If you’re an indie musician, you’re not going to like what I have to say. You need to back off. If you’re trying to promote an indie musician, you need to back off even more. The same is true if you are DirectTV. I’m just sick of the lot of you.
I manage a few Twitter accounts and I have noticed a trend. People in the music business can annoy you like nobody else. I manage one account that has nothing to do with music. One day I followed CDBaby and suddenly I was followed by a dozen music promoters and indie musicians. Once I explained I wasn’t an artist trying to be the next big thing, I was dropped — easy come, easy go. I can’t imagine how much attention the leading producers and artists get. It must be incessant, like getting 70 DirectTV mailings a day.
So, why am I being so mean? Because these interactions drip with desperation. Desperate people don’t get an audience, they just get more and more desperate. I recommend you start by reading Quitter by Jon Acuff. It will remind you that hustle and arrogance are not the same thing, and that it’s still important to feed yourself.
My next bit of advice is exactly what I’ve said before, “build relationships, not followings.” Very few artists are “discovered,” in fact I think that might be a myth. The highly successful artists have learned how to meet people, establish rapport, and they have perfected their craft. Some of the best advice I’ve read has been in the book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon. To sum it up, don’t ask too much of stars. Many of them are burned out and tired of people taking. If you don’t believe me, watch this photo op for American Horror Story. Now, decide if you really want fame. If you still do, read further. If you don’t, make music for the people you love and find a job that either gives you fulfillment or time to do what you really love.
Here’s the magic formula!
- Figure out who you are, this is your brand.
- Get really good at what you do, mind-blowingly awesome. If you are in Pop, this will involve singing while you dance. Start warming up on a treadmill.
- Perform every chance you get.
- Focus your social media campaign on gigs, videos, and releases. Use hashtags appropriate to your performance area (local people look for these and it increases your shares).
- Get out and meet people at conventions, workshops, and through professional friends.
- Learn the fine art of schmoozing. Schmoozing is 90% listening and 10% contributing something witty to the conversation.
- Learn to be gracious with criticism. You will receive more of that than praise.
- Learn to read body language. If the person you’re talking to looks exhausted, don’t push.
- Collaborate every chance you get.
- Find something else, if you find you don’t love it.