Building Ongoing Interest – Tips for emerging musical acts

ImageTo make a living in the music industry over the long term requires 4 main things – remembered by the acronym M.A.S.T.

  1.  Musical ability
  2. Activity
  3. Sustained and ongoing support
  4. Taking advice & getting assistance

Musical Ability.
While a quirky act might have success for a period, the interest in the gimmick or the sympathy support for an act who only plays off their looks/circumstances will end up waning very quickly. TJ James, a classic rock artist with a number of CD’s to his name and many years experience says “People don’t buy Stevie Wonder’s music because he is blind and I don’t want them buying mine because I am disabled. I want them to buy it because they like the music I make” (TJ has cerebral palsy).

Long term successful musicians have good technique and ability in their chosen area and:

  • continue to improve and develop their skills, ability and knowledge
  • observe what other artists in their genre do and see what they can adapt as their own
  • value input and constructive assistance to move forward. An unattached but interested third party can sometimes provide advice on an issue that you don’t see or, that family and friends will not tell you 
  • network with others in the business to learn more about the industry, those in it, opportunities and trends. Consider online song writing groups and industry forums, going to relevant conferences, attending master classes, being at local jam nights and the like.

It is well known within the music industry that 90% of the CD sales (and over half of the digital downloads) for most artists happen at gigs, or as a direct result of people being at them. While YouTube clips help some people get a career, it is only a very small percentage that have success from this source alone and even those, people will eventually want to see live (or know they can if they were in that area). The type of gig (whether paid, free, busking, markets, support act, etc) and the venue may vary, but to be successful in the long term as an artist, you have to be ‘out there doing it’. So a lot of your time should be spent securing gigs and performing regularly and often.

Having gigs and making CD’s is all good but if no one comes or buys them, you won’t be sustainable for too long. So regular activity is also needed in promotion that is, letting people know about you, what you do, hearing your music and generally building the ‘hype and interest’ in you. Examples could include:

  1. get to know people at local radio stations, the entertainment editor in a local paper and gig guide, send them invitations to your gigs (they might do a review). Ask about doing an interview but make it interesting and something they want to broadcast  – something of ‘news interest’ that includes what you do or feel passionate about, as well as your music,
  2. YouTube clips of performances, your act, all linked with your communication sites
  3. putting samples of your music up on internet forums and other sites for people to hear and ask people to comment,
  4. constantly update information, especially gigs on all your communication sites, 
  5. attend lots of other people’s gigs, meet them, their management and other patrons (this is also handy for observing how others run their gigs and determine what you might incorporate – especially if getting great audience reaction and in your genre of music).

Sustained and ongoing support from fans.
To have a long term career you need ‘fans’,  a following of people who want to:

  • see you more than once,
  • listen to your CD they bought more than once and, buy your next CD’s,
  • tell others about you (word of mouth referral is always the best marketing you can get),
  • help you with support and opportunities when they can.

For this to happen not only does your music need to be liked but the quality of what you deliver needs to be there as well. For example, the medium you use to distribute your music (CD’s, MP3 downloads etc) needs to be ‘good enough’ to make the listening of your music enjoyable. Quick cheap productions done on a basic home set up may be good as a demo, but may not promote you properly. If the quality is lacking or even worse the CD doesn’t work on their system (eg. If not a ‘red book’ burn), an unhappy purchaser is the result. Not only will they not purchase again but they will be quick top tell others about their bad experience,

Your gigs need to be ‘more than just the music’, they need to be performances and entertaining. People enjoy coming to gigs more when there is visual excitement as well as good music, they like the artist to involve them with conversation, expression, information, to feel it’s “about them” not just about you. So time needs to be spent in preparation, determining set lists and the flow of songs, some things to say, etc.

Gigs need to be ‘different’ over time so that a new experience and something interesting is delivered to those who have attended in the past. New songs, different or new arrangements of songs, even new jokes or ‘patter’ in between songs all adds to an enjoyable experience and a patron who was glad they came again ….. and, will in the future.

Taking Advice and Getting Assistance.

The old saying ‘no man is an island” is especially true in the music business. A lot of the success in this industry is gained from networking and also getting input from those who know the traps and have done it before.

Developing a ‘network of advice’ of people in the industry (not just those with ‘names’) who have knowledge, are willing to help and who you know you can trust, can be invaluable for the future. While you can just send an email, the personal approach is so much better. As you get around and get involved in the industry, you will come across people who you would want to help you. Once they have met you and preferably get to know you, they will be more likely to positively consider your request.

