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Kim Shattuck Opens Up About Firing From The Pixies

Everyone still in the Pixies, please take one step back.

Everyone still in the Pixies, please take one step back.

In a new interview with the NME, Kim Shattuck, who was hired and fired from the Pixies in the span of a few months, reveals more about getting axed by the band’s manager just a day after returning from a European tour.

“I was surprised. Everything had gone well, the reviews were all good and the fans were super-nice about everything. They were like, ‘We love you, New Kim!’,” she says. “We said goodbye at the airport and the following morning the manager called me and said: ‘The band has made the decision to go with another bass player.’ I was shocked.”
She goes on to speculate that her extroverted nature clashed too much with the notoriously reserved Pixies, known for their zero tolerance stage banter policy, aside from the occasional “thanks a lot.” Shattuck cited one show during which she got excited and jumped into the crowd, and was admonished afterward that “…the Pixies don’t do that.”
However, Shattuck does not bear a grudge toward Frank Black and his band mates: “I would have preferred it if they told me face to face as a group, but they’re nice people. I’m still a fan of the Pixies!”
As we told you recently, the band has hired a new bassist, Paz Lenchatin, and will be embarking on a pretty huge tour in 2014. Shattuck has said that she’s looking forward to working on a new Muffs album.

Behind The Mic: 20 Things All Artists Should Be Doing

As the Behind the Mic series comes to an end, we’d like to give you all a list of 20 things we think all artists should be doing to keep their fans engaged, pack their shows and promote their music.

From having an online presence to setting up distribution for your albums, we hope this list will help you hone your skills as both a musician and a business person in the fast-paced and constantly changing music industry. After all, your band is your brand, and it takes lots of hard work and dedication to reach your goals!

1. Get online. This is an obvious one—you’re already here, but if you don’t yet have an account on OurStage, sign up now! As our artists will tell you, it can be a career-changing move. You should also have a MySpace page, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and anything other account you think you’ll use. You don’t need to sign up for every single music site you see, because chances are that you don’t have the time to update all of them all the time. An outdated profile is useless, and sometimes detrimental to your progress!

2. Consider making your next album an EP, or a 3P. As we discussed earlier, the 3P is the future of music releases. We live in a world of instant gratification, so music fans are showing preference to purchasing a few EPS over the course of a year than an annual album.

3. Take some new band photos. Ditch the old photos from last year and get some updated, high-quality shoots. You’ll need them for your websites and press kits!

4. Get your album reviewed. There are a million bloggers out there waiting for albums to review. Get your music heard and attain a quotable review for your EPK and bio.

5. Research potential sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships are a great way to offset the costs of being in a band. Learn how to reach out to companies for sponsorships for clothing, gear and more.

6. Be gig-savvy. Plan your gigs carefully—be sure not to double up on the same market more than twice in a month, and watch out for potential scams. You might want to start using a band calendar to keep track of everyone’s availability. That will save you the extra step of calling each band member every time you’re offered a show. And don’t forget to use our Gig Finder to find new show opportunities!

7. Learn the business. The music industry can be tricky. Learning the ins and outs of record deals, tour planning, etc. will put you at an advantage over other musicians!

8. Practice your live show. The test of a true musician is seeing how well you can replicate the sound of your record in a live setting. Take our tips for honing your stage presence and your next show will be even better than your last.

9. Sell your merch online. Fans who can’t come out to shows need a way to buy your merch too. Set up a webstore and start selling!

10. Manage your mailing list. Set up a mailing list and an account on a newsletter site. Keep your fans in the know and offer them cool incentives for signing up!

11. Promote to the college crowd. College kids love music and love being the first to know about the hottest upcoming bands. Learn how to get in with the college crowd by playing shows, getting on-air interviews and handing out free merch at local schools!

12. Webcast your next show or acoustic set. Make your fans feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment by putting them front row center to an intimate performance or live show, or just host your own webchat. Webcasting is a powerful artist tool, so make sure you get on it as soon as possible!

13. Launch a fan-funded campaign. Fan funding is the hottest new way to raise cash for a new record, tour or merch collection. Source your funding from your fans and reward them with awesome, exclusive prizes!

14. Design cooler merch. With all the crazy merch out there, T-shirts and CDs are old hat. Get creative with your merch and give your fans some fantastic new swag.

15. Record a cover song. A cover song is a fast, fun and easy way to get extra exposure and promotion. In a  time when music is discovered online everyday, posting a cover song or video can actually help launch an artist’s career!

16. Run a street team. Gather a group of your most dedicated fans and start a street team. These fans will be your grassroots promoters, so get some unique and innovative ideas together to get your name out there.

17. Take care of your voice (and other instruments). Take our tips for proper voice care and check out Jay Schneider’s Tune Up series for pointers on keeping your instruments in top shape.

18. Hire a manager (when the time is right). One you have a solid following and are making money off your music career, you should consider getting a manager. They can be a huge help in getting ahead in the industry, but they are ultimately a representation of you—so choose carefully!

19. Update your official Web site, don’t ditch it. Don’t forget about your official Web site! It’s the go-to place for accurate and up-to-date information, and should not be replaced by MySpace or Facebook.

20. Have fun! Being in a band is a challenging, time-consuming job, but ultimately, it’s about the music. Remain dedicated, work hard  and stay passionate about your art!

Behind the Mic: Management Essentials

As an upcoming artist, you can only go so far on your own. Sooner or later, you’ll need a manager to assist you in your career.

Generally, you should consider getting a manager once you’ve developed a solid following and are starting to profit off of your merch and ticket sales. Though you may be more inclined to hire a professional, a relatively inexperienced band need not look any further than good friends, family members or fans. In the early stages, a manager is mostly used to help book shows, manage finances, send out music/press kits and help with promotion. There are three key qualities that we think every manager should have.

