A few years ago, I decided that instead of blindly just having clients spend money on radio, publicity, marketing, and distribution, we would instead focus on one thing: helping artists be busy.
If you are a music artist, you know the one thing you really want more than anything else. You want to be on that stage, in front of adoring fans, and selling loads of CDs after the show (where else are you going to sell them??)
So we began looking for booking and marketing people who could help us get this going for Creative Soul Records artists.
Well, we found marketing people. We even made a special push to find booking people mid-year and we met with a spectacular...um...yawn.
It’s no secret indie artists don’t command big appearance fees, and that doesn’t exactly inspire hungry people to work the phones and emails for days trying to find and secure a gig.
(Note: If you are reading this and think you’d love to try booking Christian music artists, we will be your best friend if you contact us!)
Nevertheless, we have managed to help a few artists get some radio play, make connections, and do some marketing that can lead to more bookings organically.
The bottom line is that being “busy” solves all an artist’s problems.
The biggest thing I hear from artists 4-6 months down the line from finishing a CD is, they just aren’t out enough. They’re not “doing” anything, and they don’t feel comfortable trying to sell themselves.
While this is troubling for someone who just put their big mug on 1000 CDs, it’s common.
But if they ARE out singing 3-4 times a month, things change.
Suddenly, they are moving CDs every month. There actually seems to be money being MADE, and not just spent.
Being busy also gets an artist all the stage time they want (well, mostly). It also gets them seen by more people, which can lead to future gigs elsewhere from someone in the crowd. Gigs begat gigs. (It’s Biblical! ;)
Another one of the strange upsides to lots of live playing is the increase it brings in download/online sales and social media following. A concert, appearance, conference, or any gig can spur people that didn’t buy a CD to go online later and buy downloads or product. It can also get them involved in your Facebook or Twitter world, and following you there as future customers on later projects. (Because at your appearances, you leave flyers with your web and email, and send a clipboard around or use some other method for getting emails and contact info from your fans, right??)
Being busy solves all the ills an artist faces as they try to take their music product they made at some expense, and try to make a decent return or profit.
So how do you get busy?
Well, we find it goes back to how much investment an artists puts in. This means time, interest, and monetary support.
The best way to become busy is to put time into it.
Booking. You can do this. Who do you know locally that has a church, event, or even small group that might have you come to sing or play? Could you email them, take them out for coffee, and talk about the possibility? Is there an out of town event, conference, showcase, or relative’s church that you could visit and sing at? Could you then look at the route and do a search on churches on the way there and back? This is how tours are made folks. Do you have an event that features your particular ministry topics that might wrap around a weekend you could offer to churches? Maybe something that centers around women’s, men’s, or youth ministries that churches already have a budget for every year??
These are just a few booking ideas.
Social Skills. This is the other bookend to our push to help artists be busy (after bookings), as we feel there is no better way to build your audience for very little money.
Now I hear you sighing and saying "I hate the Twitter and the Book of Face." To that I say, too bad. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn better become your new best friends, OR you better find someone who can help you with this. It's the best way to help you get and stay busy as an artist!
There are a few ways to buy busy.
Radio. Yes Virginia, there still is radio. Yes, Radio costs to pay either a radio promoter or a service like CRW (Christian Radio Weekly). But I still believe in radio. Not only can it be a way to get new ears hearing your music, but it can also be a way to find new markets for booking yourself and marketing. CRW delivers an email with each station that signs on to play the single with full contact information about where the station is and who the contact person is. That gives you all the info you need to set up marketing in that area and even see if you can visit the station. Find a church or event in the area and you have the makings of a tour! The other thing radio can provide is royalties. Stations that report their plays to BMI and ASCAP can bring artists who write their own songs performance royalties. Traditionally in independent Christian radio, the plays are slight, the reporting is weak, and the checks are small. But they are checks!
Marketing. The things we did right last year was finding some terrific marketing people with real major label experience to help our artists. We have a terrific marketing company now working for us that helps artists tie radio and publicity to events, and vice versa.
Publicity. Hiring a publicist can open doors. it can be ways to get gigs, but moreover find you opportunities to appear on television and radio talk shows. Sending a national press release lets the whole world know about your music and ministry. It allows shows, magazines, blogs, interviewers, and more to find out about what you are doing. Now you also need quality materials to send out, but that’s a whole other email.
New Project . Well, isn’t that funny. Sometimes that 3-year old CD you did that you’re no longer willing to push on folks isn’t as fresh as it was. Looks like a whole new kinda busy for you, huh? Fire up that keyboard, or get to that guitar. It’s time to get busy recording again.
So, are you ready to get busy?
Have a great week!
Eric Copeland is a producer and president of Creative Soul Records, for more info on what they do, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com and http://www.CreativeSoulRecords.com