Tag Archives: Myspace

Rule No. 1 for the unsigned artist: Get on your grind (aka check yourself before you wreck yourself)

Everyday I'm Hustling DigitallyRecently, I’ve been approached by a number of artists and producers looking to get signed to a record deal.

I always entertain anyone who seeks out my advice, because it shows initiative.

But I’m always concerned when the objective, notwithstanding my advice, remains fixed on securing a deal.

It’s not that it’s an unobtainable goal.

But it’s unrealistic.

As one record executive told me, getting signed to a record deal is more difficult than shooting a hole in one – by hitting a golf ball through a hole in a brick wall first.

For some reason, these cats act like the labels are just handing record deals out.

“All you’ve got to do is be discovered.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told about artists that are discovered.

That’s all it takes.

Record a song.

Post a YouTube video.

Get discovered.

And go from obscurity to fame, overnight.

“Madonna was discovered.”

“Lady Gaga was discovered.”

“Katy Perry was discovered.”

Yada yada yada.

My response is uniformly: “No. They weren’t.”

To be fair, there is that rare exception of a truly discovered talent, plucked from obscurity.

Like Rihanna.

But that’s a different story for another time.

The reality is that virtually every artist you’ve ever heard of, especially the superstars, busted their asses to get where they got.

Invariably, they were passed over, several times, by several A&Rs, at several different labels, before they finally got on.

Do you know how many people dissed Kanye before he was finally signed to the Roc?

It was a running joke in the industry how often Kanye asked folks to listen to his demo.

Katy Perry was dropped by Columbia before being signed to Capitol Records.

Lady Gaga was performing at open mikes since she was 14 (and she attended The Tisch School) before she was signed by Akon.

Justin Beiber is probably one of the few artists truly ‘discovered’ in recent memory, when Scooter Braun happened upon his video before taking him to Usher.

But their deals didn’t just happen.

It was the result of relationships, work and in some instances, dumb luck.

Many of the people who have approached me don’t have even the most fundamental basis for talking record deal.

There’s no website.

No Facebook page.

No Twitter account.

No YouTube channel.

Not digital presence whatsoever.

If they have any of the above, then there are few (if any) likes, followers or views.

If they’ve got a MySpace page, SoundCloud or ReverbNation account, there are virtually no fans and abysmally low play counts of their songs.

The content on their pages are old and haven’t been updated.

At the end of the day, I’m left scratching my head, trying to understand why these cats seem so…entitled?

If you haven’t done the work, how can you expect to win?

It’s like saying you’re going to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but you’ve never trained a day in your life.

Sure, it’s possible that you could get off your couch, hit the starting blocks and blow Usain Bolt away.

But it’s not probable.

Sure, it’s possible that you could record a song tomorrow, post it online, and some A&R somewhere will be at your doorstep offering you a deal.

But it’s not probable.

And with the ten hundreds of thousands of aspiring artists out there on their grizzy, going HAAM, what makes you think that you’re going to grab the brass ring first?

The game has changed.

If you’re trying to be a successful artist, know that your success is being gauged by empirical measures:

Facebook likes.

Twitter followers.

YouTube views.

SoundCloud plays.

A Google results page.

This is how A&Rs today are gauging an artist’s viability.

Can you draw a crowd – online?

Sure, you can sing.

But so can literally tens hundreds of thousands of others.

What makes you stand out from the crowd?

It’s your hustle and your (digital) ground game.

So artists, if you’re reading this blog, and you want to know what it takes to get a record deal, it’s one of two ways:

1. Know somebody;

2. Get on your grind (and build a digital presence).

Any questions?

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Filed under branding, music

Seven Tips for making it online (as an artist)

A few days ago, Chris Anokute was on Entertainment Tonight, where he talked about the importance of social media and the internet for artists looking to be discovered.

And I’ve recently been approached by a number of performing artists and musicians for advice on how to break into the industry.

Several years ago, I posted an article about tips on doing just that.

So I thought I’d resurrect that article, since it clearly still has application today – with a few tweaks of course.

Here are seven tips for making it as an artist online.

1. Utilize existing networks – YouTube has replaced MySpace as the source for finding new music. YouTube gives visitors an easy way to connect with and share your music without having to be your ‘friend’ which is a significant advantage over the former social networking giant.  Online stores such as iTunes and Snocap give you the ability to include your product in their online sales infratstructure, and services such as Paypal allow you to conduct direct-to-consumer sales. Your use of/and affiliation with these brands, give consumers the confidence that the product they are purchasing is quality because it is associated with recognized quality brands.

