You spent 20K on your new CD. Now it’s sitting in boxes in your closet collecting dust. indexYou are in all kinds of debt, have no idea how to promote the release and you are clueless as to how you will pay your rent. Sound familiar? Musicians keep missing the memos. CD’s aren’t selling. What you have now if a very pretty VERY expensive calling card. Ouch. You want to keep putting out new content and you are a prolific writer so how do you create and sell new product?

Keep writing to your heart’s content but be prepared to give away most of your music. At least 70% of your music has to be given to fans for free in order to sell 30%. Been to a big Indie music Festival lately?The main acts are telling their fans to go download all their music for free online. It’s how you get your fans excited and motivated to buy merch and keep coming to your live shows. Why would they fork out money for CD’s when they can listen all day long for free on Spotify?That’s blasphemy you say! Real artists make records and real fans buy them. No, they don’t. Not anymore. How many CD’s have you bought in the last year? Are you buying new releases from unknown independent artists?

You can do OK selling CD’s at gigs but merch sells better. It continues to outsell music 3-1. If you have music available online then you should be giving away free downloads constantly. Digital downloads are still doing well, and dropping singles is the way to go. If you put out a new single every couple of months, you keep your content fresh and your fans are excited to continually have new music coming from you. Building a real and active fan base is key. If you are making a CD and planning to also spend money promoting it, who do you think you are marketing the record to if you don’t have any fans?It will become just another Indie release that is sitting in a box somewhere looking for a home. Fan building comes first, don’t wait thinking that millions will flock to you after you put out new music. Anyone with any clout in the business will view your EPK and wonder where the fans are and why no one is listening to you. To get attention from an Industry Pro the numbers have to be enticing. Lots of gigs making good money with the clubs at full capacity, tens of thousands of plays, at least half a million you tube views for starters, and undeniable music. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that your CD will change the industry  even though you have fickle fans who may or may not be listening. What if you just really want to mark time with a record and you are in a very specific genre where the fans demand CD’s. In the Jazz world for instance, fans still want to have a full length CD from their favorite artists. Also, in the Folk Bluegrass world, that can also be true. In this age of technology there is no reason for any Independent artist to dig into their own pocket to fund a CD. Why aren’t you using crowd-funding?Build the fans first, then have your fans fund your new releases. NEVER dive head on into a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign without analyzing your fan base. How many of your fans are super active/ How many are likely to contribute? Make a list and be realistic about the amount of money you believe you could raise. If you have been gigging, networking and really using your social media correctly, you have a great fan base to work with to raise funds. Think you can do it without shoring up your social media? Read the blog The Commish wrote about Bjork and educate yourself!You can also put a donate button on your website to encourage fans to help support your music career. Give away merch, run contests, do streaming live shows on stageit or other streaming platforms and ignite the fans that you have now.bjork1

Going further and further into debt recording and promoting Cd’s to non-existent fans is a bad business move. The crowd funding campaign you launch, if done properly with many exciting updates for fans and creative and engaging content, can really give your career a boost!Not going broke is a good plan as well.

Online streaming isn’t going anywhere; so if you think it’s just a phase think again. Stop complaining about Spotify and get your music on there as fast as possible. Our favorite blogger Bob Lefsetz wrote a great piece about Soundscan recently and as usual he didn’t mince words. He talks about the amazing rise of Spotify.

“Have people just given up listening to music?

NO! It’s just that the industry keeps pointing people to lame metrics.

On Spotify, the supposedly rip-off system with no traction, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has been spun 122,988,750 times. Put that number in the paper, it’ll wow people! It’s almost unfathomable, it’s got too many commas for most people to be able to interpret. And the band has another track at over 50 million and two in the 30 million play range.

These numbers are SPECTACULAR!

This is not your daddy’s record business. Only it is. Everyone’s pointing to the wrong number and the acts are complicit.

The press has declared Kanye West’s new album a stiff, but on Spotify the tracks have 2.5 to 5 million plays. Now compared to “Blurred Lines,” with 64 million, that’s not much, but it certainly indicates traction. As for the other song of the summer? The radio edit of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has got 74,122,609 spins and the album version has got another 26,335,533.

It’s not whether someone buys it, but whether they play it. While “Billboard” keeps reformulating its chart, factoring in social media and a bunch of other crap, why not look to streaming services, which truly indicate popularity?”

Since you spent a zillion dollars on your new Cd do you even know where it has been distributed? Are you getting plays on Spotify?Have you even looked?Do you have Google alerts set up so you know when you are getting talked about on the web? Spending money wildly shooting arrows is just bad business. Stop and think about your business plan, which you should create if you don’t have one, and do the math. Constantly throwing money at a non existent audience is just plain nuts. Use the power of technology at your fingertips, leverage your social media and get a handle on your business before it spins out of control. Oh, and check your email, you may have missed the memo.





7 Responses to The Ostridge Syndrome

  1. Dennis says:

    I made an indie record in the 80’s when everyone else was waiting for the record deal. It was a single on vinyl and we spent more on the art work, photography and record sleeve than on the record. We hand-carried copies to every radio station in the Boston area that would let us in and met the dj’s, programming folks, whoever. We played clubs to promote it. The song reached the top 10 on the college charts and got a lot of airplay. To the best of my knowledge we never sold a single copy. (I still have 100 or so in the garage.) Currently I have 4 songs on compilation CD’s getting a combined 600-700 spins per week in faraway places like Australia and Europe, but so far no measurable sales. Basically, I believe your assessment of give it away. Use the music as a tool to get attention and make money through shows and merch. It’s too bad I’m not nearly as passionate about the t-shirts as I am about the songs. It’s a weird world.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Ha! I would be worries if the T shirts were what turned you on. If you think about it, because of such powerful streaming platforms like Spotify, fans don’t need to buy records. They can create playlists and listen for free to anything they want all day long. Remarkable that you had music all over college radio without a sale. I guess the Industry was already changing at that point. People loved what they were hearing from you but wanted to listen for free. Also, at that time to be fair, distribution was a mess. Most records were not distributed properly which artists typically were unaware of until their record had been out for months. Distributors sometimes wouldn’t even put the record on the shelves but they would charge a fee.
      Good for you getting all those spins. Awesome. Great chat yesterday:-)

  2. Nikki G says:

    I sure didn’t miss the memo! The more I work on what is happening in today’s music world the more I get the hang of it. I sure hope it doesn’t change before I really get the hang of it!!! But I do know to change within the times regardless. It actually makes me happy to know that the press is just an opinion and the stats are the public’s opinion. Its like when you hear the review from someone that has no taste to decide if me or you should listen…not sure what planet most of those critics are coming from, but in the real world, we can decide for ourselves. It’s pretty simple though, get yourself out there and do everything you need to do to fill in the gaps. If you don’t, you will never know if that would’ve been the reason you make or break.

    • Ghezzi says:

      The fans have ALL the power. If a song is a “hit” it happens quickly. The first time 10 people hear it, the tune spreads like wildfire, without a doubt. Whenever artists talk about hit singles, it makes me laugh. No one knows till it is released to the fans, then they will quickly make or break the single. The business is more in flux than I have ever seen it before. More is on the way so hang on!

  3. David Ryan says:

    Great blog Ghezzi! Very smart business tactics provided here. It’s all about saving some dough, especially in this world.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks David! It’s tough to get musicians in reality sometimes. Dream big, but work hard every day, stay grounded and realistic in your daily goals and most importantly, be consistent.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks David, I knew you would dig this one. Give it all away and they will be clamoring for more. No need to break the bank with a huge investment into something that won’t give you much ROI. Streaming and singles are the way.

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