also a surfer! Darren was featured in our local paper this morning for his side project building surf boards. We thought we’d show you the clip.
Check out this great video for David Myles‘ summer anthem, “Simple Pleasures”, and I bet you’ll have it stuck in your head all day! David’s known for his spirited songs, flawless musicianship, and his warm and engaging stage show. This re-mix was actually done by Canada’s own Classified, and the video was directed by Hiep Vu. Enjoy!
I had the privilege of speaking on a “Global Branding” panel at this years Trigger Creative Conference in Borlange, Sweden. This conference also coincides with the totally rad Peace and Love Festival. The lineup this year was amazing featuring Rihanna, Regina Spektor, Roxette and Mumford and Sons (whom I totally dig and have been dying to see live). Here’s a picture of Mumford on Sons on stage. Can’t you see them? They are the wee little itty bitty people on stage. What a great show!
Forget stage diving. It’s safe to say that driving from gig to gig is one of the most dangerous things most artists are required to do throughout their career. Travelling at speeds in excess of 100Km/h in a sheet metal/fiberglass box on wheels is something we all have become fairly comfortable with. The harsh reality is that one bad split second decision can instantly result in a life changing or even life-ending crisis. This was one of my greatest fears when I used to tour constantly in bands.
During my time on the road I have seen more accidents than I can count, numerous close calls and have even been involved in a few incidents. Luckily for my band mates and I, none of our experiences resulted in anything more than a wrecked band van and some minor cuts and bruises.
Here are 8 road safety tips for musicians on tour that I have compiled over the years from my travelling experiences (and from my short lived bus driver career in Western Canada… tweet me and I’ll tell you some stories). I hope some of this advice helps you all travel a bit more safely on your upcoming summer tour adventures:
Have your vehicle periodically safety checked. We’re not talking about an annual or bi-annual motor vehicle inspection certificate (if that even applies in your province or country). I mean EVERY TIME you are about to leave for tour. When I was a bus driver we had to check fluids and tire lug nuts every day before we headed out on the road. This seems like overkill but at the same time it literally takes less than 5 minutes to do. Have you ever had a tire fall off while travelling at 100 Km/h? I have. It sucks!
Some of the areas that should be checked by your mechanic before you head out on tour include:
On a daily basis you should check the following (particularly if your van’s odometer reads like a phone number):
The time that I did get into a van accident with my band we were lucky to be able to say that the only damage was to a piece of equipment. A ride cymbal or a guitar can be a lethal weapon inside a rolling van. It is important to securely pack your van every time. Ideally your van would have a separate compartment for gear, which is the safest way to check this one off. If this is not an option then be very smart about how you pack. Keep the sharper heavier items low and secured with other items. Use your common sense. Ask your self, how would this pack job fair out if we slammed into the back of another vehicle or if the van rolled over?
Obviously your driver should be sober. This one is a no brainer. Another thing to also be cautious of is hangovers. If your driver partied like a rock star late into the evening the night before then there is no way he will be operating at 100% the next morning for that long drive to the next town. It makes sense for your driver or drivers to chill on the substance use. If there are a few drivers amongst your group that like getting messed up periodically then maybe taking turns would be the best bet. Just make sure that someone is being conscious and responsible with this stuff – a license suspension for impaired driving (or worse) can make future touring an even bigger headache.
While I write this blog it is spring in Canada so the chances are slim that black ice and snow will be on the radar in the near future. However wind, rain and fog are common all year long and are worth being cautious of. If it’s pouring out your visibility is reduced, there is risk of hydroplaning and you have reduced stopping time. Take it down a few notches to compensate for these conditions. Keep your eye on the weather and leave early so you give yourself the time to drive safely. And again, this is where good tires, lights and wipers can mean the difference between getting there or not.
This is a major issue on the road with a band. Late nights and long drives are par for course so driver fatigue is likely to be an issue at some point in your tour. It is important to make sure that there is someone who has enough rest to drive all of the time. In the booking and planning stage of your tour it is important to make an agenda that is actually attainable. This can even become more of an issue when mixed with #3 “Drugs and Alcohol”. Again, just be aware of this. Don’t subject yourselves to these high-risk situations.
I always designated the passenger seat for the ‘co-pilot’. This person’s job is to stay awake, operate the GPS (or if you’re old-school then read the map), DJ the van stereo, talk to the driver and make sure he or she is holding up ok.
