How to be a Successful Gigging Musician

How to be a Successful Gigging Musician

With the pandemic waning, many musicians, pro and independent alike, are starting to get back out there to share their music with the world.

Having survived these treacherous times, what can gigging musicians do to ensure they are successful with their ongoing live performance efforts?

“Where Can I Perform Music?”

This is the first question many artists ask, and it is the right question.

For better or for worse, though, there are no magical answers. We need to do our homework to identify the full range of opportunities available.

Here are some of the methods I’ve relied on over the years to find potential gigging opportunities:

  • The first is to go through your local entertainment rags and make a list of where other acts are performing. You may or may not be able to perform in these environments. Some of them are proper music venues, and you will have a better chance of booking with those. Some of them might be community centers, theaters, or churches though. And whether you can book these can be contingent on your budget, availability, personal beliefs, or other factors. But at least you can broaden your horizons by looking at where other artists are playing.
  • Second is you can check local events online. There should be an event site serving your specific township or city unless you happen to be living in a very small place, like a village or hamlet (in which case, broaden your search to a 50 or 100 km radius). And check to see where artists are performing. Again, if it’s things like stadiums or arenas, those may not be immediately accessible to you. But if it grows your awareness of potential opportunities, then it’s not doing any harm.
  • Third is you can check local artists and band websites. So, getting a good idea of the local music scene can only help you and not hurt you. Because you can look up these people on their websites, check out their social media channels, and find out where they’re performing. And chances are most of those venues could be great opportunities for you too.
  • And lastly, don’t forget alternative venues. Just because a specific place of business doesn’t typically book music doesn’t mean that you couldn’t potentially book yourself there. In fact, there can be some advantages to playing clothing stores or restaurants. You might have better luck getting paid what you’re worth, for example. So, even if it seems like a shot in the dark, it can’t hurt to start thinking a little bit outside of the box.

How to Get Gigs

How to get gigs? Now, this is another great question. And yet again, there are no magical answers.

But by now you should at least have a list of venues to target. So, let’s talk about the next step.

The typical process to getting a gig is this:

  • First, you want to find out who books the gigs and get their contact information. You can’t get in touch with them if you don’t have their email address or phone number. So, seek out that information. Oftentimes you can get this information by calling the venue. But you might also want to check their website – festival, event, venue, or otherwise.
  • Next thing to keep in mind is following instructions. That begins with contact method. A specific booker may request that you contact them via email, not phone, or maybe the opposite – via phone and not email. Follow these instructions for best results, and if they have any other requests, such as “please be prepared with music samples” or other relevant information, be prepared with that before making the cold call.
  • Next step is to be confident and proactive with follow up. The gig isn’t always booked upon first contact. This is a little bit of a long game. It doesn’t take forever, but you do need to be patient with the process. Not everyone’s going to get back to you right away. People are busy. So, stick with the process. Be tenacious and follow up every week or every other week. But don’t be too persistent. Don’t keep bumping email threads. This can only annoy people. Follow up intelligently and thoughtfully.
  • And finally, don’t forget to build relationships. There’s a lot of people out there, playing gigs, booking gigs, going to see gigs. These connections can all prove helpful. I found a lot of value in local instrument stores because they often have a sense of what the scene is like. You can go to workshops, clinics, and other music-oriented events. You can also make connections with band leaders; I’ve been set up with a lot of great gigs that way.

Work Out the Gigging Details

Next is to work out the gigging details.

Date & Time of the Event

You’ll want to nail down a date and time for the show. This will typically be on the weekend. And the venue may be booked up to a certain point already. So, it’s entirely possible that it will be a month or two out before you get to perform.

Posters & Promotional Materials

Next is to work out posters and other requirements. Does the venue need posters? Would they like it if you did have posters? Would it help them promote the event? Or do they create their own posters?

Do they have any other types of print material or promotional material requirements?

Promotion

Which segues nicely into the next point – promotion. How is the show going to be promoted? What’s the expectation? Are they expecting you to promote it? Are they going to be promoting it? Are you going to be collaborating on the promotion to get your fans out there?

Payment – Guarantees, Ticket Sales, Food & Drink Sales, etc.

Next thing to work out is how you’re going to be paid. The most typical sources include guarantees, ticket sales, a percentage of food and beverage sales, or a combination thereof.

So, how are you going to be paid? Are you going to be paid at all? And what’s the agreement around it?

Contracts

In some cases, you may also want to have a contract but in my experience, you don’t want to bring a contract into a situation where you can do without.

I’ve booked many shows at friendly local coffeehouses and bringing a contract into it would have been complete nonsense. Sure, they may not have paid me a lot of money to play at their venue. But bringing a contract into it may have prevented the opportunity altogether.

And always bring a contract into situations where professionalism is a requirement.

Merch Table & Email Signup

Also, there’s a few things to work out on your side. You want to prepare your merch. You want to prepare your email list signup forms. Check with the venue to see if they’re okay with you bringing in merch.

Quotes, Testimonials & References

You may want to prepare quotes, testimonials, and references so that you can get future bookings.

Focus on Relationship

And don’t forget to build a relationship with the venue, event organizer, booking agency, etc. Relationships are what get you gigs, not emails or phone calls.

Prepare for Your Next Band Gig

There’s a certain amount of preparation that goes into every gig.

You’ll want to spend some time rehearsing and learning new material unless you’re especially tight and already on tour. It’s generally a requirement that you prepare and be as good as you can possibly be for the occasion.

