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Online Marketing for an Indie Band? 517

nometa asks: "I'm working with an indie band, and despite excellent reviews, a great album (produced by Sylvia Massey of Tool fame), and excited responses by crowds whenever we play, it seems near-impossible to get past the 'gate-keepers' of the music industry. Majors (and several indies, sadly) don't see a pretty boy band, push for fluffy singles over good songs, and generally act like they still have clue about what people want. We've had great success, however, on our websites selling CDs and pulling in new fans, and would like to push online music marketing further. Do any Slashdot readers have suggestions for pushing our music out further online?" We all know the problem with today's music industry, this is not the place for that horse-pill. Instead let's focus on how an independent music group can go out there and make it on their own, and do so using existing technology (including the Internet), to its best potential. So what suggestions do you have for young, aspiring bands who want to make their music, and not sell their soul in the process?
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Online Marketing for an Indie Band?

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  • by waldoj ( 8229 ) <waldo@jaqu[ ].org ['ith' in gap]> on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:50PM (#4208188) Homepage Journal
    Weasel your way onto the front page of Slashdot? :)

    -Waldo Jaquith
    • Re:Uh...you did it (Score:3, Informative)

      by macdaddy357 ( 582412 )
      Get your music onto mp3.com and other such outlets, get your indie band's website onto a server that can handle the slashdod effect, and tour constantly, selling CDs at the shows for five bucks. No one can or will pay 15 or 20. Also, find other places to play than bars. Providing background music for drunks to drink to won't get you very far.
      • That's a route I think will have the best success. I don't go to Sam Goody, The Wall, etc. to look for music. I can't trust the content will be something I like. Instead, I go to mp3.com

        I also go to the Internet Underground Music Archive [iuma.com]. It's not an illegal music site. It's been around since before 1996 (when I first heard about it) and works like mp3.com (except that the sample mp3's don't get the last 15 seconds chopped off or something). It's a more grass roots music band 'incubator' where independent artists can demo/sell their music.

        Another thing to try is contacting the owners of the top listened to internet stations on Shoutcast that match your genre. Maybe they would want new stuff to play.
    • almost.

      "and not sell their soul in the process"

      to late ;-)
    • Push some of the songs via P2P. Better yet, release them under a license that ALLOWS redistribution so long as credit is given to your band. The idea is to push your band and get it greater exposure.

      Give distribution rights to online radio stations, etc. Under the same terms. The idea is to make people *fascinated* by your band as well as liking the music.
        1. Give away music
        2. ???
        3. Profit!
        • Well the Da' Dead did it. Remember that the bands signed by Big Labels don't get rich from CD sales--they get cash from touring. The Grateful Dead (IANAGDF) gave away their tapes at concerts and toured like crazy. The thing with doing concerts is that your manger has to sell promotors to invest in your act. i.e. Budwesier concert series, Ozzfest, Radio Stations, etc.. Record labels just make it a thousand times easier to get a venue of 40K+ people to listen.
        • Step 2 is "Get popular enough to be signed by a major record label and then no longer give away your music." This is also known as the "Metallica Factor".
      • Push some of the songs via P2P. Better yet, release them under a license that ALLOWS redistribution so long as credit is given to your band. The idea is to push your band and get it greater exposure.

        I've asked this a bunch of times and never gotten an answer -- why does everyone think P2P is a good way to do this?

        Except for cost, what is the advantage over relying on a website that:

        • Provides downloaders with information, tour dates and whatever else you want them to know
        • Gives them a reliable, reasonably fast download source
        • Allows you to track numbers and locations so you know how you're doing and where you're developing a following
        • Appears in search engines
        • Offers you an opportunity to sell them CD's!!

        Sure, a site isn't free. But you can start at $10/month and as you' become popular, the costs should scale with increased sales. If you're doing this as a business, than it's a pretty necessary expense.

        Honestly, my impression is that all this "Put your tracks on P2P!" is just a continued effort to pretend that those networks aren't 99.9999% about theft.

  • /.ed (Score:2, Funny)

    by freakboy303 ( 545077 )
    Post the URL link on /. and get so many hits it crashes the server! Millions of Geeks clicking instead of working can't be wrong!
  • Step #1 (Score:4, Funny)

    by sdjunky ( 586961 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:54PM (#4208220)
    Step #1.

    Keep your website online by not having it Slashdotted to death
  • Campus Net-Radio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:54PM (#4208224)
    Give samples and distribution rights to University LAN stations. A lot of University campuses have their own inside-the-firewall Net radio and are starved for material.
    • MP3 id tags? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bryansj ( 89051 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:07PM (#4208364)
      How about putting some MP3's out and including contact information in the id tag? This information can be a simple email address or web site address. Something like "for more info contact ...." or "to purchase CD ..." You could release it into the world of P2P networks or newsgroups. You can then see if these distribution methods actually help unlike what the industry tries to make us believe.
      • Re:MP3 id tags? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by harks ( 534599 )
        I dont think most people download things that they haven't heard, unless you get word of mouth going on p2p chats. Still a good idea though.
    • Re:Campus Net-Radio (Score:3, Informative)

      by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      Taking this a step further, don't forget about the campus radio stations themselves. The CMJ [cmj.com] sourcebook is chock full of station addresses and music directors names.

