Trends in Music Entrepreneurship: What’s Coming Next?

Hey, music entrepreneur!Guest contributor Avery Phillips is back with another great post on the topic of trends in musicpreneurship.

If you think you’ve got something of value to share with our readers, you can find our guest post guidelines here.

With that, here’s Avery to fill us in on the latest!

The music industry is an odd, ever changing world with a million different pockets. Technology has changed the entire business by eliminating the prevalence of physical CD sales, and streaming services have even challenged the giant that is file sharing.

This has led to companies like Spotify making a giant name for themselves, a revolutionary but out of reach idea in years past.

It has also led to independent artists making their primary income through live performances and merchandise sales, as opposed to music sales in stores or online. We’re not at the end though — entrepreneurship is the backbone of the world we live in, and no matter what happens, innovation has even more in store for us.

If you look at Music Entrepreneur HQ’s Essential Guide to Musicpreneurship, you’ll quickly discover that musicpreneurs are not only artists, but anyone who chooses to innovate within the music industry. It simply requires you to find a need to be met and a good idea on how to meet it.

So, what will happen in the world of music? There are some needs aching to be met, and while nobody for sure knows how, here are what may be some reasonable predictions!

Ethics Will be King

Being an entrepreneur in any industry requires a lot of research, and is the cross section of creativity, legal knowledge, and having an understanding of what will sell.

But in this day and age, there’s a new factor emerging — ethics. With the world becoming politically and ethically polarized, people are looking to music for a place to make a stand again.

Artists and fans alike are going to become more aware of how they source their merchandise, the companies they support, and corporate giants that push their tunes to the world.

Musicpreneurs will be testing their ideas against a rigorous code of ethics determined by their audience as well as the general public. There will be less room for misuse of labor, affiliation with bigoted people or organizations, and cheating of artists.

Convenience will still be important, and it will still sell, as it always does. But ethics will be there with a notepad and pencil as well.

Independent Artists Will Have to Utilize Technology

Independent artists are competing with technology at this point, which typically dictates the reach of their music. Even if they blow up on Bandcamp, the number of tracks and albums an independent artist will sell are nothing compared to what they were before the file sharing and streaming eras.

In the book Your Band Sucks by Jon Fine, the author speaks of selling mere thousands of copies in the post-millenium era, where artists selling twenties of thousands of records was considered low. A young artist would be lucky to have 20,000 song plays, and even then, they’re only paid about a sixth of a cent per play.

Since technology is primarily how people find music nowadays, artists are commonly roaming social media and doing what they can to get their music listened to on streaming services and the like.

Additionally, they’re using it to make their live set cooler (for instance, controlling stage lights with remote controls) or easier (think of self-tuning guitars).

But it’s possible that the next entrepreneurial feat in music will be streamlining the grassroots processes artists face while starting up.

For instance, travel prices. There’s a small handful of bands performing maintenance on their vehicles to run on grease as opposed to gas, which saves money and is eco-friendly (ethics, remember?).

Additionally, there are companies renting vans out to artists who cannot afford them, and they can be booked online.

And, how many artists do you know that record at home? Utilizing technology is a must, and a smart entrepreneur will look at what artists and listeners need and use technology to streamline it for them.

Nostalgia Will Keep Making a Scene

While there are several ways to make money from music, the payoff is dependent on careful and calculated decisions. How you market something will change from product to product, but one thing to keep in mind is whether or not people need something new or whether they’re looking for something old. Nostalgia gets people jazzed.

If you want to be a smart entrepreneur in entertainment, you will learn how to capitalize on nostalgia and familiarity. This has become apparent with the vinyl boom, endless slews of reunion tours and records, and every musical comparison you see for a new artist (Artist Name, recommended if you like: artists you already made up your mind about).

Take record labels for instance. Anybody who chooses to start and run a record label has to adapt with the changing technology, and anybody who’s done it for a number of years knows that.

From streaming to the production of physical copies and the new vinyl resurgence, to including download codes with each copy sold, navigating technological changes and the consumer’s tendencies toward nostalgia is an art form that requires a lot of practice — and nobody is perfect at it.

