Work Like a Pro to Become a Pro Part III: Let’s Get Down to Business

Welcome to part three of “Work Like a Pro to Become a Pro,” a four part series by artist manager Budi Voogt designed to help artists work smarter on their music business so they can focus on what matters most: their music. Get tips to improve your communication in Part 2, and read on below for a few tips on getting your business in order.

When you’re an independent artist who’s busy touring, recording and writing music it can be hard to keep track of everything on the business side of things. It’s tedious work, but keeping track of your money, contacts, venues you’ve played, invoices, paperwork and more can save you time in the long run.

Here’s some practical tips to create order from all the numbers, files and papers and people.

SamWork Like a Pro to Become a Pro Part III: Let’s Get Down to Business
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Everything You Need to Know About Using Kickstarter as an Independent Musician

Crowdfunding is nothing new in the music world (check out our previous post on 5 tips for crowdfunding success). Yet recently Kickstarter has become a standout as a popular fundraising platform for independent musicians.

ReverbNation artists Graham Colton, Jonny Gray, Long Gone Day and Good Graeff used Kickstarter to fund their own independent work, from albums to tours to making it to festivals. Read more about their experiences and important takeaways you can learn from as you plan your own Kickstarter campaign.

SamEverything You Need to Know About Using Kickstarter as an Independent Musician
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Freshen Up Your Music: 8 Tips from Multi-Platinum Producer Sahpreem King

Sahpreem King for ReverbNationThis post was written by multi-platinum award-winning producer, music industry author, and music industry veteran Sahpreem A. King.

Think about the last time you listened to the radio. What did you hear?

Most likely, you heard songs that were copies of copies, unoriginal tracks that are no different from the competition. As an indie, DIY, or unsigned musician, you are on a never-ending quest to sell music, book gigs, and increase your fan base. The question is, how will you stand out from the crowd and get noticed?

As a producer, it’s my job to help artists create new and exciting music, which requires an original approach to music production. Here are 8 tips on ways that I keep myself, and my artists, coming up with fresh ideas to create award-winning tracks.

SamFreshen Up Your Music: 8 Tips from Multi-Platinum Producer Sahpreem King
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Fast Five: Interview with YourCountry Executive Producer Chris James

Chris James from AXS-TV for ReverbNation Country Up Opportunity

In this Fast Five post, we sat down with multi-talented Executive Producer Chris James of YourCountry on AXS-TV. He shared details on how Country music is changing, what artists can do to get noticed by industry professionals and TV producers, and news about an exciting new TV show opportunity open to artists from every genre. Even if you aren’t a Country artist, you’ll be sure to take away something great from Chris’ advice.

SamFast Five: Interview with YourCountry Executive Producer Chris James
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6 great tactics to connect with fans on the road

In this guest post, blues and rock musician Josh Urban shares the social media tactics he got from his recent railroad touring experience.

The greatest advantage of being an independent artist today is ironically also its biggest challenge: Anyone can jump in the game. So while the playing field may be level, it’s crowded. Access isn’t the issue – recognition is.

Here are 6 suggested tactics I’ve had success upping my game using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to go beyond music and build a fan base:

Josh used Amtrak to tour the East Coast.

1. Create an experience

Good music and showmanship are vital — but here’s a radical idea:  What if there’s even more that we can do?

Musicians have always been the ones bringing the coolest thing to town. If the traditional live show is already saturating the market, what else can we do to create an experience?  In my case, I decided to take a tour by train, harkening back to the blues musicians of old. I invited people to virtually “tour” with me using hashtags and social media.  I believe that everyone has a story, so I invited them all to share their worldview by using the hashtag #JURT (Josh Urban Rail Tour.)

“My stage became theirs as they posted text, photos, and ideas back to the tour, creating an exciting environment of inclusion, democracy, and conversation.”

At the end of the tour, I assembled all of the photos posted into a giant collage, a collaborative view of the world as we saw it.  The question is: what can you do to create a unique experience for your fans?  Ask yourself:  Do I have interests outside of music I can draw on? Is there a cause I care deeply about?  What else moves me?  