In the event that you do run into issues on the road you should have the gear to cope with your emergency. Your road safety and first aid kit should include:
These programs are cheap and they pay back on hotel discounts alone. The major advantage to these memberships is that if you run into van problems you just call them and they send someone to help you. Changing a tire on the side of the highway on a rainy day can be very dangerous or at the very least a total pain in the ass. Marcato Musician powered rockers The Stanfields learned this lesson the hard way and were stuck with a massive towing bill when their van broke down in the Rocky Mountains.
In conclusion, it’s important to be conscious of the dangers involved with being a touring musician. There is nothing that can ruin a tour faster than a motor vehicle accident or breakdown and of course it can do more than just ruin the tour! Don’t let an avoidable accident be the end of your music career. Have fun and play safe!
Last weekend at the East Coast Music Awards, I had the pleasure of moderating the “Lets Get Digital!” Panel with Jeff MacArthur (MGImedia Communications Inc., Halifax, NS); Brenden Mulligan (Onesheet, San Francisco, CA); and Stephen O’Reilly (Mobile Roadie, London, England). The objective of this panel was to discuss some of the most critical aspects of an artists career from an online perspective. Obviously this is a fairly wide topic range so we were unable to get really deep into anything in particular. For this reason, in this blog post, I have provided links for additional reading on each topic that was mentioned on the panel. If you have any questions feel free to post them in comments and I will do my best to answer them.
For more information on artist websites check out “6 Rules To Make a Band Website That Rocks” from Bandzoogle’s Chris Vinson and “The Musician’s Guide To Affordable and Effective Websites” from Cyber PR’s Ariel Hyatt. Also, please make sure you check out this great article from Digital Music News that explains why you should not use your Facebook page as your website.
In addition to all the above information, here are some tools that can be helpful in building a fast, functional and appealing web presence. I have used each of these services and highly recommend both of them: OneSheet, Bandzoogle.
Today people are sharing music and their thoughts on music and bands in the online world at an alarming rate. This is happening on blogs, messageboards, Facebook, Twitter and various other sites and social networks. In addition, illegal downloads are still one of the most popular ways people obtain music. It is critical to be aware of all of this. Knowing where these people are, who they are and what they are saying or downloading is critical in making tour, release and marketing decisions. There are some awesome and affordable products on the marketplace these days that can be very helpful in keeping your eye on all of this stuff. Here are some examples:
Track your progress against your goals on a regular basis. Use this data to see what is working and where it is working. Learn about your fans and then come up with innovative ways to nurture and grow your fan base based on this data. Please make sure you compare each product and try and decide which one works best for you because these platforms can change very quickly.
First of all, it is very clear that the use of mobile devices has grown considerably and is showing no signs of slowing down. Check out these stats on the growth of mobile devices from our friends at Mobile Roadie.
Also, the amount of e-commerce that takes place on mobiles is growing through the roof. In 2009 eBay did roughly $900 million in sales from mobile devices. In 2011 this number grew to $5 billion.
The first and likely easiest step to your band’s presence being mobile friendly would be to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Here is a great tutorial on how you can make sure a website is mobile friendly.
Once you start growing your fan base and want to take advantage of the features and control offered by mobile applications then it is time to produce an iPhone and or Android app. There are several ways to do this and many companies in this space. The noticeable leader is Mobile Roadie. Their apps are killer and the back-end is top notch! (check below for the differences between a mobile app and a mobile site). If you can only afford one of the 2 platforms the easiest way to decide which to go with would be to compare browser stats from your site’s Google Analytics to see which platform is more popular within your fan-base.
Mobile apps offer a much more control than mobile sites. Here is a great article from the folks at Mobile Roadie that covers the difference between mobile. One of the strongest features of the mobile app is push notification. Read this blog post to learn how bands can use push notifications.
The bottom line is that despite all of the growth in social media, your email list and newsletter are still very relevant and integral parts of your marketing and fan nurturing strategies. Unlike many social media based forms of interaction, email is a direct form of communication and requires the end recipient to take an action. At the very least, they actively have to delete the email. With Facebook and Twitter it can simply be ignored or missed entirely. Here are some best practices for managing your email list:
- Music industry conferences often have panels on digital music topics, check them out!
- Podcasts such as Ian Rogers “This Week in Music”
- Watch artists that are doing a good job with their online presence and learn from what other bands are doing, even if you don’t like their music!
