Dave Cool

Social Media Trends: Focus on Your Website, Songwriting, and Playing Live (?!)

Social Media Panel OCFF (photo: David Dufresne)

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Social Media: New Trends for Current Users” at the recent OCFF conference in Niagara Falls. After 90 minutes of discussion, the end result of this social media panel was that artists should focus on their own website, their mailing list, songwriting and live performance. Say what?! Allow me to explain.

Social Media Trends: Focus on Your Website, Songwriting, and Playing Live (?!)

The goal of the panel at OCFF was to examine the latest trends in social media, how to manage all of your profiles, and to discuss new tips/tactics, etc. On the panel were Selena Burgess (social media maven for Borealis Records), Tom Power (host of CBC Radio 2’s Deep Roots) and singer-songwriter Ember Swift, who manages her social media accounts in both English and Mandarin since she’s now living in China.

So I threw out questions about how to manage several social media accounts (Hootsuite was the popular choice amongst panelists), what everyone thought about some of Facebook’s new features (not very popular so far), Twitter trends, and the latest, greatest social media network, Google+ (not too many people using it apparently).

But in the end, no matter what I did to steer the conversation towards a social media geek-out session, the panelists and artists in attendance always brought the discussion back to the basics:

1. You still need your own website

Any work you do through your social media networks needs to bring people back to your own website. Bandzoogle founder Chris Vinson just wrote a blog post about why this is so important:

3 Reasons to Drive Fans to Your Band Website (and not to Social Media)

But essentially, it’s because you own it, you control it, and you can give your fans a focused experience of your band through your own site. By bringing fans back to your own website you can deepen your relationship with them, encourage them to sign-up to your mailing list, and shop at your own online store.

2. You still need to collect email addresses

Email addresses are gold for an artist’s career. It is still the most reliable way to stay in touch with your fans. Regardless of what happens to the social media sites that are popular at the moment (remember all the fans you had on MySpace?), you can stay in touch with your fans through email.

Just recently, Facebook changed the way pages worked, removing the “Update Your Fans” feature, which sent a message to all of your fans. Ember Swift brought this up during the panel discussion, as she had been using that feature’s geo-location option to target fans by region while on her current North American tour. Well, halfway through her tour, because Facebook decided to make the change, she could no longer send those updates, let alone target fans geographically. Luckily Ember had always kept her mailing list going, organized by region, so she could still send out newsletters and email fans individually before she came to their city. But had she relied solely on Facebook Pages, that could have potentially been disastrous for her promotional efforts on tour.

Statistics from TopSpin, one of the top direct-to-fan marketing platforms, show that email is still the best way to convert fans to paying customers. With all of the fancy Facebook stores, and sales links being sent out through social media, sending a newsletter with a call-to-action to purchase through your own website (preferably) or through services that people recognize (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) still seems to work best.

3. Your music and live show must be GREAT

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING will be better for the promotion of your music than having other people talking about it. New fans are often created because they hear about a band through a trusted source. So if your music or live show is so good that it gets people talking about it, it’s going to spread naturally.

Tom Power’s last words during the panel talked about how social media marketing can’t make up for bad music. It reminded me of a great quote by Bob Lefsetz:

“No amount of Tweeting and Facebooking and online dunning will make up for lame music.”

Should you be active on social media? Yes. It is an important tool in your career and a great way to connect with your fans. But it should never come at the expense of your art. I actually wrote a blog post recently asking if social media was hurting creativity, and in the responses, Bandzoogle member D. Anson Brody mentioned another great quote from comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin:

“Be so good, they can’t ignore you”

And that is what will make you stand out more than any amount of tweeting or Facebook updates. Being so good, people have no choice but to pay attention to you and talk about you to their friends.


A Failed Panel Discussion About Social Media?

In my opinion, not at all. While these aren’t exactly new trends in social media, I was heartened by the fact that people are realizing that they can’t let go of these basic principles. Without solid music, a great live show, and a home base for your fans, your best efforts on social media are likely to fall flat.

