A Consumer Resource for Independent Artists

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All you need to know about the music business.

Donald Passman is the foremost expert on the music business, having written the indispensable book,  Everything You Need To Know About The Music Business.  He also has a lot of video discussions available at Artistshouse Music, a fabulous resource for musicians and the people who support them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I love innovation.

I love innovation, especially when it saves me money.  I've been really frustrated with banks charging excessive debit card fees and annoyed with the percentage that I have to give up if I use PayPal to accept payment for the websites I build.  I'd been asking folks to just write me a check, but I may have stumbled across a better, more efficient way to do things!  I just finished reading this article about a relatively new company called Dwolla that might very well make debit cards obsolete.  It will also give PayPal a run for its money, as its sole transaction fee consists of a flat rate of just twenty-five cents.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

By the way, I apologize for my posting infrequency.  Last month involved two extremely challenging classes in the same four week period, and it was all I could do to keep up with it and maintain my grade point average.  This month is also a challenge, but I have a little bit more time than I did.  Hopefully I'll be able to be more regular here.  So if you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I fear that our federal government is guitarded.

I have been watching the Gibson guitar issue with great interest, collecting the media stories about it and trying to get to the bottom of what is happening.  To make a long story short, the US government has raided Gibson twice (the first time in 2009; no charges have ever been filed) for alleged environmental violations over imported wood.  The problem has virtually nothing to do with the wood being harvested illegally; it is not.  The problem has everything to do with the fact that the wood purchased is only two-thirds of the way finished, as Gibson (naturally) prefers to finish their own fretboards for purposes of quality control.  There is no US law prohibiting this, yet the Feds are claiming that Gibson may be violating an obscure Indian law which they (the US gov't) are interpreting to state that only Indian workers can finish Indian-sourced woods.  The last raid involved similar shipments from Madagascar; according the Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, the Feds have told him that if he will allow foreign labor to finish the wood, "the problem will go away."  Does this make sense in America, particularly given the current unemployment rate and the stagnant economy?  It is also interesting to note that Gibson's major competitors use the same wood without retaliation from the federal government.  The difference is which political party the competitors support.  This smacks of political retribution to me, and I don't like it.

Now here's the real rub: owners of Gibson guitars are now at risk of having their instruments seized at the border if they are unable to provide documentation that sources the wood and bone used to make the instrument.  I don't know about you, but while I can document when I purchased my guitar, and from who, I know that I cannot document the source of every little piece of wood used to build it.  Does this mean that I can no longer travel with my instrument of choice?  Will this ridiculous trend affect owners of other makes and models of instruments, or only those loyal to the Gibson brand?  Are we willing to take the risk of having our legally purchased instruments confiscated by overzealous government agents?  Where does the abuse end?

I remember what it felt like to live in a free country; it was nice while it lasted.  It'll be a great story for the grandkids.


Gibson: Feds Want Guitar Work Done By Foreign Labor
Chris Daniel Interviews Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz
Gibson Guitar CEO Responds to Federal Raid
CEO of Gibson Guitars' Main Competitor is a Huge Democrat Donor; Also Uses Same Wood Without Any Complaint From Feds
CEO of Gibson Guitar a Republican Donor; Democrat Competitor Uses Same Wood - Landmark Report
Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

Some scathing related satire:
New Scandal at DoJ as Illegal Guitars End Up In Hands of Mexican Drug Lords

Updated 9/10/11:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wow...busy summer!

I have been incredibly busy with school, work, and more work.  So much so that I hadn't written in this blog for almost a month!  Hopefully I'll be able to be more consistent in the future. :)

I just finished a new website.  Take a look at it when you get a minute: www.BJWilbanks.com.  In building BJ's website, I discovered that ReverbNation will let you use their pro widgets for free...it only costs money if you want to remove the RN logo from them.  So, yet another great service that costs virtually nothing.  I love it!

I hope y'all have a great Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Help give a talented kid a leg up!

