My blog is a place where I can tell you a bit more about me, the venues I have played and other things I have found or done in my life’s travels!
You can read in more detail about how a gig went, how great (or bad) the venue was and if anything new or exciting happened as a result of my playing somewhere!
I will also tell you about any new updates and releases I may be making or thinking about, things I have done, and quite possibly just the odd rant about things now and then.
I haven’t actually finished this one, because I still have one song to go and I’m late. We’re all a little more lenient with one another in this tribe these days, but I still feel a little guilty talking about it before I’m done.
Nevertheless, here I am talking about it.
One thing I’ve realized out of this 14-Days challenge is that there’s never going to be a time when I have two weeks in which there is nothing else going on. There will always be another big project at the same time, or traveling I must do, or house guests, or any number of other reasons why I can’t complete. But they’re all BS. Long ago, someone told me “If you want to call yourself a writer, than you gotta write.” And that’s even if you’re not feelin’ it right now, or whatever the current excuse is. It’s just like every other desire. If you want to be the kind of person who makes her bed every morning, well, make your bed every morning. Duh!
Well, so this time, I had family in town (Well. Sorta. They were in San Antonio.), and one of them kicked his childhood to the curb by graduating from the Air Force Basic Training and getting married in the same day. I’m still a little shocked, and eventually, I suppose I’ll write a song, but the song that came out right afterwards is below. It’s got peculiar origins, as it was based on the names of subdivisions we passed in the car on the way home. Fanciful names in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. I was delighted. That was Day 13 for me.
Y’know …. I used to think that I had to be high to write, or at least to write well. A lot of illusions have been dispelled since we started doing these challenges.
I was going to try to list my favorites of the other writers involved, but there’s really too many. But I did want to mention Pattie Stuart who, not 3 weeks ago after some big changes in her life, was saying she didn’t feel like writing. And then wrote 14 lovely songs. Way to go, Pattie!
As I said, I still owe one song, so this missive will be a bit shorter than usual, but here’s Silver Valley, with all the usual sound caveats.
Last weekend, September 26th – 29th, SWRFA arrived in Austin. It was great fun, as usual, and made me really appreciate the fact that I am a songwriter. Not that I don’t appreciate that whenever I have a new song, but some days are better than others. These were among the best. There are official showcases by a select group of performers, and then there are unofficial ones in the hotel rooms upstairs. We had a showcase room; The People’s Republic of Austin is what we called it. Here’s the poster Sue Young created for it.
Most of the following pictures were taken by Sue Young. The ones of Randy Brown and Lisa Fancher/Ben Bochner were taken by me. As you can readily see, a great time was had by all!
And in the afternoons, great workshops at which I learned, among other things, how to edit in iMovie, what I’m doing right and wrong onstage, how to apply for showcases at the conferences really, and a host of other things. Plus great food, comraderie and music.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, the motivation behind learning how to market my music came from discovering the startling expense of putting out a new CD. Between creation and promotion, everyone has a reason why you should fork over your life savings, and perhaps a child or two. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night to contemplate ways to put more money together. (Especially because my music studio barely covers living expenses during the summer. I require my students to take a certain number lessons to hold their claim on my attention, but it’s not the same number as for any other three months of the year. Nor even close.)
Here’s the thing, though. I have at least two more CDs waiting in the wings, perhaps three if you ask me again this time tomorrow. Something has got to be done to make this more affordable, or the money flow more reliable.
Into this melee steps my friend, Will Taylor. Will is the founder of an Austin icon called Strings Attached. (Pretty cool that he has a wikipedia entry, don’t you think?) Back in June, I got a note from him telling me that he had found a new way to provide support for Strings Attached and some of their community activities. Was I interested? If so, I should plan to be at their home for an informational meeting this week. Well, yes, I was very interested. So I went.
What I heard was not at all what I expected.