This is just how humans are, and it’s what will sell. People are always talking about the good ol’ days, or becoming disenfranchised with new things once they becomes overdone or too trendy. Ideally, you can adapt a sound, technology, or musical trend from older times to modern day technology. You can reinvent the wheel, and that’s how society progresses.

Conclusion

When the times keep changing, the world of music reflects and reacts to it. What trends do you see in the future for musical entrepreneurs? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

3 Tips on How to Create a Strong Visual Musical Brand on Social Media

3 Tips on How to Create a Strong Visual Musical Brand on Social Media

Hey, musicpreneur!

This guest post on creating a visual musical brand comes to us via Nika Goddard. Though social media is a great tool for promoting your music or growing your business, it must be used the right way to create a lasting impression with your audience. Nika is about to enlighten us with her tips.

By the way, if you’d like to contribute something to the music entrepreneur, you can find our submission guidelines here. Thanks!

Now, here’s Nika!

Social media offers some amazing tools for anyone looking to promote their music. Whether you’re trying to create your own brand to market your own work, or want to try your hand at music entrepreneurship and promote the next big thing, there’s no end to the tools you can try.

But it’s not always easy to know how to make the most of the social media at your disposal. If you don’t work out an effective strategy, you may end up missing out on some opportunities.

That’s why I’m going to tell you how to make the most out of your visual brand, and effectively promote it on social media.

1. Make Use of a Range of Photography

Naturally, one of the most effective things you can do on social media in terms of your visual brand is use photography to push your music. This can be done in a number of ways.

Naturally, photoshoots have always been a favorite for musicians looking to promote themselves, and in this day and age, it couldn’t be easier. Thanks to the prevalence of quality photography equipment and editing software, it’s easy for a band on even the smallest of budgets to put together an effective photoshoot.

But you definitely don’t need to limit yourself photoshoots. While a photoshoot is an effective way of portraying a strong brand identity, you can also use less formal photography to give people an ongoing view of where your band is.

Photoshoots are great for creating album imagery, or for profile images, but they don’t look great when they show up in a feed over and over again. Gig photos, shots of practices and studio work, and spontaneous photos are a great way of maintaining a brand.

A steady turnover of content is also an effective way of staying on the radar of your fans, and it also ensures they remember who you are.

2. Uniformity Across Brands is Crucial

In more technical terms, one thing you should consider is putting together a solid look for your social media that is maintained across all channels. If you’re serious about your music promotion or business, you’re going to be using a number of different social media channels for your work. By creating a unified image across all channels, you’re able to present a consistent image to your fans.

This means, at the very least, deciding on a color palette that you want to use. It’s also worth considering other visual aspects, such as fonts, and the style, voice and/or tone you use for your posts.

This is not something that you need to be too rigid with, but  if you can make use of a striking color palette that matches the material you’re promoting, it can play a big role in drawing attention for your work.

Filters and imagery can play a similar role. Just about everyone these days is aware of the role that filters play in the imagery you see online. Today, there’s a large range to choose from, and if you find a lesser known one that fits your work, consistently using that filter can help develop a unique brand.

Similarly, imagery can play a huge part in promoting music. Many acts have developed their own unique imagery, such as a logo, which eventually becomes synonymous with their work. These images are a simple way of getting people to react to your work online. It’s far easier to catch someone’s attention with an image that immediately makes them think of your work.

But putting together an effective logo is no simple matter. If your role is simply music promotion, you’re probably going to want to collaborate with a talented designer or illustrator to put something together. There’s a very good chance that no logo is better than a poorly put together logo.

3. Consider Each Channel on its Own Merits

While you should use all the social media tools at your disposal, it is essential that you consider each one a separate entity.

For instance, Instagram is a far more visual medium than Facebook, and you should bear this in mind when deciding what content to post on it.

This is also true on a technical level. For instance, different sites may use different formats and image types. You won’t simply be able to use one image for every site without cropping or editing it.

This means that you’re probably going to need to put some time into working out an effective strategy for each site.