2. Give it away for free – Sounds ridiculous right? But its totally true that if you give something away, it usually induces a desire to purchase. Victoria Secrets mails out cards to recipients who are given a free pair of panties! When you walk into the store to collect your free pair of underwear, they politely ask if you want to purchase a bra to accompany them. Of course, presented with such an offer, who could refuse? This strategy is the exact same philosophy, offer them a wallpaper if they buy a ringtone, a free month’s subscription when you sign up for two months. Its a ‘freemium.’ Look it up.

3. Cultivate an extensive e-mail Twitter database – you are constantly in contact with people in your daily comings-and-goings. The next innovator, billionaire, neurosurgeon, politician could be right next to you. On an online environment, these potential links exist, and its nothing but an e-mail Tweet away. By creating an extensive e-mail Twitter following, you are creating a means of turning as many people as you know, into a possible source of future sales.

4. Offer your songs for sale – a branded website is great for building awareness about your projects and one should offer your products for sale simultaneously with any promotional effort you undertake. The beauty of the internet (and mobile) is the instant gratification component and instant decision making based on the desire for instant gratification. Failing to immediately offer your product for sale online is a flawed and costly omission.

5. Price your product competitively – do not try to ‘reinvent the wheel. put rims on it.’ Do not assign a value to whatever your are selling, without regard to the market set price, standard practice, law or industry operation, that would make your product either too expensive or under priced. Pricing your product at a price point lower than the competition (at least as an introductory offer, if not sustained as part of a sustained campaign), will generate an initial reaction. If you consistently offer a compelling product and a fair price, your audience will remain loyal and become repeat purchasers.

6. Offer packages – it is hard to resist a bargain. When you bundle products on the internet, the natural reaction of practically all consumers is to evaluate the relative cost for the product. If we perceive that we are saving money, even if we have to spend more than we were originally prepared to spend (when we responded to the introductory offer -OR IF WE HAVE TO SEARCH MORE), then we usually select the option which gives us that savings. But more importantly, you have put more units into the stream of commerce, which is ultimately your objective.

7. Promote your product heavily – online promotions, Tweets, Facebook status updates, Ning, e-mail blasts, banners, hyperlinks, e-flyers, contests, are all techniques to proliferate over the internet. Link your web page to as many different online properties as possible. Make sure that you utilize search engines, meta-tags, heavy descriptions and compelling graphics in everything you doto to inject life and activity around your website. This online activity should be done in conjunction with a word-of-mouth campaign, flyers, posters, etc. The purpose of promotion is to PROMOTE, utilize tactics to make you and your product memorable. Utilizing YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr, to add graphic visual components can go a long way to creating a memorable impression.

At the end of the day, the internet is a vast resource that can help (the right artist or project) go viral in an instant.

If you’re not using these tools to your advantage, I’d suggest you start.

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Do you Hootsuite?

Since I’m on this extended social media rant, its only proper that I go in a little deeper and talk about the tricks of the trade that I use to get my social media on.

My introduction to social media started about five years ago, participating in online forums and beta testing groups for different applications.

Back in the day (five years ago was so last year) forums were the original online social networks.

Today, there are countless social media networks of varying popularity, size and utility.

As more and more brands start realizing the value of social networks to their overall brand presence, managing these various networks is a growing issue.

I belong to a Social Media Marketing group on Linkedin, which discusses social media issues regularly.

One of the longest running discussions is about which social media management tool group members use.

The responses run the gamut, as do the rationales justifying the use of this tool over that.

Many of the responses talk about Radian 6, and recently Sendible has crept into these discussions as well.

In fact, there is an abundance of social media management and monitoring tools to chose from (of varying degrees of utility, quality and price), but one has stolen my heart.

Its Hootsuite.

Do you Hootsuite?

For those of you in the know, Hootsuite was one of the earliest free (well used-to-be-free, but I’ll get to that later) social media management platforms available.

That’s how they got me – first in the space AND free.

Hootsuite promised me the world: unlimited social media profiles, analytics, simple and easy to use interface, desktop dashboard.

And I used it all.

I used to boast  (to anyone who would listen) that I managed 20 social media profiles effortlessly – and it was all because of Hootsuite.

For those of you who are asking, “WTF is Hootstuite?” shame on you.

But if you, like me, are in the know, you know WTF Hootsuite is: only the best-es social media management/monitoring tool in the free world (although, as I said earlier, it’s no longer free).

With Hootsuite, you can manage multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, Facebook pages, Linkedin, Ping.fm, WordPress, MySpace and Foursquare accounts.

Social networks? Hootsuite does that!

From the Hootsuite dashboard, you can simultaneously manage and monitor multiple streams.

You can manage and monitor multiple streams from the Hootsuite dash.

In addition to managing and monitoring multiple streams and profiles, you also have the capacity to generate comprehensive statistics using Google Analytics, Twitter and Facebook Insights.

Hootsuite does statistics too!