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is a fundraiser for my daughter, Carly Gibson, who is a very talented singer/songwriter and guitarist (lead electric and acoustic).  She is attending the acclaimed Atlanta Institute of Music's guitar program beginning in October, and we are trying to raise funds to reduce the amount of student loans she'll need, since recent economic circumstances have rendered us unable to help her with loans. People have been very generous so far, and I'm just putting the word out where ever I can:

Feel free to "boost the signal," meaning that you are welcome to share the widget with your friends and family who might be willing and able to help out.  It's tough everywhere these days, but we can all do a little bit to make big dreams possible.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Always learning something new.

It's been a minute since I last posted.  Between school, the day job, and the work that I do for independent musicians, I have been busier than a one-legged tap dancer in a butt kicking contest (this is the South...we love our similes!).  I have, however, been picking up some new indie career tips for musicians.  Here are a few of them:

  • I have discovered that ReverbNation now offers the ability to insert your own links to your posted songs so that when you click on the "buy" button it will take you to the page you designate, whether that be iTunes or Bandcamp.  If your songs are already posted, you simply select the "edit" link to insert this. 
  • ReverbNation also has a custom module that I am using to insert the most recent album image, along with the link that will take a visitor to where they can buy the actual CD.  While logged in, click on "control room", "my profile" and then "customize".  The module will be in the inactive modules column.
  • While you're looking at the "customize" section of ReverbNation, make sure that the modules you aren't using get moved to the inactive column so that you aren't cluttering up your profile page.  Move the active modules around so that the most important ones are the most prominent.  Also, consider customizing your background so that it looks nice and blends with your website theme.  Example of how to rearrange modules:
I love the BandPage app for Facebook from RootMusic.  It is extremely functional and looks fantastic.  I did discover, however, that the music player does not work on the iPad, as the iPad cannot use Flash.  WTH, Steve Jobs?!  This is good to know, and something that I hope Apple will address.  I am, however, very proud of my latest BandPage, constructed for Diane Durrett:

I created the banner in Photoshop and uploaded it to BandPage, then customized the colors to match.  The goal is to look sleek and professional.  One quick tip about BandPage...be sure to set it as as your default landing page on Facebook so that new fans end up there first to get the best possible impression of you!

I'll soon have another service to tell you about; I'm still in the process of vetting it, so you'll have to wait until I know more about it, but if it does what it purports to do, it is revolutionary.

I will try to be more regular in my posts.  Thanks for taking the time to read my tips; I hope they are useful to you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tips for spiffing up Facebook musician/band pages.

I'd posted a while back about using a Facebook app called DamnTheRadio, but because it was so cumbersome, I never finished it.  In the meantime, while perusing Joe Bonamassa's page, I checked out the great looking app that he is using: BandPage, provided by RootMusic.  It interfaces with SoundCloud to stream your music and produces a Facebook landing page that has a custom banner (you make), music player, links to purchase and share the music, info on the band, contact, etc., show dates, and to top it off, incorporates your wall.  User friendly, fully customizable, free, AND beautiful!  Here are the two that I've created so far:

Caroline Aiken
Carly Gibson

It took a little bit of time to learn the ropes and to upload and input all of the information.  RootMusic provides tutorials and a lengthy "help" section; quite honestly, this may take more time than many artists have available, but that's where I come in.  For a reasonable fee, I'm happy to put it all together for you.  I love doing this stuff, and I'm armed with all the necessary software.  Let me know what I can do to help you polish your social networking presence!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playin' the Judgment Day blues.

What?!  You're still here?!  Yeah, me, too.  But then, I never put too much stock (i.e, any) in end of the world prophecies...it's bad for business and it damages morale.

Let's each raise a glass, shall we, to many more years of music, joy and life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I can haz spelling?

Okay, I am going to admit right now that I am a spelling, punctuation, and grammar whore.  Furthermore, I think that the world needs more of us.

I especially cringe when I'm reading somebody's professional website, MySpace, Facebook, or other example that is posted for public consumption and I'm seeing the English language garbled in the following ways:

 "Johnny didn't waist any time learning to play his guitar."  "Jane went threw a lot to get were she is."  "Your the best thing that ever happened to me."  "He said, pick up you're guitar and play!"  "I said that I play drums, to."  "Suzie asked her parents if she could go too the concert two."  "I would hate to loose my guitar."  "Do you no weather we go on at six or seven?"