What do you think? Should artists spend more time on these fundamentals than on social media? Do you find yourself spending more time on social media than working on your music?

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/27/2011 | 5 comments
Dave Cool

Musicians: Have a DIY Success Story? Share it with Step2

Step2

Musicians: Have a DIY Success Story? Share it with Step2

Created by media blog Techdirt, Step2 is a community brainstorming platform for asking about, suggesting, creating, and building models for success. We had the opportunity to interview Techdirt founder Mike Masnick about the site and what it can offer to content creators like the many artist and bands here on Bandzoogle. Enjoy!

Q: What inspired you to create Step 2?

I've been talking and writing a lot over the past few years about cool things that content creators were doing to connect with fans and to build useful business models. And the more I wrote or spoke about it, the more I'd have content creators reach out and ask for help with their unique situation. I only have so much time in the day, and I also believe that getting more people involved only leads to better ideas and solutions. So we built a platform to bring together a community to discuss these things.

Q: Who is Step 2 for? Creators themselves? Industry? Fans?

All of the above. It's definitely targeted at creators, but very much with the idea of fan involvement as well. We've often found that fans have the best ideas for cool things that their favorite creators can do (or sell). In an ideal world, I'd love to see content creators post their questions to Step2, and then point their fans to that discussion. So, for example, a band preparing for a new release might ask fans to chime in with ideas for "packages" that could be sold around the new release. You'd be amazed at the cool feedback you might get.

Also, one of the reasons why we hope to involve people beyond just the creators is to get that difference in perspective. It's amazing how breakthroughs in brainstorming can often come from someone with a totally fresh perspective on things. So, someone who spends most of their time as a software engineer, might have the best possible idea for a band halfway around the world. Hopefully Step2 will bring out some of those kinds of connections that make everyone better off.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with the site?

Simple: help make content creators more successful in today's rapidly changing environment. I'd love for the site to inspire content creators, helping them recognize that there are new and interesting things that can be done to be successful these days. In the long run, I'd love for it to become the go-to knowledge base of all sorts of interesting ideas, knowledge and expertise about how to succeed today.

Q: Tell us more about the “Content Creator Success Stories” contest

For the launch, we're offering up 10 $1,000 prizes for the best case studies from content creators. The idea was that we wanted to give some initial incentive for artist to jump in and share to kick things off. All an artist has to do is write up a case study about a particular thing they did to be more successful -- connecting with fans, giving them something to buy, increasing concert attendance, whatever, and post it to the site.

Q: How can creators participate in Step 2?

Simple. They just go to www.insightcommunity.com/step2/ and sign up for an account and begin taking part. They can "start a discussion" to post a case study or ask a question about their own situation (or, perhaps, the situation of others they'd like to help). Or, they can peruse existing discussions and questions and start responding to some of them.

Q: What do you personally think will be the model for content creators going forward?

Personally, I think that every content creator's situation is different, so the specific tactics that each will need to take to succeed changes on a variety of variables (type of content, style, location, charisma, access to fans, etc.) but that there are two key elements to succeed these days. The first is to build a *real* connection with fans that is authentic and honest. Shunning fans is not an option -- but amazing fans and making fans feel special pays back tremendous dividends. Second, is giving them a real reason to buy. For whatever reason, many artists often seem afraid or ashamed about the commerce side of things. They'll maybe put out an album and say "here it is." But they don't put much thought into providing a real "reason" for fans to buy it beyond just the fact that they're fans. I think there's a huge opportunity in providing significant value above and beyond the content itself.


Well Zooglers, normally we would ask you to share your success stories here on the blog, but you heard the man: go to the Step2 site, tell your success story and you could win $1000: www.insightcommunity.com/step2/

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/25/2011 | 0 comments
David Dufresne

Musician Website Quick Fix #1: Turn off auto-start music

Music Player

Hey folks, we're going to write a series of quick posts to give simple, actionable tips and advice that can help you make your website a little better and more effective.

