Start Small Before Attempting to Attract the Big Fish

 
       
 
Jul 31, 2017, 11:06 PM

Many musicians, when starting out in their music careers, tend to go after the big fishes in a quest to have their music promoted quickly.

However, as many have found out, getting press from a major blog or publication, or attracting a big label, is far from easy. Unless you know someone with clout, getting even an answer to a query email is like flogging a dead horse.

What I have come to learn in this music business is that you have to start out small before you can attract the major labels or get coverage in a popular blog.

If you’re trying to get featured online, for example, you should look around for musicians who are in a similar position in their careers but have a blog or have followers on social media, and small blogs as they tend to post more about emerging artists. They are more likely to do a story about you or post news-related content to their fan base and readers.

And while you’re getting more exposure, so are they. When the buzz starts happening, for you both, that’s when the big names will start showing interest. This all takes time, so some patience will be required on your part.

I know I’m just scratching the surface on this topic, because I constantly see where some people new to the game want to know how they can get discovered, so to speak. However, I hope this humble post brings value to the forum.

For more valuable insights, please check out: https://www.tunedly.com/blog

Mylène Besançon, Co-founder @ Tunedly

Tunedly connects music creators with the world’s best session musicians to make professional-sounding music online, while making it easier to get heard.

I could go on and on, but it would probably be best if you head over to https://tunedly.com to see what it’s all about.

I’m also a contributing writer on Thrive Global, you can follow me here: https://journal.thriveglobal.com/@mylenebesancon

 
     
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Mylène Besançon Joined Jun 28, 2015
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Aug 01, 2017, 12:28 AM

I heard about a guy on National Public Radio who had focused on growing his business in his region, the market where he was already working/playing. He was earning a six-figure income. I missed the name, the region, all the identifier stuff. But the principle is sound. You don’t need notoriety in Paris or Johannesburg or Buenos Aires, unless you plan to play there. If you can get airplay in the region where you’re already playing that ‘fame’ can make you a bigger draw, bring in bigger crowds, therefore thereby making you a more valuable commodity to the venues you’re contracting with. That can up your fee.

If you supplement that with merchandising, hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, download cards, hard-copy CD’s, chicken wings, whatever you can sell to your fans, you too might approach that six-figure income. That could make for a pretty comfortable lifestyle. In fact, some five-figure numbers might be very satisfying. You may not want or need to get any more famous or travel in a bigger region.

A couple hits can keep you ‘touring’ for decades, if you can get airplay.

See who is playing your county fair this year. How long ago did they have a couple hits? And here they are still touring, and probably making an income you’d be satisfied with…for a while anyway.

[ Edited: 01 August 2017 12:33 AM by Gary E. Andrews]

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Aug 01, 2017, 09:33 AM

Start locally, expand regionally, then go from there. There is no jumping in line. Record and publishing companies come in at a MUCH LATER TIME now, so if you can’t build followings in your local area, and then your region, you can pretty much forget a National presence. Record companies are always going to ask “what is your fan base?” And that is not just online. Those are physical people that attend your shows, follow you and are active in promoting your music. Without that, you have nothing.

Conversely, writers, who are interested in getting music to recording artists, have to start local and regional as well. There is not the “pitching songs” to National artists until you are known throughout a wide spectrum. Find and promote artists performing in your area, regional touring people. Get to know them. Help them in their careers. They will help you in yours.

Nice post there Mylene. Many of us have been saying very similar things for years around here. Glad to have some other people involved. Welcome around.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Aug 01, 2017, 12:15 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 01 August 2017 12:28 AM

See who is playing your county fair this year. How long ago did they have a couple hits? And here they are still touring, and probably making an income you’d be satisfied with…for a while anyway.

Many careers start and end at a country fair. First, the young and upcomming artists get a chance to play there. One out of a millioin can devolope a career - again some of them have a couple of hits.

