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New Music Biz 101: Facebook (Part 1)

This post will be the first in a mini-series about social media for musicians. Social media, as most musicians know, can be a powerful tool to create consistent engagement with your fan base. Everyone knows they should be using it, but not everyone knows exactly how to do it effectively. This mini-series will offer tips on how to best utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace to assist in creating an actual ROI (return on investment) on your time spent. Lets get started with Facebook!

#1 Create Engaging Content

It’s essential that you constantly do your best to engage your fans. You probably hear this advice a lot, but what does it really mean? It simply means to stay away from posts like “Come buy our album,” “Buy tickets to our show,” or “Give us three grand to make our next album.” Although you can fit in something similar to these posts once in a while, it’s more important that you post something that is going to grab your fans’ interest and get them involved. For example, “Did anyone get any good pics at the concert last night? Upload them to Facebook and we’ll share them for everyone to see!” Be sure to post great music and cool videos and to write about topics relevant to you and your genre of music. Take lots of pictures at your concerts (including some shots of the audience). Encourage your fans to tag themselves in these shots. (Hint: this is then posted on your fans’ walls, letting all of their friends know that they were tagged.) Also encourage fans to post their own concert shots to your wall, and credit people who take great shots.

#2 Form Strategic Alliances

One way to gain a stronger legitimate fan base is through creating strategic alliances with artists who play within a genre similar to your music. As a fan, it’s easy to be supportive of multiple music groups, so there is no disadvantage to sharing your fan base with others, especially when they find that they love the music you’ve recommended. Network with those who have a similar sound and exchange wall posts to encourage your users to “like” their page and their users to “like” your page! As everyone knows, this big game we call the Music Industry is all about networking.

#3 Don’t Forget Your Website

It’s important that you continue to keep up with your web presence by linking back to your website from your Facebook page whenever appropriate. The fact of the matter is that people haven’t adjusted to pulling out their credit cards on Facebook quite yet. It’s not a natural or typical motion for Facebook users to go through. Until it is, continue to send users to your website and have engaging material there for them to browse through.

Hopefully these three little tips are helpful in promoting your music on Facebook. A couple of great resources to learn more about social media are Hypebot and SocialMedia Examiner. Remember, social media is a constantly changing world and best practices change all the time. Do your best to stay up on it all, and remember to add your Facebook link to the links section of your OurStage profile!

Events News: How To Sync Your OurStage Calendar With Your Google Calendar

OurStage’s new Events feature is the next step in helping fans discover their new favorite artists, and allowing artists and industry pros help spread the word about their shows. We’ve received some questions from the community regarding Events, so we’ve decided to use this column to help answer them. This week, we’re tackling How to sync your OurStage calendar with your Google calendar.

You’ve RSVP’d to a bunch of cool events on OurStage — now what? Why not sync your OurStage calendar to your Google calendar? With your OurStage events visible as their own calendar within your Google calendar, you’ll be sure not to miss any of the fun!

Step 1: Log into your OurStage account and click on your “Calendar” tab. Click on the “Sync to Google Calendar” button in the top right corner of the “Calendar” tab.

Add cool events, then click the 'Sync To Google Calendar' button

Presto! Your OurStage calendar events will now appear in their own calendar, named “OurStage,” in your Google calendar! You can set reminders for and add details to your OurStage events just like you can for any other Google calendar event — you can even make your OurStage Google calendar public and share it with your friends!

Never miss an event - Sync your OurStage calendar with your Google calendar!

Tune in next week for more info for fans and artists on how to use Events!

New Music Biz 101: Pandora & Jango

As discussed in last week’s post, online radio can be a useful tool for artists. Listening to music online is continuing to increase in popularity, and although this business model is likely to change as the industry continues to fluctuate, these resources are worth taping into for the moment. Today, we’ll continue the discussion with Pandora and Jango.

We’ll begin chronologically with Pandora, one of the first online radio sites to generate a significant level of popularity. Pandora has been fighting the good fight—making their business model both free of both cost and advertisements. They’ve recently added short 10-second ads to the non-paying users experience. Like most of the online radio streaming sites, Pandora recommends new music based on your previous selections and caters your recommendations based on your ratings of each song.