- Mashable and other generic social stuff. Here you may find things that are working in other spaces but are not yet tailored for the music space. This can allow you to be ahead of the game by paying attention to what’s up in other spaces outside of music.
Your homepage is usually the first page visitors to your website will see, so it’s important to make sure that you have the right elements in place to grab their attention, make a strong first impression, and keep them on your site. A well-designed homepage can get you more sign-ups for your newsletter, more sales from your online store, and convert first-time visitors to becoming active and engaged fans. Here are 6 essential elements to have on your homepage that will help you do just that:
Your header image is arguably the most important element of your homepage. It’s likely to be the first thing that people see on your website, so think about what image can best represent your music and who you are as an artist. Having a great photo of your band along with your band name is a classic example of an effective header image. Here’s a nice one from singer-songwriter Tyler Kealey:
From the picture and description, you know Tyler’s name, what he does, and you can probably already get a sense of his music just based on that image.
Your header image can also be artwork rather than a photo, but same rules apply: it should represent your music and who you are as an artist.
You should never take for granted that people visiting your site already know who you are or what you do. Yes, your current fans will be visiting your site, but so will lots of potential new fans, and journalists, bloggers, promoters, bookers, etc. Folks you want to impress. Having a short bio, or an “elevator pitch” right there on the homepage will let a potential new fan immediately know who you are and what your music is all about. Here’s a screenshot from the homepage of Ben Cooper:
For this bio, keep it short. A longer version can be saved for your “About Us” or “Bio” page. You can probably stick to the “Who You Are” elements of your bio, like:
Make it the blurb that you want bloggers and lazy writers to copy-paste in their articles about you. For more tips on creating your pitch, check out this blog post by Music PR superstar Ariel Hyatt: “Creating a Perfect Pitch – Laser Focus Your Message”
First time visitors should be able to sample your music in one, easy, obvious click. So the next element you should have on your homepage is a song that people can listen to right away. This can also be an embedded video they can watch. Adding visuals to the experience means that you can grab their attention through both their ears and their eyes. Less chance that they’ll get distracted by their e-mails, Facebook or anyhting else, and you might get their full attention for the whole song. But for both audio and video, be sure that it is your best, freshest track, or a song that you think best represents your band.
In the bio example above, Ben Cooper had a live video showcasing his performance at a festival, but it could be having a site-wide music player available, or you can even call people’s attention to listen to your music, like Tyler Kealey did here:
Speaking of calling people’s attention to something, the next element to have on your homepage is a call-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to direct people’s attention to something specific that you want them to do while on your website. It could be to join your mailing list, buy your latest album, listen to your latest track, or donate to your fan-funding campaign.
But it’s best to limit yourself to one, maximum two calls-to-action. What your call-to-action is depends on what your goals are for your career, at this point in time. For an emerging band, collecting email addresses to build up your mailing list would be a good goal to have. For a more established artist with a solid fan base, directing people to purchase new music & merch through your online store might be the way to go. If you’re raising money to fund your next album, you can direct people to your fan-funding campaign.
Here’s a good example of a call-to-action from Laura Marie:
With this next feature, it can come down to personal preference. Some artists have a full blog on their homepage, others have a news feed with all of their news from the past few months. Just remember that your website should have a blog, but it shouldn’t be a blog. Most people don’t scroll down on a web page (one study showed it was as high as 80% of people), and will only read what they can immediately see on their screens.
So put the top news items on your homepage (maybe 3-5 items), and direct people to your full blog from there to see more. Info about your new album, a new show announcement, or a press article/interview are all things to feature proudly on your homepage.
People might only have a short time to check out your website, so it’s a good idea to give them a quick link to connect with you on social media sites. That way, if they only have a minute, they can go to your Facebook page and “Like” it, or follow you on Twitter, right from your homepage.
Don’t overdo it, you can simply list the social media networks that you are most active on. The goal isn’t to send people away to 10 different places other than your website, but to make it easy for them to keep up with your latest activity.Then you can draw them back to your website with the content you put out through those social media profiles that you are active on.
Here’s an example from Static Cycle’s homepage, where the social media icons are right below the header image:
One last thing to keep in mind is that an overly-cluttered homepage is not a good thing either. You’ll want to stick to these 6 elements for the most part, and use them to direct people to other sections of your site effectively. Otherwise, if people have too many options/links/images to look at, they might simply ignore it all and leave your site.
The most important elements, including your call-to-action need to be above the fold. The fold is the line after which visitors have to scroll to see the content. Keep in mind that the fold is different for different monitors and screen resolution.
