I was talking to a musician last week who was complaining about how, although he’s a well-respected musician in his local area, he can’t get anyone he meets online to take him seriously.
“I’ve got a website and a link for people to subscribe and get free music. I’m giving away 7 of my BEST songs! But I can’t get anyone to sign up. And the few that do, never buy anything,” he told me.
I checked out his music and he plays quite well, actually. So I know it has nothing to do with his skill.
The next obvious culprit was his online presence. So I took a gander at that and some of the reasons he hasn’t yet become an internet sensation were glaringly obvious.
First of all, giving away 7 polished studio versions of your best songs attracts the wrong type of fans. That’s the kind of offer that attracts “freebie-seekers”.
Those are the people who will gobble up all the free bonus content that you give to your community and then submit a spam complaint when you make on offer to buy something.
You don’t want those leeches in your “fanmunity”. And it’s up to YOU to curate a community that will support you financially.
That’s why I rejoice whenever someone that unsubscribes complains about how my emails have no value and I’m just trying to sell them crap. Those people obviously don’t appreciate what I have to offer. And all of my solid advice is wasted on them.
So I’m glad to see them go.
You should have the same standards for your own fanmunity. You deserve it. But its up to you to take ownership of making it happen.
The other problem with his offer is that fact that when you give away 7 songs from your studio albums (even if they are from a mix of albums) you devalue your music and take away their incentive to buy it.
I know music biz teachers who will tell you otherwise, but the truth is that there is NOT a “magic number” of songs that will make your subscriber bonus attractive to the kinds of fans you want.
There IS, however, a “magic word”.
The next thing I looked at was his website. The first thing I always look for on a musician’s website is the squeeze page. And he had no such thing. In fact, the subscriber opt-in form was all the way at the bottom of his site in the footer.
NO WONDER no one was signing up! They couldn’t even figure out where to subscribe if they wanted!
Of course you SHOULD have an opt-in form on your website. But NOT in the footer. Make sure it is visible near the top of every page so people can see it without scrolling.
But if you’re really serious about growing your email list, you NEED a squeeze page. The sidebar opt-in form is small potatoes compared to what you can do with a squeeze page.
Let me put that into numbers for you:
For the standard sidebar opt-in form that you see on most musician’s websites, about 2%-4% of the people who see it will subscribe to their email list.
A squeeze page, on the other hand, will convert more like 30%-40% of the people who visit it into subscribers. Especially if you set it up how I show you.
The next thing I looked at were some of his social media profiles.
And they were pretty plain. Certainly not optimized to help him get any email addresses. His header image and profile pic were basically a picture of him playing guitar on a background of a different picture of him playing guitar.
He hadn’t even filled out his bio!
Optimizing your online presence is crucial to be taken seriously as a musician online.
No matter how well you play, no one is going to hear you if your online presence makes you look like an amateur.
That’s why “Online Presence Optimization” is one of the first modules in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.
And for those of you who are considering joining, I’ve decided to make the replay of the webinar I did on that topic available for you to preview.
In it I tell you all about the “magic word” and how to attract the RIGHT kinds of fans…
I show you what a squeeze page is and exactly how to make a great one…
I even show you how to set up your social media profiles in a way that directs traffic toward your email list…
A lot of music biz teachers will tell you that you should commit time to releasing cover songs on YouTube because you’ll get all kinds of organic growth and attention.
I’m not saying that they’re are lying to you. But I will tell you that they’re not giving you the whole story.
In fact, as far as I’m concerned, they’re sending you on a wild goose chase. And there are MUCH better things to spend your time on.
It’s true that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. So if you post songs that people are ALREADY looking for, you can show up in those searches.
So your Lady Gaga covers might get some traction. But your TOTO covers probably won’t.
(Interesting side note: “TOTO” is also a brand of toilets in Japan which caused major confusion during their first Asian tour.)
Now back to your regularly scheduled programing…
In order to REALLY make that strategy work, what you have to do is cover POPULAR songs as soon as they are released. I’m talking the DAY they are released or within a few days at most.
Remember when Adelle released “Hello” and everybody and their cousin covered it on YouTube?
The problem there is that you put yourself in a situation with a LOT of competition…
…AND you’re playing someone else’s songs.
So if your goal is to build an audience for your ORIGINAL music, before you put anymore time into YouTube covers you should try something different.
Just trust me…
And follow my instructions exactly for a 7-day Facebook Live challenge.
Here are the rules:
Each day go on Facebook Live and play one of YOUR songs.
Don’t do it from your fan page. Do it from your personal profile. More people will see it that way.
