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Archive of ‘Business stuff’ category

Are You Suffering From ‘Trapped Musician Syndrome’?

Just listening today to Seth Godin’s “Tribes”, in which the man states the facts that A) all the tools are at your disposal and B) the only reason you (we) don’t kick giant arse is because of Fear.

But I believe many musicians, sometimes myself included, don’t recognise this. We name excuses but ignore that back of these lie fear.

News Flash: Musician’s Worst Nightmare Comes True – Life Happens

Many musicians want to become musicians to avoid reality. In the end though, reality has a habit of catching up to all of us.

For example, one sunny day you may wake up to find that you have suddenly morphed into a parent and are faced with a very real requirement from society – not to mention your little angel – to be RESPONSIBLE (Gasp! The Horror!).

Suddenly you simply cannot work 3 days a week in cafe for beer and rent money, using the rest of your time to jam and record.

Suddenly you just can’t get up and go on an underfunded tour of coastal cafes to build a following, knowing that you’ll get home hundreds of dollars poorer, not richer.

Suddenly you can’t sleep in until noon, jam all arvo, then go out and network with other bands? Why? Because little diddums gets you up at 6:30am, needs breakfast, entertaining, lunch, a nap, more entertaining, dinner, a bath, a night time routine so they’ll actually got to bed nicely (hopefully). Meanwhile someone also has to bring in some dosh to pay for those meals, those pyjamas, that hot water. And then you’ll need to go to bed before midnight because sure as the sun will rise, that kid’s gonna wake up with it.

HOWEVER!

This DOES NOT mean that you are trapped! It does not mean that you have no recourse!

You Are Not Trapped – You Are Just Letting Fear Fuck With You

There are still many options – it just means you have to be organised. It means you have to be creative and (if you’ll forgive the cliche) think outside of the box. There are many ways and means for you to get out there and make your music.

For example …

Worldwide music distribution – from the couch!

There is so much more to the internet for musicians than Facebook and Myspace.

For example, I recently set this online music distribution point up while I was sitting on the couch at night while watching TV and resting after a busy day playing Dad.

Here is a list of just a few other places I found – in five minutes of searching – to distribute your music online:

http://www.tuneshout.com/
http://www.muzic.com/
http://bandzoogle.com
http://bandcamp.com
http://www.musojam.com/content/index.php
http://www.whotune.com
http://www.unsigned.com/
http://www.broadjam.com

Now I don’t know much about most of these sites yet, but given that this is a minute sample, it is obvious that there are very few excuses for not getting your tunes out there.

Of course, just getting people downloading your free Mp3s isn’t going to solve all of your problems, but it is just one way to help you:

A) Get Satisfaction

Since setting up Seamus.bandcamp.com the other day, just under 300 hundred people have listened to my music there (or via embedded music players placed on other web pages, like this:

which bandcamp makes easy to do). And many of those people also downloaded the album. I didn’t make a penny but Jeez it feels better than looking a box of CDs growing dusty under the bed – huh?

B) Start Making Progress

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” and other corny – but true – cliches.

I know now that if I had spent the last 15 years slowly getting one thing at a time done, step by step, I’d be a wealthy man by now, but instead I was always looking for the short cut. Unfortunately, I know now, THERE IS NO SHORT CUT. Not one that you can deliberately take anyway.

This doesn’t mean you can’t work smart instead of hard but nevertheless, you’ll need to work and it will always take more time than you want it to.

Take the long way, it’s the only way available.

Ok – enough jibber jabber for now. My point is that we all have the chance to shine our light – no matter what the circumstances of our lives.

Back soon with more on this topic.
Click here to listen and/or download my music FREE (or pay what you feel).

Why booking gigs by email is better than the phone (and how to do it well)

I have noticed that a lot of venue bookers are more than happy to organize gigs by email these days.

And this is great…

Because it saves calling, getting an answering machine, getting no call back, calling again a few times until you catch the booker but he or she has had a bad day and you’re nervous and they smell blood and it all goes really badly and because you’re the artist you feel personally rejected when it doesn’t go so great and then you want to give up and slit your wrists…

I’m sure you know the drill.

BUT

If you have bad email skills it can still go pear-shaped so here is:

A Simple Crash Course in Emailing Venue-Bookers about Gigs

1) Be Polite – “hope this finds you well”, “thanks for your time” etc.

