J.P. Kallio’s Musician Quick Tips Pt. 15
by J.P. Kallio
Here are this week’s musician quick tips, part 14.. 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.
Clear your mind
Here’s a one I can stand one hundred present behind, but I must give credit where there credit is due. Some of you already know Brian O’Shea, who plays banjo with me. We got talking about the quick tips and I thought it would be good idea to get some perspective from other musicians as well.
Clear your mind. This was Brian’s tip for live shows. Before getting on the stage, clear your mind about all the worries of every day life. You can not be performing to your best if you are worrying about the bills, or other everyday stuff. So before you climb on that stage, take some time to just calm down. In my personal experience doing some simple breathing exercises can work a treat here. Try breathing in slowly, fill your lungs with air, and then slowly breath out. And really concentrate on the air flowing in and out. This will slow your heart rate and help your mind to calm down.
This is something I always struggled a bit with, as my concentration is not he best. But over time you get better at clearing your mind.
When you are writing music, one thing I have learned the hard way was to document everything. Fresh ideas come and go, sometimes we forget about them before we manage to document them. I know of some artists who believe if idea is good enough, you will remember it later. This never worked for me.
I suggest you document everything. With all of the new technology we have these days, it is easy enough to do. I have Garage band on my iPhone, that I use for the first draft demos. These are rough recordings, where you often hear me still working out the melody lines as I go along. Before I got the garage band, I used just the voice memos, which is perfectly fine as well. I also writ e lyrics in the note on my phone, and once they are finished, I email them to my self, so I have a copy of them in my mailbox and I also save them on my computer. This also leaves a digital trace, in case of any copyright disputes at later date.
Get in to the habit of documenting everything, even just ideas and you can come back to them at later date during a songwriting session. Great song ideas are tough enough to come by, so don’t let them slip through your fingers.
Concentrate on what you can give
I’ve become to realise the value of giving. This is not a new concept in the music business anymore, but it is very much a shift from how things used to be. I believe if you concentrate on giving something to people, rather than trying to figure out how to make people pay for music, great things will happen. The great things does not necessarily happen over night, but it’s like planting an apple tree, in time it will produce fruit.
And the same goes with my work, of course I expect to get paid when I perform live, but from time to time it is good to do things just because you want to. And remember, money is not always the best way to get paid, sometimes helping others will lead them helping you in return when you need it.
Ask your self what you can give, before you start to expect things. I believe every one of our actions set up in motion something and this in return will come back to us at later date. And sometimes it might not, but that’s OK as well. Even the good feeling you get from giving something will have a positive effect on you.
Copywriting for musicians
I know, you are musician, a songwriter, not a copywriter. But the truth is, marketing your music will hugely depend on a great way to tell your story. Being able to write a great bio, great press release, a great engaging sales pitch that does not feel like you are trying to sell, but share your music, is vital these days for the independent artist.
Even your Facebook posts, or tweets success depends on the language you use. Twitter is a competitive environment, and I have found conversational posts, and the true life posts where I share something real are the ones that people respond to. In Facebook the game is altogether different, the organic reach of pages is low, and if your posts look like “self promotion” the Facebook algorithm will make sure no one will see them. You can read more about how this works HERE. So the success of your posts relay even more on good copywriting.
But what if you simply are not good at it? Writing is like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it! But if your passion simply is not in it, then you need to outsource it. There are some great services out there, starting fromFiverr.com where you can get people to write stuff for you from just $5, but good copywriters are worth their weight in gold, so I am sorry to say, if you want the best, it is going to cost you.
On another point, let me just say I rarely have seen a great bio written by the artist themselves. It is extremely hard to write about yourself. So I would recommend you invest at least every few years in a good quality biography.
The choice is yours
This quick tip is about your path in music and the choice you have here. The amazing thing that so many people seem to ignore, or not believe that the choice is yours. You can choose to believe, with a bit of luck the magic fairy of music will grant you the privilege of “being discovered”. Or you can treat your career in music as a real business.
Obviously I am talking about the later of the two options here. You have the choice of take things seriously. And here’s the thing, once musician changes the mindset of how they approach the business, where nothing is impossible, every problem has a solution, I rarely see them fail. I know this might sound mad to some of you who have tried to break into the music for years, but it is that shift in mentality that is the key to success.
It is not easy though… Every problem needs to become your problem. You need to accept that the only person to solve those problems is you! If you think you need help, sure look for it. But don’t expect someone else to do your work for you.