If you do decide to make some of these changes to your homepage, you can use your Analytics to measure whether it worked. If you look at your current bounce rate before and after the changes, the bounce rate should decrease after these changes. You should also hopefully get more email sign-ups and sales from your online store too.
Social media sites come and go (i.e. MySpace, Friendster, soon Google+?), or can completely change, like we’ve seen with the recent “Timeline” changes to Facebook Pages. Although social media sites are a great place to interact with and find new fans, you can’t rely on social media sites as a homebase for your music, and as a hub for your online strategy. You should focus on driving fans to your own website where they can always find your music, sign-up to your mailing list, or shop for music and merchandise directly from your own online store.
David Dufresne is the CEO of Bandzoogle, the platform where you can build a band website that does more. Bandzoogle websites sell music & merch, sync with your social networks, and put you in front of more fans. No web design skills needed! Take the tour or build your band website free.
It’s difficult to ignore – the music industry isn’t what it was a decade ago, let alone a few years ago. Experts agree that the music industry in its traditional form is dying. The shift towards digital has caused a slump in physical record sales, a decrease in full-album purchases, and consequently, a less lucrative industry as revenues continue to fall (It’s estimated that CD sales fell 9% in 2011.). And while the physical music industry is sliding down a slippery slope, the digital side is climbing as consumers become increasingly tech and mobile-savvy. Digital sales rose by 8% in 2011, elevating digital revenue to $5 billion.
For music artists, the surge in digital-savvy consumers is a good thing – actually, a very good thing. To compete in this cutthroat industry where only the best find success, music artists need to take advantage of the tools readily available in the marketplace. What can be seen as a wake-up call for the industry can also be a music artist’s best friend.
Technology has enabled musicians to promote their music in ways that physical records could never do. The Internet has given musicians the ability to reach a wider audience from all corners of the world; it has also made it easier for consumers to purchase all genres of music in a blink of an eye while spending less. With digital, the limitations of a physical record store are no longer. Music has become more global and more accessible with technology.
Musicians can use technology to promote their music and connect with new and existing fans.
One of the most powerful and easiest ways to create online buzz is through social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others are easy to set up, free, and most importantly reach hundreds of millions of users a.k.a. potential fans.
YouTube can be used to share video content, including music videos, behind-the-scenes clips, and vlogs. The fastest way to be seen on YouTube is by uploading viral content, which can quickly be seen by the millions of users who watch over 3 billion videos a day.
Musicians can use Facebook to build their fanbase by creating a fan page to create photo albums, post more personal content, and view the demographics of their fans.
Musicians can use Twitter to give followers real-time updates on their whereabouts, music releases, and more; Twitter can also be used to host real-time chats with fans called Tweet Chats.
Technology has created bridges between states, countries, and even continents. Back in the day, musicians connected with their fans on tour, during record signings, fan meets, and other events. But now, musicians can connect with their fans through the Internet and, increasingly, mobile devices. And it’s not just musicians who can connect with fans; fans can connect with each other as well.
With mobile devices, interaction is no longer limited to the desktop. Fans can be part of the conversation wherever, whenever. To have mobile presence, consider creating your own mobile app. Creating a mobile app from scratch is a big investment in both time and money- two things that most beginning artists don’t have enough to spare. Luckily, there are app platforms available for musicians to easily and inexpensively build their own social apps for fans.
Creating online buzz and building your fan base are important; however, without sales, musicians can’t survive for long.
It used to be people had to go to their local record store to buy CDs and cassettes. This isn’t the case anymore. Technology has enabled consumers to make their purchases online. And with the introduction of digital music, consumers can purchase and download their music in an instant. The problems associated with physical merchandise like shipping & handling, available stock, and damages are gone with digital downloads.
Digital music is more convenient, customizable, accessible, and in most cases less expensive than CDs. People only need an Internet connection to access music from thousands of artists, both mainstream and underground, across all genres. To get their music out to the masses, musicians should aim to make their music available online, whether in digital stores and streaming services or on the homepage of their website. If consumers have more opportunities to listen to your music, they’ll be more inclined to purchase their favorite tracks.
One thing is certain: Technology will continue to advance and change the music industry. Musicians must not fight this; they must embrace technology and take advantage of the opportunities available to climb to the top.