Final Thoughts on Crafting a Visual Musical Brand

Social media is a great tool for sharing your music or growing your business. The above are a few of the most important approaches to using imagery and creating a strong brand. With enough time, and a bit of experimentation, you’re sure to be able to find what works for your musical endeavors.

8 Tips for Getting More Superfans Through Content Marketing

Hey, music entrepreneur!

Have you ever thought about promoting your music with content marketing? Over the long haul, it could be an incredibly effective way for you to increase your fan base.

In this post via Freddie Tubs, you’ll learn eight useful hints on how to generate results with content marketing.

By the way, if you think your voice should be heard, you can check out our guest post guidelines here.

With that, here’s Freddie!

Marketing is a big part of every musician’s career. If you don’t have a big label backing you, you’ll have to do it all on your own.

Luckily, marketing for musicians today isn’t what it used to be. You don’t need to shout your message from the rooftops to get attention. To be honest, that might work against you.

Marketing today tends to be subtler and cheaper. You can take advantage of social media, websites, podcasts and so on. Your audience is sophisticated – they want to hear something unique and they are willing to search for it.

This is why content marketing might be perfect for you. Once you connect all of your channels your audience will be able to find you with ease and simplicity.

Here are eight tips to help you master content marketing:

1. Build an Email List

One of the first things you should do when starting with content marketing is building an email list. Emails can be used to offer good content, discounts and other benefits that could lead to you getting more subscribers and a bigger audience.

You can do this by setting up a form on your website or by creating a landing page where you offer something in exchange for their email address. This process is fairly simple but it can bring you many leads and new Superfans, especially if you are offering something (like an MP3 of your latest release) for free.

2. Know Your Audience

Every musician needs to understand their audience.

Knowing this can help you determine what tone of voice to use, how long your content should be, what to talk about, where to publish your content and more. When you know who your audience is, you can easily tailor your content to them.

“You can get some demographic information on Google Analytics or social media analytics. For getting a bit of in-depth understanding, you can use polls and surveys either via email or social media”, – explains Carl Witt, a Content Strategist at UKWritings.

3. Use CTAs

CTAs or calls-to-action are those lines at the end of an email or a blog post, inviting people to share, buy, comment, like, visit and so on. You should make sure that you use one of these in each content piece you create. You shouldn’t just write a great post or an email and leave it without getting your readers to act.

At the very least, ask your audience to subscribe, like, share, comment, visit your landing page or something similar.

4. Understand Your Goals

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your music career. Then consider what you want to achieve with your content marketing. If you can bring these two elements into complete alignment, you’ll be able to create great content.

But, in essence, if your goal is to get more subscribers to your email newsletter, try using your content to get more subscribers. Your CTAs should call for subscription instead of something else.

5. Keep it Simple

Don’t try to discuss more than one topic at once. Your content should be simple and concise, allowing readers to learn the most important information first and then move on to other content pieces.

Pick a topic, discuss it briefly, give something useful to your audience and finish.

6. Use Content Editing Tools to Beef up Your Content

Of course, being a musician doesn’t mean that you are a good content writer as well. Still, if you want to grab the attention of your audience with content, you need to create high quality content.

If you aren’t sure how well you can write, you should use one of these tools to help you edit:

  • AcademAdvisor: Proofreading is a tedious task that requires a lot of work and time. You can do it easily with this tool.
  • OxEssays and UK Top Writers: When writing content, you can make a lot of grammar mistakes. Fortunately, these tools can help you fix them.
  • Best Australian Writers and Revieweal – If you are looking for good editing tools, these are the best ones out there.

7. Offer Useful Content

No matter what, you should always offer something valuable to your audience and each content piece should serve a purpose. Whether it’s tips, advice or just general updates you need to add value.

8. Start Early

Don’t wait until you have something to promote–- start right away. You should write content that will prepare your audience for your upcoming music and use that momentum to get more Superfans.

Content Marketing for Musicians

Content marketing is useful and powerful in every industry. It drives action and helps people. If you want to get more superfans, use these tips to come up with your own marketing strategy.