You’ll want to get your online presence in order. Whether it’s venue owners, event organizers, or show bookers, they don’t typically want to work with artists that seem like they don’t have their act together.

So, if your website looks like it was last updated in 2017, you might not get the gig. And even if you do get the gig, the venue is thinking they probably can’t count on you for any promotion. And then they might back down on their agreement to pay you a guarantee in the first place.

You want to make sure that your YouTube channel is loaded up with recent videos. This is one of the most common places for people to go to learn more about your band, to listen to your music to see what you’re like.

It can’t hurt to have some good live videos. Music videos are fine, but you don’t want to give the false impression. Gigs can go sideways if people think you sound a certain way, but you show up and don’t sound like that at all.

You want to make sure your music is available on all the major platforms. This doesn’t mean you have to distribute your entire album or EP, but you should still have singles on SoundCloud, Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, and so on.

Not everyone is going to check out your YouTube channel, not everyone’s going to check your SoundCloud account, not everyone’s going to listen to you on Spotify.

So, having a few different options for the people who want to book you, as well as the fans that are going to want to check out your music before they come to the show is word to the wise.

You also want to make sure you get your promotional materials together. That might include posters, banners, graphics, emails, social media posts, etc.

Another good thing to do is to prepare your gear.

Have everything ready to go, and preferably have backups for things like cables, capos, batteries, guitar strings, drumsticks, and so forth.

You can even practice your load in and load out process. See how long it takes you so you can be at the venue on time for soundcheck.

And it can’t hurt to develop checklists and systems for all this, because it can make it easier on you the day of the gig, for instance, if you don’t forget your music stand at home or something silly like that.

7 Ways to Maximize Musician Gigs

Now here are seven ways to maximize musician gigs.

1. Promote

The first is to promote. if there is an agreement that you would promote, or if it’s the type of show where you’re required to sell tickets… whatever the case, if promotion is part of the deal, then engage in promotion.

And if the show date is not on your website, you’re doing something wrong. You want to make your fans and potential fans aware of the opportunity to see you.

2. Make a Large, Physical Banner with Your Artist / Band Name & Web Address on it

No matter how many times you announce your artist’s name or website address from the stage, people sometimes still can’t hear you.

The microphones aren’t always set up perfectly for talking and speech, especially if they’re heavily coated in reverb.

The much simpler and easier way for people to find you, even those who only stick around for five or 10 minutes of your show, is if you have a big banner with your band name and website address on it. That’s going to help you maximize opportunities.

3. Set up a Merch Booth

Unless you have an agreement with a venue not to put up a merch booth, be sure to bring your merch and actively promote it throughout the show. Have someone running your merch booth the whole time if it all possible.

Have everything priced out, prepare some spare change. And have Sharpies ready to go in case someone asks you to sign something.

4. Collect Email Addresses Proactively

You need to have an email list signup form at your table. You can take advantage of technology these days, whether it’s an iPad or a laptop, but typically the more reliable way is to get people to write down their name and email address on a piece of paper.

5. Ask for Referrals

Ask the organizer or the booker or maybe even the sound engineer. “Hey, do you know of any other venues where we could play? Are there any other opportunities you’re aware of?”

If you ask for referrals and don’t get any, you’re in the same position you were before you asked. But if you ask for referrals and get some, you win.

6. Write a “Thank-You” Note

Write a “thank-you” note to the organizers, booker, or venue.

Be thoughtful, be considerate. Let them know that you appreciate the opportunity.

Repeat performances can always help you maximize your opportunities, so write thank-you notes when and where applicable.

Repeat performances can always help you maximize your opportunities. Share on X

7. Send a Post-Show Email Campaign

After the show, you want to welcome new subscribers. Say hello. Let them know how much they’re appreciated.

And if there was something specifically you mentioned at the show they can access, then send them the link. Whether it’s a link to your music on Spotify, a new music video on YouTube, or some other special offer they can claim.

Get Your Gig on, Gigging Musician

Well, that’s all there is to it. Get out there. Identify your opportunities, do your outreach, organize a date, promote the show, have fun, and maximize every opportunity.

If you do this, you’re sure to make more at every gig and grow an email list much faster than if you hadn’t carried out a plan with intention.

And if you’d like to learn more about my approach to gigging, pick up a copy of my first best-selling book, The New Music Industry.

7 Ways to Improve Your Marketing as a Musician

7 Ways to Improve Your Marketing as a Musician

Your music marketing efforts might be on track already.

But are there things you could do to expand your fan base and earn a greater income faster? Of course there are! Your music marketing could always be better.

Here are seven ways to improve your marketing as a musician.

1. Review & Iterate on Your Music Career Goals

Now, this might seem like a complete waste of time, and yet it’s the only way to tangibly improve or transform your music and marketing efforts.

Because if you’re not clear on what your goals are, how do you know whether your marketing is even effective?

You must have clearly defined, achievable goals to know whether what you’re doing is even working.

If you don’t have goals, take the time to write them down.

Remember – goals are not accomplished in the mind. They are accomplished out in the world! If you do not write them down, how do you plan to take them from imagination to vivid reality?

Goals are not accomplished in the mind. They are accomplished out in the world! Share on X

If you do have goals, then take the time to review them. Check to ensure you’re headed in the right direction and see if your actions are still consistent with your goals.

If not, revise!

