I am an Americana singer/songwriter who has led an old-school soul band for the past 28 years. This year I did my first solo album called Better Days which is out now and picking up airplay across the country. You can read more about the record and the music at www.chrisdaniels.com. I also teach music business at the University of Colorado in Denver. I teach artist management to young musicians who are doing well and making a name for themselves. I wrote the textbook for the course called “DIY: You’re not in it alone.” And that is the key to understanding what it means to be an artist these days. You need to use every bit of help you can get. It’s called building a team and a lot of it can be done without major league managers or agents. Here are three quick examples.
Today we have a guest post from Chris Daniels. He is someone that has been in the business for a long time and has experienced playing thousands of shows with high profile musicians from B.B. King to Ziggy Marley. Chris ate up all the knowledge he picked up along the way and is also now a professor of music business at The University of Colorado in Denver. Learn from someone who has been there before.
These days DIY artists are putting out their own CD and music via the internet and hoping to market that music as best they can … and sadly many have little or no idea, other than getting the music recorded, about how to distribute and market it. This is where aggregators like TuneCore, IODA/The Orchard and CD Baby come in. There are a number of these that get your music to iTunes and Spotify and other online outlets, but what you may not know is that most all of these companies act a little differently – and some will ‘partner’ with you – offering all kinds of amazing help marketing your music. Each has its strong points and I could easily write about any one of them but to make this short I’m going to pick one, CD Baby. The disadvantage that CD Baby has from somebody like TuneCore is that CD Baby does charge a per download fee plus the set up fee. The advantages that I think CD Baby brings to the table are pretty good. (1) they sell physical CD as well as getting your music on iTunes, Amazon and all the others, (they do not sell it to retail, record stores around the country) – but they will carry the CD so that you can sell it from their (and your) website. (2) Their accounting is better than most of the others. You may not care or want to know that you got $.0025 cents per stream on Spotify but they will tell you and some others will not. (3) The can help you with both UPC and ISRC codes for your music. If you don’t know what those are I encourage you to look it up on the web. (4) They will help you set up a website plus they have all kinds of marketing help. Again, TuneCore and others all have great services too … but what you need to understand is that these aggregators are partners, they serve as team members helping you reach a bigger audience.
As a DIY artist you NEED to get your publishing poop in a group. That means that you need to (1) join a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) as a songwriter (2) form a publishing company and affiliate that company with the same PRO you are in (3) upload your songs to that PRO and use the new features that they offer to help songwriters market their music. For example, BMI now has BMI Live for songwriters who perform their music in public. If you register your songs, gigs, and set lists with BMI Live you can start collecting performance royalties from BMI – who collects them from the venues you play – it expands your revenue stream.
Last but not least, your fan base that you are building on Facebook and Twitter and your website are not only good for helping you fund your music projects through things like Kickstarter but they also would LOVE to help because they believe in your music … you just have to ask. “Hey Ya’ll, we are working on our website and really need photos from our last three gigs. Please, any of you that took a really great photo of the band send it to www.mywebsite.com and if we use your photo for the new record we will give you free tickets to the next 3 shows.” See how easy it is to get your fans to be part of your team…you just have to ask…and trust me they do want to help. They believe in your music and they want to be a part of helping make you successful.
There is much much more to this – which is why I teach it at the University of Colorado, but you are not alone…there is help and partners and fans and skilled people out there who love music and who want to help young artists get ahead. Take advantage of every one of those opportunities you can as you build your story.
-written by Chris Daniels
-check out his music and career at http://chrisdaniels.com