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How to Treat Your Music Like a Business

If you plan on making a living out of your music, you need to treat it like anything else you would make a living out of; a business. Here is how:

Ok, you really don't have to wear the monkey suit...

1. Promote – If you don’t believe in your music, don’t think anyone else will either. Get the word out! Do whatever it takes to get your music to people, do whatever it takes to get bodies in the door. I know you don’t want to hear this, but no one is as good at promoting your music than you and unless you’ve got a lot of money to pay someone else to do it, the responsibility falls on your head. Here’s the be all and end all of the music business: the bigger your crowd is, the more people will want to work with you. Period. That’s it. Others can help you reach a larger audience, others can help get your songs to their audience and expand yours. You can never go wrong if you’re working towards making your community bigger. And it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, whether it’s a few people who are listening to your music online to a thousand people in a nightclub. Keep working on building your crowd, it’s the most important thing you can do.

2. Treat everyone involved with your music like the people you treat at your day job – This should be an easy one, but it’s not. Would you just not call someone back if they called you at work? Do you check your spelling in email at work? Do you get wasted at work? No. Music is and should be fun, but remember, there are people counting on you to put on a good show. Treat other musicians, bookers, clubowners, and waitstaff with the same courtesy and respect you’d treat your co-workers. For the night you’re playing together, they ARE your co-workers!

3. Copyright your songs – you’re probably already doing this as Broadjam members, but protecting your intellectual property is important. And chances are you’re a member of ASCAP or BMI, you never want to miss out on royalties! (Extra credit if you’ve set up your own publishing company!)

4. Set your group or yourself up as a business. Usually LLCs are the way to go. An accountant or lawyer can help you out, but with a little research, it’s not that hard to do it yourself. This is worth doing even if just for the tax breaks. New strings? Tax-deductible. New keyboard? Tax-deductible. There are tax laws designed to give new small businesses a better shot of making it and also to help you out with getting more of a refund from your day job. If you’re not doing this you’re leaving legitimate and legal money on the table. Don’t forget, you’re going to have to set up a bank account for your business before you can set up the LLC.

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5. Do you have a band name or a unique performer name? Trademark it! I learned this the hard way and lost a band name I really liked. You’re working hard to develop your reputation, don’t let someone else take that name recognition away by having the same band name as yours and making it legally theirs before you do.

That’s all it takes to make it official. Give these steps a try and you’ll see a difference right away, even if you just start with steps 1 and 2 by promoting and acting professional. When you treat your music as a business, others will treat you with more respect and they’ll take you more seriously. Don’t believe me? Play rockstar to an empty club a few times, you’re not going to get asked back and you’re not going to feel very good about yourself. If you want to play in the basement, that’s fine. But if you want to go out there and make a name for yourself, then you’re a small business owner now. Embrace it, enjoy it, get out there, and be awesome!

Music Production Tips and Tricks

(via broadjam.com)

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Why Providing Free Downloads Will Make You Money

Provide Free Downloads

I found a great article today making the case for providing free downloads. Worth the read!

Musicians inexperienced in business economics often don’t understand the idea of giving away free music downloads in order to earn sales. Well, I can’t tell you what to do. Sure, I could show you some “evidence”, but my market research is poorly-defined. So really, I can only testify what I’ve done and point you to other bands who swear by it too.

I started out giving away free music on MP3.com. Back then, MP3.com was paying artists every time someone downloads their music. When the site closed down, I had a tough dilemma. Should we keep giving away music or should we stop? I decided to test it.I took a risk. I realized the reason that we were one of the Top 30 bands on MP3.com was, in part, because of our strategy of how we gave away free music downloads. Thanks to that site, we now have well over a two hundred thousand fans around the world. It is all thanks to free downloads.

WHY does it work? Because my whole music marketing philosophy is not about selling music, it’s about making fans.

You see, my goal is not to sell one CD. My goal is to make a FAN who will buy CD after CD through my entire music career, maybe even provide me with a retirement.My old band, the Brobdingnagian Bards, has tens of thousands of fans who NEVER bought a CD. BUT they HAVE told tens of thousands of others about our music. Many of those people bought CDs.

I remember playing a house concert in Kentucky with the Bards. ONE person bought our entire CD catalogue from that one show. Why? Because they didn’t like buying CDs online. So they downloaded our music. They the listened to it, loved it, shared, and then one day bought our entire 10 CD catalog.You see, I STILL have a new fan even if they don’t buy my music. True fans tell friends. And friends tell friends. Somewhere magically along the way, people buy my CDs. That’s why I make a living as an independent musician.

Honestly, I won’t claim this is for everyone. If you’re fiddler isn’t comfortable giving away music. Don’t do it. There are other ways to promote yourself. So do what makes you more comfortable.

Think of it like radio. People freely listen to music over and over ad nauseum. Then they buy the CD. That’s what free music downloads does.

It’s a little counter intuitive but the results are just tremendous. If you’re a musician, give it a try.

– Marc Gunn via Bardscrier.com

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