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Archive of ‘Music marketing’ category

How to Clean the Fluff Off Your Brain in 7 Easy Steps

Brains are sticky, and unfortunately this means that as you suffer the inevitable rolls in the dust piles of life, fluff sticks to your brain and starts to build up. This is especially true for creative types. I think that this is because the ideas in our brains are inherently stickier, thus attracting more fluff.

Here’s how to clean that up in 7 easy steps…

…actually, I lied.

I don’t have any easy steps – can’t find them for all the fluff – but here’s a bunch of psychobabble that may or may not relate to the title of this blog post.

Last week, I left off with a discussion I was having with my two business mentors. They had dragged my struggling brain kicking and fighting into reality to have a look at what it was I was actually aiming for, what the nature of the success I craved was. Unfortunately (and predictably) we realised there were some flaws in my thinking, namely domestic paradise lost. Obviously this is only a problem if you have domestic paradise in the first place and wish to keep it. This I do – so how to work around it?

The Problem

My goal was simple: “become a successful musician and tour the world playing awesome gigs”.

All very well, but as my mentors rightly pointed out, unless I was prepared to sacrifice my relationship with my significant other and my children, being on the road for 11 months of the year could present logistical problems.

The Solution

Rely less on the gigs as the main avenue of promotion and income. Build an audience and sell them music recordings and other stuff using new technologies. After all, technology now provides these shiny benefits:

  • low overheads
  • don’t need a record company
  • no distribution problem (only a marketing problem … we’ll get back to that)

Then yes, still do gigs (playing live is my favourite part of being a musician, so not going to give that up ever) but do it in a civilised manner, so that I can still know my children and not have to pay alimony.

Pirates Are Only a Problem on the Actual Ocean

All very well, I hear you say, but isn’t the idea of living off selling recordings now an anachronism in the face of rampant piracy?

I feared the same, so I did some research. Turns out the answer is “No, actually”.

It seems the people being “hurt” (and I use the word loosely) by piracy are the record companies and the major players in show biz – the U2s of this world. They all used to clean up majorly from selling the album format in CD but now, while actual transactions are up, most people buy singles now and this means reduced revenue. And of course, people pirate a lot of copies of the Joshua Tree or whatever now. I don’t really approve, but it isn’t going to last long I don’t think. The establishment is marshalling its forces and will increasingly regulate copyright law with an iron fist, mark my words (unless future history proves me wrong, in which case feel free to gleefully unmark them).

Also media consumption has fragmented, we are no longer tuned into the same few radio stations and TV stations that sell us all the same shit. Instead we pick what we like from a much greater pool of choice and we block out the rest. Big Music hates this because they consequently sell less, but they are all still friggin’ rich so, besides them, who cares?

For the rest of us, New Media is mostly upside. Yes, I think there is a down side – a lack of mass shared pop-cultural experience – but essentially, it’s all good.

What this means for Small Music – i.e. independent musicians – is that there is a much greater chance of earning a decent living selling music recordings. OK so most still won’t, but that’s because most are either crap or lazy or both, but more musicians than ever now make money selling music recordings. You haven’t read this in the mainstream media reports because it doesn’t make as cool a headline as…

“Sir Elton-John Forced to Rent Out Rooms to Cover Flower Costs – Blames Pirates”.

… nevertheless it is apparently true (it must be; the Internet said so).

But What About All This Fluff?

OK so the opportunity is there to sell music recordings. Gatekeepers and distribution are now no excuse, but as I hinted earlier, hopeful musicians now have another problem – ok two problems if you are still concerned about the fluff on your brain – the other being The Marketing Problem. How do you get people to give a toss about your music?

I cannot claim to have the answer to this. Regardless, I will prattle on about it in an authoritative tone in the next post, because the Internet says I can.

 Next Gig: Market Noise! Acoustic Music & Arts Festival – Sunday Dec 11th Brunswick (click link for details) I am on at 3pm-ish

Finding My Audience

Played a gig last night, a “Songwriters in the Round” gig as put on the by legends who are Melting Pot.

It was a lovely evening, although as usual I only managed to bring all of three people to come see me. Bit depressing really, especially after all the buzz during the week in print and (more so) online, but the wicked thing about the gig is that I get to perform (seal that I am) to the other performer’s audience. That’s why I love the SITR gigs so much. I get to borrow other people’s audiences.

I was thinking last night as I made the long, thirsty drive back home at about 1am, that what I am doing is searching for my audience. They are out there, and eventually I am again going to see some kind of tipping point, like I did years and years ago in my old band reckoning.

Back then, in the early 90s, we worked hard for 2 years to find our audience, and eventually we found them. Turns out they were schoolkids and uni students mainly. So once a few key Influencers decided to start coming to our gigs, things started snowballing. These key Influencers (or Sneezers as Seth Godin calls them) started to tell all their mates about us. They were social leaders, so their mates, and their younger siblings and their mates, started coming to see us too. Then they got us a gig at their school, then that got us a gig at another school. And suddenly, whammo! We had found our audience, and they started to rock up to our gigs in droves.

Of course many, many things have changed now. For starters I am not expecting high school kids to get into my work necessarily. Well, you know, it’s cool if they do, but I doubt I’ll be lining up any lunchtime gigs at the local High! That would be a bit creepy!

But somewhere out there are some key Sneezers, and when they get into my stuff, they are going to influence other people to get into it, and then all my hard work will start to pay off again.

That’s the plan anyway!

I also have a theory that over the years a heck of a lot of people have seen me play and apparently really appreciated it. So if I can get myself in the right places, get my ugly mug on Spicks n Specks or whatever, then a lot of these people will go – “oh yeah – that guy – I saw him play once. Y’know,  he was alright!”

Not that fame is the thing I want. Not really, just success, and they are not necessarily the same thing. If I ask myself the following question:

“If just 10 patrons offered to pay me enough money to prosper making music, would I accept that and be stoked with that?”

Answer: yep.