Turn off auto-start music

This first one is one that not everyone will agree with, and, even within the Bandzoogle team, folks have different opinions. Either way, here's what the CEO thinks ;)

Top 2 reasons why you should have music auto-start on your site:

1. It's your site, and you should have it the way you want (and we like it that way).

2. Chris argues that people know they're coming to a band website, so they should be expecting to hear music. (Restaurant sites however, please...).

Top 5 reasons why you should not have auto-start

1. Remember, your fans are music fans. There's an excellent chance, when they visit your site that they are already listening to some music (iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, their stereo, etc.). Forcing your best track to get mixed with the latest Gaga single isn't the experience you want them to have.

2. You have no idea what volume setting their speakers or headphones are on when they reach your site. Can make for very unpleasant surprises, especially if at work, or at the library. Especially if you're a screamo metal band.

3. Tabs. More and more people use multiple tabs when they're browsing, and they might "right-click-open-in-new-tab" your website. That's how I do it. I'll see a link in a blog post, for example, right-click it, finish reading the post, and then go to the new tab to check out the site. So sometimes I will have music startle me out of nowhere and I'm not sure which tab it's from. Spooky, and a bad first impression.

4. The music that auto-plays competes with your own content. You have a cool new video ? Folks are then forced to pause or stop the player (if they can find it) and then start the video, or the one song they're curious about. Can be annoying. Give them control.

5. Waste. Often people will have their speakers muted or mute them when music auto-starts. That can mean a lot of wasted bandwidth for that fan, potentially slowing down your site for them.

So there it is. Clearly I'm not a fan of auto-start music. In the Bandzoogle control panel, to toggle it on and off for your site-wide music player, go to "Edit Pages", click on the "Site-wide Music Player" and then "Options". Let us know in the comments what you think, both as a website owner and as a fan...and I promise the next Quick Fix post will be even quicker and shorter!

Posted by David Dufresne on 10/21/2011 | 43 comments
Dave Cool

Musicians- How To Get Sponsored Part 2: Building a Proposal

Dave Huffman

This is a guest post by Dave Huffman from The Indie Launch Pad. This is Part 2 of his “How To Get Sponsored” blog post. You can read Part 1 here. In Part 2, Dave goes over the concepts of “Corners”, “Trade” and walks through building a sponsorship proposal. Enjoy!




The Indie Launch Pad

Musicians- How To Get Sponsored Part 2: Corners, Trade, and Building a Proposal

Notice that small sea of people in the pic above? That's what I mean by eyes and ears. That is DIRECT attention for a brand.

Ok, let's pick up where we left off: "Corners"

Corners is just a random term I came up with on the fly in the last post to explain the areas of your art that are sponsor-able. The short answer to all of this is anything can be sponsored provided you can justify the benefit to the sponsoring agency.

Here is the most basic example of how this might work:

  • You have regular attendance of between 350-500 people at your shows
  • You approach a local beer/soft drink distributor with these numbers
  • If they do not know who you are, you invite them to the next show and put them on the guest list
  • At the show you promote their product, encourage the crowd to do the same, personally buy a couple of groups of people a round of the product, maybe change up the words to a cover tune to slip the product name in ("Sippin' on Budweiser instead of "Gin n Juice" - cheesy yea, but it works)
  • Distributor thinks: "Wow, so these guys only want $2,000 in 2011 to do this for us?"
  • In the new culture of connectivity and engagement distributor realizes this is much better than any money spent on pray and spray advertising and recognizes value in giving money to your band

CAUTION: I know the above sounds like you are hammering your crowd over the head, but this CAN be done in a genuine fashion if you really love the product. I'm not suggesting you whore yourself out.

In some cases your reputation will precede you and that will be great. It'll be an easy sell, you may walk out after the first or second meeting with signed proposal in hand.

However, as in the case illustrated above, you may need to COURT the sponsor. Court is an old man term for "date"...I know. But it's true, I've had to do this a few times. AND IT WORKS LIKE HELL. And offering this up front really shows you are in this to work hard. It shows you don't expect anything.

