Are you an Artist or an Entrepreneur?

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The fact is the biggest artists in the industry are entrepreneurs; Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kenny Chesney, and many more viewed there music career as a Big business opportunity. It is your responsibility to get that same type of vision for your music, you are an entrepreneur and you are the product that you will turn into a multi-million dollar company.

Your first step as an entrepreneur is to understand the concept between employment, small business, and Big business entrepreneurial ventures. An employee exchanges dollars for hours and values security. A small business owner employs people and values independence but stops making income if they stop working (ie doctor, lawyer, sales, etc.). However, a Big business has 500 or more employees and is a money making system which is self-sustained (ie McDonalds, Hamburger University, and Sysco). So, how does this big business mentality relate to our music careers? Think of cover shows as the revenue you receive as an employee in the music industry; maybe it is not exactly your ultimate goal but it helps keeps the lights on. Your original music is the small business, every time you have ever sold a ticket or album that was revenue for “YOUR MUSIC” Incorporated. However, if you stop directly selling and promoting your revenue for that small business would cease. The Big business owners are like the Dr Dre’s of the world that created legacy money which they pass down to generations. Many said that his Audio company had no place, and yet, within a decade he was able to leverage his brand equity as an artists to net almost 1 Billion in personal cash from the sale of that company. Lady Gaga has her Monster perfume, Eminem has Shady Records, Taylor Swift makes insane revenue on all of her merch, but why do you think that is? All of these people figured out there story and differentiator in the music industry and then monetized the brand they created around that story.beats-family

So, remember, all great artists in the industry viewed there music career as a big business from day 1. You must do the same. Viewing yourself as a big business there are a few core elements you must be clear on before you really can grow to the extent you envision in the industry. First, what is the name of your music project? Next, what makes your music and story unique? What is your competitive advantage? What is your 6 month, 12 month, and 24 month plans for growth? What are your goals (ie bring a message to the world, create music full-time, have a passive income from music which pays all my bills, write 200 songs this year, perform 100 shows, bring your message to the world)? What is the long term vision for your music? How will your name and brand communicate that vision? What is your break-even and what will it cost to scale (grow) the business? A good place to start is to answer these questions and perpetually go back to these questions to make sure you are continually aligning yourself with that vision. Once you know the finances, marketing, and plan for growth for your music the sky is the limit in growing your empire. Plus it is a million times easier to ask these hard questions of yourself and your music now then it is to try to change and readjust course with a band name or logo which wasn’t a true reflection of the vision or sound of your music. Trust, this stuff is crucial and it’s what the big wigs at Universal and Sony are looking for to get involved with independent acts. Much love fam!

What Musicians Can Learn from Ray Kroc

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Do you know who Ray Kroc is? Do you know what McDonald is?

Ray Kroc is the business genius who bought the McDonalds franchise from the McDonalds brother and developed his empire from the systematic burger assembly line. Yet, they didn’t invent burgers so what is it about Ray Kroc and McDonald’s that made this burger joint so special? It was a simple system of duplication of business owners.

Once Ray Kroc owned the rights to McDonalds he began franchising other locations and training all the owners how It a while but once he was set up he created a system to serve the masses and he did. At first he was still in the small business category because he was having to go around training all the business owners in order for the training to be consistent. So, he created Hamburger University for new Franchise Owners to get consistent training independent of Kroc. Yet, once all the training was consistent and it started to go national, all the different meats and supplies had no consistency which hurt the brands equity. So, crafty Kroc partnered with Sysco to be the sole supplier for all McDonald’s products.  Today, McDonalds grew Sysco to massive proportions and McDonald’s has over 35,000 locations worldwide and the Kroc family now have Legacy money, money that will never go away, that will grow in perpetuity, and that is passed from generation to generation. Below is a chart which shows Kroc’s franchise model.

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So what can we learn from Ray Kroc as musicians? It is very simple. It doesn’t matter whether offering burgers or music Ray Kroc taught the world how to make a big business which can truly free you from your 9 to 5. It is our job in our music careers to utilize these big business concepts of systematization, duplication through business owners, partnerships with a larger supplier, and the value of consistent training. Systematization creates profitability and quick growth. Partnerships and duplication from mentoring others results in multiplication of your efforts. Many hands make easy work.

