If I was an unsigned/indie artist in 2010 I would (in no particular order)…
Many moons ago I compiled a post titled “If I Was An Unsigned Artist In 2009 I Would (In No Particular Order)…” which went down rather well with you lot out there, so as 2010 looms over us with the genuine possibility of two silly haired Irish loons dominating the charts I thought I’d do another with some bits and bobs to consider over the coming 52 weeks. I may even do another one in three hundred and something days time as well and then in fifteen or so years I can do a ‘best of’ compendium where I look back at the original post and titter about how absurd it all sounds in comparison to the music industry of 2025. In fact, the music industry/blogging/maybe even I myself probably won’t exist in 2025 and therefore my guff writing will have come to its demise.
On that sobering note, lets celebrate whilst we’re still alive, blog-hungry and willing to better our musical careers in two thousand and ten shall we?
You know that MySpace profile of yours? Sort it out please.
Although not the powerhouse it once was, a MySpace profile is still pretty essential to have for people to discover/search for your music and to actively not have one would arguably be a tad strange, but let us hereby make a virtual pact and declare that 2010 is to be the year where bad MySpace profiles finally die a well deserved death. A poorly produced/maintained MySpace profile is a real turn off for me personally and there is just no bloody excuse for it.
Here are my 6 commandments, obey them please (if you follow these then I’ll turn a blind eye to worshiping other gods or coveting your neighbours ass):
- A custom background is fine, but leave it at that. The less crap you put on there, the quicker and easier it will be for the fan/industry person to find exactly what it is they’re looking for.
- If you’re competent enough at CSS/HTML jiggery then lose the MySpace player altogether; it’s slow, clunky, ugly, not the most user friendly and it sounds whack (that’s right; I’m using street lingo now). Get yourself over to SoundCloud.com, sign up and take advantage of their widget functionality. The sound quality is miles better and it’s far prettier on the eye. If you have a look here you’ll see an example of a SoundCloud widget featuring a selection of Sentric Music’s artists and have a look at this Myspace profile as an example of how to utilize the widget. He even tells you how to do it yourself by reading here.
- No more than 3 videos please. Feel free to link away to a YouTube/Muzu/Vimeo channel but I don’t need to see your face in more than 3 different lighting scenarios at any one time.
- Leave the layout as it is, it was designed like that for a reason. Don’t mirror it or put the ‘send a message’ box somewhere it doesn’t need to be. That’ll just annoy me when I want to get in touch with you.
- Put a proper contact email address on your profile – I check my emails hundreds of times a day as they’re in my pocket bur in contrast I check our MySpace profile a lot less. Also; the send a message function on MySpace doesn’t compare to an email client so industry will always prefer contacting you via email rather than MySpace message.
- Flickr can flick off, just use the MySpace picture bit. If someone has visited your page to see what you look like they’re going to be more than happy to look at your pictures on the bit that MySpace allocated for them. Those Flickr/Photobox etc slideshow things are just pants.
- (A cheeky 7th) If you’ve got a spare hundred quid then get someone who knows what they’re doing to sort it our for you. A friend of Sentric Music is rather nifty at this thing and I’ve twisted his arm so he’ll do you the full shabang for £100 (a whopping fifty quid off). He’s done profiles for Dutch Uncles and The Answering Machine (which Tom Robinson said was the best Myspace profile he’s ever seen). Drop me an email info(at)sentricmusic(dot)com and I’ll introduce you.
Get your music on Spotify, for the exposure, not for the royalties.
It’s easier then ever to get your music on Spotify so there is no real excuse not to if you have good quality recordings that you’re happy for the world to hear. The sharing and playlist functionalities on Spotify by far outweigh emailing a social networking link to a friend and it could really boost the viral spread of your music. I’m constantly creating and sharing playlists to friends/industry and if I really like one of your tracks then it’ll be slotted in there between a Muse B-Side and a Susan Boyle cover of Sympathy For The Devil.
I just want to take this opportunity as well to link to a brilliant article by the ever knowledgeable Solo Bass Steve regarding the story that made the rounds a couple of weeks back about Lady Gaga receiving $100 for a million plays on the Spotify service. Click here to read why it’s basically a load of old tosh.
Prepare a 12 month plan, setting yourself SMART objectives.
I’m not expecting a full business plan here guys, just have a think about what you want to happen in 2010. Do you want to record an album? Focus on touring? Improve your online presence? I’ve linked to this post several times before (probably because it’s one of the most useful I’ve ever written) but have another gander if you haven’t looked at it for a while or if you’ve not seen it altogether. It’s pretty basic management theory but genuinely could help you out no end.