      Hell, send a copy to my alma mater [plattsburgh.edu] radio station [wqke.net]. Drop me a line via the Chemical Wonderland link and I'd be more than happy to help.
    • by Hooya ( 518216 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:38PM (#4208637) Homepage
      'Campus Net-Radio' is an awesome suggestion. On the other side of things, what is it that you're really looking for? if nationwide frenzy over your band is it then, my friend, you'll need to sell out. indie style is not for you. the only reason n-sync and the likes are nationwide is because the bigwigs are forcing air-play, arranging concerts, pushing them infront of every media thereby creating the mentality of 'they must be really popular with everybody else since they seem to be in such demand in every media. i must therefore like them too.'

      sorry to say but without such backing and creating a limited choice for consumers by the big medias, people would choose diverse artists/bands thereby not creating one or a few bands that are 'it' -- that *everyone* listens to. that is the sole premise of the business model of the entertainment industry. few bands 'make it big' (in reality they are 'made big'.) so there is some sense of consolidation for the big media. same as x number of models in a product line etc.. ("pick any color you want as long as it's black." -- Ford). all kinds of combinations and variations that people actually want are really hard to manage. it's also really costly. instead, just put out a certain models, concentrate your finances and efforts there and market them like crazy. So unless you sell out of your indie roots, you're SOL.

      But there is hope. it's a well known fact that the bigwigs take most of the cut. i don't know enough about the 'indie process' but i'm sure you get better returns in terms of percentage. so in reality, you have a chance of making decent living even if you reach fewer people. concentrate on that. if you just make it in your hometown, independently, i'm thinking you should be making quite a good living.

      if it's rock star status you're thinking about, well, you weren't indie to begin with and you shouldn't be talking to us -- well me anyways. talk to the guy in the grey suit.

      but like the above poster (overshoot) said, give away your songs to the campuses running their own radios. then go do shows in the local bars there. when i was going to college, we heard bands on the campus radio and were there to see their show in our favorite local bar whenever they came by.

  • You draw crowds. You sell CDs. You get web hits. Congratulations, you are a success.

    What were you expecting? To be a hit new sensation sweeping the nation? Guess what, that doesn't happen (anymore) without selling out. Be content with what you have.

    • This is a very good point. The reason there are such huge stars out there is a lot because of these big companies and everything getting consolidated.

      A post-übercompany music industry will probably mean a lot more/better bands make it, but the definition of "making it" won't be so extreme, IMO.
    • There are plenty of bands that, though they may not have the level of exposure that the Britneys and Christinas and Avrils have, they have national attention. Sleater-Kinney [sleater-kinney.org], for example, are still on an independent label [killrockstars.com]. And they get seriously great press [yahoo.com]. The only thing they sell out is tickets to their concerts.

      So I don't think you have to sell out to a major label. It sounds like the band in question here is doing everything right. But I think the trick is simply to be a really great band. Talk all you want about indie movies and indie music, but the real reason you don't hear about most of it is because it SUCKS. The key to success -- and I'm talking long-term, not flash in the pan -- is to have talent. To engage audiences and re-engage them time and time again. To challenge audiences but still be accessible. Just be a great band and work hard and the audience will come to you. Don't sell-out, but don't suck, either.

      When the site isn't /.'ed, I'll be sure to check them out.
    • Great point. This quote particularly sounded like the classic 'lets expand our listener base' sell-out excuse:
      We've had great success, however, on our websites selling CDs and pulling in new fans, and would like to push online music marketing further.

      Is it so hard to accept that you have found your niche and in a market with thousands of indie bands that your band is extremely successful. It really sounds like you want to be on top-40. Find yourself a savvy mainstream producer and run with it. Most bands, even very talented ones, don't get your level of success.
  • by Frankenmoro ( 606704 ) <michael@rollins.gmail@com> on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:56PM (#4208240)
    Make your music FREE (for personal use)! If you signed, you wouldn't get much for your music anyway, sheer .1 cents on each CD. All of your money will come from merchandising and shows. Tour, tell people to dl your MP3s (they will) and spread them to their friends. Make sure you post when you'll be in an area on your websit. You'll make it. This is the OTHER thing the labels are afraid of...
  • by paulschreiber ( 113681 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:57PM (#4208260) Homepage
    I would write up a reocmmendation on Emergent Music [emergentmusic.com] (or send them a CD so they can write one up). Word of mouth is great.
  • Marketing is about real estate. Big part of the reason its hard to break out in the Real World is that most of the real estate (shelves, venues, etc ad nauseum) are owned by a small group of people.

    You would need to create valuable real estate online (high traffic) and then stick yourself on the top front shelf.

    That said, I'm really skeptical about the ability to market rock online. Seems to me that the Internet is really more of a tool for cross-promotional opportunities, where you can drive people from the Real World to real estate online in order to let them hear/get more of your material. I'm not sure how effective an effort to aquire new fans purely online would be, as the net seems much better suited to expound on the marketing materials we encounter in real life, rather than aquire new people. (This is mostly because in the Real World real estate, you can make your marketing materials highly targetted, where as online it is far more difficult to pitch only to your target geo/demo-graphic .. thus for very specific products like music, which appeal only to specific graphics, it'd be hard to get a good Return on Investment out of purely online marketing ventures.)
  • Just sell CDs and MP3s online. [coolears.com] Works great!
  • Try these guys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MattHawes ( 606764 )
    My buddie's band used an indy music distrobution company called 101distribution.
  • while the business model the RIAA may be antiquated and just plain shitty, the rules for getting your band heard and noticed have not changed. the end result is the same, get as many people to listen to the music as possible...