People, words that sound the same (homonyms) are NOT interchangeable (synonyms); they all have different meanings:
to, two, too
there, their, they're
your, you're, yore
waste, waist
bare, bear
stare, stair
baited, bated
whether, weather
through, threw
strait, straight
no, know

Furthermore, it is important to understand that words that look similar but have slightly different spellings also have different meanings:
lose, loose
hose, house
where, were

Improper spelling radically changes the meaning of what you are attempting to say, and sometimes in ways that (trust me!) you would rather avoid.  I believe that Taylor Mali says it best, in his spoken word performance regarding the importance of proofreading:

As you can see, carelessness can lead to embarrassing situations.  Furthermore, it presents an impression of unprofessionalism that is easily avoided.  "Easy," you say?  "I've always been a bad speller!  I can't help it!"  I've heard this excuse from so many people, and let me assure you: the rules are not that hard to learn.

Allow me to introduce you to some fun and helpful resources provided by one of my favorite websites, The Oatmeal:

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
How to Use a Semicolon
How to Use an Apostrophe
What it Means When You Say "Literally"
When to Use i.e. in a Sentence
The 3 Most Common Uses of Irony

These links will provide you with fun, illustrated, easy to remember rules about spelling and punctuation.  Another great resource is Daily Writing Tips, which a blog that provides information and answers to just about any writing-related question that you might have.  You can learn about the correct application of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and misused words.  I highly recommend them!

If you still feel unsure about the accuracy of your spelling, grammar, or punctuation, it is wise to enlist the help of someone who does, in order to proofread your text before you take it "live."  This is important if you're a musician; if you're a writer and you have these issues, it is professional suicide not to have a good editor.  Incidentally, this is a service that I happily provide.

Awesome LOLcat photo retrieved from http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/tempestw/Cat%20Macros/GrammarCat.jpg.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reason to sing the blues.

The Mississippi River delta is currently in danger of severe flooding, perhaps the worst since The Great Flood of 1927.  This region has a profound impact on American culture and music, and I am holding it in my heart right now.

It is so hard to sit by and watch these sorts of things happen to good people.  Besides prayer, we can reach out in ways that positively impact those who are affected by natural disaster.  One of the best ways that I can think of is to help by supporting the American Red Cross.

Note: the above photo can be located a thttp://coverlaydown.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/guitarfloat.jpg.  While not related to the Mississippi River in any way, I feel that it illustrates the resilience of the region and its music.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Radio for the indie artist.

Radio is notoriously difficult to break into for the independent artist. Without the backing of a major label with clout and cash for palm greasing, it is darned near impossible. Mind you, I'm not talking about internet radio...I'm talking about radio broadcasting that you'll pick up on your car stereo. Bona fide air waves.

Allow me to introduce you to KYHY,  a Burbank, CA station that features indie music. They are actively soliciting your music.  For a very nominal submission fee and a copy of your CD, you'll be placed in their rotation.  You can then encourage your fans to email in to request your songs.  I've experimented with several other stations that are purely internet-based; all of them require monthly fees, so KYHY sounds like a great deal.  I'm going to try them out and report back.  In the meantime, you can get all of the details here.

As always, I'd love to hear about what is working for you.  Talk to me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Playing is, like, work.

I wanted to share this video that I stumbled across today.  A very talented friend of mine was recently complaining that a lot of people think that musicians should be playing for the love of it, not the money...as if somehow money cheapens the creative process or some ridiculous balderdash. The process of becoming a professional musician is a difficult metamorphosis, due to that attitude.  In this video, Scott Clark says that a lot of time and effort goes into what he does that isn't seen and doesn't pay in dollars (practice, chasing down gigs, practice, making flyers and promoting gigs, practice, and more practice).

TheFreewayLife- Scott Clark from FREEWAYarts on Vimeo.