Understand that as a musician in the 21st Century you must where all hats and in reality you are trying to build a big business with over 500 employees from your music. Understand that the first people you are privately franchising your career to is your band members, producers, managers, and initial fans. These are the advocates that will help you build a network of people enjoying your music and your story. The more systematic way you can find to mentor these people in growing your organization the quicker the idea of your music can manifest into cash. Think of the biggest in the industry right now, Drake (singer who raps), Taylor Swift (Pop Singer with a hint of country), Lady Gaga (Lil Monster Revolution), and Iggy Azalea (Very Fancy); all of the largest artists and bands built an entire big business and brand around their music. They found a need they were satisfying with their story and then everything about their marketing, crew, product lines, all center around that concept and through duplication they created an organization that can run independently. Do you think Dr Dre wakes up in hot sweats wondering if the new Yelawolf song is going to hit numbers? NO! Dr Dre has duplicated himself through other artists, producers, business owners, and product lines so that he makes Legacy money, money that you make in your sleep, money that you can pass down to your kids, and money that can give you the freedom to just live out your dreams in music. Looking forward to feedback, Much love music fam! FREEDOM!

How Do You Measure the Impact of Your Social Media?

Everyone knows that social media is crucial to spread your music to the masses. Many use Facebook, Twitter, WordPress obviously, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr and other micro-social media sites such as Posterous or Quora to connect their audience and promote their music. Yet, to constantly expand the reach of your social media you need to effectively measure what type of posts result in the greatest response. Once you’ve determined what is most effective in engaging your network you can post only highly interactive content in your media. So how do you measure the impact of your social media?

With each of your social networks you can try different posting strategies from week to week and month to moth to see which results in the greatest interaction. For each type of social media there are ways to do this for each network.

Twitter: Look at your number of followers, number of times your hash tag is used, and the number who retweeted your posts. Also www.TweetReach.com and www.mytoptweet.com are great tools to measure Twitter exposure.

Facebook: Look at your Reach and People Talking About You in Facebook Analytics to see how many impressions your ads and posts are getting. Also look at the number of likes and comments on individual posts to get a more detailed picture of the engagement of each post. Facebook Insights is great because it provides you not only your reach but also the composition of your audience. This helps you tailor posts to your audiences age and other demographics.

Youtube: Track views, thumbs up, shares, number of ratings, number of comments, and number of subscribers to determine social reach.

Blog: Measure number of visitors, the number of people following you, and number of posts to other blogs you made and the resulting referral traffic.

Website: Google Analytics is the king for website analysis. Also, hosting servers such as 1and1.com will usually have some basic tracking on visits to the websites they host. Yet, unlike more simple site tracking, Google Analytics actually gives the number of unique visitors which is the true size of your audience as oppose to just counting visits where one person can count as multiple visits.

Email: Look at how many people opened the email relative to the number who received it and then how many clicked through the link in the email. Mailchimp.com has great tracking and mail campaigns you can send to your contact list for free.

Finally you need to determine the number of conversions. This can be liking a page, subscribing for a newsletter, or purchasing a product. The conversion rate is the percent of people who actually do the intended final action relative to the total number of visitors.

Sites like Klout.com give a rating on overall social exposure and wildfireapp.com’s Monitor feature enables you to compare your Facebook and Twitter’s to other accounts. Also you can measure your influence on sites like www.socialmention.com, www.radian6.com, and www.lithium.com. Really neat tools!

When considering your influence not only is the number of posts, comments, and shares considered, but also the social reach of those people having that interaction.  So, interacting with those users with the largest following, whether its Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook, results in more people liking and interacting with you. The users with larger more dedicated fan base mean more influence your media has on the social network. Make sure you continually analyze your efforts to improve results in social media. Happy twittering!

Touring Tips: 3 Things All Artists Should Know to Route a Tour

“The life I love is makin music with my friends I can’t wait to get back on the road again” – Willie Nelson

Good Relationships with Venue Owners, Managers, and Booking:

The biggest misconception about business is that it is about making money; when in fact business is not at all about making money. Business is about building good relationships and money is the residual side-effect of these good relationships. Therefore, if you want to do well in the music business you have to maintain good relationships with the people you work with. The best way to maintain relationships is to continually create win-win-win situations; make you playing at a venue a win for the audience, a win for the venue and event organizers, and a win for your band.

So we know how to make it a win for the band (get good pay, play a good venue, play good music, and have a good crowd) and we know how to make it a win for the fan (play good music), but how do we make it a win for the venue and organizers? The answer is to satisfy the booking person, the manager, and the owner. Particularly with smaller venues and bars the owner, manager, and booking person for an establishment may all be the same person. If that’s the case then you need to do all the things I am about to describe for that person; yet assuming they are all three different people there are things you should do for each to keep them happy. For the person who booked your band, they want good music attracting large crowds, so promo and practicing the music is the key. Also, do not forget to introduce yourself and show gratitude when you get there if they are at the venue that night. The manager wants large crowds and “drinking responsibly” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), so make sure to bring people who won’t start fights and destroy the venue. And then, the owner wants all of these things but it is best to just try to relate to the owner in a personable way. Try to find something to relate to the owner on whether its sports, movies, or music, just find something that will get them talking. When you relate to the owner in that type of way the next time your band comes up he will just remembered that you all had a great conversation about Led Zeppelin. Then, the manager and booking person can act as advocates for you who already have credibility with owner and tell him that you played great music, you brought a crowd, and the venue had a successful night. With the vote of confidence from his team the owner will not only want to rebook because you’re a nice person but also because his people have convinced him that your music is also good for business. Also, it’s particularly good to be in with the owner as he is the final decider in any increased compensation that you could get from a renegotiated deal after you have played somewhere multiple times.

