April 2014

Your Band’s New BFF – How to Use Hootsuite

The value of pre-scheduling your online content
It’s Sunday night as I sit and write this- the only non-work night I reserve for just relaxing… most of the time. But here I am preparing for a press conference for tomorrow’s Ottawa Rock Lottery media launch and writing a million media info sheets, proofing commercials last minute, Boomeranging press release emails so that I can pick up newly revised concert posters from the printer early a.m. before yoga.
Yeah. I’m sure many of you can relate to the feeling that there’s not enough time in the day. The trick is for musicians, promoters, and their team is to use the online tools to make sure you don’t turn into a crazy person.
Enter Hootsuite. I’m shocked that more creatives don’t use this actually. You can schedule your WordPress, Twitter, FB, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, Reddit- basically any social network is on there to make your life easier.
This way you can:
1. Share the workload with your band – one person kicks ass at blogging whereas another one always checks in on Foursqaure when you’re on tour.

2. Measure the success of your posts/interactions through analytics. Sometimes a post about your cats digging the new vinyl will be more popular than you talking about a dream producer… always good to know what the audience wants!

3. Save time! How many times have you been on the road, distracted creatively, or just not able to compose your thoughts? This allows you to plan super far in advance so that you can be that crazy effective night owl and still look like you’re up interacting with your fans at 10 a.m. when you’re posting about the coffee that inspired your album. Strategic, right? You connect according to timing and open yourself up to a new audience.
Have a real job? You can tell your employers you aren’t tweeting/fb’ing/soundclouding while at work because, hey! You actually DID set everything up in advance. Your band can live and breed online even while you’re not around. Sexy huh?
… So why are you not on there yet?!
Next week I’ll discuss how to apply these tools if you do your own PR.

 

Here’s a song about a friend from Atmosphere…

Overwhelmed? Stop talking about it and just DO IT.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re going the DIY route.

Like most entrepreneurs existing in self-employment/freelance/DIY land, artists understand the frustration with having too many projects on the go and not nearly enough time to tackle all their creative in one go. There’s always another promoter to follow-up with, a sponsorship proposal to confirm, album art to conceptualize.  Thoughts of, “this is too much,” “what does it matter that an extra hour or two didn’t go into this project?” “Is anyone even going to show up at the gig,” make it easy to get discouraged.

I actually have a hard time sitting still – not because of ADHD- but because my ideas are usually bubbling over (to which my business advisor normally pats me on the back and says, “Let’s try to go for 3 ideas instead of a dozen, ok Sam?”) After years of freelance journalism I know the point of the day to which I’m just not able to get anything done and need to rest in order to re-ignite those million ideas into action… but I write them down for later.

Us creatives want to take on the world! We want to share our art.  We want to inspire and motivate others! It just can be difficult to take time for yourself to get to that point because you can build it up so much in your mind that just the task of drafting an email can be daunting.

Don’t let that happen.  I don’t want to quote Nike but I was listening to Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilley on CBC last weekend and he spoke of the power of their slogan and how it’s permeated all non-sports culture.  Fascinating and effective. Just do it (and listen to the podcast HERE). 

I personally have this hanging in my office along with sticker on my desk that says “Mother fucking girl power!!!” with a woman cracking a whip.  Makes sense.

just fucking create something

Basically the worst thing you can do as an entrepreneur and indie artist is to sit and let yourself get overwhelmed with all you “should do.”  The reality is, you’ve put yourself in that position.  You’ve set expectations for yourself – even though I know it’s easy to blame other band members as there’s always one leader but if you’re really passionate, that person should be you.  And if that’s not your band, find another group of people that are just as motivated. They are the ones that will take you to the places/goals/dreams you want.

Truthfully discipline and organization is what will allow you to complete the mammoth-sized tasks and goals you set for yourself. Grab a ton of notepads and never be without your phone to jot done any thoughts/ideas/melodies.  Inspiration is everywhere.  Just walking out your front door at THIS very second could change your life. Let it.

It’s great to have tons of ideas and talk about them but if you’re not going to act- what’s the point. I’m going to end with a quote from the Canadian punk pioneer Joey Shithead. Talk – Minus Action = Zero.

So go fucking do it.

8 Reasons Why Being Late/Unprepared Screws your Band

Artists can be flakes.  Any one working in the creative community is aware of this. Here’s why you SHOULD always make an effort to be on time if you want to last in the music industry. This goes for recording albums, shooting music videos, media requests and making important meetings. If you want to make it you have to put this aside any personal issues from your career and just show up on time no matter what.  I mean, at the end of the day, why would you skip out on your dream by being late for someone that could help it become a reality?

But isn’t there management to look after this for me?  Chances are though, that if you’ve gotten there, you’ve successfully navigated your career up until that point and know the value of showing up fully-prepared and replying to important emails.