Before you hit “Go Live” add a link to your squeeze page in the video description.
Mention 3 different calls-to-action during the broadcast:
1: ”Please turn on my live notifications.”
2: “Please share this video or invite people to join.”
3: “Please subscribe to my email list.”
I promise that if you do that for 7 days in a row, you will not only get MORE subscribers and engagement out of it than your last attempt at a YouTube cover, you’ll do it playing your own songs.
For extra credit try it out on other platforms where you can broadcast live like: Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube.
Not only will it help you identify which social media platforms are the most responsive for YOUR original music, you can also repurpose the videos as blog posts for your own website and put them into rotation as content that sends traffic there!
In the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program we not only talk about how you can use Facebook Live to grow your community, we also go into great detail about how to MONETIZE it.
Just ask Bad Mary, a punk band from New York who made a couple hundred bucks the FIRST time they broadcasted a rehearsal on Facebook Live.
Here’s a question I get every now and again… and again:
“What does ‘Schwilly Family’ mean?”
The short answer is: A “Schwilly” is the ultimate community oriented music super-fan.
A bunch of us used to reek havoc across the midwest music festival scene. ESPECIALLY Hookahville. At some point along the way, someone announced, “We’re a family of Schwillies!”
The name of my business is a tribute to where I came from and, more importantly, a constant reminder of WHY I do it.
When I gave one musician that answer to his question, he proceeded to tell me about how is wife busted out laughing at the name.
Well, that’s ANOTHER great benefit to the Schwilly Family “brand”! It comes with free smiles included 😉 And it’s a HECK of a lot catchier than “Music Marketing This” or “Music Business That”.
Remember: You’re not really building an “audience”. It’s more like you’re starting a club, a group of soon-to-be friends, or found family. Isn’t that a MUCH cooler thing than trying to be part of an “industry”?
The MOST IMPORTANT element of a “brand” is a feeling of belonging to an EXCLUSIVE group of people you respect and appreciate.
A LOT of people told me I was crazy for using “Schwilly Family” as my brand. And the truth is, it’s NOT for everybody. And it’s not meant to be.
It’s for YOU.
And I KNOW that being “Schwilly” has become a part of your identity and a badge you wear with pride. That, my friend, is what creates a TRULY great “brand”.
The fact that outsiders have no idea what it refers to is irrelevant. Because creating a brand that is MEANINGFUL is much more valuable than creating a brand that is instantly recognizable.
“Apple” certainly didn’t become synonymous with “computers” overnight!
If I had to sum up “branding” in once sentence, I would say: “Branding is NOTHING MORE than figuring out what you’re all about and learning how to express it.”
It can also be summed up (even better) by a quote from Simon Sinek:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.”
One of the biggest problems with the educational resources you come across online nowadays is a tendency to overcomplicate things.
Many educators feel that, in order to provide value that equals the price they charge, they must to give you 10 hours of videos, complete with excessive jargon and complicated explanations…
…as if the harder it is for you to learn, the more valuable it is.
I have figured out that I can provide more VALUE in 5 minutes by giving you information in a way that you understand, which you can apply and see RESULTS from on the same day I give it to you.
Pretty much everything we do in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program contributes to building your “brand”. But you’ll probably never hear me use that word again.
Musicians can be the targets of a LOT of harsh words.
It sucks when coming from strangers. But it cuts EXTRA deep when they come from “supposed” friends.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
“Are you enjoying your hobby?”
“Honestly, I think your band sucks and I’d rather be dead than caught on a stage with you.”
“You’ll never make money doing that. When are you going to get a REAL job?”
“You’re just a singer. Not a REAL musician. Besides, you’re only a woman so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You can’t fill a phone both with people that want to hear YOUR music!”
“You’re a musician, right? Can I get some weed from you?”
“Where are you playing next? So I can NOT be there.”
“Your music sucks!”
“You look like Muhammed Ali’s retarded cousin when you rap!”
“Gosh you’re so talented! Why don’t you put on some makeup, you know, fix yourself up a little, lose some weight and do some songs people actually know?”
Or one of my personal favs:
“Dude! If I hear another self-promotion about your shytty band I’m gonna fyck you up! Yes, I watched your videos and you can’t sing worth shyt! You give Utah a bad name and image, the only reason you’re ranked on ReverbNation is because ALL YOU DO is sit home and are an internet slut, do you play anywhere besides Fats?? Mishell is too nice to say no. I am going to message every bluesman in town and let them know you’re a fraud and if it weren’t for the internet you’d be unheard of! Every time I log in I get raped by 10,000 of your posts! SHUT THE FUCJ UP BEFORE I POST PUBLIC HOW SHYTTY YOU REALLY ARE STICK TO ART YOU TONE DEF FRAUD!”