SPONSOR-ABLE ITEMS

What can you ask to be sponsored? Well, like I said above, anything. Here is a short and what may seem like an obvious list:

  1. Your website
  2. Merchandise
  3. Studio time
  4. Cd pressing
  5. Van/Trailer
  6. Promotional Material
  7. Individual Shows
  8. Wrap #1-#7 up into an "Annual" and spread the dollars accordingly

YES, you can get a dealership to pony up on a van. I have seen it happen more than once. Again the trick is to justify why they should give you that van. Do you tour all over the state? Do they have dealerships in multiple locations? Yes? WHAM! Justified. In that case, you are a touring billboard for their product. Get turned down by a dealership? Don't give up. Go to the mom and pop dealership hocking used crappy vans if you have to.

TRADE

The van example is a form of "trade."

In exchange for eyes and ears, the dealership gives you a van. Trade is a win-win. Both parties end up with more than they had before - at a fraction of the cost.

This can be your best friend if you are open to it and it can also help stuff your pocket full of gear.

A couple years ago or so I fell in love with Dava guitar picks. So - I wrote the president of the company telling him how big of a fan we were, sent along a video or two that proved our following and boom, he sent us a thank you letter with an unlimited supply of Dava picks. All styles of them.

Sure, it wasn't a multi-thousand dollar deal, but with 2 guitarists in the band it gave us some extra dough in our pockets and one less trip to the gear store. Same goes with guitars, drum heads, drum sticks, strings...the list goes on and on.

Being "sponsored" isn't always about getting a fat check. It is also about covering expenses so when you get that fat check from elsewhere, it doesn't need to be spent on said expenses.

You could do a trade for any of examples #1-#6.

And when you get really good, you can recognize opportunities for Partial Trade.

Say you use a local company to press your t-shirts and it costs you $6 a shirt for a basic one color, one logo position shirt.

Offer to put their company logo on the sleeve/back of the neck, etc in exchange for knocking $2 or so off each shirt. Then ADD VALUE to the relationship by following up at later dates with free tickets to shows, stop in and drop off your new cd, give them stage mentions, and genuine personal testimonials in your email newsletter.

BUILDING A PROPOSAL

Alrighty, let's build out a proposal. Keep in mind, there is no one way to do this. This is just how I did it and how I had seen it done when I actually did trick a broadcasting company into hiring me as a salesperson. Or did they trick me? Who knows...moving forward.

  • Headline/Header: Put together a little header that explains what you are about to hand them. I liked to call it a "Partnership" of some sort (Annual, etc.) and then place our logo beside their logo. For example
Annual Partnership
  • What You Will Provide: Here is where you show them your value and what you plan to do for them. Below is an example of one I did close to 3 years ago. Had I been pitching this today, I would have thrown in Viral Video creation and possibly a social media campaign provided I could think of a non-spammy way to do it. Notice how I defined our value in a couple of places. First in the circulation of our newsletter. Secondly, when I threw in the "free" performance ($2,000) value. That wasn't a lie. That is what we were getting paid at the time in some places and made the sponsor feel like they were getting us on the cheap.
Jakob Freely Provides
  • What the Business Will Provide: Are you proposing they get signage at your event? Then they have to provide that signage. Are you giving them "sampling" at the event? Then they need to provide product. Here is where I stumbled when I made packages. I didn't realize this until I ate up the very money they gave me to design and pay for their signage. I only had to do that once by the way. This is also the place where you ask for money. Below is how I would word that. Very simple...not as a "how much it costs" statement, more of a "This is what you will provide ie gechange for what we provide"
Screenshot Amp
  • Page Design: I say keep it simple. You can add some color and maybe a border or something, but don't get too crazy here. Save that for the media sheet that you can attach for the sponsors that do not know who you are.

  • Format: I like PDF's.

  • Signature Line: Almost forgot this. Wrap up the proposal with places for you and the buyer to sign and date.

