How to Tour Without Losing Money

In this guest post, full-time DIY musician Ari Herstand gives you tips on how make a profit while touring. Ari has opened for artists such as Ben Folds, Cake, Joshua Radin, Matt Nathanson and Ron Pope. His songs have been featured on TV shows like One Tree Hill and various Showtime and MTV shows. His latest studio album debuted at #11 on iTunes singer/songwriter charts. He writes an independent music business advice blog, Ari’s Take.

I’ve played over 500 shows in 40 states. I’ve played every possible venue imaginable from arenas and theaters to living rooms and high schools. Every tour I go on is still a combination of all sized venues (well, not quite arenas as consistently as I’d like).

Once I quit working at Starbucks years ago, I made the decision that I would find a way to make a living with my skills and talents that didn’t include knowing the proper amount of foam on a caramel macchiatto. I hit the road and since then I have learned how to make every tour financially successful. Let me say that again. Every tour that I have ever done, after expenses, has been profitable.

It blows my mind that musicians tour and LOSE money. This is totally avoidable, but I hear many musicians just accept this as a reality of the road. Don’t. If you want to be a professional musician, you have to figure out how to actually make money with your music.
+Book Your Own Tour: A How-To Guide

Follow these tips on the 8 basics of touring. If you can think of anything else, leave me a comment below!

Booking shows

Every show needs a purpose for the tour. Too many bands think that at every show the CEO of Atlantic Records’ brother will be in the house and he’ll make one phone call and turn them into superstars. That doesn’t happen. So once you accept that this is a business and it’s a slow grow and not a quick dash to play in front of “the right people,” it will change your mentality on the purpose of your tours.
+Shows Sell, Events Sellout

The purpose of every show should either be (or a mix of):

a) To help fund the tour (and your lives)

b) To gain exposure and build a fanbase.

Every show I play I still put to this test. For the shows with the biggest amount of exposure (for merch sales), I’m willing to accept a smaller guarantee. The shows that won’t offer much for exposure, merch sales or career advancement, I need a much higher guarantee.

But don’t get into the trap of convincing yourself that every show you’ll sell hundreds in merch and DON’T take free shows from restaurants or friends of your parents promising a big crowd and “you can sell your merch.” This is a trap and it almost never is as worth it as you think it will be.
+Our Tour Page Is Totally Full (of Empty Shows)

Play house concerts! These are some of my most profitable shows. If you’re a singer/songwriter it’s much easier. The promo is done by the host and most of the people that come (even just 20) buy lots of merch. Charge the host a guarantee of about $350 (but ask them to charge their guests $15 and if 24 people come they get a free concert). Every tour I include a few of these.

House concerts or living room concerts can be very profitable.

Of course most of your shows will be a percentage of the door — so you need to promote each show in each town heavily!
+50 Is The Magic Number (Book A Headlining Tour)

Once you have a tour made up of a healthy balance of (more) money shows and (less) exposure shows then you are ready to begin.

Who to bring on tour

Only bring people on the road who are absolutely necessary for your operation to work while still making a profit. If you can’t afford a sound guy at this stage, well, then don’t bring one. Even if they agree to do it for free, it’s not free. You’re gonna have to feed them, lodge them and once they see all the money coming in from the door or merch they’ll make it uncomfortable enough where you’ll get guilted into throwing them something.

Selling merch

Learn more about >> 4 Reasons Fans Buy Your Merch <<

Merch is your #1 income generator on the road. Believe it. Some shows you’ll make next to nothing from the door, but hopefully you’ll be able to leverage those in the house to buy some merch.

Make sure you always have someone manning your merch table from when the doors open to when people leave. If you can’t afford to bring a merch person on the road find a friend in that city (post status on Twitter and Facebook to request help) to run the table in exchange for free entrance to the show (or even a small % of sales). It’s worth it.

Especially if you’re on a bill with multiple bands or are playing for hours, most people won’t stay until the end of your set. If they like what they hear (even after one song), but have to take off early and they want your CD, if no one is at the merch table to sell it to them, you just lost a sale. Get a credit card swiper (like Square – it’s free). I nearly doubled my sales with this.
+Double Your Income… No Really

Saving on gas

Gas can kill tours. Don’t tour in a larger vehicle than necessary and don’t pull a trailer unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. I know 5 piece bands that can fit all their gear and merch in the back of their van.

Or you can buy a super economical veggie oil bus and drive coast to coast on less than $100 like the rock band Blameshift:

Routing

The best way to save on gas is to make sure you’re not driving out of the way. No huge tour routing will ever be perfect, but keep the backtracking to a minimum (if ever).