121 – Growth Hacking for Musicians Part 2: Strategy

If you’re looking to achieve anything of consequence, you need a plan. A well-defined plan can help you filter through the many distractions that exist and assist you in becoming laser focused on what you’re trying to achieve.

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I explain the steps you need to take to put together a strategy for growth hacking as a musician.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – How to be laser focused on growth
  • 00:49 – The importance of a strategy and how to create it
  • 01:00 – The problem with traditional business plans
  • 01:31 – Your entire strategy needs to be laid out on a single page
  • 02:02 – How to put together your one-page growth hacking plan
  • 03:22 – Creating systems around your strategy
  • 04:06 – Turning repetitive tasks into checklists
  • 06:01 – Defining your target audience
  • 08:11 – Concluding thoughts

Transcription:

As I said in part one of this series, a growth hacker is laser focused on growth.

The problem is that there are many ways to grow. In part one, I mentioned at least eight tactics you could build your strategy around.

If you’re going at this alone, you’re going to want to choose just one tactic and hammer it with everything you’ve got. Even if you’ve got a small team, you may not want to deviate too far from the central strategy.

So, at this point, you may not know what your strategy is going to be. You may want to listen to the rest of this series and then decide how you want to go about this.

Creating Your Strategy

But either way, you need a strategy, and it should be written down.

This is a key point, so I’m going to say it again:

Your strategy should be clearly documented and visible to you always.

And, I’m not talking about a business plan. There’s a huge problem with business plans – the information is laid out sequentially. The reason this is a problem is because each component of a strategy is – and should be – interconnected.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but with most business plans you can’t just start at page one and work your way through to the end. You end up needing to jump around. This is a terrible way to organize information you’re constantly going to be referring to. To be honest, this is an outdated way of doing things too.

Your entire strategy needs to be laid out on just one page, a whiteboard or poster board. If you need more retail space, then a whiteboard or poster board is a better option.

So, one of the first hacks you’re going to execute as a growth hacker is in creating a one-page strategy that makes it clear who your audience is, what resources you have access to, what your value proposition is, what channel you’ll be using to attract your audience, what strategic partners and alliances you could make, how you’re going to make money, and so on.

There are different ways of putting together a one-page growth hacking plan. I think it’s best to make it visually appealing, and it shouldn’t be a wall of text. I recently learned about the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas, and I think this is one tool you could use to lay out your strategy.

Now, there are a few components we’re not going to pay heed to as a growth hacker. The Business Model Canvas has a section for “Cost Structure”, and cost is not something we’re going to pay a lot of attention to. You’re either going to put in a lot of sweat equity, utilize a bit of your own money, or find another source of funding before you even get started.

To me, the most important sections to use with a Business Model Canvas are: “Key Partners”, “Key Activities”, “Value Propositions”, “Channels”, and “Revenue Streams”. You’re going to spend some time thinking about “Customer Segments” but not a lot. We want to get our targeting down to broad strokes as opposed to fine-tuned buyer personas.

As for alternatives to the Business Model Canvas, you could also take advantage of Allan Dib’s 1-Page Marketing Plan or even adapt something like the Kanban system to suit your needs.

Again, the key points here are that you take time to document your strategy, that it gives you a good bird’s eye view of what you’re trying to achieve, and it’s visually appealing. So long as you follow those rules, the rest is up to you.

Building Systems Around Your Strategy

A business owner recently shared with me that there are three personalities in every startup. I’m sure he got this from somewhere, but I don’t know where.

There’s the Hipster, the Hacker and the Hustler.

The Hipster is the creative person who’s skilled at connecting with an audience.

The Hacker is the systems person. They create processes and checklists that enable the team to function at peak efficiency.

The Hustler is essentially the salesperson. They work hard to convert leads into customers.

So, if you’re running a solo operation, I’m inviting you to see yourself as all three. Naturally, you’re going to be stronger in one area and weaker in others.

But for the intents and purposes of what I’m about to discuss, I want you to try on that role of the Hacker. To succeed as a growth hacker, you need systems.

