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…

And a bunch of other important stuff, too.

Click here to check it out…

And if you’re ready to take ownership of your career, go ahead and…

Click here to enroll in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

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.”

That’s it.

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.

You in? Here’s the link to join:

http://schwillyfamilymusicians.teachable.com/p/musicpreneurapprenticeprogram/

I saw a discussion on Facebook the other day. A bunch of musicians were discussing whether it’s better to release singles, or to wait and release a full CD. The answer is, of course, there is no pat answer. It depends.

But one of the musicians brought up the following points about releasing singles.

  • Too many releases could get annoying
  • People would take some of the songs for granted since there’s no expectation or anticipation.
  • It’s too predictable and doesn’t build interest/wet the appetite of potential fans.

Who Is Your Favorite Musical Artist?

I know a married couple that goes to Bruce Springsteen concerts, every chance they get. They fly to different cities to see him. Recently, when he was on his book tour, the woman couldn’t make it to see him in Seattle, where she lives. So, she went to Portland to have a chance to meet him.

Maybe you have a band that you love as much. It might be an indie, or underground band, and not somebody huge. Whoever it is, would you mind if they put out a single every month? Or would you want to wait 8 months or a year, for a full CD? How often would you like to be contacted by them? Is once a month good? Maybe once a week? Or would you like to see their living room, watch them record, know what they had for dinner, have an online Q & A with them, watch them play scrabble on the tour bus?

The answer is of course, that it depends. But most superfans like to be contacted more, rather than less.

One Superfan Is Worth How Many Lukewarm Fans?

A superfan will share your music. A superfan will like, comment on and/or share almost every Facebook post, watch every YouTube video, and read every tweet. They will buy nearly everything you put out. They are invested in you.

A lukewarm fan will like a few of your Facebook posts, but they probably won’t share them. They’ll say, “Nice job!”, or leave a smiley face. Maybe 10% of them will buy your CD when it comes out.

Although the percentages may not be exactly 80/20, that old rule applies. A minority of your fans will be responsible for the majority of your success.  So, you should be set up to please your superfans, not your lukewarm fans. And you should be doing things that turn your lukewarm fans into superfans.

Who Should You Nurture?

Nurture your superfans. Give them as much content as they want (if you can). Don’t worry about the rest, too much.

I run an internet business (unrelated to music). I have an email list of several thousand folks. Whenever I get an email from one of them, especially a complaint, I check a couple of things right away.

  1. How long have they been on my email list?
  2. Have they ever bought anything from me?

If they’ve bought something from me, I know they’re invested. We have a relationship. They’ve demonstrated their commitment. I take their concern seriously, and address it as quickly as possible. If they’ve been on my email list for a couple of years, but haven’t bought anything, I take what they say with a grain of salt. The chances are., if they haven’t bought anything from me, or interacted with me in a memorable way, my message hasn’t resonated with them.

Here’s my point. If you try to please everyone, you won’t please many. You’ll move away from what you’re passionate about, and then everyone loses. If you do more of what you’re passionate about, you will attract those that resonate with it. Then, what do you do about people who aren’t quite into what you do? Well, don’t worry about them. They’re not who you should focus on.

You Need Regular Fans, Too

Not every fan is going to be a super-fan. While super-fans will probably be responsible for maybe half of your success, you need regular fans too. You might have an email list of 10,000 people, and only 500 of them are super-fans. But the 9,500 that are left, will make up the rest of your success.

My suggestion is to do your best to convert regular fans into super-fans. Beyond that, just keep engaging with them. The least of your worries should be contacting folks too much. If they aren’t that interested, they’ll remove yourself from their list. If you lose people, it won’t be the dedicated fans, it will be the lukewarm ones.

How Often Should I Contact People Who Like My Music?

One of the ways you can avoid over-contacting people is to have different channels that you create content for at different intervals. You can tweet 4 times a day, post to your Facebook fan page 4 times a day, send to your email list once a week, and post a YouTube video every two weeks (I’m just picking numbers out of a hat — it’s not a suggested schedule).

If somebody wants less contact than once/week, they’re not that interested. If that’s all they can handle, they can sign up for email. If they’re a super fan, they may want to be involved in all your doings.

But at a bare minimum, I’d suggest contact once a week. It doesn’t always have to be a new piece of music. You can talk about writing, what song you’re working on, the recording process, your journey as a musician, a cause you find important, or your cat. Less than once a week, and people will lose track of you, and forget who you are.