I have long felt that the need to make a living as a musician ought to be just as respected as the need to make a living as a plumber or a teacher.  If it truly were only socially acceptable for a musician to "do it for the love" and then work a side job to eat, you'd be seeing and hearing a lot less quality music out there.  As someone who has a side job and other necessary distractions, I don't have much time (as in, hardly any!) to rehearse any more.  I have no time to gig, tour, or travel.  However, I love that there are musicians out there who are dedicated to keeping their craft honed so that I can have the privilege of hearing them do what they do so well--and I don't mind paying for that service.  I don't begrudge them their money, because their music makes me happy.  It's like an essential nutrient to me.

The career choice to become a full time musician is definitely not for the faint of heart; it isn't an easy way to make a living.   The bottom line is that if the musician wants to eat, he'd better be open to playing for money.  That said, there is no doubt that--as obnoxious as the business can be--in the long run, he is doing it for the love...because he can't imagine doing anything else.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Professionalism never goes out of style.

I was thinking today about what it is that gives an artist staying power, and while talent and ability rank right there near the top, I think that professionalism is the final deciding factor. What is it that makes an artist a "professional"? What makes them stand out as exceptional? Here's a list of what I believe every professional artist needs to consider in order to be taken seriously for the long run.

Punctual - show up on time (or be early).
Prepared - have what you need with you for a successful performance.  It helps to keep a packing/inventory list.
Courteous - I can't stress this one enough. Courtesy to the sound personnel and to the other folks who are there to help make your performance the best it can be, courtesy to the fans that are there to see you, courtesy to the other musicians involved--all these are so very important to be mindful of. Avoid developing a reputation for being difficult. This is not to say that you can't ask for what you need (more guitar in the monitor, bottled water), but be polite and for heaven's sake, say thank you, even if the other guy is rude.
Personable - an artist should avoid taking a superior attitude.  Before long, that big head will no longer fit through the door.  Be friendly...it will pay off in the long run.
Honest - personal integrity is golden.  Once spent, it is a currency that is very difficult to regain.
Organized - this is closely tied to being prepared.  Have your schedule close at hand.  Carry your business cards.  Make it easy for people to reach you.
Prompt - respond to emails, correspondence, and phone calls in a timely manner.  Be as thorough as you possibly can.
Consistent - develop a reputation for consistency in performance and behavior.
Presentable - dress for the stage.  Put some effort into your look by developing a stage wardrobe and by taking care to look put together.  Consider stage makeup if you are going to be under bright lights that may wash you out.  If your stagewear consists of t-shirts and ripped jeans, that's fine, but make it stand out from what you wear every day.
Sober - don't show up to a performance buzzed.  People have paid good money to watch you perform and you do them (and yourself) a terrible disservice if you are inebriated during a show.  Keep it under control at all times.

Are there any I missed? I welcome your feedback Please let me know what you think!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Carpe diem: why you should!

Yesterday and last night were harrowing for many people in the SouthEast.  A series of tornadoes tore a path from Mississippi to New York.  This particular tornado is reported to have been over a mile wide and to have remained on the ground for 200 miles and 6 plus hours.

In my part of North Georgia we were under a tornado watch, but where we live, it really only rained hard.  As far as I can tell, we didn't lose any trees or suffer any damage.  I have one Asiatic lilly that was semi-uprooted, and that is all.  How is this possible, when some folks have nothing left to salvage?  The death toll in Alabama is over 131 and counting; Georgia is reporting loss of life, as well.  I just received a call from an uncle who lives in SouthEast New Mexico.  They are experiencing wildfires, particularly due to the fact that they've had absolutely no rain since last September.  A lot of his acreage is burned, but his home, thankfully, is intact.  They have lost a home to fire in the past.

Crises put many things into perspective...life is exquisitely fragile and the future is uncertain.  We should never wait for tomorrow to begin reaching for our goals and to seek to fulfill our dreams.  For some, tomorrow may never arrive.

*Public Service Announcement*
If you would like to celebrate your good fortune by donating to the American Red Cross, you can do so HERE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Potholes in my road to success.

