Here’s the deal:

For the past 30-40 years musicians have been releasing albums. Many times the time between those albums was a year or more.

Many bands and musicians these days still model their own release schedules after this same one.

This is a mistake.

These days you should learning how to release a single and doing it often.

Here’s why.

Why Singles?

A few years back I started to notice that fans were starting to shun albums.

This led me to try an experiment. For a full year, I released one single of my own music once per month.

Here is what I discovered.

1) You Stay Relevant

Assuming you are not god, and can whip out a full album every month, making your fans wait 6 months to a year (or more) between releases is an eternity these days.

Especially when there is so much else going on in the lives of the music fans that we are trying to win over.

By releasing singles, you stay relevant in a music market where releasing music only 1 or 2 times a year is almost the same as releasing nothing at all.

2) You Build A Loyal Fan Base Faster

When you release music, you are essentially opening the up the lines of communication with your fans. The more often that you release music, the faster you and your fans are going to get to know each other.

By releasing singles, you create a loyal fan base faster. A fan base that gets in the habit of getting music from you on a regular basis. They begin to anticipate each release. You win.

3) You Crush Procrastination

By releasing singles you replace procrastination with the sense of purpose that is created from frequent delivery of music.

You can’t sit around and wonder why your career is going nowhere because you have work to do.

4) You Get Paid More Often

Get paid 8 – 12 times per year instead of just once or twice.

If you are willing to put in the time and effort, releasing singles is a great strategy. But how?

How to Release a Singles

Like I mentioned earlier,  I released singles as often as possible over the course of a year (once per month on average).

The following is a rough system I’ve developed which has worked pretty well in some areas but, I’m sure, could use some improvement.

I’ve divided the process into 3 parts; Preparations, Distribution and Amplification.

Here goes:

Preparation

I usually create videos, credits, lyrics, album art, and a blog post up front and have them located in a single folder so when I get to start uploading and filling out album data. Nothing slows you down faster then having to stop everything to dig around for stuff.

Distribution

Time to upload songs, videos and whatever else for distribution. This should be fairly painless if did your job in the preparation phase.

For my song files, I use Bandcamp as my main store where I try to send the bulk of my traffic on release day. I also used CDBaby for my music distribution to services like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.

For videos, I just used YouTube. In the past I’ve added videos to other sites like Vimeo and have used use a video distribution service like OneLoad too. Just takes more time and I am only a one man operation. For now, I get enough bang for my buck on YouTube. Really depends on how much time you have and what sort of presence you will have on the other platforms.

Once everything is live on your distribution channels, complete and publish your blog post.

Amplification

Now that everything is set up it is time to start telling your world via what I’m calling Amplification  (could be a better term but it just sounds more musciany don’t you think?

Anyway…).

I started by contacting everyone in my email list (if you don’t have one you are screwing yourself).

Then I make my rounds in the social media world as well as reach out to any blogs, radio and podcast contacts that have featured my music in the past.

There’s More Though

That is the gist.

Everything I’ve listed above should give you a pretty good idea of why and how to release a single.

But, if you’re the kind of musician who wants to dig deeper and improve your chances of creating the maximum amount of buzz, adding new fans and selling all the singles you can, check out my free ebook “Sell More Singles.”

“Sell More Singles” contains an in-depth outline of the entire single release process.

Stuff like;

  • How to prepare your files for distribution,
  • Which services to use to distribute your single on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
  • Where to promote your single
  • and more

Sound cool or what?

It is but I am biased. Go check it out for yourself.

Click here to get a FREE copy of my ebook “Sell More Singles” – You will see exactly how I built my fan base faster, generated more buzz and sold more music by releasing singles.

Get to it!

As musicians, our primary focus is on making music and finding ways to grow our fan base.

As entrepreneurs, our primary focus is on expanding our business and grow our revenue streams.

Other things we need to do to grow get in the way like marketing and promotion. So we turn to social media like Facebook and Twitter to make this easier. Yet when we go to social sites, we find other stuff that takes our focus away.

How to gain the focus we need to succeed

I know this and still I find myself distracted by the amount of other things to do that take my time, energy, focus, and attention. Do you find yourself distracted, especially online on places like Twitter and Facebook? You’re not alone. While trying to use these platforms to let your fans know about your next gig or product offering, you find yourself swamped with hundreds of videos, GIFs, and other posts that take your focus away.

What if you had just one little secret that allowed you to get the word out and grow your fan base that didn’t require a ton of time or money?
And what if I told you not just one, but a few different ways to do this, each producing their own degrees of success for you?

Sounds like a winner, so let’s cut to the chase and get you rolling.

