Friday, November 23, 2007

NuMBEr$ game

As we reach the end of the year, the record labels start gearing up for the Holiday Season. They buy end caps, shelf space, and last minute ads on a variety of media networks. There's also a last minute direct mail campaign to the radio stations. It seems like alot of media and marketing and distribution outlets want to know your numbers, too.

What do your numbers look like? Sales? Distribution outlets? Venues? Performances? Press Outlets?

If you have "bottom line" and quantifiable numbers, they will listen, especially if it correlates to an accounting or bookkeeping system in place. Just food for thought, if you wanna tighten up your game.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

D.I.Y. OR DIE: How to Survive as an Independent Artist

Wanna know how to make a splash? Give something HUGE away for free...
I also post this because it's a film on how to survive as an independent artist.. that is being offered gratis.


"D.I.Y. OR DIE: How to Survive as an Independent Artist"

Free on Zune Marketplace and

Microsoft's Zune Marketplace has just launched and launches the week of November 19th. Both are showcasing the documentary film "D.I.Y. OR DIE: How to Survive as an Independent Artist" as top-four picks.

Director Michael W. Dean is giving away the entire film as eight episodic chapters over eight weeks' time, one per week as free video downloads, in the "podcasts" section of Zune Marketplace and

The film is encoded in high quality (30 fps, 900 kbps MP4 files, 640 x 480 size, with 128-bit stereo audio, and no digital rights management or copy protection). It looks great on a Zune and other portable media devices, and damn good full screen on a computer. The entire film will stay online until at least April 2008.

Seven extras from the DVD (including interviews with Ian MacKaye, Steve Albini, and Lydia Lunch) will also be available for free download, one per week, after the final chapter of the film posts.

This film is a celebration of the artistic underdog! FEATURING interviews and performances from: Lydia Lunch, Ian MacKaye (Fugazi), J Mascis (Dinosaur jr.), Jim Rose (Jim Rose Sideshow), J.G. Thirlwell (Foetus), Mike Watt (Minutemen), Richard Kern (Filmmaker), Ron Asheton (Stooges), Madigan Shive (Bonfire Madigan), Dave Brockie (Gwar), Craig Newmark (founder Craig's List) and more.

Directed by: Michael W. Dean.
Edited by: Miles Montalbano. DVD architect: Blaine Graboyes

Director Michael W. Dean says, "People keep asking me, ‘Why are you posting the whole film when it's still selling on DVD? Are you CRAZY?'"

Dean's reply, in part: "It's my gift to the world. People write me every day and tell me the film got them off their ass. I made the film to spread a message, not make money. And somehow, it still made money. That's how I do things - it's how I pay my rent to the Universe."

Dean's full explanation of his reasoning for this giveaway:

Info on the film:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Create a Blog...and read a book.


by Lance Trebesch,

Blogs prove to be a tricky field to conquer, especially when it comes to gaining an initial reader-base. However, once you get that reader base, great potential for increasing your online reputation is created. Successful blogs keep their status by following these 20 rules from the start and throughout their blog's lifetime.

1. Focus the topic.
Thousands of different blogs exist on the web. Only the well-established ones can post general news and see success. Instead, focus your blog around a niche. The more narrow the subject, the more likely you will get a steady reader base.

2. Search similar blogs and subscribe.
Because there are so many blogs on the internet, chances are somebody somewhere will also be talking about your subject. Find these sites and subscribe to them so you get instant updates. The best action to take is to read up on these blogs and know what they talk about regularly.

3. Create business relationships.
By helping out someone else and their blog in some way, they will in return help you and your blog out. One good example is devising a list of online radio stations you can submit your music to and give them the list so they can use it for their benefit as well. By becoming business friends, you can promote each other by talking about one another's webpage, music, blog etc.

4. Make quality content.
Just writing a blog is not enough. You have to make sure what you are writing is good content. No one will comment or read your blog if the content seems worthless and poorly written. Also, write grammatically. Misspellings are one of the most painful things to witness in blogs.

5. Work on the title.
The title is a necessity. The first thing people look at and what makes them read your blog is the title. Titles that hint of content with lists and bullets also draw people in due to the pleasing layout and more white space of lists. If the title perks their interest, they will click on your blog to continue reading. Take the time to think about an interesting title and log which titles draw more readers.

6. Submit to directories.
After creating a good content-and-keyword-rich blog, submit it to different directories. Top Blog Area and BlogFlux are two good sites to submit blogs to according to category of blog. Another option is to write just one blog for an established blogging site in the rock music industry and tell them why they should feature your blog on their site. If they choose to put the blog on their site, you will see greatly increased traffic.

