Building Your Fanbase: How To Use House Concerts To Create Superfans

This is a guest post from Shannon Curtis, an independent musician, recording artist, and author based in Los Angeles. 
Shannon Curtis, ReverbNation artist

“If only …

… that one music supervisor could hear my new song, then …”

… that one label rep could catch one of my shows, then …”

… that one venue would return my email and give me a good time slot on a great bill, then …”

… then what?

Independent musicians, myself included, often think that there is one road to “success” when it comes to a career in music.

The reality is, being a career musician looks different for everyone…and the roads we each travel can be extremely varied. I believe I’ve discovered path to independent success for artists who want to build their fanbase, create a successful music career, and own 100% of the results. [Tweet This]

SamBuilding Your Fanbase: How To Use House Concerts To Create Superfans
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What’s Ahead For Artists, Labels, and Fans: Industry Insider Jeff Rabhan Predicts the Future of Music

JeffRThis is a guest post from Jeff Rabhan, Chair of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, New York University. Artist Manager and amateur human beatbox. Find him on Twitter @jeffrabhan.

Let’s get out our tarot cards.

As fun and entertaining as reading the future can be, it can actually help artists draw a roadmap for themselves as they plan the next years of their career. These predictions, though, are not conjured up by reading tea leaves. Much of what you’ll read here is based upon current trends, insider conversations, and observations of smaller industry movements soon to be on the rise. For an industry that changes more often than artists change their underwear, here are a few predictions from the people who know it best.

SamWhat’s Ahead For Artists, Labels, and Fans: Industry Insider Jeff Rabhan Predicts the Future of Music
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8 Ways To Make Your Music Video Debut and Get Noticed

This is a guest post from Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan, authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide and creators of Making Money with Music

Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan: 8 Ways to Make Your Music Video Debut and Get Noticed

“[Chertkow and Feehan] are the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” – Billboard Magazine

The most popular music search engine in the world isn’t even music-focused – it’s YouTube. The numbers are staggering: YouTube generates over 800 million unique visitors each month. But even more incredibly, it generates over 100 million social actions on videos every week, including comments, likes, and most importantly for musicians, shares.

Unlike audio, video goes “viral.” The rise of popular video-clip platform, Vine, in recent months, with it’s 6-second viral videos, is further proof video is where the action is. Plus, with each share, a video generates exposure. So, you need to get your music up there in some video form or another.

Sam8 Ways To Make Your Music Video Debut and Get Noticed
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New Twitter Profile Update: Let’s Get Visual

Sick of us talking about the importance of cover art yet? Prepare yourselves, here comes another one.

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ReverbNation artist Dylan Jenet Collins’ Twitter Page was one of the first to receive the update

This week, Twitter officially announced that it will be launching a brand-new design for their profiles. Well, brand-new is a stretch. As you can see from the examples below, the new Twitter design looks an awful lot like some other social networks. The good news is, you can repurpose content – like your big, beautiful cover photos from your Facebook and ReverbNation profiles – on your freshly designed Twitter profile.

Some of the updates include:

  • A larger profile photo (max size 700k)
  • A large cover photo (max size 1500 px wide)
  • Best Tweets: Tweets with more engagement will appear larger
  • Pinned Tweet: You can now pin one of your tweets to the top of your page (Like Facebook’s ‘Pin-to-top’ Feature we covered in this post)
  • Filtered Tweets: You can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies

You can read more of the details on Twitter’s blog, and check out a first-look at the new design from Mashable. Ultimately, the new design provides more opportunities for your fans to get a feel of you visually, possibly before they ever hear your music. Make sure you have great-looking high resolution photos or artwork on your pages to make a great first impression.

The new features, like best tweets and filtered tweets, can also be used to save you time when looking through your feed and engaging with fans. If you’re a DIY or Indie artist who handles all of your own social media and marketing efforts, be sure to check out these features to figure out how to make them work for you.

Another great way to use the pinned tweet feature, is to pin your most important tweets to the top of the page. It could be details about your latest album release, an upcoming show you’re playing or anything else you need your fans to know. That way you can continue to post real-time updates without worrying about your most important news getting lost in feeds.

Check out a few pages from musicians who have already gotten the update below.

Need more ideas for social media success? Make sure you sync your social media sites to your ReverbNation page. This will help you add fans, track your status and update your statuses with links to your music right from your ReverbNation profile. Click here to sync now.

