Grassrootsy Has Moved!!!!

Posted November 29, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized



Yes, it’s finally happened!
Grassrootsy is now

And there are  many-a-wonderful changes on the brand new site. Every post, every reader comment, and more has been transferred over to a more user-friendly platform. This particular wordpress site will soon be phased out and neglected.  So go check out our new home, tell your friends, and do a dance!

Enough said.

Quotable Quotes

Posted November 18, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Here are a few quotes that have made me re-evalute what it personally means to make art and be determined and successful in what I do. If you’re following us on twitter, you’ve seen a few of these before.

@RevRunWisdom “The problem with not havin a goal is, u keep runnin up & down life’s field & never score”
@relevantmag “If something comes easily and without sacrifice, it’s rarely sigificant.”
@bigsplashweb “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
anonymous: “Whatever you decide to do, do it well, finish it properly, and then you can feel free to move on.”
@magicalrealist “People just doing their Thing–whatever it is–& succeeding are 1000x more inspirational than anyone selling their guru-dom.”
@grassrootsy “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”
@grassrootsy “Dont be in such a hurry to do something poorly”
@grahamshackle “Whoever can be trusted w/ very little can also be trusted w/ much, & whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
@musicarmichael “unfortunately there’s no shortcuts to building true fans”
@robskane “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
@gapingvoid “Most super-talented original thinkers I know are pretty modest. The wannabes, generally less so.”

@joyike “There’s a huge rat race to “make it” as a musician. Instead of competing with others, start competing with yourself.  Do better than you did last year and you’ll be on the right track.”

How to Have A Pre-Internet Mentality

Posted November 15, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Internet, Uncategorized, Your Fans

Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s Grassrootsy’s 200th entry! Pretty exciting even though it doesn’t really mean anything (per-se).

Today I thought I’d refer to a funny comment Hugh MacLeod posted on his twitter account a few week’s back…

“Wondering how the hell anyone could’ve been successful, pre-internet…  ” –@gaping void

Have you ever thought that? I’ve actually thought about this alot. What would we do? How would we communicate with people?  Truth is, the internet could be a digitized version of the old days if wewant it to be…and it wouldn’t be a bad thing.  And if we did take that approach, we might even be more successful in our musical pursuits. Here’s more on that.

1. Think Locally. Back in the day, every neighborhood had its own butchery, milkman, bakery and post office. What if the internet could be like that. What if you had a close-knit community of folks that you correspond with on a regular basis?  What if you could go to these folks for anything – like splitting shows, cross promotion, getting new gig leads, and more. Treat the internet like your neighborhood. No, I’m not trying to limit you, but make an effort to create an online community that mimics reality.  Play your shows. After the show connect with the audience online, strengthen that connection. Use the internet to foster the connections your already have and to build things slowly and steadily.

2. Start Small, Go Big. You’re thinking waaaay too hard. Just because the internet holds the potential for you to reach millions of people, doesn’t mean you should go and do that. I have a very strong feeling that all the big companies like Fed Ex, Subway, Starbucks, (etc) didn’t start big. The founders likely opened one location in a city or town, saw it do well, and then decided to open a few more…and so on and so forth.  Any strong, successful, long-lasting company will first work to build a strong foundation with what it has before expanding. Work to build a strong foundation with what you have before you try to conquer what you don’t.

3. Don’t Ever Forget the Importance of Word-of-Mouth. It was the highest compliment back then and it’s still the highest compliment today.  Independent music existed long before the internet. But how did people share information? Word of mouth, of course! When you make your fans top priority, they will share you with their friends. They will bring their friends to shows, and they will support what you’re doing. And this is the beauty of the internet. Word-of-mouth exponentially increases when the internet is involved. It’s an old-school concept in a new format.

By the way, MacLeod is the author of a book called “Ignore Everybody”.  Its a pretty incredible wake-up call to anyone who’s been sitting on their creativity but wants desperately to use it.  Here are some blogs we wrote referencing the book a few months back..

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What’s Your Merch Setup?

Posted November 10, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Making Money, Merch

Tags: , , , ,

Don’t know how we missed this, but Baltimore Band Stars and the Sea posted this comment a few months back.  Check out there merchandise table setup above.  If you’ve got a clever merch setup, post a comment below with a link to a photo. Here are their comments…

Here’s our merchandise setup:
I’m using light tubes from Home Depot for the lighting
Total cost $30 for the Small Old Suite Case, $7 or so for the light tube.

I’m also making a small treasure chest type donation box with a U Bolt and a Chain so I can lock it to a table.

p.s. check out Their website is nothing short of great!

See: Must Haves for Your Merch Table

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3 Big Mistakes That Artists Make

Posted November 8, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: E-mail Pointers, facebook, myspace, Uncategorized, Your Fans

Tags: , , , , , ,

The below suggestions have probably appeared on Grassrootsy in various posts, but last week I thought I’d loosely keep tabs on artist emails and FB messages and tweets  just to see what people are still doing these days.  Here are a few…

1. Falling off the map
What!?  Who are you?  Oh…I almost forgot because I haven’t heard from you in 3 months!  This might be a pet peeve of mine.  Don’t send your fans an email every 3 months and expect them to remember who you are. In the age of over-saturation, you’ll have a much greater shelf-life if you communicate too often as opposed to not enough. Falling off the map after having a successful run is like going 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Granted, everyone needs a break at some point. But occasionally touch base with your fans to remind them you still exist. See: Setting the Record Straight: Reminding People You Still Exist for more thoughts on the matter.

2. Launch a website with nothing on it.
This is aonther personal pet peeve of mine.  If you want people to be interested in your music, don’t send them a Facebook invite to your band’s page if there’s no music on it. Duh. And don’t send people a link to your new website if it’s completely blank. What is it you want them to see when they get there?

This is also equivalent to inviting your friends to an event via Facebook. Let’s say you want your friends to come see you and “John Doe” perform at club “XYZ”.  Make sure the Facebook invite has links to both your websites.  That way, folks can actually check out your music and make an informed decision about attending the show. An informed fan is an involved one. People will eat the information you give them so make sure you give them something worth digesting. See: Perception is Reality for more on this.

2. No email address?
Yea, you probably have one but if you don’t put it on your website, no one would ever know!  Have you noticed that you can’t  send messages to the administrator of a Facebook Page. Annoying. So if you don’t have your email address in the “Info” section (or better yet, in the information box on the home page), how can anyone reach you? Some things aren’t meant for the Facebook wall.

And, believe it or not, folks still use MySpace to check out new artists.  But at this point, you should know you can’t email someone on MySpace unless you have an account…and people aren’t really creating MS accounts these days.  SO if you don’t have your email address in a very visible location, you’re potentially missing out on bookings…etc.

Even worse is having a website with no email address on the contact page. Contact forms are great, but an email address will travel further, faster.

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I Don’t Know html. How Do I Build a Website?

Posted November 4, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, html

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

ARTIST: Eric Downs of Yours Truly (Pittsburgh, PA)
QUESTION: I was wondering if you could suggest a few things for me to research in regards to building a website. I’ve researched options like the cost of domain registration and hosting fees, but outside of that, I’m relatively oblivious. Do you think you could provide me with some guidance?

ANSWER: Hey Eric. Yea I think the biggest hangup preventing artists from owning their own website is not know html code.  Yea its easy to get someone to design a site for you, but you still need to be responsible for maintaining it.  Here are some great options.

1. Bandzoogle. I’ve heard really great things about Bandzoogle. Artists have told me its great because it helps you design a site without needing to have any html knowledge.  BZ handles all hosting and you can claim your desired domain name through them.  The minimum fee is $9.99/ month. This is more costly than registering a domain and buying annual hosting space on your own…but the ease and user-friendly approach of BZ is what sells the idea.

2. WordPress. Everyone uses WordPress. Believe it or not, many of the sites you visit today are created with WordPress. You have to register your own domain and hosting. And it’s definitely necessary to have some html and css knowledge to establish your site. But once everything is in place, updating your pages is easy.  Wordpress has thousands upon thousands of themes (i.e. designs) that you can pick for the layout of your website. Here are two ways to go about using WordPress.

  • Consider having someone do all the setup (if you can’t), then go in and do all the tweaking. My sister’s band,  The Peace Project,  just did this with their site, but you might never know it’s WordPress. She added and updates the content when she wants.
  • Consider having someone do the setup and design. Maybe you can’t find a WordPress theme that you like. Create one. This is a bit more work and would also require a third-party if you don’t know how to do this. I had someone custom make a design for my website, Css and html knowledge that I didn’t have was required. But it feels great not having to worry about using html when updating

Good luck with your website! I hope it goes well!
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So What Exactly Is A Manager?

Posted November 1, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Administration, Contributed Articles, Interviews, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

So I posted this on our Twitter feed last week and think it’s also worth posting here. Uber successful artist, Josh Ritter, decided to do an interview with his manager and stick it on his blog:   Making a Life in Music, Vol. 4: “What the Hell a Manager Does”. I love when other artists decide to share their knowledge with so I have much respect for you, Josh!

The blog is a challenging piece on what a manager does, how an artist works with a manager, and all the things you should be doing to find yourself in a healthy relationship with someone who assumes that role.  The interview includes a quick recap of Ritter’s beginnings through the eyes of his manager, friend, and dorm buddy, Darius Zelkha. It also addresses all the questions you’ve ever had, and all the questions you never thought of.  I read it word-for-word last Friday and loved it!  Thanks to Jon S. Patton of the group Midway Fair for the Grassrootsy recommendation.

How Do I Get A Journalist to Come to My Show?

Posted October 27, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Getting Reviews

Tags: , , , , , ,


THE ARTIST: MC Till (Cincinnati, OH)
THE QUESTION: So, I read your blogs about getting reviews.  Great stuff.  Instead of going for album reviews what I really want to do is get show reviews.  Have you heard of such a thing?  I want a journalist/blogger to come to a show and then write about it.  That might be a lofty goal, but I’m a lofty guy.

THE ANSWER: Yea, I’ve heard of this idea before and I think it’s a great one! I have to be honest though, I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to score one of these so I’m not sure of the “proper” procedure. But here are some thoughts on the matter.

1. Give Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Think about it: not only are you asking them to like your music, you’re asking them to like your music enough to donate an evening to you.  If you want them to commit, it needs to be the show. What are some ways your show can stick out?

  • Incentive: Give them 2-3 complimentary tickets to the show. Pick up their bar tab for the night.  Is this bribery? hehe…
  • Lineup: Perhaps you’re opening for a really huge name and you think its worth a write-up. Maybe it’ll turn out that 60% of the write-up is about the other guy, but you’ll be 40%.
  • A Good Cause: These are the best…especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas (hint hint).  Papers love writing about food drives, fundraisers, and charity events. Think about partnering with a local organization and build some press opps around that.

2. Your Pitch is Twice as Important
Again, you’re not just selling one idea, you’re selling two. One: like my music. Two: come to my show. So take that pitch email seriously. Be respectful, be thorough, and be brief. Yes, its possible to be thorough and brief  – giving just enough information but not too much. Check out How to Score Reviews of Your CD for examples on how to write a pitch. Note that, in this particular case, your pitch will look something like:

  • paragraph 1: introduce yourself and say why you’re writing
  • paragraph 2: give some more details about you and your music
  • paragraph 3: give facts about the who/what/when/where/why of your event

3. Build a Relationship
Get to know your local music editors. Think of it like a relationship. You’re more willing to do something for someone you care about versus someone you’ve just met.  Maybe having a reporter come out to your show could be a long-term goal.

  • initial contact: shoot an email to see what their submission process is like
  • later down the line: contact them about your new album chock full of an appropriate pitch, press info, and a hard copy of the project
  • and even further down the line: hopefully you’ve been corresponding with him/her to the point where asking for a show review isn’t far-fetched. Note that this process could be a year-long situation where you’re simply on his or her radar. The key is to build rapport

4. Just ask
It doesn’t hurt to just ask if they do reviews. Being blunt is often the best type of communication. This might work best with bloggers who, by default, have a reputation for being more informal.

p.s. I like your T-shirt. I think you’re beautiful too.
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Starting a Music Series

Posted October 25, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Performing, Venues, Your Fans

Tags: , , , , ,

Have you ever wanted to start a music series – a Coffeehouse series up the street from your house, a regular singer-songwriter night residency with your favorite venue, or maybe a ticketed house show that’s known for quality music, good food and company? Fall is a really good time to do this. I recently had a friend email me for suggestions about starting a series and here are some things that came to mind…

It’s a good change of pace
Picking one thing and doing it well is a really great idea. Maybe the idea of booking X number of shows in X number of places exhausts you. If you think about it, doing one show at the same place is much easier and will definitely help you build a solid fanbase. It might limit you to a geographical area, but it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to focus on this approach and take the occasional show elsewhere whenever its offered.