As an artist, this is something worth trying to get involved with, as it allows music listeners that like your genre and style of music to hear your songs. Besides the popularity of this platform, and the ability to align your music with similar artists, perhaps the best benefit is that it’s free to have your music played in their rotation. However, there is a slight catch. Pandora has a more fortified entry barrier than both Jango and Grooveshark since they listen to every song that is submitted before deciding whether or not it will be accepted. The submission process is extensive and requires that you sell your physical album on Amazon, and requires that you send your entire record to Pandora for review if you’re accepted.

Jango is everywhere in the music business. If you’ve ever signed up for an online music service, there is a good chance they’re a partner of Jango. Jango offers an affordable solution to getting your music plays and helps your connect with potential listeners. You’re able to message users that become fans of your music through the Jango platform. When listening to your music, the fan can read more about you as an artist and click your Facebook, MySpace or Twitter links to deepen the connection.

The return on investment (ROI) for Pandora is obvious. If you have an album that you believe is worthwhile, why not submit it? It’s free. As for the ROI of Jango, I would recommend purchasing 1,000 plays for $30 and see what comes out the other end. See how many fans you gain, and what you can make happen from connecting with those fans.

In the next few posts we’ll be discussing topics including Social Media, Gig Tools, Distribution, Web design and many more! So please let us know if you know any companies worth mentioning within these areas.

Events News: How To Find Events Near Me

OurStage’s new Events feature is the next step in helping fans discover their new favorite artists, and allowing artists and industry pros help spread the word about their shows. We’ve received some questions from the community regarding Events, so we’ve decided to use this column to help answer them. This week, we’re tackling How to Find Events Near Me.

Step 1: Log in to your OurStage account.

Step 2: Click on the “Music” button on the navigation bar at the top of the page and select your favorite OurStage genre channel. This will direct you to the “What’s Hot” page for that channel.

Select your favorite OurStage genre channel!

Step 3: Click on either the “Hot Shows Near Me” link at the top of the “What’s Hot” page, or the “Near Me” button in the “Hot Shows” block mid-way down the page. This will generate a list of shows featuring hot OurStage artists in your area!

Hot Shows Near Me

'Near Me' button in the 'Hot Shows' block

Step 4: Browse the shows! Shows are displayed in both list view and map view. Click on the show title in the list view or artist image on the map view for more info. Want to look at shows in a different area? Enter the new location in the text field above the map.

Browse show in your area or choose a new location!

Note: OurStage Events will show you the events in the OurStage database that are closest to you. If you have entered a location or chosen a genre where there aren’t a lot of events by OurStage artists, the events closest to you might not be in your immediate area. As more OurStage artists add their shows to their OurStage calendars, this will happen less often.

Tune in next week for more info for fans and artists on how to use Events!

Events News: How To RSVP To Events

OurStage’s new Events feature is the next step in helping fans discover their new favorite artists, and allowing artists and industry pros help spread the word about their shows. We’ve received some questions from the community regarding Events, so we’ve decided to use this column to help answer them. This week, we’re tackling How to RSVP to an Event.

Step 1: Find an event that interests you! You can see events on an OurStage artist’s profile under their “Songs” block on the “Overview” tab within their “Calendar” tab, and on the pages for their individual songs and videos. You can also find events that might interest you in the “Hot Shows” block on the “What’s Hot” page of your favorite OurStage genre channel.

Events on artist profile "Overview" tab

Events on an artist’s individual song page

Step 2: Click on the “RSVP to Event” button. For events displayed on an artist’s “Overview” tab or individual song or video media item page, the “RSVP to Event” button will show up to the right of the event information. For events displayed on an artists calender, you should mouse over or click on the event title to see the “RSVP to Event” button.

"RSVP To Events" button

Clicking the “RSVP to Event” button will automatically add the event to the “Calendar” tab on your OurStage profile. When viewing an artist’s “Calendar” tab on their profile, events will appear in blue if you have RSVP’d to them, red if you have not.

What an artist’s calendar looks like when you RSVP to their events

Tune in next week for more info for fans and artists on how to use Events!

