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July 2008 archive

Laying the Foundations for Music Success by Making It Easy for People to Get Into Your Music

Let’s get one thing clear, I’m a musician. The blogging thing is just a tool to promote the music, and this is not primarily a blog about blogging; God knows we don’t need any more of those.

However, as it happens, I do enjoy blogging so that’s great. Personally, I reckon it beats the hell out of wandering the streets at 2am sticking posters up in the freezing cold only to find them ripped down again a day later, but that’s just me. I guess I did that enough back in the 90s, back when ‘they’ used to leave them up for a while. These days the Gentrification Nazis have them pulled down every morning at dawn by poor sods in fluorescent safety-jackets who couldn’t pay their (outrageous rip-off) parking fines…. sorry, went off on a tangent … where was I?

Oh yeah … So blogging is not making music, nor is it as much fun. It’s just not the buzz that gigging is. And, after a break for a couple of years to refresh (and father a baby!), I am keen as mustard to get out and start gigging again.

So what I am doing with this blog is laying the foundations to capitalise on every gig, to make it easy for whoever happens to be in a bar when I set up in the corner and start bawling out my tunes to find me online afterwards, and to listen to (or even buy!) my tunes.

You see I spent years playing gigs in bars, to some success initially but then to less and less. I don’t mean musical success, that was never an issue. What I’m talking about is marketing my music rather than just enjoying gigging for the hell of it (which I did). Truth is that by the late ’90s, once I had moved from Adelaide to Melbourne, I just did gigs and then went home. Or to some girl’s house if I was lucky. But I did nothing to capitalise on whatever favourable attention I won in the pubs and clubs that I gigged in. Some people enjoyed what I did every night for sure, but I had no idea who they were or how to contact them again.

And look – at the time I didn’t care, I was going through a, “like, totally zen” phase and just wanted to hang loose like I hadn’t ever done when I was in Reckoning which was pretty much my entire post-high school life.

Then ten years went past in the blink of an eye.

Whoops!

I had a lot of fun in those ten years but the old music career “break” was starting to look pretty permanent 🙂

But now, call me a sad case, but I want back in again, I miss gigging and jammin’ and all of that. But these days my time is precious (Wife, Baby, Extended Family, Career, Friends, House to Maintain). So what I am doing with this blog is making sure that this time around I do things properly. When people see and hear me in a bar, they will be able to buy my disc straight away if they want. But if they aren’t quite convinced I will make it easy for people to find me on the web.

So you hear me at a gig, go home with one of my tunes stuck in your head, you Google my name, Voila! Then you land on this blog and there will be an big thing saying “buy my tunes Now” and also “listen to my tunes now for free” (for the cheapskates). And whatever gigs are coming up will be easy to find. And you can subscribe to the email list and I’ll let you know what’s new.

And further to this, I am giving this blog a “point”. Rather than just being a blog that exists for no other reason than the fact that I have an enormous ego (fact) I have made it into a kind of “how to get your music shit happening – by example” blog. (Note: if you look through the archives, you will see that it was only relatively recently that I decided to focus the blog in this way. In that time I have already seen traffic increase by about 400%. Why? It’s called the “what’s in it for me?” factor.)

And so that means learning how to do all this online marketing guff better. So Steve is showing me how. I spent the couple of hours I could spare over the last two days signing up for every stupid social media/bookmarking site under the sun. Not my idea of bliss but you gotta do what you gotta do.

One other thing I gotta do is work out how to make a template for posting so it ends with a “subscribe to the blog or mailing list” link at the bottom, as recommended by Copyblogger. Meanwhile, why don’t you scroll up the top of the page and subscribe right now?

I’d better go and get on with it.

What do you gotta do today to get your music shit happening?

My Online Media Marketing Lessons Begin!

I have mentioned before that Steve Mills my Rebel Zen partner and I have an agreement to help each other out. He will scratch my back by teaching me how to market my music online, and he will benefit from this by refining and promoting his SPOKE system.

So today we begin.

