Bobby Borg recently sat down with dBs Insider to discuss the DIY musician. He is no stranger to this subject as he is a former major label, independent, and DIY recording/touring artist. The interview covered his books Business Basics for Musicians and Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, plus more.
The interview began with the questions that many aspiring artists may have, “How do I get my music out there?” and “How do I make a career in music?”
His book, Marketing for the DIY Musician, thoroughly explored this topic. It is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. It’s the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain marketing.
In Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, the first thing is important to realize is what marketing actually is. Marketing isn’t something that happens after your music is ready, it begins at the inception of an idea with a vision. You need to have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to do first. Marketing isn’t just advertising or promotion, they are subsets of it.
For those that are interested in deal that artists garner from record labels to publishing, he discusses that topic in his book Business Basics for Musicians. The 300+ page book is the layperson’s guide to the music industry. In a conversational tone and an easy-to-scan format, it simplifies five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed: Career Execution, Business Relationships, Pro Teams, Deals and Dollars, and Future Predictions. Everything from copyright to record deals, managers, merchandising, and doing it yourself is covered.
The Business Basics For Musicians Book is more about the actual deals you’ll get in your music career. Agents, record labels, lawyers, managers, publishing deals. Those are the things that it focuses on. The key takeaway from the first chapter in this book is making sure you really do want to be in the music industry, because for most people they give up too soon, they have false expectations of how quickly they are going to find success or sustainability in the business. The idea is to go out there, build some momentum on your own and then hopefully the managers and labels and the rest will come. You need to have realistic expectations of where you are at in your career.
Read the full interview here.
Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again to give you some tips on overcoming age discrimination in the music business. After a certain age you can’t become a police officer, join the military, or become a flight attendant, but in the music business things can be a bit different. After the age of 25, some find it difficult to get a record deal, but if you’re open minded and proactive you can find success in the industry. Here are Bobby’s thoughts! (By the way, this article originally appeared on the Indie Music Bands blog several years ago, but Bobby’s words are just as relevant today!)
Sign With A Major?
Major labels make up the majority of commercial recordings sold in the United States. As of this writing, the three largest record companies (or three majors) are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. Each major is also part of larger corporations that run a system of distribution channels, regional offices, international divisions, and other music business companies. Therefore, bottom line profits and corporate reporting are of primary concern—and reps most typically seek younger more “commercially viable” artists who can theoretically ensure a faster return on their investment. Additionally, the benefit of seeking younger acts is that if successful, they could potentially reap a return on the label’s investment for several years to come.
“It’s a young man’s game,” said one A&R representative who wishes to remain anonymous. “We look for artists from age 15 to 25. It may seen harsh, but it doesn’t makes sense to invest an older race horse when you can get the younger thoroughbred crossing the winner’s line for years to come.”
Unless a dramatic shift takes place in the industry in the next few years (which is very possible—more on this later), then seeking a major label deal may obviously not be the wisest focus for more adult artists: plan and simple.
Independent record companies (also called indies) are in majority not owned or controlled by the majors, and are generally distributed by smaller regional distributors. With less overhead and investment risk, indies are more open to signing less mainstream and perhaps more adult artists than the major record companies.
Said one indie rep in a recent music connection A&R poll conducted in 2003, “We tend to stay away from age discrimination. I look to the music first and people who have maturity and a strong business sense. Of course they must still have a marketable image even when they’re older—but it’s the professional performers who keep their health and image a priority and can convince the masses they’re younger than their years. If they have talent and look the part, then who cares how old they are.”
Indies may not just be more open to signing more adult artists, but also older “brands” or “genres” of music. Indies are known to be the sanctuary (literally) for veteran artists are were once successful and no longer can find a home on a the majors. Case in point, Sanctuary records (formerly CMJ) made a name for themselves by signing several of the hard rock bands that were once very popular in the 1980s. Surely, labels like Sanctuary aren’t trying to market to the masses nor do they have the budgets, but by signing artists who still have a modest (albeit dwindling) fan base and who are still willing to get out on the road and tour, a potential profit can be made for all parties involved.
