Archive for the ‘Series’ category

Free Things Your Fans Will Love #2

December 2, 2009


Joel Rakes

 If you’d like to show your fanbase a little love this year, here are some ideas.  After you try them, leave a note in the comments section and let us know how they work. And here’s the first post in this series: Free Things Your Fans Will Love.  

A Christmas Card
Think of Christmas time as a way to thank your fans for everything they’ve done for you throughout the year- their support, coming out to shows, buying your music, spreading your name. Put a pretty bow on your thank you.  Send your subscribers a digital card with a picture of yourself and friendly note.  Some people will read it. Some won’t. But those who read it will definitely appreciate it. 

A Free Christmas Tune
Nashville Artist Joel Rakes takes the cake on this one.  For three years, Rakes have been giving away a free download every week during the Christmas season.  That’s 3 years of free Christmas EPs!  This year he’s on Festive.Mood.Inducing.Music Vol.4

Think of this season as an opportunity to really build your fanbase. Free tunes are a great way to do this.  It’s much like a free concert.  You’ll earn the ear of people who might not go out of their way to discover you, otherwise.  Once you’ve earned their “trust” or their fanship, their likely to pay to see your or buy your music in the future.   

Joel Rakes also started an event invite on Facebook for his free tunes. With currently 207 people subscribed, that’s alot of people to send a free song each week.  And the number keeps rising.  What a great way to get you name out. But don’t get stressed, fans will appreciate one song a season just as much as a full EP. 

The Moral of the Story
Take a break from asking asking asking.  As artists, we’re continually asking people to give us money, vote for us in competitions, and come to our shows. Throw your fans a curve ball and do something nice for them. 


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Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #4

July 27, 2009


Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

I especially love writing this series b/c it tends to get the most feedback from artists.  To see other posts in the “Incredible Resources” series, click here.

Ok, I ran into Kickstarter last month, and I LOVE the concept. Chances are that you fall into the same category as most aspiring artist – lotta passion, little funds. Kickstarter offers a way for you to solicit pledges from you fanbase in return for a whole bunch of different rewards.

How’s it work?  Lets say you have a goal to raise $5000 for your next CD (to cover recording, artwork, duplication…etc).  Start an account with Kickstarter and start asking your fans to support you. Through Kickstarter, you can raise funds and offer your fans compensation in the form of a free CD (once the project is finished), free admission to 1 or many of your upcoming shows, free merch, or whatever creative ideas you come up with. It’s a novel idea, really. 

I happened upon Allison Weis Kickstarter page today and girls got it together!  She’s raise over $6,000 even though she only aimed for $2000 to cover the first print-run of her project  Thats 314%. Sweet!  Her pledge amounts range from is $1 to $2500 and she offers excellent incentives to her fans depending on how much they decide to give.  She’s aso created an amusing informational video to tell her fans more about the process.  Now, keep in mind that Allison Weiss  is a “well-known” indie artist so she’s got a much larger fanbase (hence more supporters). But also keep in mind that she is independent and does 100% of her marketing. 

Other Need-to-knows about Kickstarter

  • ***KS offers a widget that you can place on your website/myspace that automatically updates itself on how far you are in the pledging process.
  • ***KS will not let you collect the money until your goal has been reached. So if you have a $1000 goal but only reach $999, you can’t collect the money.  If anything, this will encourage you to be proactive in asking your supporters for $. 
  • ***KS allows you to collect the $ through an account with Amazon. Amazon takes a small percentage (though that fee is currently being waived)! 
  • ***KS service is FREE!!!  Yes FREE!  So you don’t have to pay anything or worry about them taking a cut from your raised funds.  They’ve acknowledged that they might charge in the future, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Things You Should Keep in Mind

  • ***KS is a service much like paypal. They handle the $ but you gotta follow thru.  Don’t collect money from fans and then use it for something else. That’s dishonest and WRONG!  And if you’re gonna offer incentives, you better make sure you keep your promise.
  • ***If you like their business model, take advantage of KS while its still free!  If you’ve used KS before, please leave a comment and tell grassrootsy readers of your experience.
  • ***I have not personally used KS but I’m seriously considering going this route for my next project.  This post is based off of the information I’ve read. If it is incorrect in any, please let me know. Give it a try for yourself and as previously stated, let us know how it goes!
  • ***Start building your credibility.  Even if you’re not in the process of recording a project, start proving that you are trustworthy. When the time comes, people will give you money if they know you will put it to good use.

 Lastly, head to this page to read up on everything you need to know about Kickstarter. Also check out Allison Weiss’ myspace.  She’s a great example to follow.

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

July 6, 2009
Ari Hest

Ari Hest

To read the first two posts in this series, visit
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #2

Artist #1: Ari Hest
Brooklyn, New York’s Ari Hest stands out for several reasons.  Aside from his excellent vocals and simple tunes, Ari has found a way to engage his fans by making them a part of the music-making process. In 2008, he made it his goal to write, record, and release one song per week for all 52 weeks.