Here’s the thing about successful people – they are always writing and rewriting their goals, reviewing them, revising them, writing down income figures they want to reach, and more. They make a big production out of the whole process!

2 Types of Goals

Now, when it comes to goal setting, I always look at two types of goals: quarterly goals and yearly goals.

And my quarterly goals are there to build up to my yearly goal.

It would be wise to recognize that, realistically, you can probably only add one thing to your career every 90 days, because everything takes time.

Recording an album every 90 days, for example, would be quite ambitious. You could certainly set a yearly goal of recording a new album mind you.

Something you could have as a quarterly goal is releasing a single or EP. Or maybe adding a new marketing channel.

But again, think in terms of what you can accomplish in 90-day increments. It will take a lot of the guesswork out of setting and achieving goals.

2. The Promotion of Music Gets Easier When You’re Clear on Your Brand

The clearer you are on your brand as an artist or band, the easier it will be to determine how to promote your music and where.

The clearer you are on your brand as an artist or band, the easier it will be to determine how to promote your music and where. Share on X

Let’s say you’re a new artist with some great singer-songwriter music, but you don’t know who your music is for, or why people would listen, or who you need to be for your audience.

If your music is great but you don’t have a brand, I’m sorry to say you’re going to fail as an artist.

On the other hand, if you’re a female pop singer whose message is female empowerment, and your image, lyrics, artwork, and everything else is all oriented around that, it’s going to make it so much easier to promote your music.

After all, there are major mainstream artists whose image is all oriented around the idea of female empowerment already and they are massively successful.

So, consider what your core purpose is. What is your mission? What is your reason for existing? That’s your brand.

Once you know that, you can figure out all the other details like colors and logos and fonts. That stuff doesn’t matter as much unless you know what your core purpose is.

3. Identifying Platforms for Musicians Where You Need to Create a Presence

We’ll talk more about social media and other platforms where you can post your music later in this guide.

But the most important platform is bar none your artist website. I’m not talking about a Blogger blog. I’m not talking about a LiveJournal installation. I’m not talking about anything that you can’t personally own and control.

The most important platform is bar none your artist website. Share on X

There are different solutions depending on what you’re looking for. You can go with a great solution like Bandzoogle or you can go in the self-hosted WordPress site direction I’ve advocated for years.

SiteGround is an awesome solution:

SiteGround

Either way, you need a central space where people can go to find everything about you.

You’ll want to build out your press and media kits, share videos and your music, add high quality photos, put email signup forms up and so on.

On every page, make it clear what your call to action is, it’s always good to have a focus for that. If you go too broad and try to get people to do too many things, your marketing is going to suffer.

But if you focus on getting visitors to do one thing, you can vastly improve your results and conversion rate.

Also take advantage of a tool like SimilarWeb to find where major artists are most active.

I looked up the band Korn and found that their fans engaged with them most on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Social media traffic

What artists were you influenced by? What artists do you sound like? You can go and look up their website on SimilarWeb to find out where they’re getting the most traffic from. And that’s going to give you a good idea where you should put your focus as well.

4. Learn How to Promote Your Music on Spotify & Improve Your Marketing

First, determine whether your audience actively listens to music on Spotify. If they’re not using Spotify, trying to send them there is a futile effort.

You’ll need to redirect your energies towards sending them to platforms where they do listen to music, whether it’s Amazon, TIDAL, Apple Music, or otherwise.

And if they prefer CDs, then make sure you press some CDs.

But if you’ve already confirmed that people do listen to your music on Spotify, here are some things you can do:

  • First is to run pre-save campaigns. We hear more and more about these recently, and they are working great for a lot of artists.
  • Second is to get your music playlisted. You might not be able to get into the top playlists, but you can certainly create your own, you can look for smaller playlists, you can collaborate with others in creating playlists together. Getting on playlists will pique the algorithm, so think outside the box and find ways to get on as many playlists as possible.
  • Put Spotify links on your website or blog. This is an obvious thing that sometimes gets missed, so be sure to link up your music on Spotify so your fans have a quick and easy way to access it directly from your website.
  • Next, put the Spotify logo on your posters, business cards, and print material. Even today, there are plenty of people that don’t know that an independent artist can distribute their music everywhere for a small fee. So, you will find that your fans are surprised and amazed that you have your music on Apple and Spotify and Amazon and elsewhere. Let people know. You can put QR codes on your print materials too.
  • Also use Spotify embeds to distribute your music further. You can put it on your own website or blog, you can put your embeds on social networks like BitClout where you can embed media directly on the platform. You can request your friends and fans and family to embed your music on their websites or blogs too. And the more places your music is seen the better the chance people will listen to it.

By the way, this is what a Spotify embed looks like:

5. Know Your Music Social Media Platforms

It so often happens that artists and bands get years into their music promotion efforts without giving their strategy a refresh.

If, for example, you haven’t even reviewed your plan in the last two years or so, you’ve been missing out on the TikTok craze.

Chances are you already know about YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (Twitter is especially hot right now). You might have profiles and pages set up on these networks already. And that’s great.

But these aren’t the only places for music can go. In fact, there are some social networks that have been set up specifically for musicians.

Bandcamp, for example, is an eCommerce solution, but it also has a social media component to it. And you can sell your music at whatever price you want using their platform.

Then there’s SoundCloud. A lot of reviewers like to use SoundCloud embeds on their blogs. And you may want to utilize it for press purposes as well.