7. Get a friend to submit your blog to Digg, StumbleUpon, Technorati, Netscape, and Reddit.
These search sites generate a ton of traffic to your site if viewed frequently (or "digged," "thumbs up" "favored," etc). However, people view down on you if you constantly submit your own content to these sites, so instead, make a buddy submit your blogs, videos, or podcasts to these sites one or two times a week. Eventually, your good content will make it to the homepage of these content-search sites, generating an unimaginable amount of traffic to your blog.

8. Ping every site.
Some submission sites allow you to 'ping' them, which means they get an automatic update when you post a new blog. This is good so they always have your latest posts in their records. These sites also allow you to put in key tag terms. By inputting a tag term, your blog will pop up if someone searches for the term you used. For instance, if you are writing about electric guitar comparisons (tag terms) and the searcher inserts "compare guitars," your blog will show as a result. You must utilize pings and tags to increase your blog popularity.

9. Write regularly and stand out.
The only way to gain a steady reader base is if you write a blog regularly. The best blogs update their content daily or sometimes several times a day. As an upcoming artist, though, weekly will suffice if you write on a consistent day around the same time every week. In addition, you need to stand out from other bloggers. Write properly, but use your personality. Personality keeps the blog interesting and keeps readers coming back. In addition, the readers like to be treated as humans, so drop the business lingo. Blogs are for entertainment, so engage your audience. Write for them.

10. Host your blog on your website domain.
Using a different host for your blog not only confuses your readers, but also reduces the amount of quality traffic to your site. The only smart way to host a blog is through your own website. If readers like what they read, or you mention something about your music in the blog, they can easily navigate to your website to find out more information. Creating a blog serves the purpose of promoting your music online, which you can only do if you reader can easily access your website from your blog.

11. Ask people to subscribe.
RSS feeds allow users to subscribe to your blog and receive an update when you add new blogs. This makes it convenient for readers so they do not need to check for blog updates. An alternative is to send the updated blog through email, so having both an email subscription and a RSS feed is necessary. Also, make the sign-up process simple and prominent. Display the RSS button everywhere and occasionally mention it in your posts to sign-up. The simpler the process to sign-up, the more chance the reader will go through with the process.

12. Offer a bribe to sign-up.
Take an example for Marketing Pilgrim, by offering a $600 cash giveaway by signing-up for a RSS feed. The code to register for the money is in an RSS-only message. Receiving $600 free is pretty convincing to sign-up. Other options to get people to sign up are free e-books related to your topic ("How to Get a Record Deal"), or send a personalized autographed picture of you or the band to those who sign-up.

13. Comment on forums. Comment on blogs. Comment on chats. And comment by providing a link back your blog.
By injecting your opinion and showing your personality through these comments, people will notice you and want to find out more. Make sure the comments are meaningful and not just some form of spam to create a link back to you. People appreciate when an expert adds their knowledge, so write truthful comments that will help the audience. Comments are the biggest promotion of your blog in the beginning months of the blog.

14. Leave blogs open for discussion.
If compiling a list, ask for comments to add their suggestions for the list. The 5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO) blog by Influential Marketing Blog became instantly popular by people linking to it, posting comments and recommending the blog. After writing a general blog that does not include a list, ask a question at the end to encourage comments and blog discussion. The more, interesting discussion, the more people will link to your blog, promoting it.

15. Respond to comments.
Read your comments daily and respond when someone asks a question to you through the comments. Once you start getting a steady reader base that begins posting comments, do not discourage them by never responding back. Respond rapidly to make your reader happy.

16. Start a podcast.
A podcast is a great way to promote both your blog and your music. Podcasts are an audio blog, but you should not update it as often as your blogs (unless you just want to run an audio blog exclusively). On the podcast, talk about interesting subjects related to your blog and mention your music often. Play a fraction of your music just prior to and just after your podcast, promoting both your music and your blog.

17. Invite guest bloggers. Be a guest blogger.
Your blog gains interest if you occasionally - monthly, quarterly - invite guest bloggers to write. Your business pals become a good place to start when thinking about guest bloggers. The guests then feel flattered by your interest in them and in return promote your blog or music. On the other hand, ask your business friends to guest blog for them, which immensely promotes your music or blog through their site. Whenever you get an opportunity to guest blog, take it.

18. Add videos, pictures, MP3s etc.
Just having words on every blog gets boring. Perk reader's interest by putting a funny YouTube video in your blog, adding a unique MP3 or taking a snapshot of the website you mention in the blog. Any item out of the norm to create a change will boost your blog's appeal. Every once in awhile, make your blog a video-blog through YouTube where you narrate the blog (and act as well). You can also create a music video for you or the band and advertise it through your blog.

