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25. Believe In Your Product
It’s difficult to look someone in the eye and ask them to buy something you don’t believe is a good deal. The idea is to focus on giving a potential buyer something of value at a fair price. Don’t underestimate the intelligence and intuition of your fans – and remember, nothing is more powerful in sales than the truth. The first step is creating a product that you believe in. Your belief and enthusiasm will shine through.

24. More Music – Less Marketing
Spend less time on marketing and more time making sure you have a product worth marketing. There is more music out there than ever before – everyone you know is a musician, or at least a hobbyist, and consumers are very jaded. Before shotgunning your product and blogging and tweeting about your new release, make sure you have a product that is not only competitive, but stronger than most of the stuff you see and hear, or it’s over before it starts.

23. Before you look for a manager…
Before seeking out a music manager, have most of these items together: no apology recordings of your music; professional photos; a basic website with a custom URL; a mailing list and a place where people can sign up; a social network presence; live performance footage (preferably in front of a crowd); and a well-written bio. Having these materials will get you more gigs, taken more seriously by your peers and fans, and will ultimately help you build a business in music.

22. Use Google Alerts
The best way to make sure you catch every press write-up or album review (or even just fans talking about you online) is to use Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you’ll receive an email any time Google indexes a new instance or mention of your band or artist name on the web. (You can adjust your settings to specify how often you get emailed.) Use it to track album reviews, press mentions, fans talking about your music, and show reviews.

21. EQ With Mic Placement
The closer a microphone is to the center of the speaker, the more low and high end will be picked up. As the microphone is moved to the outside of the cone, the midrange becomes clearer. The angle of the microphone in relation to the cone can also change the tone of the guitar sound. Angling the microphone 45 degrees outward will reduce the upper midrange frequencies. Angling the microphone 45 degrees inward will increase low midrange frequencies.

20. More isn’t always better.
Having more songs doesn’t necessarily make a better record. While 40-45 minutes is a time bite easily digestible for a listener, 60-70 minutes may not be. At worst, the extra songs could be perceived as filler. You might consider filling the additional space available on a CD with enhanced materials, like a video, photos, wallpaper, or a digital press kit. Adding value by way of extra goodies on the disc can easily outweigh filling up the CD with “B-side” content.

19. Practice Tips.
Someone once said “Practice doesn’t make perfect — perfect practice makes perfect.” Here are a few things to keep in mind. 1) Practice what you don’t know, not what you do know. 2) Set a short-term goal before each practice session so you know how your time will be used before you start. 3) Practice for at least 10 minutes every day. 4) Don’t practice the same thing, in the same order, that you did the day before.

18. Stagger your releases.
Consider whether it’s better to release two songs every 8 or 12 weeks than to wait a year for one release. This 1) keeps your fan base happy by giving them a constant supply of new music; 2) provides increased exposure for every song; and 3) at the end of your creative cycle, the songs can then be put into an album that can be released in a CD format. Then your album has lots of advanced publicity thanks to numerous single releases.

17. Simplicity is key.
There’s a saying in marketing: “The confused mind always says no.” If you’re playing a show, don’t tell people to see Joe to buy a CD, then Cindy to buy a T-Shirt, and then Jamal to sign up for the mailing list. Have a signup form at your merch booth, where you sell your merch and CDs. Send everyone there. “Don’t forget to stop by and see Janet for CDs and T-shirts.” Mention this more than once.

16. The Standing-Out Strategy
The competition for attention in music publications and websites is overwhelming. Instead of focusing on music media, think in terms of audiences. Put your music where it will stand out from the crowd. If your music speaks to hobbyists or enthusiasts of say, sailing (for instance), targeting the people that like that kind of activity – via specialized publications or websites, is a great way to stand out. By putting your music where there usually isn’t any, it will get noticed.

15. Always write a set list
A lot of musicians do it on the fly, and if that works for you that’s fine. However, we’ve all seen (or been guilty of) doing the band huddle. The song ends and everyone turns to each other to figure out what to play next. This can present a very unprofessional image as well as ruin the flow of a show. By having your set list ready everyone can transition right to the next song without losing the crowd’s interest or energy.

14. How good do your home recordings need to be?
It’s important to strive for the best quality in every recording you make, but don’t beat yourself up trying to create the next Sgt. Peppers in your home studio. Consider what the next step up the ladder is for your career. It may be that recording a basic demo is exactly what’s needed to attract the attention you need. You can always invest more later on as your recording knowledge and skills expand.