There are many ways to map out processes and procedures, but I’m partial to checklists. When I say the word “checklist”, I probably don’t need to explain it, because you’re familiar with that format and know how it works.

Sequential thinking doesn’t work on a strategy level. But it works exceptionally well at a granular level. Most tasks you do can be broken down into a checklist.

Let’s say you’re planning to utilize social media as a core part of your strategy. So, inevitably there are going to be repetitive tasks you’re going to need to do. Repetitive tasks should always be turned into checklists.

For instance, let’s say you’re going to be posting something new to social media every day. So, here’s what a minimum viable checklist or skeleton might look like:

  1. Post to Facebook.
  2. Post to Twitter.
  3. Post to Instagram.
  4. Post to LinkedIn.

Now, you’re not just posting to those social networks. You’re posting something specific in a specific way at a specific time. So, you would create a description for each step, detailing exactly what needs to be done.

For example, you might add this description under the first step for Facebook:

“Ask a question, such as ‘what do you like most about metal music?’. Use fun and engaging questions that people will interact with. This allows us to gather more information on what our followers like and how we can create more of that. Post at 10 AM each morning.”

Are there tools to help you create and manage your checklists? There certainly are.

For most people, I suggest using a free tool, such as Google Drive or Evernote. In Google Drive, you would simply create a Google Doc and map out your checklist step by step. In Evernote, you can use checkboxes to make your checklist documents more stylized.

If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, I wholeheartedly recommend using SweetProcess. This is an online app that was developed specifically for the purpose of creating and managing checklists. I’ve used it myself in the past and think it’s a great tool.

Defining Your Target Audience

There’s one more thing we need to talk about here and that’s defining your target audience.

Now, your music isn’t for everyone.  So, we need to get specific enough that you aren’t just sending your message out to everybody. At the same time, we don’t want to get so specific that you need to spend ages in research. What we need is broad strokes.

The good news is there are a few tools that make it easy for you to get a good idea of who your target audience is.

The first tool is Alexa. First, you can enter your own website, if you have one, and learn about the location of your audience, what keywords people are using to find your site, who links to you and more.

Now, here’s where the real juice is – you can also enter competitor websites and learn about their audience. So, think of any artist or band like you who has a massive following. Enter their website into Alexa and spy on who their audience is. This should help you construct a solid demographic profile of who you’re trying to reach.

Another great tool for analyzing a website’s target audience is SimilarWeb. As with Alexa, you would simply enter popular websites into their tool, which will provide you with some valuable data.

If you have a good amount of traffic coming to your website, then Google Analytics is also a good place to look. Simply look under Audience > Demographics > Overview and you should get a good sense of the age range and gender of people visiting your website.

Similarly, if you have a sizable following on your Facebook page, you can look at your Insights to get a sense of where your audience is located, what age range they’re in and whether you have a male or female dominated niche.

The tools I’ve just shared with you give you a good handle on your audience’s demographic information. But there is a great deal more you can learn about them if you’re willing to dive deeper.

Neil Patel has a guide on QuickSprout called A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Reader Personas, and that’s a handy resource if you want to create a psychographic profile for your audience.

I think that’s going a little beyond the level of broad strokes, but if you’re willing to do the work, then go right ahead. You can always start hustling after you’ve carefully crafted your plan of attack. Just don’t spend ages in planning, as that flies in the face of growth hacking.

Final Thoughts

Well, we covered a lot of information, but I have no doubt that you got something out of this.

So, as usual, I’m going to offer another nudge to check out The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, specifically the Pro Packs, as they are only available for a limited time.

Go to davidandrewwiebe.com/essential to learn more.

And, I look forward to answering your comments in the show notes.

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.

3 Things I Learned from Composer Steven Lebetkin

I recently had the opportunity to interview Steven Lebetkin on the podcast.

I don’t know about you, but composition is something that has fascinated me for a long time. I’ve done a little bit of composing over the years, though I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m a well-trained and experienced composer. It’s just something I did because I enjoyed it.