There were about 25 people in the room when I walked in. I was handed a survey sheet, and a couple of other papers. I was armed with a notebook, but ended up just listening A woman named Lisa began to speak, and at first I was having difficulty understanding, until I heard her say that at one point in her life as an organic farmer in Oregon, single mom with two kids, she found herself on the floor with a collapsed lung. Then she was in the hospital, wondering where the money was going to come from, as she had work similar to mine. If she wasn’t there to do it, she did not get paid. Having found myself in that position about two years ago, she got my rapt attention from then on.
What she was talking about was a steady stream of income, which was completely reliable, and after a point self-perpetuating. It did take some initial work though, and there was a buy-in fee — As Lisa said, “This is not winning the lottery” . Nor is it Mary Kay, Amway or any of those. But after the first steps are taken care of, there would be money in the mailbox.
Here’s how it works, more or less. If you want the complete picture, the way to get it is to say yes when I invite you to my house so that Will can tell you about it. But basically, ACN, the parent company, brokers essential telecommunication and energy services at a (large) discount, made possible by the fact that ACN is acquiring customers for the companies that provide them. These are services for which we are all paying, so the money is already being spent. It has now, because of the internet, become possible for people like you and me to be brokers for these services through ACN, and to therefore, earn residuals as the broker of record.
ACN, which has been in business for 20 years and has had a host of write-ups including in the Wall Street Journal, has agreements with companies like Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Sprint, and a long list of others. They also have an in-house cell phone service company (which uses the communication networks of Verizon and Sprint), a merchant-services arm (the credit card mechanism that practically all retail businesses have), and an in-house energy company, among a variety of other services.
The reason that last item (energy) is important is because the entire country is under a federal mandate to de-regulate the energy industry, Texas included. Most of Texas is already de-regulated; except for Austin and San Antonio, and they will be de-regulating soon. When they do, it will be like when the phone company was de-regulated, and a whole bunch of small companies took over phone service, using AT&T’s network. Except for the drop in cost and the choice of where that money went, most of us didn’t even notice the difference. Working through ACN, brokers stand to make a lot of money. A LOT of money.
I, personally, am not interested in being super-rich. I’m just interested in having my music be supported in a much less painful way than going into credit-card debt and the like. So I went for it. I now have my own online services storefront: http://janseides.acndirect.com/. One of the first things I did was get out from under my previous cell-phone company. My contract was done, and ACN’s company, Flash, was offering better service for half as much. Unlimited talk and text, NO contract or credit check, and I could transfer my phone to their service. Best of all, they use Verizon’s network, so I had exactly the same coverage I had before. (This is also true for Sprint phone users.)
I also found out that I can get internet service – this time the company is Time-Warner – that is 3 times as fast for half as much as we are currently paying for DSL. And incidentally, the price is far less than going directly to Time-Warner.
And I can do this for others too. So if you’d like to take advantage of that, and help support me at the same time, there is now a way to do that.
Come look around at my store (http://janseides.acndirect.com/), and contact me if you would like me to save you some significant money on essential services. And if you are interested in being part of this business, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And my offer of free songs (2 of them!!!) still stands at http://janseidesmusic.com
With the advent of the internet, you can sell anything and promote almost anything for free. But in order to maximize the tools and resources presented to you online, you should know where to look and how to use them first. Sure, you can invest a lot of money on a massive online campaign, but you can also have the same results for free. Since you want to share your own brand of music to the world always remember that the more genuine and unique it is, the more market value it has and you want to do it justice by marketing it the most efficient way when you don’t have the luxury of having a rockstar band manager like Albert Grossman of Bob Dylan or Brian Epstein of the Beatles.
Submitting your blog or website to a directory is probably one of the best things that you can do without having to invest in anything. You can submit your site to Yahoo! Directory, World Site Index, or Open Directory Project. But most importantly, have Google crawl your site so that it will show up in their search engine. Social networking sites are just as powerful when it comes to marketing and it’s also a fast way to reach your target audience. Submitting your site to CheekyBingo.com forums can be just as effective because you’re reaching an umbrella market. Bingo players are estimated to be 60 million in the US alone and it’s easy to join online gaming sites too. It’s also a great opportunity to meet fellow musicians and even potential fans in forums like these and who knows, you might meet your next band manager or label manager here.