At times I feel like a bit of an impostor, seeing as how I am offering "indie career tips" when the truth is that I don't really possess the secrets to success yet.  I'm still seeking it, and this blog is one way that I can document what works and what doesn't.  Hopefully my experiences, whether good or ill, can provide insight to others.

I am beginning to really understand where my personal potholes (i.e., vulnerabilities) are as a student and as a business person.  Although I have many positive traits, including attention to detail, tenacity and a powerful work ethic (thanks for that example, Dad!), I find that there are several mental habits that slow down my progress, particularly when I am tired or when my life has been particularly challenging.  In the last 3 years, this happens to have been a lot, but hey--I know people who are in worse shape.  I have no business indulging in self-pity.

Here's a list of some of the most common potholes in my road to success:

Unforgiving of personal mistakes.  Nobody is as hard on me as I can be with myself.  I set my bar higher than it needs to be.  I am not this extreme, but I have my moments.

Negative attitude.  Ah, but if you had a nail where poor Eeyore does, you would be cranky too.

Negative thinking.  "Here you go with the negative waves.  Have a little faith, baby...have a little faith!" ~ Oddball

Hesitant, you are!  We could all stand to take a little advice from Master Yoda.  

One neat thing about dark thoughts is that they don't hold up very well when I shine some bright light on them, and really, that light is everywhere and inside so many people.  I see it in my husband and in my kids, in my friends and in my heroes.  All I need do is tap into it.

So...no matter how dark it seems, I must bear in mind how very important it is to always look on the bright side of life, and then get to work patching up those potholes.

*Obligatory Disclaimer*
I claim no copyright for any of the YouTube videos that I have embedded or linked to from this post.  They are, however, clips that bring me enjoyment, and some days I really need that.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding content in a busy life.

As I typed the above title, I realized that it contains two meanings.  The topic of this post was initially about how I'm trying to find interesting stuff to write about in this blog (i.e., "content") at a time when I'm busier than a one-legged tap dancer in a butt kickin' contest (hey, I live in the South...gotta use those awesome colloquialisms occasionally in order to keep my street cred!).  I typed that title and realized that it also speaks to finding happiness (i.e., "content") in the midst of a busy and sometimes complicated life.  Woah, dude.  That's kinda, you know, like, deep.  Yeah, okay, I'm in a silly mood this morning.  :)

I've been a Very Busy Person (TM) since June of 2010, when I enrolled in Full Sail University's online Music Business Bachelor of Science Degree Program.  I was a busy person before, but now I am truly a very busy person.  It makes finding time for personal creativity and decompression extremely difficult.  The best metaphor that I can think of for how I've felt most of this past year, is that of being underwater; I'm coming up for air occasionally, but not nearly enough for physical comfort.

Here's one of the reasons why I am so busy:  I spend a great deal of time studying...I agonize over every quiz, every essay, every assignment, as I am constantly second guessing myself.  "Was I thorough enough?  Did I dot all of the 'i's and cross all of the 't's?   Is the content original enough?  What about the APA formatting....did I make any mistakes?  Was I sloppy?  Is this my best work?"  This obsession is the result of having been a very average high school student.  To be honest, I didn't really study.  I was disorganized, undisciplined and easily distracted.  I procrastinated like crazy.  I had innate talent in English and could sound articulate, but I didn't work at it.  In short, I winged it, and this was reflected in my grades.  I didn't think I was "college material" at the time, so I didn't worry too much about the grades.  Consequently, I was truly mortified when, at age 43, I ordered a copy of my high school transcript and took another look at my not-so-stellar GPA: 2.63.  Dead average.  I decided that if I was going to commit to spending this money (I despise debt, so student loans are very frightening for me) and to spending copious amounts of time, I was going to do it as well as I possibly could.  The result has been 10 classes in a row with a final grade of A+.  For the first time in my life, I am boasting a GPA of 4.0...it feels great!  It also puts me under pressure to keep it going.