    nothing is more powerful than word of mouth. the simple fact is that you wont increase your online popularity without finding a way to generate some buzz. i would begin by contacting as many independant music review sites as you can...small or large, they have readers who will be intrested in hearing the music...if it is as good as you say. there is no substitute for playing live and plugging your new cd/website...people are much more computer literate these days...and just advertising a site at every show will generate traffic!

    there is no subistitute, in my opinion, for playing live as much as is humanly possible...that is where you get the most intrest...people come to bars to hear bands...they will be most open to your music there.

    dont think of your online music and sales as a different entity...think of it as a way for the people who come to the shows to go home and learn more and or buy.
  • by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @02:59PM (#4208289)
    As both a musician and music fan, allowing your fans to trade live show bootlegs (and explicitly allow taping of same) can do wonders. Look what it did for Phish. In 3 years they went from playing college student centers to selling out Boston Garden. Before you mod me as offtopic, lemme get around to how this relates to online. Get listed on etree.org. Get on Furthur (http://furthurnet.com), which is a program for trading complete live shows in mp3 and shorten (SHN) format. Maybe get the ball rolling by posting a couple of soundboard recordings on Furthur. Don't worry about this cannabilzing your album sales. It won't. It very well may get people to buy more. I know I've bought over 10 Phish albums since I first downloaded a Phish show off Furthur.
  • Hi!

    Your best bet would be to look for local music magazines, get some press in those, play lots of shows, and get noticed by the big guns in the industry.

    A good place to start if you're in the bay area is Zero Magazine http://www.zeromag.com (shameless plug) We handle all the indi music for the bay area and then some. If you have any shows around here coming up, just submit a story to us and we'll post it (ala /.) Who knows? Maybe our paper rag editor in chief larry will give you some press in the real rag.

  • what suggestions do you have for young, aspiring bands who want to make their music, and not sell their soul in the process?

    Don't expect to make much money.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:00PM (#4208307)
    There are two EXCELLENT resources for distribution of music on the Net.

    FurthurNET [furthurnet.com] and etree [etree.org]

    I *only* support, monitarily, musicians that allow the FREE distribution of their music to their fans...

    etree relies on a mailing list and FTP servers to distribute music whereas FurthurNET relies on P2P (in a format much like Limewire, etc).

    If you really want your music to go out and don't want to have to pay HIGH bandwith costs, I suggest one of these two methods.
  • Proxy! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zen Mastuh ( 456254 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:02PM (#4208317)

    If you really want to make it, follow these steps:

    • Show up at the next N-Stink show disguised as a group of 13-year-old girls who want to go backstage and make out.
    • Beat up the unsuspecting boy-band members (Note: this should take one or two punches tops)
    • Steal their clothes. Bind and gag them boys.
    • Donning the boy-band outfits, hit the stage and perform your tunes

    Please don't really do this--every talking head in the nation will be screaming the "Someone must be held accountable!" mantra, your band's potential career will be snuffed, you will all be sent to prison for terrorism, I will be labelled a terrorist ringleader for giving you this idea, and slashdot.org will be closed down under the USA-PATRIOT act.

    Better get used to those college towns.

    • "Boy bands" is actually a misnomer--groups like N'Sync or Backstreet Boys are, in fact, vocal groups because they do not play instruments.

      Those so-called "Live" performances? The first half is spruced up karaoke, the last half is lip synced (as the vocal groups' vocal chords start to give out).

      Thus, if you try to hijack a concert, you'll just be singing your song with N'Sync music blaring in the background and your band playing instruments that aren't even plugged in. And nobody wants that.

  • by LordYUK ( 552359 )
    I haven't figured out how to do my job, so rather than search on Google, I figure I'll just be lazy and ask you questions. Also, I have a computer for sale thats small, but I dont want to pay for advertising, can you just link to it? Thanks.

    Your Friend,

    L33t h4x0r
  • College Radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by autechre ( 121980 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:03PM (#4208339) Homepage

    A lot of bands which have enjoyed success on mainstream radio got their start in college radio. Radiohead is one great example (and, er, Tool is another).

    There are organisations such as Team Clermont and Addsman who distribute albums for very small labels and independants who are too small to effectively handle their own distribution. Getting one of them to promote your CD is a good start.

  • Take a couple tracks and make them into mp3's.

    Include the song title and then put something like "indie: like Tool" or "produced by Tool's producer" etc.. in parenthesis in the title. Then release the songs out on a bunch of gnutella and opennap winmx networks.

    I've seen people do this with good success. The band Sheavy, for example, mentioned "Black Sabbath-like indie band" in a track title, and got a *lot* of downloads.

  • Try online classified advertising. A great example for this is Fark [fark.com]. You pay a small fee, and get a space of text on the front page that links where you want it to. If it goes nowhere you didn't spend much, and if it worked well you have found a space for banner ads. Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] also does really nice, big ads cheap. If you have a DSL/Cable connection at home or work, run a P2P node carrying mp3s from your band and other indy bands, and instead of carrying the mp3s on your limited web site's bandwidth, tell users to just search for you.
  • Many bands allow audience taping [etree.org]. These bands also sell cd's and they do ok at it.

    Historic examples of bands that did very well while allowing fans to tape and trade their stuff are the Grateful Dead, Phish, and Dave Matthews Band.

    By allowing taping, fans will share your music legally with each other. If your music is good enough that people actually enjoy it, then those people who received a copy of one of your shows will pay to see you live and possibly buy a CD at the same time.
  • Try releasing low quality MP3s (or Ogg, or your format of choice). By low quality I mean studio recorded, but compressed at a low bitrate. It should be low enough that even people with small computer speakers can hear it is unsatisfying. Perhaps 56kbps? Or even 24? Do this with every track you release. If your music is as good as you say it is, then people will come. Plus, because you've got it out first, your low quality version will be predominant among filesharers, so high quality ones which impede CD sales won't have a chance.