Don’t do it too often
Once a month. If you want to do a show well, give yourself time to promote, host, rest, and then do it all over again. A monthly series will stick in people’s minds. Every 2 months is a bit too infrequent and every week will wear you out. Some things don’t take much preparation (i.e. weekly open mic…etc) but to do a show and really do it well, you need time, strategy, and rest so you don’t burnout. note: also remember that location has alot to do with how heavily you’ll have to promote. Maybe you could get away with a show ever two weeks if you’re at a central location with alot of walk-ins.

First time is a charm
Promote that first show like your life depends on it. Do it up so big and get the biggest turnout you can. If the first one is a success it will do all the work for all shows to follow. A good first show means people will come back. It means people will tell others. It means people will make Facebook comments about how much they enjoyed the first one and can’t wait for the next one.  I’m convinced that the key to the success of a music series is the very first installment and the maintenance of that vibe…which leads us to the next point.

Establish the vibe and stick with it
Pick a good name for the music series.  Make sure the space you’re hosting the show matches the type of vibe you want your event to give off.  Pick the most important aspect of your series and never change it. This is what will keep your core audience coming back.

The wonderful thing about hosting a music series is that you can bring in so many different artists over the life of the series, you can make yourself the resident musician (if you wish), and you can build a fanbase for the series and for yourself. Its like killing two birds with one stone.


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Where Has All The Funding Gone?

Posted October 20, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Making Money, Merch

Tags: , , , , ,

Funding is fading! At least that’s what it feels like.

Funding for the arts has always paled in comparison to funding for other things; but I’ve noticed even more of a decline in the last year. I especially can’t believe how many “sorry our budget is much smaller this year” conversations I’ve had in the last few months.  I’m finding that I have to be more creative and sometimes less creative (read on, you’ll see what I mean) to get paid gigs.

Here’s one of those less creative options.  Sometimes we get not because we ask not. I’ve found that when I’m asked to do a pro-bono weekend gig, it’s not always possible. Just like for a waiter or waitress, Fridays and Saturdays are the best gig times – more customers (audience), more tips (sales).  This post was pretty popular when we put it up over a year ago. Check it out:  Money: Ask and You Shall Recieve…Sometimes.

It’s weird how this works, but the more options you have, the more money you make.  Having more options guarantees that there’s an alternative for the hard-to-please customer and that you can always do bundle discounts for folks who choose to buy both albums (a perk that really does work). More often than not they’ll by both if its a good deal.

House shows will make you solid fans and they will also give you an intimate venue where you don’t have to split the cover with a doorman. Read this post for more details: What Are Your Thoughts on House Shows?

Brainstorm some unconventional ways to do what you do.  Chances are, if everyone is doing it, there’s less money in it. Think of your ideas like inventions. If you create something that’s completely unique, you can patent it, put it on the market and make 100% of the profits.

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Pretty Soon It’ll be Second Nature

Posted October 18, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Anyone can do this, Helping Yourself, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,


Here’s a short one for ya today…

Often when the season changes I feel obligated to make life changes – do things differently, like clean my apartment, among many other thing.  This fall, I began working out,  hanging up my clothes intead of throwing them on the floor, spending less time online,  and taking more time to read. It’s been a refreshing change and it’s also a pretty great routine that’s become hard to shake now that my schedule is used to it.

As I was power-walking (if you really wanna call it that) last night, I realized that there are alot of things in life that we don’t do even though we know we should. If people ate well and stayed consistently active, shows like The Biggest Loser wouldn’t exist. If we did little things to keep our apartments clean on a daily basis, we wouldnt have to do a major clean sweep before guests come over for special occasions.  So…

1. Spend 30-60 minutes looking for gigs each day

2. Post content on your Facebook page at least 2x a day – video from one of your shows, status update(s), details about an upcoming show…etc

3. Listen and learn from others. Music Business Radio is always great…especially a recent interview with Sara Bareille s on how she made it big.

4. Make sure your website has at least one new update per week.

5.  Do it even if you don’t want to. Pretty soon it’ll be harder not to.

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Is Bandcamp Really Worth It?

Posted October 13, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, Making Money, Merch

Tags: , , , , , ,

THE ARTIST: Caleb Pogyor (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: I was just wondering if Bandcamp has been good to you in terms of fairness and profit. Is it worth signing up and selling a $5 record? I’m releasing my new album on October 25th and was trying to find a good site to sell through.

THE ANSWER: I really love Bandcamp and I’ve written alot about these guys in the past. Here’s one of those posts: Bandcamp- A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent. But is it worth it financially?  Here are my thoughts…

1. Bandcamp has the artist in mind. Most download sites take roughly 30% of your track sales. On Bandcamp you can set the price of downloads and it routes through your paypal. Bandcamp takes 15% and then paypal takes a cut as well…but it still doesnt add up to 30%.

Bandcamp is also a good place for doing  promotionals. The site allows you to get people’s email addresses in exchange for a free download.  Things like this will help you build your fanbase. You can also run special promotional code discounts and other promos that you wouldn’t be able to run through iTunes or the bigger download stores.

Bandcamp will also give you a good platform for allowing people to hear your full CD before they decide to buy it. Some people might never buy it if they can hear it anytime for free, but some will.

2. iTunes has more customer loyalty. The reality of it is that most people will get your music from iTunes no matter what. Use Tunecore for this. Tunecore is a platform that allows you to submit your music to big dogs like iTunes, Amazon, Napster…etc. Read this post for more on that:  Alternatives – CD Packaging, Production, & Distribution.   iTunes is pretty much a monopoly in this game of digital downloads. So if you’re looking for a spot where 95% of people are already visiting, put your stuff on iTunes.

3. Who says you can’t do both? iTunes in great, BUT  Bandcamp is awesome for the folks who dont want to submit to “the man” 🙂 and folks who are looking for unconventional ways to do what they do.  So who says you can’t do both. Put your eggs in multiple baskets and they’ll both benefit you in different ways.

You might want to apply for Paypal’s “Micropayments Rate“.  According to Bandcamp, if the items you sell are under $12, it’ll be more advantageous to go the micropayments route so you get the best bang for your buck.  Think of it this way:

If you’re selling a $.99 track through bandcamp, Paypal will still take 30% of that and bandcamp will take their 15%.  You’ll get roughly $.55 of every dollar. That’s not exactly ideal. But if you set up micropayments, Paypal will take a much much smaller percentage and you make more to the dollar.

This is yet another reason why i love working with Paypal and Bandcamp.

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How Do You Know if a Show Will Be Worth It?

Posted October 11, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Finding/Getting Bookings, Performing

Tags: , , ,

So you’ve been asked to do a few shows but you don’t which ones you should take. I think we’ve all run into this. DON’T take every gig because some really aren’t worth it and who has time to waste. Choose wisely. Weigh you options and base your show on how it will further you in your goals. Here are a few questions to ask yourself…

How far is it and will they be paying you?
If you have to drive a distance and you’re not sure if you’ll even be able to cover your gas, you should think twice about playing this show. Sometimes a show isnt worth your time+gas+tolls. Guestimate what those three will be and weigh it with the financial+fan+experiential return of the show.

Is it an easy show?
I really love those occasional “golden” shows where I don’t have to work for an audience because I can count on a built-in crowd. Sometimes you just need an “easy” show so you can take a break from the constant hustle.  Gigs like this are often worth it even if the monetary take home isn’t all that great.

What Kind of Experience Will You Have?
It’s often hard to gauge this. An experience can depend on a number of things – other artists on the bill, the space, and who decides to come. Don’t always equate experience with turnout. Some of my best shows personally have been for groups of 10 or 20.

Does this show have potential?
Potential to put you in front of a brand new fanbase? Potential to expose you to “important” decision makers. Potential to open new opportunities for you? Maybe the show will serve as a resume builder instead of a great paying opportunity. Shows like this are great.

Do You Want to Do it?
It’s a simple question that I sometimes forget to ask myself. Remember, if the emails are landing in your inbox, you have the power to decide if you want to play it or not. Don’t find yourself at a gig you don’t care for.  If you don’t care about it, you shouldn’t play it. That’s no fun for anyone.

An Interview with Yours Truly

Posted October 6, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Performing, Your Fans

Tags: , , ,

Yours Truly (L-R Eric Downs, Justin Portis, DJ Huggy)

Grassrootsy has gotten into the habit of interviewing singer/songwriters. Sorry guys! We forgot that there are bands out there reading this blog!  So I’m excited to share Yours Truly with everyone. They’re a fairly young power-pop-rock band based out of Pittsburgh, PA and they sound great!  I’ve got ears to prove it!

I ran into YT’s drummer, Eric Downs, at a show earlier this year and have since engaged in several great promotion-related conversations. I love a good idea!  After his comment on last week’s “Should I Avoid Shows that Require me to sell Advance Tickets?“, I asked Eric if he’d like to answer a few questions.  Read the below carefully because its good!

1. YT is fairly young. What’s the story on how you came together? Yours Truly actually formed as the result of a mutual contact, a contact you and some Pittsburgh readers may know, Gene Stovall.  Gene’s been playing around the city for a long time, and at the time that we met (my junior year at Pitt), he was trying to put together a band to play re-made covers.  This is where I met Huggy, who had been playing with Gene for some time.  We gigged in, and occasionally out of Pittsburgh, for a while.  One night, Gene got us a gig in Erie, PA, and Justin, YT’s leader singer and guitar player, happened to be in town from NYC.  Gene asked Justin to join the gig, and Justin and I carpooled up to Erie together.  During the two hour ride, he and I discussed everything we thought about music: our likes, our dislikes, our hopes, and our nightmares.  By the time we arrived and set foot at the venue, Yours Truly had been formed, with the unknowing DJ Huggy enlisted on bass.

2. You’re the drummer huh? Grassrootsy often talks about how important it is for bands to split up the roles of their bandmates. What are each of your “roles” or do you find that you carry the responsibility to keep things runing? I think the roles in our band are funny.  Justin and Huggy have much more experience in the music business than I do, and their specialties are songwriting and production/engineering respectively.  That basically leaves me with everything else, haha, and it’s funny because these are things I’ve never even considered undertaking before.  Things like managing, booking, finance, graphic design, merchandise, marketing, social networking, and more.  With the exception of personally using Facebook, I had absolutely NO experience doing ANY of these things upon entering the band.  However, what I think drove me to jump in and learn how to do these things was hunger.  I truly believed (and and even moreso strongly believe today) in our product, and so I was willing to put in the time to research what it means to be a band manager, how to professionally book a venue, how to use software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create merchandise, how to copyright music, how to create and manage an e-mail list, how to develop a working expense system, and the list goes on.  And it’s not like I didn’t fail at most – no – all of these things, but it’s like the Wright Brothers trying to fly a plane – all the failures are what make the success so sweet, but it’s the hunger to succeed that fuels you through the failures.

3. You’ve dropped a few of your novel ideas to me via email and in Grassrootsy comments (they’re always great). What has been your most original idea to date (if you want to share it)? Why has/did it work?  Haha, I will say that I have had a few tasty morsels cook up in my head over time – many I’m quite proud of.  If anyone is interested in these, I’d be happy to chat about it, but the most original idea I’ve had has got to be “What’s Mine Is Yours.”  This is going to be a long answer (so if you don’t want to hear some blowhard ramble on for a few minutes, skip this section):

“What’s Mine Is Yours” was an idea for an event I had had that was centered around one thing and one thing only:  everyone else.  This idea spawned shortly after reading a short e-book written by Derek Sivers; something about “survival guide” in the title or something (you’d think I’d remember the name if it had this much of an impact on me, haha!).  Anyhow, in the e-book, Sivers outlines many useful points, but the one that stood out to me the most is that “to be a successful musician, everyone else comes first,” or something to that effect.  What this means is that, by whatever means necessary, the interests of the fans, the promoter, the venue, the other bands, the door man, the sound man, the merch producer, ANYONE with whom you do business must come first.  Think about it.  Who buys the CDs and t-shirts that pay your bills?  Your fans.  Who makes you sound good (or bad, ha)?  The sound man.  Who pays you a (fair) settlement at the end of the night and considers inviting you back?  The promoter/venue.  And this goes on.  My perception of so many bands out there is that, “I think my music is good, so if I hold a show, I’m sure people will come and they’ll love the music because it’s so good so they’ll buy all my stuff and since I sound so good, the venue will have me back,” and I’m thinking, are you serious??  The sad reality of the music scene in it’s entirety is that it’s hard to find people who care.  Why should people get off of their warm couches to come stand around in a smokey bar for 3 hours, leaving at the end of the night with a stench and a thinner wallet?  The venue probably sees 10-15 bands a week – why should they care about yours?  Again, the questions go on.  What I began to do is try to start answering these questions.