2. Involve people

For a long time, I forgot the first word of the phrase “social media.”  Unlike traditional media, social media allows conversation.  Engagement with fans turns them into friends.  People like to be heard, and to have others hear their opinions.  Check out the comments section of a news article, and you’ll find folks debating viewpoints — and the input has little or no outcome on the story.  It never seems to stop people, though!

So, instead of talking at people, I like to invite them to talk with me.  Since they’re doing it anyway, we might was well have a conversation.  The challenge: Give ’em something cool to talk about!  My tour turned into not just a journey, but a sharing of sights and ideas for everyone.  Plus, it made it a ton of fun!  How do I suggest involving people?  Which brings me to…

3. Make it easy

For me, I’ve never had much luck with asking people to remember things like “See this website on my CD?  Go to that later when you go home and sober up, then follow the link, and like my page.”  But  if I’m putting on a colorful show, people are probably going to snap a few Instagram shots of me.

On the rail tour, I told them that if they simply use the hashtag #JURT, they’d be part of a worldwide project.  I handed them a business card with the tour info on it and guess what – it worked great.  It was easy, and most importantly, they were doing it anyway.  I was able to throw a hashtag at them and get them to join in (and of course, follow them back on the networks!)

There are many other ways, but just remember: the simpler, the better.  I love hashtags, because you don’t have to know the person to interact, which is vital for building a fan base.

4. Their words, not mine 

People like to talk about stuff that involves them.  My new EP does not involve a stranger yet, so no matter how loudly I shout about it, they have little reason to listen to it, assuming they’ve never heard me play.  But, if they take a picture of me playing guitar and post it, now it’s in their worlds, and has something to do with them. This translates into interest, which turns into “Hey, I saw you in New York!  When’s your new EP coming out?”

“The more you get people to talk about your music in their own images and words, the better.”

5. Crossover appeal

By getting out of your comfort zone, you end up meeting people you would normally never meet. Future collabs anyone?

With the rail tour, I was able to interest not just fans of blues music, but also people who were intrigued with the idea, or who liked any aspect of it, such as traveling, trains, adventure, or stories.  It broadened my base, and made each conversation relevant to the project.

And believe me, I told everyone about it, meeting great connections accidentally! It also made it much more interesting to traditional media sources.  I was able to successfully pitch the tour to radio stations, newspapers, and even community television.  Another question to ask yourself:  Who else besides fans of your genre would enjoy knowing you?

6. Refine 

After every experiment, learn, refine and improve.  (Examples of things I learned: never try to eat a microwaved bagel, and give magazines plenty of lead time to meet their publishing deadlines.)

Remember to get busking permits ahead of time!

I’m looking forward to applying those lessons — and others — when I tour again this week, this time on my Search for Good Tour.  I’ll be touring by rail, playing children’s hospitals, street corners, cancer centers, and places that don’t have music.  I’ll be looking for the people, sights, and sounds that rock the world and I’ll be putting some good on the news for a change. (You’re invited to join me, of course!  Find some good, and post it with the #JURT hashtag!) I’ll be adding some other “cool factors,” such as bringing my home-built cigar box guitar and releasing an album on download cards in the form of a tour lanyard.

I’d like to end with six questions you can ask yourself:

  1. What can you do to create your own experience?
  2. How can you involve people?
  3. How can you make it easy for them to join in?
  4. How will they express it in their own words?
  5. Who else will this appeal to?
  6. What will you learn from the project?

I’d love to hear what you cook up!  Leave a comment below with your social media ideas and questions.

Josh Urban is currently recording an EP inspired by his first rail tour, and will be touring by rail again to support its release in May and June of 2013. He firmly believes all the world’s a stage, as shown on his Instagram feed. He can be reached via his website, Facebook, Twitter @DontJoshMe and Instagram @JoshUrban.

Sam6 great tactics to connect with fans on the road
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STUDY: Most music venues sell at least 75% of tickets at the door

81% say same-day concert marketing is critical to drive awareness

We recently surveyed 470 music venues around the world and their answers revealed that the majority of music venues sell most of their tickets at the door through walk-up traffic. Over eighty percent described day-of-show marketing and promotion as ‘important’ to driving that attendance.