And then there’s also platforms like ReverbNation. They may not be as popular as they used to be. But these sites still exist, they still offer some services, and you might be able to find some use for them.

So being aware of the various platforms available, how you can utilize them, how you can grow your fan base on them, is integral to you having better music marketing campaigns.

It’s never been more critical to refresh your plans every few months because new platforms are popping up all the time.

6. Master Social Media Marketing for Artists

This is how I would go about mastering social media marketing.

Your first step is to make your Dream 100 list, follow them, and model their posts.

What is a Dream 100 list?

Think of all the artists that you look up to. Think of the artists you’ve been influenced by. Think of the artists you sound like. These are the kinds of people that should be on your Dream 100 list because they have access to the audience you’re trying to reach.

And while you may not get any immediate traction from signing up to their email list, interacting with them on social media, and introducing yourself, over the long haul, if you continue to interact with them, if you add value, if you leave meaningful comments, if you buy their products, you’ll get their attention.

And once that happens, who knows? You might be able to get a shoutout, they might ask you to do a co-write, you might have the opportunity to appear in one of their music videos.

This is a long-term play though. You’re not going to get any results from it in the short term. But if you keep at it, you’re going to see good things happen.

The other note I’ll make about social media is to find the pathway. We recently talked about a pathway for Twitter in a video. And by pathway, I mean a steady, consistent, and reliable way to grow on specific social networks.

Right now, it’s easy to build on networks like TikTok, but that’s only because they’re new and their algorithm hasn’t been tarnished, yet. Guaranteed, it’s going to happen at some point.

So, no matter the social network, there is a way to grow, you just need to tap into it.

But understand this can take a lot of effort. It can take a lot of time to figure out what works on each platform so you can’t give up early. Expect that it’s going to take a year or more.

7. Even Unknown Music Artists Can Play to Their Strengths

As I already shared, all audiences have already been built. There’s no need to start from scratch anymore.

All audiences have already been built. There's no need to start from scratch. Share on X

But for some reason many artists still insist on starting at square zero and building from there.

Look at your Dream 100 list and determine how you can build a relationship with each of them. They have access to your audience.

And if you had a Dream 100 list before reading this post, take a moment to review and update it. Who have you connected with? Who haven’t you reached out to yet? What relationships are working? Which aren’t? Have you been able to work your way in or buy your way in? Have you guest posted, appeared on podcasts, or done YouTube collaborations yet? Have you run retargeting ads?

You don’t need to build the audience. You just need to get in front of the audiences that are already out there. So, start thinking on those terms, because there are many ways to get in front of the audiences and the communities that have already been built.

And it’s much easier to go about things that way than to insist on converting one fan at a time playing one dive bar at a time.

Conclusion, Improve Your Marketing as a Musician

No matter what point you’re at in your music career, if you take the time to optimize and calibrate your music, marketing, and your ongoing efforts to be heard, to grow your fan base and earn an income from your passion, you can improve your results.

And by following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can have breakthrough, transformative results you haven’t been able to get in your music career yet.

It’s all a matter of how you value the information because if you don’t act on it, or if you only apply parts of it, you’re not going to get the full results.

Improve your marketing with our Digital Marketing Essentials for Musicians course.

These 4 Learning Methods are Disproportionately Better

These 4 Learning Methods are Disproportionately Better

I’ve often said that there’s an abundance of free resources available: Articles, blog posts, eBooks, physical books, events, conferences, trade shows, magazines, newsletters, podcasts, videos. And what I’m starting to discover for myself is that there are some learning methods that are disproportionately better than others.

1. Newsletters

Number one for me is newsletters. Newsletters contain very specific targeted information. The one that I subscribe to is Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Letter. It contains information on marketing and sales and copywriting.

And whenever I read these newsletters, I come away feeling inspired, with great information in hand. Ready to act on a few things I’ve learned in the newsletter and get into action in my business.

2. Books

Number two is books. Books go very deep into a singular subject. It’s like downloading the author’s brain into your own, adopting their mental frameworks, their methodologies, their thought processes. You get to try them on for yourself.

And I think there’s really something to sustaining your thinking on a singular subject for a certain amount of time. There’s something magical about it.

Just like reading newsletters, the information is super targeted, but it’s also deep, it’s going very, very deep into a singular subject. And that has a way of getting me into flow and inspiring me because I’m making new connections.

3. Video Courses

Number three is video courses or home study courses or whatever you want to call them. These are excellent sources of information as well.

Typically, they’re even more focused than let’s say a newsletter or a book. You might be learning specific aspects of digital marketing like email, or how to use Facebook or things like that.

And while I have not always found them to be the most inspirational sources, certainly not as inspiring as a newsletter or a book, in some cases, I have come away from courses feeling lit up with the actionable insights I could now take to my own business.

4. Audiobooks

And then number four for me is audiobooks.

Now in a way this goes hand in hand with books. The difference I suppose is that you can listen to podcasts or audio programs or audiobooks in your car as you’re driving about.

Over the years, that’s really been the number one place for me to listen to these. But at one point, I was so obsessed that I even listened to them in the bathroom.

But compared to something like a podcast, which I don’t always find inspiring. I don’t always find new information to act on. And the subject matter being covered may not always be relevant to me right now. I can intentionally go out and find audiobooks that are relevant to me and are speaking to my situation and are sure to leave me with insights I can use in my business.