Generation DIY: Wrap Up

As everything in life has a beginning, there is always an end. For Generation DIY, I’m not looking at this last post as an end. During the past 6 months, I shared many tips and ideas as well as heard some great stories from all of you—I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this column. As promised, this will be last installment and wrap up for our PR campaign. So let’s dive into the end, and find our path to stardom.

After compiling your lists of reviews from various media outlets, and sending out your thank yous, make a public announcement to newer fans about happenings within the band. Keep yourself consistent and constantly in the public eye after you launch your PR campaign. No point to light a fire and let it dwindle down 10 minutes later—keep that sucker burning! There isn’t much more in the end other than keeping the relationships strong and tight with all of the media outlets that took the time to listen and review your music. Next time you run a PR campaign, these contacts will come into play and may open doors for larger outlets (like print media giants Rolling Stone, VIBE, etc).

That’s it! Easy enough right? The one suggestion I insist on is to keep in touch with all of your contacts that you’ve made thus far, even if it’s a friendly email to say hello and ask how their week has been. You’re not only building business relationships but friendships that may flourish into something bigger. In the end it’s all about who you know, so never turn down a handshake!

I hope this blog helped all of you aspiring musicians out there, and gave light to new ideas that you may not have thought about. In this day and age, it’s all about ingenuity and keeping your material fresh (whether it’s your music or the business you conduct in pushing your music into the listeners hands). As always, refer to past posts (you can click on my user name and see the back logs) and check out the different topics I’ve touched upon. It never hurts to go back and re-instate some of the different tips covered over the past 6 months. Like I said before, this isn’t an ending, just a farewell for now. Thank you for being such a great friend along the way!

Keep the hustle strong Generation DIY. This,and always will be, YOUR year!

- Internet Warrior

Events News: How To Post Your Events To OurStage

OurStage’s new Events feature is the next step in helping fans discover their new favorite artists, and allowing artists and industry pros help spread the word about their shows. We’ve received some questions from the community regarding Events, so we’ve decided to use this column to help answer them. This week, we’re tackling How to Add Events to Your OurStage Calendar.

Step 1: Log into your OurStage account and click on the “Calendar” tab of your OurStage profile. To add an event, click on the green “Add Event” button in the top right corner.

OurStage Profile Calendar Tab

Step 2: Clicking the “Add Event” button will direct you to the “Create New Event” form. Fill out the fields with all of the important info about your event. To select the date and start time of your event, click on the calendar icon next to the “When?” field. This will display a calendar that you can use to select the date and time of your event. The image associated with the event will default to your OurStage profile picture. If you want to use another picture, click on the “Browse” button under the image and choose a different image from your computer.

OurStage "Create New Event" Form

"Create New Event" Form Calendar

Step 3: Once you have filled out the “Create New Event” form, click the “Save” button in the bottom right corner of the form. Your event is now visible on OurStage! You will be directed to the new page for your event. From the new event page, you can edit or remove your event by clicking on the “Edit” or “Remove” buttons in the top right corner of the page.

Finished OurStage Event Page

How You Event Will Look in Your Calendar Tab

All events you add to your calendar will be visible to fans visiting your profile when they click on your profile’s Calendar tab. Your upcoming events will be visible under your bio in the “Overview” tab on your profile as well as on the media item pages for your songs and videos. Tune in next week for more info for fans and artists on how to use Events!

Generation DIY: Stay Alert And Up To Date!

By now you Generation DYIers have your PR campaign together, and are ready to blast through all your targeted media outlets. Before you do, however, you should set up a system of to track where your promotion efforts work best. How exactly does one do that? With the wonderful Internet at our fingertips, global search engines such as YAHOO! and GOOGLE provide tracking system (or alerts) that you can set up to follow your efforts. This week’s Generation DIY is going to touch upon setting up these alerts and pushing your PR campaign off the shore into the large sea of opportunity.

First things first, determine what keywords you’d like to trackfor example your band name, your personal name, Web site, album, song titles etc. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS put these keywords within quotations so it reads “John Doe” and not John Doe, that way Yahoo! and Google will group the words together and not search for them individually. Doing it this way ensures that you will be getting the best tracking results when people view your promotion spots on various Web sites.