    Just a pet idea of mine. I'm sure somebody will pull it apart within minutes :-)
    • I know a band that does this. Convinced me to buy the CD. I heard every single track, yet the quality was so poor I wouldn't even consider burning it to CD.

      There's a few bands I've heard 1 single from. I go to all the online spots, nothing found. No one has the MP3s. Do I take the plunge and buy it? So far, no. If I knew the rest of the CD was as good as the single, I'd run out and buy it today.
  • Step 1: Hire a good lawyer.
    Step 2: Incorporate.

    The RIAA will sue you because you're not paying them for the rights to stream your own music. The lawyer will let you run your stream for a few more days until the final court order comes in saying that you owe $800,000 in CARP fees to the RIAA. Then you can allow the corporation to go into Chapter 11 while you regroup and form a new band.

    Also buy some heroin for your lead singer so that he gets all moody and suicidal. This is an absolute requirement if he/she is not pretty enough to shoot into space. People love bands with junkie lead singers.
  • Put it on napster anonymously, watch it spread, then start suing people.
  • IRC, P2P, etc (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd.canncentral@org> on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:09PM (#4208385) Homepage
    Linkin Park apparent got on appropriate IRC and other IM/Chat channels where music was being discussed, and pretended they weren't in the band and told people to go check them out. See this article [tripod.com], taken from Time Magazine Jan 28 2002.

    Get some of your music on a p2p service. Some people think it helps [csoft.net].

    Get yourself a Soundscan barcode, and start tracking sales with it religiously. Labels notice if your soundscan numbers jump.

    Finally, ask yourself what's really important to you. Labels will try to make you famous if they think it's a good investment that fits with their concept. They'll take your art and most of the money from the resulting fame, though. If your desire is to be huge, go the label route. If your desire is simply to make music and make a living, re-read the article I linked to above. That artist is making a living in Utah, a place with nearly no real local music venues or radio support. Several others are too. They had something in them that appealed to a large enough audience, and word got out. That's the real trick.
  • It's not that they didn't want to avoid record companies for distribution, it's that they tried and got rejected.

    I may be old fashioned, but making good friends with as many DJ's as possible seems the best route if mainstreamism is still the desired goal. Putting stuff online will only work well if people already want said stuff. Remember "push" services failed long ago.
  • Look at single people like Ani DiFranco who made it through just touring around the country living out of your car and passing out (selling) tapes/CD's out of the trunk. Go on college radio stations, find indie record distributors like cdbaby.com. I have found massive numbers of record producers in, oddly enough, the bars of airports across the united states. Always have a copy of your CD on you. Give it away if you have to -- people will be more likely to get ahold if it if it's free -- or press cd-singles and pass them out. Whatever it takes man. Saturation will put you into the market somehow. Then, let the public decide.

    Or, you could join next year's "American Idol". :-)
    • Ani DiFranco is a great example. By running her own record label she makes way more profits per cd than virtually anyone else. The Economist even wrote about that.

      There are heaps of other bands who have ground out grass roots support. Henry Rollins and Black Flag, Phish etc. DIY is the way.

  • Open Audio (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Milo Fungus ( 232863 )
    Read up on the various ways to distribute your music under different licenses. I personally like the EFF Open Audio License [eff.org] Many musicians are reluctant to make their music free as in free speech, however, so a free as in free beer licence [mondodesigno.com] may be more palatable to begin with.

    I would like to see more artists using free as in free speech licenses. Remember that you don't have to use the license for all of your album. Most licenses allow you to license individual songs. You could choose to release your singles on the license and then restrict copying of your album tracks. That way you get publicity for your album through legitimate filesharing, you contribute to the musical commons, and your CD sales increase - all at the same time.

    You also don't have to worry about piracy. What you're doing is effectively out-competing pirates by giving away what they would steal. There will be no market for their stolen product if everyone could just get it from you.

    Read up on the various licenses, decide how you want to do it, and give it a try. That's what I did when I encountered the idea of copylefting music. I also went a step further and tried to write a persuasive essay on the subject (which is harder than you would expect). Not only did I learn a lot of the standard arguements and objections in my research, but I also solidified my own opinion and viewpoint.

    • And Register it, too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SnakeStu ( 60546 )
      If you choose a Free license, remember that's only one step -- the next step is to make sure that people know about their Freedom, and making sure they can find your work. Assuming you have the resources to build a Web site, even a simplistic one, you should have a page that links to the .ogg (or .mp3 or whatever) audio files, and links to the license relevant to those files. Make sure that you have lots of "interesting keywords" in the text of those pages, and make sure they're listed by search engines.

      If you choose the Open Audio License published by the EFF, I would strongly recommending listing the music in the Open Music Registry (see link in my .sig). If you so choose, you can use that listing to request tips/donations from listeners.

      (This is directed to nometa, not Milo Fungus, who provides an example [openmusicregistry.org] of what I'm describing in the 2nd paragraph above.)

  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:17PM (#4208446)
    The Majors generally act like they still have clue about what people want.

    I know everybody here likes to bitch and moan about popular music, but the fact is that the recording industry at large probably does have a pretty good handle on what "most people" want.