I am officially working harder than I ever worked before in my life.  Which brings me back to finding content for this new blog and learning to be content in my busy life. From morning until often late into the night, I am going non-stop.  I'm either working, studying, cooking, cleaning, shuttling kids, communicating with the people I care about, or trying to make sure I don't drop any of the knives that I'm juggling.  I haven't had time for exercise, (my own) music and creative outlets, or rest.   Especially today, as I finish a very challenging Marketing assignment and prepare to drive 90 minutes away to witness my second oldest stepson wed his lady love this evening.  Balance is hard to achieve when you aren't even sure which direction is up, but somehow today, I've managed to find some content (for this blog) and maybe even a little content (for my life).  At this particular moment on this particular day, I think that's enough.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Staying organized, old school.

I firmly believe that one of the best ways to maintain an aura of professionalism is to be organized, particularly with regards to one's schedule.  If you are a gigging musician or someone who manages one, this is extremely important!  It is absolutely vital to maintain some sort of a day planner, and by this I mean a hard copy.  This is not to say that you can't keep your calendar straight by keeping upcoming obligations on your computer or smart phone, but it is a good idea to have a place where you write it all down first.  I have an inexpensive Mead Monthly/Day Planner (can be found at your local Wal-Mart), and unlike other scheduling devices that I've used in the past, I can truthfully say that it has never let me down by crashing.  It doesn't quit working if I accidentally drop it and it never needs to recharge.  If I spill coffee on it, it will continue to tell me what I need to know.  It lives in my briefcase, and I refer to it often. 

I've tried keeping my schedule in electronic format only.  For several years I had PDA that I carried.  It was glitchy.  Even though it could be backed up, it was far too easy for the data to become corrupted.  By keeping a hard copy of dates, notes and contact information, I have spared myself a lot of stress and misery.  

So, tell me...what do YOU use to keep track of your schedule and important bits of information?  I hope it isn't Post-it Notes.  I know someone who does that, and the results are, well--sticky.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The benefits of Facebook.

Are you using Facebook to promote your brand?  If so, are you fully optimizing this useful social networking tool?  Here are some common mistakes that I see people making:

  • No Music/Band page
  • Have a page, but it is unsearchable (no username)
  • No activity
  • Not utilizing tools that interconnect with Facebook (ReverbNation, Damn The Radio*)
  • Unprofessional posting behavior
No Music/Band Page.  When I hear somebody new that I really like, I'll search for their Facebook Page.  If they don't have one, I wonder why.  Facebook is a powerful networking tool, and every serious musician needs to be using it.  

No Username.  Additionally, many times I've had a search come up blank and then I'll find the page through someone I know, who is already a fan.  It turns out that  the singer/band has never grabbed their username.  Having a username means that instead of something like "facebook.com/123456789," you will see "facebook.com/yourbandname" instead.  This makes search engines very happy and thus, your page much easier to find.  Note that you must have at least 25 fans to be eligible for a page username, so let all your friends know how to find your page and ask them "like" it, so that you may personalize your username as soon as your fan list reaches 25.  You can go HERE for your username.  If you are a solo musician and already have a Facebook account that is using your personal name, you will need to select a variant for your music page, such as "facebook.com/janedoemusic."

No Activity.  A Facebook page with no activity is almost as bad as no Facebook page at all.  Not only do you need to be posting regularly to keep your fans interested, you need to provide them with rich content that keeps them coming back.  

Not Utilizing Tools/Apps.  There are apps that allow you to customize your band page so that people can listen to your music, view your events, and most importantly--share you with their friends.  I certainly don't know about every possible app that can be used for this, but I'll tell you about the one that I have extensive personal experience with.  ReverbNation has powerful free tools that interface beautifully with Facebook (and Myspace and Twitter).  If you don't already have a ReverbNation account, you can get one HERE.  You'll be able to upload photos, your bio, mp3s, press clips, etc.  They'll walk you through everything.  Once that's done, you can go back to Facebook and utilize the My Band app that allows the two to interface, which you can find HERE.  This will install tabs on your Facebook page that will showcase your photos, music, bio and events.  These automatically update in real-time whenever you update them at ReverbNation, so it's a one-stop way of simplifying what you do.  Additionally, you can use ReverbNation's free widgets to place your music, etc. on your website, MySpace page, and many other places.  It's fabulous.  I also really like their fan mail feature.

