Festival Network Online Newsletter
Music Edition - April 2006
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A note from the editor...Hey FNO bands and performers,
In case you haven't seen it yet, I wanted to bring to your attention a new feature called 'The S List' where we expose promoters out there not holding up their end of the bargain with exhibitors. We have stopped listing their shows and want to encourage people to always get references when working with a promoter you are not familiar with.
Also, we have launched a new rating feature where we encourage you to rate promoters! Next time you are doing a search in the FNO database and are viewing the search results, check out the promoter rating box underneath the show rating feature. Let us know if you have any questions.
In this month's article, I bring you an article by Don Kimenker, the founder of earBuzz.com, a simple elegant ecommerce site for music artists who are distributing their own CDs. "As musicians and artists we wanted to provide a site to the artistic world where indie musicians could find a home for their works and a tool for their growth - while making 100% of the price of their CDs."
Music artistry is still the one thing that touches the hearts, minds, emotions and moods in 3 minutes or less. That lyrical melody written and delivered with sincerity... nothing like it. It’s a constant. From Barber's “Adagio for Strings” to SONiA's "Won't Let Go" - and thousands of other songs that touch us because of music artistry, true artists will always have an audience if they keep creating. This article is about some of the business reality of todays music industry and provides advice to help success. If you have lasting artistry you can have lasting success, however, the mechanics of getting that artistry successfully to new listeners has changed.
Strategy for Indie Artists in a Download Music Economy
Back in the olden days, ...last year... we used to order 1,000 CDs as indie artists and make sure we had recorded at least 10 songs for the new album. We made sure that the songs were connected in style - so that you could 'thread a common needle' through the content of the record - this creative body of work - this representation of where I am at this point in my artistic career. Then, we'd put them in stores on consignment, we'd post them on our websites, we'd send them to online CD stores, we'd gig, and we'd wait for the money to roll in. We believed that once people heard our unique artistic statement and sound they'd buy our CDs. Secretly, we wished for the days when the majority of music buyers would put on the record, pull out our album notes, pour through our lyrics and poetry, and immerse themselves in the music experience as we have done all our lives.
Like it or not, the music world that we used to know is gone. It is the day of the download and it's not going to change. CD sales are down and new artists are discovered for one song. Case in point: Daniel Powter. Immensely talented songwriter has his song "Bad Day" in the heads of every TV-breathing American who has watched American Idol. It was the only song available to download at iTunes until his album release long after - only this week is it the featured album (April 6, 2006). It’s in the top 10. One song. In the olden days they called them 'singles'. Well... the single is back.
But how is an unrecognized talent like you going to have success? You don't have connections to get your song played on the #1 watched TV show every week. Here's the plan - you're going to cover a song. There's been a lot of talk about the strategy of covering a tune - but here's a 10 step guide on how to do it:
1. Make a list of your 50 favorite songs by other artists.
2. Make an artistic decision about which of those songs you'd be interested in covering - choose ten.
3. Go to iTunes and search for them - see if anyone's already covering them - listen to their versions.
4. Decide on your top 3 based on:
a.) what can I do to this song artistically that no one else has
b.) do I have a good chance of being heard based on how many versions are already available
c.) do I have a good chance of being heard based on the former popularity of the song
5. Contact the publishing companies and get the information on the rights. A typical royalty to the publisher per sold song is a nickel.
6. Pick the song based on two criteria: a.) you can get the rights and b.) you've played it for others and they've told you that out of the 3 tunes, this one is clearly their favorite. Friends and family have a way of hearing us better than we hear ourselves.
7. Learn the chosen song and make it your own. DO NOT DO A KARAOKE VERSION OF THE SONG (for reference of what is not a Karaoke cover song, listen to "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Django Bates, "Both Sides Now" from Joni Mitchell's Dreamland CD. Leave it to Joni Mitchell to cover her own song as an example of how to cover.
8. Record it more professionally than any song you've ever recorded - that can mean money, producer, musicians, mastering - get it done right.
9. Create a 30 second clip. Those 30 seconds should accomplish two things - it should be where you shine vocally/musically - and the tune should be recognized.
10. When done, upload only 30 seconds of it to the various distribution points - iTunes, earBuzz, etc.. Do not upload the entire cover song. You're paying for publishing it - you can't monetize if you give it away.
The truth about music is that listeners like what they know more often than they know what they like. The proof of that, if you're older than 25, is to count how many versions of a song you have. You bought it on vinyl, cassette, CD, and have recently downloaded it. The other truth is that there are 100,000 indie artists in the U.S. alone. To get to those listeners you can gig in coffee houses five nights a week for the next five years to an average audience of 20 people and sell 3 CDs per gig... which is a wonderful experience and should be continued, of course, or you can supplement your audience by using technology and pretty simple marketing to grab new ears.
The goal is to attract new listeners with the cover song and make them love your version so much they want to hear your originals. Then, you will sell your CDs, make more money, and be able to better support your artistry. Good luck.
Articles provided by:
Don Kimenker, founder of earBuzz.com http://earbuzz.com
He is a writer, an independent music artist, the former Publisher of MacAddict Magazine, and founded earBuzz.com in 1999 to help support the indie community. With over 1,000 artists, earBuzz.com is the only site on the internet that returns 100% of the CD price to artists. He can be reached by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newsletter editor: Julie M. Cochrane
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