    These guys sink millions upon millions of dollars into focus groups and various other forms of research to determine what music is going to be the most popular. Obviously you're going to have bands (e.g. Barenaked Ladies) that blindside these studies and turn into mega superstars. But for better or worse, the major labels have gotten pretty good at spoon-feeding the public just exactly what they want. It may be insipid, it may be uninspired, but chances are it's what most people want to hear.

    Look at it this way - you and I may not be buying Britney Spears albums, but there's a hell of a lot of somebody out there paying for them.
    • I know everybody here likes to bitch and moan about popular music, but the fact is that the recording industry at large probably does have a pretty good handle on what "most people" want.

      I agree completely, but don't discount the power of sheer marketing. Britney Speers fits a lot of demographics (teenage girls, dirty old men), but her career is built on carefully researched, very thorough, and rather expensive mass-marketing.

      My advice to the band: market the hell out of yourselves. Ani did it, Biafra did it, you can too.

      • While they may be good at marketing, I'm not so sure they're good at knowing what to market...

        The failure rate for new signings is VERY high. Only a slim percentage get gold albums (RIAA 500,000) and even more slim for platinum (RIAA 1,000,000).
    • Actually I disagree...

      There seem to be several ways to get signed:

      Formula: you are in a genre where your 'formula' of music pretty much always sells, at some level (a la pop music).

      Shotgun Approach: Another band of your type got signed and got big. Now the labels want all bands like them. Look at Nirvana, Creed, and Limp Bizkit as independent examples of feeding frenzy signings.

      Artistic Bait: You are Sonic Youth. Other bands think you are so cool that it does the label good service to have you. They can sign other possible big sellers and say, 'We have Sonic Youth'.

      The majors all play follow the leader. One type of music sells some records and all of a sudden there are one hundred clones out there (same as TV and the movies)... Anyway...
      • I mean look at Nirvana, Creed, and Limp Bizkit as examples of bands that started feeding frenzy signings...

        The fact that the only band in the list that's not total crap is Nirvana doesn't mean that the others didn't generate a lot of new contracts being signed...
    • by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @04:40PM (#4209101)
      These guys sink millions upon millions of dollars into focus groups and various other forms of research to determine what music is going to be the most popular.
      I thought about this a bit, and they don't really have to. Follow me down this road...
      • ClearChannel has a playlist of exactly X songs on their "pop" stations.
      • Because they can own (virtually) all the radio stations in a given market, they can break them out as they see, assigning one to pop, one to classic rock, one to hard rock, etc., etc..
      • Given that, there's no competition for "pop" music.
      • Given THAT, those X songs in the playlist ARE the top X songs in the pop demographic, practically by definition.

      No market research, just raw ownership of the airwaves and, by extension, the markets.

      R.I.P. Rev 105 in Mpls. We knew not what we had.

    • Some Choice... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spun ( 1352 )
      Numerous scientific studies have proven focus groups ineffective at determining things like this. Reason? The people want to please the interviewers and give them answers they think they want to hear. This goes double for image-heavy industries like music. Who would want to be seen by the interviewer and the other participants as unhip? Maybe some snooty slashdot readers, yes, but not most folks. So they lie.

      And we get crap.

      Besides that, do you think these focus groups are shown a true range of choices? I think it's more like, "Do you prefer boy-band A, B, or C?"

      Garbage in, garbage out.

      And really, what choice do we have? All 250 million of us here in the States including Gramma and Grampa Beefy-Midwesterner are going to jump on the internet, spend the time finding the music we like, and download it?

      Someday, maybe, but in the meanwhile, the music industry has us by the short and curlies, and they know it. Most of us will buy their crap and like it because we have no other real choice.

      Which brings us around to the poor poster, who it seems has been locked out of the big-time. Kind of like the diamond industry: diamonds are in fact so damn common they have to lock most of them away and heavily control all sources to artificially prop up the price.

      Talented musicians are that common, too. Human artistic talent is that common in general, and it would be recognized, utilized and appreciated more often if oligopolies like the music industry didn't have a vested interest in suppressing it.

      <rant mode="capitalism" position="con">
      Free market types are the worst hypocrites in the world. Leave aside the fact that the whole concept that ' the invisible hand of the market will guide us to efficiency' has been proven to be true only in very limited situations.

      That's just ignorance of modern economic science. What strikes me as true hypocrisy is the fact that those who scream the loudest for 'free markets' are usually the ones doing the most to squelch any true competition in those markets by raising the barrier of entry so high that only ruling class people with interests in common can compete. Thus, ologopolies and monopolies quickly come to dominate the supposed free markets.

      Which, I suppose, is what those bastards meant by a free market all along. Free for them, that is.

      That being said, turning a trick from the evil capitalist's own book and using Guerilla Marketing techniques to get your product listed in popular underground journals could work.
  • Touring. The RIAA isn't supporting acts like they used to. See Wilco for example. Dropped by their label for no reason, (they had sold a pile of records and were doing well), they went on to release their record themselves. It sold like CRAZY. They now have a movie called, 'Adelade'? which tells the story of their new-found indy status.

    You also might want to check out Dave Mathews, and the people on his label. He succeeded by touring like mad. Same with David Grey (on Matthews label as well).

    The only other thing I can suggest is to SOUND different. I didn't listen to your music on the website (/.ed) but I did catch the little part on the Flash intro. There is a million and one heavy rap metal funk etc. bands already. If you sound like everyone else, why bother? Start a cover band and make more $$$. Originality may not sell more records now, but it certainly will contribute to the longetivity of your band. And that equals opportunity to make more records.