Conclusion

So, while there are a lot of great resources out there, the point is to invest in your education. You’re going to value these resources more. I pay for newsletters, I pay for books, I pay for video courses, I pay for audiobooks. Whichjust goes to show that I am more heavily invested in those than a blog post I read online.

What learning methods inspire you most? I know a lot of people say they like to watch videos. And there are certain visual things like how to tie a tie. That’s better suited to the video medium than say the audio or written word. But with a lot of how-to information, I’ve personally found that video is often unnecessary.

Either way, I would love to hear which sources of information and which learning methods work best for you.

10 Reasons You Should Learn to Write as a Musician

10 Reasons You Should Learn to Write as a Musician

When I started blogging on my artist website in the mid-2000s, I never would have anticipated that I would get to the point of publishing six books and becoming a best-selling author.

Since then, I’ve gotten to help artists in some unique ways, taking advantage of my writing and copywriting skills to help them have breakthrough in their music careers.

So, in this guide, I wanted to share 10 ways writing has helped my music career and the careers of others.

1. Better Messaging & Branding

Number one is you can create better messaging and branding.

Your brand is what magnetizes your fans to you. If you have a strong brand, and people understand what you stand for, and what you believe in, you’re going to find it easier to attract a fan base.

Your brand is what magnetizes your fans to you. Share on X

When your branding and messaging are weak, it’s much harder to attract an audience. Since you’re not clear on what you’re about, your audience isn’t clear either. And that means fewer people are going to be attracted to you organically.

Your music can only take you so far. It’s not enough to have great music, because everyone has great music nowadays. Even if you do grab someone’s attention, you’re not going to hold it unless there’s a purpose behind it.

If you don’t believe me, have a listen to my interview with the legendary Miles Copeland:

The other possibility is even if you are clear on what you’re about, if you don’t have a compelling way of expressing it, it’s not coming across in a way that your fans are intrigued and moved by it.

Strong writing skills help you create a stronger message and brand.

2. Powerful Music Artist Bio & One-Sheet

Number two is your music artists bio and secondarily your one-sheet.

Writing a bio is hard work. It’s hard to know what to include in there.

And even if you follow some of the steps, advice, and guides out there, you can still end up with a bio that’s kind of humdrum, not interesting, and doesn’t help you get gigs.

If you know how to write, though, you know what to look out for.

One of the mistakes artists frequently make is turn their bio into a long list of credentials and accomplishments.

That kind of stuff is better suited to a list. You could even put that list at the end of your bio if you want.

The better thing to create is a compelling story. And this is the story that most artists for some reason are unwilling to tell. It’s too vulnerable for them. It’s too authentic.

But that’s the story that needs to be told. Whether it’s the fact that your cousin took his own life, which happened to me, or you were a virgin when you broke up with your first girlfriend, whatever it may be.

Whatever that most vulnerable thing is, is the most human, relatable, and compelling thing that people are going to be drawn to.

3. Compelling Marketing Messages & Email Campaigns

Number three is marketing messages and email campaigns.

Email campaigns specifically require that you use text. You can still use graphics to communicate your message but ultimately, most of the heavy lifting is done with text.

So, if you know how to write, and you know how to trigger certain emotions, and take advantage of psychological triggers, you can get people more invested in your music. You can move them to action.

Overall, you’re going to become a better communicator with your fans if you work on your writing skills in an intentional way.

4. Content Creation & Blogging for SEO

Number four is content creation or blogging.

Not every artist has a blog. Not every artist should.

But publishing is one of the few ways you can get traffic online and to that extent, if nothing else, it’s a good idea to know how it works.

If you intend to build a relationship with your fans and generate more traffic with your website, learning to blog and create great content is a powerful way to get more results in your music career long term.

If you know the fundamentals of writing, you can blog and you can become better at it as you go.

5. Spreading Your Message with Guest Posting

Number five is guest posting.

I’m sure you’re aware that there are many publications and blogs out there.

And while you may not be able to pitch and get a guest post opportunity on every website, there are still many opportunities.

And you can always work yourself up the chain. You can start with smaller sites, and as you get a little bit of credibility there, you can move up to medium sized sites and then eventually up to bigger sites.

And that means you can reach bigger audiences over time with less effort.

Guest posting works just like blogging. The more posts you have, and the more you publish, the more traffic you get long term.

It takes time, though, and serial entrepreneur Neil Patel says you should expect to write 100 to 200 guest posts before you even see results.

But overall, guest posting is a powerful way to take control of your brand message and get it out to more people.

6. Press Releases to Build Awareness & Exposure

Number six is press releases.

I’ve had some success with paid press releases. I remember one time I sent out a press release talking about a performance I had coming up at a local coffee shop. I was told by the owners that they wouldn’t be able to pay me, which was a little disappointing.

But I understood their frustration and some of the difficulties they were facing being in a relatively new shopping center where the new residential communities weren’t populated yet.

I decided to do a good deed and promote my performance there with a press release.

And apparently, it landed in one of Calgary’s biggest papers.

When all was said and done, people were coming and going all day long.

The owners tearfully handed me a “thank-you” note after my performance.

You can’t expect those kinds of results without paying for press release distribution, but depending on the event and your angle, it’s worth doing.

7. Relationship Building & Outreach for More Industry Contacts

Number seven is relationship building and outreach.

These days, there are many ways you can communicate with people.

You can take advantage of Zoom, you can text and message people, you can give them a phone call.