That pretty much wraps it up. I really encourage you to check out some sales podcasts, books, and blogs from time to time. Do not get too wrapped up in it though, remember you are STILL an artist and you need time to create.

DO NOT FORGET TO SEND A HAND WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE (that's a link to how I did that).

One last word or two: Just keep in mind that companies have marketing budgets. A portion of this budget is usually set aside for "event marketing" or "promotions." In some cases a person on their marketing staff would have to put these together. But not if you come knocking. Which makes it so attractive to them. Think of yourself as an event marketer with a built in crowd. And remember that YOU CAN get a portion of that budget if you can justify why.


You can (and should) check out more of Dave Huffman’s blog posts over at www.TheIndieLaunchPad.com.

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/13/2011 | 7 comments
Dave Cool

Musicians- How To Get Sponsored (Part 1)

Dave Huffman

This is a guest post by Dave Huffman from The Indie Launch Pad. I (Dave Cool) actually spent 3 years running a sponsorships program for a micro-brewery that focused on supporting the arts. So, you would think that being a blogger, I would write a blog post about sponsorships myself. But the truth is, this is the best blog post about getting sponsored that I’ve ever seen, and simply put, I don’t think I could have written it any better. Dave Huffman is one of my favorite writers out there, so enjoy Part 1 of this post, Part 2 will go up in a few days. Cheers!


Budweiser not only gave us money for this show, they made us a 4ft x 20ft
banner (shown) with 2-8ft stand up banners for the venue entrance

Musicians- How To Get Sponsored (Part 1)

Catchy headline, huh?

Ok, so you have built a nice local following. You can pretty much sell out the mid to largest room in town. You either command a nice guarantee OR you do so well at the door that you fore-go the guarantee for the bigger payout.

What next?

Here's an answer for ya: Generate some more dollars in the form of sponsorship

I'm an artist Dave. I am beholden to no corporate sponsor.

Ok, but remember - if you have the eyeballs and the ears at your shows, you call the shots. You approach the sponsors YOU want at your shows.

And if you pick correctly, a lot of cool things can happen. Namely, some extra cash for a better produced show, extra promo materials, and some gear; which means more for your pocket after the show.

Here is a linear breakout of how you can do this:

1. Identify your hit list of local sponsors and start calling them.

Beer was always an easy target for me. I love beer and it was easy for me to talk about onstage because we were drinking it. Keeping with the example of beer: find the local distributor of the type of beer you'd prefer to have at your shows and call them to schedule a meeting.

Once you lock that in, find a non-alcoholic sponsor. Be creative. If Pepsi or Coke turn you down, go for something else like Milk. Also remember, Pepsi and Coke have sub-brands of energy drinks and things (beer distributors do as well). They'll most likely be handled by the same person, BUT it could change your pitch if you have a target market that is the same as theirs.

BEWARE: Some brands may have exclusive rights to certain venues. If you are searching for show sponsorship, check this out first. You may not be able to hang that Budweiser banner if that is the case.

Call on small businesses as well. If you can put together a value added package worth their while, they will sponsor you. Sure, it may only be $200 or so - but gather up five of those and you got yourself a nice little deal there.

We locked in close to $1,000 from a local car dealership with a package and a personal testimony that told the story of how we toured for a year in the type of car they sold. In another example, we locked in sponsorship from a Monster Truck team. Sure, sounds nutty – but it was for our outdoor festival and they were just looking for placement.

You’ll learn as you go regarding what you think fits and what doesn’t.

2. Put together a Package

Everyone has their own sales techniques. What always worked for me was having a "partnership" mock-up package available to present while letting the business know that I could customize the terms specific to what was attractive to that particular business.

Here is what a package could include:

  • Heading with band logo and logo of business you are pitching to at top
  • Summary of what you are asking for (sponsorship for show, tour, festival, etc.)
  • What you can do and plan to do for them
  • Specified time period if there is one (Annual contract? one show?). This can also be moved to the top heading as "An Annual Partnership Between...." for example
  • What the business is to provide (signage, product, money)

What You Can Do For Them

The normal things in this area are signage at the show, logo on flyers/handbills, logo with click through on website, stage mentions, and personal mention in email blast/social media pages.