Lodging

Don’t get hotels until you’re making serious money. And even then try Priceline “name your own price” (not getting a kickback but I SHOULD) — I get $45 4 star hotels that way. It’s a nice little mid-tour perk to get off of the beer stained couch for a night. Invest in an air mattress and sleeping bag so you can keep your lodging portable and all you’ll require is floorspace.

Blowing money

You must (as a band) make a decision early on if you want this project to be just for fun or for profession. If everyone is on the same page that you want to be a professional outfit then you must act like it.
+Double Your Income…No Really

Most venues will give you drink tickets. Don’t ever buy drinks at the bar you’re playing — it’s a waste of money and you don’t need it (BUT always tip your bartender on free drinks).

When you stop to fill up you don’t need the $2 bottle of water or soda. Those add up. Get a water bottle and fill that up.

Saving on food

If you’re out for awhile, go grocery shopping as a band. Buying in bulk obviously saves and if you bring a cooler along, you can spend more on ice and less on Subway.

The road is a mix of saving money and making money (as is life), but it’s magnified when you’re on tour. Always keep coming up with ways to make more money (merch combos, house shows, PLAY COLLEGES, better targeted promo to get more to show up). Don’t tour to just say you’re going on tour. Tour to grow your base WHILE making money.

If you’re still stuck and need more specific ways to get your tours to become even more profitable or want to embark on your big first tour, let’s Get Specific. 

And if you have questions or want to share your touring experience, leave us a comment below!

Ari can be reached on Twitter and Facebook, and you can find his music hereSign up on Ari’s Take Newsletter: http://aristake.com/signup.html

KevinHow to Tour Without Losing Money
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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.

ENTER HERE

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.”

KevinCalling 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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Best albums and songs of 2012: Picked by ReverbNation staffers

It’s that time of year again. After collectively listening to hundreds of records and attending what seemed like another hundred concerts, we’ve asked the ReverbNation staffers to share their favorite albums and songs released in 2012. What we got in return is a very diverse selection with indie favorites, top 40 sweethearts, dubstep beat droppers, classic rockers, R&B breakout star, and others.

Take a look at our picks, and feel free to let us know who topped YOUR 2012 list in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter!

Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, The Weeknd, Father John Misty

In alphabetical order:

Andrew. billing| rookie dubstep dj | edm fan | customer satisfaction extraordinaire 

Dubstep’s US popularity is clear, as American hip hop artists Cypress Hill released a collaborative EP with dubstep producer Rusko (above) in Summer 2012.

  • Brown & Gammon – Dirty Doris EP
  • Rusko – Songs
  • Borgore – Decisions
  • Subscape – Elements
  • Netsky – 2
  • Nostalgia – The Other Side
  • Shift Key – Let You Down
  • Bassnectar – Vava Voom
  • Eptic – Slime City

Brian. quality assurance | bug finder extraordinaire | you can find him air guitaring and drumming on the back of chairs every now and then

Top 10 songs (in no particular order)
  • House of Heroes – “Remember the Empire” (Best anthem)
  • Phillip Phillips – “Home” (Most authentic performance)
  • Good Luck Varsity – “Liars & Thieves” (Caught me by surprise)
  • Summertime Dropouts – “Full Time Cutie” (Cheesiest)
  • Benjamin Dunn & The Animal Orchestra – “My Name Is Eustace!” (Most eclectic)
  • Owl City – “Good Time” (Fun all-around)
  • The Classic Crime – “You and Me Both” (Most glad I Kickstartered)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” (Guilty pleasure)
  • Thrice – “Promises” (Hardest hitting)
  • sosaveme – “Gentle Slope” (Hate-to-fav)

Honorable mentions: Thousand Foot Krutch – Be Somebody (Most likely to bring tears to my eyes); Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars – Safe & Sound (Best rendition); SONS – Doubt (Best re-release); Capital Lights – Coldfront Heatstroke (Best wordplay).