If I were the target of this promotion, what would get my lazy butt off my couch to come out to a show?  Again, more often than not, the music is not enough.  What else can I do?  Well, I figured that people generally like free stuff, so I started to brainstorm on what kind of free stuff I could give away.  I started digging around my house and realized I had an old PS2, a TV, and a season of Family Guy I didn’t use anymore, so I gathered them up, continued looking, and instructed the band members from my band and the others on the bill to begin assembling stuff of the like.  Originally, I had wanted to find a business or two to sponsor the event and buy giveaways prizes in return for advertisement, but I couldn’t find one, so I drafted a business proposition and delivered that along with our band’s business card and a flyer to the show to EACH and EVERY business on the South Side (where the event was taking place) bar none.  I let the businesses know that by donating coupons for their goods, they’d be gaining advertisement to a demographic who would be letting out of a show around 10 PM and would be hungry after standing around for a few hours.  Of course, any employees of these business that wanted to attend got free tickets, too.  I got three businesses (Carson St. Deli, Primati Brothers, and Blue Grotto) to donate gift certificates.

When people started to file into the show, they received a small piece of paper, informing them that our goal for the night was to have nearly every person in the audience leave with something in their hand that we gave them for free.  It informed them that there would be four awesome bands playing that night, and that each band would have an e-mail list set up at their merch table.  Each time you sign up on a band’s e-mail list, you get a raffle ticket, so, 4 bands = a total of 4 possible raffle tickets.  We would draw for the raffle at the end of the night (as to prevent “show-up-for-my-friend’s-band-and-then-leave syndrome”).

All of this translates into a winning situation for literally all parties involved.  The audience gets to see an awesome show, but then on top of that, most of them receive a free item (most of the time of notable value) ranging from a TV to a t-shirt to a pre-lit christmas tree to gift certificates to local South Side businesses, etc.  When they take that prize home, even if it just sits on a shelf, every time they see it, they’ll have a visual reminder saying, “oh yeah, I got that Sega Genesis + 6 games from that awesome show I went to!”.  The venue gets a packed house (we aimed for 150, we got 147 in the Smiling Moose!), so both the venue and the bands get a nice chunk of change and the venue is more likely to host the event again.  The bands get a huge influx into their e-mail lists (so valuable), and they get to get rid of a bunch of stuff they don’t want anymore. Plus they have a big audience to which they can sell merch!

Ok, whew!  What a freakin’ mouthful!  Anyhow, again, this all stemmed from thinking of everyone else first.

4. As a young band, what is a hard lesson you’ve had to learn? Pick your gigs well.  If you don’t do your homework (what day?  what time?  in what order will you be playing?  what other major shows are taking place that night that will take attendees from you?  what’s the settlement?  mainly, WHY WILL THIS SHOW BE WORTH IT?), you’ll screw yourself and waste your time.  Sure, when you’re starting out, take what you can get, but as you grow, only play in your primary/home market once every 2-3 months, and make them huge shows…no…huge EVENTS (use a theme or something to make the night something BIGGER than just 4 bands playing) that you can plan for and work on ahead of time, using smaller, out-of-town shows to promote.  Finally, most people don’t care about going to see new local music.  Give them more of a reason to come.  “What’s in it for ME if I come to your show?”

5. Here’s the question Grassrootsy asks all of its interviewees: What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better? Haha, again, think about it from everyone else’s perspective.  Why should someone come to your show rather than eating microwaved pierogies in their underwear while watching House reruns?  Why should a venue/promoter book you?  What’s in it for them?  If you were someone to whom a band/artist was beckoning for attendance, what would make you come?  What wouldn’t?

Also, make it easy for them to continue to support you.  A popular promotion Yours Truly does on all of its show is offering 50% off of any one merchandise item if an audience member bring their ticket stub from the last show.  They walk out with your merch, they came to another show (and maybe they brought a friend!), so big deal if you sell your shirt for no profit?  The 5 bucks you lost is worth it for a more devoted fan, which, again, is the most valuable thing you can have.

Yours Truly Online:

5 Things I Learned from “The Social Network”

Posted October 4, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: facebook, Set Goals, Social Networking

Tags: , , , , ,

Have you seen it yet? If not, you should definitely go check it out. Being a social network enthusiast, this movies wasn’t just entertainment for me. It was sort of like a lecture. I could probably write-off the ticket stub on my taxes. *chuckle* (that’s not a joke…but maybe it is)

1. There’s no point in creating something that already exists. The Social Network is the story of one (or two) very messy lawsuits. One person claimed he invented Facebook, three others claimed they had the idea first. Once Facebook was out in the public, the need for another Facebook-like network was obsolete. Completely unnecessary. You’ll hear/see/feel the anger in these guys over the anguish of losing control over their idea because someone else beat them to the punchline. If what you want to do already exists, be creative and do things differently. No one wants two of the same things if they can have two different things.

2. “It won’t be finished…the way fashion is never finished.”
I can’t remember whose line this was in the movie, but its pretty genius. Yea, in reality FB may die someday (just like Myspace has deteriorated). But the idea is to create something that is always evolving – not toward an end, but toward a new look. It’s actually the story of life. You set a goal. You reach the goal. Then you set a new goal. It’s never really finished. Make this your goal – to always be evolving, to always be growing, changing, innovating. Just like fashion.

3. “”A million dollars isnt cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars”
Dream Big. This movie is all about dreaming big, expanding, and doing things that have never been done. If you’ve got an idea, one-up yourself and think of the next bigger idea.

4. Choose your partners wisely.
This one’s for the bands out there. Yea…trying to make 4 people happy is hard, but if you’re not on the same page about the most practical things, you’ll fall apart. This is why the turnover rate for bands is so high. Read one of Grassrootsy’s older blogs: Starting a Band? Here Are a Few Things You Should Do

5. Be strategic
If you watch the movie, you’ll see that Facebook gets its start at Harvard and then slowly expands to the colleges in close proximity to Harvard. The reasoning behind this (according to the actor who plays Facebook’s founder) is that students visiting their friends at other schools would see them on FB and join, resulting in a major “buzz” effect in a concentrated area. Genius. A form of word-of-mouth by association. Make sure you have a game plan because it will help to guide your growth.

If you saw the movie, comment below and let Grassrootsy readings know if you picked up on anything worth sharing.

Speaking of Social Networks, how about Tweeting this post…or even better…Facebooking it!

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Should I Avoid Shows that Require me to sell Advance Tickets?

Posted September 29, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, Finding/Getting Bookings, Performing, Planning Ahead

Tags: , , , , ,

THE ARTIST: Ben Rothermel (Lancaster, PA)
THE QUESTION: I recently played a show where the booking agent asked me to sell X amount of tickets. The amount was high on my fan draw but doable if I got almost every single fan to buy a ticket. I had an entire month to plan and promote for the show and started heavily doing so 2+ weeks out. I hung up posters with my info attached, created a facebook event and shared it daily in my newsfeed, and talked to everyone I knew in a friendly attempt to sell tickets to them. In the end though, I was left walking into the club with barely 1/3 of my quota filled. It was very embarrassing to hand them over to the booking agent and I’m quite sure we won’t be doing business together for some time.

Now, I did everything that I’ve learned works and still came out losing in this game of selling tickets. Do you have any insight into my situation? Should I avoid shows that require me to sell a minimum amount of tickets so as to avoid possible letdown? What has your experience with ticketed shows taught you?

THE ANSWER: Hey Ben, I think many people reading this can identify with your scenario and have probably found themselves in the same situation (myself included).   I’ve had a number of experiences with this and they’ve all been negative.  Here are my thoughts.

1. Don’t do it!
Just an opinione but  it seems like venues use musicians to make money off ticket sales…and the musician leaves with nothing. In most cases the number of tickets you sell isn’t fair for the amount of stage time you’ll be given. Personally i have a really really hard time selling tickets and if a venue asks me to sell them, I pass on the show. It’s never worth my time and all the hustling. In most cases, if a venue asks you to sell tickets, you only get to keep a small percentage of the sale. So lets say tix are $10 and you get $2 from every sale. Even if you sell 20 (and that’s alot), you’ve only made $40. That’s SHADY!

2. But if you do…
Realize that its a twisted trade-off. Musicians need venues just as much as they need musicians. And venues need to make their money too. It’s a business. Just read An Interview with Joe Squared – Things Every Venue Wishes You Knew. If you want to play at a venue but need to sell tickets, make sure the show is something you would regret missing out on. In other words, if you’ll hate yourself for passing up on the show, then do what you need to do to make it happen. Maybe you have a chance to open for a nationally touring artist you’ve always admired. That’s an good example of a show worth hustling for.

3. Ask Yourself these questions… (because they will affect ticket sales)

  • How close is this venue to the majority of my fanbase?
  • What day of the week does this event fall on?
  • Is this the type of venue/event my fans would come to?
  • How long is my set? Am I asking people to spend $10 on a ticket if I’m only playing for 15 minutes?

4. Also remember…

  • Venues are sometimes hesitant to give new artists a chance. If they don’t know your draw potential and you promise them 20 people, selling advance tickets is the best way for them to hold you to your word. If you honestly can’t bring out 20 people or 10 or 5 (or whatever their standard is), then be honest with them and wait till you can.
  • Give yourself enough time to sell tickets and hype the show. Sometimes people need to let an idea sink in before they buy into it. Ben, it sounds like you did this.
  • Try not to do ticketed shows too regularly.  The constant promoting will wear you down…and everybody else for that matter. Space out major shows by a few months

I’m interested in knowing what other Grassrootsy readers have to say about this topic. Leave your comments below.

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Must Haves for Your Merch Table

Posted September 27, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Making Money, Merch

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Goodwill, Craigslist, your garage? Pick you spot and start you scavenger hunt.  When it comes to your merch table, there are so many ways to make an interesting display without spending a ton of money. I’ve found most everything I need at goodwill. Here are some very useful suggestions.

A Folding Table
If you’ve ever arrived at a gig with nowhere to display your merchandise, you’ll understand why this is the single most important part of your merchandise display. I bought a folding table from K-mart a year ago and now use it at 30% of my gigs…even when there is a table. Even if a venue provides something, I sometimes prefer to use my own because is the perfect size or because I can set up anywhere I like instead of using a venue’s table in the back of the room that’s been bolted to the floor (just an example). Don’t let the lack of a table prevent you from making sales at a gig. Get something small and portable. You can easily find something like this on craigslist.

An 8×10 photo Frame
Print out a sheet with the various prices of your CDs/T-shirts/stickers. Then stick it in the frame. Its just something a little more presentable.

A Tip Jar
Buy a vase, a mason jar, or anything clear. Smack a label on it and call it your tip jar. And/or you can use it as your cash register. Most of us cant/don’t have a roadie but would like to have the option of selling our merch during our set. Keep your table within eye-sight and welcome people to stop by your merch table during your set if they like what they hear.  People will.  They’ll often buy CDs and stick the payment in the jar without feeling obligated to wait for you to get off stage. Sometimes people can’t stick around for the whole set. This method has worked for me for over 5 years and I think it has made the difference in sales. Give it a try and tell me what you find. (works especially great at farmers markets, art festivals, and open-air spots).

A Lamp
Ever wonder why its harder to sell merchandise at clubs? Its dark and people can’t see .  A friend and I decided to place a lamp on our merch table at venue we always play at. We noticed that the added light caught the attention of our audience and helped us to push more CDs. This might not always work, but it definitely helps.

An Old Briefcase
Get something small and portable. Tons of artists are doing it these days. Arrange your T-shirts and CDs in the briefcase and you have a ready-made display. I’ve seen some artists use empty violin cases or guitar cases as well. Get creative.

For more thoughts on your merch, makings sales, and creative ideas, check out the merch category.

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Where Do I Start? How Do I Get Album Reviews?

Posted September 22, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Getting Reviews, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tim Ruff

THE ARTIST: Tim Ruff (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: Would you be able to set me in the right direction for getting album reviews? Whether they be with online mags or papers?

THE ANSWER: Searching for online magazines and publications is harder than most people think. For starters there are millions out there! Where do you start and how do you know this starting point is the way to go.  How do you make sure your time and effort is spent wisely…after all, you could spend hours pitching magazine upon magazine and come up with zip. Here are some ideas on how to make the job a little bit easier.