Here is a tip though: The more value you can add to the package the more money you can ask for.

1. Can you edit video? Make a video for the business with a goal for it to be "sticky" enough to go viral. If you are proposing an annual deal - propose that you'll generate one of these per month. That alone could be worth $5,000 or more depending on how you sell it. Remember: You are a storyteller, you have the ability to put together a little skit. Online content in general can be a great sell. Pictures of concert attendees using the product that you can post on your site and share with the business are great as well.

2. Write a jingle. If you have no shame, this is a GREAT way to add value and dollars to a package. By "no shame" I mean some people hate doing this. If you don't mind...DO IT.

3. Add Incentives. This goes without saying, meaning you NEED to have these in a package so I do not really feel they add attractiveness. However, lack of them will make you look like a Jack-O. These include extra tickets for the buyer, VIP seating, etc.

4. An Exclusive Performance. I wouldn’t suggest this because I think it kind of eats up some of the money up in expenses, but if you do it right it is a super easy sell. Pitch to the business that you will play one of their corporate events. Put this in the package. Again, be very specific about your terms. Performance should be contingent on band schedule, business should provide gas money, etc.

Not good at selling? No excuse. I'm the worst salesman on the face of the planet. In fact, every sales job I have ever applied for I have been turned down for. My personality inventory scores even suggest that I am a horrible salesman.

BUT...

If you believe in what you are selling (i.e. your shows/music) you WILL be able to sell it to a business. I promise you.

You have plenty of experience booking shows by now. Treat the chase of sponsorship the same way. Call the business, get the name of the person responsible for buying, and then begin the deluge of follow up.

Be courteous, BE REAL, do not overestimate your following, and ADD VALUE to the relationship as much as possible.

Again, I'm an artist Dave. I'm not selling out.

Ok, well you shouldn't be reading this blog then. If you want to work for yourself, call the shots for yourself, then you are going to have to run your own business. If you are going to run your own business, then you will have to maximize dollars in every corner available.

If you have a lot of eyeballs at your shows, that is one of your “corners.”

Oh and one last thing: You better make sure you actually like the product you are endorsing. Nothing will ruin your reputation and get dollars pulled faster than drinking a Miller Lite when Bud is your sponsor.

In part 2, I will illustrate some more of these “corners.” I will also give you some ideas of who you can approach for sponsorship, what to ask for, what "trade" is and why you might want to consider it from time to time, and we will build a package together.

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/11/2011 | 28 comments
David Dufresne

Congrats Melanie and Tyler !

Huge congrats to Zoogler Melanie (support superstar), and to Bandzoogler Tyler (see www.tylerkealey.com...) who just got married over the week-end. So cool to see two amazingly nice and talented individuals commit for the better (and the very occasional worst).  Congrats guys, enjoy the honeymoon, and just to show how talented those two are, here's a video proof (with furry Herman channeling his inner Freddy Mercury).  Props to Melanie who, at 1:45, sports the fashion item of this Fall.
Hot.




Posted by David Dufresne on 10/11/2011 | 13 comments
Dave Cool

Win a Pass for the OCFF Music Conference!

OCFF Logo

Win a Pass for the OCFF Music Conference!

***PASSES HAVE BEEN GIVEN AWAY***

Are you a folk/acoustic/roots musician and would like to attend the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals music conference? Well, Bandzoogle can help you do just that.

Bandzoogle is proud to sponsor this year’s 25th Anniversary of the OCFF music conference. It will take place in beautiful Niagara Falls, Ontario at the Marriott Gateway Hotel on the Falls.

Starting Thursday, October 13 and running through Sunday, October 16, the conference will feature panel discussions, keynote speeches by Eric Baptiste (CEO of SOCAN) and Loreena McKennitt (artist, music entrepreneur), as well as lots (LOTS!) of music with official showcases, private showcases, and random music jams throughout the nights.