13. Write it down.
It’s been proven that by simply writing down your goals you are ten times more likely to achieve them. Still, only three percent of people have their long-term goals written down. In any aspect of your personal or professional life, setting goals is an empowering way to set the stage for success. Taking the time to quantify and write out your goals can help you pave the way to achieve the career you’ve imagined, whether music is a hobby or a full-time vocation.

12. Find the “sweet spot.”
When preparing to record an acoustic guitar, cover one ear and use the other like a microphone, moving around the surfaces of the guitar at a distance of about 18 inches. You’ll hear the tone vary quite a bit. Move closer in and farther back to find the spot that offers a good combination of warmth and richness in the lower range, while maintaining the sparkle and shimmer. When you find this “sweet spot,” get your mic placed as close to it as possible.

11. Build a deep product catalog.
The formula is simple: more products to sell equals more sales revenue opportunity. So sell ALL your CDs; don’t let any titles go out of print. Fans at your gigs may buy more than one disc if you blew them away. Offer shirts (various designs if possible), hoodies, posters, etc. Once the fan is at your table, you can upsell them on multiple items. Sure, inventory costs money, but you don’t need to produce large quantities, and they can quickly pay for themselves.

10. Harness your fan power.
Need help with your website? Someone to call media or radio? Ask! A fan may have, or know someone who has, the skills you need. Announce what you’re looking for gigs. Keep a record of where fans live so you can tap into those in markets when you tour. Fanpower is a force that can help advance your career and create grassroots awareness to help sell CDs, book gigs, bring people to your website, get press, and get you to the next level.

9. Networking: The Business Card Exchange
When it’s time to exchange business cards, be prepared – don’t fumble through a pocket full of all the cards you’ve collected that day, or one of yours that doesn’t have scribbled notes on it. Have your business cards in your left pocket, and everyone else’s cards in your right pocket. Always have a pen available and take notes from your conversations. When you say, “I will call you next week and set an appointment,” make a note of what you’ve said and follow through.

8. Stay focused online.
Between your official band site, social networking sites, and online stores – you need a strategy. If you have the resources to maintain multiple sites and pages, make sure your message is consistent. If you find yourself neglecting some of your pages or sites, you may be better off paring back to the ones you can manage.

7. Build a quality email list
The most obvious thing you can do to build a fan base is collect email addresses at gigs. But remember: it’s not the size of the list, but the quality. Don’t steal names, coerce, or guilt people to sign up just to boost its size. Collect names from people who truly enjoyed your show and build a list of real fans.

6. Leverage your down time
There are long hours on the road, whether you are traveling from gig to gig or sitting around after sound check. Get out your laptop and get a yourself a wireless card. Then you can update your websites, respond to fan email, book shows, make blog/journal posts, and stay connected with the engine that runs your career rather than sitting around killing time.

5. Maintain the fantasy
You’re a star, living the dream, and people want to live vicariously through the artists they like. When you’re on stage or on the road, they’re right there with you. Don’t break the image by telling people you’re broke and living with your mother. Give them insight into your world, but remember, you’re not just selling music – you’re selling a persona.

4. Consider co-writing
For writers that may have limitations, consider co-writing as a possible path to songwriting success. Creatively, the end result can be much greater than the individual pieces. Some words on a sheet of paper are just that – maybe it’s a nice poem until somebody comes along and puts a really memorable melody to it. Suddenly, you have a great song.

3. Create opportunities for participation
In today’s ultra-connected environment, fans want more than just your album or to see you perform – they want a window into your creative process, and a chance to get involved. That may mean letting fans choose the photo that goes on an album cover or letting fans sing on your album or contribute a solo. Be creative and get your fans involved.

2. Don’t schedule your release party!
It’s best to not set your release date until your CDs are in hand. If you are going to publicize your album in the traditional press or do a radio campaign, set the official release date at least 8-12 weeks after you’ve received your copies to give yourself plenty of time to get the album delivered to the press and your online retail locations.

1. Protect your ears!
People who are exposed to 90-120 dB sound levels for various time periods are at risk for hearing loss, which includes people in the music industry (musicians, sound crews, recording engineers, nightclub employees) and people outside the music industry (loud-music listeners, spectators at sporting events, construction workers, motorcycle drivers, regular airline travelers). People often have high-frequency hearing loss but refuse to wear conventional hearing protection because they need to hear more clearly.

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