    Lastly, pay *special* attention to your SHOW. You could be the best band in the world, but what gets (average) people to return is something they didn't expect to see/hear. I used to be in a band with a guy who was a fire breather. One night he set his face on fire. Not fun. He was ok, (some burn scars on his neck) You should have seen the crowd after that! (I in no way advise setting yourself on fire.) I don't mean gimmicky things (like fire), but pyro, clothes, makeup, movement, and any press (is good press) all have a long history of making a good band great. (see Kiss, Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Stones, Pink Floyd, the Who etc.

    I'm more of a Wilco, Floyd, Bowie, Who fan, but whatever makes your sandwich.

    Good luck.

  • Horse-pill? (Score:4, Funny)

    by imadork ( 226897 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:18PM (#4208448) Homepage
    We all know the problem with today's music industry, this is not the place for that horse-pill.

    I would have called the music industry a different horse product, myself....

  • This is a band my daughter introduced me to, for which I can find only one or two obscure references to on the web, and whom I simply love. How can I get more of their stuff? I think I would do a Google search on their name and then download all the material I could, if it were available.

    That is my suggestion on how to make the internet work for you: give away all the songs for free and only charge for live performances. If your music is that good, you might make it! It is the essence of the Napster craze in any case: cut out the middle man, give away the recorded songs, and feed the artist by letting him sing for his supper.

    If you want to get rich, don't do this, but if you believe in your creation, in your art, in the expression, you will see how great an alternative this can be!

    Do you risk starving? Probably. But you will have given your life for something greater: eventual freedom of the artist from capitalist abusers, and more importantly, freedom of your art form. I'm not kidding. You have to be willing to do it for the art, not the money, first. The rest will follow.

    For another alternative, check out disciplineglobalmobile and find out what Robert Fripp (King Crimson) did when he got sick of dealing with the corporate types.
  • they might be giants use the internet a lot. they may not be in exactly the same situation, but they did manage to maintain a fan base and release new music even when they were between having a label to support them.

    they did what i thought was a pretty cool thing they did when they sold mp3's on emusic.com [emusic.com]. if you bought the entire album's worth of mp3's, they sent you a cd of those songs, too. they also have some mp3's available for free, which i believe helps them sell the others.

    check out their techniques on their websites tmbg.com [tmbg.com] and theymightbegiants.com [theymightbegiants.com].

    of course, it also doesn't hurt that they are almost always on tour.
  • Ohh, not IndieBand, but "an indie band". I thought he was using some open source version of Infiniband.

    nevermind ....
  • Give away free MP3s of all your songs on your site, and allow them to be redistributed -- make sure your running Gnutella with your songs too. Allow the audience to record your concerts and distribute them.

    Then tour a lot, sell t-shirts, sell CDs of the best stuff that you're giving away for free with value-adds (like good artwork, autographs, lyrics sheets, etc.), solicit donations/payback (be specific & upfront about your costs and needs).
  • Allow taping (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcoleman ( 139158 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:25PM (#4208505)
    Allow your audience to tape and trade your concerts freely.

    The Grateful Dead did it. Phish does it. Dave Matthews Band does it. U2 does it. Radiohead does it. Metallica did it. Note that I just named six of the top grossing concert acts ever. Combine that with a heavy touring schedule, and assuming your band is decent enough to draw an audience, they will rake in the dough.

    However, if your band expects to make their primary income from record sales, you're gonna have to bend to the will of the record companies. Fact of the business.
  • ... one, be original. Two, give away your best song from one album for free. This will give you exposure.

    Assuming that you have more than one good song you will soon find that some people are buying your CD.

    You could also try offering a low cost CD that has high quality music and good production. After all, isn't that what everyone wants?

    Do not, under any circumstances, accuse your fans of "stealing" from you unless they break into your house to steal your toilet seats or something else like that.
  • Make sure that you:

    1. Post at the Velvet Rope (http://www.velvetrope.com) telling people how great you are.

    2. Make sure the release is available for sale on Amazon. They do consignment-type stuff all the time.

    3. Put up samples of stuff at mp3.com.

    4. TOUR TOUR TOUR TOUR. Promote the Web site at every show.
  • Weezer.com (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clinko ( 232501 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:30PM (#4208550) Journal
    Weezer.com keeps me coming back because they update their site daily. They put demos out all the time. All their videos are online. And tons of merchandise. Best Music Model i've seen yet.

    Btw, Metallica.com charges $25 a year to look at their bulletin board. (They actually found a way for me to hate them. This coming from a hardcore fan from the 80's)
  • by jamesoutlaw ( 87295 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:33PM (#4208576) Homepage
    How about trying to meet some indie filmmakers and getting your music on the soundtracks for their films with a credit at the end, or maybe a bit part or cameo? Some indie films enjoy a lot of success, some don't, of course.... but it might be sort of a symbiotic relationship- indie filmmakers are trying to achieve the same goal as you.
  • Online marketing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigjocker ( 113512 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:37PM (#4208625) Homepage
    The probelm behind online marketing is that its cheap enough for everyone to do it. So you loose the "unique" feel of conventional advertisement.

    The truth is the reason behiond the success of traditional advertisement is that its very expensive. That guarantees that the customer will remember the few brands that manage to get a goot marketing campaign.

    Having said that i would recommend you to leave traditional online advertisement (websites, p2p, slashdot, etc) as secondary, and focus on untraditional and innovative advertisement. Im not telling you to hack google to show your band as the result of every query, but to be smart and careful.

