Archive for the ‘Helping Yourself’ category

Pretty Soon It’ll be Second Nature

October 18, 2010


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.

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy


Good Tools = Good Work

September 8, 2010

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.

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy

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.

Social Media According to Ashton Kutcher

May 19, 2010

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

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy

Follow Grassrootsy on Twitter!

March 18, 2010

While you wait for the next Grassrootsy post, follow us on Twitter! We’re tweeting daily with…

  1. links to great articles
  2. retweets of fellow artists
  3. interesting thoughts and facts on pursuing music
  4. creative marketing ideas
  5. new promotional websites and resources you’ve probably never heard of
  6. DIY ideas

The Problem with Wolves & Sheep

January 6, 2010


Grassrootsy was one of 17 blogs picked by Derek Sivers (founder of CDBaby) to check out a new book by Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.  I should first mention that this is not a book review and I was not asked to “sell” the book. I should also mention that there is alot of great stuff in this book for any aspiring entrepreneur. Clarification: if you are trying to make a living off of your music (or any type of art), you are in fact an entrepreneur.  I’m sure I will be referencing the book for months to come.

The price of being a sheep is BOREDOM. The price of being a wolf is LONELINESS. Choose one or the other with great care.

Are You a Wolf?
Reading this book brought back many memories from 2 years ago.  I was months away from quitting my job. I knew it.  But at the same time I was making more than any young professional should probably
make at a 9-5 and actually felt pretty stupid for thinking about leaving my job…b/c it went against all common sense.  But I also remember being extremely bored and realizing that pursing my dreams would be more fulfilling.

One month into my freedom, after quitting my job, I suddenly realized that, not only did i not have a boss, but I also had NO ONE to help me get started. Go figure. I’d been playing out for 3 1/2 years but the pressure of  really making this full-time venture successful was all on me. It also took a full 18 months for my parents to honestly acknowledge that my “career move” was actually a career and not a hobby.

Or Are You a Sheep?
Sheep are bored. They follow. They don’t lead.
Sheep copy ideas and follow in the shadow of others.  MacLeod talks, in his book, about the problem with followers.  They might not like your idea, but if you’re successful, they’ll “like it” because they want to be on the winning team. It’s the human condition of wanting to be part of the something big…even if it doesn’t make sense.  I’d personally like to think that this is also the definition of pop culture.

Choose One or the Other
First of all, There is NO condemnation here.  This blog may come off as a bit biased, but one is not better than the other…unless you strongly feel you are on the wrong side.  Maybe “bored” is a strong word to use, but its assumed that, if you’re reading this blog, you’re trying to make moves with your music. You can’t be a sheep and make moves with your music. You can’t sit back and be timid.

At the same time, you won’t always be liked as a wolf. Wolves are kind of mean. They eat the people in their way and they don’t wait for someone else to do what they can do on their own. And this, my friends, is why wolves are lonely.  They make moves even when no one support them.  This is the primary reason no one likes Hugh Laurie of the Fox TV series, House. But he gets the job done! And he’s good.

…all this from a man who became famous by doodling comics on the back of business cards.  I think he’s worth listening to.

Subscribe to Grassrootsy

Promoting Your Press

October 28, 2009

Sam & Ruby

Maybe it sounds counter intuitive since press is supposed to promote you; however promoting your press will not only build your credibility, but it will also help you garner additional press. Chances are, whoever is writing about you, has a much bigger platform than you do.  Take advantage of that.

It’s not an easy thing to get a magazine or newspaper to write a review (read How to Score Reviews of Your CD).  But, once they do, take special care of that endorsement. What are you doing to spread the word to make sure people know that you’re being talked about?  Here are some thoughts on the matter

Why Would Someone Want to Know You’ve Been Reviewed?
Think of your website as one big advertisement. You create the content and you have control over what people know about you. This means that you’ve taken the opportunity to make yourself sound as good as possible. But if you take a poll, you’ll quickly realize that no one buys a magazine for the ads on every other page, and no one watches TV for its commercials (except the Superbowl, of course).  People take in media to see what’s being said about their favorite stars, to hear conversation about new music, movies…etc.