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Weezer’s Twitter Page


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John Legend’s Twitter Page

SamNew Twitter Profile Update: Let’s Get Visual
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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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ReverbNation Artists Rock NBC’s The Voice — Exclusive Interview with Stars James Wolpert, Matt Cermanski & Will Champlin

Sweaty palms and butterflies. A few last touch-ups in the mirror. Replaying the song over and over in their head. These are just a few things that ReverbNation artists on Season Five of the hit NBC show “The Voice” experience before taking the stage every Monday night at 8 p.m.

Last night we were on the edge of our seats wondering if ReverbNation singers Jonny Gray and James Wolpert would be safe. Luckily, James made it past this round and into the top ten, but we were sad to see Jonny go. Since the show’s beginning, we’ve seen these artists, plus Reverb vocalists Kat RobichaudBarry BlackJonny GrayMatt Cermaksi, Matthew SchulerWill Champlin and Tessanne Chin give their all each week to wow the judges and entertain the excited live audience hanging on their every lyric – not to mention the millions of fans watching them on TV.

For singers James WolpertMatt Cermaksi and Will Champlin, competing on “The Voice” was a dream come true, and a result of hard work and perseverance. The singers sat down with us to talk about their pre-show rituals, offer advice to aspiring singers and talk about what it’s like to work with some of the biggest names in the business.

ReverbNation Artist Matt Cermanski NBC's The Voice

Matt Cermanski is one of the top up-and-coming singer-songwriters from Philadelphia, PA. After not making a team on Season Four of “The Voice,” Matt took the coaches’ advice and began taking vocal lessons and performing at local venues. He returned to The Voice with the hope of connecting with America and jumpstarting his career. Matt was eliminated on the October 21 episode, but he will continue to promote his music, primarily his debut album “Long Road Home.”

ReverbNation artist Will Champlain on NBC's "The Voice"

Will has music in his veins: His dad was a singer, songwriter and keyboardist for the rock band Chicago. Even though he grew up with music, Will didn’t begin singing until around age 17! After graduating from Berklee School of Music in Boston, Will left for LA to play gigs around the city. He provided backup vocals for Glenn Frey of The Eagles and even played on Michael Jackson’s last album. Today, Will’s musical inspiration is his one-year-old daughter.  A favorite on “The Voice,” Will is currently Team Adam, after he was stolen by Christina and then stolen back by Adam!

James Wolpert The Voice ReverbNation NBCAfter attending Carnegie Mellon for two years, James dropped out to pursue music. Despite his family’s hope of re-enrollment, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he was an Apple Store Genius by day and musician by night. His life-changing choice to follow his passion ended up leading him to audition for “The Voice.”  James is proud to represent Pittsburgh on the show, but recently moved to LA in hopes of furthering his career. He, along with Matt and Will, represent Team Adam!



What was the audition and selection process like?

Matt: The audition for “The Voice” was a long but rewarding process. Everyone that works with the show, from production to the casting department, were a pleasure to work with. As you go through each level of the auditions it gets more and more exciting to know you are getting close to being on TV.

Will: It was definitely a lengthy process, but they really make sure you’re able to give your best and look your best as well. I just went in and sang a few songs and they ended up liking what I was bringing to the table and gave me a great chance that’s so far working out well.

James:  The whole process was a labor of love! It was super intense and rife with pressure— I couldn’t feel my legs walking through the stage door! I didn’t think that it could be so unnerving to have 4 people not-look at you.

How do you prepare for the show? Any special rituals?

Matt: Sadly no crazy pre-show rituals. I warm my voice up and kind of just chill out. I am thankful for all the hundreds of gigs I’ve played since I was 16-years-old that made me so comfortable on the stage. Of course I get butterflies right before a performance, but as soon as I hit the stage all that drifts away and I get lost in the music and the rush of performing.

Will: I go over the song in its entirety. I find the spots that I can make my own almost as if I’m writing my own songs. I try to inject artistry into these songs the same way that I would in my own music. I warm up some, but try not to over do it.

James: I try to center myself and remind myself of why I’m doing any of this in the first place. It’s for the love of music, man! I also think of all the people in my life that I love.

Matt Cermanski The Voice NBC ReverbNation

“My advice to all aspiring artists is think positive and positive things will happen. Never give up on your dreams, don’t let any one tell you that you can’t do something, and work as hard as you possibly can to improve yourself, if you don’t you are only lying to yourself.” – Matt Cermanski

What is the most important lesson you have learned from being on the show?