As well as advice you need to consider getting assistance. By assistance we are not meaning a helper, transport, and the like, although that is all important – but more having people with industry expertise taking care of some of the arrangements and activity for you. 

When you start out it might be easy (and cheaper) to do everything yourself, but as you get busier you will need help and, if you are doing all the above and your music is good, that time could approach very quickly. The need for assistance will usually develop in stages and complexity as your career develops. For example, you may need a booking agent before you need a manager, a bookkeeper before a business accountant, a partial publishing deal before full assignment of your material, help with pre-production of a CD before an overriding producer, a website designer before a web manager.

While there will be a cost for most of this assistance – if careful in your judgement of when and who, the benefits and returns from their activity will far outweigh the time involved, bit of saving and possibly lesser result if continue to try and do it yourself.

We hope some of this may have been helpful 😀


Time is what it takes

I was circulated on this email today from Joe Gilder and the content I thought was very pertinent to those entering the production space and those who intend to be clients of those in production – so I thought I would pass it on ………….


Joe’s email said

“I’m reading this great book.
It’s not written all that well, but it’s inspiring the heck out of me.
It’s essentially a collection of stories written by Grammy-winning recording engineer Jim Malloy. Jim worked primarily in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

I want to hone in on one specific concept from one story.

Jim was recording a Henry Mancini album. Henry had taken the recordings home to listen to them on his stereo system at home.

He came back and demanded that Jim turn up the rhythm section in the mix, saying that it was far too quiet in the mix. Jim told him that if he did, it would ruin the whole mix.

They went around and around, back and forth, until Jim finally told something like this:
“Look, I spend 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week in front of these speakers. I know what the mix should sound like.”

Was he being arrogant?            Not at all.
He was stating a fact. He had spent infinitely more time mixing songs than Henry had.(As it turns out, Henry’s speaker system at home was complete garbage, which explains why the mix sounded wrong.)

The lesson is simple.
Yes, you need things like good equipment and talent. But those alone won’t make your recordings sound great.

You’re missing one key ingredient.

T-I-M-E. Time.

I’m not saying you have to spend over 70 hours in your studio to become good at what you do, but I can tell you that, from my experience, the more I work in the studio, the better I get.”

So what is Joe really saying here
For those at the desk

  • Know your system! The sound it produces, where there are issues that need compensating, and how to mix kin your environment so it produces the result in theirs
  • Know what you are listening for
  • As always – test on a few other set ups especially those not  – is it ‘ok’ on most

The only way to do this is to spend the time to be at the desk and listening – listening both to your stuff and the range of reference pieces that let you hear the dfifferent elements you need to assess (eg, room, bass, tops, spread etc etc)

For those working with someone on their music

  • Help them by providing a reference
  • !!!! listen yourself to that reference on their system so you know (and especially can compare to what you hear on yours)
  • Trust that they know their system, their sound and what they are doing – especially if you are new to the recording process. For example, usually, the ‘part of the way listening checks’ wont sound anything like the finished product – and you have to ‘hear not thinking you are getting the finished product’ but for what you have been asked to check – which may only be one small element

If they know their stuff and ‘get you’, the project will succeed – if you can’t trust them, or feel comfortable, enough to let go and let them do their part of the job …. maybe you should be using someone else??

Hopefuly food for thought.



Getting Gigs – Tips for emerging performers

Before you go looking for gigs you need to have a couple of things in place that promote you and let people know about you. Things such as:

  • A demo. A demo can be instrumental in getting you gigs. It is usually a CD, but sometimes can be just your website with your songs on it. While a well-recorded demo is better than a poorly-recorded one, a demo doesn’t have to be “radio-ready.” In fact, the recording quality can be pretty rough as long as the demo gives the listener a good idea of what you play and how well you play it.
    By the way make sure you label your demo clearly. Venue managers and booking agents usually receive a lot of demos, and it’s easy to get them all mixed up. Even if someone likes your demo, they won’t be able to book you if they can’t figure out who you are or how to get in touch.
  • Have a website, and other online social networking pages. Venue managers and booking agents need to find out detail about you – they need more than just Facebook posts and pictures. Knowing your background, experience and other information, may be the reason they give you a go over someone else.
  • A ‘bio sheet’. This document that you distribute along with the demo can sometimes make all the difference in getting a gig. A bio sheet lists your musical background and experience along with any other relevant information you feel may be of interest. It should contain a picture of your act (the look that represents you) and your contact information. Keep it short and to the point.

Time to get gigging ……. but how to get started?