The conference provides a great opportunity to network with fellow musicians and industry reps, learn from the panel discussions and workshops, and meet people that will possibly be friends for years to come.

For more information about the conference, visit their website: www.ocff.ca


How to Win a Pass

***PASSES HAVE BEEN GIVEN AWAY***

Thanks to all those who responded, the passes have now been given away!

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/07/2011 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Competitions for Musicians: Are They Worth it? An Interview with the Independent Music Awards

IMA Logo

Competitions for Musicians: Are They Worth it? An Interview with the Independent Music Awards

There are probably hundreds of songwriting contests, battle-of-the-bands competitions and awards aimed at the independent musician community. Some are real boosts to an artist's career, others, maybe not so much. One well-respected awards competition for indie artists is the Independent Music Awards, who have been around for 10 years and have been associated with some of the biggest names in the industry. We asked them some questions about the IMA’s and competitions for musicians in general, to get a better idea of what they do and how they differ from other awards. Enjoy!

Q: Why did you decide to create the IMA’s?

In 1997 the parent company of the IMAs, Music Resource Group, launched The Musician's Atlas - a detailed, contact database that gives independent musicians access to performance, promotion & distribution opportunities that had only been available to major labels.

As a result, we had daily contact with all facets of the music industry including incredible independent musicians and labels that were our customers.

It was frustrating for all of us that this exceptional and diverse talent didn't get the attention they needed and deserved from the mainstream gatekeepers and music consumers.

While there are many songwriting contests and battle of the band competitions, there were no programs that honored and supported the artistic excellence and vision of independent musicians throughout the world. And The Grammy's focus was more on mainstream releases and sales numbers than artistic merit.

Because The Atlas gave us access to influential, industry influencers and music consumers, we realized that we were uniquely positioned to place deserving artists in front of press, radio programmers, agents, talent buyers, music supervisors and other key industry players.

We created The Independent Music Awards in the year 2000 and since then have helped hundreds of artists and bands of every genre to enhance their profile and realize their career goals.

Q: Why should artists participate in the IMA’s? How can it benefit their careers?

The IMAs is a community and an awards program for professional, independent musicians and labels. It's not a program for hobbyists. We work hard to connect every artist who joins The IMAs with career opportunities regardless of whether they earn an IMA nomination or not. We like to say that artists and labels win just by joining The IMAs, because we have recognition programs for all who enter their music.

And there's no expiration date on our support for IMA artists. We frequently pair past and current winners and nominees whenever suitable projects arise. You can get a taste for some of these WebTV and performance programs at: www.GrooveableFeast.com/grooveablefeast and www.IndependentMusicAwards.com/ima/imatv/

Q: How does the IMA program differentiate itself from other songwriting contests & awards?

In addition to celebrating artists who follow their own muse, The IMAs is the only international awards program that connects independent musicians to new revenue opportunities and an audience of more than 1 billion music fans.

Artists who join The Independent Music Awards have reached a level of accomplishment where marketing, sales support and performance opportunities are more meaningful to their careers than the prize packages offered by songwriting and battle of the band contests.

Program benefits include a 12-week radio promotion campaign, featured placement on 20,000 digital jukeboxes, a yearlong promotion campaign on eMusic, distribution to music supervisors, ongoing publicity campaigns, as well as live and filmed performance opportunities.

We’re always adding new marketing and promotion campaign benefits for winners and nominees. And in fact for the 11th IMA program that’s currently accepting submissions, we just announced that the music of all winners will be distributed and made available for sale to more than a billion mobile telephone subscribers in China. This is an incredible opportunity for IMA artists’ music to break through in this vast, emerging market.

Q: We've heard some skeptical artists say that songwriting competitions and awards are just a money grab by the organizers. What do you say to that and how do you communicate what the IMA’s are really about?

I can't speak for other organizations, but The Independent Music Awards receives tremendous word-of-mouth within the global independent music community. The program attracts a diverse pool of top self-released and independent label talent.