Read the rest of the article HERE!!
Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, visits the Break the Business Podcast to talk about the steps a musician can take on his or her own to carve out a place in the music industry! Click on the link below to learn more about what he had to say, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Written by a professional musician for other musicians, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. It’s the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain marketing.
This book is the culmination of the author’s 25 years in the trenches as a musician and entrepreneur, and over a decade in academic and practical research involving thousands of independent artists and marketing experts from around the world. The goal is to help musical artists take control of their own destiny, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters – and music that gets heard!
In Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, Bobby Borg provides tons of tips on how to promote and distribute your work as a musician. But that isn’t all there is to the music business, endorsements and sponsorships are an important part of getting your music out there. Bobby wrote an article for Disc Makers Echoes Blog explaining how to properly and correctly choose your endorsement deal or sponsorship. Read more here.
How to align with local and national sponsors
A sponsorship or artist endorsement is a symbiotic relationship between artists and product-based companies. You can receive free merchandise, cash awards, recording time, promotional items, assistance with promoting local shows, distribution through CD samplers, and exposure from company advertisements. You can appear more credible in the eyes of the public, as well as the eyes of club bookers who might be interested in having you perform at their event.
Through artist endorsement deals, companies can creatively expose their brand name and products to their target demographic audience and increase public awareness and sales. Everybody wins! Though sponsorships are usually reserved for artists already creating a small buzz in their community, everyone can benefit by checking out the following tips
Know the products and brands associated with your fans
The first step toward getting local and national sponsorships is to understand what products and brands your target audience is attracted to. Survey your fanbase – as well as the fans of groups you sound like to get ideas. Pay attention to your fans’ clothing, footwear, headgear, sunglasses, and what they drink. They might be drawn to Quicksilver clothing, Vans shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, Gold Coast skateboards, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and Rockstar energy drinks. Whatever the products and brands your fans enjoy, this information is essential in helping you home in on which businesses and companies are worth approaching.
Put together a local target sponsor list
Research local businesses that sell the products associated with your target fans and compile a local target sponsor list. Gather each business’s name, owner, address, phone number, and even store hours. Don’t be afraid to include small mom and pop stores on your target list in fear that they won’t have the money or interest in sponsorships. One Los Angeles band approached a hip and fashionable clothing boutique on Melrose Avenue and got free merchandise to parade onstage and give out to fans. Furthermore, the band’s CD was made available for sale in the boutique while select tracks blasted over the sound system daily. It’s not too difficult to find interested businesses willing to form alliances with you. Artists right in your very own city may already have relationships with local stores and they’d be willing to share contact information with you.
Compile a national sponsor list
Research the companies that manufacture the products associated with your target fans and compile a national sponsor list. Gather each company’s name, marketing director, address, phone number, and also its submission policies. If alcohol is a product associated with your fans, add companies like Jagermeister and Jim Beam to your target list. These companies have long reputations for supporting up-and-coming bands with rewards of cash, recording time, and musical gear.
Read the rest over at Disc Makers Blog.
Most musicians know that songs, biographies, one-sheets, photographs, videos, press releases and interviews can all be used to help get gigs, blog reviews, radio play, endorsements, and so much more. But in what formats should these materials be submitted? Let’s review 4 possible options together with feedback from a few industry pros.
1. Physical Press Kit
This involves gathering your bio, press release, cover letter, business card, and CDs into an attractive two-pocket folder (such as one you customize using services like Vista Print), stuffing these items into a padded mailing envelope, and shipping them off via services like FedEX or The United States Postal Service.
Says Jeff Weber (Music Producer, Label Owner, and Author), “While I don’t care to receive anything other than the CD and a contact number, physical materials are the preferred method of delivery for me. A high quality CD allows me to evaluate the artist’s songs and performances in their purest form.”
