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 - http://www.fizzkicks.com - 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.

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Reprinted from Ariel Publicity's promotional publication entitled Band Letter

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