Glenn. product | “everyday i’m grafflin” is his motto | promises to beat jed in chili cook-off… one day soon 

Josh Tillman’s (aka Father John Misty) ‘Fear Fun’ was released following Tillman’s departure from Fleet Foxes

Top 10 albums 
  1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  2. Chairlift – Something
  3. Delta Spirt – Delta Spirit
  4. Soundgarden – King Animal
  5. Little Hurricane – Homewrecker
  6. Mondo – Electric Guest
  7. Jack White – Blunderbuss
  8. Grizzly Bear – Shields
  9. Miike Snow – Happy to You
  10. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

Justin. customer service | pf flyers connoisseur | invisible watermelon kiwi kool-aid = best drink of all time

Top 10 albums
  1. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D City
  2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
  3. Nas – Life is Good
  4. The Weeknd – Trilogy
  5. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  6. Curren$y – The Stoned Immaculate
  7. Jessie Ware – Devotion
  8. The XX – Coexist
  9. Big K.R.I.T. – Live From the Underground
  10. Electric Guest – Mondo

Lou. co-founder | hurricane sandy took away a few dozen of his frank zappa vinyl albums (some rare) | “if i see her, she dies!”

Top 5 albums (in no particular order and no metal made it this year 🙁 )
  • Tame Impala – Lonerism
  • Howler – America Give Up
  • Shovels & Rope – O Be’ Joyful
  • Lumineers – The Lumineers
  • Frank Zappa – 60 re-issues

Mariana. marketing | avid concert-goer | non-professional dancer | hates carrying bags | wants to backpack across the world  

Click to watch our interview with Vintage Trouble at SXSW ’12.

Top 10 songs
  1. Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”
  2. Matrimony – “Obey Your Guns” (click to watch live performance at ReverbNation HQ)
  3. Vintage Trouble – “Nobody Told Me”
  4. fun. – “Some Nights”
  5. Dr. Dog – “How Long Must I Wait?”
  6. White Sea – “Overdrawn”
  7. Mumford & Sons – “I Will Wait”
  8. Delta Rae – “Bottom of the River”
  9. Lost in the Trees – “Red”
  10. Jens Lekman – “Become Someone Else’s”

Neal. customer service | sneaker aficionado | carolina basketball super fan

Top 10 albums (in no particular order)
  • Skyzoo – Theo vs. JJ (Dreams vs. Reality)
  • Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
  • Nas – Life Is Good
  • Curren$y – The Stoned Immaculate
  • Jack White – Blunderbuss
  • Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
  • King Mez – My Everlasting Zeal
  • The Weeknd – Trilogy
  • Big Boi (of Outkast) – Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors
  • Joey Bada$$ – 1999

Patrick.  digital distribution| prefers early mornings and highlight reels 

After the release of ‘Channel Orange’, Pitchfork said Frank Ocean is “among the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation.”

Top 10 albums
  1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  2. The Weeknd – Trilogy
  3. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  4. Jack White – Blunderbuss
  5. Woods – Bend Beyond
  6. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
  7. The Walkmen – Heaven
  8. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes
  9. Michael Kiwanuka – Home
  10. The Human Eyes – Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Parker. customer service | fierce beard | seger specialist | likes cats and dogs

Top 10 albums
  1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  2. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
  3. The Sword – Apocryphon
  4. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
  5. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth
  6. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  7. Aesop Rock – Skelethon
  8. Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
  9. Bob Mould – Silver Age
  10. Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction

 Honorable mentions: Old Crow Medicine Show – Carry Me Back; Bob Dylan – Tempest

Reverb Live NYC. Hailing from all across the east coast, this diverse group of business savvy music-lovers is a big supporter of live music and wanted to share with you some of the epic shows that topped their list this year.

Top 10 live shows
  1. 12/12/12 Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
  2. Mumford & Sons at Pier A (Hoboken, NJ)
  3. Rodger Waters at Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY)
  4. Animal Collective at Terminal 5 (New York, NY)
  5. Radiohead at the Prudential Center (Newark, NJ)
  6. Explosions in the Sky at Governor’s Ball (New York, NY)
  7. Sigur Rós at the Mann Center (Philadelphia, PA)
  8. Girl Talk at Catalpa Music Festival (New York, NY)
  9. Björk at the New York Hall of Science (Queens, NY)
  10. Tool at the Izod Center (East Rutherford, NJ)

Robert F. developer | lover of dogs, beer, and motorcycles, but not at the same time | resident reverbnation smiley guy

Top 10 albums
  1. Jon Watts – Clothe Yourself in Righteousness
  2. Artemis – Sephyra
  3. Anji Bee – Put Some Music On (it’s just a single, but it’s good stuff)
  4. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
  5. Data Romance – Caves
  6. Lazy Hammock – Natural High
  7. Submotion Orchestra – Fragments
  8. Various – Chilled Summer Break, Vol. 1
  9. All India Radio – Red Shadow Landing
  10. Kid Koala – 12 Bit Blues

Sam. customer service | rocker/roller | gramatical/syntactical nutjob | loves seinfeld more than he probably should

Top 10 albums
  1. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  2. Liars – WIXIW
  3. Menomena – Moms
  4. Jenny Besetzt – Only
  5. Grizzly Bear – Shields
  6. Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II
  7. Lower Dens – Nootropics
  8. Gross Ghost – Brer Rabbit
  9. Mac Demarco – 2
  10. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Honorable mentions: Beach House – Bloom; Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile; DIIV – Oshin; Lotus Plaza – Spooky Action at a Distance; Tamaryn – Tender New Signs.