Matt: I learned so much, I don’t even know where to start. I learned a lot about my voice obviously, working with Adam Levine helped me learn what I need to do to get to the next level, as a singer. The whole show is just one big learning experience and I took every little piece of info I could get so I can use it to better myself all around as a singer-songwriter and musician.

Will: Don’t forget your own sound. It’s very easy for anyone to sing a song verbatim, but America doesn’t want that. Originality is the most important thing that will keep you in the game. “The Voice” is geared for artists who have a clearer idea of who they are and what they want to sound like, as opposed to other shows that simply throw on a track and say “good luck.”

James: To (counterintuitively) find a place where I can disregard the external consequences of performing on the show (What will people think of me? Will I be good? Will they vote for me? Will there be hayterz?) and completely immerse myself in the music. Because I love music :]. On a related note, Adam also likes to drive home an interesting work ethic mantra: “rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until it’s muscle memory. That way, by the time you hit the stage, you have the liberty to forget all of that and exude the song”.

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists who hope to be in your shoes one day?

Matt: My advice to all aspiring artists is think positive and positive things will happen. Never give up on your dreams, don’t let any one tell you that you can’t do something, and work as hard as you possibly can to improve yourself. If you don’t, you are only lying to yourself. My favorite quote is from rapper Macklemore: “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great cause they paint a lot”.

Will: Think outside your comfort zone and then take steps to grow beyond that. It’s a must. It’s all about finding your own formula and making it work for yourself. Music is changing so much these days. Nothing is pop or commercial until its literally popular and blasting on radio, TV and VEVO. Don’t listen to the wrong people. Trust your instincts and position yourself to prosper in your art by working hard and paying attention.

James: I refuse to believe I’m in any position to be pontificating, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Your love of music is going to be what carries you through! Allow me to repurpose the words of the late Mr. Steve Jobs in the context of music (or any art/thing for that matter) — Making music that puts dents in the universe is about being insane enough to press onward where any person in their right mind would quit. I loved music so much that I let it wreck my life a little bit— and as it turns out, that’s exactly what needed to happen :]

Will Champlin The Voice NBC ReverbNation

“Simply put, having a ReverbNation profile has helped me get my music heard…Amazingly, I also found out about the casting call of ‘The Voice’ Season Five through a ReverbNation opportunity, so I’d say it has been instrumental in my musical journey.” – Will Champlin

How has having a ReverbNation profile helped you?

Matt: ReverbNation has helped me reach out to fans and other artists who share the same love for music as I do. It is a great tool to market yourself, and in this day in age you need all the social media presence you can get. Why not take advantage of using the best for music, ReverbNation!

Will: Simply put, having a ReverbNation profile has helped me get my music heard, rather than getting lost amidst the chaos of the Internet. I feel that it is the hub of my online content, everything between gigs, as well as links to other essential social networking sites. Amazingly, I also found out about the casting call of “The Voice” Season Five through a ReverbNation opportunity, so I’d say it has been instrumental in my musical journey.

James: Reverbnation has been the hub of my digital music life for a few years now! It’s a great way to get yourself out there and share your craft with the rest of the planet!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Matt: I am currently in the works of writing new music and working on a new album. But you can buy my debut album “Long Road Home” on iTunes. Check out my websiteTwitterFacebook and join my mailing list for new updates on shows and music. Thank you all for reading! Much love!

Will: It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point, and I really want to encourage everyone that is considering taking a bold step forward in their career to make the jump. It may take a few tries, and it may seem discouraging for a bit, but perseverance is the name of game. Just don’t be afraid to dream big, because amazing things happen everyday, and I feel like I’m living proof.

James Wolpert NBC The Voice ReverbNation

“Making music that puts dents in the universe is about being insane enough to press onward where any person in their right mind would quit. I loved music so much that I let it wreck my life a little bit— and as it turns out, that’s exactly what needed to happen.” – James Wolpert

Catch Will, James, Kat, Matthew, and Tessanne, every Monday at 8/7 central on NBC. See their fate on the results show, Tuesdays at 9/8 central. To learn more about “The Voice” and watch past episodes and performances, visit

SamReverbNation Artists Rock NBC’s The Voice — Exclusive Interview with Stars James Wolpert, Matt Cermanski & Will Champlin
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Ready to ROCK Your Facebook Profile?!