19. Use tracking software and analyze.
Find out how many people are visiting your blogs and which ones generate the most traffic. You should re-create titles and content that receives many views. The tracking software can also tell you how people are hearing about your blog, through Digg, Google, etc. It can give you a great insight on your viewers and many other marketing hints if you are creative.

20. Build a brand.
You want people to recognize your blog as an object, not just another blog. Make your blog worthwhile to the reader. Promote the blog with any sources you have. Tell your friends, family and strangers about it. On your website, promote your blog and on your blog promote your website. Do the same with social networking sites, YouTube videos, podcasts, live performances, etc. By marketing in a bunch of different places, you spread your name and have more sources to promote your blog and music.

Your blog will only see success if you follow all these steps and promote it as often as possible. Blogging takes a lot of dedication but pays off in the end with increased music sales. Never stop blogging and remember, you are writing for your audience.

I found this on 11/11/07 "Mostly Indie Music Connection" blog @

For those who want to get serious about marketing themselves.... here's an interesting "self help" marketing books for musicians.

1. Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook features a few hundred ways to promote your music. Heck.. look around Bob Baker's site for a few interesting reads.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Details to come... Party to follow...May 24, 2008

Click the following 3 words to Check my blog... there's a storm a brewing... and it's going to ROCK.

Be a part of it....

Not So Secret Event - May 24, 2008

So here's the thing. The Outlaw Gang, (Trevor Lane and Sean Claes), and Damien "Damn The Man" is going to be throwing an anti-industry concert. This one will be for the people who love music, by people who love music, and to benefit everyone.... Check the MySpace page below to get more information. Please join in... be a friend... and if you're in a band who can make it to the Tulsa, OK area on May 24, 2008.... maybe you can play!

More details to come as details are available...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Three Sixty Deals - New Future for Music Business??

Let's get down to the bottom line. The record business has changed. The manner in which royalties are distributed, deals are made, and bands signed to major labels is in a state flux at this time. I would argue that the availbility of information and contacts, as a result of the internet, and ability to market one's muic with mp3's have helped to create this situation.

It seems that record companies, which should be called CD or music companies, are no longer signing "new acts." Instead, they seem to be turning to indie labels and signing acts that have a track record of progress.

I would argue the impending new area for competition will be between indie labels, management companies, and the majors over the distribution and acquisition of 360 Deals (or all rights contracts) for more established acts. The reality is...... KEEP GRINDING because the indies are always looking, while the majors are not really signing new talent; and you have to be somewhat established and known to get into the REAL music business...... not the "underground."

For more information on how this blog came to be, please visit The Economist and the article, "A change of tune" at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections on 9/11

As I sit at my desk on Tuesday, September 11, my mind wanders to the last 9/11 that occured on a Tuesday, the day that the World Trade Center and Pentagon was attacked.

I was on my second day at a new job... I was the new Communications Specialist on a federal grant called the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratories. Shortly after I got to work, I was settling into my cubicle just trying to figure out what exactly my role in this position was going to be, my boss came out of his office and quietly said "A plane just hit the World Trade Center."

Talk about a million thoughts racing in my head. In the following days as the news continued to pour in, I found out that the folks I knew in Washtington DC were all safe. That was a bit of a personal relief... but how devastating was this to every person in the world. A friend who was visitng Europe and France was consoled and embraced as she was their link to "America" in the days following... it was an amazing response of a mix compassion for Americans and rage against whomever did this injustice.

Now it's six years later.
I'm not the kind of "wave-the-flag-yee-haw" American, but I have pride. I am all for the things this country was founded on and I try to live my life embracing the melting pot idea.

So.. I sit at my desk (yes I came to work as did all my co-workers) and reflect. I popped in one of my all-time favorite CDs that I haven't listened to for a long while... Darrell Scott's Aloha From Nashville.

While doing some work, the song "Life is Cheap" began...

"She's awakened every morning with her baby down the hall
and when he's cried to sleep, she's staring at the wall.
And in that wall she sees the devil staring out of knotty pine
Though she speaks out loud, he will not get behind.

She's a woman with wounded spirit. She's a woman who loved too much.
Like Mama always said, she's such an easy touch."

Suddenly a meaning that was never intended came through this song (It was recorded in 1997) and it sent chills down my spine.

I guess I'm effected by music as much as many are. As Darrell Scott said when I interviewed him earlier this year:

"Music is universal language. It is frequencies and vibrations that effects me in deep ways I do not understand. I feel them and it resonates and sticks with me. Somewhere in me is all that I have heard, sounds endlessly gathering. "

I transcribed the lyrics above because they don't actually appear anywhere online that I could find.

I did find a link to a little bit of an mp3 though if you care to listen. The chorus is on the link and it's what actually effected me....then I started the song over with a new mindset.