But if you’re going to communicate through email and texts and messages, it would be a wise to develop your writing skills.

The best communicators can build better relationships faster.

The best communicators can build better relationships faster. Share on X

And since the music business is a people business, the quality of your connections is going to reflect the quality of your career.

If you’re a better writer, and you can identify the win-win, you create better opportunities and build a positive reputation that follows you around for years.

8. Earning Extra Side Income

Number eight is extra income.

If I talked about all the ways I’ve benefited from my writing, we would be here all day.

But I do want to give you a few examples. So, here are a few ways you can earn money from writing.

  1. The first is with eBooks. eBooks are basically just PDFs with informational content your target audience might be interested in.
  2. Then there’s physical books. I have six of my own books on Amazon. Three of them became best-sellers, and they’re all available as Kindles and paperbacks. One of them is available as a hardcover book as well.
  3. Number three is audiobooks. This might seem unlikely at first brush but know that most audiobooks begin with a script. And the script is usually taken from an eBook or physical book. If you want to make audiobooks, you can take advantage of something like the ACX program, split the royalties with a trained professional voice speaker and get them to narrate your book for you.
  4. Number four is Medium, and other revenue share opportunities. There are various sites out there still, where you can earn on views and the performance of your articles.
  5. Number five is ghostwriting and freelancing opportunities. I’ve picked up many of these through the years. It has more than paid my bills at times. And it’s what’s allowed me to put money back into my career and my businesses.

9. Presentations

Number nine is presentations.

One of the reasons to write a book is to get people to ask questions about it.

And once you have a book, and you’re recognized as an expert your field, often, they’re going to ask you to participate in speaking engagements, or to come on their podcast or radio show to explain your book.

If your book is especially good, and you know how to get in touch with the right people, you might even get to speak at TED.

So, books can easily transition into giving presentations of different kinds. Books can even turn into courses.

And as you can imagine, if you’re giving presentations to 10, 20, 30, 100, 1,000 people, you’ll be seen in front of a lot of people, and that will increase the chances of your music being heard by more people.

10. Improving Your Songwriting

Number 10, of course, is songwriting.

Now, lyrics don’t always follow a logical structure with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And they don’t necessarily need to.

But the better writer you are, the more likely you’ll be able to edit, make tweaks, and come up with better ideas.

You’ll learn to incorporate more compelling words in your music and your lyrics. You’ll learn to tell better stories. You’ll learn to incorporate narrative devices like punchlines, twists, and cliffhangers (like in the films).

So, if you want to become a better songwriter, becoming a better writer will have a drastic impact on your craft.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions connected to writing as an artist.

Can You Show Me a New Artist Bio Sample?

It used to be that you could find a bio on every artist website. For whatever reason, this is becoming rarer by the day.

After doing a bit of digging, though, we found a short bio for L.A. band Dummy. We captured it here as an image:

Dummy bio

There are both pros and cons to this bio. I’ll break it down for you here:

Pros:

  • The bio is clear and well-written.
  • The first paragraph focuses on their latest release.
  • Words referring to specific musical styles and cultures are used to give the listener an idea of what they sound like.

Cons:

  • The opening sentence, “Los Angeles band Dummy refuses to slow down” is not a hook, and rather evokes the knee-jerk response, “why should I care?”
  • I have no idea what they sound like from the descriptions given – there are references to far too many styles and genres, not to mention random adjectives. And I’m still not sure why I should care.
  • Apparently, their music avoids “brooding, dark, dramatic tropes,” while expressing these very emotions through their lyrical content about the burdens of the modern life, consumerism, environmental collapse, and so on. Make up your mind – you’re either depressing or you aren’t.
  • Where’s the story?
  • The last two sentences are a complete waste of space. We don’t care about the band moving forward, challenging themselves, or pushing their sound. We want to know what’s in it for us.

Using these reference points, you should be able to craft your own new artist bio.

Can You Provide Me with a Music Artist Bio Template Free of Charge?

How about this – I will cover the elements I’d be looking for in a music artist bio and you can apply some thought to what your story should be.

After all, I don’t know who you are let alone what style of music you play, so I can’t write your bio for you (unless you want to hire me). But I can give you a sense of what I’d be looking for.

Start with a Hook

People only read boring text for two reasons: 1) they’re required to study it, or 2) they’re so far into it that loss aversion has gotten the better of them.

What I want you to do is create a compelling headline or first sentence. The point of the first sentence is to get someone to read the second sentence. The point of the second sentence is to get them to read the third sentence. And so on.

Guitarist Lincoln Brewster has this as the first sentence in his bio: “For as long as he can remember, music has been an integral part of Lincoln Brewster’s life.”

Not bad. But most artists could say that about themselves.

A better hook appears in the second paragraph of his bio: “… the family had reached a tipping point and Lincoln watched as his mother went through a painful divorce that forced the family to relocate to California.”

Bull’s eye.

Start in the middle of the action, just like the best action movies do.

Start in the middle of the action, just like the best action movies do. Share on X

I would start my bio with something along the lines of:

“One day, at school, Wiebe got called to the office. Was he in trouble? What did he do? His heart started racing…”

Does that make you want to read more? Of course, it does. You want to find out what happens next!

Tell a Story

Everyone has an amazing story they seem to want to hide.

I once worked on a press release for a certain music company that mentioned how a certain classic rock artist got drunk at a signing and fell on the floor (I’ve been sworn to silence on the exact details).