    For instance, you could start a "music for geeks" campaign, giving away linux CDs in your shows and showing source code behind the stage, that would get you on the news, and from there (if you are good) you are done.

    The key: innovation, do something nobody has ever done.
  • I much prefer bootlegs to the polished product of a studio album and it'd be great if more indie bands would releas on their website (or via Further or eTree) good recordings of their concerts.

    This is something bands could do for free or charge a nominal fee for access to MP3s for.

    While it may feel like you're giving away the product for free, I'd be much more inclined to checking out a gig passing through town if I had already heard sample shows and knew it'd be worth my while attending.

    EM [emergentmusic.com]

  • Your new song, "Lesbian porn full britney DiVX :)" should get downloaded from Gnutella at an alarming rate....

    That said, getting your band heard is all about exposure, you wanna make it national, tour. In the ~7 years I played for a living, we toured over 100 days a year every year. Eventually we got to open for bands like The Police, Adam Ant, etc... This was where we got HUGE exposure.

    On a final note, I'll quote Pat MacDonald's B-Side of life:

    "Once I got lucky
    I had a band
    We had a song it got to number three
    Made lots of money
    Made lots of friends
    Had lots of pretty people hanging 'round me

    Now all I want
    Is a place to hide
    To feel safe from the chaos outside
    A cold refrigerator
    A warm bed
    A place where noone will stick a gun to my head

    We had the keys to the city
    But the rooms it did unlock
    Were full of overpriced portraits
    Engaged in cheap small talk

    I buy my dinner at the 7-11
    I eat it in the kitchen while I watch TV
    I like my free time and I love my wife
    I'm happy living on th B-Side of life."

    "Once your face is public property there's no place to hide, it's either tele-crucifixion or tele-suicide."
  • As much as most musicians frown on this, it seemed to work for Moby. I think that his first 'big hit' was in a car commercial. I was watching an interview with him where he said that he donated all of the money from the commercial to anti-fossil fuel campaigns, but I don't think you have to do that :) I guess in a lot of ways you have to look at things like: "The only bad publicity is that which misspells our name."
  • by hotfootred ( 603719 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:45PM (#4208692)
    My brother is in a situation much like yours. He's doing the garage band thing and trying to get discovered. Using the internet is the best thing he's done to get the word out on his band. Compile buddies on AIM, ICQ, newsgroups, message boards, groups, communities, whatever. This gives him a network of people. He meets people who know people who know people, and so on. It's all very Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Through the people he's met in chat rooms, communities, mailing lists, etc. he's made contact in very high places and his former band had some success getting signed to a label and making it onto a few compilation CDs. Get yourself known to people through communities, and never underestimate a person's curiosity. Put a link to your site in your sig, tell people where to download your mp3s (yes- use mp3s to get your music out there, you're not making any money right now anyway, so it's no skin off your teeth). BUILD A GOOD WEBSITE with your mp3s readily available and easy to download. This all worked for my brother and he has an incredible network of people that he can go to for things like website work (someone built him a great site for FREE just because they've kept in contact so long), gigs, a job writing music reviews, and even money to do things like start a small label (something my brother has recently started). It's all about building a network, and eventually the right person will hear about you. REcord companies get flooded with CDs from anonymous nobody bands, so the odds that anyone important will hear you is slim by going that route. Build relationships with people and you will eventually be heard by the right people.
  • by Paul Slocum ( 598127 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:51PM (#4208737) Homepage Journal
    On the internet it's much easier to distribute your music, so there are going to be a LOT more bands using it. In some ways, it will be even more difficult to get your band exposed in this new model.

    My advice is to throw away any rock star visions and concentrate on making music. Be happy playing music for whatever audience you do have. It's really about having fun making music and expressing yourself. You say you have great audience response, good album reviews, and you're happy with the album. Sounds pretty good to me.

    I tend to think it takes either a stunningly brilliant musical innovator, selling your soul, or dumb luck to hit the big time. It sounds like there are plenty of people like Tallman. But listening to an MP3, I can tell that while it sounds good, it's not stunningly innovative. However, you've sure had some good luck by being posted on Slashdot! :o)

    To answer the posted question: I've joined online art and music communities with people that do similar music to my own. And my friend sends free CDs and tapes to his friends in various cities and has them leave them at record stores for people to take. I guess what really sums it up is: that I think it's a lot more fun and rewarding if you forget about the business and making money, and just make the music you enjoy making.

  • then you can't do it.


    To make it big you need radio air-play on radio stations with significant audience share. And you can't do that off of an indie label for a whole host of reasons.

    If you mean "make a living at this stuff" then you do what indie bands have always done -- play the college towns, play the music fests, play the local events, and continue to put on live show after live show where you sweat your heart and soul out for the dozen folks that will stay after and buy your disks for you. And keep doing that for 250+ shows a year and you can make enough money to keep doing that . . . till you burn out.

    Which is about the life cycle of most bands - and that's not a bad thing either. 'Cause it means that the people who stay in are the ones that have a real passion for what they're doing.

    But you won't ever make enough to retire on from an indie lable, and if you're at all worried about how you'll ever have a family, go on vacation, etc., etc., etc., you'll either get out of the biz by the time you're 25 or 26, or you'll get picked up by a major label (even then you'll still probably not make it, but maybe you can cut down to 150 live shows and see the occassional big bucks from being an opening act for a big name).
  • One critial factor you must realise is that most online marketing is very hit-and-miss. Banners are a definite no-no and I hope haven't even come across as an option. The purely best way to get any form of promotion online is to get featured on web sites.