So... I'm sitting here.. reflecting. Thought I'd share. I don't need a big american flag sticker or a magnet on my car or a day off work to remember... I don't need a political comment or a stance to champion or a people to parade around.

What does this have to do with the music industry? Well.. maybe nothing. Maybe it does. You see, Darrell Scott wrote that song about spousal abuse. But I had to really dig to find that out... an outstandingly written song can have many meanings to many people. Don't define how people should feel about your music. Let them define for themself.

Also.. if you read this.. read Trevor's post below also.. it's one of the better things I've read about getting into the "inner circle" of music professionals. People are people are people.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Put This In Your Pipe and Smoke It

A friend told me, "I'm just tryin' to get put on....." Meaning, he's trying to get into the inner circles in the music business. I started to respond to the myspace message with some cookie cutter response which is neatly canned for everyone with a demo or CD, but then decided this needed to be blogged. I am going to repost additional comments and ideas after this goes "live on the web" because there are alot of "DO's" and definitely some "DON'Ts."

We'll start with a few of the "DO's" and boldly so.....

Therefore, here are a few pointers of things to "DO" to get into the inner circles of the entertainment business that have worked for me and helped me to meet alot of the people in general:

  1. First, if you want into the inner circles of any group, lose the attitude. Period. This is number one on my list because no one wants to do business with or give money to a jerk (or Gebroni, as my Brooklyn brother, Jim, calls the idiots of the world). Sometimes it happens, but usually after they have put on a good show or a good first impression(s). I highly recommend being humble, even after you hang your first platinum or gold record, if you want a long lasting career. Lose the attitude because the music business is very small and your reputation will precede you.
  2. None of us know-it-all and the really good producers like Al Schmitt, Bruce Miller, and my friend Cool Cutter with The Runners will probably tell you to be open to new ideas and new music regularly. There is ALWAYS something to be learned.
  3. Get out and find opportunity (promote shows for backstage access or volunteer at your local radio station) + build relationships and get to know people (make coffee for the radio DJ or help the concert promoter put up posters). Most people prefer to avoid giving money to a stranger or someone they do not trust (to some degree). Go out of your way to build trust and find opportunities to strike up conversation with people......... and for God's sake, please don't talk about yourself or your wonderful studio. Instead, spend some time building trust by asking lots of questions like "Does your family like it when you travel?" or "How do you deal with the temptations of the road?"
  4. Follow up with your new friend in the business and continue to dialog but be careful about whether you discuss personal or professional aspirations. You built the relationship so just be respectful and conscious of your words and actions, and you will probably know what and when to communicate.
  5. Definitely have copies of your music joints ONLY if its professional and commercially viable. In other words, if you wouldn't see it at the Mall in the music store, then its probably not ready to be handed out. For example, I once received a demo written on with a Sharpie and recorded without being properly mixed (or even mastered), and another occassion the album was completely packaged at home with an HP printer. My gosh, people. This is your career we're talking about here! Would you really go into your bosses office and turn in that multi-million dollar report with coffee stains on it??? Some of you probably should refrain and avoid an answer to that question.
  6. Take pictures with the people you meet, but only after you're cool with them. And, always ask them for permission. Some people do not like pictures.
  7. Do send regular "NEWSWORTHY" press releases to local and national media outlets. Usually, their general contact info for press releases is on their website or there is an online directory of who to send stuff to...... Again, please make sure your press releases are newsworthy.
  8. Keep your website current, accurate, interactive, and most importantly UP TO DATE.
  9. Most importantly, get started on building a database or file with emails, addresses, and phone numbers of your fan base. Set up before every show and have your street team hand out pins, fliers, and posters in exchange for fan contact info.
  10. Last, and probably most importatnly, recognize your personal, professional, and production shortcomings and let your experts do their job. Be honest with yourself and all of your experts. Why would you want someone - including yourself - who cannot make good decisions or know how to pick other good professionals?

That my top ten - in no particular order - of things you should do to get into the inner circles of the music and/or entertainment business.

Friday, August 17, 2007

From The Musicians Atlas - "Changing Your Live Set Mindset in 7 Steps"

The Outlaw Gang is much bigger than two people. It's a place to share things that make sense about the Music industry. So, in an effort to share things that are a "good idea" we will share things we find from other sources.

The source of today's post is Atlas Plugged

Changing Your Live Set Mindset in 7 Steps

Live performance - performing under the lights in front of cheering fans - is often the most intense and rewarding aspect of being a musician. This is why many of you first joined a band, and maybe why you pursue a career that has been mostly just expensive up to this point.

Your live performance is key to your band’s success – it will create a lasting impression with fans & press. Too many bands overlook the fact that live performance and songwriting are different skill sets – and often leave their live show to the vagaries of chance. A killer live set, like a song, must be carefully planned and perfected.