After that the audience is expecting to head those new hits in concerts. Because it´s something that people recognize…. . and that leaves less space to include some of their new songs into a concert setlist. New material is selling not too well either, but concerts are still sold out. So, eventually, they give up to record new songs, become a touring oldies band… and end up playing on country fairs again…


And, one more time, a little story:
When we started out as a Rockband in the mid 90th, the father of our Drummer - who happened to be in the music Business for 30 years - was always trying to give us some guidance. Well, back then he told us: “First of all, you have to build a fanbase as a live act”... so he gave us the advice to only play cover songs in the first year and only to include one of our original songs in the setlist. “Choose your best original song. Play it in the middle of the set. And then play it again in the encore”. Over the years, we replaced all the cover songs with original songs. But to give the audience something they could “hold on” and recognize, we devoloped a little “trick”. We took some classical music of classical, austrian, composers. Like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Strauß...) and made rock songs out of their melodies… so, technicly, we played our own songs, but gave the audience something they already knew… :) Because nobody is goin to a concert to listen to songs, that the audience don´t recognize…

The same thing is goin on with Major stars. If a regular music-consumer is attenting a concert by Gun´n´Roses for example. People will not go there to hear songs called “Matchbox”, “Firefly for two”, “Humming bird” or “i already had four Cups of coffee and go crazy”... NO. The audience is expecting to hear “November rain”, “Sweet child of mine”, “Knocking on heavens door”, “Paradise City”, “Live and let die”... so an established band has a same “problem” as a “newcomer”. The audience is expecting something they know. An established band can only include one or two songs of a new Album in their touring setlist… and even there, they will not get a big “wuuuhhhh” from the audience. They will only give you a “Nice Song. Play November rain again”...

[ Edited: 01 August 2017 12:42 PM by Martin G]

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Aug 06, 2017, 01:43 PM

Interesting post, in my case as a sample label founder and producer, I feel I have been doing the same steps. No chance to jump over, but also because we won’t have credibility to your users/fans/customers.

Lately, I noticed a huge change in artists/labels/music industry attitude, I believe it can be applied to everyone, and what I did so far, is building a community around your name. Having a presence in the outer world, for example when I was working with this electronic label they told me that they don’t that much from the artist’s quality music, but instead how many fans will pay/go to his events/concerts, or what they call their “fan reach” not just a number of followers from Facebook, Soundcloud, etc, they don’t care much from that. So in here, I’m in favour with Mark’s point about the “fan base”.

Now for the second part, how you start building this so called “fan base”? In my case for example was giving back to the community, but with the catch of signing up to have it. This is getting more and more used, the giving something free persuasion, and I get their emails, likes, shares, etc, and building a real organic interaction. I’ve done tutorials in Youtube, giveaway competitions (reaching up to +1000 likes, comments, shares), free stuff (again, thousands of likes, shares, downloads=emails). So to recap, I began from scratch to give out stuff free, and with time having abase community that follow you, and investing more (this is key, never stop investing), beginning to do giveaways like interfaces, plugins, keyboards, etc…

Hope this was useful to everyone.

 
     
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Lucas Mengual Joined Jul 16, 2017
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Aug 12, 2017, 11:10 AM

Thanks guys, all interesting viewpoints. The overall takeaway is that you have to spend time learning and developing your craft before expecting anything to start happening. I believe anyone who views this thread will be able to learn something from what each of you has said. By the way @Marc-Alan, I read somewhere that you made the switch from ASCAP to BMI… Congrats on your move and I wish you all the best!

Mylène Besançon, Co-founder @ Tunedly

Tunedly connects music creators with the world’s best session musicians to make professional-sounding music online, while making it easier to get heard.

I could go on and on, but it would probably be best if you head over to https://tunedly.com to see what it’s all about.

I’m also a contributing writer on Thrive Global, you can follow me here: https://journal.thriveglobal.com/@mylenebesancon

 
     
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Mylène Besançon Joined Jun 28, 2015
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Aug 14, 2017, 01:04 PM
Mylène Besançon - 31 July 2017 11:06 PM

Many musicians, when starting out in their music careers, tend to go after the big fishes in a quest to have their music promoted quickly.

However, as many have found out, getting press from a major blog or publication, or attracting a big label, is far from easy. Unless you know someone with clout, getting even an answer to a query email is like flogging a dead horse.

What I have come to learn in this music business is that you have to start out small before you can attract the major labels or get coverage in a popular blog.

If you’re trying to get featured online, for example, you should look around for musicians who are in a similar position in their careers but have a blog or have followers on social media, and small blogs as they tend to post more about emerging artists. They are more likely to do a story about you or post news-related content to their fan base and readers.