Now it’s your turn! We want to learn a little bit about you. What were your favorite albums and songs of 2012? Which Reverb employee has a similar music taste to yours? Leave your answers in the comments below!

KevinBest albums and songs of 2012: Picked by ReverbNation staffers
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3 things musicians can learn from brands about Customer Relationship Management

This guest post from Mark Knight explores ‘Customer Relationship Management’ (CRM) to show how the principles can help independent artists promote their music more effectively. As founder of Right Chord Music, a management and consultancy business, Mark calls upon his 12 years of experience working as a music marketing consultant to brands like Coca-Cola, Nokia & T-Mobile, plus his seven years as an artist manager for independent artists.

In the business world, a whole industry has been established around ‘customer relationship management’ or CRM. Fancy acronym, but what’s it really mean and how does it apply to you and your music career? In basic terms, CRM is a plan to understand and manage a brand’s relationship with customers. Using technology, this can get pretty complex, but really CRM efforts all stem from three goals:

  • Identify, attract and win new customers
  • Retain existing customers
  • Re-invigorate relationships with former customers

It doesn’t take a genius to realise there are clear parallels between the value of CRM for a brand or business and CRM for a band or artist. In order to have a successful music career (“business”) you need to have fans (“customers”). And those fans won’t come unless you work hard for it. Below are some details on just what I mean, but first I want you to keep in mind two widely accepted business principles:

  1. Pareto’s 80:20 rule suggests 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.
  2. Winning new business from existing customers is cheaper than winning new business from new customers.

Okay, that said, here is how a musician or a band can apply the 3 CRM goals to their music career to develop better relationships with their fans:

1.  Identify, attract and win new fans and supporters

Most independent artists don’t have money to spend on ‘push’ advertising or PR to reach a mass audience. Your best chance of success lies in ‘pull’ marketing where you supply your fans with compelling content and they promote you to their networks. Your ultimate audience is not your ‘Friends;’ it’s the ‘Friends of your friends.’ If you can burst out of your network into each of theirs, your potential audience will suddenly rocket. So encourage and incentivise them to share your posts. Reverb Tip: Online tools like Band Profile on Facebook and Promote It have built-in abilities for social expansion.

Remember the second principle: It’s cheaper to win new business from existing customers, than win new business from new customers. So use your existing ‘Friends’ as advocates.

2.  Successfully retain existing fans and supporters

On social media: Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself why you are growing a fanbase on Facebook or Twitter. Many bands seem to spend all their waking hours collecting new ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ but never interact with any of them.

Facebook uses a system called Edgerank to prioritise the news in your feed. If you don’t interact with you fans you’ll become invisible very quickly. So when a new ‘Like’ or ‘Follower’ arrives, you have work to do. This is important: social media quantity should always go hand in hand with quality. Without engagement those ‘Likes’ quickly become meaningless.

With mailing lists: Mailing lists are another key tool for retaining fans, but only if you use them in a smart way. Lazy mail-outs containing a summary of old news are pointless. Set rules for your mail-outs: “I will only ever contact fans when I can reward them, or offer them something exclusive.” “I will never just repeat news I’ve posted on Facebook.” Reverb Tip: The tool FanReach has made it very easy for emerging artists to grow their fanbase through newsletters. Check it out >>

Always be critical of the communication you send. If it doesn’t genuinely interest or excite you, why would anyone else care? You don’t build relationships by spamming people.

Finally, don’t forget to ‘Surprise’ & ‘Delight’ your fans; it’s a proven brand tactic to retain interest. How about you surprise the next three fans that contact you on Twitter with a free t-shirt or free remix?

Also, you should be able to personally name your biggest fans. Who are the people that engage with you the most on Facebook? Who are the people that come to all of your shows? Who buys your music? By identifying these advocates you can start to create tailored rewards to encourage continued support. You could offer exclusive previews for a select group of top fans.

3.  Reinvigorate relationships with former fans and supporters

Make full use of the analytics provided to you by Facebook and YouTube. If you don’t already know, take time to find out (learn more about Facebook Insights and YouTube Analytics):

Picard engage meme

Do like Capt. Picard: engage.