Typically, a band preparing for a gig runs through their set list a few times, then think they are good-to-go. The problem with this “roll the dice” approach is that the pacing and audience impact of the set list is unknown until it is performed in front of an audience.

Often, the band has no idea why the crowd’s reaction is substantially different from night to night. Typically, they blame a bad show on a dead crowd, while attributing a great audience reaction to the fact that they “rocked.”

I suggest taking an entirely different philosophical approach to live performance: from now on, don't play any more shows. Play a “Show” (note the capital “S”). The goal is to put together a solid and repeatable Show that has maximum audience impact, and leaves no room for error in regards to logistical considerations such as lighting and sound.

Why leave things to chance – when, with a little planning you can create a solid and repeatable Show that will wow your audience and leave little room for error? A Show so refined that when the pressure is on at a showcase or television appearance, nothing will be left to chance. Two seconds after launching into the opening chords, instinct will take over, and you won’t have to worry about a bad performance.

I suggest that you strategically design your Show for maximum audience impact, and rehearse exactly as you will perform it. Here are the basic 7 Steps to making every show your best:

Explosive Book Ends
Immediately after you take the stage, own it. Your Show must explode and hit fans like a sledgehammer—at the beginning and at the end. Opening with strength is critical, as potential fans will form an unchanging opinion of your band in the first forty-five seconds. Furthermore, if you don't end strong, you’re dead in the water.

Regardless of the genre of your music, and whether you start out loud, soft, fast or slow, the audience impact at the beginning and the end of the Show must be Nuclear.

The Valley
With the exception of Metallica, few bands can keep a relentless set going with no let-up and keep the audience interested. Imagine going to a movie, and watching an unending shoot-out for 90 minutes. No matter how great the action is, you will eventually become desensitized and bored. The same principle applies to live performance. The solution is to carefully plan the pacing and intensity level of the Show, and depending on its length, include one or two “energy valleys.”

There are several ways to do this, but it is typically done by changing the instrumentation or intensity level of the music. This gives the audience time to breath, and makes the end of the set much more effective. However you choose to alter the energy level is not important. What is important is that you do it, so the fans will stay engaged throughout your entire Show. Unless you are Metallica.

The Cover Tune
Yeah, I know. You never play covers. Well, unless you are famous and relentlessly heckled on already, I suggest you rethink that philosophy. Add one—and only one—well-known cover tune to your Show, preferably a tune at least 10 years old. Why? Well, you know those bitter people who stand in the back with their arms crossed? They’ve never seen you before, and they don't know whether they like your music or not. And they’re leaning towards “not.”

By incorporating a strategic cover tune into the Show, you’ll see many of these previously “unengaged” audience members drop their arms and move closer to the stage, where they will stay. Yeah, it’s like some weird psychological experiment—but it works. The basic principle is that the presence of one tune they are familiar with draws them into your world, so to speak, and they will be more open to your original music.

The one caveat is never pick a tune where the original recording sounds similar to your band. For example, if you have a band that sounds like the Smashing Pumpkins, don’t pick a Smashing Pumpkins tune. You’ll just come off like a bad cover band, minus the bald guy with the amazing voice. Instead, play a Goth version of a Duran Duran tune or whatever. By making a well-known cover your own, you will break the ice with new fans.

The Script
So now you have a brilliant set list, aka the Show. The next thing to consider is the “space” between the songs. Simply put, rehearse the Show as it will be performed—including what is said between the tunes.

Instead of launching from song to song without ever saying anything to the audience, have your singer say a few words about a tune before it is played. This will make the song memorable, and will make a huge difference in how the audience relates to your music. Your singer should also mention the merchandise table and your website’s URL once or twice (only) during the Show, without sounding desperate.

So during rehearsals, plan the breaks between the songs, and get a general idea of what will be said to the audience. Word of caution, even though this is scripted, don’t over do it and plan every word or it will sound contrived. But, a little preparation and planning will go a long way.

Reprise the Hit
If you have one song above all others that the fans love, consider reprising it at the end of the Show. Use the same lighting each time (see sound and lighting considerations below), and announce that the tune is on the new album, which is available at your merchandise booth. See a theme here?

The music industry is a strange and wicked animal, where its denizens are drawn towards successful and inaccessible figures, and repelled from everybody else. Without overdoing it so you cross into the realm of arrogance, your band should come across as if it already is successful and famous.

After the Show, don’t hang around trying to hawk albums. A little accessibility is cool, but being desperate and asking everyone what they thought of your band is counterproductive, and will only destroy your marketing image. Work smart, not hard. After a great show, create an “aura of indifference” which will be seen as cool by the fans. This is not intuitive—but it is how the music industry works at a world-class level.