1. Mimic: Determine what genre you best fit into and google a similarly styled artist who has been around the block a few times.  For example, Tim, your tunes are easy listening.  Your stuff could easily share a shelf with independent artist Denison Whitmer.  He’s got a pretty decent resume, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think you could get into some of the same magazines and blogs as he has.  Google his name and you’re sure to come across articles that have been written about him. Contact the administrators/editors of those websites and ask them to considering reviewing your music.

This has been the most helpful routine for me…and will give you a great starting point. You’re basically letting someone else lead you in the right direction…and you’ll know that the magazine is interested in your genre because they cover other artists with a similar vibe.

2. Blogs: These days blogs are very credible sources for reviews. Nothing like hearing an every day listener’s opinion on your album. There’s something more genuine about it.  So do a search for blogs and consider starting in your city.  Use key words “music blog” + “Pittsburgh” (or whatever city you’re in).  You’ll be surprised to find that there are probably a handful of avenues to pursue.

Ok so…some/most blogs don’t have the kind of readership that an “official” online magazine would have BUT its a trade off. Its’ll be easier to get reviewed, and you’ll have direct access to the writer (instead of having to go through a head editor).   Its also alot less stressful 🙂

3. Work around a specific event(s)…It’s often hard to convince media to review your album if its been out for a while. Writers are always looking for what’s new and fresh. If your CD isn’t brand new, try working around a specific event. College gigs are great for this. Playing at So-and-So University? Contact So-and-So’s student paper and ask them to consider interviewing you or doing an article in anticipation for the show. Things like this are really great b/c student papers are easier to work with and who wouldn’t want some student fans?

Do the same with local papers…but pick your poison. Make sure you’re hitting them up about a worthy cause or event. They get so many submission and you don’t want to be that artist who spams them about every single show you play. Hit them up about the big events…and pitch it well.

4. Check out these related posts…especially this first one. It’ll give you tips on how to write the perfect pitch.

How to Score Reviews of Your CD

Mimic the Artists You Respect

Persistent, Not Pushy

What’s Wrong With this Message?

Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #1

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Learning Your Listeners

Posted September 20, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Performing, Your Fans

Tags: , , , , ,

The saying goes like this: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Occasionally, when I’m at a show, or shortly after a show, I notice how various audience members respond to my merchandise table.  Here’s what I’ve observed…

Type A Listener
This individual likes what they hear. They buy the album immediately, sign the email list and pick up a card so they can go out of their way and check out your website when they get home. Type A is excited and fully committed to supporting you from the start. They’re the person who will tweet about you from their phone the instant they hear your music. They’ll share you with their friends, and come regularly to your shows. They’ll buy your album for friends and attend a few shows each year.

Type B Listener
This person likes what they hear and will likely stick around for your whole show. But Type B isn’t sold out on your music…at least not yet. It’s important to realize that you will almost have more Type Bs than Type As in your audience. Type B will sign your newsletter and will probably do so without you asking because they want to keep tabs on what you’re up to. They’ll go to your show, not because they need a fix of your music, but because it’s conveniently in their neighborhood. Make sure you get Type B’s email b/c even if they don’t buy your album, they will show interest in your music on special occasions (CD Release/major show) , and consider buying your album when you have a sale (maybe a Christmas discount).

Type C Listener
This person isn’t particularly interested in your tunes, but might just pick up your business card off the table at the very most.  In other words, because they don’t have your music, and haven’t given you their contact information (for your newsletter), it’s completely in their hands to stay abreast on your career.  They don’t hae any regular reminders, so your engagement with them will be slim-to-none.

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7 Questions Every Artists Should Be Asking

Posted September 15, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Today I got a mass email from Dan McGeorge, the owner and curator of Xanadu art gallery in  Scottsdale, AZ. It was a marketing email sent out to, I imagine, visual artists across the US. I, of course, am not a visual artist and don’t know how I got on the list. But after skimming through, I noticed that its subject matter was completely and fully relevant and applicable to the average musician.

No matter what type of art you’re pursuing, chances are you are dealing with the same issues all across the board – like how to make money, and how to increase your visibility.  So after reading that email in its entirety, here are a handful of questions that came to mind.  You and I should be asking ourselves these questions on a regular basis and using them as a guideline to help us further our music careers.

1. What is my ultimate goal?

2. What is [insert name] doing and how can I learn from their success. I personally like to silently follow one of my favorite musicians, Brooke Waggoner.  She’s much further along on her music journey and is a great talent to learn from.

3. Do I believe in my music enough to sell it to others? (as in selling the actual song and the idea of your music)

4. Am I creating a quality product that is comparable to all the other music out there? Here’s a quote from McGeorge: “The most successful  artists are devoted to high quality. They have the ability to step back from their work and look at it through their buyer’s eyes.”

5. Who in my network can I collaborate with? Don’t limit your definition of the word “collaboration”. It doesn’t just mean come together and write a song. It can mean co-billing on a show, promoting idea to both your fanbases, sharing ideas, or a million other things. It’s all about networking.  If your networking isn’t getting bigger, you’re doing something wrong.

6. Do I have a marketing plan? If your answer to question #1 involves playing out just for pure enjoyment, you probably don’t need to answer #6. But if you want to make a living or have a strategy, #6 is very important.

7. Do I have a strong online presence? This right here is a deal breaker. If you online presence is not strong, your really just can’t reach your maximum potential. Is a sad truth, but it is the 21st century.

Try to reflect on these questions at least once every 6 months (some more regularly, some less). They’ll really help you to stay on track.

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Random Tips & Tricks #4

Posted September 13, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Random, Social Networking, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

To read the first three blogs in this series visit:  Random Tips & Tricks #1, Random Tips & Tricks #2, and Random Tips & Tricks #3. Here are a few new tips…

Be as Uniform as Possible
Make sure your domain names match.  It’s really a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often people overlook this little detail.  You want your fans to easily predict where to find you online. If your band name is Sparks of Fire, your domains should be as follow…

You and I both know bands who have incongruent  domain names.  Its annoying. But most importantly, it makes it harder for  group’s fans to carry over from one social network to the next.

Another tip, if fire is taken, go with or instead.

Name Your Events
Name your events. It’s not just a show, its an event…so treat it like so.  When you give something a name, you give it purpose. And a name…especially a catchy one…will stick in people’s minds.  Say you host a weekly music showcase on Saturday evenings. Call it “Saturday Night Sounds” (for lack of a better title).  People will remember that it’s specifically on Saturday, and they’ll also call it by its given name instead of giving it their own.

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Good Tools = Good Work

Posted September 8, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Administration, Helping Yourself, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve had the most complicated two weeks as far as my music has gone. I’ve been in 4 cities, haven’t had consistent internet access, and have been working around a computer that shuts off without warning every 15 minutes.  I am tired. But in light of all of this, its made me think long in hard about how our resources determine how successful we are at what we do.

Good tools = Good work. If you have the means to accomplish something, and easy access to aids that will help you do it better, why wouldn’t you go for it!? Yea, we’ve talked about Facebook alot, but here are a few other must-haves…

It might sound silly, but time is a resource that makes a world of difference. When I’m on the road, you’ll notice that Grassrootsy (unfortunately) takes a back seat to things like 4-hour drives from city to city and lack of regular internet access. Set aside some time…even if its 2 hours a day…to keep up with your music.

  • Check emails.  More importantly, if you don’t have any emails coming in, try and figure out why. Do people know who you are? If not, why is that?
  • Do you need to increase your social network presence? Become better at just a few social networks.
  • Read. Do a search on Grassrootsy and its likely that there’s a post about it or reference to it. Click the links on the sidebar to visit other sites that have something worth reading.
  • Network with other musicians. Open Mic. Meet at a coffee shop and talk out ideas. This is fun 🙂

This might also sound silly, but SPACE is a huge factor!  If you can’t stay focused, make sure you’re not lounging on your sofa while working on your music. Setup shop at your dining room table, living room desk, or in a coffee shop.  When you set aside a specific time and space just for your music, you’ll be more disciplined. It won’t be an afterthought, and you’ll get sooo much more accomplished (spoken from personal experience).

Here’s something more tangible. I’ve written about it before on this blog. ArtistData is the ultimate calendar. Not only does it allow you to easily post and update your show information, but it posts that information to all of your other social networks, submits your shows to Eventful and similar calendar event sites, and give you embeddable code to incorporate the calendar into your personal site(s). Very clever and very useful (spoken again from firsthand experience). ArtistData does much more but you’ll have to do your own research to learn more.

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I’ve written about it before on this blog. ArtistData is the ultimate calendar. Not only does it allow you to easily post and update your show information, but it posts that information to all of your other social networks, submits your shows to Eventful and similar calendar event sites, and give you embeddable code to incorporate the calendar into your personal site(s). Very clever and very useful (speaking from firsthand experience). ArtistData does much more but you’ll have to do your own research to learn more.

What Do You Think About Facebook Friend Swapping?

Posted August 30, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, facebook, Uncategorized, Your Fans

Tags: , , ,

Tiffany Thompson

THE ARTIST: Tiffany Thompson (Washington, DC)
THE QUESTION: So I had this idea the other day about a possible way to broaden my online friend/fan base. What if two artists, for example me and you, gave each other permission to go through and friend all of the other person’s friends on Facebook. I know this is kinda looked down upon in the Facebook music world…especially when you do it without telling the other person. But it seemed like it might be a good way to get our music out to new listeners.

For example, say I have a music friend named James Smith. With his permission, I could add his friends and with the friend request send a message like : “Hi! I am a friend of James Smith and we are sharing our music with each other’s Facebook friends. Thought you might like to check out my music: Thanks! ”  Something like that?

What do you think? Be honest!

THE ANSWER: Welk I personally am not so hot on the idea. I actually tried this once with someone else. I went and added a bunch of his friends with a similar brief message.  Some people responded and some did not. But I’ve noticed that those people who did respond have not kept themselves in tune with my music. They don’t respond to comments, status updates, or participate in any of my FB conversations like my other fans. Their interest was high in the beginning but died almost immediately. So the way I see it, you have two ways to earn fans….

  1. Make friends to market – this would be the route we’ve just discussed. You’re basically adding these people so you can “advertise to them”. People don’t want to be spammed and they don’t want to be used for what you can get out of them.
  2. Earn friends, earn fans – this requires doing what you do without the intention of selling something. Go to the show, play music, earn people’s ears, and tell them to find you online if they like what they’ve heard. If someone goes out of their way to find you online, you can be sure they’ll be a longtime fan.

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Persistent, Not Pushy

Posted August 25, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

Think of pitching yourself to media, venues, and industry reps like pursing a relationship.

Don’t be annoying. So you’re trying to get your foot in the door. Are you making an obnoxious amount of attempts? Don’t do it! Don’t leave 5 message on his/her voicemail…especially if they haven’t called you back. In the same way, don’t email that radio station over and over again. Big mistake!

Make a good first impression. Look good and they will remember. First impressions will always make a lasting impact – on a date, for an interview, through your website…etc

Wait. Don’t be too eager. After making that first impression, lay low for a short while, and give the person time to decide what they think about you/your music/your image…etc

Show Genuine Interest. Do you want to know them or do you just want to know what they can do for you?

Be Committed. It’s pretty simple.  Your consistency will take you further than your talent.

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Do You Have Any Tips on Successfully Booking Shows?

Posted August 23, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, Finding/Getting Bookings

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Via Linota

THE ARTIST: Via Linota Lancaster, PA
THE QUESTION: My  CD release party is coming up and I’m going to need to start playing as many shows as possible to get the word out. I noticed you are booking a lot of stuff. Just thought I might write and ask if you had any suggestions for being successful on booking shows. If you have a minute to give me a few tips i would really appreciate it.

THE ANSWER: Congrats on the new CD! That question has so many answers.  I highly recommend checking out this former post: 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show. But here are some newer thoughts on that matter that are maybe a little easier to digest.

1. Get other artists opinions on a venue before booking to see if it will be a good fit for you.

2. Decide what type of environment your music best fits. Are you cool with being background music (i.e. a bar)? Or do you want to play for listening audiences (i.e. listening rooms)?  Or both? I’ve personally decided that I don’t want to do background music shows anymore. They’re a waste of my time and they don’t help me build my fanbase b/c no one is listening. Just a thought. However, background music-type shows often pay the bills…so i wouldn’t write them off.

3. Always have an email sign-up sheet at EVERY show. Pass it around and get new subscribers as often as possible. This will give you the opp to stay connected with the people who like your music. If you’ve missed the opportunity to connect with them, you’ve lost a potentially long-term fan. See Mailing Lists & Social Networking.

4. Read your local city paper and find out what events are taking place. See if they need local music. You’ll be surprised at what you find out by reading the local paper, visit other musicians websites, and subscribing to community calendars. See Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go.

