Steven Blanton ~ Leaderocity

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I want in the Music Biz II: What’s My Name Again?

The greatest band in the entire world could, in theory, spend its entire life expectancy locked into a rehearsal room. Being sequestered during rehearsals is pretty normal. Nobody wants to show the clunker licks you are still trying to get right. And that one weird vocal thing you are working on should stay sequestered until you are really good at it. In fact let me just say, “Thank you” for not forcing me to hear it until you have it nailed. But there must come a time when you have to put it out there, in front of someone, if you want to play where people can enjoy your hard work.
This is where we discover “The Fan”; a fabulous, creature made of enthusiasm, loyalty, devotion and a taste for more. They have been known to camp out at the prospect of getting a good seat or simply a ticket to the show. And these wonderful people cannot wait for your next piece of product to hit the street. The Fan is the backbone of why we do what we do, where we do it and how often we do it. And they have total influence on how well we get paid for our hard work.
I drew an analogy between the book publishing industry and the music business in my last blog. Every author needs someone to buy his book. And every band needs someone to buy their concert tickets and CDs or downloads. The question is then, “How do I make fans?” The answer to that question is pretty broad. I can’t give you a total business plan in this blog but I can point you in the right direction. Every band will need to develop and utilize its own opportunities as they arise. Some strategies can be planned for, but others seem to fall on us and we just seize the moment.
Assuming you have a decent show and have a viable sound, you start by playing everywhere there is a stage. I heard in a Disc Makers’ seminar that the first thing that happens after you play is that everybody forgets your name. Since we know this, use every chance you get to mention your name, using collateral (handouts and printed info) to reinforce the impression, anytime you can. Get volunteers to be your “street team”; guys and gals who will help you connect to your fans. I saw this used in a concert where this one guy with a guitar was playing BETWEEN the real acts, who had to introduce himself. After each of these really terrible spots on the show, he had his street team moving through the crowd handing out flyers about his new album coming out. I remembered his name because of the flyers… John Mayer; the new album coming out… Room for Squares. The point is that every player needs name recognition for people to decide they want to follow the music and people have short memories.
This is a given, but I must mention the fact they you all need to be out in the social networking scene. MySpace, Twitter and Facebook are three of a number of places to connect virtually. This is free advertisement that you should tap into. You should get help from your street team if it becomes too tough to manage on your own. You are electronically passing your name out through the crowd… maybe by the millions. Every possible point at which you can build name recognition should be used with succinct purpose. Think of it this way; you are building a brand. Your brand has a look, a feel, a sound, that triggers an image in the mind of the fan. That fan will be responsive to that brand if you take care to build it correctly. Your fan will walk past a hundred other CDs to buy yours because you have developed a “relationship” with the fan-base that more or less requires loyalty. This may come as a surprise but bands don’t make hits… fans do.
Next time, we will explore more ways to build your brand so please stay in touch… I am building my brand for you. Thanks again for reading.

©2009 WalkWay® Group All Rights Reserved, Steven Blanton


I Want in the Music Biz (But Nobody’s Looking for Me?)

I recently signed a publishing agreement to publish my new book, Right Words & Music: A Songwriter’s Manual to Writing Great Songs! It should be out near the end of 2009. Apparently the chances of getting a book published by submitting a four chapter query are about as good as getting a record deal by sending in a demo. Hummm… It makes me wonder if the two industries, book publishing and music production, are perhaps cousins; maybe the kissing kind. They certainly do have many things in common. Since I have my hand in both pies I am not casting aspersions on either. There has been plenty of mud-slinging at both since the digital domain began to reign supreme.
I did my research, as I am wont to do, and I discovered that POD (print on demand) is a huge industry. No more does an author stand with hat in hand, humbled by the shear brute strength of a massive conglomerate referred to as The Publisher (the ‘p’ capitalized out of respect for its eminence.) And for thousands of authors who would never have a real chance at getting published, POD is fantastic news! One can write a book on his laptop today and have it in print within the week. That is no small change in the paradigm. It means there is a colossal proliferation of books in circulation in a dazzling array of topics with very proud authors hawking books through every conceivable outlet. But, as Hamlet noted, “there's the rub.” There are now millions of books where none existed before. I recently read that the average self-published author sells about 170 books after two years of talking his relatives and friends into buying his book; a demoralizing thought for the author and the friends. Having written a book, I know the work it takes and the time commitment to get it into a submit-able manuscript form. I want somebody to buy, read and tell others about this fantastic brilliant new author… er hum… but I digress. The real problem has to do with who is looking for my new book. Having it in every known bookstore will not sell books, since the chance of someone stumbling and accidently happening upon my book is quite low.

It isn’t that hard to make the intellectual leap to what this means allegorically speaking, for the new CD you just made. Now that music is digital and vocals are often cut in a master bedroom instead of a master session, everyone who has access to recording gear can make a CD, have it manufactured like a pro by Disc Makers, or just burn it himself. This has made the music market very crowded, often with subpar product. The usual and time-honored system of filtration by A&R, radio DJs, producers and record distributors has disintegrated. Everybody can now, distribute to millions of outlets simply by connecting with CD Baby or TuneCore. But the question is the same as it is for POD; who is looking for your music? It won’t matter if you are in every music outlet on earth if nobody walks in asking for your record. The real issue is demand; creating a need and then filling it with your music. Check in next time for more on that subject… Thanks for reading… you make writing worth every minute!

©2009 WalkWay® Group
All Rights Reserved, Steven Blanton

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