From here just sit tight and keep a watchful eye on all the mentions. Compile a list of positive reviews that you can use later on in press kits, publication quotes on your website or social networking pages as well as use in future PR campaigns. Once you receive a positive review, contact the source and build some sort of relationship with them. Send them a personalized thank you as well as link to their post. In the end, you’re both helping each other out by giving free publicity to your fanbase. Also, with your thank you, feel free to send them music, merchandise or whatever material that may not be released yet. Anyone who receives something that hasn’t been touched by the public yet will hold that closer to heart than anything, especially if it’s from a band they personally enjoy.

How’s the process going so far? Feel like you’re lost or in too deep? Remember I’m always here to help, so leave a comment. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and guide you into the right direction. Next week during my column’s wrap up, I’ll finalize the PR campaign and give you a small rundown on the past 6 months. Remember, everything that has been written is backlogged, so be sure to go back and see the different posts for a friendly reminder.

Keep it up Generation DIY. As always, this is YOUR year!

Generation DIY: How To Defeat Writers Block

Ever fall into a slump where everything you write just doesn’t seem up to par? Everyone does at some point, I know I have (very recently in fact). I haven’t seen much online about tips to help break the writers block barrier, but I was able to do it with a few simple steps that I never thought would work. Fortunatly they did! So this week on Generation DIY I’d like to take a gander at ways to help alleviate that dark cloud and bring in the sunshine to help us write our next best song!

First off, for all of us lyricists out there, do you carry around a notepad or have something to write ideas in while you’re out and about? If not, definitely get into the habit of doing so. Walking down the street of your hometown or city can always help spark the imagination, even if it’s a simple idea that you can build off of later. A lot of times melodies come to my mind when I’m walking around Boston but am not around my apartment to record them. So instead I use “Voice Notes” which is a tool on my phone (most phones have this feature and if yours doesn’t, call yourself and leave a message). I can’t stress how many times I’ve done this and then was able to write all the accompanying music to the vocal melody at a later time for what worked out to be very solid songs. Even if you’re not a singer you can still use these tips.  Remember, the most cherised songs are the ones that everyone can relate to so intertwining poetry and everyday situations and interactions could eventuallyhelp you boost your fan response. Hopefully these simple techniques help you remember certain lyrics or ideas that come to you throughout the day.

Another method I’ve used is something I picked up from an English professor back in the day called“stream of consciousness” writing. This entails sitting down for a short period of time to write down ideas that come to mind. Even if these ideas don’t make any sense to you, later on you can go back and construct ideas from the jumbled mess that your mind spat out.  Reading books also helps you tap into in the creative side of your brain, allowing your imagination to build off of concepts that are already available to you. Just be sure to separate your ideas from others so that you won’t be accused of plagiarizing their work.

One final step that I’d suggest is going to poetry readings or even sitting down with friends to talk about different literary works. Finding new authors and genres to read can always get the creative juices flowing, especially if it’s something you’ve never thought about reading before. Opening your mind to new things can definitely help alleviate that writers block. It worked for me, and I’m positive if you take the right steps that it’ll work for you.

Hope this helps, Generation DIYers. Keep strong!

Tour De Force: Top Ten Tips for Touring

Alright everybody, this is it! The second to last Tour De Force post. In honor of the near-ending of an era, I thought I’d do a compilation of the best tour tips from artists and industry professionals. I’ve gone back through Tour De Force posts of the past six months and hand-selected the most useful tips to make your tour the best that it can be!

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

The Winter Sounds

When we spoke with touring fiends The Winter Sounds, their one major piece of advice was this, “definitely don’t get discouraged, you know? Booking shows is really, really, really hard. It always feels like you’re up against local bands that do really well, and bands that have all the support in the world, like booking agents and things like that. If you’re booking your own shows don’t get discouraged. . . .go towards the house show route. Sometimes you’ll end up making more money at house shows because people buy merchandise.”

2. Don’t Get In Over Your Head

Parachute Musical

Touring buddies with The Winter Sounds and OurStage band galore, Parachute Musical’s advice is, “Do 4-hour drives, don’t go out for 2 months at a time, you’re just going to wear yourself thin. If you’re just starting out you’re going to have a lot of bad shows. It’s good to go out for 10 days and build up a good 10-day market, and tour regionally. Try and build up that home base. It’s really attractive to other bands that might want to play with you and it’s really attractive to booking agents because they see dollar signs. So tour regionally and tour often, but don’t do it in big blocks.”