I’m all about simplifying how you do things for growth and success. It’s easier to remember when the process is just one or two steps. And when we achieve results in a timely manner, it makes repeating those easy steps even easier to do because you know it works.

Grow your fan base with this one trick on Twitter

Here’s one way to grow your audience today: Go on Twitter and engage with just one of your followers. Pick someone you don’t know well and start a conversation with them. You can just ask a question or say hello.

How this serves you is it starts a dialogue. And it shows you how your audience engages with what you do. Make the start of your conversation about them, not about you. Here’s why: People are more interested in themselves than anyone else. If you want to get someone’s attention, make the focus on them instead of on you.

Here’s an example from a conversation I started a few weeks ago:

DGrantTwitter
A conversation on Twitter gets the fan more engaged with you as a human and not just this person or musician they happen to follow. Somewhere in the ongoing chat you can mention a song you have that you want to share with them and send them a link, or you can ask them a question about the music they’re listening to. Once a conversation is taking place, you have a more receptive avenue to get your music in front of an engaged participant.

That’s one more engaged fan, and all it took was a focused approach instead of a blanket post sent out to no one in particular.

Grow your fan base with this one growth hacking trick with radio

Musicians, here’s one more simple way to grow your fan base and have the potential to impact a greater number of people: listen to an indie radio station online who plays music similar to yours. Spend a little time enjoying their programming and finding something about the station you really enjoy.

Then go to the station’s Contact or About Us page and find the email for the Music Director/Program Manager. Send them an email saying how much you enjoy their programming today, in particular the part you heard that really stood out. You can ask if they accept music submissions or requests and then sign off.

The purpose of this email is two fold. One, you are identifying a radio station that may be a good fit for airplay for you. Second, you’re making a direct contact with a station manager that is not built around just pitching your music. Station managers get unsolicited emails daily from artists they’ve never heard of, all wanting the same thing. The focus of the emails they receive are usually just on the artist and not on the station programming, or how the artist’s music might be a good fit for their programming.

Remember, a station has an interest in serving their audience great content, not just playing music from someone who sends in a few songs. By taking the approach of being interested in the station’s programming (and praising the people who make that happen), you’re appealing more to the interests of the station manager. It makes them more willing and interested in hearing what you have to say.

When you get a reply in your inbox, you know you’ve achieved something, potentially a response that tells you how to make a radio submission. You are now on a more first-name basis with the station manager and have a little more connection to them than just an outsider promoting their own stuff.

Do something taught in the 1930s that has tremendous impact in the modern age

Both of these tactics are organic ways of building connection. In the social media marketing of modern day, where everyone is their own evangelist, it’s uncommon for people to take a genuine interest in others. But when you do the uncommon thing, you stand out so much more than the herd that is all shouting about their latest thing. It’s a similar principle to what Napoleon Hill taught for decades in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People.

To master this simple method, all you have to do is repeat it. Try this every day for a week, then for a month. Look back and see how much you’ve gained and how connected your audience is.

Be uncommon. It’s simple to not follow the herd. This way, you avoid stepping in all the crap that gets dropped, and you make out with better connections.

A few years ago I saw a bumper sticker that said “Increased Happiness by Lowered Expectations.”

In my opinion, this little gem of wisdom can be applied to so many areas of life–including our independent music careers. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t aim high and reach for the stars, but it’s also positive to achieve and celebrate small wins. Let’s face it, we all have limited time, energy and resources, and what we set out to do should actually be, well doable. So, in keeping with the idea that 1) goals are good and 2) goals should be something we can reach, here are:

 

5 Resolutions Singer/Songwriters Can Stick To

 

1- Creatively write every day–  set a timer, pick a random object, and free write on it for a few minutes to keep your writing skills sharp. These exercises can generate a lot of good ideas you can use later in writing sessions. In the book The Artist’s Way, it talks about starting out the day with ‘morning pages’- stream of conscious writing when you first wake up as another way to get your creative brain in gear. Writers write…simple as that!

2- Pick up your instrument every day (if you don’t already)- while you may not be able to practice for three hours every day, at least play a little and spend some time noodling. You never know what you might come up with in these sessions—and what will turn into a future song. It’s also a great idea to learn cover songs, and experiment with new arrangements of old standards.

3- Interact on social media every day– even if you spend a few minutes here and there throughout the day, make sure to keep your interaction consistent. I use Hootsuite to schedule out tweets, and the Facebook scheduler to pre-schedule posts. Especially if you’re going to be extra busy one week, it’s great to pre-schedule the content then just ‘check in’ to respond to comments. It’s important to vary the content…don’t post the same thing on every social media account on the same day.

4- Make one contact a day– every day, reach out to one booking agent, one music supervisor, one music reviewer, one new co-writer or one artist who is looking for songs. Even with the ‘one a day’ rule, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish in a year!