Artists, labels, managers, publicists, etc. consider IMA honors a badge of distinction and appreciate all the work we continually do on their behalf.

In the program's early years, it was the judging panel and career opportunities that was the primary attraction, now artists submit their best work to the program because they respect the artists that The IMAs honors and supports.

Q: What are some of the success stories from winners, or even nominees from past IMA’s?

The IMA “Now Hear This” winners compilation routinely places at the top of eMusic & CMJ charts. We receive emails and posts from new fans who’ve “discovered” new, favorite artists and bands through The IMAs. And past winners and nominees tell us that their IMA honors have helped them land slots on festival and conference main stages. Overall the program enhances both winners’ and nominee profiles enabling them to book better gigs, get more industry attention and increase their CD and ticket sales.

Judges are often so impressed with artists they find through The IMAs that they request artist contact info. Amy Ray of Indigo Girls was so impressed with one IMA nominee that she learned about through the IMAs that she signed them to her label and took them around the world as the opening act for Indigo Girls. The band is called Girlyman, and now has a worldwide following thanks to their participation in The IMAs.

IMA alumni just get noticed. Jack White recently produced a single on his Third Man 45 label with 10th IMA Amerciana Album Winner, Pokey LaFarge And The South City Three. And the band Fictionist was among the Final 4 in the Rolling Stones Cover Contest. Neither of these achievements were a result of their IMA recognition...but it does show the caliber of artist the program honors!

Q: This year’s judges include Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Michael Franti, Tori Amos and Ozzy Osbourne (among others). How do you select judges, and how do you attract such high-profile judges?

The IMA judging panel consists of more than 70 respected musicians and influential talent buyers, programmers, music supervisors, music journalists and the like. We look for judges who appreciate artistry and originality.

We truly feel honored that these talented and busy professionals lend their ears and time to help determine The Independent Music Award winners.

But of course art is subjective. So in addition to the judge-determined winners, we also have The Vox Pop Awards, the fan-determined portion of The IMAs. We open the Vox Pop voting as soon as we announce each year’s nominees. This is a great way to introduce all of The IMA nominees to music fans from around the world. And to have another opportunity to direct fan and industry attention to these talented artists.

Q: What’s the application process for the IMA’s? How do artists get involved?

The Independent Music Awards honors all styles of music - from every corner of the globe.

Current work from self-released and independent label artists can be submitted in more than 70 Song, Album, Music Video and Design categories.

All submissions are judged by the same criteria. We ask judging panelists to consider all aspects of the music and design projects submitted. We ask them to regard it for originality, creativity, songwriting, musicianship, production, etc., because in the real world, that's how fans, talent buyers and programmers will judge it.

The submission deadline is Friday, November 11th.

Artists and record labels can enter using the IMA Online Submission Platform, or by mailing in their entries. Details are available here.

Q: What’s the judging and winner’s selection process for the IMA’s and when does that take place?

The first round of judging begins in November after the call for entries is closed. Every single submission is reviewed and ranked by preliminary judging panelists. The tracks that receive higher rankings, the more reviewing it receives from the preliminary panelists.

After much passionate (often heated) panel sessions - up to 5 nominees in each of the 70+ categories are selected.

Winners in each of the categories are then determined by the celebrity and higher-profile industry judging panelists who we have listed on the Judges tab of the IMA site.

Submissions are evaluated solely for their artistic merit - press clippings and sales don't impact the decisions.

Our commitment to supporting artistic vision is evident when you view the talent that we've promoted throughout the program. I believe that this track record of putting "outsider" talent such as a Johnny Dowd or The So So Glos on the same platform as more commercially successful artists such as a Jackson Browne and Flying Lotus is something that resonates and is respected within the independent community.


To participate in the Independent Music Awards, click here

The submission deadline is Friday, November 11th.


What do think of competitions and awards for musicians? Have you ever submitted to one? Do you have any success stories? Let us know in the comments section.

Posted by Dave Cool on 10/06/2011 | 0 comments