Lesson One
Here’s the email I got:

Yo (we email each other all day so nothing formal tends to go down)

First thing you need to do is to go to http://www.socialmarker.com/

and sign up for all of these social media sites. Place your
full bio and picture in the profile section of each

# Propeller.com
# Slashdot.org
# Digg.com
# Technorati.com
# Del.icio.us
# Stumbleupon.com
# Twitter.com
# Reddit.com
# Tagza.com
# Fark.com
# Newsvine.com
# Furl.net
# swik.net
# Connotea.org
# Links Marker
# Sphinn.com
# Blinklist.com
# Faves.com
# Mister-wong.com
# Spurl.net
# Netvouz.com
# Diigo.com
# Backflip.com
# Rawsugar.com
# Bibsonomy.org
# Folkd.com
# Linkagogo.com
# Indianpad.com
# Plugim.com
# Myjeeves.ask.com
# Buddy Marks
# Connectedy
# MyLinkVault
# Google Bookmarks

Long process I know, but is your spokey foundation for linkage. If you
cant get them all done, don’t sweat for now, but try to get as many as
you can.

Great! I thought. I just go to social marker.com and sign up for all of those at once. But I couldn’t tell how so I emailed Steve back and asked for further instructions:

For the Spoke part 1, What you need to do is go to propeller and sign
up for a user account as seamusanthony, and fill in the bio
information and url link to point back to seamusanthony.com

Then do the same for slashdot

Then for digg.

Repeat for the list that I gave you

Oh dear, that IS going to take me some time isn’t it.

Ok. I’d better hop to it then!

The Hidden Costs of Rockin’ the Suburbs

It’s important to watch out for hidden costs when executing your music marketing plans.

As I have been setting up my CD Baby page it somehow eluded me that there were a couple of set up costs: a once off $35 joining fee and a once off $20 fee for a barcode. And I also didn’t factor in the cost of posting off the first 5 cds to the US for CDBaby to sell for me. Couple that with the recycled (refilled) ink cartridges I had to buy for my printer, the CDs themselves (with the printable white discs) and the nice card for the covers (I could only find 40% recycled which sucked). Then when you factor in the (roughly) $500 I paid the guy to record my guitar and voice, the costs mount up. Off course if I was any good at sound recording I could have saved a bunch and done it myself but I firmly believe in not trying to do everything yourself – it’s better to be good at a few things and enlist the help of others who have their own area of expertise.

Other costs: Petrol to drive around getting stuff. Time away from my work. New guitar strings. Oh dear, the little red numbers are getting bigger!

Well firstly, you can’t let it get to you. You have to spend some cash to make some and the trick is not to worry about money, just keep an eye on it. Be it’s master not it’s slave. (And if it really starts to get to you – let go.) Be wealthy in your mind and your reality will soon follow. (This does not, as some people mistakenly believe, mean “spend lots of money on a lavish lifestyle when you can’t afford it”. And yes there is a difference between “being wealthy” and “being extravagant and financially irresponsible”.)

Secondly I am having to amend the amount of CDs it will take me to sell before I get my investment back. I originally expected a small return after just ten CD sales, but I guess that was a little hastily thought out. It will in fact take more like 100 BUT I am sure as hell going to get my investment back plus a return. (Also, this doesn’t factor other streams of revenue like gigs and err, *cough* t-shirt sales?)

In other exciting news, CD Baby seems great so far. I have set up my CD Baby account and they are just waiting for the CDs to get to them before they can sell them. They also offer what seems like a fairly comprehensive digital distribution service so that’ll hopefully result in a far greater reach for my music.

And I discovered a function to embed some HTML from CD baby into this blog which will result in a “Buy Now” kind of thing and a link through to the sales page, so that was freakin’ easy (I was quietly having a little non-geek panic attack about how to do that). Actually, I’d better get on with doing that now, not to mention my day job! Back tomorrow 🙂

Now, you! Go do one thing to get your music out there!

There’s Plenty of Time

Sometimes when I am looking at a massive To Do List I get overwhelmed, especially when most of it is about everything BUT making music.

But it’s ok. I have a special place that I go to that helps me to deal. A happy place in my mind 🙂

In my mind, I go back to a Saturday about 6 months ago when I was in at the LivingNow office in the city (LivingNow is the magazine that I work for). I was doing some extra work, nobody else was there. The sun was shining and I decided to go eat a sandwich on the little balcony off the second floor. The sun was hitting it nicely and by the time I finished eating I was as warm as toast.

You know how sunshine makes you fell happy? Well I was soon feeling very contented indeed. I got to thinking about making music and about how I had wasted so much time in my life so far; how I should have done One Thing Every Day instead of nothing much most days. But, for once, I didn’t think about it in a disappointed-with-myself-way but rather, in a “Hey! Whatever! A) it doesn’t matter and B) I’ve still got plenty of time!” kind of way.