Sound and Lighting
This is your career—do not leave sound and lighting to chance. At many shows while the sound or lighting guy talks to the chick in the leather pants, the audience can’t hear the vocals, or see the guitarist playing from a dark corner of the stage.

Since few bands have the financial resources to afford a sound and lighting crew during the initial phases of their career, sound and lighting should be dealt with in two stages.

First create a sound and light cue sheet to add new dimensions to your Show and keep the sound and lighting person engaged during your set. This sheet should list the order of the tunes, featured instrumentation and lighting effects.

Think about amazing lighting effects for certain songs which can become a “visual hook” to support that tune. For example, every time you play the chorus of your killer ballad, the club is bathed in red lights. Cool, no? It’s certainly better than hoping that the lighting guy knows when to stop talking to the evil chick in the leather pants long enough to push a button or two.

Second, and the most obvious but expensive solution, is to bring your own sound and lighting crew to each show. Once your band starts to generate substantial revenue, this is a must. The good news is that if you followed this advice, you already have a detailed and refined sound and lighting cue sheet ready to go. Thus, your sound and lighting team will have an excellent resource, and they’ll get up to speed quickly.

Finally, with the minor exception of test-market shows, which we can talk about in a future column, your band must come to the philosophical agreement that there will be no more small shows. Period. From here on out, you will treat every show as if you were headlining Madison Square Garden—whether you are in front of five fans or five thousand fans. If a show is not worth giving 110%, it is not worth doing. You never know who will be at a show, and you will only have one shot to make a great first impression on potential new fans.


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Monday, August 13, 2007

Split EP... a Lost Art?

It seems to me that at least 50% of the indie albums coming out today are EPs. I don't have any hard evidence to back up that claim, but I do know that at least half of the indie releases that come through my hands as the Managing Editor of Austin's INsite Magazine are between 20-30 minutes long and only contain five or six tracks. In other words.... an EP.

Now... for those who don't know the term..."EP" means "extended play." This is a little misleading because an EP record is shorter than most (A full-length release is called an "LP" for "long play" by the way).

For many bands, It used to be that bands would come out with an EP because studio time was so expensive that they could only afford to cut a few songs before pressing a CD. Fans could buy the record quicker, they make a little money faster and everyone was happy.

I don't think that's the case anymore. I think with the advent of iTunes and live streaming and digital downloads, the fans are able to get the music at their leisure. Now, I feel bands are coming out with EPs because they need to get something out to put up online for downloads... and to make it feel like a real release they put it out on a CD... for people like me who like the packaging as much as, if not more than, the music.

OK...Back to my point. It seems that there are a lot of EPs coming out these days. Now, what I'm seeing here, is 1/2 of a waster album every time one of these comes out. I propose a way to end this gross misuse of a blank CD. Let's have a resurgance of the split album.

It's friggin' beautiful if you think about it.

1. You are getting your album out.
2. You are being promoted to someone else's fans.
3. You are making great friends within the scene by helping promote each other.
4. If they make it big... you're totally coattailing!
5.My favorite thing You can split the cost of printing/promoting down the middle. Double your run for 1/2 the money.

Examples of bands who released a split album/single?
Nirvana and The Melvins
Bright Eyes and Neva Dinova
Fall Out Boy and Project Rocket

Lets just say... this is not a new concept.

I recall seeing it a lot in the hardcore/punk scene. It's a damned solid idea.
If you use this idea after reading it here... just thank Sean Claes and Trevor Lane of The Outlaw Gang in the credits... then mail me a copy.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Song Game

I interviewed Austin indie musician Matt The Electrician for the July issue of INsite - Austin's Monthly Entertainment Magazine which will be out Friday, July 6, 2007.

While chatting with him, I asked about this Song Game he has been a part of for years. The basis of the game is, someone E-mails a list of musicians a song title at the beginning of the week, and in seven days they must write an original song with that title. Song titles have included "China Airline," "Left Coast," or "Love on the Moon." All of these ended up on Matt The Electrician albums by the way.

I mention this because I see a lot of bands who get themselves into a rut. I'll bet you've heard the saying "you have your whole life for your first album, and 6 months for the second." Well, most people aren't always writing, and if you are a songwriter, you must practice. Challenging yourself to write a song a week is amazing. After a year, you get 52 songs. That is 52 nuggets of music that wouldn't have lived if not for the game.

It's easier to rewrite and polish something you already have in your hand. If you are in a band, you've got friends who are songwriters in other bands. Why not start a group and begin your own songwriters group... write a song a week.