The age old saying of Time is Money rings truer each time I am left with a latte quickly going cold waiting  for my next meeting…

  1. If people are meeting with you they have already invested time into researching your band.
  2. They have developed strategies and/or possible marketing tactics to expose your band to a wider audience.
  3. They have at least given a good listen to the songs that you have sent them and visited your website or read your press release.
  4. They don’t need to meet with you.  If you need their help, influence, etc. there are probably another 100 bands that are in just as dire straights.
  5. By being reliable, honest and personable band that can work within deadlines set by these important career influencers, you are far more likely to go far than a band that always shows up hungover and loses documentation because it’s a “last minute” request.
  6. They have come prepared to meet with you.  Respect. Even if you’re paying them, they are professionals (or at least possess winning professional attitudes) so don’t waste their time.
  7. The early bird, you know, gets the worm.  Canadian Music Week’s Expert sessions is a great example of this.  You can sit down with the top industry experts in the world just by queuing up in advance.
  8. The music industry is dominated by strict calendars and deadlines. We only have so much time for you project, so even when we do first meet we could be over the moon, if you don’t follow up with our emails quickly to set the thing in motion, we could find the next big thing that’s the total opposite of your band which could lead them to the harsh reality of never working with you again.

… and at the end of the day if you are going to be late or unprepared, email, call, message and let that person know!  Inspiration comes at the most unexpected moments demanding something be written right then and there, living situations fluctuate between tours, shitty temp jobs need to be found shifts for and fights with girlfriends/partners upon return are inevitable.  They’re humans too and are usually pretty understanding.

Now go start putting dates into your Google calendar for your next band meetings!

 

 

On the road: 8 Things Touring Bands NEED to start doing NOW for packed clubs

Henry Rollins has a great bit about the value of making connections while you travel. He’s on a date with a woman and in an effort to impress her he starts bragging about all the stamps he has in his passport as if it makes him oh-so-worldly.  But she sees through him and puts him in his place telling him, “You have only visited the airports, hotel lobbies and venue.  You never get to stop and interact with the real people.”  Essentially telling him all his touring experience means nothing because he hasn’t stopped to connect with the people he’s playing for.  His response? “You sunk my battleship.”  He knew she was right and now literally wanders looking for people to meet in new countries.

vincent vega

Now I’m not saying that you need to wander the earth like a bum, to quote Vincent Vega, but to stop and try to connect to who your audience is.  It’ll only take a few minutes and will mean the difference between a half-empty club to a packed crowd dying to buy whatever it is you’re selling.

Even Johnny Rotten when the Pistols first started touring didn’t wear that snear full-time. He’d talk to the people and find out where they were from, why they were at the show, and generally what life was like for them and how he could relate.  Simple, right?

Wrong. Touring bands you NEED to connect with your audience beyond just a friendly merch-booth hello while 90% of your band packs up or finishes the rest of the drink tickets so lovingly bestowed upon you by the promoter.

Here’s how you can connect:

  1. Tweet/FB where you’re going to be playing.  Use the hashtag for what town you’ll be visiting, e.g. “Hey #winnipeg! We’re playing at #thetavern, any places we should hit up first?”
  2. Reach out to the college/university radio stations a few days in advance – just by iphone is super easy- offer to drop off some CDs on the way to the show or guestlist the local DJ.  Again, all this can be arrange via Twitter
  3. Ask if people have any recommendations for a cool café or restaurant nearby the band should check out
  4. Ask those people posting if they’d want to have a pizza/dinner with you (You can create life-long superfans like this! They’ll always remember!)
  5. Ask the local fans where they buy their music/instruments.  You’re creating a dialogue and interaction as if you’re not SELLING your band, you’re just naturally curious about the city you’re playing.  You’ll learn something and chances are if you’ve got a gearhead on your FB, they’ll want to talk more to you after the show.  You may also just convince them to bring a friend or two that wasn’t going come out before.  Give up a drink ticket and chat with them over that beer.
  6. Just interact! So often I see bands just posting as if each status update was an advertisement.  It doesn’t have to be.  Post a silly picture from the road with band members pointing your mouths or stomachs and ask for the best burger joint.  People, regardless of if they’re in that city, will leap to give you suggestions.  Same goes for it you get a flat tire, post and be PRESENT DAILY.
  7. Always have FREE stickers/cards/download passes with your contact info.  Give them away at gas stations when you are filling up. Chat with the attendants, waiters, all of them.  Don’t sit on your dreams of becoming a full-time touring musician by not engaging with those that serve thousands of artists a year while they are en route to their next gig.
  8. Lastly, don’t be afraid of your audience! They’re there because they like live music. Even if they’re only there for the opening band or sound man, they wouldn’t be watching the show if they weren’t at least at little obsessed with music.

Good luck out there!