An Interview with Allison Weiss


Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

The first time  I came across Allison Weiss’ myspace page, I knew she was a musician after my own heart. Grassrootsy first covered her back in July in a feature on Kickstarter.  And after reading more about Weiss, it was apparent that she is one of the hardest working independent artists you will ever come across.  I mean ever. And believe me, it will pay off! In fact she’s already scored tons of top-notch gigs and an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Grassrootsy asked her some questions about herself and her music marketing techniques.  Read on!  Read everything! (and post your thoughts below)

1.) What’s your story?
I started writing and playing music when I was in high school, but didn’t really do a lot of it until I came to college. At that point I started playing out all the time. I hit as many open mics as possible until I had gained enough exposure to land some coffee house gigs, and in time I moved up to playing clubs in my town. Eventually I reached the point I’m at now, where I play regionally every weekend and tour during my breaks from school. I’m currently a full time student and part time musician, though it feels like full time. I’m pretty much constantly thinking about writing, performing, and promoting my music. It’s second nature. It’s what I’m most passionate about. I’m working as hard as I can to get to full-time status. As soon as I finish school I plan to work as a freelance graphic designer in order to pay for my musical endeavors. I already do this now of course, I just intend to do it even more intensely.

2.) It looks like some really great opportunities have been coming your way. How did you score that interview with Billboard Magazine?
The Billboard thing was definitely amazing for me. My friend Rosie Siman has always been a huge supporter of my music, so when she befriended Billboard editor Bill Werde, she made a point to bring him out to one of my shows in New York. I guess he liked what he saw, because he ended up coming to the next one a couple months later and he only had great things to say about my performance and my music. He then set me up with an interview for the Underground section of their website. It was pretty surreal to see myself on the front page of Billboard.com. I never thought I’d be so close to the Jonas Brothers. Bill has been really awesome to me and supportive of my career. He’s also a total badass in general and I’m proud to know him.

3.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. When I first got started, some people criticized me for my “shameless” self-promotion techniques. Four years later, the same people are now asking for my advice. It seems pretty simple, but the most important thing is to scream your name from the rooftops. If nobody’s ever heard of you, how will they hear your music? Make sure they know you exist. Do it with honesty, charm, and style and you’ll earn the trust of people who will support you for a long time. Also: get a mailing list. Make people sign it. Announce onstage that you’re giving away a CD to someone who signs the list, pass it out into the crowd, and then announce the winner right before your last song. Those email addresses are almost as valuable as album sales, because each one is a potential attendee at your next show and a potential fan.

4.) What is your biggest frustration with your fellow musician?
Nothing bothers me more than a musician who swears off the internet. It’s a new age. Unfortunately, its about more than just writing great songs. You have to be organized and you have to be on top of things and you have to be putting yourself out there in the real world and online. There are so many opportunities for musicians on the internet, to see someone swear it off is heartbreaking. It’s so easy to use Facebook and Twitter, I don’t understand people who refuse. Plus its really fun when you get the hang of it. I enjoy social media almost as much as I enjoy writing and performing.

5.) According to the Grassrootsy Reader’s Poll, the biggest frustration among readers is trying to build their fanbase and finding a supportive music community. How do you do this?
I love people. It sounds pretty cheesy, but I live for human connection. I want to meet people and I want to know them. I don’t put barriers between myself and the people who listen to my music. Aside from really personal stuff, I pretty much talk about anything on my blog or my twitter. I think that honesty and openness allows for more of a connection between band and fan. Also, I’ve never really sat down and tried to determine who my “target market” is. I mostly just put myself out there and go with the flow. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but I think if you’re making good music, touring, and promoting yourself, the supportive community will come in time. Overall I think it’s important to remember what it’s like to be a fan of a band and how much fun it can be to really love someone for their music. I treat my fans the way I’d like to be treated by my favorite bands. It’s the golden rule, after all.

6.) If you could suggest one tool that every artist should familiarize themselves with, what would it be? Why? (i.e. html, photoshop, video editing, other…)
Honestly, social skills. I strongly believe that if you’re going to be a DIY musician, you can’t be a mysterious hermit. You’ve gotta have the guts to be outgoing and positive and ready for adventure. There are a million people out there trying to do what we’re doing, and it’s the go-getters who will succeed. It’s scary but true, and you’ve got to be willing to jump right in and join the fight.

But if you’re looking for a real answer…nowadays it’s essential to know enough HTML to edit your own MySpace profile. It’s a terrible waste of money to pay someone else to make simple changes you could do yourself. Look up tutorials online. There are millions of them. Make yourself a cheat sheet with codes used most often and eventually you’ll learn it. Video editing is also a great skill to have and with programs like iMovie, it’s very simple to learn. If my mom can do it, so can you. Having the ability to document your own tours and experiences and put them on Youtube can be really beneficial to the promotion of your own career. The real answer to this question is “All of the above.” The more many tech things you can familiarize yourself with, the better.

Allison Weiss Online:
Official: www.allisonw.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/allisonweiss
Twitter: www.twitter.com/allisonweiss
Facebook: www.facebook.com/allisonweiss
YouTube: www.youtube.com/amlingisrad


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7 Comments on “An Interview with Allison Weiss”

  1. Sierra Says:

    Great interview! Thanks Grassrootsy!
    Yay Allison!

  2. catsfur Says:

    The golden rule…so simple, so true.


  3. Yay for Allison! “You gotta have social skills.” Ah that could explain why I review music instead of make music? LOL.

    Thanks for posting the interview. BTW I reviewed Allison’s free live album on my blog. http://audiostylites.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/allison-weiss-lovelorn-yet-buoyant-acoustic-live-album/

  4. Dan Baskin Says:

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.


  5. […] 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 […]


  6. […] 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 […]


  7. […] 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 […]


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