5. Play at local farmers market, gallery opening and anything that could benefit from music. Even if it’s not their original game plan to have music, ask them if they’d be open to the idea. Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

6. House shows are great…espec since Fall is around the corner. See House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return.

This website also has tons of other posts on everything from booking tours to deciding what type of venues are best for you. Ch-ch-check it out 🙂

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Things That College Kids Like

Posted August 11, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Colleges, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

Got anything to add to this? Put it in the comments section below!

If your event isn’t free, they’ll find something that is.  There’s no official rule saying you can’t charge for an on-campus event; but there is an unspoken unofficial rule. In fact, at the University of Pittsburgh, they won’t let you charge students if you’re holding an event at the Student Union. If you’re doing something directly on campus, aim to pull it off for free.  If you do decide to charge, come up with incentive. For example, you can charge $5 at the door, but if someone brings 2 additional friends, they can all get in for free. What a great way to boost your attendance.

Give students a free download if they sign up for your newsletter. Why not? They get a song, you get their information.

Do it up! Come up with a great idea and go with it.

Who doesnt like a good contest…especially if the incentive is great?!

It’s a no-brainer really…but if you aren’t engaging with your college demographic on facebook, you are totally missing the boat! Once the end of August comes around, students live on facebook. Step up your game and make sure you are communicating.

Facebook is a viral platform. Things spread…quick. YouTube is the same way. Create content that is worth spreading. Create comical (or intriguing) videos (or other content) that students want to pass on to their friends. I happen to think JD Eicher does a really good job with this.  Check out one of the many videos in his “Tour Story” series.

Pursuing Music as a College Student

Posted August 9, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Colleges

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We’re only a few weeks away from the start of Fall Semester, so its about time to start thinking college booking.  I was hanging with a friend of mine, Ife Kehinde, a few months back and we were talking about how to score college gigs while living as a student. The following thoughts will apply to both students and non-students.

cafeteria Tour!
Your college probably has a few cafeterias…and probably at least one that also serves as a lounge . Look into performing during peak cafeteria hours – i.e. lunchtime  and dinner. You’ll have a built-in crowd, and some people who will listen actively (though many will listen passively).  Don’t limit yourself to just your campus. Hit up all the local colleges in the area. Who knows, the school might even pay you for this, but if anything its a sure fan builder.

Weekend Tours
Can’t play on weekdays? Book  your Fridays and Saturday regionally. Book in town or out of town…but just book!
Take advantage of 3-day weekends, and if you can’t go home for a holiday, stay in town and play somewhere. Allison Weiss has been doing this for the last few years. She actually just graduated from college and is now a free bird. But if she can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can.

Start an Open Mic on Campus
You could easily hold it in your dorm building’s lounge, but if you wanna do it up, get official permission from the appropriate faculty member(s) and make it a school sponsored activity. If its legit you’ll be able to list it on the school’s activity calendar, promote it better, etc. You could alternatively start an open mic thats near campus but not on official campus property (i.e. a nearby coffee shop). In that way, non-students will also be able to attend. If you’re a non-student, start up something like this. The college kids will love you for it!

Not 21?
So you want to play gigs but all the legitimate venues are 21 and over? Hmmmm…there’s not much you can do about this until you hit that 21 mark.  In the meantime, look into coffee shops.  Coffee shops can really make for good gigs when you find the right one. See:  “Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig“. Just because you’re not playing “real” venues doesn’t mean you can’t make a name for yourself. Thats’ completely false.

Know what’s happening at your school!
At your average large college, there are tons of on-campus events taking place on a monthly basis.  Read your school paper. Find out whats happening. Is Habitat for Humanity doing a benefit concert? Contact their student leader and ask if they need a band. Is one of the school’s Fraternities having a party next weekend? Go play!
Is Student Government bringing in a famous artist for homecoming? Ask if they need an opener. Be shameless about asking. The worst they can say is “No.”

Dorm Parties
Just like a house show. Send a Facebook invite to everyone on your floor or slip little fliers underneath their door and invite them to come to your building’s lounge for some late night music. Tell them to bring food and a friend. This could turn into something really fun! Make sure its a “dry” party b/c you’re sure to be kicked out of your dorm if its not.

Check back here over the next week for a few posts on pursuing college gigs – ideas for students and non-students.

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Lesson from Lilith: A few things I Learned at Lilith Fair

Posted August 4, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: touring, Uncategorized

myself, Butterfly Boucher, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison (of the Dixie Chicks), Sara McLachlan, Jill Hennessy, Anjulie

So Grassrootsy has been dormant for nearly 2 weeks. Sorry about that! But there’s good reason. I’ve been on the road and had a chance to perform at Lilith Fair last week. I had the opportunity to meet with some really awesome female musicians and see/hear their thoughts on what its like to pursue music for a living.

Don’t do it unless you love it.
During a Lilith press interview, local media asked Sarah McLachlan if she had any advice for aspiring musicians (females in particular) who want to pursue music for a living.  Sarah’s thoughts? “Don’t do it unless you love it!” If you want to be rich and famous, you’re in the wrong field. If you do it because it feeds your soul, then you’re in the right field.

I’m sure most people reading this have experienced first-hand the difficulty of living as a musician. It’s possible, but hard. The above thoughts really aren’t anything new, but it was refreshing to hear this out of the mouth of someone who has already “made it”.

Make sure you have people who support you!
This one is probably more for the ladies…but we all can benefit. During the press conference, Jill Hennessy mentioned that she has 2 kids under the age of 10? I asked her how she is able to act, travel as a musician, and take care of her kids. She mentioned that she has major support from her husband and parents. Everyone takes turns watching her kids. She has control of her schedule and books as few/many shows as she likes but still goes through busy seasons where time is slim.

We don’t all have the luxury of a flexible schedule, but Hennessey mentioned that she wouldn’t be able to do what she does without the help of her support system. Keep that in mind!

Even when you get to the top, living as a musician still takes alot of hard work!
It’s never really easy.  You might spend years climbing the totem pole of success but when you get there, there’s just more climbing, more people to oversee, and tons more quality control! Last week I was privileged to get a behind-the-scenes look at how a tour is run. It was actually kind of mind-blowing. It was a tour that consisted of over 200 people – several tour buses full of soundmen, techies,  vendors, production managers, musical equipment and the musicians who played them. Thoughts that crossed my mind included…

  • how do break even at the end of a 6-week tour like this, when you need to pay each venue and every single person who is spending their life on the road with you.
  • how do you feed 200 people at every meal?
  • how do keep track of all the administrative stuff, bookkeeping, security, etc.

Those are my insights into Lilith. And here’s a video I put together from my stint on the Philly tour stop.

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It’s All In the Packaging

Posted July 22, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I watched this commercial  the other day and said “That is SO stupid! Why would Orbitz spend thousands of dollars of airtime to talk about the colorful boxes their gum comes in?!”  And then, when I was in Rite-Aid today I decided to buy a pack of Orbitz because I liked the packaging. It wasnt until after the cashier rung up the box that I realized I had been totally sold! And I don’t like to be sold 🙂

Orbitz’s marketing is spot-on! We’ve even written about their approach here on Grassrootsy before:  You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover, But You Can Buy One

Check out the aforementioned post but also consider these thoughts…

  1. There are too many musicians in the world. You cant afford not to stick out.
  2. If you look dull, people won’t even stick around to find out that you’re not.
  3. Make your CD the one people stop to take a second look at
  4. An interesting merch table can generate sales. You don’t have to hype it up or anything, but at least take time to arrange everything and make your music, CD, newsletter, business cards, and whatever else look  presentable.
  5. Number 4 also applies to your website(s) and marketing. When you make things appealing to the eye, people will take the time to give you their attention.
  6. Orbitz is right.

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Don’t Do This

Posted July 20, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

1. Don’t try to coax people into buying your CD. This is such a lame thing to do. You’ll leave a bad taste in their mouth. You’ll also leave with an empty promise that they’ll buy your CD on iTunes when they get home 🙂

2. Don’t have a bad attitude. If you didn’t love it, you wouldn’t be doing it. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.

3. Don’t expect it to be easy. If you’re going to a new city, its not like you’re going to have automatic fans. Give things time to grow.

4. Don’t copy what someone else is doing and expect the same results. Your music is different. The people in your network are different. Things will be different to a certain extent.

5. Don’t act like you’re above certain shows…especially if you’re not at a place where you can be picky and choosy. At the same time, don’t do a show if you really don’t want to do it.  Reference #2.

6. Dont let things slip through the cracks. Ya, you’re only human and the’s only so much you can do. But do your best to stay on top of your music. Read every other blog on this site for tips on how to do this 🙂

7. Don’t SPAM people. Don’t email people with information they didn’t sign up for . Twitter and Facebook are different because you’re posting information on your wall(s) and page(s). But don’t SPAM your fans with irrelevant emails when they’ve specifically signed up for music news.

8. Don’t take your fans for granted. They are your Word-of-Mouth. They will give you more gigs, more fans, and more exposure than anything else.

9. Don’t be autonomous. Learn how to do things for yourself but seek the help and wisdom of others who have more experience. It will make all the difference.

10. Don’t take anything for granted. The people you meet, the places you go, the shows you play…all lead somewhere!

An Interview with Amanda Duncan

Posted July 14, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: image, Interviews, Social Networking

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Amanda Duncan

New Jersey artist, Amanda Duncan, is an artist who steals the show even before she gets on stage. She has a knack for grabbing the attention of music lovers because she really stands out!  She’s a a funny chick with a knack for transfering her comical personality into her online representation. Just like Allison Weiss, she’s got some wise words on social networking, online marketing, and image. Read and repeat.

1. What’s your story? How did you get into performing and touring? Are you doing this full time? Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be in the spotlight. I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer…I just didn’t know what form of entertainment. I kind of got into this whole singer/songwriter-ness by accident. For some reason when I was 17, I thought I was going to get a guitar from my aunt and uncle, but I was given a baseball signed by Wade Boggs. Haha! I was so excited to play guitar that I had to start learning so I borrowed a one and practiced every day so I could play and sing at the same time. Some horrible songs followed. Haha! But some years later I really started to hone my craft of songwriting. I’ve always felt comfortable in front of crowds. So, the performance aspect of my career has come naturally.

In all honesty, I haven’t been on too many tours. I’ve had a few stints here and there, but nothing to shake a stick at. That is all about to change with my upcoming college tour this fall. Once that happens I will be a full time musician. For years now, I have been juggling a web design business and my music career…and I’m sooooo excited that in a few months my job will solely be music!!!

2. You’ve do have quite a calendar with alot of college shows. Are you part of NACA? If so, what are you thoughts on becoming a member and going to regional showcases.  For those who aren’t part of NACA, what do you suggest is the best method for college booking & touring.
NACA (National Association of Campus Activities)! Yes, I am a part of it. Let me explain it to those who don’t know what it is. NACA is an organization that holds regional conferences for college student activity boards across the country. The conferences consist of showcases, exhibit halls and educational sessions. The showcases can be anything from singer/songwriters to magicians, bands, jugglers, comedians, etc. The exhibit hall (which is called the Market Place) is where everyone has booths and the students can walk around and get info from the various entertainers.  More on NACA.

The NACA world can be fickle. One can get easily discouraged by the push and shove of it all. It’s hard to get selected to showcase because there are hundreds of applicants. And it’s hard to get booked if you don’t showcase. Attending regional conferences without showcasing might score you a few gigs, but not enough for a full calendar year. You also have to have music that actually appeals to college students…that is probably the most important thing! Haha!

Booking your own college shows is definitely an option. You have to be super organized, motivated and have college fans. If you have college fans you are one step closer to the student activities board. I did this for a while with some success.

3. Your self promotion is spot-on! Do you have someone handling your marketing? Your songs are bitter-sweet, sentimental, yet playful all at the same time. And your marketing seems to reflects that. What are your thoughts on consistency and uniformity as an artists? I actually do all my marketing. I do my own graphic work and I come up with the ideas for my photo shoots. I have a real vision of how I want to come across to people. I want people to see me as a fun approachable artist. I think that comes through. I feel like we are all swimming in a sea full of musicians and I need to stick out at face value. People may chuckle when they see my photos and think I’m some sort of comedian/weirdo, but once they take a listen to my music they tend to get it. The marketing really comes together at my live shows when they get to see me play and listen to my ridiculous banter.