According to Ari, the concept was a huge success. He gained over 1000 subscribers who willingly paid for each weekly download, but also had people pay for songs individually if they only liked certain ones.  Read all about it here.  Even though the 2008 project is over, fans can and still do buy specific mp3s or all 52 songs in the collection.

And now…for the kicker: Ari’s latest CD, appropriately titled Twelve Mondays, which was released in March ’09, is a compilation of 12 of the 52 songs – handpicked by his fans. 

If you think about it, the whole year of 2008 was one huge publicity campaign in preparation of his 2009 release.  As Ari continually provided fresh material for his fans on a weekly basis (which kept them coming back), word spread and he was able to maintain the attention of his audience. What a genius idea!

The most important thing about this project was that Ari did not release “crap” on a weekly basis.  Even though his time was limited, he produced excellent music which ultimately proves that people will support you if you’re good and hard working. Visit his myspace.

Amy Kuney

Amy Kuney

  Artist #2: Amy Kuney
Los Angeles artists Amy Kuney, has found a niche market that the average artist would never think to pursue – middle school and highschool students.  Check out this letter she’s posted on her website:

Attn. All STUDENTS – Fall High/Middle School Tour:

So I’ve been touring middle and high schools and I’m loving it so much that I’m going to do it again in the fall. If you are a student and would like for me to play at your school, please email: Audrey Marshall at

Include the following information:
1. Your Name
2. Your School’s Name
3. Where Your School Is Located
4. Your Principal’s full name and email address

I’ll do my best to make it happen!

While it’s often hard to be completely innovative and think outside the box, aim to be original in your  musical pursuits. That might not necessarily involve singing to 6th graders, but there’s always a way to be different.


Thanks for reading, please continue to pass this on to your fellow music-makers.
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Music & Current Economic Challenges #2

June 24, 2009
The Seldon Plan

The Seldon Plan

So here’s what a couple other bands are doing to push through these economic times.

The Seldon Plan: “Touring With Jobs
The Seldon Plan says its best: just because funds are limited doesn’t mean you can’t travel.

“The model of touring [involving a bus and several weeks of shows scheduled across the country] is gone. The recession has made it so that bands have to focus on their geographical areas, which is regionalizing music. We’ll connect with people because we share a geographical location.”
– Michael Nestor -guitar/vox/keys (quote compliments of Baltimore Metromix) 

Tour with a job.  Work your 9-5 and go out of town on the other days of the week.  Maybe you can work out a deal with your employer where you’re working semi-part-time or 40 hours on 4 days of the week instead of 5.  There are ways to make it work. 
Be sure to check out The Seldon Plan‘s myspace. The layout is great.

The Flying Change: “Power in Numbers”
In a recent interview on, Sam Jacobs of The Flying Change makes an excellent point: 

“We’re looking to do as a group what we might not be able to do alone. So, moreso than in the past, we’re trying to form collectives and build entertainment experiences around those collectives rather than just solo artists.”

This is such an excellent idea. Form a collective.  Work off of each other.  Especially if you’re a solo artists, consider forming some type of partnership with other like-minded artists.  Tour together. Instead of booking a show on your own, book for your collective. Networking is key.

Check out this excellent article entitled Recession-Proofing Your Band.  I learned a great deal from what I read.
And also check out Music & Current Economic Challenges #1

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Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #2

May 11, 2009
Indie on the Move

Indie on the Move

Check out the first post in this series… Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #1

So here are a few new artist resources that people have passed on to me in the last month.  If you know of any definitely shoot me an email joy[at]joyike[dot]com

Indie on the Move
Indie on the Move is a 100% FREE online resource created by Philadelphia Band Zelazowa. IotM is a database of thousands of venues throughout the United States.  Artists and bands post venues they’ve played at, give contact info and tips on how an artist can book themselves at that venue, and offer a description of a venue. 

So lets say you’re touring in Pennsylvania.  Visit Click on the state of Pennsylvania on the map.   A database of venues in PA will pop up.  Click on World Cafe (for example) and here’s what comes up.  Super helpful.  You don’t even need to be a member to glean helpful information from the website or add a venue.  But here’s why you should join…

IotM is especially great b/c it helps artists to easily gig swap with each other.  Don’t know what gig swapping is?  Lets say you’re traveling to Vermont, but don’t know anything about the music scene,  IotM allows you to network with Vermont artists to play a show with someone in VT.  You return the favor and offer them a show in your city, State when they tour. 

Sure there have been many other resources like IotM, but b/c venue and booking information is so time sensitive, it’s especially great to have a FREE database that is constantly being updated. IotM is passionate about helping artist DIY (Do it Yourself).  Since artist can’t always afford booking agents, I’m especially glad IotM exists.  Check it out!