Mobile Roadie is a turn-key platform to inexpensively develop and manage iPhone and Android mobile apps. Learn more about how mobile apps can help you engage your fanbase at mobileroadie.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Fan Funded pre-sale campaigns are one of the best ways for artists to raise money to record and promote their music. In this article we share what we’ve learned about fan funding through running fundraising campaigns for our own bands and solo artists.
Here are a few advantages of fan-funding your release:
If you or someone in your band or circle of friends has some web development skills, you can build this out on your own website using Paypal or another similar payment processor, however there are lots of great tools on the market today that are built specifically for this purpose. We like:
These are the tools we’ve used and enjoyed or heard the most positive feedback about. There are always new players in this space, so do your own research to find the best fit for your project.
The objective of these dedicated services is to make it easier and faster to build your campaign. If your act doesn’t have a huge following, they also help you to reach an existing community of music lovers interested in funding artists like you.
Each fan funding service has slightly different terms and conditions so research and compare to find the one that best suits your project. Whether you build a campaign on your own website and accept donations via Paypal or use a dedicated fan funding service, these companies will likely charge a percentage fee of the money you raise.
In the case of a dedicated fan funding service what you get in return for their ‘commission’ are tools that help you market the project and simplify the transaction such as Facebook widgets and other social media tie-ins. Some of these services also allow you to offer contributors input into the creative process.
The first thing you need to establish in setting up your campaign is exactly how much money you need to raise and how it is going to be used. This is your ‘pitch’. This tells a potential contributor why they should give your band money.
You might also want to create:
You will want to offer multiple packages that range from as low as a donation of a few dollars up to $1000 or more which can include exclusive downloads, signed artwork, videos, vinyl, a private house concert and whatever else your creative mind can come up with. This is key because you likely have fans that have different levels of dedication to your band as well as varying incomes. You want to make sure that you have something for everyone.
Here are a couple of examples of great campaigns that can give you some ideas on how to build and present your packages:
Once you have your packages all sorted out it’s time to set up your campaign site and start your campaign.
Once you have your campaign set up, you need to promote it! Here are a few things you can do to market your campaign:
There are lots of great opportunities to get your fans to pitch in and help you reach your fundraising goals, beyond just buying your album or a ticket for your show. You’re limited only by your creativity in coming up with offers that make sense for your fan base.
There are many fan funding success stories, and they’re not limited to raising money for your recording project. Your campaign might focus on raising funds for tour support or maybe you’re not a band at all! Craig Mod and Ashley Rawlings raised $24K in 30 days for their book, Art Space Tokyo. Craig has written a case study that provides a ton of information, details and analysis about their experience. If you’re serious about fan funding your project this is definitely recommended reading.
What experiences have you had with your own fan funding campaigns? Have you ever contributed to another artist’s fundraising campaign? Tell us about it in the comments, post on our Facebook or tweet us!
Marcato Musician CEO Darren Gallop has developed fan funding campaigns for the bands he manages and built the Marcato Musician platform to help artists and managers collaborate with their team and assign and track tasks when planning and executing projects like fundraising campaigns. Learn more and try Marcato Musician free for 30 days at marcatomusician.com
This article originally appeared as a March 21, 2012 guest blog on Reverbnation.com titled “Get Venues to Ask You Back: 8 Tips You Can Use For Your Next Show“. Marcato Musician CEO Darren Gallop offers eight simple tips for building valuable relationships with live performance venue managers and staff that can help your band to have the most successful live shows possible and build support for your act as your live performance career grows.
It’s no secret these days that live performance can be one of the most important elements in a musician’s career for at least two reasons. Live performance is a key source of revenue and record sales for an artist and is key to increasing an artist’s exposure level. For this reason you should aim to establish the best possible relationship with performance venues and the people who manage these very important resources in your career.
The results of a positive relationship with the venues where you perform include increased opportunities, greater revenue, more flexibility and referral to other venues in other towns.
As you build your network of cities where you perform, these relationships can be very helpful. If a venue needs an opener for a high profile band that is coming to town they are going to call the band they like. By like, I mean they like their music, personality and want to nurture your relationship. If they don’t like you, don’t expect the call.
Here are eight simple things that make up the secret to successful live shows and building a successful live performance career for your band:
When you have a show at a venue promote the hell out of it. Send posters well in advance, set-up a Facebook event or if the venue offers to create the event, share and promote it. Tweet about it, put it on your website, reach out to press in the area. Let the venue know what you are doing and give them any updates if you get any press or if there is anything they should know that they can use for further promotion of the show.