Mind you, I’ve only really been freaking Hootsuite in the past few weeks because they’re about to start charging me, and I need to know that I’m going to get the right bang for my buck.

They’ve got a free 30 day trial, to take it for a test drive and see if its really the tool for you.

So if you’re interested in using a fairly inexpensive social media management and monitoring tool that won’t break the bank (it’s only $5/month for unlimited profiles and $15 for additional team members), then Hootsuite may just be the right tool for you.

I Hootsuite.

Do you?

Note: Hootsuite does not pay me to endorse their product (although I wish they would!)

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Filed under opinion, rant, social media

Lesson Two: You are the Brand (Be the Brand reprise)

So over the last few days (weeks actually) since I last posted, I learned that my concept of ‘being the brand’ was not only a catchy way to express my concept of self-promotion, but someone else’s trademarked IP.  “Be The Brand” is the title of a book by Tamara Jacobs, in which she provides her advice on presentation skills.

Not to ride the wave of some else’s brand identity, I needed to take some time to rethink how I wanted to position myself.  Since my ultimate objective is to demonstrate how to distinctly brand onesself, this dilemna presented a singular opportuity to offer Lesson Two:  You are the Brand.

When someone Googles your name, what do they find?  Does your Google search generate 1000 hits?  100? 10? Do you come up at all?  If not, what does that mean?  It certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t exist, but it does mean that you’re off the radar. Now if its your intent to stay off the radar (and creates the mystique that is ‘you’), then ignore the balance of what I have to say on this subject.  If however, you want to show up as a returned result from a Google (or any other enginge) search, listen up.

You are the brand refers to the fact that as a unique person, you are your own calling card.  People’s perception of you is shaped initially, not by the ACTUAL you, but by the PERCEIVED you.  Its not the internal you, the soft, caring, sensitive person who loves everyone, that people see.  Its the external, irreverent abrasive, jerk (and I offer this dichotomy for illustrative purposes only).  My point is that people have formed their opinions of you before they ever meet you.

In today’s world, one’s perception of another is shaped by Google search results, the number of Myspace friends, Facebook friends, Linkedin contacts, webpage Alexa rankings.  Its shaped by the content returned in those search results, the quality of your friends, quantity of contacts, impressiveness of your statistics.  All of these perceptions take place in the absence of you.

By the time you actually run into the person who has Googled you, they have already formed an opinion of who you are, which, invariably, ends up being a large part of how you will be defined in the eyes of that person.  If you are, in reality, who you represent yourself to be virtually, then its all good.  If however, you are not, and your virtual self is a mis-representation of your actual self, then I suggest you take stock of this lesson and apply it forthwith.

The steps which follow will help you re-define yourself, or if you’re happy with the virtual you, enhance your already impressive appeal.

Step 1:  Audit your virtual self.  You’ve got to know what’s out there painting the virtual picture of you.  Since your virtual self is the extension of your real self, you should make sure that you’re happy with it.  Perform a Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and any other kind of search to learn what the ether has amassed about you.

Step 2:  Assess your virtual self.  Are you happy with what you’ve found?  Does your virtual self exist at all?  How far off the mark is the virtual self from the real thing?  Is the information about you old, out-of-date or inaccurate?  If you didn’t know you, what impression would you have of you?  Positive? Negative? Indifferent?  Come up with a concrete picture of yourself that articulates the positives and negatives of the virtual picture of you.

Step 3:  Create the perfect virtual you.  Having conducted your audit and assessment, you’ve learned a few things about yourself.  Now you should take a stab at defining the you that you WANT people to see.  Make a list of all the things that you’ve done, places you’ve worked, people you know and accomplishments.

Step 4: Get the perfect virtual you online.  There are a number of strategies you can employ to re-define yourself online.  There are things as simple as putting up a Myspace page, creating Facebook and Linkedin profiles, setting up a blog or website.  If you’re really savvy, you can engage in some SEO activities and create anchors that route people to you and populate search results with information you want them to see (while pushing down the relevance of other content that may not be as favorable).

Step 5:  Analyze your efforts.  Now that you’ve rebuilt yourself online.  Do that Google search again.  You liking what you see? If not, don’t worry, we can fix it.  Sometimes it takes a few days for the results to populate these search engines, so chillax.  If however, you’ve set up a website, created online profiles, written a blog, commented in an online forum, you may find that those elements appear instantly.  In either instance, be patient, your virtual identity wasn’t created overnight.

There’s a saying which goes, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’  And while that may be true, people do, in fact, judge books by their covers every day.  Today’s covers are no longer merely the physical package, but also the virtual book jacket that provides glimpses of the story within.  At the end of the day, you are the brand.  You’ve got to be cognizant of that all the time, and take steps to define it, lest you be defined by others.

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