2) Be brief – get in and get out.

3) Get a name, spell it correctly and use it like this “Hi Fred,” not “Dear Fred” (it’s not a letter to your grandma).

4) If you can’t find a name or aren’t sure just start with “Hi,” (Not “to whom it may concern”).

5) DON’T USE CAPS (it’s shouting), and proofread over your spelling, grammar etc before you press send. They aren’t going to grade your use of the Queen’s English but you don’t want to come across like some semi-literate moron do you? It amazes me how many perfectly intelligent people don’t realise how bad excessive spelling mistakes and other typos make them look.

6) Keep all details to a minimum, don’t bother talking about money or anything too presumptive just yet.

7) Briefly point out your experience level, but don’t tell your life story.

8 ) If you think it’s appropriate (it usually is unless your applying to get on some kind of pre-existing bill), come prepared with a ready made line-up (i.e. other musicians to play the night with you).

9) Point out that you will do your best to promote the gig, i.e. find an angle like “it’s a CD launch” or “I have a lot of friends in the area who I will invite”, etc.

10) Link to your music on Myspace, Facebook, or even better, BandCamp.com. Alternatively you could link to a youtube clip but only if you have one that doesn’t suck. (Ok so you should probably have a fancy electronic media kit right? Well, sure, but most gig bookers won’t read them so don’t worry if you haven’t gotten that organised yet.)

11) Give a phone number in case they prefer to follow up by phone. And once they email you back with some kind of positive interest, take a chance: wait a day or two, then call them on the phone. Seriously, once you’ve made a positive connection, phone is more efficient and will usually get you better results. Why? Because it is easy to ignore or forget about an email, and easy to go with the pro-active guy who follows up by phone (and is polite about it). See what Derek Sivers says about being persistent and following up.

Anything to add to the list? Drop it in the comment box below.

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!

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!

The Power of Monomaniacal Obsession

Fagan was standing at a bus stop after school one day when he first saw the vision.

In his minds eye he saw every detail. The stage he would stand on. The hot lights on his face. The massive crowd stretching out before him. The three or four front rows of faces that he could clearly see: pretty young girls making eyes at him, impressed young lads watching his hands like hawks as his fingers danced across the fret-board of his shiny electric guitar. He saw himself shimmy across the stage: young, excited, totally self-assured, radiating the X-factor.

In his mind’s ear he heard the music: raw, powerful, epic, his voice soaring great heights. He heard the crowd roar after each song finished. The applause, the whistles and stomping feet.

In Fagan’s heart he felt the thrill of success, the glory of the spotlight and he knew that, for him, nothing else mattered. This was what he was born to do and that, simply, was that. He kept this vision at the forefront of his consciousness every day for the next ten years. He spent hours obsessively daydreaming the vision over and over again. He immersed himself in rock and roll culture, moving from band to band, studying the every nuance of the greats of popular music: Bowie’s different vocal palates, Kurt Cobain’s songwriting structures, what Robert Smith ate for breakfast.

When Fagan’s mother caught him in his room doing air guitar solos, he wasn’t embarrassed. Instead he proudly stated: ‘I’m going to be a rock star!’

‘But you can’t even play guitar!’ she squawked. Thirteen year old Fagan just rolled his eyes and began to teach himself to play on an old nylon string acoustic guitar that he found on top of a cupboard in the hallway. It had been left behind by somebody years ago and only had one string, but Fagan didn’t let that stop him. He made do with what he had and then when he had some pocket money saved up he bought some new strings and slowly but surely learned some chords. Straight away he began to write songs. He suspected they weren’t much good yet but it felt so good anyway that he just wrote and wrote and wrote. His mother didn’t like much noise so he had to sing the songs in his head, imaging a voice powerful and high.

Five years later when he got his first gig at the university bar, he opened his mouth to sing and realised that he didn’t sound anything like he thought he did. His voice wasn’t smooth and high, it was gruff and deep. But Fagan didn’t let that stop him. Nor did he let the too-cool drinkers in the bar deter him when they completely ignored him as he poured his heart out all over the stage.