As far as consistency and uniformity goes, that is a great question. I think being consistently YOU as an artist is important, but I think being an ORIGINAL artist is what will put you above the rest. You can write songs that run the gamete as long as it’s “your sound”. Basically you have to see yourself as a brand. If I say “Pepsi” or “McDonalds” you picture their logo instantly. Obviously, those companies have spent billions of dollars on advertising…but you can do the same thing for yourself as an artist. I have a logo. It’s a lawn chair. And in the beginning, people were asking “Why the chair?” And my response would be “When people listen to my music I want them to think of summer time. And to me summer time reminds me of backyard barbeques with lawn chairs.” Now people just accept it and say “I love the chair!”

4. I see that you really make use of social networking and social networking widgets. Which network(s) do you think you’ve benefited from the most? I think it’s a combination of everything. At first I used MySpace (now apparently only dinosaurs use it). And that got me by for a long time. I use facebook to stay in touch with people and let people know what I’m up to. I am not gonna lie…I obsess over Twitter. Although, that seems to be dying out as well. As an artist, you have to keep up with the moving trends of social networking. If there is a new networking site that comes out…sign up for it right away so you can claim your artist name before anyone else of the same name gets it. If you use the account, cool…if you don’t…don’t worry about it. I keep a spreadsheet of all my accounts/usernames/passwords. There is so much to keep track of these days, but it’s all important!

5. This is a question Grassrootsy asks each of its Interviewees
: What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better? I know that there are a lot of artists who don’t want to spend time on the internet/computer. To me, this is a huge mistake. If you want to sustain a long career in music you need to spend at least 1 hour a day making sure you are keeping up with your social networking. My general rule is to respond as much as possible to the people who post stuff on my facebook wall or twitter. I think we all know what it’s like to respond to a tweet of someone we really look up to and yet they never respond to ours. I never want people to feel that way with me. And when you have interactions online make sure they are positive. No one wants to see cryptic emo messages from a musician they idolize. Post funny things, things about your music, things that will provoke people to comment.

“You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day.”

6. Any additional advice, lessons learned, or thoughts on independent musicatry (fake word), that you can pass on to readers? My biggest pet peeve is when a really talented artist doesn’t have their ducks in a row. I think the reason I’ve come as far as I have is because I am very business oriented when it comes to my career. I’m organized, not to mention I have a lot of techie skills to help me promote my music. As a musician, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses. I’m not saying to have a complex about it. Haha! For instance…I am pretty confident in my songwriting skills, but I know I couldn’t produce my songs to their fullest potential. That is when I bring in a professional. I went through that whole phase of wanting to do EVERYTHING myself. It’s great to have that kind of motivation, but it can lead to some really bad career moves if you keep convincing yourself you are good at something you truly are not. If you aren’t organized…get management or someone to help you organize yourself. You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day. I have a whole binder separated by tabs (yes, I’m that dorky) to keep me organized. I won’t get into those crazy details, but if you want to know how I have it split up, feel free to email me.

Amanda Duncan Online:
Reverb Nation:

The Process of Publicity

Posted July 12, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Getting Reviews, Social Networking

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Given last week’s post on booking, publicity, and being managed, I thought I’d put down some additional thoughts on publicity…since i think it happens to be the biggest piece of the puzzle.  Like I’ve always said, you can be the best musician in the world, but if nobody knows, it won’t do you any good.

Local Publicity
Need a place to start? This is a good place. You can’t climb a mountain overnight. Many times newbie artist try to score huge opportunities (i.e. major record deals, large-scale interviews, and opening opportunities for big-name artists).  No shame in that; but remember, it really helps to build your resume. So go local. Play out as much as you can in local venues and coffee shops. Pitch yourself for write-ups in local papers whenever you have something notable on the horizon (i.e. CD Release or major event). Your local press will appreciate the fact that you’re not spamming them about “nothing”.  See How to Score Reviews of Your CD for tips on how to pitch yourself to media.

Online Presence
This is the most important part of your publicity!  Take care of it and do it well. Post videos, tweet, update your status, update your website, communicate with your “followers” and “fans”, be timely, don’t spam, don’t underestimate the power of suggestion. At the very least, 25% of the blogs on this site focus on social networking and online presence. I highly recommend reading “An Interview with Allison Weiss” for her  solid advice on shameless self-promotion via social media. It’s good readin’.

Tackling the Big Dogs
We’re not all Justin Bieber. Realistically, very few people will post a song on YouTube and get discovered, so this step will come much later in the process. Years later, actually.  Once you’ve built up a resume, been around the block a few times, gotten some substantial reviews, and traveled a bit, you might want to start reaching out to bigger networks, stations, and publications for coverage. At this point in the game, it might be worth investing in someone (a publicist) who already has established relationships with these folks. More on hiring help:
Who Do You Need the Most: Publicist, Booking Agent, Manager?

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What Are Your Thoughts on House Shows?

Posted July 7, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Brooke Annibale. Pittsburgh, PA. 
THE QUESTION: I was wondering if you’ve done many house shows in the region and how your experiences have been. Ever get any strangers requesting house shows that seem shady? Or have most of them been with people you know? Or established “house show houses.” Just really looking for any advice in this area that you may be willing to offer. Maybe you’ve done a blog about it that i’ve missed you could just pass on.

THE ANSWER: Yea, check out this Grassrootsy blog specifically on house shows:House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return“. It’s got alot of helpful information!

Personally speaking, I do alot of house shows. I do them especially during seasons when  i don’t have time to promote official shows. I actually havent done any shady house shows before. In fact, they’ve always been really profitable and little or no work at all to put together.  In general, most of my house shows come through people who have been to shows in the past or through friends of friends.

To get into the practice of doing house shows, heres’ what you can do:

1. Pitch the Idea to Your Fans. Tweet, post a status update or, put a little paragraph in your newsletter(s)telling your fans that you’re starting to take on more house shows. Since we’re in the heat of the summer, pitch it as the perfect idea for a weekend barbeque, a summer evening get-together for friends, a house party, or a potluck.

2. Consider Charging a Fee. When pitching yourself for house shows, negotiate your fee with the host. I think you should decide what you think is best. Maybe a fixed fee or a donation bucket for attendees to contribute to. Keep in mind that statistically, musicians make more $ at house shows than at gigs. It’s just a crazy fact that has alot to do with the intimacy and one-on-one interaction with guests. More on this here.

3. Draw Up a Contract. If you think that someone is questionable or that you’re about to dive into a shady house show experience, here are your options.

  • Run! Don’t do the show if you don’t feel comfortable about it.
  • Give it a try; see what happens. The great thing about house shows is that you’re not really losing all that much…except some time.
  • Draw up a simple contract and have them sign and give it to you when you arrive at their place. Tell them not to stress over the contract but that its something you have to do since its not an official venue. More on creating contracts/invoices here.

Good luck!

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Who Do You Need the Most: Publicist, Booking Agent, Manager?

Posted July 5, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Administration, Finding/Getting Bookings, Spending Money, touring, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Ok, the reality is that most artist don’t have the funds to hire help…let alone provide for yourself. At the same time, maybe if you had someone helping you, it would kick things up a notch and be a win-win situation for all.  So lets, break it down and figure out who you would benefit from if you did have the funds.

Publicists create demand. They create publicity.  In very plain english, they make you “public”.  So lets say you have little or no fanbase…or maybe you need help breaking into a new market. This is who you need. Before you can start making moves, you need to create demand. Make sure you and your music are seen as a valuable asset to an event, an establishment, a venue.

Publicists also receive media inquires…if a magazine wants to interview you or website asks to review your CD.

Booking Agent
A booking agent will come in handy at the very early stages of your career or at the much later stages. I would argue that you should book your own shows for as long as you can. Become familiar with your city and metro area, decide what type of venues best fit your personality and music, take it upon yourself to learn your music scene.

If you’d rather have someone book shows for you, you might want to give them a percentage of your incoming instead of a fixed amount. It guarantees that you always leave with something. And it will drive your agent to book quality shows for you instead of just anything. If you’d like to wait till later, booking agents really do come handy when you’ve built a name, begin touring, and need help finding the best venues in other cities.

Remember, a good booking agent can have connections with some of the best venues in any given city, but if there’s no demand (publicist), it won’t do you any good.

This person is an extension of you. They hold your name/image/presence in the palm of their hands. They represent you in every way. They can handle all incoming music-related emails, handle your gig fee, order T-shirts for your band, website maintenance, and do all the things you hate to do. A manager can take care of every last detail to the point where you just show up and play the gig (though I don’t recommend this). A manager can take care of the above responsibilities – booking and publicity.

Honestly, if you can’t afford to bring someone on, do your best to be all three.
If you’re in a band, assign a responsibility to each band member. Booking might require two band members. If you’re solo, then come up with some routine that helps you keep it all in order (i know that’s hard).

Remember that you have as much control as you want.  You can hire a manager, publicist, or booking agent, but you can also determine how much control they have. After all, they’re being contracted by YOU.

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Musical Type

Posted July 1, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

Grassrootsy is pleased to let you know about Its actually alot like Grassrootsy – music marketing tips staight from the mouth of an independent artist.  DC artist, Rene Moffatt, is a designer by trade and has some great tips for indie artist. The proof is in his first post: Your Branded Presence on Facebook: We’ll be interviewing him in a few weeks so stay posted. In the meantime, make sure to bookmark his site and visit often.  Grassrootsy is all about promoting all things music, all things marketing, and all things independent. Yea… baby!

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Mailing Lists & Social Networking

Posted June 28, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: facebook, myspace, Social Networking, twitter, Your Fans

Tags: , , , , , ,

Think of Your Mailing List as a Gateway Drug. If you’ve read Grassrootsy for any amount of time, you know we stress the importance of having a mailing list at your shows. Well, given the rise of Facebook and Twitter among musicians, your mailing might not be the most important way to communicate with your fans anymore (I can’t believe i just said that)!   However a newsletter IS still the best way of opening the door to more direct communication with your fans. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pass your newsletter around the room at your show
  2. Within a day or two, email everyone who subscribed, welcoming them to the list
  3. In your “Welcome” newsletter, make sure you include prominent links to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and any other social network
  4. Emphasize the fact that fans can best stay in touch with you and your schedule when they follow you on FB or twitter

I’ve personally noticed that while the number of people reading my newsletters has statistically gone down, I’m communicating with fans more often and more directly via Facebook and twitter.


To see some past thoughts on the mailing list, see:


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Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig

Posted June 23, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Performing, Uncategorized, Venues

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Chloe's Coffee in Gaithersburg, MD

Here’s a follow-up to last week’s post: Making the Most of Your Club Gig.
So, coffeeshops are great, but you probably won’t make a whole lotta mula.  Well, it all really depends. Even if you don’t, playing coffeeshops has huge perks that you won’t get from a club.  Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Learn the Community.
Coffeeshops are known for their presence in the community. Take advantage of this. Make the most of the location by reaching out to be people who live around the corner instead of your whole fanbase. It’s a little less work and you’ll probably get more of a response from the locals. And hopefully the coffeeshop will buy into your approach since they exists for their locals.

Have Fun!
Community is almost synonymous with coffeeeshops these days.  The great things about these types of shows is that pressure is usually low. People are there to spend time with each other and exist in a place when others are…even if they’re not talking to anyone. All this to say, don’t take yourself too seriously. Talk with your audience and have fun. Keep it laid back. If you can, make it feel like your living room.

The More the Merrier
Considering that most coffeehouse gigs don’t pay, go ahead and put more people on the bill. Invite 7 songwriters out and do an in-the-round event. You’ll get a great turnout if everyone tells a few people and you don’t have the stress of splitting $10 between 7 people. hehe.

Don’t forget to have a Tip Jar
Be nice and remind people that you are a working artist and that you would appreciate their support. You can pass the hat as well. You’d be surprised at how some people make a decent killing off tips (sometimes that depends on the neighborhood).

Just Because You’re A Band…
Doesn’t mean you can’t play in coffeeshops. Some of them are fine with full bands.  You can do an unplugged set, a setup with 1/2 of your band, or just tone things down a bit.

The Ugly Side of Coffeeshops
A few things that make coffeeshops hard…

  • That grinder. There’s nothing worse than trying to compete with that blendy thing. Make sure the stage you’re playing on in’t right beside the front counter. I just had this experience and it was miserable.
  • All ages venues can sometimes mean young kids with nothing better to do and nowhere else to be. Ask them questions to make them part of your show. This will keep them engaged.
  • Everyone isn’t there for music. Some people are there to study…so don’t always expect everyone to close the laptop or stop your conversations and give you their full attention. Its the nature of the beast.

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10 Things I Learned from my 10-day Tour

Posted June 21, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: touring, Venues

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ok, so it was an 11-day tour, but 10 sounds better.

