J.P. Kallio’s Musician Quick Tips Lucky Pt. 13
by J.P. Kallio
Here are this week’s musician quick tips, part 13, lucky. In my nearly two decades as a full time musician I have learned a thing or two about this business. I also have become very fast at assessing what works and what does not when it comes to promoting, recording and performing your music.
These quick tips are simple actions that you can put to use straight away.
Throw mud at the wall and see what sticks
It is good to have a plan, even quite specific plan if you want to succeed in music business. I’m a firm believer that by getting organised and structuring your path is the way to success.
But from time to time, it is good to just try out things that you have no idea if they will work or not. Many of the great inventions of our time are happy accidents. So from time to time, just throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. And if something works, do more of it.
For example, if most people listen to your music on Soundcloud, why not try Bandcamp as well? What do you got to lose? If you do most of your posting on Facebook, why not try Twitter for a month or so? And also do this with the music. Try something different that you ave not done before, it’s amazing how easily we resort to just routines in our songwriting, or performing. Shake it up a bit and see what happens.
Promotion v spam
Here’s a quick one that so many musicians and bands still get wrong. There is nothing wrong in reaching out to people online. In fact, you need to do this to build your following. But as with everything, first impressions are important.
So to be successful at this you need to do few things. First of all targeting. You need to target people who might even remotely like your music. If you make country music, there is no point trying to target bunch of metal heads. Go after the fans of artists whose music is similar to yours. This is something any proper business does online.
Never start with “check out my music”. This is an important one. Break the ice first, say hello, like you would in a real world. And when the moment is right, you can politely as if they would be interested in hearing your music. Don’t just post a link to your music. The worse ones I see are links to iTunes on a first contact message, Tweet, or a post.
If you bother to spend a few minutes communicating with your new followers, find some common ground, something you both like. Then you are on to building a relationship, not just spamming. And yes you should be building relationships with your fans!
We all have heard the news, CD’s are on the way out. The good old record shops are struggling. Those magical plastic discs we were told you could even wash when they first came out seem to be heading for the same destiny as the cassette tapes (remember those things that were supposed to destroy music business?) .
But here’s the thing, CD might not be the main source of income for the artist. But It still is very powerful merchandise product for live shows. Bands still sell CD’s to the fans who wan’t to support them and bring back something physical from the show. In fact, now that touring is becoming the main income for most bands, which by the way has always been the case for the grass root level and before the days of recorded music, CD sales at the live shows can make make a tour financially successful.
So don’t dismiss the good old CD just yet. I for one believe it still has a lot of miles in it. But keep your production runs realistic. Nothing worse than being stuck with boxes of them in your flat.
A great photograph is a fantastic promotional tool, no doubt about it. If you have enticing photograph, the chances of a blog featuring you will definitely increase. The same goes with press.
When you want to get photos done, we worry about finding the right photographer, the right location and portraying our image and message. But too often we do not think about who owns the rights years down the line. I know your new photo might be for your new album, and that is pretty much all you are worried about right now. But you should be worried about what happens if you would like to use the same photo years to come in an inner sleeve of a compilation album. These are things you need to agree on before any photographs have been taken.
Sit down with the photographer and discuss in advance what you are going to use the photos for and what you might use them years to come. Make sure both parties are in full understanding and that both parties agree the price for the job is fair. Also find out where the photo credit is required and where not.
And one more thing, live photos. Technically the photographer owns the rights to the photos, so you are better off to hire photographer to take your photos for you than just hope someone in the audience will be kind enough for you to use the photos for your next album cover.
Gear v Tone
Here’s one I need to remind my self all the time Stop buying more gear! Sure thing you need a quality instrument, and if you are a touring musician you need a backup. But don’t get new instruments mixed up with better playing. What I have become to realise in the past few years while messing around with several different guitars and pickups, is that the core of your tone is in your hands!
So instead of searching the world wide web hours on end for the perfect instrument, why not put the same effort in to the practicing? It will take you years to develop your tone, and you should work hard at it. The instrument is just a tool. Sure, a great instrument makes the work easier, but the best instrument in the world will make no sound what so ever without the player.
So I challenge you to do something. Put your gear hoarding in the back burner for a month. Can you do that? I mean, no surfing of the net for your next dream instrument for a one month. No reading of the trade magazines, no hunting of YouTube videos or reading of reviews. Instead put all the time in to developing your tone at the core, which is your hands. See what you can do with the instrument you have at the moment. 30 days of just pure tone development at the core of it. Can you do it?