I thought to myself: “I am 34. If it takes me 15 years from today to reach a level with my music making that satisfies me, then that’s fine! That’s 15 years spent having fun doing what I love!”

So that’s my goal since that day, to be a successful musician by the time I turn 50. Thankfully, the cantankerous, grizzly old zen-bear music I write and play these days will only get better and suit me more the older I get, like Johnny Cash or Nick Cave or something, so that helps!

And whenever I get impatient or overwhelmed, I just remember that day in the sun and that I still have 15 years (and more!) … and that it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Because it doesn’t matter, you know. Not that much anyway …

Sometimes you get busy…

… and the only thing you have time for is a few Twitters, but it’s better than doing nothing to get your music out there for one whole precious day.

Hopefully tomorrow Steve will show me a cool trick to get more traffic coming to the website so that once the CD* is up for sale, somebody will know!

*or collection of downloadable songs … whatever that’s called

The CD art is like, done, man…

So this weekend I print ’em up and ship ’em out.

Then my training into online music marketing begins in earnest. And maybe a gig or five as well.

Meanwhile check out the first song from the disc, “Go Away”, here at the ubiquitous MySpace page

Here’s the cover…

seamusanthony_front_cover.jpg

Dogs May Bark…

… but the caravan moves on.

That’s an old Arab proverb apparently, and I think it speaks on many levels: about how our lives are just brief moments in the vastness of time. About how we do and say things but when you compare our actions to the hugeness of the universe – we seem so small.

And about how songs we write only ever really capture a moment in time. When you sing a song it’s like “this is how I was feeling then”. Hopefully, it’s a universal enough feeling that it resonates with people whenever, but each songs is just a bark in the night really, and the caravan just moves on (baby).

So the thing I did yesterday was to choose “Dogs May Bark” as the title of the CD, and I wrote all of the text for the CD covers, and chose the kind-of-pop-art-version-of-the-painting-in-yesterday’s-post as the cover image. So now it’s over to Ze Arteest to finish it off.

Not sure what I am going to do today, kind of busy with work, but that’s the point right? To, no matter what excuse you come up with, Do One Thing Everyday to move yourself closer to the goal.

7 Day CD Sale Plan Report

Here’s a couple of the potential cover designs, all reworked-on-photoshop versions of an actual painting of me by my partner, Laetitia Gerard. Cool huh? cutout.jpg

Well I really put myself in the pressure cooker over the last week and my plan to have my CDs up and ready for sale by yesterday didn’t quite pan out but almost and that’s alright. I achieved everything I said I would, the only things I still need to do are decide which CD cover I want to choose from, decide on a name for the disc, and also get the written element of the covers done. I also need to insert the html that CDBaby.com provides to set up a ‘buy my CD now’ button in the sidebar on this blog, then I need to post them some completed CDs.

contrast.jpg

I think that I pretty much underestimated how much there would be to do (lots of things came up that I didn’t account for) and also over-estimated how much time I would be able to devote to the project. Oh, and I discovered several hidden or unaccounted for costs so that means I will really actually need to sell about 100 CDs before I make any profit (for example, I didn’t factor in recording costs from last year – duh!)

BUT

All is well, I will have the music on sale in both ‘digital delivery’ and CD form within a couple of days.

glow.jpg

7 Day CD Sale Plan Update

So it’s early morning Day four of the 7 Day CD Sale Plan and I am up early because things are running a little behind (and because my eight month child doesn’t really let me sleep much anyway!)

Things are not running behind in an “Oh Crap – this is going badly kind of way” but more like in a “It’s cool – I still got this under control” kind of way.

Day one went fine. Day two also except that Steve told me that first we’d better move this blog to my new hosting on our own server. This took some time and now this morning we do the mailing list thing (behind the scenes tech stuff done already) and make sure the RSS feed is hunky dory.

Day three I was so busy at work I plain forgot to go buy CDs but I can make that up today. Which leaves me with today’s task which is to set up CD Baby page.

Couple this with all the work I have to do for bread-and-butter it looks like it’s going to be a busy day!

The Seven Day CD Sale Plan

Okay, so my CD is ready, the recording that is. It’s not perfect but it is beautiful. So I want to start getting it out there and into people’s CD players, iPods and the rest. And I want to get from here (CD not available for sale) to there (CD available for sale) in seven days by Doing One Thing Every Day. Here’s the plan:

DAY ONE: SUNDAY

Begin CD Manufacture Process

Yesterday I looked at prices to get a run of CDs professionally produced. Unsurprisingly, it costs a pretty penny and I don’t want to fork out 500-800 dollars just to end up with 300 CDs that I am sick of under my bed. That would be hard to explain to my partner!