My standard, practical advice normally consists of “Haters are a sign of success” and, “That’s the beauty of the internet, you can block those people”.
But the other night, during office hours for the “Musicpreneur Apprentice Program” we dove a bit deeper and I shared some advice that I’m sure you could use as well.
It comes from a book I recommend called “The Four Agreements”(by Don Miguel Ruiz). It’s a practical guide to personal freedom and inner peace, based on Ancient Toltec Wisdom.
There are 4 agreements you can make that will give you immunity to such cutting remarks. Fortunately, you make these agreements with yourself, so there ARE within reach:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and action of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama, With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
Of course I, myself, have not yet perfected these agreements. But anytime I feel down, I review them to see if I am breaking one of them. It always turns out that I am. I now have the tools to undo the damage that is done to my psyche by harsh words from others, AND from myself. And I want YOU to have these tools at your disposal as well 😉
Can YOU make these agreements with yourself? I believe that you can!
For more wisdom, advice and inspiration for independent musicians, subscribe to my email list using the link, wherever it may be.
If you know any musicians that have been on the receiving end of such harsh words, which by my calculation would be EVERY musician you know, please share this with them. That’s all for today 😉
Let’s talk about the “Music Industry” for a moment.
What IS that?
According to one un-subscriber who told to me: “You don’t know S@!T about the Music Industry”, I’m not qualified to answer that question.
And the truth is, I don’t.
I don’t care to. I don’t need to. And you don’t either.
What I DO KNOW are: Music and Business. I studied them separately and built a BRAND NEW bridge between them. And that bridge is a LOT easier to cross when you don’t have a herd of greedy trolls weighing you down.
I’ve never worked for a major label, or publisher, or any of the other corporate, conglomerate, or otherwise congealed entities that make up the “Music Industry”.
If I had, I might be just another cog in their machine. Perpetuating the GREAT LIE in music: That YOU need THEM!
They do everything they can to make you believe that in order to achieve success (which I’m sure they would define differently than us Musicpreneurs), you have to spend the the Gross Domestic Product of a small country on building your audience. Or that you need connections ONLY THEY can provide in order to receive opportunities.
Well I’m here today (everyday, in fact), to call B.S. on the music industry’s GREAT LIE.
This LIE causes countless musicians spend crazy amounts of money on all the wrong things, just because they are trying to emulate the antiquated “Label System”.
Well I’ve got news for ya… That system never really worked. DEFINITELY never in a FAIR way.
Musicians gradually lose support from their families and friends as they miss important events and flush unimaginable of sums down the toilet for the slightest chance at “getting discovered” only to find dissapoinment.
Can you blame them? They hate to see you suffer. And so do I.
Now that we have tools like email and social media that help us connect DIRECTLY with our fans and other music professionals, there’s no reason to follow such a treacherous path anymore.
The path to making money is: Growth > Engagement > Monetization.
You can’t skip any steps. And you MUST do them in THAT order.
Releases (like albums), are for Monetization. If you don’t have anyone to sell it to, it makes NO business sense to spend lot of money recording one REGARDLESS of what the elite, uber-expensive, studios tell you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.
Releases (like videos and other things that aren’t for sale), are content for Engagement. It makes NO Business sense to spend a lot of money on video production if no one is going to see it REGARDLESS of what the fancy videographer or “music industry insider” tells you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.
Releases are not very useful for growth.
EVERYDAY I watch in horror as as musicians pour ridiculous amounts of money into trying to force releases to stimulate growth, while COMPLETELY overlooking ACTUAL growth and engagement.
The BEST growth costs time. MUCH more than it costs money.
For example: The exception to the rule about videos that I mentioned above is “Cover Songs”. Since YouTube is a major search engine (2nd only to Google), if you post videos of songs that people are ALREADY LOOKING FOR you’ll get some growth. Well-targeted growth at that!
It doesn’t cost any money to do that. But it does cost more time than many musicians seem to be willing to invest. PROBABLY because the GREAT LIE has convinced them that they must, instead, spend money.
The path I’ve forged to “Success in Music” is simple and MUCH more cost effective than the GREAT LIE would want you to believe. Especially for those of us who have “real life” and “day jobs” to manage along with our musical ambitions.
In early 2017, through my upcoming “Musicpreneur Apprentice” program, I’ll be able to take you by the hand and lead you down the path to “Success in Music” at a cost to you that will make music industry insiders HATE me.