Find out which 10 Facebook posts had:

  • The greatest ‘Reach’ in the past three months
  • The most ‘Engaged Users’
  • Were the ‘Most talked about’
  • The highest levels of ‘Virality’

What are your most engaging (based on % of video watched) videos on YouTube?

Next, note down the commonalities to identify what an engaging post looks like. E.g.,

  • Posted on a Monday morning
  • Personal, warm friendly style
  • Contain a question
  • Include a good quality photo
  • Contains a video

Once you understand the rules of engagement you can repeat the trick, and hopefully win back some of the people who have switched off in response to your less engaging posts.

Bonus tip: Get organised.

Create a basic Excel database, to collect and manage your relationships. Start with a separate tab for:

  • Artists
  • Blogs
  • Labels
  • Promoters
  • Publishers
  • Radio stations

Then whenever you come across a new contact, add their key details: Name, Company, Job Title, Email, Phone.

These 3 additional details take this from being a flat database into an active, useful CRM tool:

  • When: Date last contacted
  • Why: Reason for last contact
  • What: Outcome of last contact

Keeping a track of when, why and what ensures you can tailor your response and follow up in the most appropriate way, only sharing information which is relevant to them.

Don’t be afraid to follow up. If someone really has no interest they will tell you so. Don’t assume a non-reply is a no; it is often just a sign they are busy or disorganized. As a blogger I welcome reminders “Have you had a chance to check out our track yet?” Often a reminder will be enough to guarantee you a review (if the music is great).

A little thought and planning can really help improve the effectiveness of your fan communication, so don’t be in a rush to promote until you are ready. How about you? Have you tried any of these goals before? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Mark Knight can be reached at his Twitter account @RightChordMusic.

Kevin3 things musicians can learn from brands about Customer Relationship Management
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How to get a great manager: 6 tips from music executive Jeff Rabhan

This guest post is written by Jeff Rabhanartist manager, music-industry executive and international consultant. His clients have garnered twelve Grammy Awards, sold more than one hundred million records and generated over one billion dollars in global receipts. Rabhan currently serves as Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

After 20 years in the business and hundreds of showcases under my belt, I’ve seen a lot of aspiring artists who have two things in common: They’re all looking for a manager and all trying to get signed. But for the great majority, that’s a pipe dream. The odds are against you. I know it sounds harsh, but in truth, many artists miss their opportunity by not being prepared.

Finding a proper manager can be a painful and frustrating process for many artists; the seemingly endless amount of pitching, sending out unsolicited material and inviting seasoned pros down to showcases only to be met by rejection on the other end can be debilitating. Many musicians blame the managers — it’s easy to convince yourself that their blind eye and stone ears can’t see and hear your musical greatness. But in truth, artists often are not properly prepared for management, nor are their careers in shape to the point where an experienced manager would be interested. So how do you know the right time to get a manager and what are the best ways to secure proper management?

DIY until you no longer can

If you’re sitting at home on the couch right now, chances are you don’t need a manager. You should be your own booking agent, publicist, marketing exec and radio promotion person before anyone else. For one, you’ll learn about all of the different aspects of your career and become educated. Second, you’ll build the relationships yourself instead of hiring a manager based upon who they “know.” Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached the point where you are so busy that you can no longer handle the tasks, proper management will have taken notice. After all, if you have a lot going on, the buzz of a band finds a way of reaching music execs.

In fact, there’s a funny saying amongst music industry people: “If you’re unsigned and great, I’ve heard of you;” meaning, if all of the pieces are put together and you’re ready for the major leagues, managers will find you, as will labels, and lawyers too.

Trust me. Rock bands are famous for handling their business correctly. They split up the chores, handle the tasks and operate their band like a business. This is one sure way to impress a possible manager. I remember before Incubus was signed to Sony Music, they had a strong relationship with their fanbase in southern California, kept meticulous fan lists and had plenty of merch to sell so much of the groundwork was done. The rest is history. Remember: If you’re a new act, no one is waiting for your music to come out. So get all the elements right first.

Get your online presence together

Any manager worth his salt will want to see an organized online presence. That doesn’t mean a website with a few old songs and bad pictures! Managers, labels and executives alike will want to know that you are part of an active community that includes a destination website for your project or band, as well as Facebook, Twitter, a ReverbNation profile, or even a Tumblr. The website should be updated, platforms linked, and the artist active. This is the bare minimum! In today’s market, artists are getting deals with labels and managers based upon the strength of their online presence alone. You could be one of them if you “work” your social media fanbase. Just ask Justin Beiber if YouTube helped him….