Most venues get tonnes of people approaching them every week to play, so how can you position yourself to enhance the chances of them booking you? Here is one method that has been used by a number of successful artists when they were starting out:

  1. Research which venues suit your style of music as well as personal considerations such as transport, access, facilities. Start looking in your local area and work out from there. This is easily achieved with a bit of time on the internet, gig magazines and checking out recent acts at the locations discovered,
  2. Pick 2 or 3 of these venues and start to regularly visit them, meeting other patrons and staff and see other acts. This will allow you to become familiar with the way each place operates, see the band set up and performance conditions and, most importantly, get to know the people there (both patrons who might come and see you perform and, also the right people to approach about booking you),
  3. If the venue has ‘open mic’ nights, start performing at these so people can see what you do

While you concentrate on those 2-3 venues, don’t stop promoting your act. Send out your demo and bio sheet to the other potential venues you identified or ……… visit/call them, talk to the manager and see if you can leave your information and demo with them.

Things to consider when approaching a venue

  • Are they serious about entertainment or are they just getting new patrons from the people who come to see the acts they book.
  • Who supplies the PA and does the venue provide a sound engineer?
  • What is the stage area and lighting situation?
  • Does the venue actively promote coming gigs? Do they advertise coming acts outside of the venue?
  • Are they a venue that is known when it comes to your style of music? For example, are they regularly listed in magazines or online gig guides that relate to your genre? 
  • Make sure you can also ‘bring people’ if you get the gig. This is something that does require some thought. For example, if you build a following in one geographical area, it doesn’t follow that those people will come to a gig in another area.  You may need to build followings in multiple geographical areas.

Getting ‘a following’ is going to be important

The truth is you can probably get a gig at any venue if you can fill it. So the more people that know of you, have seen you, bought your CD’s, are talking or blogging about you, etc (i.e. ‘following you’), the more chance you have of getting bookings. So a couple of ideas for those starting out: 

  • The best way has always been and continues to be …….be seen performing – there are a number of opportunities if you are willing to invest some time (willing to do free gigs to get ‘out there’, etc.).
    Play at ‘open mic’ nights, or people’s parties, BBQs and anywhere you can get attention – but, judge the value of what you do.  If you end up in the corner and you can’t get over the noise, then maybe it’s a waste of time.
    Approach festivals, local fairs and markets that would suit your music. Regular patrons, stall holders and visitors all might be potential ‘followers’. Some of these opportunities pay, others let you busk and sell CD’s, some will even offer regular bookings if you are well liked.
    Enter performing competitions in your style. Even karaoke competitions can sometimes have large audiences and generate interest based on your performance and level of success.
    Busking in a high traffic location can lead to interest (and possibly earn you some money). Note: most major cities require a licence to busk in the very popular spots
  • Get your music ‘up’ – find as many sites as possible to have your music ‘exposed – but make sure it is appropriate for your style and attracting the demographic you want. So as well as your own ReverbNation, MySpace, and other locations – look wider. There are so many opportunities if you take some time to look.
    Check out all the internet radio stations that suit your style of music, load some songs on Triple J Unearthed, enter online music competitions, join online songwriters forums or similar. As you start to get people viewing and commenting you can add that information to your own blogs and promo information  
  • Give away your demo – not ‘willy-nilly’, but with purpose. Consider people you meet who you perceive are really interested and could potentially help you create further opportunities (for example, they are well connected themselves, will refer you to others, etc). Be considerate, too much enthusiasm can be harassing
  • At every performance opportunity have a clipboard with sheets (2 columns of blank rows headed ‘Name and ‘email address’) and encourage people to join your mailing list. If they put their details down they have some interest in following you. The more you build up, the more people you can personally inform about a pending gig, the more chance you have of them attending and supporting you. Additionally, the more people you have on a mailing list, the more chance a venue manager will book you as you will bring some new people to their venue
  • Don’t rush the process. It takes time for people to get to know original music, so don’t be discouraged and get your music out there.  They are more likely to come to a gig once they are familiar with your music

In preparing to ask a venue manager about booking you, start by looking at it from the venues’ point of view.
Remember, if no one comes to see you they still have to pay their bills/wages, and fit within guidelines and the interests of their patrons. So approach them with consideration, make it easy for them to consider you and even see if there can be something “in it for them”. Some thoughts:

  • Keep your volume ‘venue appropriate’. For example, don’t bring along a 12 stack/1000W  rock PA to an acoustic orientated venue (sound obvious? You would surprised how often it happens) ,
  • If you have posters or flyers, get them to the venue in plenty of time (use the venue promotion cycle).
  • What promotion will you do to assist in getting people to the gig at their venue? Let them know!
  • Do you have public liability insurance in place?
  • Do you have an ABN, invoice book etc… ready?
  • Do you have someone to help manage ticket sales if payment is a ‘percentage of door’ deal?
  • Do you need to coordinate assistance to bump in, set up and bump out. Venue staff may not be available to assist you. 