It’s simple: Just add the NEW ReverbNation section to your timeline! Now you can express to the world the activity you care about most on ReverbNation AND spiff up your profile in the process.


1. Preview your custom ReverbNation section on Facebook.
2. Click “Add to Profile.”

If you’re an artist
, you can highlight your new songs and videos, showcase your upcoming shows, and let your fans know what music you’re currently listening to…all in one place!

If you’re a fan, you can show off your music taste with your recently played songs, favorite artists, and downloads. We’ll be adding new stuff, too.


Not seeing this on your Facebook profile?

Your ReverbNation profile must be synced with Facebook to add this custom section. If you haven’t already synced, here’s how:

  1. Go to your Social Sync settings on ReverbNation (Account > Social Sync).
  2. Select “Sync to Facebook” and log in with your Facebook account.
  3. Follow the directions above to add your custom section to your timeline.
  4. Keep doing what you do on ReverbNation. Before you know it, your section will be populated with all sorts of cool stuff.

Move your ReverbNation section to prime position!

You can easily move your ReverbNation section higher up on your timeline. Ensure that your friends see all your awesome activity by following these two quick steps:


See you on Facebook!

SamReady to ROCK Your Facebook Profile?!
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5 Tips for Preparing for Your Hip-Hop Mixtape Release

In this guest post, Kayla Calloway gives independent and up-and-coming hip-hop artists tips on how to effectively prepare a mixtape release.

Whether you are prepping for your first mixtape or this is your next go round, here are 5 tips for preparing for a successful mixtape release excerpted from “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity.” So in the words of Trinidad James “Lemme give you a checklist:”

1. Choose a DJ

When starting out, especially if it’s your first mixtape, choose a DJ who is on the come-up as well and who truly believes in your music. Or you can go the latest route used by emerging Atlanta hip-hop artist, Rich Homie Quan, and host your own mixtape.

2. Find a Studio

Find a studio that you are comfortable recording in, and once you have blocked time, make sure that you come prepared. Write your rhymes at home and be ready to go when you arrive to the studio.

3. Mix

Have your mixtape cleaned up and mixed by a professional engineer who knows what he is doing. Make sure that the sound is clear and crisp and that the sound levels are balanced throughout your mixtape.

4. Hire a Graphic Artist

When hiring a graphic artist for your mixtape cover, you need to make sure they understand your music and brand and that they can bring your ideas to life or that they can bring forth their own creative cover ideas that will represent you and your mixtape effectively. So, with that being said, here are three tips to consider when hiring a mixtape cover graphic artist:

  • Versatility: When selecting a graphic artist, make sure that they are versatile, creative, and have a range of design skills, because you want someone who can convey your individuality and the themes and messages of your music, not someone who has a one-size-fits-all approach to designing mixtape covers.
  • Track Record: Request to see work they’ve done in the past. Additionally, when you’re hiring for services, such as PR, marketing, or website design, check track records as well.
  • Professionalism: I know that the hip-hop industry can be a little casual, but business is business. Make sure you have a timeline for the work and ask that the graphic artist is being consistent with you and communicating effectively with you throughout the process.

5. Use Social Media to Gear Up for Your Mixtape Release

  • Engage: Follow other hip-hop artists, both up-and-coming and established, who have similar fan bases and followers. Additionally, follow DJs and other hip-hop influencers, such as hip-hop editors, bloggers, etc. Keep track of who’s mentioning you.
  • Get Fans to Promote for You: Constantly engage with your fans and include them on your journey. For example, you can ask fans for feedback regarding the title of your mixtape, which track to promote, mixtape cover art, etc. Join their conversations; don’t just always flood them with links pertaining to your music.
  • Plan: Plan a content strategy so you do not get distracted from the bottom line.

This list covers the basics. However, I would like to also mention the importance of working to build your fan base prior to releasing your mixtape. For more hip-hop marketing and publicity tips, visit Got any questions for me? Leave a comment below!

All the best with your mixtape release!

Kayla Calloway is a hip-hop enthusiast with over 5 years of PR experience, with specific concentrations in media relations and writing. Kayla has a strong rapport within the hip-hop editorial community and is the author of “The Essential Guide to Hip-Hop Marketing & Publicity”. She has secured media placements in XXL, The Source,, Creative Loafing, AJC and more. Kayla can be reached on Twitter and Facebook.


Sam5 Tips for Preparing for Your Hip-Hop Mixtape Release
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