Keep yourself always fresh. Always thinking. Always moving forward.
If you start that group, let me know. I'd love to hear some tracks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

5 Tips To Build Your Fanbase

As an entertainment writer, I have the opportunity of being on a lot of music-based lists. I will share some of the ones I deem more important now and again. Hope you enjoy.

This one comes from Ariel Publicity's promotional publication entitled Band Letter.

5 HOT TIPS For Building Your Fan Base
July 2007

Building Your Fan Base = Building Your E-mail List

For the past several years, I've allowed bands to wimp out on one of the most critical and important things that they need to do be doing to further their careers. I am not allowing you to wimp out anymore.

One rule people: The Size Of Your E-mail List = The Size Of Your Income

So, how big is yours?

Myth: I don't have any shows to promote. Therefore, I'm not going to do a newsletter.

Reality: 50% or more of the artists that I work with don't have any shows to promote. Zero, zilch, none...and they still want to be artists in the world getting their music out and heard and liked and listened to (why in the heck would you hire me if you did not want your music out there?).

You must communicate something to your fans regularly and consistently to be in the game. If you do not communicate regularly and consistently, or if you disappear from the hearts and minds of your fans for several months,
they will not know where you've been, and they will not know how to be your fan.

I don't care what the content of your newsletter is. Everyone has something to say, and even better - everyone has something to show. Photos of your vacation, your kids, you in the studio, you at your day job, what you
thought of the last episode of the Sopranos, or what's in your iPod this week. Whatever it is - send it regularly to your fans. These are interesting and pertinent pieces of information about who you are, and these are great ways to connect with other people.

When you only e-mail your fans when you have a show, or a new CD to sell them, it totally screams: "Hey fan, I want your money!"

You just show up out of nowhere and say: "I know you had no idea where I've been for the last six months, but here, buy something now!" and people hate being sold to.

When I started regularly communicating with the fans through my fan list at Ariel Publicity, magic started happening. My articles started getting picked up and reported online. People started leaving me nice messages and saying thank you for my newsletter, and I even threw my first all-day workshop that came directly from people on my newsletter list and it SOLD OUT so fast I had to add a second session!!

Why? Because I sent an e-mail!

In other words, I made money by just communicating.

Studies prove that people buy from people that they like and trust, and there is no better way to earn people's trust than by communicating with them regularly something personal and fun or unique about yourself offstage that your fans may not know. So, go out there and build your e-mail list.

5 HOT TIPS For Building Your Fan Base

1. Give Away A Free MP3 To Everyone That Signs Up To Your List -The last thing you want to do is put a box in your page saying, "sign up for our e-mail list so we can send you more e-mail." That's basically what that says. Instead, try giving something away as an incentive to get people to sign up to your e-mail list. I highly suggest a free MP3. This says, "thank you fan, we appreciate you signing up for our mailing list."

BUT... How do you get a free MP3 to send to your fans you may wonder?

Easy - - Go sign up here and Aaron, who runs the site, will host FREE downloads for all of your friends for 2 months. After that it's a measly $9.99 per month for unlimited downloads and uploads and Aaron will sell you these AMAZING little credit card size customizable cards to hand free MP3s out to your fans (or load them up with your new tracks and sell them)! A hell of a lot cheaper than pressing a CD and way
cooler.... And Aaron will send you 120 cards for $19.99 (and tell Aaron Ariel Publicity sent you).

2. Do A Live Giveaway/Raffle At EVERY SHOW - When you are playing a show, hold up a CD or a T-shirt on stage and announce you are doing a free giveaway and a raffle. Have a friend sweep through the venue with a hat and have all the people in attendance drop their business cards into the hat. When the hat reaches the stage, pull a random business card out and do a giveaway. Then, mention to the crowd that you're going to add everyone in the hat to your e-mail list. You've just collected a ton of new e-mail names and addresses that you definitely would not have captured.

3. Collect Text Addresses - Before you start playing a gig, when you are asking fans to switch off their cell phones, ask them first to text you their information. Then you build a cell phone text e-mail list and you can e-mail people directly to their cell phones the next time you're coming through town. This is a totally unique and original way of communicating on people's cellular phones and will get you noticed.

4. Mine Through Your Inbox - We all have them. Huge inboxes stuffed with e-mail from people who you're communicating with. Are they already on your e-mail list? If not, e-mail each of them and ask: "Is it okay for me to add
you to our fan mail list?" (and offer a free MP3). And if they say yes, add them directly on to your e-mail list.

TIP: Never ever add someone without getting permission first, because that's considered SPAM.

5. List Trade With Another Band - Once you have a sizeable e-mail list, you can approach other bands that you play with or whose music is similar to yours or maybe they're from your hometown and you can ask them to write an endorsement e-mail saying: "Hey, if you like us, you'll like our friends!" Then they can send that endorsement out with a request for joining your e-mail list and you can in turn do the same for them. When you do a list trade with another band, always make sure that your music is very well described in a couple of sentences - what you sound like, who you get compared to, and if you can, take them directly to a page where they can get a free MP3 the moment they sign up that's streaming so they can check you out.

