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Choosing the Independent Music Business Model That Works For You

By Music Business, Music Distribution, Music Streaming, Strategy One Comment

Last updated on 7/26/20

The music industry can be overwhelming. Just like running your own business (because that’s what it is!), there are a lot of things to think when it comes to managing your enterprise. When you’re working solo and can’t afford to build a team yet, it helps to have a solid overview or plan on how you should go about making a living from your music.

As an independent artist, you have 4 general business models you can adopt to mold and build your music career around. These aren’t “official” models, but it should provide some clarity about which approach is best for you.

Although I will talk about them distinctly in their purest form, their characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive. This means you can technically incorporate different aspects of all four models at once. Certain characteristics will overlap so there’s not a black and white distinction between each model. In time, more business models for music will certainly emerge as the industry and technology are constantly evolving. Read More

Black Violin

Developing Your Brand from Life Experiences: Artist Lessons From Slick Rick and Black Violin

By Branding No Comments
I had a chance to go on my first cruise with Butterscotch back in January. She joined a lineup that included artists like Babyface, Teddy Riley, Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick, Black Violin, Avery Sunshine, Kenny Lattimore, Jon B, Mike Phillips and Floacist.

The two artists that stuck out to me the most, and inspired me to write this is Slick Rick and Black Violin. Both of these artists shared stories at some point during the cruise that gave insights into their brand development.

In previous blogs, I’ve talked about basing your brand on elements of your authentic self, but I wanted to use this opportunity to elaborate on why these artists are great brands you can learn from.

For this month’s blog, I wanted to show how Slick Rick and Black Violin pulled from their life experiences to develop their brands, and why they are good examples. Read More

Content Creation: Musicians Can Learn from a Legendary Bassist Eating Ramen in Japan

By Content Creation, Strategy, Video No Comments

Thanks to Butterscotch, I had the privilege of going on the Blue Note Japan tour at the end of December of 2018 for 2 weeks with the legendary jazz musician Marcus Miller. Butterscotch was invited as a special guest for his tour and I tagged along to capture content.

During this trip, I had the chance to consult and create content with Marcus Miller alongside his wife and manager, Brenda Miller. One of the things we created was a video of Marcus eating ramen at Ippudo, a popular ramen chain from Japan known for their Tonkotsu ramen. We were in Fukuoka, where Ippudo was founded in 1985, and ate at the very first location.

Here’s the video I made that got 190k+ views: Read More

What makes you unique?

The Basics of Branding for Musicians: Figuring Out What Makes You Unique

By Branding No Comments

One of the common challenges I’m noticing artists have about branding is figuring out that one thing that sets them apart from everyone else.

You hear it often in regard to branding. I have even said it in my previous blogs. Because there’s so much competition for attention in the digital era, you have to be able to distinguish yourself to stand out. You need to find what is “unique” about you.

I realize now that this could be misunderstood. Read More

Zion I Merch

What Merch Should Independent Artists Make That Fans Will Actually Buy

By Merch, Music Business 2 Comments

This is part 1 of 3 about merch.

In our music streaming world, it has become much harder for independent artists to sustain a career in the music industry. Selling CDs was a large income stream that has basically vanished. To put into context how important it was, consider how much you make from music streaming.

Based on the latest numbers, to make the profit of selling one $15 CD, you would have to get roughly 3,200 streams on Spotify or 2,000 streams on Apple Music. For emerging artists, it’s a challenge just to get 1,000 streams.

It’s safe to say now that selling merch is basically a necessity now to make it as an artist on top of doing shows and tours.

Often times, the problem with merch is you need money to make money. Since the money to fund merch will most likely come out of your own pocket, you can’t afford to make items that people won’t buy.

Before you go and print a bunch of shirts with your face on it, it’s important to take a step back to evaluate your brand, what you represent and what characteristics define you as an artist. Read More

Russ Forbes 2018

Forbes Under 30: Russ on Dominating with DIY Marketing (Video)

By Motivation, Strategy, Video No Comments

For this month, I wanted to share the story of Russ for aspiring artists because I believe he really epitomizes the marketing strategy and DIY mindset needed to make it in the music industry, or at least improve your chances.

I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston where he performed and did a 20 minute talk to entrepreneurs on the factors that contributed to his success. I managed to record the entire thing so this was perfect to share.
 

Here’s the video of his talk on October 1, 2018:

Read More

Community Mindset

What is a Community-Oriented Mindset and Tips to Find Your Community

By Music Business, Strategy One Comment

Success in the music industry is often a team effort. Even as an independent artist, you need support from those around you. This includes people who help you directly on day-to-day tasks or on certain projects, a network of industry relationships and community support.

As the saying goes, “your network is your net worth.” Your value and potential for growth are largely tied to the people you choose to surround yourself with. As emerging artists, it’s important you put yourself out there and start building these relationships. Read More

Facebook Ads for Music Video

How to Use Facebook Ads to Promote a Music Video and Sell Merch

By Facebook, Facebook Ads, Music Business, Social Media 2 Comments

SCENARIO: You have a new music video that you want everyone to see. It could even be an older video, it doesn’t matter because it’s always new to someone who’s never seen it. Facebook Ads is a great way to get more views for your music video, from both your current fans and potentially new ones.

Think of Facebook Ads as a tool that you can use to get exposure for your music video and potentially lead people into your fan funnel. Once in your fan funnel, it can be easier to sell your music and merch to your fans. The good news is you can use Facebook Ads to do this also.

There are different ways and strategies you can go about it, but I will guide you through one way to sell your music and merch to an audience that is more likely to buy based on how engaged they were by your videos. Read More

Different Ways to Get Exposure for Your Music as an Independent Artist

By Marketing Basics, Music Business No Comments

Exposure for Artists

EXPOSURE. It’s what all artists want right?

After investing so much time into creating the music, you want to make sure it gets in front of people. How can you get your music in front of new potential fans? Maybe you’re unsure of the options you have.

A few people have reached out to me and asked about how to get more exposure. To me, there’s really no big secret.

The goal of this blog is to simplify the most practical routes to get more exposure for your music. It’s less about secret tactics or hacks, and more so about an overview of all your options you have to get your music in front of new people. Read More

Going Viral: 6 Important Lessons Artists can Learn from the Rise of Hobo Johnson

By Branding, Going Viral, Motivation, Social Media, Strategy No Comments

Hobo Johnson
 
With all the events that have recently transpired for this young artist, the name of his latest album, “The Rise of Hobo Johnson,” couldn’t be more appropriate.

In the last 3 months, Hobo Johnson has:

  • Reached 700k+ Facebook followers (up from a few thousand)
  • Gained 256k+ Youtube Subscribers
  • Sold out shows all over the U.S. and U.K.
  • Reached #11 on Billboards Heatseeker’s Chart
  • Had at least 4 of his songs at the same time on Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 Playlist
  • Booked his first big festivals – Bumbershoot in Seattle and Outside Lands in San Francisco

In the world of virality and mainstream artists, this is relatively impressive. But to the average independent artist, this is an astronomical feat for a 20 something-year-old adult from Sacramento.

How did he do it? Read More