5- Be a learner/improver– pick an area you feel like you are weak in as an artist and take a class or a workshop to improve in that area. A few years ago, I felt like my live shows needed some help, so I went to a performance coach a few times. It made a world of difference to me! If you struggle with pitch, get a vocal coach. If you aren’t great at social media or emailing your fans, take an online course in it. If you need to learn more about music publishing, read a book on the subject. There are also great songwriter camps with professional writers you can attend to learn writing techniques from the best.

I’d love to hear your ideas about what you’re thinking of doing this year to build your music career! Please share in the comments below.

The holidays are a great opportunity to reach out to your community of supporters and give them opportunities for giving great gifts that involve your music. Here are a few quick ideas:

Idea #1 – The Coupon Clipper: Create a holiday coupon code for your web store and invite them to go nuts shopping. Some example ideas:

30% Off Everything You Buy In My Web Store Until Christmas!

Free Shipping On All Orders Placed By December 15th!

Stocking Stuffer Special: Buy One Album, Get One Free!

Idea #2 – FREE Holiday Song For All: Record a cover of a favorite holiday song, even just a quick acoustic recording, and offer a download of the song for free in your web store. They’ll come visit your web store to grab the free download, and while they’re there, they just might be tantalized by other items you have for sale. Especially if they’re armed with an awesome coupon code, too. (See Idea #1.)

Idea #3 – The Best Gift Of All Time: Offer to write and record a personal song for those who want to give a truly unique and special holiday gift to someone they love. Send them questions to get them writing about the person the song is for, and then use what they’ve written as the source material for their song. Best. Gift. Ever. (Wanna hear a few of the personal songs I’ve written for folks? Check them out here: http://shannoncurtis.net/personalsongs.)

Idea #4 – Play Santa: Pick a few random days on the calendar the first few weeks of December and declare them “Free Album Friday!” or “Free T-shirt Tuesday!” or “Free Poster Sunday!” Tell them you’ll send them a CD/tee/poster for free, all they pay is the shipping, limit one per person. Again, you’ve gotten them to visit the store for the free thing, and once they’re there, they just might shop. In fact, it’s a weird psychological phenomenon that when someone is given something for free, they’re much more likely to buy another thing. Seriously. True story.

Happy Holidays to you! And to your community of supporters, too.

In May 2012 I played a gig at The Railway. I was supporting an artist and was expected to not only bring an audience but to sell and collect money from advanced tickets. For some artists this is the norm but for me with a very small “audience” it was pretty discouraging. I can’t remember how many or IF I sold any tickets. I do remember thinking that must be a better way to promote live music.

A few weeks later I came up with a plan: create a special night, hire a venue , get great artists to play (including me!) sell tickets and put on a great show. Simple eh? The idea was to create a regular show – a brand if you like – that people would buy into, that way they would come and see it again and again without needing to know who was playing. They would attend because they knew that it would be a great night.

So I set about finding artists that I thought people would like and planning how the show would work. I wanted the show to be properly compered and took on that role myself. I wanted the artists to play 2 short sets as opposed to just one each as experience had shown me that sometimes an audience can leave after their particular artists has performed. There would need to be an interval, there has to be a raffle, artists would get paid (a share of the profits) AND the most important part ARTISTS WOULD NOT SELL TICKETS. That for me was the most important element and was vital to my business plan.

I wanted to make sure that the audience bought their tickets from me, that way I could take their email addresses and let them know when the next show was and that way SELL THE BRAND.

I would like to say at this point that I AM NOT A PROMOTER, I am a full time musician.

After deciding to hire The Attic at The Railway and securing the artists for the first show, I printed small posters and put them up all over the place, contacted the local paper and found a few “What’s On” type websites to advertise on. I carried these little posters everywhere with me and gave them to everybody I met.

I sold advance tickets that I hand delivered personally. On the night I gathered email addresses of those who wanted to know about subsequent shows and the raffle was a great success.

People love a raffle and it’s a great way of making a bit more money (keeping me and the artists happy) as well as ensuring that folk stay until the close (keeping the bar and venue happy).

It was a bit stressful as I had to put up £120 of my own money to pay for the hire of the venue BUT I made a small profit and had a ball.

Apart from a few short breaks over the summer and a couple when I couldn’t book the venue, I was putting on shows each month right up to April last year.

  1. We had some great shows and the audiences were the best.
  2. I got to meet some great artists.
  3. I was able to put on acts from out of town. Dirty Proper came from Texas!
  4. I NEVER MADE A LOSS. Although I got very close, one month I made £5 profit!
  5. I was able to pay the artists MOST of the time. See above plus some nights weren’t that busy and sometimes the artists didn’t want the £2.50

What I did I did out of desperation and the belief that if THE PROMOTER actually promotes the BRAND and not the BAND people WILL COME. Yes I didn’t make a load of money but then I am not NOT a promoter.