Finally, once you’ve got the gig – make sure you put on a good show.
Whether paid, busking at a market, entertaining at a party, or your own gig – every gig is your business card for the future

If you have put in the time and effort to get a venue (or new venue) to give you a go – you will probably want to be re-booked there in the future, get some of the patrons as followers and use that gig as part of your future bio to get other gigs.

Every performance opportunity may mean another follower or even a booking, or conversely it may turn people off coming to see you again.

DIY Venues: Get Creative with Your Performance Spaces

ImageIf you live in an area that doesn’t have any great music venues, a regular live music scene, or if you are having trouble getting a gig through an established venue – why not look to establishing your own performance opportunities!

 Whether it is busking in a busy city street, performing in an office foyer or even setting up your own concert in a community centre or local hall, you can still make the magic happen and your music heard!  


Firstly, source out a location with high passing pedestrian traffic that provides a good level of exposure.

Second, unless it is somewhere like Circular Quay or the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney, most locations have waves of busy periods, so you need to determine the best times for busking in that location. For example, is it a place where a lot of people pass on their way to/from work, a busy lunch spot or a weekend tourist location – and from that set your ‘work times’ to be at that location.

Then there are other considerations. You may need to get a license depending on local council regulations, you may need to work with a business owner to get power, and you may have to put up with intrusive sounds and people, but many a performer has established a base following early in their career by being out and about in the busking scene – some are good enough to make quite a reasonable base income from this activity.

Busking has the advantages of giving you the opportunity to get practice, exposure, toughen up your act, try new songs and make a bit of money in the process. It also provides you with ‘performing references’, where people who may want to book you can come and see what you do.

Work with local businesses, organisations and spaces.

With some perseverance and ingenuity, you can create an atmosphere where your music (maybe with others joining with you) could have the chance to flourish despite the lack of access to established music infrastructure.

What possible locations could I consider? Basically, anywhere is a possibility.

Here is a list of some locations as examples of where DIY arrangements have worked for people in the past
Office foyer – movie theater foyer – clothing store – bookstore – tented stage in parking lot – community centre – youth centre – coffee shop – art gallery – someone’s backyard or basement – a boat – a warehouse – restaurants – pizza shops – an in-house corporate party – hotel room – in a park on the back of a truck/trailer – church hall – record store – guitar shop ………… and the list can continue to grow only limited by your imagination……..

Probably one of the best suggestions would be to work with local businesses to transform THEIR space into the world’s coolest music spot for one amazing night and possibly opening up an ongoing opportunity.

 What’s in it for them?
Why would a business or organisation want to help you host an event in their establishment?

While many of them won’t want to take up this opportunity with you, if you can convince just a few local proprietors that you will be respectful, professional, and handle all the requirements, such as heavy-lifting (even if you need help), precautionary work (security and door-person, use a friend) and insurance (have your public liability added to theirs)…. they may want to help you.

For them it could:

  • Reflect positively on their company, store or brand,
  • Maybe it will attract new people to their premises who will come again for their business,
  • Maybe you offer them a percentage of the door take/or extra business on the night anyway.
  • Combining with a charity to split proceeds is always a good hook for both the charity (to promote) and the business (to be seen as corporately responsible), and you.
  • Also, maybe they’re just nice, philanthropic people who want to support the local music scene.

 For example, just think of the response if you approached a charity, church, or community centre hall  to use their facility or space and they were able to promote some of their services/ministries/outreach (or even able to get a percentage of the door take on the night). Would they be interested? Probably – based on the music genre and style of course.

 Similarly, House Shows & Basement Shows have been a regular gig alternative/addition for touring artists in the country music scene for years. 30-40 people in a nice home setting with a small amount of the money going to the host to cover beverages and snacks can not only be a really nice and rewarding gig, help increase your ‘following’ and is intimate, friendly and usually acoustic (without the need for large pa’s).

 Where do you begin?