Ask them how they want to have the music. Ask them if they want a CD to play at the venue. Suggest maybe they do some CD giveaways at another show beforehand. You can also do this with digital dropcards or download codes.
This can be said about many things in your professional and personal life. Do more than what you say you will do when you are pitching the show, and certainly not less. Most people talk about all of the great things they will do to make the show a hit and then they do half of them. This is bad business in general. Make a list of all of the things you told the venue you would do for the show as well as all of the things that were in the contract. Enter them in your calendar and make sure you do them and on time. If the venue has to chase after you for stuff it will be a much less positive experience for them.
Show up for the soundcheck on time, start your show on time, end your show on time. Get your gear out of the venue on time. If for any reason something is going to run late or not go as planned communicate with your venue contact as soon as you realize there is an issue.
Even if you don’t get the audience you were hoping for, KICK ASS! Even if you are only performing for the staff and a handful of regulars, don’t show your discouragement. If you did not get the audience everyone hoped but your show was awesome they may give you another chance. If you don’t get the audience and you and your band mates act like a bunch of cry babies this is less likely to be the case.
Everyone at the venue is important. Treat everyone with respect. Just because you think your band is cool does not mean you are better or more important than the bouncers and servers. Don’t just kiss the booker’s ass. Be awesome to everyone.
In my gigging days I have always been nice to everyone in all of the venues I played. The booker often asks the staff what they think so you want everyone to report good news. Also, I have seen myself be in a town visiting or playing another venue with another band and then drop over to a venue to be greeted by a door person who lets me in for free and then have a server who gives me a free drink. Or even better, bouncers helping us carry our gear out at the end of the night!
Do not play another show just before or recently after in the same town or even a neighbouring town without the venue’s consent first. In fact once you have a venue that works for you in a particular town or city, stick with that venue unless you outgrow it and need a larger venue or if the opportunity to start playing a better venue comes up which you should certainly consider.
When you do decide to move on, let the venue you were previously working with know. Write them an email or call them. Thank them for their support and let them know why you are moving on. If it’s that you need more capacity to fulfil your growing fan-base they will likely understand. If it’s because you are getting a better offer, at least give them the chance to counter-offer.
If the servers are running you drinks, bringing you food and helping you out, give them a tip at the end of the night. If you had a great night give them a good tip. In my experience this goes a long way. You will likely get better and faster service and they will be much more likely to say nice things about you and your band to senior management and venue patrons.
Remember, venues are your clients so treat them with respect. If they like you musically and personally and you conduct respectful business with them they will likely give you more and treat you better. It’s a win-win scenario.
Marcato Musician CEO Darren Gallop has toured internationally with his bands and built the Marcato Musician platform to help artists and managers organize tours and create tour itineraries with ease. Learn more and try Marcato Musician free for 30 days at marcatomusician.com
In Part Two of the ‘How to Get Booked at Music Festivals’ blog series, Marcato Musician & Marcato Festival CEO and artist manager Darren Gallop talks about planning, preparing, pitching and following up on your Festival submissions:
OK, so lets say that you have all of the tools ready to go from part one of this blog series. Now it’s time to start pitching and getting booked for those festival shows. Remember, you are a sales person now! Whether you are a DIY artist, a manager or an agent, all of these jobs are about sales. The product is the band’s live performance and the potential clients are the festivals. Here are the 8 steps to getting booked in those festival slots:
This is where I recommend the use of a CRM or, if you are a marcatomusician.com user, you can use Marcato’s calendar, contacts manager and tasks to take charge of your festival booking mission. At the very minimum you can use an app like Address Book/Contacts on your Mac or Microsoft Outlook. In the sales world, a ‘lead’ is a potential customer or client. Your leads are festivals that you want your band to play. Here are the information fields you want to enter for each lead:
While you are entering this data make sure to follow the festival on Twitter and like them on Facebook. There are several sites online that have lists of festivals by genre or region. Another good way to find festivals is to look at future and past performance listings from similar artists that are where you are now or within a few career steps ahead of you. If you are a new artist you may not want to look at the agenda of platinum selling artists for ideas on where you can play.
As you are entering festival data, make sure that you create categories, tags or folders so that you can organize festivals by region, size and prioritize based on attainability. For example, if you are an artist from Chicago who has never played outside of a few of the surrounding states, you probably don’t have much of a chance at playing Bonaroo. Instead, you could categorize Bonaroo as a lead you would approach when you hit certain career objectives. As you submit to festivals in your database, learn something new about them or correspond with people from them, make sure to enter this data so that your database is up to date and includes your correspondence history with them.
