Congratulations. You’ve gone through the gauntlet and made it out the other side, while at the mercy of a surly sound engineer, limp Kickstarter campaign, parents telling you to get a real job, and core fans who are your best friends. But hey, you have a freaking album!
So, now what?
How do you make money AND fans from your art?
Your creativity is valuable but will most likely lay dormant without a thorough and practical approach so it can be shared with the world.
Let’s go through some steps.
NUTS & BOLTS STUFF:
Electronic Press Kit (EPK) – This is your band’s resumé and although it can be a little tedious and time-consuming getting it all together, it’s important because it’s a format that radio stations, promoters, bloggers, and labels accept and understand.
What’s in an EPK?
- Band bio
- Band/artist pictures
- Album cover art
- Promo video
- Downloadable mp3’s of your music
- Stage plot
- Press release
Rider – a set of requests that a performer would like fulfilled while touring or playing a show
- Define the ground rules – request a rider within reasonable parameters at the same time you are negotiating monetary compensation. That way, you can focus on making the most out of your performance rather than haggling over last minute details with a staff member who most likely has nothing to do with the deal itself. Most venues/events have tight budgets where they need to maximize profits while keeping costs low. Entertainment, that’s you, is a cost and generally, the higher your profile, the more they are willing to spend. You can sweeten your side of the deal with a solid rider.
- Some things you can include on your rider: merch tent, 20 comped tickets, lowest price point, hotel accommodations, travel comps, specific beverages etc.
- Don’t forget to bring the paperwork with you to the show. If you have any disputes on site, these should be able to be cleared up quickly.
Copyright your songs
It’s age-old but copyright can still be a confusing subject for many. Technically, your music is copyrighted the moment you create it, but one way to afford yourself a little more protection is to document this officially and register your work at copyright.gov
Register with a Performance Rights Organization (P.R.O.)
Once upon a time, as a musician browsed through a department store, his imagination was captured by a beautiful love song which was playing on the speakers. He was inspired enough to then buy flowers for his beloved wife. The musician eventually realized that song was the sole catalyst for the floral purchase. He thought, ‘I wonder if the creator of that song is being fairly compensated!”
Okay, that’s not a real story, but it very well could have been. P.R.O.’s were created to compensate musicians for public performance of their works where permission is needed whenever their music is used to monetize a product or service. A P.R.O. is there to collect royalties on your behalf each time your music is played for another party’s benefit.
Register with Sound Exchange
Sound Exchange collects non-interactive digital performance royalties on your behalf. (Non-interactive means the listener does not have control over which songs are being played or in what order e.g. Pandora, Sirius XM)
Register with Nielsen Soundscan
Soundscan is a method of tracking sales of music and music video products. The data is made available every Wednesday and is still utilized by Billboard to determine their Top Chart results.
Too often, a lack of clear agreements between members of a band, regarding the way in which a song’s ownership is divided, can cause dissension and possible lost opportunities, particularly when a real opportunity presents itself. Take the time to work this out in a businesslike and amicable manner while remembering that magic in music creation more often happens from a healthy collaboration where everyone’s contributions are honored.
More on songwriter splits.
FUN BUT JUST AS IMPORTANT STUFF:
Website/Social Media Links
Update your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Let your fans know about your new projects and how they can access them. And if you haven’t already done so, create a band website. This is important to increase discoverability by your fans and the industry.
If you haven’t already created your band/artist name, try to keep in mind that generic band names can be harder to find in Google unless you’re Spoon.
Great music which represents your art is the key of course, but your visual presentation can be just as important. Take our regular artist features, for instance, if we are choosing between two artists, both incredibly talented but one has stunning, high-quality shots and the other has a low resolution, blurry phone snap, which do you think we will choose? Having 3 or 4 gorgeous, high-resolution photos are invaluable tools which can help attract attention from fans and industry alike and is often seen as an artist who takes their career seriously.
More on the importance of profile pictures.
Don’t leave the studio without instrumental versions of your tracks or if you have your own studio setup, grab the session or stems so you have the ability to create instrumentals yourself. One of the first things you will be asked for in TV and film placements and is an instrumental version of your song.
We know this is your art and sometimes your art compels you to shout things that would make your grandma shiver, but just make sure you have a version without offensive or explicit language i.e. ‘cleans’. Placement opportunities can come from anywhere and networks/cable shows/features must usually comply with ratings guidelines and restrictions. It would be a shame to miss a sync opportunity because your track was considered too explicit for the usage.
This is another important avenue not only for cash flow but also for discovery. Sync licensing is when your music is put to picture and a great way to maximize your song and receive benefits through royalties and increased profile which can lead to more opportunities.
Get your music on streaming platforms. This can be a great way for your music to be discovered!
You’ve put in a lot of time, effort and resources to record your album. Rather than revealing it all at once, consider a strategic release with perhaps a single, then a music video. Create excitement and anticipation around your release.
70% = Build a brand: Who are you? What’s your voice? What’s fun/different/compelling about you and your art? What will attract fans to you so they hopefully follow your career?
20% = Cross Promotion: Take an interest in other bands, blogs, music lovers and promote them if their art resonates with you! This is a great way to build a community of artists, bands, and fans.
10% = Self Promotion: Come see our show! Buy our awesome T-shirt! Check out our new video!
It’s a good idea to promote but not flood timelines with incessant self-promotion. Focussing on all three aspects of brand, cross-promotion and self-promotion will help fortify the entire arc your career.
Playing live music to an appreciative audience can be heaven when all the elements align. You’ve worked hard for this, enjoy it!
No matter what order you do these things in, they are all tied together. When you tour, new fans discover you. When they discover you, they stream your music. When they stream your music, they finance your art so you can move forward and so on and so forth. It’s invaluable that you own your space – to have a plethora of photos, videos, and news – so the world can follow your journey.
To wrap up, a strategic plan and plentiful, great quality content to back it up is the key to getting your album out there where it needs to be, in the hands of fans.