Says Fred Croshal, former general Manager at Maverick Records and current Vice President and founder of Croshal Entertainment Group, “When I’m considering a band for management, I much more prefer to review and listen to materials that I can hold in my hands. It’s a more personal experience. “
2. Personal Website Link
This involves creating a customized destination on the web that includes music, videos, pictures, and bios, and then emailing a link (or links to different pages on your site) to your professional contacts.
Says Christian Stankee (Artist Relations for Sabian Cymbals), “I prefer an external link to the artist’s personal website. I want to see what the public sees. An artist’s site is a true tell of an artist’s ability to market their brand and to potentially market ours.”
Says Attorney Sindee (who helps license copyrights), “I also like an email with an external link to the band’s personal website. There’s no clutter on my desk or floor, it’s simple and easy to view, and I get a sense of what the fans and general public see of the band.”
Click here to read the rest!
Most indie artists don’t have a lot of money in the bank, so if you’re going to spend your valuable savings or that money you raised crowdfunding, you’re obviously going to want to make sure it’s a wise investment. Outside of the typical things musicians have to shell out cash for, though (quality gear, recording, mercy, publicity — you know the drill), there are many less obvious investments you can make to enhance your music career. From hiring a songwriting consultant to getting a dedicated sound tech for your live performances, here are seven smart ways to invest your money that you might not have thought of — assuming you’ve saved up the money to spend, of course!
1. Songwriting consultant
Just because you can play your guitar doesn’t mean you can write a well-crafted song. Songwriting is a skill all its own that takes years of practice to perfect. A seasoned songwriting consultant can offer objective advice about your songs adn improve them significantly. It makes no sense to spend zero dollars on the most important aspect of your music career — your songs — and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars recording and promoting your music. People like Robin Frederick and James Blume are just two people off the top of my head who may be available to work with you in person or via the internet. Check them out.
2. Focus groups
Some of the most important people related to the success of your career are the very people to whom you are trying to appeal: your fans. Yet, it surprises me how most bands don’t spend the time or money to conduct research and get feedback from them. By rounding up two groups of 30 people, inviting them to your rehearsal studio, serving pizza and drinks, performing sets of your music, and having your fans discuss/rate your songs (or sound, stage presence, look, etc.), you’ll gather some crucially important information that can help save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.
My band did this when we were planning our next recording project, and it worked great. We played 15 of our songs and let the fans pick the six compositions they wanted on our record. After all, if it’s the fans who you’re trying to satisfy with your music, doesn’t it make sense to see what they think before spending thousands recording your EP or album?
Anyone with a camera phone in their bedroom can think they’re a photographer. While camera phones are quite impressive these days, an experienced pro who has access to amazing locations, knows how to arrange a shot, understands proper lighting, knows about hair and makeup, and understands fashion can give your band the real visual edge it needs. Look, if they say that a picture is really worth a thousand words, and you agree with this statement, then why not spend at least that much in getting some really professional photos done? Your brand depends on it.
4. Graphic designer
Your band’s logo serves as the stamp of your brand. It’s what’s put on your drummer’s bass drum heads, your banners, your road cases, your mercy, and — you never know — it could even become your tattoos. While you might feel fairly confident playing around with Adobe Photoshop yourself, an experienced pro can really make a difference. Hire someone who has an outstanding portfolio of band logos and several years of experience to back it up. Remember, you want to have a badass logo that can become part of that badass T-shirt that people will gladly be willing to pay $15 to take home. So let the pros do your logo and design.
Click here to read the rest of the article!
7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads
Probably the scariest thing about going to music school to become a more competent musician is graduating and having to find a paying gig. The pressure is on to start repaying those student loans and prove to your friends and family that you haven’t wasted the last four years of your life. While there are no surefire tips to take you from being a student to a celebrity, these seven invaluable tips will help set you and keep you on course for many years to come. Pay attention.
1. Locate yourself in the most opportune city to succeed
New technologies have made it more possible than ever for you to get discovered from virtually any part of the world. However, big cities are where the action is 24/7, and living in or near one is more likely to lead to networking opportunities and big auditions unavailable in small towns.