In other words, the public values an unbiased, third-party opinion. It’s the very reason no one watches Infomercials.  Prospective “buyers”  will put more value on your “product” when someone else (other than yourself) gives it a thumbs up.

It’s all about giving things their proper placement. Consider these ideas…

  • Work any media  recognition into your bio. Instead of talking about what you’ve done with your music, talk about what others have done. Here’s a clip from Katie Herzig’s Bio:
  • Katie has toured with the Tenn out of Tenn tour, Hotel Café Tour, PASTE Magazine songwriter tour and has supported national acts such as The Fray, Brandi Carlile, Shawn Colvin, Aqualung and others. In 2008, Katie is featured in Billboard Magazine’s “Now Hear This” as well as one of PASTE Magazine’s 25 “Best of What’s Next” Artists.”
  • Put endorsements on your homepage. Nashville artists Sam & Ruby get a thumbs up for this.
  • If you visit their homepage, you’ll see one of their songs was featured in the 2008 Blockbuster , The Secret Life of Bees. That’s a pretty big foot-in-the-door that can catapult a CD’s success to the next level. In fact, in a recent interview, Sam & Ruby said they sped up the production of their CD so they could release it at the same time as the movie.  That’s called using a huge opportunity to your advantage and building on momentum.
  • Also, check out Sam and Ruby’s myspace…as they put endorsements in the “About” section instead of a traditional bio.

Lastly, avoid sketchy-looking endorsements. If a radio host said he liked your CD but didn’t say anything concrete, don’t use it.  Make sure all quotes are as real as possible.  “John Doe of ABCF-FM likes the CD” doesn’t carry any weight.  And remember, the press certainly doesn’t need your help in publicizing their review/endorsement of your CD, but you do! 

Subscribe to Grassrootsy

“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”

October 26, 2009
Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

After channel-surfing  a bit last night, I came across a 60 Minutes interview with actor/writer/director/producer Tyler Perry.  If you’re not familiar with Perry, he is the Atlanta-based playwriter-turned-screenwriter who has literally created his own genre of movies. His latest movie, I Can Do Bad All By Myself topped the box office during its first weekend in theaters earlier this month.

In short, the interview discussed how, in just 11 years, Tyler Perry has risen to success by finding and tackling a niche audience that no one else in the movie industry has tackled – black, church-going women with children (and also the middle-class African-American). 

“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”
It’s a simple, profound statement….one that I’m sure caught the ear of everyone who watched this interview.  Perry owns everything he makes. He owns his plays, his movies, his TV shows, his 400 employees…etc. He writes everything, directs everything, and acts in almost all of his productions.  And just 11 years ago, none of this existed. Perry was living out of his car and trying to sell his plays to people who didn’t want them.  Eventually he stopped trying to sell them and funded them himself (with very little money). 

“They didnt open the door. I had to cut a hole in a window to get in.”
Considering the state of the music industry, I thought this statement was especially important to highlight.  We’re at a point where you can only make moves if you break in through a window. The doors aren’t opening because too many musicians are knocking on them. The artists who make it are sneaking in through the basement, laundry chutes, and chimneys. 🙂 What are you doing differently than your peers? Work to pave unpaved roads. Check out these posts:

Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #2
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #3

The Cost of Creating Your Own Rules
When you’re funding and fueling your own pursuits, your audience will always be smaller than it could be. Despite his success, most Americans have never heard of Tyler Perry.  Perry has found his niche but you can pretty much guarantee that if a movie theater is full of movie-goers, 99% of them will be black. Niches are great, and self-promotion is great, but this usually translates into small-audience-higher-impact…whereas, being backed by the “big guys” usually translates into large-audience-smaller-impact.

When all is said and done, keep in mind that Creative Control = Monetary Control.

If you wanna check out the full 60-minute interview, here goes:


Subscribe to Grassrootsy