What I want to do is make a run of 10, sell them at a profit, then reinvest the profit back in and make a run of 20, sell them at a profit, etc, etc until I have built up enough money to get a professional run of 100 or 500 done.

Some people might cringe at the idea of selling homemade music Cds but not me. I think it will add a nice touch to the product because let’s face it, mass produced CDs are just that, they lack any personal touch whatsoever. So the first thing I am going to do today is get started making 10 CDs at home. They won’t be perfect, but they will be unique little works of art, and if someone who buys one says it skips, well then they can ask me to send another one.

I will ask my partner to do the art because she is a great talent. And she doesn’t read this blog, so I am not just saying that.

I will also begin to burn the discs on my iMac and personally sign them, just because I have tickets on myself so that one day they may bring the purchaser the ability to sell them for big bucks on e-bay and go on a nice holiday ;-).

I will need to decide on a name for the CDs and do a double check to make sure there aren’t any last little tweaks I should give the mixing so that I am not overly plagued by self-loathing for the rest of my life (musicians will know what I mean by this).

I predict that getting the Cds made will take a few days; I will need to steal moments to burn them off when I can around changing nappies (diapers) and heading into the office to sell advertising space and other such drudgeries and adult responsibilities. And it will take my partner some time to design the art.

DAY TWO: MONDAY

Fix RSS subscription and add a mailing list to this blog

There is no point having a blog and attracting visitors if I don’t offer them the opportunity to return and get involved, and (frankly, from a hard-nosed marketing angle) if I don’t “gather their data”.

Now just the other day I noticed that RSS feed button up top isn’t working. I had a quick look, but I am no geek and couldn’t see what the problem is. (STOP THE PRESS! I just tried it again and it seems to work, so I dunno, maybe it’s ok, maybe it’s buggy, why don’t YOU give it a go right now and test it out for me? Leave a comment below if it doesn’t work.)

And I need a mailing list so people can subscribe to that so that I can contact them every now and then (only when I have something to say – I HATE over zealous mailing lists and usually unsubscribe if I find myself getting too many emails).

Monday and Tuesday I have to work full days in the city at the office (that’s three hours per day of commuting right there) so will have pretty much no time to scratch myself, and I am useless git when it comes to geekery anyway so I am going to ask my friend Steve today if he will fix it up for me tomorrow. Hopefully he will say yes! Otherwise I could feasibly stay up all night taking way too long to figure it out myself. We’ll see how that pans out – but it will get done.

DAY THREE: TUESDAY

Buy All Needed Materials

Like I said, busy with day job all day (and of course family responsibilities at night until I pass out from exhaustion) so have to be real about what I can do. Let’s just make it that I go to the shop and buy nice quality blank CDs with cases and some paper to print the covers on (recycled of course). This will give me an idea of what I will need to charge for the CDs to make a modest profit, although I will also need to factor in postage, and potentially other hidden costs yet to be identified. It is (admittedly boring but) VITAL that I keep a track of this.

DAY FOUR: WEDNESDAY

Organise Online Sales Systems

I will set up a CD Baby page and a way to sell to Australia and New Zealand without CD Baby (silly to send CDs to the US just to send them back again – and environmentally unfriendly). Will also explore other avenues and ebay.com as well. There goes a few hours right there, potentially.


DAY FIVE: THURSDAY

Organise Sales Page on this Blog…

…and some kind of BIG noticeable graphic on the home page to encourage people to go and look at it – and buy a CD 🙂

This may take Steve’s help again.

DAY SIX: FRIDAY

Finish Manufacture of CDs

This means my partner will need to have finished the artwork, I will need to have set up the printer (it’s been in the box since we moved house), I’ll need to print and crop the covers, finish burning the discs, and apply labels to them or print on them (ooh just thought of that, might need to do that before I burn the discs? Not sure, will research).

DAY SEVEN: SATURDAY

Post 5 CDs off to CD Baby and upload all sales material to website and announce to the world in general that they are on sale. I don’t care who buys them, even if it’s my own grandmother, but they gotta pay full price.

Then it’s time to start working on a serious CD Sales Marketing Plan, and a gig or two wouldn’t go astray either. Oh well …

One Thing at a time! Wish me luck!

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