Singles Vs. CDs Or EPs

A lot goes into the decision of whether to release music as singles, or wait until there’s enough fro a CD or EP. Personally, I lean toward releasing singles, and then when you get enough, do a CD. Singles give you a chance to engage more often. Maybe, once you get enough tracks for a CD, you can do some live versions and remixes for the CD, and add a couple of tracks that you don’t release as singles.

Also, if you don’t have a big backlog of recorded material, singles can be a way of getting started delivering music to fans, without waiting months for a larger project.

Of course, I record at home, on a computer. When you’re recording a full band in the studio, it’s going to be much more economical to do a bunch of songs at once. It means you’ll probably only have to set up and mic the drum set once, for instance. You can still release the songs as single though, if you want.

In the entertainment business, think of yourself as a spider. Your web is your life. It shelters you. If you have a poorly constructed web, when the rain comes, you will be washed out. It feeds you.

A spider with no web, catches no flies and thus, will starve to death. Spiders weave their webs with purpose to attain certain goals for themselves. They do not build webs for other spiders.

Think of your web as the network you build.

A strong web has strong anchor points. The professional contacts that you make, and relationships you forge with them, are your anchor points. Strong anchor points are developed by conducting yourself and your business as professionally as you can at all times.

The intersecting strands of your web represent your fan base. These strands are equally as important as the anchor points. With a larger fan base comes bigger and better opportunities with greater frequency, which allows you to continue to grow your network.

Spiders never stop maintaining and building their webs. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cheat or shortcut in this area though. By purchasing likes, follows, views, etc. for your social media pages you are only tarnishing your credibility. It’s not difficult for those anchor points, that you are working so hard to gain, to figure out. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse.

A good example is a Facebook page with 10,000 likes and a corresponding YouTube channel with minimal views, or a Twitter account with 25,000 followers and a Spotify profile with minimal plays.

Your REAL credibility lies in your ability to put REAL bodies in REAL venues on a consistent basis. In short, it’s better to have 1000 real fans than 10,000 fakes. After all, you can’t market your music or your merchandise to fake fans.

And, while it may look good to a few venues when you are starting out, word will quickly spread among talent buyers and other industry professionals (Yes they do talk to each other, they call that networking) that you are the artist with the bogus fan base, who can’t draw a stick figure.

Guess who is not getting invited back?

What you need is a fan base comprised of legitimate and highly targeted real people. Furthermore, you can’t just try to sell to these people constantly. You must interact with them and get to know them first. Be easily accessible, open a line of communication, and treat them like friends.

You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

You should be using your social channels to attract and entertain people, and to direct them to your website. Why?…

Because your website should be geared at getting them to sign up for your email list, which you should also be pitching at your shows, on all of your social channels, and even on your videos. Yes, the age old email list is still one of the most effective marketing tools that you have at your disposal.

Think about it, your email list is your direct link, that only you control, to engage and market to your targeted audience on a personal level.

Also, consider this, if someone is interested enough in you (and or) your music to grant you access to their inbox, the potential for future sales to that person is considerably higher than say the average person scrolling through their news feed. They are essentially giving you permission to directly contact and market to them.

The key lies in building relationships and trust from your subscribers and your ability to consistently deliver the relative content they want to consume. Ask questions in your emails and when people respond, follow up. Make your correspondence as personal as possible. Make them feel like they are included in your journey and not just being sold to. It will go a long way in developing trust and interest in your BRAND, if the people on your list feel like they are a part of your life, your family; As opposed to cattle being funneled into the barn for milking.

All of the social media platforms are constantly changing the rules on who sees what you post, when, and how often. You spend countless hours, days, weeks, even years building an audience for your page. Then, in order to reach all of that audience, the platform wants you to pay to advertise to your own following. You may own the page or account, but THEY own the network and THEY make the rules.

This is why it is so important to build your own network. One where YOU make the rules. If you’re a spider, the people on your email list are your flies. Ultimately, the spiders who weave the tightest webs with the strongest anchors catch the most flies.

Nope, that’s not a typo… Branding is a topic I’ll cover in a later article.

Ask The Captain: Episode II – Monetizing Your Email List

Posted by Carlos Castillo on Thursday, March 10, 2016