Be Geographically Smart:

If you are routing a tour through the south the Midwest and the northeast do not bounce from Atlanta to New York to Nashville back to Philadelphia back to Chicago and then through Baltimore. Instead, be geographically smart. If you are doing those cities for instance go in a big circle, so that you go ATL to Nashville to Chicago to New York to Philadelphia to Baltimore and back. This will greatly reduce the amount of gas money spent and driving hours wasted for your tour. Another important aspect of being geographically smart about booking your tour is that you should route geographically dense tours where you’re never driving more than 8 hours. So, for instance, Chicago to NewYork is quite a drive but you break it up on the way by doing a show in Cleveland or Detroit, or even the trip from Nashville to Chicago you can break up with a show in Cincinnati. The beautiful part of touring in this big country of ours is that you rarely drive more than 8 hours, except in Texas, to get to the next major city you could perform in (Disclaimer: no offense was intended to Texas but yall have a big state, about 13 hours east to west driving).

SMART Goals:

All tours should have SMART goals; these goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented (meaning there is a set of actions you must take to reach the goals), Results-Oriented (meaning that those actions must aid in achieving a desired result), and Timely. For most businesses a timely offering would sell winter cloths in the winter and ice cream in the summer time. Yet, in the case of music it is a little different because it’s always the right season for music. So, timely in the case of touring music is about doing it in a timely fashion. If you have 20 shows it is much better to have a 30 day touring schedule than a 100 day touring schedule; of course, you don’t want a show every night because you’ll burn out but you also don’t want the show dates too spread out because every day off day on the tour is an extra day you’re paying for hotel and transportation. So, doing a show no less than every other day reduces the cost of the tour and therefore increases the profit from the tour.

Four Tips for Selecting Covers For Your Band

                In the catalogues of great artists, from Johnny Cash covering Hank Williams to John Mayer covering Tom Petty, everyone does cover songs. The question is what a band should consider to pick the right song to cover. These are four considerations that I have found to be most helpful in determining the song fit for your band.

Song Needs to be Tasty

The first thing you got to look for is songs that fit your bands taste either musically or lyrically. Your band obviously needs to enjoy the cover song if it is going to emulate the original. I think a great way to get into the music is think what the artist was thinking when they wrote those cords or lyrics and if you can relate to that artist’s expression it should rank high on your tasty music scale.

 Consider the Styles

You should fit your bands style correctly to your style and the events style. Depending on your bands style, it may be difficult to do a total 360 in their genre in a cover song. Also, a cover song should also consider the style of the event that the cover will be performed. On December 3rd, I am performing originals and classic rock covers at the Rock N Brews and Food Truck Fest in Hollywood. Now if I were to come out singing Britney SpearsHit Me Baby One More Time” it may not exactly fit in with the whole Rock style and might be an issue. The point is, consider the style for the specific concert where it will be performed.

Consider Your Ability

As much as I would love to be able to do a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” I would never do it because I have a have a long long long long progression vocally before I can attempt to try to imitate Jimmy Page. So, keep your own current vocal range and music ability in mind when selecting your cover. I am a big believer in the idea that a more simple song sung remarkably is always better than a extremely difficult song sung decently.

To Thine Own Music Be True

Yes your band is covering a different artists music, but its important to make it your own. Making the covering song your own can entail anything from adding your own personal singing style to changing the tempo to completely altering the songs original genre (see Papa Roach’s rendition of Michael Jackson’s song “Smooth Criminal”). Whatever you do to make the song your own, it is important to reflect your bands creativity. Although this is not your original music, you need to bring it to life in for a new audience and it can be as much a representation of your creativity as original music.

Enjoy your jams music fam!

Get Your Music Heard on College Radio

            Last April, College Broadcasters organized a moment of silence in which over one-hundred colleges simultaneously shut-down their broadcast for a moment. The purpose of the silence was to bring awareness to the lack of university radio funding and the need to adapt to an ever-changing music discovery environment. Stations such as NYU’s WNYU have added their broadcasts to be online as well as on FM stations to expand their relevance. Despite the changing environment in the music industry, college radio remains an excellent promotion channel for the indie universe. The Music Director from WNYU explains that, “We’ve been credited with proliferating numerous bands into nationwide popularity, and with good reason: alternative radio has been, and continues to be, a crucial launching pad for independent artists. The service is inexpensive, if not free, and can serve as vital promotion for a new artist—the trick is getting the MD on your side.”

