This is a guest post by Dave Kusek, the founder and former CEO of Berklee Online, the world’s largest music school. He taught music business at Berklee College of Music for 14 years and has worked with tens of thousands of musicians.
He just launched the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Bandzoogle members can get a special 20% discount on the course through this link. They also offer access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up to their mailing list.
The music industry is often divided into separate subsections, with touring, recording, and publishing (or songwriting) being the most popular division. While it is totally possible for artists to exist exclusively in one of those categories, more often than not musicians find themselves straddling two or three industry subsections.
Many musicians, and even industry veterans, find themselves thinking about each industry in isolation—your touring strategy may be completely different from your publishing strategy with little cross over. However, if you really want to make the most of your music career you need to think of all aspects of your career together and strategize accordingly.
To make a basic analogy, think about your career like a box of gears. You have different gears representing the different subsections of your career: publishing, gigging, recording, and whatever else you draw income from. In mechanics, each gear is separate from each other, but they work together to move the machine.
To bring it back to music, while the subsections of your career are separate, they should be working together towards one common purpose—the growth of your music career.
There’s a few ways we can think about this. As an example, let’s say you just released a new album. Try to come up with creative ways to tie that into your live show. You’ll no doubt be performing your new songs, but how can you go beyond that?
The Wild Feathersare a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows. This strategy gave their fans an incentive to go to their live shows and get excited about the release. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs–one to keep and one to share with a friend.
This strategy is genius for a couple of reasons. By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans and getting them to the live show. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share. They turned their superfans into marketers! Above all, The Wild Feathers tied together their touring, recording, and marketing strategies.
Don’t limit yourself to just touring and recording! Be sure to tie songwriting into your overall strategy too. Crowdfunding is something that tends to be tied to the recording subsection of the industry. People start crowdfunding campaigns mainly to finance the studio, manufacturing, and distribution costs. After all, it doesn’t take much money to sit in your room and write songs.
However, tying the songwriting process into the campaign is a really great way to connect with your fans on another level. Give them the chance to buy access to an video series that documents rough song sketches, lyric explanations and discussions, and songs that didn’t make the cut. You might even frame and sell the original paper where you first started planning out the song. You could also involve them in the writing process, choosing from different lyrics phrases or topics. There are lots of possibilities here to draw fans into your creative process.
New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Bandzoogle members can get a special 20% discount on the course through this link. They also offer access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up to their mailing list.
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