J.P. Kallio’s Musician Quick Tips Pt. 10
by J.P. Kallio
…and I have part 10 of of my musician quick tips. 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.
This week is turning out to be very business oriented week in these Quick tip posts. And rightly so, you need to learn the business!Yesterday’s Quick tip talked about the importance of being able to sell. Now I know not all of us are born with the sale’s man’s hat. Selling your own product is hard, and it becomes even harder in the music business. How do you do it?
Well the obvious place is at the live shows. You should be at the merch table right after the show. You have a short window of opportunity where people are interested and you need to convince them your album is worth spending money on. But that is only few minutes after the show, what about the rest of the time?
Obviously you should have your music available to purchase online on all the usual online stores, as well as your website. Also if you have a physical product, you could have it distributed in to record shops. But the fact that your product is in the shops does not mean it will sell… So think about it this way. What is your favourite brand of serial? More than likely it is one of the major companies products that is available at every store. Do you remember how you originally decided to try it? The chances were you saw a TV advertisement for it, or it was cleverly placed in the shop with attractive packaging. And there it is, you need to place your product in front of people, tell them why they should purchase it (yourstory) and attractive packaging helps.
How can you do this? The easiest way independent artist can do this is by advertising. And the best place right now to do this is not your favourite music magazine (way too expensive and you will never get return on your investment), but Facebook ads. You need to spend time to learn how to do this and Facebook has some great advice. I will include few resource links below. Now remember, they do cost money, so be careful with your budget. Don’t spend more than you can afford to. Start small, learn the game and eventually you will get better at it.
Bigger is not always better
I’m sure your dream as a musician is to play in front of as many people as possible, share your music with as many people as possible. I’m sure you have dreamed about playing at a festival in front of hundreds of people. Or maybe you even have been lucky enough to have done it few times.
But the numbers game and always aiming for the bigger does not always mean better. Playing in the biggest venue in town does not make you look great if no one turns up at the gig. There are still people out there who think if you play in the best venue in town, people will come… Well the truth is the only difference between that fancy venue and the small dive bar you have been playing in is hopefully the quality of the sound system, and the capacity. And that capacity is the key. If you can’t fill your dive bar, how do you think you can fill the bigger venue?
Work on a smaller scale first and do this until you get extremely good at it. Do this until there is a queue of people outside of that dive bar waiting to see you. This will make you look much better than playing in the best or biggest venue in town for a handful of your best friends.
Same goes with social media. Ten engaging fans are better than 200 people who don’t care what you post. It’s those ten fans who engage with you and make you look great. They share everything you post. They promote your music for you. Bigger is not always better.
Google & Twitter
SEO is one of those terms thrown around by us in the music marketing game, but quite few musicians actually know what it means. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, in other words it is the process of making sure your band ranks well in Google.
I still see so many bands and artists put all their time in to Facebook and almost completely ignore Twitter. This is especially true with bands in Europe. We got so accustomed to Facebook, and I get it, the 140 character limit can be hard to get your head around… Now I said this before and I will say it again, if you want to take your band seriously, you need to have a strong presence on Twitter. In fact I’d go as far as saying if I had to choose just one social media site, it would be Twitter any day.
Why? Because Twitter is great for spreading the word. If you are willing to engage with people, get in to conversations, help others out, you will see organic growth. This is long gone from Facebook. But there is another very important reason.
Google uses Twitter to search new content. Google crawls the net in search of new content, but sometimes this can be time-consuming process and it might take some time before your new blog post, new song or new video is indexed and appears on google search. Now if you post a link on Twitter and ask your followers to share it, your post gets indexed much faster. This is vital for getting your band’s name around and build awareness.
Do something different
Here’s one I got reminded of lately. As musicians we need to learn our own field of music. No matter what genre our music is, we need to know what others in the same genre are doing. This is important.
But sometimes we need to take a peak outside the box. As Einstein said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you recorded your last album in a specific studio, tracking everything individually and in the moment it sounded good, but looking back now you feel like it was missing something? Why would you go back and do the same?
If you have been playing your music exactly the same way for the past ten years to the same live audience, maybe it’s time for change? Maybe yo need to look at it from a different perspective?
Step back a bit. Find some new inspiring music, maybe completely different genre than what you usually listen to. Get inspired. Change your process. Break out of the routines. Do something different.
Know what you want
When you set out to climb a mountain, your target is to reach the summit. You work towards that goal, you practice your mountain climbing skill, you study the route, you gear up for the journey. Sure things will happen along the way that you are not expecting and you need to adapt, but you have a general idea of what you are about to do and how you are going to do it.
Too many musicians have a dream, but the dream is not focused. There is no clear end goal. We want someone to help us get to the next level. But we have no real idea how we want to do this, or even what that next level is. In fact if we did know all of this, we probably would not need someone to help us get there. We could climb that mountain our selves
Know what you want. Study how you can get there. Have specific goals and time line when you want to reach these goals. Be realistic, but also do not be scared to dream big.