This is really simple. In your CRM, artist management software, or calendar, enter all of the submission dates for all of the priority festivals to which you want to submit. Some festivals require you to pay to submit. You want to be careful here to make sure that if you are paying to submit that you are hitting festivals where you have a decent chance of being selected. You can certainly be less selective with festivals who do not charge submission fees as the only cost is your time, unless they request physical submissioms.
Make sure you use reminders in your calendar and set these reminders to notify you at least a week before the deadline as well as 24 hours before the deadline. Missing a deadline for an important submission is a bad feeling and when there is a lot going on it’s easy to do if you are not organized.
Evaluate your chances of success getting booked for each festival in your priority leads database. Here are some of the key things that are going to be decision factors for festivals:
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Marcato Musician blog so that you can catch the 3rd and final part of the series where we’ll hear directly from festival directors about what they are looking for from emerging artists. The above points are guidlines but each festival will likely have some differences in terms of their programming philosophy.
Be careful, take your time, read everything and do as much research as you can about the submission. Provide the festival’s programming team with exactly what they are asking for. Double and triple check everything. It is amazing how often people do not include everything that is requested in the submission process. This is almost guaranteed to blow your chances of getting booked at the festival.
If you feel that the submission process does not give a lot of information about what you need to submit, it doesn’t hurt to email the festival and ask them any questions you have. DO NOT MAKE THIS A PITCH! Just ask questions about what they are looking for at their festival this year. What kind of music? What sort of content?
NOTE: Some festivals specifically ask on their submission page for artists not to email them. I would recommend not emailing these festivals as this is obviously something they are not interested in.
Depending on how the festival accepts submissions, you should receive some form of confirmation that they have received your submission. If you do not receive a confirmation message, you might want to send a friendly email asking if they can confirm receipt of your submission. Being prepared and submitting well before the deadline is a good way to ensure that you’re still considered in the off chance your original submission isn’t received.
Assuming that you have your social pages set up and active, it doesn’t hurt to show some love to the festivals where you want to get booked. For example, you can tweet “Just submitted to @marcatofestival. Fingers crossed we’ll see you June 15th weekend at http://bit.ly/zDypba“. You can even tweet before you submit, for example: “Looking for help to decide which track to include on our submission to @marcatofestival“. You may even get some feedback from the festival. This twitter activity shows the festival that you are active with your social media, and are likely going to promote the event to your fan-base if you get the slot.
Once you have your list of priority festivals, walk through the list with your team to see if you have anyone in your network that can help you get noticed. Maybe someone you work with knows someone in the festival and can fire off a recommendation to their contact there. Ask a few of the closer folks in your extended network. Maybe there is a sound guy that mixes you from time to time that also works at this festival and wouldn’t mind dropping a CD and or a recommendation to a decision maker. Having someone who can grab the attention of the festival team can draw some additional consideration to your band. When there are 2000 submissions, a solid recommendation from someone they know and trust can have a huge affect.
If the festival asks specifically to not email them, don’t. However, if they don’t specify, it doesn’t hurt to email them to let them know of something relevant that is going on in your career. Maybe your song is charting on college radio in their town, or you were recently nominated for some awards or invited to play some other festivals. You can also use twitter as a means to get this information into their hands.
I do not recommend emailing persistently asking them if they have decided yet. This will probably draw attention to your submission, but not the kind of attention you want. I have done this in my early days and have gotten the “please stop emailing us” response. You don’t want to drive people to that point. It does not help them like you.
There are many regional, national and international music industry conferences and festivals all over the world that provide opportunities for showcasing artists to get in front of festival buyers. I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities. You’ll probably want to make a list of these in your CRM or Address Book under the tag or category Showcase Events.
Remember, your festival performance career takes years to develop. Each festival you land increases your chances to be booked by more festivals. So, although Bonaroo is not in the year 1 plan, if you persistently keep building your career and playing more and more festivals you may get there by year 3 or 4. Keep building your profile, improving your music and growing your network and following the above steps and you are guaranteed to see improvements.
Darren Gallop is an artist and manager who has built artist management web app Marcato Musician to help artists and managers organize their careers and keep track of projects like getting booked at music festivals. Learn more and try Marcato Musician free for 30 days at marcatomusician.com