  1. Think it through before approaching anywhere. Imagine how the event would work for your style of act.
    As this will probably be a totally new concept for the proprietor of the business or the manager of an organisation, you need to be prepared to describe the event you’re imagining in detail. Consider things such as: how it will be promoted (by you and by them)? How the flow of the event will run? How many attendees you expect/like? How the money will be split? Will it be free? Will there be food and drink? Bump in and bump out and lack of disruption? Who will be expected to do what?  And any other thoughts that come to mind.
  2. Then get out and look around – make sure that any business or location you chose to approach suits your style of act, so it’s a natural ‘fit’. 
  3. By viewing possible locations yourself, there is the opportunity to ensure that your own requirements such as accessibility, lighting, power can be met before any approach is made and also, it gives you the chance to check that disabled access or other requirements of your potential audience can be met.
  4. If a public space and/or outdoor setting is being considered, you may need to check about council permissions, applications and restrictions (such as noise levels) – the business owners may help you get the permission, but it is good for you to know if something would be needed beforehand..
  5. Approach the business owner personally.
    Business owners will be more likely to help you out if you present yourself well in-person. Establishing a personal relationship also helps overcome the ‘newness’ of the concept. Emails are too easy to ignore. So get out there and meet some people! Have fun with the idea and use your imagination to develop a win/win opportunity for both of you.
  6. Be polite regardless of the outcome!  A lot will reject the idea, that’s fine as it is their prerogative. Some may need to talk to others in their management team,
    A lot may need to think about it – so make sure you have a card with your contact details to give them (and agree on a follow up time for you to contact them if you havent heard anything in say a week or two)
  7. You might need to acquire a PA system (or a better one). Renting one for a single night from a music store or live-sound company will be far cheaper than purchasing one as things start off. However, if you live in a town with no “proper” music venues, or the business wants to make it a regular thing, you may end up holding a number of shows. . In this case, perhaps it is worth saving to purchase your own PA system – just make sure you purchase one that is of an appropriate size to be easy to transport as well as have sufficient capacity for the possible venues and style of your act. The staff of most music equipment stores are very helpful in selecting the right alternative for your particular needs.


How much activity there needs to be to promote any event will always depend on how many people you ‘need’ to attend to break even and how many people the venue can hold?

Once this is decided, promotional activity will be similar to concepts for any gig and those mentioned in other resource papers and website links.
For example: use social media, email lists, friends and contacts; work with the business owner to get exposure through their clients, staff and local network; promote future gigs to people at that and other locations; maybe put a sandwich board up outside the venue or sign in the window to attract passing trade; get an ‘advertorial’ in a local community newspaper –   like the list of possible locations themselves, the opportunities to promote are only limited by your imagination and the time available to you and those helping you.


The information in this article was adapted by Ian Pav with permission from an original article by Chris R. from CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog.

Examples of the DIY concept already in action in a number of locations around the world:

DIGITAL COPIES? WHAT’S LEGAL? Post 12March by Alex Kidman

Its important you know what is, and what isnt allowed… so I wanted to pass on this blog

As our entertainment has shifted into the digital sphere, plenty of options for all types of entertainment have emerged that are purely digital, whether that’s eBooks, digital music or streaming video. At the same time, a lot of people have amassed some rather large libraries of digital content at home, alongside their more traditional physical libraries of content. But what happens if you wanted to shift a copy of something you owned onto your PC, tablet or smartphone? From a strictly legal perspective (necessary disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this does not, strictly speaking, constitute legal advice per se) you’ve got a mixed bag of rights when it comes to transferring content from the physical to the digital realm.

For the purposes of this column, I’m presuming that you own the material in question (so renting it doesn’t count!), and that you’re preparing a single copy for your own personal use only — you’re not allowed to make multiple copies, and you’re most certainly not allowed to sell them unless the original copyright holder makes it clear that it’s fine to do so. Equally, once you’ve made the digital copy, you’re still required to keep the original copy. You can’t make a digital copy and then sell the original, because then you sell the right to format shift on to the new owner.

For books, the copyright situation is pretty simple. You are indeed allowed to format shift books, newspapers and magazines for your own private use, but to stay within the letter of the law, you’d have to do so by scanning each page yourself; it’s not strictly legal to grab a scan from the internet of content you already own.

For music, if the sounds you’re listening to were originally on an LP, tape or CD, you’re likewise permitted to shift them to a digital format for your own use. That’s not the case with files that were sold via the Internet to begin with; there you’re bound by whatever the terms and conditions of the download were. So for example, if you buy music from iTunes, there’s inbuilt permission to burn a CD version of that music, but not all download services have that same inbuilt permission. Read the fine print to be sure.

For video, you’re allowed to format shift analogue video — or in other words, video tapes and (if you happen/happened to be a collector) film reels. These have to be of commercially sold content, however; you’re not allowed to format shift a TV program for permanent keeping, although the same provisions of the copyright act do cover what’s called “time shifting” TV for watching a single time at a later date. There are other limitations, in that if the videotape has some form of copy protection (which some later, macrovision encoded tapes do), you’re not legally allowed to make a digital copy of it. The same rules don’t apply to DVD or Blu-Ray discs, despite the fact that it’s technically very simple to do so.