Unprofessional Behavior: Avoid Foot-in-Mouth Disease.  The worst thing you can do with your official Facebook page is to "show your arse" in public.  If you really want to look professional, you do not want to be a) talking about your sex life, b) badmouthing associates, c) using profanity, d) discussing messy politics.  Limit that stuff to your personal page, and--for God's sake!--keep the personal page as private as you can, if you do indulge in those types of posts.  The last thing a serious musician wants to do is to alienate potential business, or the parents of potential business.  Now, that's not to say that you can't promote something benign such as "Support our Benefit to Shave the Whales," but stay away from blanket statements, such as "All (insert your hated group here) suck, and if you are a (insert your hated group here), you are stupid!"  I think it pays to keep it polite; bands have crippled their careers by speaking before thinking, and this is particularly easy to do online (Twitter may provide one of the scariest opportunities to self-destruct, ever, because it is so easy to wing off a remark without thinking the consequences through).  If you need a place to vent about politics, etc., do it from a separate, designated blog or online journal...it doesn't need to be on your Facebook page.  Same goes for sharing links to items completely unrelated to music.  Those should remain on the personal page so that you can keep your fans focused on the point: your music.

So, there you go...a few indie career tips with regards to Facebook.  As always, I encourage your feedback, and I thank you for reading.

*Damn The Radio is a new feature that I am researching.  It is designed to interface with Facebook, allowing customization that includes uploading banners and other promotional tools.  The setup process is very time-consuming, so I haven't used it yet; when I do, I'll report back on its pros and cons.  If any of my readers has experience with DTR, I'd love to know about it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to burn your bridges in a very vivid way.

Oh, my goodness...I am picking my bruised jaw up off of the floor, after reading the contents of the link that I am about to share with you.  Big Al is a reviewer of independently published books; you can see by perusing his blog that he is very supportive of self-published works and has, at the very least, a decent following.  His polite, yet honest review of The Greek Seaman, by Jacqueline Howett, was met with an astounding chain of increasingly hostile responses from said author.  As we all know, the internet is forever, and this shocking display of poor manners has now gone viral.  This truly is a stark example to self-published authors everywhere of what not to do if your book receives a less-than-stellar review.  Let it be a lesson to us all.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Inaugural Post.

Welcome to the inaugural post for my brand new web log, Indie Career Tips.  The purpose of this blog is to compile, analyze, and evaluate the different services and methods by which an independent artist may market and promote their brand.  I also intend to discuss current trends that may be in the news, as well as legislative action that may affect independent artists and the music and publishing industries as a whole.  My core target audience will include those independent musicians and writers (because they share many of the same issues) who create, market and promote their own material, as well as their personal support network.  This can also be a resource to those who want to develop their own independent record label.

Both the music and the publishing businesses are in a constant state of flux; the internet and digital marketing have changed everything!  For example, a musician no longer needs to have the support of a major record label (or any record label, for that matter) in order to enjoy a career, and an author can self publish and do very well.  The trick, of course, is to find the correct avenue for exposure.  The downside to all of this, arguably, is that the market becomes saturated with poorly crafted products, leaving the consumer to filter through a lot of "trash" in order to find something valuable.  I believe that the people we already know are the filters that will make this process easier, using social networking tools such as Myspace, Facebook, ReverbNation, for example, to share our work with others.  These nearly instantaneous word-of-mouth tools can reach many people in a relatively short amount of time for almost no cost.  Additionally, popular blogs can play important roles in the filtering process; a good review from a trusted blogger can boost an artist's exposure exponentially.

So...this is a new frontier, so to speak.  For the first time ever, the playing field is leveled in a way that anyone with the time, the product, and the drive to succeed can have a legitimate chance to do so, and on a shoestring budget.  How amazing is that?!  I look forward to delving into all the ways that this objective can be met, including what NOT to do, whenever that is relevant to the discussion.  I invite feedback and participation in the discussion as we all learn from and support one another in our respective endeavors.