Be a geek & become aroused by stats
Utilise analytical tools to help focus your efforts to yield more return and become more efficient. Free analytical tools like the ones Google and Soundcloud offer can really help you hone in on exactly where your music is being discovered, who is discovering it, where they are from and what they like. Train your psyche so that stats, line charts and geographical hotspot graphs all excite you as much as the idea of eating a Beres Pork Sandwich does to my good self (note – this excites in all manner of ways).
So that’s the few from me, but I also asked a few clever friends of mine to chip in their thoughts:
If I was an unsigned artist I would stop and take stock. I’d do almost nothing, except focus in on what it is I am and want to be. I’d sit up ’til sunrise with absinthe and a pen and write something-like a manifesto full of benchmarks and ideals. I’d spend weeks making music and revising the manifesto, asking myself/my band, whether the end result will be unique, whether it’ll truly express or communicate that I think and feel needs to be out there in the world. I’d invest my time searching for great/interesting/beautiful music and in doing so learn how people discover music and how I’d like things to be if they stumbled across my music.
I’d keep asking whether what I’m doing has a clear aesthetic which runs through it, whether the presentation of the music relates to the music and if it doesn’t, I’d adapt it and change the manifesto to reflect this. Then, maybe, just maybe, when I’m sure I have a strong set of songs which cohere with each other, I’d tease some music out to a hand-full of chosen people who’ve turned me on to music, whose opinion I trust and respect and whose taste I think fits with what I’m making. Rather than target them directly, I might target them indirectly, commenting cleverly (or in a manner befitting my music) on their blogs or sending them useful information, then if they’ve not checked out who I am, poke some in their SoundCloud dropbox or on a compilation of other music I think they’d like, within which my music fits. Or I’d come up with a few ideas, relevant to my music, involving web projects or real world concepts, to help contextualize my music and let the project create an energy of its own.
I’d be everywhere (MySpace, theSixtyOne, iLike, Facebook, my own website, Bandcamp, etc, etc), planting entire tracks for people to find on whichever platform they’re using and learn which services and songs work best for my music. I’d treat the industry and fans as equal importance and turn up to gigs where I think people would like my music and give out CDs (this is what Johnny Borrell did when Razorlight first started!).
Most of all, if I was a musician I’d investigate and take inspiration from everything that Trent Reznor, Amanda Palmer, Weezer, Paramore, Tara Busch and Imogen Heap has done and is doing, then I’d go my own way…
Phil Cooper – Director – Sentric Digital – Twitter
Make as much content as possible…
Shoot videos of you rehearsing, dicking about, going to the pub. Have a go at making videos for your music. Consumption of content is so quick now due to the proliferation of social networks that your fans may not want to wait two years between albums. Also make use of apps and sites like Audioboo to communicate with your fans, embed these on your social networks and feed the consumer content fire.
Get into podcasting, easy to do on Garage band on a Mac and let your fans hear what inspires you, also a great opportunity to plug gigs/releases/free sex with band member of your choice.
A Prime example of someone who does this well is Mat Playford (EDM producer), he makes videos and podcast which you can check out here.
Engaging your fans through a blistering guitar solo or some profound lyrics about being dumped by your bird/fella on a limited edition 7″ two years ago is not enough; once engaged, fans need to be retained and entertained on a regular basis! Give them food for thought, out takes, rare footage, unreleased material etc.
Treat you fans like the bird/fella who has not dumped you, tease them, feed them, play with them, inspire them, put a gimp mask on and tie them to the bed… well maybe not the last bit, but imagine how that would look on your next video.
Chris McCourt – A&R – Perfect Kiss Records – Twitter
It’s always been the same for a band in my opinion. Don’t believe your own hype, and surround yourself with a good team of people that can guide you through anything. Good people in any capacity can deal with changing times and environments, and be sure to make the right decision for the artists they work with. In short, don’t work with people with a short term view or attitude.
I would setup and own my own URL instead pointing people to Myspace. Oh… and get my music up on SoundCloud of course 😉
Three short and sweet thoughts:
- Work out what makes you different, what makes you stand out, your unique selling proposition and use it.
- Build a really interesting Facebook page if you haven’t already. Give potential fans a really great reason to join. As you no doubt know, the promise of spammy messages about new downloads or being no. 73 in the Reverbnation charts is a really great reason not to go anywhere near the message sender.
- Capture fan’s email addresses from your social media networks. We’re all only one misunderstanding away from getting our Facebook accounts closed. It happened to me once, temporarily and it was enough to make me realise how vulnerable my business is to decisions of a private company who make no promises about maintaining customer service.
Try to play fewer shows, but make each show an awesome, exclusive experience.
Sign up to Sentric Music and buy the Unsigned Guide
Well there you go! Hopefully you’ll have took at least one thing away from this post. If you have anything you feel you need to add then put it below for the full world to see.
What I’m listening to this week:
What I’m reading this week: The Only War We’ve Got by Derek Maitland