While this may not come as a surprise to touring artists working to pack a house, these statistics suggest that consumers have a lot of choice when it comes to things to do on a Saturday night. And that many of them may be making their decisions about whether to go to the basketball game, the movies, or the concert, on the day of the event.

“Day of show promotions can be critical and with many shows, pulling out all the stops then is key to a successful event.” — Tonya Cooke, The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood

We asked some artists and venues exactly how they create awareness for their concerts on the day of the show and consolidated this checklist:

Q: Is there a way to “poster” the web?


A: Actually, there is!

It’s the latest innovation in our Promote a Show service and it essentially makes it a snap to digitally poster the Internet with details on your show.  It blankets potential concert-goers that live near the venue with online ads across virtually every website they might visit on that day – making them aware of the concert as an option for their evening plans.


Here’s how it works:


The ads blitz fans through repetition about the show — increasing the awareness and the probability that consumers will recall the concert and suggest it to friends.

“Promoting shows used to mean shipping posters to venues and hoping for the best. But with Promote It, we can reach 1,000’s of local fans online for the cost of a stack of posters!” — Blameshift

Artists and venues are becoming more sophisticated about same-day awareness and promotion, and we hope these ideas help. 

Ready to “poster the web” for one of your shows?

ShellySTUDY: Most music venues sell at least 75% of tickets at the door
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VIDEO: More Than 50,000 Bands Join ‘Music For Good’ Downloads For Charities Program

What is Music For Good and how do I get involved?

This video will answer that and other questions:

Music For Good is the world’s first ecommerce platform that allows musicians to sell songs directly to their fans and designate half the proceeds to a charity of their choosing. Since the program’s beta release just eight weeks ago, over 50,000 artists around the world have signed up for Music For Good — making it one of the fastest growing philanthropic initiatives in music history.

Where the idea came from

Do you remember Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and their celebrity friends singing to “We Are The World” to create awareness about poverty in Africa? Who doesn’t, right? Twenty eight years later, that song still has the power to move us to do good in this world.

But we believe philanthropy is not only for the rich and famous — independent and emerging artists can do it too.

With more than 2.7 million artists on our site and with advanced technology in our hands, we realized we had the power to facilitate things for philanthropic artists, especially the independent ones. That’s when Music For Good (#MusicForGood) was born.

We created a platform where musicians, fans and charities can come together, every day, every hour to hear music and support the causes they love. Charity concerts are great, but Music For Good is what artists do the other 364 days of the year.

Music For Good is for musicians

Whether it’s a country band from Tennessee or a hip hop act from Canada, Music For Good offers something for every artist that wants to get involved.

Zac Brown

Southern Ground Artists, the label founded by GRAMMY award-winning country star Zac Brown, already supports the initiative. Zac elected to have his charity, Camp Southern Ground, sign on as a launch partner.

Toby Lightman

Toby Lightman, who has been featured in countless movies and network TV shows, is selling her new single “Holding a Heart” through Music For Good, splitting the proceeds with Half The Sky Movement.

Who’s next? If you’re a musician, it could be you! Sign up takes just a few seconds.

Just go to and click on “Artists Sign Up”

Music For Good is for charities

Charities involved are Beat Making Lab, Camp Southern Ground, CARE, charity: water, Every Mother Counts, Fender Music Foundation, Half The Sky Movement, Heifer International, Keep a Child Alive, Love Hope Strength, Oxfam America, Sweet Relief, and World Vision.

Oxfam“We’re frequently asked by musicians for advice on how they can use their songs to help us make positive change, and Music For Good is something we can point them to.” – Oxfam America

Keep a Child Alive“With Alicia Keys as our Global Ambassador, music is part of Keep a Child Alive’s DNA. KCA is excited to be working with emerging artists at Reverbnation who understand the healing powers of music.” – Keep a Child Alive

Beat Making Lab“Music For Good is really the future of how so many of us want to interact with buying music — we get songs we love, get to discover new artists, and at the same time, we can contribute to a much bigger story.” – Beat Making Lab

Love Hope Strength“We have been blown away by the response from artists!” – Love Hope Strength Foundation


Music For Good is for fans

It’s even easier for fans to get involved! Just follow the heart whenever you see one on our page

If you’re a music-lover, just look for the heart on the site to buy the music you support!