Know who you are

Very few managers are interested in figuring out who you are for you. Without a strong sense of identity, a sonic footprint, and a dialed-in look you are wasting time pursuing representation. Take the time to experiment and know exactly who you are, who your audience is and how you communicate with them first. A manager can help you execute but only you can determine those key points. Stepping forward without these three things intact is like a guitar player leaving his instrument at home the night of a gig. Branding is the phrase that pays and every artist needs to be in the branding business.

Some artists take offense to the term “branding” and feel that it goes against their artistic ethos. Think again. As a wise manager once said, “No one wants to manage the greatest band you never heard of.” Branding is music.

Captivate a following in your hometown

A manager friend of mine once told a band looking for management “Don’t call me until you can sell out the best club in your hometown!” I believe that message holds true. If you’re not popular where you are, how can you expect to be in demand anywhere else? Work on establishing yourself in your hometown and making yourself a household name at clubs, radio stations and the musical community. Bands that are making noise locally are usually the ones that get snatched up long before projects that have no local development.

Master your live performance

These days, an artist with no live following looking for management is like a tree falling in the forest. With so much income reliant upon touring and merchandise sales in today’s market, most managers will want to know that you are capable of earning on the road and building a fan base every time you get out and perform. This means that if you’re a band, you are tight and know how to sell it from the stage. If you are a solo artist, you should have a band together that showcases your talents and they are prepared to perform your material at any time.

I can’t tell you the number of times I was hyped on a band that I went to see and they couldn’t deliver it live. It’s a deal-killer every time.

Avoid “Uncle Joey Syndrome”

Many musicians fall prey to this horrible disease! Rarely is an artist served well by having a family member or close personal friend as their manager. More personal relationships are destroyed in this scenario than successful careers made. Plus, opinions are so subjective that often family is blinded by the reality of your situation. Hire the best person with the most experience you can find. Occasionally you meet the artist who believes that their career is the family business. I’ve managed artists who have insulated themselves with family and do not have the ability to see themselves clearly. Objectivity is the key to great management and blood rarely possesses it.

Having great songs is truly just the beginning. Without building your base and utilizing all of the tools available, you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation of waiting to be heard. So get off of that couch and know that success is in your hands. If you build it, they will come. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Jeff tweets daily at @JeffRahban.

KevinHow to get a great manager: 6 tips from music executive Jeff Rabhan
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September’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation opportunity winners!

Do you ever wonder who submits to those opportunities you see in your email inbox every week? Do you wonder who gets picked to perform or chosen for a feature? We thought you might. Our monthly Breaking Artists newsletter features a sampling of those artists, along with this nice and shiny blog post you’re reading right now. The whole Reverb community will get the newsletter (all 2,000,000+ of them). Yep, it’s kind of a big deal.

Please, support your fellow musicians by listening to their music and sending them kudos in the comments!

PS: Breaking Artists are selected by Reverb staff from opportunity winners. Increase your chances of being one of them by submitting to opportunities here >>

Rocking Out at Iceland Airwaves…

Singer/songwriter Ghost Town Jenny.

The Foreign Resort

Alternative band The Foreign Resort.

Ghost Town Jenny and The Foreign Resort will play the Iceland Airwaves annual music festival in Reykjavík. The five-day festival has been called “the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar.”

“I am just over the moon about playing our first major music festival, especially when it’s in such a magical place like Iceland! I will be forever grateful to ReverbNation for being the platform we needed to get our music heard by more people…” 

-Ghost Town Jenny

“We have not played Iceland Airwaves before, so this is going to be a great experience for us. We thought it would be a long-shot, so we were absolutely thrilled to get the acceptance email! (…) We have now started applying to more opportunities through ReverbNation as we are now also seeing a lot of great opportunities that are in line with our goals.” 

-The Foreign Resort

Performed at Reverb’s Hopscotch Day Party…

Casual Curious at Hopscotch.

Casual Curious performed at ReverbNation’s “United by Music” Hopscotch Music Festival Day Party. Hopscotch is an annual independent music festival held in Raleigh, NC.  This year’s event featured 175 bands that played across 15 venues!

DJ’d the Electric Zoo Main Stage…

Julien Loreto

Toronto-based DJ Julien Loreto.