There’s a fairly obvious line between the enforcement of the letter of the law and the practical reality, but it never hurts to know what your specific rights are. If you do still have a stack of, say, VHS tapes lying around, I’d strongly suggest that you format shift them, if only because the reality is that all they’re doing right now is attracting mould.



If any of this is of interest and/or you want to pursue any concepts further, please do not hesitate to contact us for a chat.

Ian Pav not only has many years general marketing and sales experience (as well as within the music industry} but also lectures in Music Industry Business and mentors emerging artists. Contact us if you want to discuss an ongoing working arrangement that suits your needs.


The purpose of any good marketing strategy/activity should always be to build /increase recognition and knowledge of you and your brand (or band) with the primary goal of increasing revenue (whether through music sales, gig attendance, booking or contracting your service provision or donations to a charity).

Musicians are not necessarily good marketers and, while they may be in production and technique, are not usually that coordinated or up on the latest business and marketing trends in the industry.

This series of notes/columns is designed to give some insight from a marketers point of view into some areas that may be of interest to you the emerging artist.

  • Marketing tip No.1 …. never put up a demo for public listening that you wouldn’t be happy to hear played on the radio…all demos are PR, the chance to win (or lose) potential fans…songs/tracks put up on FB, Soundcloud, MySpace etc tell a lot about you as an artist and even if rough, leave an impression of what people can expect at a show …… rough doesn’t mean they cant be good…..only put up good stuff (unless you don’t care)
  • Marketing tip no.2 – is what you put up on your personal posts consistent with those on your band or fan page? In other words, are you real or do you reveal that your business persona is not the same as you as an individual? If it does, is that a problem for you? (it would be for me or, for me to find in a client)
  • Marketing tip no.3 – (may be obvious but still happens) once something is posted/up on the web, it is no longer private ( so don’t put up anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to know)..and out of your control (eg if re-posted or copied) …so think before responding, expressing or commenting…or loading personal info on your profile.
  • Marketing tip no.4…..did people ‘like’ your band or fan page to know what you had for breakfast? really? be considerate and aware of what your followers want to know (and not)…what did you promote (or infer) would be the information posted on your business page (and limit to that) ….promotion doesn’t mean being a legend in your own lunch box
  • Marketing tip no. 5…. whatever your preferences – your social network activity should be were the fans you want to attract go. It may be here on facebook…. but just as easily it may be on one of many others. Sometimes (especially for musicians working in a number of fields/genres/audience groupings -you many need to be on a number of sites.This of course can be a real hassle to maintain – but if you dont – you could be losing business.One way to keep up to date, help administer and ‘multiple post’ (uincluding to the RSS feed on your website) – is to use as your ‘hub’.Once set up properly, updating there will automatically update you status on a range of other social network sites you are linked to (including Facebook, ReverbNation, etc)
  • Marketing tip no.6 – how can anyone buy your music if they don’t know where? Why would they buy it if they haven’t heard it? What makes you and your music interesting enough for them to even try? How can they do anything if they don’t know you even exist? Whether you like it or not, PR/marketing is probably the highest priority activities for the emerging artist who wants to build a sustainable career
  • Marketing tip no.7 …. Facebook, YouTube etc do not sell anything – they help network, inform, interact, etc (which is all important) but they don’t generate $$. If people aren’t linking from the information locations to the transaction/action locations (presuming you have one and the links are there) or generating contact for business – your marketing isn’t working…transaction/action locations? Some examples, itunes, CDBaby or another online store (including your own); ticketeck, halo music or another gig/event ticketing facility (including your own); retail outlets (with specials/codes so can track source of buyer information etc)
  • Marketing tip no.8 …. more people are likely to share a link to your music if there is a video of the song than if not. More people will perceived ‘professional’ more easily (less intent listening) if there is a video. Music videos don’t have to be of you playing the song or even relate to the song. According to some PR sources, there can be a disconnection and like of the video for itself – but still a subliminal recognition and association with the music….. as long as there is a ‘fit’ with the feel and mood of the music being played. So working on a complimentary video and taking some thought over it and the promotion of it … may help generate interest and music sales (sometimes from non-obvious purchasers)..t still a subliminal recognition and association with the music . .. as long as there is a ‘fit’ with the feel and mood of the music being played. So working on a complimentary video and taking some thought over it and the promotion of it …may help generate interest and music sales (sometimes from non-obvious purchasers

Should you perform for free or accept a deal less than full rate at a venue – it depends……

There was a blog article circulated to me a while ago from 2 different sources.  The article was by a respected jazz musician in the States commenting on the issue that venues demanding artists perform for free (or really cheaply) were doing themselves an injustice as well as the professional musician – and in essence should pay a fair rate for all. There is a lot of sentiment about this topic in the music industry – while some is justified, sometimes some of the loudest comments are by very new or emerging artists who, while trying to make a buck and get started (and who may be technically excellent), havent necessarily put in the hard yards/earned the right to justify top dollar at the same level of the experienced pro ….. yet.