 We guarantee at the end of the Music For Good experience, you will have music that is good.

SamVIDEO: More Than 50,000 Bands Join ‘Music For Good’ Downloads For Charities Program
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Calling all bands: Hard Rock Cafe wants to break the next big band and send them on a world tour! Enter for free.

Think you’re the next undiscovered worldwide rock star? Here’s your chance to find out. Hard Rock Cafe is searching for inspiring local bands to compete in Hard Rock Rising 2013, a high-stakes global battle of the bands competition.


Why compete?

Hard Rock Rising is presented by Hard Rock Café, so you know it’s legit. Additionally, the prize package is ridiculous: play a World Tour, make an album and video with Hard Rock Records, and win new gear valued at $10,000. Entering is FREE!

Here’s what Hey Monea!, winner of last year’s Hard Rock Rising, had to say before opening for Bruce Springsteen in London:

“We open the door of our trailer and John Fogerty is right outside being interviewed by a camera crew. There are literally five video cameras following us to the stage and photographers snapping pictures of us and I’m as excited as I’ve ever felt in my life. Wired. Butterflies. Everything. My brain wouldn’t shut off.”

Credit: The Repository

You want in!? Here are the guidelines to enter:

  • You need a ReverbNation profile. They’re FREE!
  • Each band/artist may enter through no more than ONE Hard Rock location—there are 96 participating cafes worldwide!
  • You or one of your bandmates must live in the same country as that location.

Here’s how it works:

  • Phase 1: First round winners are determined by fan downloads on participating Hard Rock Facebook pages. One download equals one vote.
  • Phase 2: Top vote getters play in a series of live competitions and one winner from each location will be crowned by their peers. See locations below.
  • Phase 3: The 96 winners from Phase 2 will then battle it out in a global download contest on Facebook to gain the most votes.
  • Phase 4: The Top 25 highest vote-getters will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges and music industry VIPs to select the last band standing, along with two runner-ups.

The first place winner will experience the ultimate rock star treatment — a World Tour to experience cities including Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Chicago and Honolulu, the opportunity to make an album and video with Hard Rock Records, and an insane amount of band gear.

So what are you waiting for? The deadline for entry is January 21. 

Here’s the list of participating Hard Rock Cafe locations. If you see a city that’s close to you, click on it and read the details and full rules. It won’t cost you a dime, so don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime­! Enter today!

United States & Canada

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Biloxi, Mississippi

Boston, Massachusetts

Chicago, Illinois

Cleveland, Ohio

Dallas, Texas

Denver, Colorado

Destin, Florida

Detroit, Michigan

Foxwoods, Connecticut

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Hollywood Blvd, California

Hollywood, Florida

Honolulu, Hawaii

Houston, Texas

Indianapolis, Indiana

Key West, Florida

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Louisville, Kentucky

Memphis, Tennessee

Miami, Florida

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Nashville, Tennessee

New Orleans, Louisiana

New York, New York

Niagara Falls, New York

Orlando, Florida

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phoenix, Arizona

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

San Antonio, Texas

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

Seattle, Washington

St. Louis, Missouri

Tampa, Florida

Toronto, Canada

Washington, DC

Just participating in Hard Rock Calling could mean new fans, new friends and a lot of local publicity for you and your band. Here’s what some of last year’s participants had to say:

“This is a brilliant platform for amateur bands like us to get recognized. Thank you for the opportunity and we hope you will continue this competition for years to come.”

“Cheers to ReverbNation and to Hard Rock Cafe for putting on such a vast competition that puts local talent in the spotlight.”

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and perform in this competition. We would also like to again thank everyone involved from ReverbNation and Hard Rock for their help and support in enabling us to participate. More venues should support original music as this competition did. Allowing bands to showcase their own music and style is something we need more of!”

“It was an awesome and innovative experience for us. Looking forward to more associations like these. Helps us to know the true caliber of our music.”

SamCalling all bands: Hard Rock Cafe wants to break the next big band and send them on a world tour! Enter for free.
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