Passion

Passion is key for a manager at any stage in the game. If you know someone outside the band who is extremely passionate about your music and willing to help out, they may be worth a shot for this position. Think of it this way: if your manager isn’t in love with your music, then they won’t have much real motivation to help your career. Your ideal manager is a fan first and foremost, with the motivation to help your career take off.

Personality

Your manager should be a “people” person. They should be friendly, kind and understanding. You want to feel like you can trust your manager and treat them as if they’re another band member. You wouldn’t allow just anyone off the street into your band, and you shouldn’t allow an inexperienced stranger to be your manager, either. They need to be comfortable with approaching people they probably have never met before, like other managers, booking agents, promoters and more. They need to be willing to reach out to anyone who may be able to help your career. In this way, they’ll be able to build a network of connections that can be used at anytime to help your band with new opportunities.

Professionalism

This is an especially important quality for people working in the music industry. Your manager should know how to construct a well-written email, with accurate grammar and spelling, and have a “work” email address set up solely for management work. They should be comfortable with managing your Web site and promoting online through Facebook, Twitter, etc. They should know how to carry on conversations with other music industry professionals in a polite and sincere way, both in person and on the phone. They should be organized, responsible and well put-together.

Don’t forget, your manager is a representation of YOU. If your manager has a sloppy, unprofessional appearance, is irresponsible with band decisions or doesn’t work to their full potential, your band could miss out on great opportunities.

Already have a great manager? What made you decide to hire him/her? Let us know in the comments!

Behind the Mic: Sponsorships

The word “sponsorship” may conjure images of sporting events or awareness marches, but musicians can certainly be sponsored too. In a world where record sales hardly add any change to the artist’s bank account, sponsorships are hugely beneficial to off-setting expenses racked up by travel, promotion, merch and more. In addition, sponsors can significantly improve an artist’s advertising, publicity and promotion.

While there are several types of sponsorships out there, the most common for the music industry is a sponsorship where a band or artist is given free products to wear or use by the company. For example, a band can be sponsored by clothing companies, who gives the  members free clothes to wear on stage or in photo shoots. A band could also be sponsored by  a gear company who gives them free instruments, amps, etc. to play. The hopes for these companies is that fans and fellow musicians will see a band or artist  using their products and, as a result, desire the same products.

Metal band Eyes Set to Kill decked out in gear from Skelanimals

Obviously, sponsors want to pick bands and artists that are talented, professional and have a large fan base. If you’re not quite there yet, aspire to start with a smaller company that offers sponsorships to local bands. After all, the likelihood is slim that the company sponsoring your favorite major label act will sponsor your band too. Like large corporations, local organizations need advertising too, and it will be much easier to set that up if you’re a local act.

If you think you’re ready for a larger-scale sponsor, there are a few things you’ll need to think about first. Before you get started, you need to decide which sponsors would be appropriate for you. For example, if you’re a rapper, you probably don’t want to propose a sponsorship to a clothing company that sells shirts at Hot Topic. It’s important to remember your music’s target demographic and consider companies that your fans might support.

Next, you will need to craft a proposal letter. This letter serves as an introduction of your band to the company and explain how you can mutually benefit from a partnership. Start by giving a BRIEF synopsis of your band’s background (no more than ten sentences) and include some facts about each member. Mention any major career highlights, including opening spots for well-known acts, statistics of sales from past releases and press clippings. Include a description of past tours, venues played and your average draw in a few markets. Along with this letter, you should include a few photos of your band and links to live performance videos.

A few final tips: try to send out as many proposals as you can and don’t get discouraged if you’re turned down. Remember that professionalism is key, so don’t be afraid to have a manager help you with this project. And if you’re chosen for a sponsorship, be sure to read through any legal documentation thoroughly with your band and any of your team members so you know exactly what the sponsor expects of your partnership.

HOW TO WORK FOR YOUR FAVORITE BAND

Are you the first person in line at your favorite band’s shows? Do you enter every contest and promotion they run? Do you fall asleep listening to their music? Do you reference the members on a first name basis, even though you’ve never met? Chances are you’re a superfan. And there may be a job in it for you.

Most people currently working in the music industry are (a) musicians or (b) fans. They ended up in the biz either for the networking opportunities, the chance to work closely with amazing talent, or some combination of the two. If you can relate, you may want to seriously consider a career in music. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • There is a difference between a superfan and a crazed fan. If you don’t think you can muffle a scream when you see a famous rock star, this probably isn’t the job for you. Groupies, teenyboppers and stalkers do not pass GO. Music industry folks are enthusiastic, of course, but they’re levelheaded and business-minded first and foremost.
  • Know what you want your job to be. Is communication your forte? Consider going into PR. Do you love writing? Look into music journalism. Do you want to put together incredible shows? Check out booking agencies. Are you mostly interested in representing bands in every aspect of the business? Maybe you’re management material. Do your research beforehand so that you end up on a career path that will make you happy.
  • Go pro bono. The most effective way to get a job is to first work for free. See if you can get a college internship at your favorite management company, music label, radio station or PR agency then wow them with your skills. Join the street team and kick some ass. Another tactic is to build up a name for yourself by starting a really great fansite, music blog or the like. If you’re a graphic artist, build up your portfolio by doing some posters or album covers for some of your friend’s bands. It’s not uncommon for music labels and managers to look to fans for support roles in the business, such as creating cool skins for social networking profiles, updating the news section of artist sites and designing promotional materials.
  • Make friends in the industry. This old adage is true — it’s all about who you know. So go to as many events as your calendar can handle — record releases, showcases, listening parties, meet-and-greets, etc. Network like it’s your job — one day it may be.

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