 One question I always ask new artists about marketing their music – if no one has heard you, why would they buy your music? If they don’t know you, why would they come to see you or even know you are playing? Or refer you to a friend – so you need to be out there exposing yourself, your music and your performance ability online and live.

 An easy parallel would be comparing to the sports player – a young footballer player may be the best ball handler in the country, has the technique and can show it on the practice field or in school games – but there is no way he is going to start at the same deal in the premier league (even with a good manager) as the player who has been around for a number of years, is a known performer, is known by selectors to rise to the challenge in a tough game etc – and nor should he expect to until there are the rungs on the board. In essence, really no difference for this argument.

 Anyway having set the scene – here was my reply to the blog – hopefully some of the above and below comments may cause you to think and consider how you are positioning yourself, your attitude to where you are in the business and possibly, what actions/plans need to be put into place for the future to achieve the success you desire.


While I agree with most of the sentiment, especially if taking the view from an established artist’s perspective…putting a general business and marketing hat on and looking at a new/emerging artist …

  • From the venue point of view -why would the……y pay a lot of money for an ‘unknown quantity’? There have been heaps of cases where acts sound good on a produced cd or look good in a staged video but suck live …so unless the act can prove they are any good ..the new artist has to consider that the venue is taking s chance by even thinking of booking any non established act, and probably shouldn’t expect full rates on the first occasion there
  • From the emerging artists perspective….having a gig at all (even a feeble) can sometimes be very valuable from a marketing point of view. While social networking, emails, YouTube clips, etc are needed activity, being able to blog/post/message your fledgling following of an ‘actual’ place you are playing helps to build hype and also ‘proof sourcing’., especially if get positive comments from the owner or patrons that you can use in your marketing. Also it gives you that very needed ‘actual performance experience’, practice entertaining as well as playing etc…so sometimes, even if free there is value in it for the artist …..however, it also needs to be limited and for a purpose.
  • If you were in Tamworth you would have seen the number of established artists using the ‘in-store’ mini free concerts to create some hype for their main (paid) shows….Some artists even use cheap gigs, freebies, or busking to practice, try out new material or a new show etc ……..while not the same, its the marketing philosophy behind it I am referring to ….give a bit, doing a few freebies can be seen in the same context as spending money on other marketing activity or promotion…. but you need to understand what you are doing and use it to your advantage.
  • Having said all that ….for semi-established/established artists from my experience (as performer and marketer/representative) I think (in Australia anyway) if that is the situation you are coming up against, you are looking at the wrong venues…Most of the time here it’s the amount getting paid, source (% or fee) and how- that is the negotiation …not if getting paid at all. That really only happens with venues that are not ‘entertainment experienced’ themselves. However, that in itself doesn’t mean its a negative and walk away – if the right people are involved it might be a marketing consideration – ( eg. helping them develop and building a ‘residency’ style place for you with increasing $ as the clientele build up) …….. __________________________________________

One of the other posts on the blog with this article was by Tom Hoss – who expressed it this way………

 I found this topic to be very interesting and have certainly spent a fair amount of time in my life in band vans, tour buses, and dressing rooms discussing the value of music and musicians, etc.

I have been a professional musician and bandleader for more than a decade and all of the members of my band make a living playing our original music. I write the songs, book the band, take out the newspaper adds, do the radio interviews, mail the posters, run the website, and all the rest for our independent traveling band.

 In addition I have also spent a few years running a live music venue which has given me an interesting perspective on the “other side of the business” when I was the one responsible for booking entertainment.

 As a musician I used to feel bad when I showed up to perform at a venue and the crowd was small or nonexistent. Often times club owners have blamed me in the same way that most musicians get blamed by venue operators in these circumstances “Where are your fans? Didn’t you put the word out on facebook? How come you don’t have a following? Why didn’t you draw more people, etc?”. Needless to say – it didn’t make me feel very good. I agree with Dave Goldberg – it is not the responsibility of the band to draw 100% of the crowd. The venue needs to be doing their part as well – good food, pleasant atmosphere, good reputation, friendly staff, marketing and advertising, etc and have some sort of a following for the venue regardless of who is playing. It just makes sense that a venue that is running a good business should be aware of this. It is simply not fair to expect the band to be solely responsible for the audience in attendance. In fact – it is counterproductive because a band should be interested in building their fan base and in order to do this they need to perform for new people and not just those who are already fans and following the band around.

