Archive for May, 2010

Country music bucking the industry downturn

May 29, 2010

Despite the gloomy news for most sectors of the traditional music industry, here’s a bright spot. According to Emilia Benton of Fast Company,

last year radio use climbed to 93% among country fans (from 79% the year before) and most listeners tune in for an impressive 9.9 hours a week.

This is also good news for songwriters who write for that genre. For those of you who have never written a country song, would you consider trying it? Do you write in more than one genre? Why or why not?

Lady Gaga tops Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative

May 28, 2010

See Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business in 2010. Lady Gaga ranks #1 in this intriguing list, which includes other musicians, inventors, architects, marketers, entrepreneurs, designers, CEOs, CIOs, scientists, a chef, and people in non-profit, military and government positions. Ryan Murphy, producer of Glee is #5.

Accept credit cards offline

May 26, 2010

Until today, I thought I had found the best solution for indie musicians who want to accept credit card payments for CDs and merch at shows: CD Baby.

CD Baby has a sweet deal, way better than any merchant account you get from a bank. And my band, Soulpajamas, has been using CD Baby’s credit card solution for years. It works and it’s a fair deal. Check it out for yourself.

But today I read about a slick new player in the market, called Square. It’s also geared toward small businesses that can’t afford minimum monthly fees.

With Square, you get a tiny card reader that plugs directly into any device with an audio input jack (like your iPhone). No monthly or hidden fees, no contract or merchant account required. The buyer signs on the touch screen of your smart phone. Receipts can be emailed to the customer.

Don’t get me wrong, Soulpajamas is still selling our CDs and downloads online using CD Baby. They offer great services for independent recording artists and we have no plans to leave. But for credit card payments at gigs (and anywhere else we sell CDs in person) we’re now testing Square.

Why isn’t every indie musician doing this?

Government grants for singer/songwriters

May 19, 2010

Government grants for singer/songwriters

Does that headline sound like a scam or what? It’s for real and it’s all good news for singers, songwriters, performers and other artists.

Last night I attended a workshop sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Washington (so I knew it was completely legit from the get-go). The workshop title was “Taken for Granted: Uncovering Grant Opportunities for Songwriters in the DC Metro Area”

Maureen Andary described how she was able to get several grants from the DC government and explained it all in detail. She had even researched the surrounding counties and municipalities (Montgomery and Prince Georges in Maryland, Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria in Virginia) so she was able to speak about them all and help audience members with their location-specific questions.

The biggest surprise to me is that there actually IS grant money available even to singer/songwriters and bands. If you are an organization or partner with one, there are other grants available (in bigger amounts).

She explained that even though the grant world may be a strange new planet for (non-classical) musicians, it’s not that difficult to apply and not that difficult to win a grant. Further, the grant officer was very helpful to her in the process, so you’re not on your own.

I’m looking forward to implementing some of her advice and I’ll report back with my experiences. Wish me luck.

3 simple keys to success

May 18, 2010

The full title is The Three Surprisingly Simple Keys to Success by Sonia Simone, from her blog copyblogger. And the cool thing is, you only need two out of three to reach your goals. Find out what she means.

Thanks to Bob Baker for turning me on to this post.

Sell single song downloads

May 13, 2010

I am a recording artist, and if you’re reading this you are too, most likely, or aspiring to be one.

When we released our first EP way back when, we wanted to sell it online, but the internet was new (insert joke here about how dinosaurs still roamed the earth) and there weren’t many options. So I did my homework and learned that CD Baby was the best, by far, and certainly the best fit for me. They had a great reputation then and they still do.

With each subsequent CD we’ve released, I’ve done the legwork again to make sure that there wasn’t a new upstart doing a better job than CD Baby. There wasn’t.

Now CD Baby has introduced a new capability. Artists can sell single song downloads on CD Baby, not just the physical CDs and full CD downloads (as in the past). Read the CD Baby DIY Musician blog to see how this small shift can help you promote your music more easily and more consistently and generate some revenue in the process.

See Soulpajamas, my band’s CD Baby page.

PS. Required reading – free advice for musicians from Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby. Here’s a sample:

Proudly exclude some people

Proudly say what you’re NOT: “If you like Celine Dion, you’ll hate us.” …and people who hate Celine Dion will love you, or at least give you a chance.

You can’t please everyone in this world. Recklessly exclude people.

Almost like you’re the doorman at an exclusive club that plays only your music. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone wearing a suit. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone without a suit!

But know who you are, and have the confidence that somewhere out there, there’s a little niche of people that would like your kind of music. They may only be 1% of the population. But 1% of the world is 65 million people!

Loudly leave out 99% of the world. When someone in your target 1% hears you excluding the part of the population they already feel alienated from, they’ll be drawn to you.

Write down a list of artists who you don’t like, and whose fans probably wouldn’t like you. Use that.

a gift from Jane Siberry

May 11, 2010

Download all Siberry music.

It is free, a gift from Jane. Take good care of it and ‘pay if forward’ to others.

THESE ARE FULL CDS. includes artwork. downloads directly to your computer.

mp3 are small, standard size files. aiffs are studio quality and about 10x larger.

any questions or feedback: jane

Songwriting tips by Jermaine

May 8, 2010

Pat Pattison master class: melodic & lyric rhythm

May 7, 2010

Master Songwriter Pat Pattison’s insights into songwriting with this Master Class session.

A songwriting camp like no other

May 7, 2010

What makes the REO Songwriters retreat different from any other songwriting camp? Start with an incredible setting right on the edge of a beautiful jade-green river canyon. Add rushing rapids, snow-capped mountains, wildflowers and wilderness. Then add four of the best songwriting mentors on the planet; a low instructor-to-student ratio to enhance the intimacy and one-on-one time with our instructors and other songwriters; a private critique session with your choice of instructor/mentor; daily social hour, open-mic and co-writing sessions. Finally, choose an optional whitewater rafting (exciting) or scenic float rafting (relaxing) adventure on the Nahatlatch or Fraser Rivers. Join songwriters from around the world for a truly amazing week!