1. Think Locally. You don’t have to put 5 hours of driving between every show. That’s lame.  Put show 1, 2, or 3 hours apart. You’ll minimize your driving and have more time to lay low in between gigs. Just because you’re on tour doesn’t mean you have to hit up every major city. Pick a region and do it up!

2. Small cities are still where it’s at. Everyone always wants to play out in the bigger cities, but i still hold to the opinion that you get more bang for your buck in smaller cities. There’s less going on and more interest. It’s easier to get media coverage, and more people will come out because news travels fast(er). More on this: Big Fish, Small Fish.

3. Do two shows in one city. Play a gig and tell attendees you’ll be back in the area in a few days. Your first show will be a great way to promote the second one. Don’t forget to split gigs with local bands or singer/songwriters.

4. Pull out that email list! An email list is more important than ever when you’re touring. You drove all that way so make sure you get people’s emails. Follow up the day after by welcoming them to your newsletter and inviting them to connect with you on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. If you don’t get emails, you’ve missed a huge opportunity to stay connected with new fans.

5. Stop in and say hi. Visiting a new city? Take some time to stop into venues that you might light to perform at next time you’re in town. Scope at the space and be in the know so you’ll know what to expect. You can also talk to the management directly to get a better idea of what they look for when booking. But don’t forget to follow-up with an email.

6. You don’t have to book a show for every single day. Its pretty ambitious, after all the goal is to make the most of your trip. BUT, take a day off. If you’re on the road for 10 days, find one day in the middle to take for yourself. All that driving and performing can wear a body out. Take a day to rest up, wander around town, and hang out with people.

7.  It’s ok to do an open mic. It’s not an official gig, but with advance notice, you can be the evening’s featured artist. Just tell them you’re in town for the day and looking to learn more about the local scene.  And it’ll be a great opportunity to meet local artists that you can split a gig when you’re next in the area.

8. Consider sticking in at least 1 good paying gig even if you’re not so excited about playing it.  At least it will help subsidize your trip and pay for gas.

9. Give them a deal they can’t refuse. Have a few items on your merch table? Sell them in bundles. 1 CD for $10. 2 for $15. 3 for $20. Yea, this is a useful tip whether you’re touring or not…but you’ll be able to cover traveling expenses alot easier if you do bundle deals. More on this: Creating a Black Friday Buzz.

10. Take vitamins and drink alot of water. It might not be a marketing tip, but, like I said, touring really wears on the body. Keep your immune system up and ward off any sickness. And be careful of what you eat too…b/c you’ll probably be eating out every day.

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What if a Band Member Can’t Make it to a Show?

Posted June 16, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, image, Performing

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Beggar Folk. Lancaster, PA.
THE QUESTION: So we have a gig in a few weeks and we promised them we’d bring out our whole band, but it turns out our string player can’t make it. Should we just show up with a smaller version of the band, or should we contact the booker ahead of time and risk having to forfeit the gig…especially if they’re expecting strings.

THE ANSWER: If you’re in a band, or if you sometimes play with a band, this has probably happened to you at one time or another. Here are a few things to consider.

1. Are you being paid. If you’re being paid for a gig, you’re basically being contracted for a project. It’s a way for a booker to use you on their terms. If they hire you as a band, then you need to arrive at the show with a full band. If they hire you as a solo artist, then come as a solo artist.  If they hire you as a band but you come with just two people, that might not go over too well.

If you’re not being paid, then you might have more flexibility…because if you think of it, you’re basically volunteering your time. Feel it out and get an idea of how serious the gig is and how serious your contact might take the change in band size. Just make sure that whatever you do doesn’t negatively affect your relationship with the booker/venue/event for the future.

2. Try a replacement. Sometimes this is annoying – having to teach a new person your tunes just for one gig. But it might not be a bad idea to have a backup plan and to bring this substitute musician into the mix anytime you have a missing member. Substitutes will always come in handy.  It would suck to have to miss a big opportunity simply because one member can’t make it.  It would also suck for your set to sound significantly different because a particular instrument is missing.

3. Just talk to the booker. Be upfront and let the booker know that one of your bandmates has had a conflict in his schedule and can’t make it.  It actually might not be a big deal. I’ve personally had a few instances where this happened to me. Here are a few different ways to handle it.

  • “Hi Ryan, One of our bandmates has had a conflict in his schedule and can’t be part of our gig next week.  I just want to make sure you know this since you are expecting the full band to show up. Please let me know if this will affect your interest in having us perform at the Arts Festival. I apologize for the changeup.”
  • “Hi Ryan, It turns out that my drummer and bassist are both tied up the evening of the event.  Would you mind if I did this show as an acoustic set?   If that will affect pay, I will understand. Please let me know your thoughts.  Sorry for the changeup.

4. What does Your Default Picture Look Like? When people see pictures on your website, myspace and facebook, do they see a picture of your band or of you as a singer/songwriter? You’ll probably get more requests for whatever “face” you show people. And if you show yourself as a singer/songwriter you’ll have much more flexibility and be able to present yourself in solo, duo, trio, and band form.  Just keep that in mind.

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Making the Most of Your Club Gig

Posted June 10, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Venues

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On Monday’s post, we talked about the pros/cons of booking nightclubs: Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your show.

Who’s on the Bill?
Don’t just play with any artist, play with artists who will willingly help you promote the gig. You can get a big name to headline your event, but if they don’t tell their fans, it wont get the turnout you’re shooting for. We talked about this extensively in a post a few months back in a post worth reading: “So What Did I Do Wrong?”

Also, make sure you’re billing with bands that are communicative.  Don’t book bands that don’t respond to your emails or any of your communication. How can you expect them to be on the same page with you when you’re not corresponding.

Also check out this post: Be The Artist You’d Want to Play With

Space Your Shows
Since your draw is such an important factor, don’t try to book another big show in the same time frame. This might be a no-brainer But maybe consider doing 1 big show a month. Doing shows close together is possible (especially if you plan to target very different audiences) but in most cases, both shows will detract from each other.
Also make sure that the other band(s) you’re playing with don’t have any competing shows.
Since it sometimes feels harder to draw people out, give people a reason to come. Consider talking with the venue and ask if they can have a drink special or a discounted menu for patrons.

You can’t set up a show today for next week. You need to set aside a solid 1-2 months to do it right. You probably won’t have a successful show if you don’t give yourself time to promote. Read
Planning Ahead – The Key to a Successful Show for a 4-week plan to a successful show.

Also check out 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show for more useful details.

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Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking

Posted June 7, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Finding/Getting Bookings

Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you prefer to play clubs, lounges, official music venues? Here are some thoughts on the pros and cons of booking these types of venues (vs. coffeeshops and non-traditional spaces). If you are a new aspiring musician, you might pick up a few things below and make an informed decision on the the type of avenue you intend to pursue.

Read, and let me know if you agree or don’t agree with the following. Post your additional pros/cons. I’ll also be doing some followup posts on how to make the most of a show depending on the venue you choose.

PRO:  Quality sound.
There’s nothing worse than playing a venue with a crappy sound system. You won’t have to worry about this in clubs and most official spots. And as you know, good sound makes all the difference.  In many other spaces, chances are you’ll have to provide the sound and someone to run it…which actually isn’t a bad thing, if you know what to do.

PRO: A familiar name
When you hear the name “World Cafe”, most East Coast Musicians know that this is Philly’s most prestigious venue. To say you’re playing at World Cafe carries alot of weight.  You’ll probably even get more people out to your show because it’s a fimiliar venue, people know where it is, and you don’t have to sell the idea of having them come hear you in a venue they’ve never heard of.

PRO: No surprises
Its fairly easy to find a cities established venues and to know what to expect. But its  much harder to come across the best coffeeshops and alternative spaces in town.. And not just any coffeeshop/spaces, but ones that have the appropriate space/vibe for live music.

CON: Rules
You’re limited. Clubs have rules for everything – door policies, ticket sales,  drink minimums, and sometimes who you can spit a bill with. These things ultimately make a gig less fun for everyone involved. Chances are, if you had your own rules, you’d have an easier time playing by them. And this is exactly the reason why low maintenance venues are often the place to pitch your tent.

CON: Little Return for Lotta Work
Have you ever spent weeks promoting a show, packed out a house, and left the venue wondering why you only made $40? Venues aren’t trying to take advantage of you. Or are they? It sure feels like it.  Well they need to make money. But at the same time it seems like you did all the work. Ya, the venue might have a good name, and might be a great addition to your resume, but do you feel a bit cheated? Figure it out for yourself. Most artists go into a gig knowing they won’t make money. And sometimes (as stated above), simply having a great show, with a packed house and good sound, is better than making a profit. Read more:
An Interview with Joe Squared – Things Every Venue Wishes You Knew

CON: Harder to Book
You can spend weeks  booking and waiting for clubs to get back to you but coffeeshops are easy, accessible and usually much more laid back in their booking process. Not to mention that a coffeehouse will give you more control over the gig itself.

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“How Do I Get My Album Sales to Register with Soundscan?”

Posted May 24, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Making Money, Merch, Uncategorized, Your CD

Tags: , , , ,

Today’s Ask Grassrootsy question…

THE BAND: Laura Harrison
THE QUESTION:  Hi Grassrootsy, I was hoping you may know the answer to this. My only motivation, at the moment, for selling my CD through CdBaby is because of Soundscan. I want the sales reported to Soundscan. Is there any way that Paypal can do that? I went to Nielsen website and they said that the dealer needs to have a Point of Sales (POS) inventory system…does Paypal do that? I went to Paypal and can’t find it on their site. Thanks so much for your time.

Hey Laura. I couldn’t find anything about this through PayPal either. I honestly don’t think PayPal does this. While many musicians use PayPal, I think it was originally created for
traditional small business owner. So my guess is that Soundscan isn’t one of their top priorities.

BUT there is a backdoor way to make sales through Paypal and still have payments registered through Soundscan. The answer, of course, is Bandcamp!  When you sign a new project up with Bandcamp, they will ask you to enter your album’s UPC Code and ISRC codes. ISRC codes are just like UPC’s except they are assigned to individual tracks…instead of a whole album. Your customers purchase is setup to go to your Paypal. Here’s a great article on all this code stuff.  It’ll also help you understand the importance of reporting your sales.

In any case, Bandcamp wrote an article last July about Reporting to Soundscan through their platform. My assumption is that, since the article is nearly a year old, they are now in fact reporting to Soundscan. I could be wrong. But according to their feature’s page, they say, “We submit US, Canadian and international sales reports to SoundScan each and every week.”. So that lets hope so!

It’s not a bad idea to stick with CD Baby and also sell your merch elsewhere. There have been countless PayPal vs. CD Baby discussion on this blog  (see comments); but I personally like the DIY approach where I can personalize and mail out my CDs to fans, collect more from sales, and have more control over pricing.  In addition, while Soundscan sales are

If anyone has more insight into this topic, please add your comment.

Might Want to read these too:

Bandcamp – A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent
Selling Your Music – Setting up an Online Merch Store
CDBaby vs. Paypal

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Social Media According to Ashton Kutcher

Posted May 19, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Helping Yourself, image, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

If you follow Grassrootsy on twitter you’ll remember we put up a post over the weekend about Ashton Kutcher’s interview on Nightline. Watch the interview. I’d actually never really seen Ashton outside of his “play dumb” roles (That 70’s show, Punk’d). So to my surprise, I was floored by his social media savvyness and actually think he’s incredibly innovative with his use of social media. I was also surprised to find out that he owns a social media video production company, Katalyst, which, speaking of social media, represents itself solely through Facebook instead of having a traditional website.

“I take a picture of what i want to take a picture of before they can. I’m 1000% certain that i’m less exposed now. Because i expose what i want to expose when i want to expose it.” ~Ashton Kutcher

Create the media you want to be seen
It’s a simple, beautiful idea. If you want content, create it. Don’t wait for someone to create it for you.  Become a credible source for information on yourself/your band/your art. Be the trusted source that everyone goes to when they want information. Its better if they go to your website before going to a third party.

Be credible enough to make people doubt other sources
Yes, you still want media coverage…but when then media trashes your name, you want people to immediately trust what they know about you instead of what the media says they know about you.  In other words, you should do such a good job in promoting yourself, that all conflicting, inaccurate press automatically becomes the untrustworthy source (hope that’s not confusing).

Beat Them to the Punchline
Don’t wait for someone else to say what you can say sooner. I especially appreciate Kutcher’s claim that he has more privacy because he is exposing his life on his own terms – what he wants, when he wants, how he wants.

So to Ashton Kutcher, rated one of  TIME magazine’s top 100 most influential people, I say “bravo”. I’ve got mad respect for him.