Research the city that makes the most sense to you given your goals, and then plan out a short visit. Utilize your school’s resources (such as the alumni outreach department) to get a few numbers of people who may be willing to meet up with you and provide some advice. Attend jam sessions. Visit the local musicians’ unions. Thoroughly check out the scene. Just don’t rush your decision. Once you move to a new city for your career, you should prepare to stay there and put in the work for several years.
2. Prepare for the long haul by becoming financially sound
Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, or somewhere else, there are countless stories about people who move to the big city and give themselves six months to “make it” while living on their friends’ couches. Needless to say, that’s a completely unrealistic plan.
Be prepared — both financially and mentally — to spend several years pursuing your goals. Look for work immediately to help cover your basic expenses and settle in by joining a local songwriters’ organization or networking group that will bring you a sense of belonging. Just remember that success won’t happen overnight, so be prepared for the long haul.
3. Bridge long-term goals with short-term goals
While finding work to meet expenses is crucial, stay as close to the music business as you can. Look for music-related opportunities such as private instruction, music transcription for educational books, equipment sales, equipment repair, or even stage production.
Who would have ever thought that one of my buddies would end up with a huge touring gig by setting up and moving equipment for SIR studios in Los Angeles? A band was holding auditions there one night and his boss and the music director were cool with him giving it a shot. He nailed the audition and his career took off from there. Moving gear wasn’t fun, but it paid off.
4. Don’t lose touch with your college friends
Remember that the majority of the work you do will be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The genuine relationships you form today can lead to the gigs of tomorrow.
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I got hired to play weddings by my former teachers with whom I kept in touch. Within one year, I got hired onto my first pro session in New York City by two college buddies that I contacted all the time — this gig led to joining a band on Atlantic Records. Bingo! I was in!
Today, I run into friends from school all the time who are playing with some of the biggest rock groups and working on the biggest films. We still all help each other out in small ways. Remember that connections are one of the biggest reasons why people invest in school.
To read the rest of the article, click here!
These eight examples of creative music product pricing might just change the way you think about pricing your merchandise and services.
For many young and developing artists, music product pricing is usually the process of arbitrarily coming up with a number, slapping it on your product or service, and forgetting about it. However, as illustrated below, pricing is something that can be far more strategic. While you won’t be able to pull off all of the following strategies, these eight examples will get you thinking about price like never before.
1. Kid Rock rocks
As concerts are costing anywhere from $65 to $150, and as much as $300 to $1,250 on the secondary market, Kid Rock charged a low $20 for his “$20 Best Night Ever” tour. By taking the exact opposite approach of what other artists were doing, Rock created quite a buzz among fans and the media. In fact, the strategy apparently worked so well, rock is repeating this idea on his US city tour to support his album, First Kiss.
2. Wu-Tang Clan got a plan
Upon release of its double album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan announced that it would release only one album (i.e. one single unit) that fans can pay to hear in art galleries, museums, and festivals. Since people, in general, love exclusivity, the group received bids for the album for as high as $5 million. The concept was that music should be treated as a valuable and respected piece of art, not something people download at no cost. Clever!
3. Nipsey Hussle does an impressive hustle
Unsigned rapper Nipsey Hussle pressed 1,000 units of his album Crenshaw and sold them at a price of $100 each. Under a campaign he entitled Proud2Pay, customers were also rewarded with concerts, priority access to new material, and one-of-a-kind gifts, such as an old rap notebook or signed photo. Nipsey’s intention was not necessarily to sell out the units to his target audience, but to attract the attention of a few big wigs in the music business. And it worked! Jay-Z swooped up 100 copies of the rappers music.
4. Prince creates a triple win strategy
On his Planet Earth album, Prince cut a deal with British tabloid The Mall on Sunday, distributing three million copies of his record in its Sunday edition for free (all it cost was the $3 price of the newspaper). Prince was paid a flat fee by The Mail, The Mail made money from all the advertisers that wanted the extra exposure, and fans got a free CD. Everybody won.
To read the rest of the article, click here!