Julien Loreto performed on the Main Stage at Electric Zoo 2012 in NYC! Check out a short documentary about his experience here. Electric Zoo is an annual electronic music festival held over Labor Day weekend. This year, more than 110,000 people showed up to see the show headlined by Pretty Lights, Above & Beyond, and Skrillex.

“It was my first time DJ’ing at Electric Zoo and it was an honour to perform at such a world class festival. (…) Thank you to Reverbnation and MADE Events for the special experience. Electric Zoo in my heart. Hope to be back next year!.”

-Julien Loreto

Came Together for Make Music New York…

230 ReverbNation artists played Make Music New York.

230 ReverbNation artist performed at the Make Music New York music festival in NYC! The event took place on June 21, the first day of summer, and featured more than 1,000 free concerts throughout New York’s five boroughs. Good going to everyone who came out and participated!

Featured in Substream Music Press…

Come What May

Athens-based prog rock band Come What May.

Come What May got a feature in the Warped issue of Substream Music Press! Substream Music Press focuses on discovering and sharing the best new music– especially the stuff sometimes missed by the mainstream media.

More Winners: The World’s Fare, TreeHouse!, Ajam band, and Alexander Cardinale!

The World's Fare

Prog rock band The World’s Fare performed at the Masquerade Musician’s Showcase in Atlanta.

TreeHouse!

Reggae band TreeHouse! played at the Creative Food Drive in Durham, NC. “ReverbNation has helped us gain gigs, exposure, and press, and has facilitated our exhibition of professionalism throughout this process, with quality RPKs, widgets for our website, and several methods of keeping up with all our fans!”

Ajam band

London-based Ajam band performed during the Olympics at London International Arts Festival!

Alexander Cardinale

Singer/songwriter Alexander Cardinale won a Dream Recording Package from Seagate Creative! “Reverb is my ‘home base’. And it’s the only place I use for my industry EPKs!!!” Follow him @XanderMusic

Congrats to all of September’s “Breaking” Artists!

Don’t want to miss out on next opportunity?

There are four ways you can use to stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

KevinSeptember’s Breaking Artists: Kudos to these ReverbNation opportunity winners!
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Breaking Artists #1: Highlighting winners of performances and feature opportunities

Do you ever wonder who submits to those opportunities you see in your email inbox every week? Do you wonder who gets picked to perform or chosen for a feature? We thought you might so starting this month, we’ll pick a sampling of those artists and send out a new, monthly Breaking Artists newsletter along with this nice and shiny blog post you’re reading right now. The whole Reverb community will get the newsletter (all 2,000,000+ of them). Yep, it’s kind of a big deal.

Please, support your fellow musicians by listening to their music and sending them kudos in the comments!

PS: Breaking Artists are selected by Reverb staff. Increase your chances of being one of them by submitting to opportunities here >>

Maren Morris

Singer/songwriter Maren Morris was named “Artist On The Verge” by the esteemed New Music Seminar (NMS), beating 99 other talented artists.

“It was all around a great experience. (…) I thank ReverbNation for giving me the opportunity to be discovered by NMS in the first place!” 

Listen and download Maren’s track Best of Me.

Veilside, Losing Scarlet, and The Heroes Lie

Hard rock bands Veilside (above), Losing Scarlet, and The Heroes Lie played the ReverbNation stage at WIIL Rock Fest 2012. Veilside told us they were honored to be asked back to WIIL Rock’s annual Rock Fest, this year celebrating 20 years of the Radio Station by sharing the stage with 20+ of their favorite acts like, Black Stone Cherry, Texas Hippie Coalition, Fear Factory, Saving Able, Static X, and much more. Listen to Veilside’s Dust in The Wind, Losing Scarlet’s Learning to Bleed, and The Heroes Lie’s I Am a Fighter below.

Late Cambrian

Brooklyn indie rock band Late Cambrian performed at LUCKYRICE Festival 2012 in NYC! Here’s what they have to say about the experience: “We entered the LUCKYRICE Contest a few days after we joined ReverbNation. The head of LUCKYRICE said he listened to over 250 bands before choosing us. It was an honor really! The Festival itself was amazing. Some of the most delicious food we’ve ever tasted! They gave us free passes to 3 of the 5 nights of Luckyrice. Our show, on an outside stage, under the Manhattan Bridge was an awesome thing to be a part of. It was professionally run and we sold a bunch of CDs.”

“Thank you ReverbNation for connecting us with the contest… It was one of the highlights of our time as a band.”

Listen and download Late Cambrian’s track I Gave You My Limit.