            Here are four crucial tips for getting your band’s music heard on college radio.

Physical Versions Are Better

I know we all thought digital killed the CD star, but the fact is that most DJ’s prefer to have physical copies in front of them to listen to the music directly. Also, the added benefit of submitting physical demos or albums is that it will enable that radio station to archive your band and your music so that future generations of the station will continue to play and promote your  music.

Know the Station

If your music fits into a particular genre the best thing to do is submit it into a specific program on the station. If you are familiar with the particular DJ from that program, submit to them directly. This is one of the most basic ideas of any communication; know your audience. Knowing your audience can get your music to relevant decision makers and DJ’s more quickly and give them more confidence that you understand the alternative radio submission process.

If You Don’t Have a Distributor Seek One Out

These promoters do more than assist in checking on the status of your submission, whose playing it, and its number of plays. An independent distributor will likely already have an in with the elusive music director you are trying to contact. This independent distributors prior relationship can increase your likelihood and frequency of plays of your song.

Be Persistant Without Being Annoying  

My final tidbit of advice is to be persistent with trying to get your music on without driving the music director crazy. This was general advice given to me by Bruno Del Granado (Ricky Martin’s manager) a few years back with anything in the music business; and it holds true for college radio as well. You need to understand that the university music directors are intensely busy and have lives of their own. Don’t send a million emails and 100 phone calls in two days, you may not get a response that quick, and you may end up irritating that director to the point that he wouldn’t play your music if you were the next Jimi Hendrix. You need to be persistent with your goal, and be patient with the response. I am currently trying to get rotation on WVUM for the band I am managing. So, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to track down the music director and get them to respond to your emails. Remember, persistent yet patient. It’s a balance between sending enough contact to make sure your band doesn’t fall through the cracks of the MD’s busy day, and being patient enough to let them consider your music for airtime.

Using these steps can greatly increase the likelihood of your band getting airtime on college radio. Can’t wait to hear yall on the airwaves!

Building Your Home Recording Studio

            One of the best recent developments for independent artists is the improved ease, quality, and affordability of home recordings. No matter the amount you have to invest into your recording studio there are certain basics that you need to think about and components of the studio that are needed.

Audio Interface  How you get the sound into your computer is the first thing to think for your studio. You need to understand how many inputs you have and the quality of your audio-to-digital converter. Also, if you want to go super simple on audio interface there are now products like Blue Microphone’s Icicle USB Converter, which enables you to directly plug an XLR microphone into your computer through the USB port.

Listening   To record and master the music in your studio you to be able to hear an accurate representation of the sound. Now of course you don’t have $15,000 to spend on earth shattering monitors like professional studios but understanding basic sound dynamics and equipment can go a long way in getting that sound right.

Quality Recording  This entails high quality microphones and music production platform. There is a whole  gang of music recording platforms; the most widely used are ProTools, Cubase, Logic, and Cakewalk. My advice is to look into all of them a little bit and see which you produce. But, they all are used to record and produce music.

In a recent article in Billboard Magazine they did the math on what you need to get if you’re building a home studio with between $1000 and $5000. These are the packages they suggested for a quality home recording.

The $1000 Studio  

The recommended audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 which costs $249.99. Get at least two microphones and keep in mind that interfaces that cost less than $250 rarely have more than one input.

Great studio monitors include M-Audio BX5A and KRK RP5G2, which both cost about $300.

For condenser mics get either the Blue Spark (which costs $199.99) or Sterling AudioST55 (also $199.99).

For dynamic microphones, the Sennheiser E609 is a great one for about $100. This mic can be used for a variety of instruments and even vocals.

Shure SRH440 are great headphones if you don’t have the liberty to blare your speakers 24/7 in your parents basements. But headphones are also valuable so that all the band members can hear how the levels of music sound in the recording mix.

The $5000 Studio

Now obviously this is a bit heftier of an investment but if you have the cabbage you will be able to build a home recording studio with incredible quality.

Audio Interface-Apogee Ensemble,  $1,995

Studio Monitors-Adam A7X, $1,399.99

Condenser Microphone-Neumann TLM102, $699.99

Dynamic Microphone-Shure E609, $99.99

Headphones-Shure SRH840, $199.99

The final note I would add in getting your equipment and setting up the studio is that you can never underestimate the power of getting a music engineer to help out with the process. When one of roommates set up our home studio he had a buddy of ours who was a music engineer help with the whole process. Now if you can’t find an actual music engineer get someone to help who has a good sense of sound dynamics. The thing most people do not realize is that getting a quality sound is as much a science as it is an art. Happy recordings music fam.