Fagan saw no way to get what he wanted without hustling, so without a second thought he begged, pleaded and schmoozed his way into bars to play gigs. But he wanted a band. So he would go to record shops and check out the ‘singers wanted’ signs and try out for all kinds of bands. Mostly they didn’t work out, but sometimes he would meet someone who he half-clicked with so they would razzle together a band and hire a studio and record a demo. Then the band would break up, but he would use the demo to go get a gig, pretending the band still existed, then he would find a new band to play the gig.

Eventually he did find the right band: two other guys, one who was as obsessed as Fagan with rock stardom, the other who was just a walking success magnet, a good luck charm. Together they plotted and worked hard. They rehearsed every day of the week, often to the disappointment of their girlfriends and families. They hustled gigs and recorded and pushed and pushed and pushed and never took no for an answer. They weren’t cool like the inner-city kids from the private schools, with their just-so clothes and haircuts, but Fagan and his mates were hard working and above all, strategic. They went to see other bands and would stay up late discussing what was good about them and what didn’t work. They knew that above all they must be remarkable if they were to succeed. And that they must be obsessively singular in their focus. They must be monomaniacal.

At first they were nobodies on the local scene. The hipsters snubbed them. Three years later Fagan and his two friends were the biggest indie rock band in their city and Fagan saw his vision come true night after night. Huge crowds, often up to three thousand people strong. Screaming girls. Powerful music. The spotlight. Adrenalin filled nights. Autograph hunters waiting by the stage door and beautiful girls galore.

Fagan had never more than idly wanted financial riches, and this he did not get. He had daydreamed a little about traveling the world with his band, but he did not obsess about it, and thus his fame remained a local phenomenon. But he had a single, clear vision that he was not just passionate about – he was obsessively monomaniacal about it: Being on stage playing his own music in front of large, enthusiastic, receptive crowds. He focused on it day and night, at the expense of a balanced life or more sensible, security-minded activities. And thus he saw this this dream come true.

If you do the same, you can see your dream come true also – but take note – be sure that what you focus on is worth it. It took years for Fagan to get over the imbalance that his obsession caused in his life.

Actually, it’s doubtful that he’s gotten over it at all 😉

On Imagination and Procedure

You may have noticed my tagline up top. This stems from an initial idea to call an album (of music) “A New Initiative from the Department of Imagination and Procedure”. I haven’t yet made said album, but the idea hung around and then when I was setting up an actual office earlier this year, from which I was intending to run my own business, I decided to call it the “office of…” instead of the “department of…”.

Then things changed (fine by me) and I closed the office before it even got used and was wooed back into full time employment. (Actually, I volunteered for reasons of practicality.) So anyway, I decided to tag this blog as per above and be done with it.

But of course, as sometimes happens, long after I had grown bored with the “sound” of the phrase (which was what appealed to me in the first place, that and the inherent satire) I began to muse on how it really does sum up the Yin/Yang nature of work. There’s left brain work (Procedure) and left brain (Imagination).

Oh, of course, I meant right and left brain, or is it left and then right? I don’t know, who cares. Boooring!

Getting the idea which side I prefer? Give me creative work any day. (And all the arty types say “Here, here!”)

Unfortunately, in order to get a full time job, which I suddenly needed for reasons of impending fatherhood, I had to take a “procedure” role. And ever since then I have been doing extra personal-development work each morning and evening to buck myself up and get on with business, instead of going insane due to boredom. This strategy has worked to an extent, but frankly it has been increasingly more difficult to endure, despite my silence on the issue.

Silent I may have been, but then yesterday my lovely, intuitive boss must have picked up on it because out of the blue she pulled me into the office and told me that I should do away with all this procedural bullshit and get back to what I do well, being creative. So she has charged me again with working with her to develop and implement entrepreneurial opportunities for the business (brand).

Awesome. I still have to sell, which is fine, I actually enjoy that, but I get to do it in creative ways, by coming up with new ideas, web based and otherwise. I won’t go into details, because I don’t know what they are yet, but it will mean sheer creativity for the fun of it, rather than spreadsheets and protocol and fucking boring shit like that.

Woo Hoo!

And the Lesson is: Do your daily affirmations folks, they work if you believe they will 🙂

Here’s to you finding your dream job, or at least moving towards it day by day. If I can help you with this in any way, just let me know.