music morsels

Adam Rich

December 2006 


by Mark E. Waterbury

Where do you want your music career to be on Dec. 31st, 2007?

As 2006 draws to a close, we hope that you have considered Music Morsels a valuable resource as well as enjoyable reading. We have interviewed musicians that have achieved successes, up and comers who are working hard at it, and industry professionals essential to musicians survival. We have also written our own articles on various subjects, all tying together our paradigm of providing advice on furthering your music career. Everyone interviewed, as well as our own staff have been in the trenches in this business, fighting for that often elusive level of success. Whether you agree with or heed the advice dispensed in Music Morsels is up to you, but we feel we have given our readers an encyclopedia of ways and ideas to help you climb that ladder of success.

We are approaching the date where the calendar flips to 2007, when the tradition of making New Years resolutions befalls us. People can make the usual resolutions; losing weight, getting a raise at work, painting the house, quitting smoking...the list is endless. Also unfortunately the list is often pointless, as the tradition of not following through with your resolutions is almost as prevalent as creating them. If you are one of those people who believe that the beginning of a year is an epochal event that requires you do something different, or make some massive improvement or change in your life, here are some suggestions for essential resolutions for bands and musicians, culled from our previous issues, and condensed for your convenience:

- We will tour our butts off

It is amazing how so many musicians refuse to understand or accept that live performing is one of if not THE most important way to market yourself in the music world. This can lead to income from booking fees, CD and merch sales, increased fan bases, and a greater chance of getting noticed by the media, labels, distributors and other professionals essential to your career. If you look back at our Crossroads interviews, you will notice nearly every successful musician or band has achieved their success by being tenacious performers. It is simple; if you don’t play out, your career will most likely go nowhere.

- We will do everything we can to promote gigs, CDs, etc.

When you book a gig, don’t just sit on it and do nothing until you show up at the gig and expect it will be well-attended. Yes, the club has a certain responsibility to promote the show, but you can’t rely on that. Rely on yourselves, and get the word out to the media and your fans. If you have the money, get a publicist involved who can get you covered in the applicable media outlets. Connect with your fans so you have a street team who can help spread the word. Also keep in touch with your fans personally, and use web resources such as Myspace to try to find new fans in markets you haven’t played in before. Get out and hand out flyers at the club a week or two before you play there, and talk to people. This type of grass roots approach also helps when marketing a new CD or video release.

- We will keep our egos in check

Everyone has egos, but it is important for the musician to channel their egos primarily in honing your craft, and making sure you songwriting, recording, and live portrayal of your music is as high a quality as possible. It is good to be proud of your musical creation, however your pride can’t cloud what you have to do to get the music to the masses. If your ego tells you that your music is so good that all you have to do is send it out to labels or whoever and that is all you have to do to get the offers to start pouring in, you are in serious trouble. Also remember to keep your egos in check in your dealings with fellow band members. Over-inflated egos have too often become the destroyer of a bands chemistry.

- We will listen to, work with and respect the industry professionals that are trying to help us

When you bring a music business professional into your team, whether they are a booking agent, manager, publicist or radio promoter, you need to heed their advice and direction - especially with managers. For the most part, these people are in the business because A: they know what they are doing and B: they love music and want to help bands. It is amazing how many musicians bring in professionals and then resist everything they say; this goes with the ego problems again. Most musicians have to face that they do NOT know that much about the workings of the business side. They need to concentrate on the artistic facets and let their business people handle the business end, and follow through with their advice.

- We will be honest and straightforward and maintain integrity in all our actions

It just does not pay to lie, over inflate yourself, be deceitful, or hide things from anyone in your life in general, particularly those you work with. Lies are bound to come back around and bite you where it hurts. If you make false claims about others, or deceitfully pump yourself up to get something in this business, that will come around to haunt you. The cliche “honesty is the best policy” rings true in the music industry, whether you want to accept that or not.  

- We will work together with other musicians and bands

Stabbing other bands or musicians in the back just does not help the overall health of the indie music scene. Banding together and helping each other out to form a sort of community can make you stronger to combat against the major label business machinery, and help improve everyone's chances of getting a larger chunk of the pie.

- We will endeavor to communicate with fellow band mates, fans, and business professionals

When you write a song and sing it to people, you are communicating, right? Communication is essential in every day life and imperative for musicians. Keep a running dialogue with your business team about band happenings, so they can help your efforts in any way they can. Talk to each other so if there are any problems or concerns they can be aired and solved before they fester and become major difficulties. And PLEASE keep in touch with your fans. Treat them like family, this is highly important because the more you interact with your fans, the greater the chance that they will become an integral facet in  spreading the word about your music

- We will honor our commitments and keep our word

This goes hand in hand with honesty. If you book a gig, don’t cancel it unless there is an extreme emergency, and I mean extreme. If you schedule an interview, do it. If you say you are going to do this or do that, follow through with it. You need to be reliable in the eyes of your fans and bandmates, and most importantly, with business professionals you may be working with. If they see you as a flake because you blow off your commitments and break your word, that would be a severe detriment to your career.

- We will invest in our careers

Although most indie musicians don’t make a lot of money at the start, you still need to find ways to reinvest the money you make into your career. A band is like a small business, just like a coffee shop or hardware store. You have to spend money to make money. This means watch your budget (don’t blow all your booking fees on drinks at the bar!) so you can buy better equipment, record CDs, get merch to sell, hire publicists and promoters, and perform outside your local area. Very few bands who have made it big have done so without financial sacrifices and investments in their careers.

- We will find as many ways as possible to make money in this business

In keeping with treating your music career as a small business, you have to develop as many revenue streams as possible. Of course gigs can make you money, but you have to make sure that you have CDs and merch to sell especially if it is your first time in a club where you may not get much of a booking fee. Make sure you aggressively hawk those products during a gig. Try to book your band at festivals and colleges where the pay may be better. Find every outlet possible to sell your CDs, there are plenty on the internet these days. Sell on-line down loads. Work on getting your music into film, TV or advertising. Make sure all your songs are registered so you can get publishing royalties. You have to hustle in this business to keep your head above water, and to be able to further invest in your career to increase your possibility of success.

Well, there they are. Maybe some of you will affirm these resolutions on January 1st, and may even heed some of them. To be honest, when you really look at it, a calendar is not necessary to change or improve something about your music career or your life in general for that matter. For example, right now may be the holiday season, but if you are out there promoting your music you could get the jump on others, particularly with the media, as the majors really have slowed down on their new releases and press campaigns. So this last “resolution” is perhaps the one you should take to heart first before applying the aforementioned ones:

- We will apply these “resolutions” YEAR ROUND, EVERY YEAR, EVERY DAY, 24-7!

We wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season, and a prosperous and successful new year!

Division of Serge Entertainment Group