3. Set Goals

Amber Rubarth

Amber Rubarth is truly a touring veteran. Since her first release in 2005, she has toured Europe 5 times, played countless shows in the US, played 4 shows at SXSW in March and recently returned from Japan. In an interview with OurStage she mentioned that, “The biggest thing I’ve figured out so far is thinking about what you like to do, how you like to spend your time, what you want to say, and focus on that.  When I first started, it was about seeing the country and playing a lot of shows so I could learn the strings, practice guitar, have a lot of new experiences to write about.  Now my focus has shifted to less shows in general but making each one bigger, putting a band together, focusing on a few markets that I can do well in and then expanding to new places I want to see.”

4. Make Friends

Boston music-scene veteran, Shred of Team Shred Productions, has been bookings bands at venues across Boston for years. According to him the most important aspect of setting up a tour is making friends. “Making friends with other bands and playing shows with those bands is always a good place to start. It also helps if you have some fans/friends that enjoy what you do in relatively decent-sized numbers, but for the band with only a limited friends’ base, it’s just important to get your music out there and meet as many music loving folks as you can by going out, through friends or social-networking sites.”

5. Promote

Just because you’ve booked the show doesn’t mean the work is over. You need to make sure you get people to come out and see your show. Have Twitter contests to give away guest list tickets, make a funny YouTube video announcing the show, set up a street team and have friends and fans put up posters, put that  mailing list to work!

6. Document Your Tour

I recently did a post about the importance of documenting your tour and some of the best ways of going about it. But there’s nothing like reiteration! Documenting your tour helps you stay connected with your fans and helps spread the word —not to mention gives you some pretty awesome videos, pictures and stories for posterity. Another important aspect of documentation that was not addressed in that post is business-related. Many touring musicians are out on the road working hard because this is, or will hopefully someday be, their living. It it important to keep track of your receipts, expenses, merch sales and income in order to accurately predict what merch you need to order, what you need to pay your bandmates and, of course, do taxes!

7. Play Cover Songs

Jukebox The Ghost

In an interview with Jukebox the Ghost, the band mentioned one of their favorites songs to cover is “Temptation” by New Order. They said, “We’ve used it a lot of times as our “hail Mary pass” if we’re not sure people are having a good time — dance songs never fail.” Looking back through Tour De Force history, you’ll see many artists share a similar train of thought. For unknown bands who aren’t quite at the point where they have audience sing-a-longs, a cover can be a great way to make a connection with the audience. Even for bands that play to an audience full of fans, it can be a great way to re-engage the crowd—keep them on their toes and make sure they’re having fun.

8. Be Green

Andy Reitz - Greenvans

Traveling in a tour van powered by veggie oil is not only a huge environmental perk, but is also a super cheap option for anyone looking for an alternative to fossil fuel-guzzling vans. Andy Reitz, one of the founders of the company Greenvans, elaborated on some of the benefits: “For people who are green-minded, it’s a really good feeling to travel around on non-petroleum-based fuel. The idea of traveling around on a veggie van is  huge for a lot of bands. It really give people something to talk about and catches their attention. It’s a great way to market your band and sort of reach out to fans. When I was touring with our first rig, so many more people cared about the fact that we drove around in a van that smelled like french fries than our band because it was different and new. It’s really hard to be in a small touring band right now and anything that gives people a reason to be curious about your band is a great asset.”

9. Stay Healthy

Staying healthy by both eating well and exercising on the road is one of the most important tips to keep in mind. Eating fast food and sleeping all day may be easy, but putting on a show that night won’t be. It’s almost too easy to party all night, wake up at 2pm and eat a cheeseburger, but this will ultimately wear you down and result in illness. Check out this Tour De Force blog post with tons of easy ways to stay healthy on the road.

10. Have Fun!

This may sound cliché, but it’s true! You get to travel around the region/country/WORLD, play music and  have  good time. Go out, sight-see, bond with your band members, visit with your fans, meet other bands, have sing-a-longs in your van, call your mom once a week… But really though, have the time of your life! You get to do what you love and (hopefully) get paid, what’s better than that?!

 


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