Golden.

We didn’t get to use it because the owner was worried about bad press for the artist in question.

Look, no one said telling your story was going to be easy or comfortable. But that’s what makes it human, authentic, relatable.

No one said telling your story was going to be easy or comfortable. But that’s what makes it human, authentic, relatable. Share on X

You have some skeletons in your closet. And now’s the time to tell that story and weave it into your bio.

Mention Your Influences

Again, artists tend to think this is the opposite of what they should do, so they rail against the idea that they are like anything that has come before them.

Ridiculous. If you play chords, sing notes, and utilize rhythms, you’re not “unique” by any stretch of the imagination!

Remove all words of its kind from your bio – unique, special, unlike anything you’ve ever seen, distinctive, or otherwise. Don’t use these words or phrases. They are a meaningless waste of good writing.

Instead, I want you to lean right into your influences. I want you to talk openly about bands and artists you’ve been influenced by in your bio.

Look, as someone who’s reviewed dozens of music releases, I can tell you that reviewers don’t want a guessing game. They don’t want to try to figure out what “dark slime, hot and crunchy beats, and layered chocolatey synths“ is supposed to mean.

You are far easier to write about if you can draw comparisons and utilize references your reader is sure to know.

Quotes Can Spice Things Up

A good quote can sometimes say more about you and your music than anything you could possibly say about yourself.

Can you think of someone who’s close to you and understands what you’re up to that might be able to offer up a statement?

Again, we want to avoid generic sounding word soup like:

Well, they’re really amazing and they play this sound that makes you kind of happy and nostalgic at the same time.

That’s a waste of space.

But if someone can describe the heart and essence of your music, that’s what you’re after.

Since Jim’s father died of a heart attack, it’s like he’s transformed. He’s been so engrossed in his music, and what I can say about that is he’s clearly on a journey of personal healing while sharing his message of showing your love to the people you care about most every day.

Damn.

Can You Give Me an Example of a Funny Musician Bio?

An example of a great funny musician bio comes to us via the legendary Galactic Cowboys.

I’ve included the image of their bio below, so you can see for yourself.

Galactic Cowboys bio

Conclusion

The written word is a powerful thing.

There are many ways to communicate, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’d realize that much of this communication happens through the written word.

Whether it’s text/SMS messages, WhatsApp and Messenger, or emails.

And if you can be counted on to write well, you can create a great impression with others, and people will begin to trust that you’re competent in other areas too.

But if your writing is poor, people may assume that you’re not in integrity and that you will carry the same lack of attention to detail into other areas of your career.

So, did I miss anything?

Are there any other ways your music career could benefit from becoming a better writer?

Let me know in the comments.

272 – Spiderweb Marketing Essentials for Musicians

272 – Spiderweb Marketing Essentials for Musicians

What is the most effective but underrated online strategy for creating results in your music career? How can you use it to grow your fan base, get your gig on, and earn an income from your passion?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:30 – An update on Spiderweb Marketing
  • 01:07 – Creating a singular strategic focus
  • 02:27 – Email vs. SMS / text messaging vs. personal connections
  • 04:04 – Content syndication and distribution may not be the best use of your time
  • 05:51 – Every social network has a pathway
  • 07:10 – Episode summary
  • 09:02 – Closing thoughts

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Transcription:

Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.

And in this episode of the podcast, I’m going to share an update on spiderweb marketing, a topic I originally covered way back in episode 182 of the podcast and offered up as a free mini course.

It’s kind of funny to me that I can even say “way back” because it doesn’t feel all that long ago. But true enough, it has been over two years since we published that episode.

The strategy is still relevant and viable today. But we have learned a few things in the last couple of years.

So, let’s talking about fine-tuning the strategy to get the best results possible.

1. Set Goals & Create a Singular Focus for Your Spiderweb Marketing Strategy

Octopus marketing

At the center of the spiderweb is the beastly creature himself, the spider.

So far as this marketing strategy is concerned, the spider represents your website. The web represents the various channels you acquire traffic from. Getting people to your website is the entire goal of the strategy.

But more than ever, we need to be clear on what we want to get people to do once they’ve landed on our website.

More than ever, we need to be clear on what we want to get people to do once they’ve landed on our website. Share on X

Do you want them to sign up for your email list? Listen to your music? Watch a video? Buy your merch?

It’s going to be tough to get people to buy your merch or sign up for your fan club upon first contact. So, I recommend getting them to take one of the other actions just mentioned, something low pressure.

Since getting email signups is key to the strategy, you could potentially combine these goals. For instance, you could have the visitor enter their email address to receive a video, and upon signing up, take them to another page on your site to view that video. Boom! Now you’ve gotten more video views and have earned the right to contact the visitor about future offers.

At Music Entrepreneur HQ, our singular focus is to get newcomers to sign up for the PDF Vault. This is reflected on our homepage, and soon, it will be reflected across the entire site.

2. Getting Your Content Seen / Your Spider Web Content Marketing Strategy

ShortStack says only 10% of your followers see your new post on Instagram.

Across the entire spectrum of social networks, that number is much closer to 3 to 6%.

Meanwhile, email campaigns are generally seen by an average of 28 to 33% of your entire list.

There’s a reason we suggest prioritizing email list growth. If all your hopes and dreams rest on social media success, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the results.

But there’s more.

