday, I posted Forbes' 2010 Richest Rappers List. 50 Cent, who topped the list in 2008 with $150 million, and was #4 in 2009, with $20 million, didn't crack the Top 10.
Something I noticed back in the 90s, while working record retail, is the speed at which rap music came and went. When a hot album would come out, we couldn't keep it in stock and often couldn't get copies to sell, but within a couple of weeks, we couldn't give it away and would have people trying to sell their copies back to us.
Was in a recording studio a few months ago and ran into a rap music producer. We talked about the state of the business and he mentioned how fast everything was moving right now. Told me about guys being totally unknown, then huge, then "used up" within a couple of months.
It seems people don't have the attention spans they used to...
Even more sad was how he said many rappers spent the money they earned. Said he'd seen more than a few go out and buy expensive jewelry, thinking success would last forever, only to sell off diamonds one-by-one, when the money suddently dried up.
Both Jay-Z and Warren Buffett are on the cover of Forbes this month. If you're interested in either, here is a video of them talking about success and giving back.
On a related note, here is Forbes' 2010 Richest Rappers List...
1. Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter - $63 million
2. Sean "Diddy" Combs - $30 million
3. Aliuane "Akon" Thiam - $21 million
4. Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter - $20 million
5. Andre "Dr. Dre" Young - $17 million
6. Christopher "Ludacris" Bridges - $16 million
7. Calvin "Snoop Dogg" Broadus - $15 million
8. Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley - $14 million
9. Pharrell Williams - $13 million
10. Kanye West - $12 million
They come to your shows, they buy your albums, and they wear your t-shirts. They are your fans, and you love them as much as you need them. Show how can you show them that you appreciate their support and dedication? Here are ten ways!
1. Give Out Free Music
Everybody loves free music, and your fans would love a free MP3 or two that they can download from your website. You may even make brand new singles available before your CD release to your dedicated fans who register on your site. This is a great way to show appreciation and find out what the interest is in your upcoming album. If you don’t have a website yet, consider handing out CD’s or even mini-CD’s with a couple songs on them at your shows or other venues. Music is what it’s all about, after all.
2. Make a Badass Website
Give your fans a home on the internet to come and find out everything they need to know about you and your music. Your website can be interactive, informative, and fun. Include links to your blog, music and video from your shows, a place to buy your CD’s and merchandise, a press kit, band member profiles, and pictures. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune—there are lots of ways to get a website going up and running even if you’re not a web developer—but the more you are able to put in to your site, the more benefit you (and your fans) will see from it.
3. Online Forums for Interaction
There are message boards for every possible subject you can think of—from dirt bike racing to religion to Chinese cooking. These forums allow people with a common interest to meet up online and “hang out” together online to discuss their favorite subject as well as other topics of interest. These forums take on a real community feeling and can be a great asset, keeping your fans entertained. You’ll also be able to read conversations between fans and find out what they like—or don’t like—about your music. Most people feel much more confident posting their opinions anonymously on a message board and you’ll have a chance to read some really honest feedback.
4. Respond to Fans Who Write and Email
Unless you’re a platinum selling artist, you probably don’t have millions of fans. This gives you the opportunity to really connect with the fans you do have, especially the ones who take the time to send you an email or post on your MySpace page or blog. Set aside an hour or two each week to respond to your people who contact you online. They will be thrilled to have a personal response from you—even if it is just a quick one line message like “Thanks for your support!”
5. Free T-shirts
The power of a free t-shirt is the stuff of legends. It is incredible what people will do for a free shirt, and giving them out to your fans is a great way to show them how much you appreciate their loyalty. Not only will they enjoy having a new addition to their wardrobe, but if it looks great they will wear it everywhere and advertise your band for you. It’s really a win/win situation. Put as much effort as you can in to making it cool—something people will want to put on and wear around in public.
6. Offer to Play an Event for Free
Consider having a contest and offering to play a party for free for the winners. Who wouldn’t love to have a live band at their next block party or birthday? A contest is a great way to generate interest in both your band and your website—and playing a personal show for a loyal fan is just about the ultimate prize for someone who loves your music. You can also play a local charity event or fundraiser as a way to contribute toward the success of an organization you care about. You’ll have a place on all their marketing and advertising which is a great way to get your name out in public eye, too.
7. Give Out Free Passes to the Show
For every show you play, keep a pocket full of free passes and make sure you hand them out liberally. Give some to DJs to give out to their listeners, and offer some in a random drawing on your website. Free passes give your fans extra incentive to show up at your performances, and you may even gain a few new fans, too. If you don’t have a cover at your show, offer a special table that is reserved for your guests or consider planning a ‘dinner with the band’ promotion.
8. Do Interviews
Taking an hour out of your week to sit down with a loyal blogger or reporter can show your appreciation for the people who promote you for free. Giving a blogger the ‘inside scoop’ on your next CD or show is a great way to help them help you—they will be able to offer information that no one else has, and you will get plenty of publicity.
9. Hang Out After the Show
Spend time after the show meeting the people who have come to watch you. There’s no need to make it a formal event; just grab your beer and walk around. A simple, “Thanks for coming to see the show” will suffice and you never know who you will meet. This is a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with your fans and make your show memorable—something they will go to work and tell all their friends about the next day.
10. Say Thank You
It’s simple, but effective. Say “Thank You”. When you are finished playing, when someone emails you, when someone writes a blog post about you, and when someone volunteers to hand out flyers. Having the attitude that you are grateful at all times is the key to showing genuine appreciation to your fans.
This is a subject I've touched on before, but here's a friendly reminder...
If you have a new album and it's not selling, it may very well be that people don't know it exists. Believe it or not, 84% of people don't know when their favorite artists release new albums.
Automated systems from music stores like Amazon and iTunes, which look at purchasing patterns and let people know about things that might be interested in, can help, but don't count on them to do all the work for you. Nobody is going to care about letting people know you have a new album available more than you do, so if you want to make sure that happens, you need to either do it yourself or hire somebody to do it for you; it won't happen automatically...at least not in the way you want it to.
Don't be shy about promoting yourself or think "my fans are different." Your fans are not different.
Let people know about your new release. Do it now.