Helping Yourself #2

The Free Press

The Free Press


This is a continuation to “Helping Yourself #1.  Check back tomorrow for the 3rd installment.  As previously mentioned, this post is centered around a recent blog by CDBaby guru Derek Sivers. The blog was called Nobody’s Going to Help You.  Does that encourage you or discourage you?  Read it is you havea chance. 


The post generated over 7,000 comments by aspiring musicians regarding wether or not they liked that fact that they have to promote themselves.  Here is the response by Alex Oliviera of the band The Free Press. And here’s my response to response  (make sure you read Sivers’ post so you know what  everyone’s talking about below)


Response # 6,305 by Alex Oliviera

  • ” The fact is, most people are discouraged by this response and they’re right to be. It used to be that you would work your ass off and eventually someone would come to the table to help you run your business at a level that most people in music don’t begin to have the competency to do. Nor should they, we’re talking about sophisticated marketing here. This is a legitimate skill, we can just expect musicians of all people to just figure it out.$5000/month? Here in Toronto a typical door price for an indie band would be $5-$8. If you’re really happenin’ maybe you’ll pull in 100 – 150 people. Call that somewhere between $500 and $800 at the door.
  • After paying the sound guy and the door staff (why that’s not the bar’s problem is another story) maybe you’ve got $300-$500 left. Now it’s time to pay the openers who you will undoubtedly screw over because it rolls down hill. So now maybe you’ve got $200-$400 take home. Oh yeah, I forgot about postering…count that in too.
  • In a 5 piece that’s a wopping $40-$80/ player for a nights work…super…and of course they’re not even taking that, we’re putting it in the bank to cover the rehearsal space, the publicist and God knows what else AND THIS IS THE HOME TOWN SHOW! I just don’t…” [read full response] 

Alex makes a really great case.  Many venues have a pay to play system.  You are actually selling tickets for them just toget a full room and making them rich.  And you get piddle!  A tiny unfair fraction.  If you really think about it, you’d should be getting the bigger cut because you did all the work.  Not to mention the fact that the venue will be getting money off the bar.

So here’s a possible solution.  Be unconvention in the new year.  Create opportunities where there are none. Here’s what I mean…

  • 1]  Aim to play in unconventional venues. Is there a coffeeshop in your neighborhood that has a great space but has never considered hosting live music?  Approach them about the idea.  Propose the idea of doing a late night show on Fridays or Saturdays…or a monthly series. You can ask them if its ok for you to ask the audience for a suggested donation.  You guys can work out the details of splitting the “cover” or maybe the place will just be happy with making extra business off of additional food/beverage sales.
  • 2] Set some standards.  If a Club asks you to sell tickets to your show, tell them you won’t  gaurantee to sell any.  This has personally been my most successful method of “putting my foot down”.  The last thing you have time to do is heavily promote a show that you’re not making money off of.  There’s a slight chance the Club might not ask you to play anymore.  You make the call.  If performing at a particular venue is more important than making money, then do it!  As I mentioned in my “Do It For Free” post, sometimes you need to do something for free to get where you’re going.  But not always.
  • 3] Look for venues that are fair to their musicians.  Look for places that give artists a fair cut or give artist a flat payment that doesn’t depend on how many people you bring.  These venues are definitely out there. 
  • 4] Again, I’m a huge believe in creating something that has never existed before. So try getting out of the box and creating shows in Art galleries, Open Spaces, and Lounges that have a great atmosphere and are condusive to live music.  I really think you can’t go wrong that way.



p.s. Check out The Free Press’ music.  It’s great! 

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2 Comments on “Helping Yourself #2”

  1. […] Grassrootsy grassroots marketing for independent artists « Helping Yourself #2 […]

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my comments. I’m happy I struck a chord given the volume of respondants.

    Also thanks very much for your kind words abot our music.


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