RedEye says the average open rate of a text message is roughly 99%, with 97% of messages being read within 15 minutes of their delivery.

So, if you haven’t started building your SMS contact list, that might be worth a try. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s superior to growing an email list, because different things work for different folks. But if you haven’t experimented with text message marketing yet, you might want to give it a try.

Beyond that, we still find that personal relationships should be valued above and beyond all else. This doesn’t mean that you’re immediately going to see immediate business results from networking and building connections, but there’s huge potential value long-term.

You may uncover gig opportunities, get referrals, or find an investor. And I’m not talking about anything I haven’t done!

So, never underestimate the value of personal connections – phone calls, video conferences, meeting in person and more.

Never underestimate the value of personal connections. Share on X

We recently found a new affiliate partner on Twitter, and that would have never happened if we weren’t dedicated to networking and outreach.

3. Content Distribution & Syndication May be Overrated

Content distribution

And while I stress “may” be overrated…

This is something I hate to admit, because I’ve gone deep into the topic and have invested a lot of time, energy, and income into repurposing and putting our content in more places where it had the opportunity to be seen.

But what we’ve been finding is that when we make content for YouTube, it does best on YouTube versus Facebook, Instagram, or Odysee.

When we make content that’s intended to be read, it does better on our blogs and sometimes on Medium or Tealfeed. Though, to be fair, if we do have a high performing blog piece, and we make a video based on it, it does tend to do quite well.

Again, though, doing a straight read of the blog piece wouldn’t be as valuable as creating a video centered on the topic, accompanied by appropriate visual media.

Podcast episodes do exponentially better on destinations where people are already subscribed to them – like Apple Podcasts or Stitcher – versus on Facebook, Instagram, Odysee, or anywhere else we might be inclined to send it.

Does this mean you shouldn’t distribute or syndicate at all? No. But understand that if you were to 80/20 the whole thing, you’d much better off developing content specifically aimed at the platforms you’re targeting.

Which is another great reason to determine your platform focus because you simply can’t be everywhere. I’m on Twitter, BitClout, Tealfeed, Medium, and YouTube, and besides that, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to pursue.

But note that auto-posting is not out of the equation. I still auto-post new blog posts to Facebook, various Twitter accounts, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. And our Tumblr following continues to grow without much effort on our part.

4. There’s Pathway on Every Social Network

Of course, there are always new platforms that reward you with a lot of traffic and views with less effort. Right now, that’s TikTok. But in the not-too-distant future, that’s guaranteed to change.

If you’re willing to jump from platform to platform, or to stick with a platform until it’s a sinking ship, then give this no further thought.

But if you want to build a solid following on long-standing, legacy platforms, understand that there’s a specific pathway to getting there.

If you want to build a solid following on long-standing, legacy platforms, there’s a specific pathway to getting there. Share on X

And when I say pathway, I mean a steady, reliable, consistent way to grow on that platform. Which, to be fair, is always a moving target.

But I recently published a YouTube video on this very subject, covering how I found a pathway on Twitter.

Finding your pathway on any social network could take a year or more of experimentation, learning, and seeking answers. If you’re unwilling to stick around for that, your time would be best allocated elsewhere.

I say all this with the core of the strategy in mind – your goal with spiderweb marketing is still to direct people to your own ecosystem, where you control the experience.

When you’re using social media, you want to be thinking strategically about how posting and creating a following is going to capture email subscribers, listeners, buyers, and so on.

You want to be thinking strategically about how posting and creating a following is going to capture email subscribers, listeners, buyers, and so on. Share on X

Episode Summary

In summary, here are a few things we’ve discovered about the spiderweb marketing strategy in the last couple of years:

  1. There is far too much noise out there to compete with. So, don’t try to do everything. Create a singular focus for your website. What do you want visitors to do once they’re on your site? Guide them in the right direction.
  2. Social media is useful, but inferior to email marketing. And while SMS / text message marketing isn’t superior to email marketing in every way, it has a ridiculously high open rate compared to email. Also, never underestimate the value of personal connections. You might even consider experimenting with putting a phone number on your site and test to see whether it helps you get more bookings, more opportunities, and so on.
  3. Don’t put all your time into content syndication and distribution. This is something to do when you have a bit of spare time, or when you’ve exhausted your marketing to-do list. But it’s not the highest priority, because content that was created specifically for a specific platform always does better than generalized or repurposed content, whether it’s TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, or otherwise. If you’ve got the budget for it, though, content repurposing is something you could delegate to a virtual assistant.
  4. If you have limited resources, be it income, time, personnel, or otherwise, there’s simply no way to be successful on every social media platform. I’m focused on five platforms myself, but I’ve got a solid pathway for two, a workable pathway for two others, and I’m still working on the fifth. There’s no point in me adding another network until I’ve at least determined a strategy for the fifth. Yes, with spiderweb marketing, the idea is to branch out into a variety of channels and lure traffic back to your own ecosystem. But if, for instance, you’re still trying to figure out Instagram, don’t worry about adding TikTok to your repertoire. Dive deeper into Instagram until you’ve found your pathway.

Closing Segment

Would you like to access our eBook on Spiderweb Marketing that lays out all the steps for you? Then you’ll want to sign up to access the free PDF Vault, where we’ve got countless other great eBooks, transcripts, cheat sheets, and other resources waiting for you. Simply go to davidandrewwiebe.com/PDFVault to gain access now.

This has been episode 272 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.

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