 Having said this – I feel that I should warn musicians NOT to feel free of obligations in terms of drawing people into a venue.

 There is a simple law of economics which I am sure that everybody is familiar with called “supply and demand.” If you are a musician –put yourself in the shoes of a club operator. Who would you book? The band that sounds great but nobody comes to see or the band that sounds decent and draws a good crowd of patrons?”

Always remember that if you are a musician playing for money than you are an entrepreneur running a business and as such you answer to the laws of economics the same as everybody else. Too many musicians feel that the world owes them something. The world isn’t going to pay you because you are a good musician – people are going to pay you if your music holds value for them.

You are always free to play music for yourself and for your friends and for the pleasure and joy of it but if you intend to make money playing music then you need to take responsibility for your own music and marketing as much as you possibly can. Sitting around and saying “I am a good musician and deserve to make a good living” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

 The world changes and it always has. There used to be good money in being a cooper (someone who builds wooden barrels) because everything was shipped in wooden barrels. Nowadays it is probably not such a good career anymore because times have changed. That’s just the way it is.

 If you open a flower shop would you expect to say “I make beautiful bouquets and arrangements and because they are pleasant to look at and I am good at making them I deserve to make a good wage and a decent living with my flower shop?” I don’t think so. Everybody accepts that your success as a florist depends not only on your talent at arranging bouquets but also on your location, marketing efforts, the kinds of flowers you sell, etc, and MOST IMPORTANTLY – the DEMAND for your flowers. Do you get my point? Too many musicians don’t take responsibility for their own success.

 As a musician your ability to earn money is directly linked to your DEMAND. Successful musicians realize this and spend a lot of time and energy into building a demand for their product (the same as any other business in the world). If you can draw 100 people into a venue and those 100 people are willing to pay $15 a person to attend your show then you deserve to make $1500 for the night. Simple isn’t it? If a venue doesn’t want to pay you $1500 but instead offers you $300 then you would be a fool to play at that venue because you can simply say “If you don’t want to pay us what we are worth then we will go across the street to another venue and see if they would be interested in paying us what we are worth. They might enjoy having our fan base drinking in their establishment instead of yours.”

If your show is not capable of drawing any people then it doesn’t have much value to the venue.

 Remember that there are only two reasons in the whole world that somebody is going to pay you: 1) They can’t do it themselves; or 2) They don’t want to do it themselves

 Unfortunately, if you don’t have a draw (demand) for your music you are not in a very good position to negotiate a better wage for your performance. You more or less have to take what the club owner offers if you want to play. This is a very degrading situation and makes a musician and his/her talents feel underappreciated (to say the least!). This is the situation that you will be in for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE unless you start building a DEMAND for your music. So – get started on building a demand as soon as you can and put your efforts towards this because once you have the draw and demand then you control the terms of your career, your life, and your value.

 Here is my advice: don’t expect club owners to look out for your well-being – look out for your own well-being.

 You don’t have to make a stand against club owners – use their venues as a way to build a demand for your music and you soon will be the one in a position of power. Work hard on your music and make it the best it can be. Work on your show and make it entertaining. By professional, punctual, polite, charismatic, and excellent at what you do and put a lot of effort into marketing yourself and your music and getting the word out about who you are and what you do.

 The CREAM RISES TO THE TOP and this is something that is entirely in your hands. Take care of your fans and they will take care of you. If you wait around for club owners or music unions to take care of your career you will be waiting until the cows come home….


Tom raises a really good point here (in his words) – an artist in demand who knows people will come to a gig – will get a gig anywhere and at premium dollars …because everyone knows they will get a return. The more you can become ‘in demand’, increase the hype about you, prove you are a good live act and people want to see you – the more influence you have in the negotiation to create a ‘fair and proper’ deal for all (all being the operative word – not just you and not just them – both),,,,,,,, and the more venues will approach you and want you back.

 If you look at some of the other articles in the notes here about DIY Venues, marketing etc – you will see some more of my thoughts and ideas – stay tuned for more Marketing and Pre-production interviews in the future and don’t hesitate to contact us if you think we may be able to help you in some of these areas.

Hope of interest and open to thoughts and comment