Sharing the same interests or hobbies when you reach out to your potential client or customer can create some sort of connection that can attract more visitors to your site. So when it comes to playing bingo, just be sure that you’re also genuinely interested before you plug your band or site to other members of the forum. Finally, don’t become too much of a hard sell when it comes to your album or EP. Be subtle by putting the link of the site in your email signature or comment signature.
Part 5 is HERE
Up until recently, my approach to marketing my music was a lot like the following conversation:
Q. How do you make a cake?
A. Follow the recipe.
Q. What if I have no recipe?
A. I don’t know. Then just throw a bunch of whatever you think is the right stuff in a bowl and see what happens.
Hmmm…….more like a recipe for disaster. Or a lump of stuff in a bowl.
What has happened recently is that I encountered Music Marketing Manifesto (Disclaimer: I have nothing to gain by telling you about this. I just like passing on good stuff.), designed by John Oszajca. A couple of years ago, I got a message from Indie Contact Newsletter, which I’d been subscribed to for two or three years. The subject was “Open up. You’re going to like this.” And they were right. Enter, the recipe.
Inside was this message:
“Go here and watch this free video:
It’s a training video called “Music Marketing Blueprint” and it was created by Major Label Recording Artist turned Music Marketing Guru, John Oszajca.
John recently took a debut artist with NO radio play, NO video play, and NO touring, and helped him set CDbaby’s all time single day sales record. They even made the Billboard charts.
John has decided to share his exact music marketing strategy.”
Just to put this in perspective, Disc Makers sends me messages called “Facebook Marketing Tips”, that have mostly to do with building a relationship between yourself and your fans. Never a bad idea, of course. But does it sell music? Well …..not so much…..
And I get the CD Baby messages too, and their podcast for DIY musicians, which is fun to listen to while running in the morning in my neighborhood. They send me emails with titles like this: “YouTube: the most important thing in your career”, which goes on to extoll the virtues of “sharability”. Again, useful information, but does it sell music?
John has a …. well …. manifesto on his site. The opening lines are:
“Selling your music online comes down to two very simple things.
2. Selling to that traffic.
That really is all there is to it. And while there is obviously a lot more involved when it comes to the implementation of those two things, if you stay focused on those principles and focus all your marketing efforts on those simple ideas alone, you WILL ultimately see results.”
On the site, John has detailed videos that he’s made, describing how to set up a page to entice potential customers to sign up for your mailing list (enticed mainly by your offer of a free song), including templates for the sign-up page and a thank-you page, and instructions about using your email marketing site, creating an auto-responder, and how to upload all of these to a site where they can be used.
You can go see mine at http://janseidesmusic.com
The next part of the course is how to use this “squeeze page” concept in various contexts: Facebook, Twitter, the writing of articles. For example, John shows you how to set up a Facebook ad, and one idea for creating one. Or how to create an article that presents an interesting idea, and, oh, by the way, if you like this music, you might like mine. Or how to create relationships on Twitter, where you can eventually lead people to your marketing site. There is a forum for discussing these things, along with things like Search Engine Optimization (I found out the meaning that phrase because of Music Marketing Manifesto!)
And John has a podcast (which I found on iTunes) where he talks to people who are using his marketing ideas on YouTube, or to create a market for house concerts, or quite a few other moderately to wildly successful implementations. He and his business partner who handles support, Steve, also use the podcast to answer questions people have asked, and there is a comment section below each video where questions are answered as well. Among the many people whose comments I’ve seen below the videos, one was from Badi Assad. (If you don’t know who that is, you are missing some REALLY great guitar playing.)
On the podcast, you can also learn how to respond to the new people on your mailing list in terms of relationships … and possible music sales. In other words, this is the whole package. The recipe.
It took more than two years for me to get around to doing something with all of this. But now, you see, I have this new CD I just put out (which you could have a free song or two from. Just sayin’). I hope it doesn’t take you that long.
In the next segment, I’ll be talking about one of the more unusual ideas I’ve encountered in my quest to figure out how to drive traffic to my site and to my music.
You’ll find the next part HERE