Reprinted from Ariel Publicity's promotional publication entitled Band Letter

Sean Claes lives in Central Texas and loves everybody.... especially you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Quality Production

In a day and age of music and listeners being"dumbed down" as a result of poor quality found in the ever popular mp3 technology, availability of home studios, and the growing number of indie artists and labels, many people might argue about "quality." As a result, music connoisseurs and successful producers have ideologies and philosophies on what it means to have "quality music." Regardless of your preferences or taste in music, there is a formula to what makes a quality album become commercially viable, which means the music can be sold.

Now, I do not want to turn this into an article. Rather, this is designed to promote thinking and open the floor for discussion or debate.

Before laying the formula out there, let me just say that it is absolutely essential to be strategic, planned, and thoughtful BEFORE embarking on an album release. The biggest reason that alot of projects fail or do not receive the attention they deserve is due to spontaneous or last minute decision making. Record execs start planning for releases on multiple-album record deals years in advance and promotions is a component built into alot of the better record contracts. This ensures artists and other people involved in the production will know how much money and time will be spent and the efforts that will be exhausted to get exposure for the record.

There are three major elements to a successful campaign to sell records: promotions, production, and distribution. Timing and strategy are keys to implmenting your plans for each of these elements. The major elements occur in phases that are both synchronous and continuous. In other words, they go hand in hand, but must also be segmented.

In regard to promotions, this includes an entire marketing PLAN that is written, articulated, and shared with the team - complete with long term and short term GOALS with things that cover the spectrum from TV and radio interviews or news releases to search engine rankings and web advertising or street promotions. There is alot of information available and lots of books in the stream of commerce. For any newbies that are reading this, my favorite is a book called "This Business of Music" which is available on Amazon and Google.

Next, in the realm of production let's get real. There is not a "home studio" going that can replace the dynamics that come from recording in a world renowned studio like Capitol Records and Studios in Los Angeles or Quad Studios in New York City. or The Hit Factory in Miami (which I have never been to.... .but plan on working there someday). There is something about building an "industry buzz" and credibility for a quality album that comes from working in these places. The other dynamic is name recognition. To translate, you should work with others who have a name and established track record in the business to set yourself apart from the pack. Now, the other elements to production that I will address over time are pre-production, production, and post-production. I could write a novel on each of these facets that are essential to the "creative process."

Last, is the element of distribution, which needs to be factored into the promotions PLAN. Without a distribution PLAN, there will not be any success or hope for funding additional future projects. With the power of the internet these days, there really is not a need for a "record deal." Being signed is not what it's cracked up to be, unless you want to owe a bunch of money and use props and equipment that is leased or rented.

Now, I am just a marketing and promotion guy, who has been involved in production at different stages and in a variety of capacities. I hope this helps you to begin thinking and planning for your project.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The idea...

Hello everyone, I'm Sean Claes

Sean Claes logo

As you have read in Trevor Lane's post below, this is going to be a collaborative effort with people who we know and respect in the music business. Sometimes we'll post messages we see as important, sometimes we my print interviews, sometimes we'll invite someone to join who shares a unique perspective.

The Outlaw Gang was born many many years ago. First as GooRu Entertainment in the mid 1990s... then as The Outlaw Gang in the early 2000s. We bring it to a blog now because we're at the point in our career that it just makes sense to try and prevent good people from making fundamental mistakes, and we feel that we've paid enough for it already... so why make others that we feel could Make A Difference pay (emotionally, physically, or financially) as well.

We are based out of Oklahoma and Texas.. and although Texas did try to sever itself from Oklahoma (you've heard the jokes... the ditch was dug... everything was planned out perfectly... but they failed to separate the two states because us Texans forgot a simple truth that prevented the states from moving away from each other... Oklahoma Sucks.) we get along great.

I love Oklahoma by the way... I just can't NOT tell a good joke. I'd say "sue me" but there's way too many lawyers reading this. That said... if there's a good music lawyer out there that can give advice (yes I said lawyer and give in the same sentence) hit us up here.

So, hello. Hope you enjoy. If you have any questions... ask us. We're here.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Users

We're building an exclusive blog for music industry professionals to network, share ideas, discuss marketing opportunities, share press releases, vent, and discuss various aspects of the business. Thanks for signing up!

We only want people who like REAL music, have a diverse musical palette, and appreciate building a successful career on those platforms. We are not looking for spammers. We are looking for genuine dialog. If you know someone, please invite them.