I know there are loads of great promoters out there but I think that they need to stop looking for artists to sell tickets, generally they (artists) are rubbish at it. We have to sort out songs and equipment and travel and parking and merch and a myriad of other things AND actually perform.

Plus, if you continually use that tired old model of bands selling tickets, you are starting fresh every time you put on a night, it’s crazy. When you book acts GET THE AUDIENCE TO SIGN UP TO YOUR MAILING LIST and YOUR TWITTER FEED. That’s what the bands are doing and they are taking their audience, the one they played to at your venue, with them.

And before you poo poo the raffle, that raffle often made the difference between loss and profit. The prizes were generally naff and donated by the artists and once included a bag of bagels…with one missing….from Grant Sharkey!

You might be thinking that I just got lucky and that the time was right, I got the right venue/area/artists.

Well.

A year later I did the same thing with the old magistrates court in Eastleigh and used the same methods to put on four very successful shows. One show in particular I managed to pay the artists over £60 each and they all sold cds!

Lucky?

I have now decided to use what I have learned to plug my own solo shows as …. I’m not a promoter!!

Nick Tann is a British singer/songwriter who, three years ago, took the plunge by quitting his job and becoming a full-time musician. He books all his own gigs, publishes and releases his albums, builds and maintain his own websites, produces a quietly popular independent music podcast called “Is This Thing On” and does all his own publicity… He even wrote this! You can see what he is up to by following him on Twitter @Nick_Tann and checking out www.nicktann.co.uk where you can see what all the fuss is about

Nick Tann

New Official Video

www.isthisthingonpodcast.com

Finding a comfort zone while speaking to audiences between songs is something that has been problematic for MANY singers and musicians and one of the big reasons many clients have approached me for performance training and production of their live shows.

Unfortunately a lot of artists don’t see how negatively this sort of thing can impact their performances. Nevermind for a moment that not being able to speak well can make a show feel less polished and professional in the eyes of your fans.

It can also result in you making LESS MONEY and getting LESS E-MAIL SIGN-UPS…both of which are the life blood of today’s independent artists.

So I spent a large portion of time over the past year-and-a-half exploring this very issue and looking for ways artists can improve at this extremely important, yet often neglected, skill. Asking questions, experimenting, testing some of the ideas on my own clients.

And it was amazing because it brought to the surface several things that nobody in the music industry was really talking about. That resulted in me putting together a series of three videos exploring speaking skills during live shows. Each video, around 15-minutes in length, tackles key points ranging from the way artists rehearse their shows to the manner in which they structure their sentences when pitching e-mail sign-ups.

The first video was posted nearly a month ago and the responses I received via e-mail and social media were fantastic! One of my favorite comments came from an e-mail subscriber who applied some of the concepts to her own performances and said, “what had seemed awkward and slightly terrifying in the past was actually fun and fluid.”

Set aside 45-minutes of your time and…watch…these…videos. They WILL help you!

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

ABOUT WADE SUTTON

Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping artists ditch their day jobs in favor of careers in music.

Serving as a live music producer and performance coach, Wade teaches singers and musicians how to turn their live shows into a kick-ass experience resulting in fans buying more merchandise and increasing e-mail sign-ups.

He also puts to use nearly twenty years of professional journalism experience by creating biographies and electronic press kits for singers and musicians while advising them on matters related to the media, public relations, and obtaining sponsorships.

You can receive a free digital copy of Wade’s book by clicking HERE.

I’m subscribed to Shannon Curtis’s email list.

And last month she shared what I consider to be an absolute perfect example of a fan engagement project.

Shannon invited her subscribers to participate in the first video for her upcoming album.

The premise was very simple: Just record a video of yourself in front of your computer holding up a piece of paper expressing your personal struggles.

The results were AMAZING!

It’s easy enough to put together a video like that. In fact, it can all be done inside YouTube’s own video editor.

The payoffs were:

-A Ton of Views. I can’t say the number because it’s still growing daily!

-Delighted Fans who are now connected to her musical community on a much deeper level. They are now more personally invested in her career, thus more eager to invest financially in her music.

-A Boost of Support for her Crowdfunding project.

-An Interactive Art Project that facilitates ongoing participation from her fans!

If You Consider Yourself A Musicpreneur:

You should definitely take a play from Shannon’s playbook and create an interactive, fan-participation video to dazzle, delight, and engage your fans right now!

And when you do, make sure to share it with the rest of us;)

[Tweet “May we all inspire each other to be the best that we can be!”]