D.V.S*

Brooklyn-based guitarist and producer D.V.S* performed at the 2012 Gathering of the Vibes’ Silent Disco. This year’s lineup included big acts like The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, and ALO. Definitely sounds like a good crowd to be part of! Listen to D.V.S*’s Shortness of Breath.

Herukhuti Ausar

North Carolina rapper Herukhuti Ausar opened up a SOLD OUT SHOW for Logic and Tayyib Ali at The Roxy in LA! He said: “It was great! I really enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with the Roxy crowd. I got a real good vibe from there and the fans let us know that they enjoyed the performance. GREAT ENERGY!!” Listen to Herukhuti Ausar’s track Carolina:

Eitch, 4onthefloor, Sumilan

Eitch played at Wakarusa Music Festival this year (last year she went as a fan and promised herself she would do everything in her power to play there this year). “I honestly believe that if it weren’t for [ReverbNation’s] update in my inbox, it may have never come to my attention that Wakarusa was gathering their artists in time for me to act.” 

“ReverbNation was definitely the catalyst in making a dream come true.” 

Along with Eitch, 4onthefloor and Sumilan also got the amazing opportunity to play at Wakarusa Festival this past month! Listen to Eitch’s Sun and Moon, 4onthefloor’s On Tuesday, and Sumilan’s How Now Does It Feel below.

The Nearly Deads, One Days Notice, Zak Smith, Slave To The Day

The grunge rock band from Nashville, The Nearly Deads, got a feature in Substream Music Press.

Pop rock band One Days Notice opened for The Offspring at House of Blues Cleveland. “We had an AWESOME time! The Offspring, the crowd, and the House of Blues staff were GREAT!”

NJ rock band Zak Smith opened for Carbon Leaf at Brooklyn Bowl. “It was awesome playing at Brooklyn Bowl with Carbon Leaf, who are an unbelievable band. It’s by far one of the greatest venues to play in NY.” Photo by Vernon Webb.

Metal band Slave To The Day played Dirt Fest 2012 in Birch Run, MI.

Listen to The Nearly Deads’ The Perfect Cure, One Days Notice’s Shake It Out (free download), Zak Smith’s Crawling (free download), and Slaves To The Day’s The Waking below.

Congrats to all of August’s “Breaking” Artists!

Don’t want to miss out on next opportunity?

There are four ways you can use to stay up-to-date on the latest gigs (we recommend using all of them to ensure nothing gets missed!):

  • Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check the email updates we send you
  • Check the latest Opportunities on this page
  • Go to your Control Room on your Reverb page > click “Opportunities”

So, where’s your next gig?

KevinBreaking Artists #1: Highlighting winners of performances and feature opportunities
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We need your vote to send our panelists to SXSW 2013!

Vote to send our expert panelists to Austin!

I know, it may seem that South By Southwest Festival was the other day, but believe it or not, we already have our eyes on next year’s festival. Our team has proposed two cutting-edge panel topics to lead at SXSW this coming March… they just need your vote (yeah, I’m talking to you) to get to Austin! ReverbNation staffers have led panels at SXSW for the past three years and are looking forward to making it four straight!

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Follow the links below and give us “thumbs up” for our panel suggestions. Voting ends on August 31st, so please take a moment and vote for us if you can. Anyone may vote. You don’t have to be attending the festival, or even live in the United States! You may vote for both topics.

Why Artist Development Matters: Then and Now by Victoria Camera (ReverbNation) and Jason Lekberg (Eleven Seven Music)

Artist Development is a second thought at the major labels as they rely more and more on hit singles at Radio and on iTunes. But to have a long term successful career, you need artist development to grow your fan base. This panel will talk about all the key elements in artist development.

Link to vote: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5596

Ditch the Headliner! Big Brands Need Small Guys by Glenn Goldman (ReverbNation)

Brands have traditionally focused on soliciting support from big-name spokespeople for marketing campaigns. The assumption was that paying a lot of money for the right spokesperson was worthwhile due to their embedded network and social status — people ‘look up’ to celebrities because they want to be like them. This panel will reorient this old school logic by concentrating the core ideas and scaling it vertically for larger reach. We’ll propose solutions to attract more fans with less money by empowering the long tail. We’ll learn how to maximize the potential of small groups. The panel looks at the formation of social nodes and identifying the ‘social leaders’. We’ll discuss how non-monetary motivators can solicit better engagement than money. We’ll go in depth on the variety of technical tools available for this approach, including the use of Facebook developer tools and the Facebook API.

Link to vote: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5879

Thanks!
THE REVERBNATION TEAM

KevinWe need your vote to send our panelists to SXSW 2013!
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