Related Blogs
Being Your Own Publicist…Cause Nobody Does it Like You
An Interview with Allison Weiss
Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #1

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5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show

Posted May 17, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Finding/Getting Bookings, Performing, touring, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

I’m knee deep in booking shows, and here are some more things I’m learning along the way about booking. If you’ve recently learned a thing or two, put it in the comments section.

1. Call Ahead
If you are  unsure about the venue you’re about to book, call the venue (as if you are a patron) and ask about the space. If storytelling is a big part of your set, ask them if the venue turns into a listening room at night or if live music takes more of an “elevator music” role and hides in the background. If you’re a cover band, you likely won’t have an attentive audience.  Make sure the space is that kind of space

2. Know the Room You’re Playing in
My personal pet-peeve when it comes to booking is not being able to find a full room image of a venue on its website. Before you book a space, make sure you can fill it. Something I do to get a feel for a space is look for YouTube videos of other artists playing in that space.

3. Make Sure the Venue Knows What You Do
Lets say the music on your website features a band, but you travel solo. Make sure the venue knows this.  It might determine
if they book you, what night they book, and in which space they book you (if they have multiple spaces).  Expectations that aren’t meant can often end in bad relationships.

4. Be Aware of Other Artists Who Have Played There
If you’re a jazz artist, don’t play a venue that primarily books garage rock bands. It won’t appeal to the venue’s built-in crowd, and the venues reputation will affect your fanbase’s decision to attend.

5. Don’t be Careless in the Booking Process
If you don’t hash out details with the venue ahead of time, it could really hurt you. Don’t forget to discuss:

  • payment: Can you charge a cover?  If not, do they give artists a percentage of sales? If not, can you put out a tip jar, “pass the hat”, and sell merch?
  • sound: Should you bring sound? Is there a backline? Are they prepared for a band or just solo acts. If it’s a chill atmosphere, your drummer might only be allowed to uses brushes instead of sticks.Stuff like that.
  • location: Is this venue in a central spot. That will make all the difference in determining how heavily you need to promote.
  • set: How long are you expected to play? Do you need to have another artists on the bill? Many venues like having at least two artist for the sake of variety and a crowd composed of each performers’ fanbase.

Check out “The Best Way to Book a Tour”  for more. If you have additional tips, put them in the comments.

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Posted May 14, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: twitter, Uncategorized

Hey Folks, when you’re looking for the latest content and you’re not seeing it here, head over to our twitter page.

You’ll find daily tweets on relevant articles, ideas, resources, and plenty of other useful ideas.



The Best Way to Book a Tour

Posted May 10, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Finding/Getting Bookings, touring, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Booking is hard. Here are some valuable tips on how to hopefully make things a bit less stressful. If you have other tips, post them in the comments section.

1. Start with the Weekend
Where do you want to spend your weekend? Book your Friday and Saturday gigs first? Its likely that these will be your money-making gigs since you’ll probably get more folks out. Book the weekend gigs in cities with your biggest following.

2. Have One Anchor Gig
This is the gig that pays the bills and funds your trip. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a weekend gig. Maybe a college is bringing you in to do something on a Wednesday night. Or maybe you’re doing a wedding in one of the cities and they are paying you upfront. Knowing you have some financial backing will give you confidence to book other gigs even if there is no guarantee in how much you’ll make at the others.

3. Fill in the blanks
After you’ve booked your weekend gigs and your anchor gig, focus on your weeknights.  Thursday nights are probably the next most important day for a musician. There’s alot happening on Thursdays- not as busy as a Friday or Saturday, but usually busier than other weeknights.

4. Save the Big Venues for an Off-night
Getting into a  major venue like Philly’s World Cafe, can be hard…especially on a Friday or Saturday.  Shoot for a weeknight.  You’ll have a better chance…especially if you contact them with advance notice.  BUT, if you can land a major venue on a weekend, then go for it!

5. Sunday House Show
House Shows are laid back and perfect for a Sunday evening (or afternoon) potluck. It’s the perfect type of show when you can’t seem to fill in that last date. Sunday’s (and weekends in general) are especially good for this.  But it doesn’t have to be. See: House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return

6. Be part of something that already exists
Maybe you’ve missed the boat. Your trip is 6 weeks away and you only have 2 gigs booked on your 5-day tour.  Look into local happenings. Maybe there’s a community day you can be a part off. There’s less stress of trying to create a gig from scratch, and you don’t have to promote. See: Why Won’t People Come to My Shows?

7. Check the venues online calendar before emailing them about a date that could already be taken
Don’t go asking a venue if you can play on June 5th if June 5th is already booked with two other bands. That shows them you didn’t care enough to stop by their website. It also means you haven’t read their booking policy or any other need-to-know facts.

8. Don’t be afriad to do an Open Mic
For some reason, it always seems like Tuesday’s are the night when nothing is going on. Not as many venues booking shows. Not as many events going on in a city.  How about doing an Open Mic? Contact the host and ask if they have featured performers. You’ll find that some open mics give guest artists a longer set.

Also check out

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Spreading the Word Through Facebook & Twitter

Posted May 6, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Social Networking, twitter, Uncategorized, Your Fans

Tags: , , , ,

Tonight I learned a little trick that will hopefully help you increase traffic to your website and/or help your fans pass on your name to their friends and network.

I’d always wondered how to get people to forward a message through their twitter and facebook account. The code is actually quite simple. If you’ve got a useful information and you want people to spread it through their social networkin accounts, here’s how.

  • DISCLAIMER: So there seems to be an issue when you copy/paste the below codes in your html editor. It doesn’t seem to work. I’m really not sure why. Rest-assured that this is the code. It works on myspace and probably a few other sites. But it might be best to type it out instead of copy/pasting when in your website’s html editor.

Message for fans: “Band XYZ has a a show on Friday at Iota! Hope you can make it!  Contact us for details or isit!

code: <a href= “ Band XYZ has a a show on Friday at Iota! Hope you can make it!  Contact us for details or visit” target= “_blank”>Tweet This</a>

result: Tweet This (click and see what happens)

That’s your code. Embed it on your site and only change the text in blue after “href” and before “target”, and you’ve made it easy for your fans to help you spread the word.  It will look like this.

p.s. don’t forget to:

  1. including  your twitter account
  2. include a link to a place where peope can find more information on your post
  3. make sure the post is within 140 characters.


Facebook allows you to post links for forwarding, but not text.
So instead of posting the above message about band XYZ’s show, you can only post

code: <a href= “” target= “_blank”>Share this on Facebook</a>

result: Share this on Facebook (click and see what happen)

That’s your code. Embed this on your site and only change the text in blue after that funky looking facebook link and “=” sign, and you’ve made it easy for your fans to help you spread the word.  It will look like this. Click and see what happens:

If you want, you can use icons instead of the words “tweet this” or “share this on facebook”, check out this page to see how that looks.
Pretty cool stuff.

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5 Tips For Running Your Business

Posted May 3, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

This post has been boiling in me for a few weeks. Lately I’ve had a number of sketchy interactions with various local and non-local businesses…usually prompting the question “Do people really do business like this?”

Let me just say this, you should treat your music like a business…especially if you expect people to pay you. Being paid for what you do is all about providing a service and being compensated for that service. In other words, you’re running a business. With that said, make sure you do the following.

Don’t make empty promises
Personally, if someone tells me they’re going to do something, I’m going to believe them. If I ask them to provide a service by a certain date and they claim they can do it, then I will expect to receive the service by that date. If they cannot provide the service then I will expect them to tell me this honestly instead of making a false promise. As a musician (and also a person), let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Your word will continue to carry more weight when people know they can trust it.

Don’t be exclusive
Ya, your service might not appeal to everyone, but let them be the judge of that. Don’t immediately assume that people don’t want your service. Let them decide for themselves. Be non-exclusive and assume that everyone will be interested in what you have to offer. Of course, there is a time for targeting.

You can’t run a successful business if you don’t communicate with your customers.  I recently ran into a major issue where the company I was working with would not return any of my calls or emails.  This has severely shattered our relationship and i don’t intend to work with them ever again.  I’ve also noticed that I don’t work with musicians that don’t communicate. You can’t work together if you’re not working together.

Be Welcoming
During a gallery craw in Pittsburgh last week, my friend and I made an attempt to stop into a shop.  We saw customers in the store but the door was locked. After knocking on the door, the owner come up to the storefront, cracked the door open and told us that unless we were buying something he couldn’t have us in the store. We were completely put off.  Why should you be welcoming?  Because it’s the golden rule and because you never know who your customer is. Even if they don’t invest in you now, they just might in the future. And even better, they might recommend you to someone else.

Put Everything in Writing
I highly recommend  booking your shows via email only. Sure, it’s probably fine to initiate things over the phone, but putting it in writing makes it real. It becomes official and creates accountability.

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How Do I Score Reviews of my CD Before the Release?

Posted April 27, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Ask Grassrootsy, Getting Reviews, press kits

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Natalie John


So here’s the second installment of  “Ask Grassrootsy”.  If you have questions, be sure to send them in.
Today’s Ask Grassrootsy question is something I’m sure most artist wonder about…

THE BAND: Natalie John
THE QUESTION: I am working on promoting my first original jazz music album. I’d love to score some reviews of my music. I would like to release the album in two months, but it won’t be completed for another month. If you say that this requires months-in-advance notice, what should I send reviewers if the album’s not even completed yet? Thanks for helping me solve this puzzling Catch-22.

ANSWER Yea, this is definitely a catch-22, but there are definitely ways to work around it.  Here are my suggestions.

1. Create an Online Press Kit. People like Sonicbids for this but i highly recommend putting something together on your own website because you’ll have so much more flexibility.  Ya, you don’t have the CD, but you do have rough mixes that will continue to progress as the project nears completion. So…put together a press page with…

*** everything the Media could ever want to know about you and your project – bio, press release, endorsements, etc.
*** include an audio player with the latest mixes of your song.  Put a disclaimer saying “songs not in final form”
*** make the  media aware that you will continually be updating this page with new information and the latest mixes of your CD

I’ve been spent all my time and energy working on this idea since I’m putting out a new project. Here’s what that looks like.

disclaimer: this requires being up on your html and/or using the available resources out there to help you.

2. Make a Pre-release Copy. As much as the media will benefit from your Press Page, most people still prefer hard copies when reviewing. Why? Well, what if you were a reviewer at a magazine and you had 20-50 artists emailing you large audio files on a daily basis? Yea…you get the point. This is why hard copies are still the most desired form of submission.

A pre-release copy is the same idea as audio on a press kit. Here’s what you do.

*** order blank discs from a printing company. Blank as in there is no data on them. The company will basically print some simple artwork that you supply. The artwork says something along the lines of “Advance Pre-release Copy. SONGS NOT IN FINAL FORM”.
*** Once you receive the data-free CDs back from the company, burn your latest audio mixes onto the discs. Burn a couple new CDs each time you have newer versions of your songs.
*** Voila. You have a pre-release copy. Media will expect it not to perfect since you’ve clearly stated that the songs aren’t in final form. However, try to send audio that sound at least a little bit shaped up.
Here’s an example of the latest artwork I sent in to get printed on a disc: I got them printed and shipped for under $100 from Their quality isn’t superb but they’re great for short-run low-maintenance projects like this that aren’t detail specific.

I am knee-deep into the process of releasing a CD, so if you all have any additional, related questions, please feel free to send them over.

If this blog helped you, please tweet about it and pass it to a friend.

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Why Do I Need a CD When Everyone Listens to mp3s?

Posted April 21, 2010 by grassrootsy
Categories: Making Money, Merch

Tags: , , , , , ,

82% of music sales are digital

18% of music sales are CDs

90% of CDs sold are at shows

I attended the LAUNCH Music Conference last week. Over the course of two days and several hours of panels, I had a chance to hear questions and answers to the things that independent artists are thinking about these days.  So here’s a good one: Why spend money on printing hard copies when most people are downloading their music these days? Here’s why:

90% of CD sales are sold at shows
This is your income and people like immediacy. If your audience enjoys your live performance, they’re more likely to buy your music at the show than a few hours, days, or months later. Be sure to capitalize on the fact that the source of your income is in the room. Yes, some people will still go home and purchase your tunes online, but many will buy it at the show if you make it available.

Yes, there are still people who like hard copies
People still love liner notes. And some people still want to hear a project from start to finish instead of just downloading their favorite tracks. CDs are still important. Will they still exist in 5 years? I don’t know.

You don’t have to share the profit
Ya, it does cost a good bit of money to get your discs printed. But, once you have them, 100% of the sales are yours. This means you don’t have to share anything with iTunes, Napster, AmazonMp3…etc.  This is by far, the greatest advantage of having a CD.

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