And, I can certainly see it being something I will be doing more in the future because some of my friends and colleagues see me as being a skilled composer (particularly with video game style music). I will probably be taking advantage of my skills in this area for my future releases too.

In any case, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I learned from my conversation with Steve, and maybe you can take away something from this too – especially if you’re interested in getting into composing or taking your skills beyond.

1. To Reach A Broader Audience, You’ll Want To Explore Compositional Styles Outside Of Classical Music

Steven holds that classical music is on a steady decline.

Now, when you think composer, you might immediately think of video games, movies, TV shows, commercials and so on. And no question a lot of music is composed for these mediums.

But this isn’t to say you should limit yourself as a composer. Your music can reach a broader base of fans, especially if you embrace the idea that composition doesn’t need to be reserved for the classical tradition.

You can compose music and have your fans buy it and stream it, just like you would with any other style of music. The key is to create music that has the chance to appeal to a broader audience, regardless of the style.

As a composer, both licensing and placements and traditional sales are worth exploring. If there are opportunities to be had, you shouldn’t ignore any possibilities.

Personally, I love music that has the potential to work on many levels – in a video game, in a film or even just as background music while you’re working. I think that’s exactly what Steve means when he says, “music that appeals to a broader audience”.

2. Composing At A High Level Requires A Lot Of Education & Training

Can anybody be a composer?

Well, the answer to that question probably depends on who you ask, as well as what level you’re aspiring to.

As I already mentioned, I’ve tried my hand at composing, and I feel like I was able to create some cool mood music. But none of my music has found its way into media, and not a lot of people have heard it either.

As Steve contends, I think composing at a high level requires a lot of education and training.

This isn’t to say that some of the people who are regularly called upon to compose for TV shows and movies are the best in the world. I think that composing – along with media – has gradually shifted in a more commercial direction. And, this means there isn’t always a lot of thought that goes into the music we hear these days (ever notice how every movie soundtrack sounds the same and doesn’t have its own distinct identity?).

When you think of composers who’ve stood the test of time – like Ludwig van Beethoven – there’s a reason why their music is considered timeless. There was a lot of thought and care (and let’s face it – blood, sweat and tears) that went into it.

So, while I’m not saying that you can’t find your niche or fan base as a composer without a lot of training, education and experience, you certainly won’t be able to compose at a high level if you don’t.

3. The Ability To Self-Edit Is Rare – But It Will Open The Door To More Opportunities

I love the analogy Steve used to nail this point home (probably because I’m a writer as well as a musician).

When a writer puts the finishing touches on the manuscript of their book, in some ways, the work is just beginning. Now it’s time for an editor (or a team of editors) to comb through the prose and assess the overall cohesiveness of the book.

A book is a major undertaking. And, when publishers are looking to launch a new book, they want it to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. In addition to the usual grind of sorting through the grammar, punctuation and spelling of a piece, editing could mean removing huge segments of text, changing the order of chapters, rewriting parts that don’t connect to the theme of the book and more.

So, the importance of editing simply can’t be understated. Sometimes what makes a book a book is the editing.

As musicians, we can easily become precious about our works, holding fast to our vision of a song. Once it’s written, we often don’t want to compromise or budge on the arrangement.

Steve notes that when composers are asked to edit their work, they often go, “What do you mean edit? I’m wasn’t looking to make any changes”. They have a hard time comprehending why editing is necessary to begin with.

So, the ability to self-edit will make you stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking to pursue licensing and placement opportunities, decisionmakers will love working with someone who can tweak their music to suit the mood of a clip or scene.

This skill may take time to master, but if you’re serious about composing, it’s well worth the effort. If you’ve been trained in composing, then you should have the skill set and theory knowledge necessary to adjust your piece as necessary.

Final Thoughts

From the outside looking in, composing music might look like a fun and glamorous job. But it goes a lot deeper than you might think.

If you want to compose at a high level, it’s going to require years of training and hard work. You’re going to want to dedicate yourself to the craft and keep studying.

But for those who can’t imagine doing anything else, I can’t think of a more fulfilling job. The ability to engage in your passion on a daily basis and reach a large audience with your craft is an incredible privilege.