Champion Sound
Champion Sound is like a mailing list provider and then some!  Not only can you store all you fans emails, but it allows your fans to RSVP to events you are promoting. It keeps track of the show attendees and generates a guest list that you can hold on to, or give to the doorman.  Its great for musicians, promoters, and venues. 

Champion Sound provides alot of the same things a mailing list provider does like… stats (i.e. open rates, click rates…etc) ,  and list management (i.e. create different lists for fans depending on their city or social networks).  Visit their features to learn more. 

Champion Sound is free  if you have a small contact list and only plan to send 100 or less emails per month.  But they have pricing options for larger quantities. 100 emails really isn’t much.  So this will definitely be a problem if you are are consistently building your fanbase (especially b/c other services like Fanbridge allow to send 400 emails for free).
If you have used or decide to use any of the above resources, please leave a comment and let readers know your opinions.


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

March 25, 2009
Wisdm O.N.E.

Wisdm O.N.E.

To read the first post in this series, visit Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1

Artist #1:  Wisdm O.N.E
Wisdm O.N.E.  If you keep in mind the fact that your music travels much faster than you do, it will hopefully make you think twice about how much emphasis you put on the production quality of your CD.  It took me a while to understand this concept.  My first ep was a trainwreck.  Besides the fact that I was just re-learning the piano, I didnt mix or master the CD.  The levels were all jacked up and some songs were louder than others.  When I listen to Wisdm O.N.E.‘s music I hear 100% quality (this is my opinion, of course).  But his tunes are rock solid- well produced and will easily blend in with the quality of radio singles.  More people will hear your music on myspace than will ever see your live performance.  The production of your music carries alot of weight.



Laura Burhenn

Artist #2: Laura Burhenn
Laura Burhenn does a really great job of painting a picture of herself for her fans. Image.  If you spend some time on her myspace, listening to her music, and checking out her photos you’ll notice one thing…she comes off as consistently simple with a little accent of glam. All across the board.  She’s also got really great photography which helps immensley in giving people insight into who she is.


David Stein

David Stein

Artist #3: David Stein
David Stein’s got a really neatly mapped out official website.  All merch links on the left sidebar, social networking links on the right sidebar, and important details down the middle.  The website isn’t completely finished but he simply writes “Information Coming Soon”.  Nothing unprofessional about that.  Also, check out his myspaceEllen Cherry’s got a great official website too.  Ok, thats my plug of Baltimore bands.


Know other artists who are doing interesting thing?  Comment below.

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Improvising…Because We’re In a Recession, Yo! (Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners #2)

March 18, 2009



A friend of mine is super cheap!  She likes to make butterred popcorn by coating raw kernals with butter, putting them in a brown lunchbag, sealing the bag, and sticking it in the microwave.  I think its funny but give it a try and tell me if it works 🙂

So…in light of coming up with alternative methods, here are some brainstormed ways to save money and save time- the biggest commodities in life. 

Pick a Good Spot
Show location can have alot to do with how much time you put into promoting a show.  If your booking a show at a hole-in-the-wall venue that no one’s ever heard of, you’re gonna have a much harder time getting fans to show up. Pick central spots- places that have plenty of foot traffic. When you pick a “bad” venue you have two jobs –  1.) convincing people the show will be good, and 2.) convincing people the venue will be good. If people already know the venue,  that’s half the battle.

USB Drive…yeah its a pretty clever idea
Why not put your music on a USB drive instead of a CD?  I recently found out about this from a local Pittsburgh band, Vindell.  Here’s how it works:  have your band’s logo or website printed on the outside of a USB Flash Drive.  Order them in bulk (lets say 100).  Once you get them, put your bands mp3s on the drive and sell them at your shows.

These days, CD sales are phasing out and digital music is the way to go.  People can have your music on a flash drive, transfer it to their computer (or ipod or whatever), and still have tons of space left on the flash for every-day use (saving term papers, if their students).

You can also put videos, press kits, wallpapers, extra songs that aren’t on the CD  and any other multi-media stuff about your band on the flash drive.  The creative possibilities are endless! 

Check out some really incredible Flash Drive ideas at  But I know if you look harder, you can find cheaper prices online.

  • note: the production cost of a flash is actually more expensive than a CD but if people plan to buy your digital tracks off iTunes anyways, why not sell a flash drive and keep iTunes from taking that percentage. And you’ll also be able to offer various types of data that iTunes cannot. Not to mention, you’ll have you website printed on the outside of the USB forever.   (You should still have your music on iTunes though)


I strongly believe making solid relationships is the best way to save time and money.  When you have people talking about you (world-of-mouth) and telling their friends about your shows, you don’t need to spend nearly as much time, energy, or money promoting your events.  Building relationships isn’t an overnight thing though.

Also, check out Monday’s blog, A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #2, for an idea on how you can have your fans help promote your music.


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