And while you’re getting more exposure, so are they. When the buzz starts happening, for you both, that’s when the big names will start showing interest. This all takes time, so some patience will be required on your part.

I know I’m just scratching the surface on this topic, because I constantly see where some people new to the game want to know how they can get discovered, so to speak. However, I hope this humble post brings value to the forum.

For more valuable insights, please check out: https://www.tunedly.com/blog

Great point. Likewise, I’ve seen artists and bands put a lot of work into creating a modest body of work and then just go flat, not really knowing where to go past, say the release party.

 
     
Ted Gould Joined Jul 23, 2017
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Aug 14, 2017, 01:24 PM
Gary E. Andrews - 01 August 2017 12:28 AM

I heard about a guy on National Public Radio who had focused on growing his business in his region, the market where he was already working/playing. He was earning a six-figure income. I missed the name, the region, all the identifier stuff. But the principle is sound. You don’t need notoriety in Paris or Johannesburg or Buenos Aires, unless you plan to play there. If you can get airplay in the region where you’re already playing that ‘fame’ can make you a bigger draw, bring in bigger crowds, therefore thereby making you a more valuable commodity to the venues you’re contracting with. That can up your fee.

If you supplement that with merchandising, hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, download cards, hard-copy CD’s, chicken wings, whatever you can sell to your fans, you too might approach that six-figure income. That could make for a pretty comfortable lifestyle. In fact, some five-figure numbers might be very satisfying. You may not want or need to get any more famous or travel in a bigger region.

A couple hits can keep you ‘touring’ for decades, if you can get airplay.

See who is playing your county fair this year. How long ago did they have a couple hits? And here they are still touring, and probably making an income you’d be satisfied with…for a while anyway.

Great point. I was talking to a drummer friend of mine on a gig yesterday about a buddy of his who relocated to Kuala Lumpur and is making a pretty decent living out there on “smooth jazz” or something like it. A good question for for “artists” is about their motivation. Is it to be a “star” or have their name up in lights or have make a decent living.

 
     
Ted Gould Joined Jul 23, 2017
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Aug 21, 2017, 09:13 AM

By the way @Marc-Alan, I read somewhere that you made the switch from ASCAP to BMI… Congrats on your move and I wish you all the best!

Thank you Mylene. (GREAT NAME BY THE WAY)

I’m moving over from ASCAP to BMI, for the main reason that it is just time for a change. A friend of mine, Jason Blume, writes for much of the BMI periodicals, and has asked me to come over and write some things there. I also want to be involved in some of the BMI activities like the KEY WEST SONGWRITER’S FESTIVAL, which is the main BMI event each year. But all PRO’s are having to adjust to the modern music business, most of which is “free”, and I don’t think is going to go back the other way.

Which speaks to the point of this thread. The modern and future artists have to get better at doing things ON THEIR OWN, long before they will attract, managers, agents, labels, publishers, etc. They have to have very active careers going long before that happens. This starts with creating material, and a persona that the listening public will respond positively to. In the “Internet age” where anyone can put anything anywhere. the problem is that there are SO MANY ARTISTS, WRITERS AND SONGS. You tube, Facebook, Reverbnation, and many other sites, allow people to post constantly. You Tube alone uploads 75 miles of video footage an hour. So with the increased activity, it is harder and harder to get and keep attention.

Then building and increasing your fan base, having your product represent you well at every stage, having a one on one relationship with many many people, all these are what leads to business. I have a formula:
ACTIVITY=PROXIMITY=OPPORTUNITY, that always seems to work.

ACTIVITY. If writers and artists are constantly creating, constantly understanding their audiences, constantly DOING THINGS, it leads them to:
PROXIMITY, being around many people CONSTANTLY you increase your business contacts and listening base. This includes other writers, musicians, producers, publishers, managers, label contacts, as well as overall fan base. Do that enough and it leads to:
OPPORTUNITY. Things pop up, just by SHOWING UP. If you keep it up, you get noticed. Most people DON’T DO THIS, so if you are out there, pushing and promoting all the time, constantly improving, you will find yourself in many better places.

This DOESN’T MEAN YOU WILL BE RICH AND FAMOUS. Just that you will be in the game. And at the end of the day, that is really all you can ask for.

Good luck and thanks for writing Mylene.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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