    Beginning with your question on Slashdot was an excellent way to initialize your marketing, but it cannot stop there. Marketing is about consistancy and recognition, one post one time isn't going to do very much for you in the long run. Attempt (if you are winning) to get featured on many popular indie band web sites and even offer a low bit rate mp3 of your music online. The group American Hi-Fi got their start on MP3.com and they are quite well recognised now.

    Think of your target audience. What web sites are they likely to visit? You can look at your friends or even yourself, as long as your subject is into your brand of music. Then try to get features on those web sites. How? Try to do something out of the ordinary, maybe some accomplishment that hasn't been really done before and write to the webmasters about it. They are constantly on the prowl for a good story.

    Head to your local radio stations and submit your songs for review - this is probably the single best way to get some exposure. If your songs are as good as you say they are, they might just be accepted onto the radio. After the song gains popularity, start to offer interviews on the radio and tell your story how the band got together, where you get your inspiration from, etc. This assists in growing fan dedication; they begin to feel a personal connection with your group.

    Look at your list of events your city is holding. Are they outdoors? Is there a good likelihood of your target audience making an appearence at the event? Contact your city hall and volunteer to play your music live at the event. Follow up by (anonymously) suggesting to your local newspaper to do a story on your band.

    What you must recognise is that this exposure isn't going to put you in the races towards MTVdom, that requires a boatload of cash and/or the right (expensive) connections. Hopefully, however, with this exposure you are indeed seen by a rep or figure of authority to put your band in a broader range of exposure.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck!
  • Depends... (Score:2, Insightful)

    ...on what you mean by "success". If you mean making good music and getting fans and playing shows then you're there. However, if you mean that you want to be the next Tool or *insert big name band here* then you either have to sell out, put in a ton of years in the hope that a non-evil record company signs you and can promote you, or just try it all from scratch with your own promotion and record company (see NOFX, MC Hammer (pre-Capital records, yadda yadda)). But yeah, I'm not in the business, so take this with a grain of salt, its just how I perceive it happening, I could be way off.

    Flames Away!

  • setting up an account on mp3.com [mp3.com] couldn't hurt. other than p2p networks it's where most people (Meaning, "I") go for random new music downloads. Legal, too. :)

  • My #1 suggestion:

    get radio play on this station KCRW.

    It is probably the best NPR station in the coutry, and they make it a point to have ecclectic programming, with music all night long.

    I've heard many bands on this station, that a year or two later became huge stars (i.e. Moby). A couple weeks ago they had a live set/interview with Red Hot Chile Peppers, and past interviews/sets include Yo Yo Ma, Dandy Warhols, Beck, REM, Semisonic, Coldplay, etc. etc.

    They are a Los Angeles station (guess where most record companies are?) and a favored station of the LA 'in' crowd.

    If this band is as good as you say it is, and if they get radio play on KCRW, they will get noticed.
  • There are millions of places looking for someone to enertain them. Nursing homes will gladdly pay you a small sum of money to play. Eleimentry schools, weddings, concerts in the park... Find them, and play.

    Every town I know of has some sort of celebration in summer, where they have a parade, carnivel, dinner, communitry awards, contests, games, dance, etc. Find them, and convince they leaders that they need your band to give enertainment. (It might be free, or low profit in itself, but you should have someone selling CDs the entire concert)

    If you are truely talented you should have no problem coming up with songs that a nursing home would enjoy over lunch. (note that I didn't say you would like it, at least it is good practice, but you can often come to love creating in a different style)

    don't forget your hometown. people will put up with talentless idiots because they are local over slightly talented out of town bands. (Unless the out of town band is heavially promoted) You will likely make the most money by staying close to home.

    Do you like other styles of music? There is a small folk music crowd in most towns. If you enjoy that, enough to release a true folk CD, you can get current fans to try something new, and folk fans to try you and perhaps buy your non-folk efforts. Warning though, don't do this unless you understand the style, there are too many bands who call themselves folk music who are not as it is.

    Most of all, have fun. Even the most talented musician is not good enough to make someone enjoy music when the feeling is not there. You know this already, but eventially you will have a bad night, and need to find some way to get it back.

  • - Give away your music. Metallica* did this and it made them stars without radio play. Make CDs and tapes and give them away. Why have only partial MP3s on your site? You need to post the whole song, and f@ck the Real format. That only serves to piss those of us who are willing to support a non-signed band off. That's label b@llsh1t.
    * make sure not to screw your fans later, like Metallica.

    - Virtual Press Kit. - You need your website, sure. But you also need a press kit that can be obtained online. If I were booking clubs, I'd spend about 10 seconds straining my eyes at your dark and forboding web design and give up. Club bookers care not about your mystique, but about your draw, who you've opened for, what large venues you've played at, ect.

    - Expect to make no money with this album. - I'm sure you paid the dude from Tool quite a bit to produce your album. But if you expect to make it without a label, you can not just try to emulate the music industry tactics without the large financial backing. The best thing you could do would be to give away your music, or at least 4 tracks. Make the CDs enhanced - the same fans that visit your website, will make good use of these.

    - Gorilla marketing - You need a street team to pass out flyers and generally spread the word around. If possible, have your web guy create a free web based email system and give it away to your fans. At the bottom of every email that goes out through this is your blurb. Think Hotmail. Think Yahoo. Think free advertising.

    - Hop onto the Genre Bandwagon - In my experience, other bands in the same genre will help to promote each other. Don't be pricks as bad advertising is worse than none at all when folks are paying money to help support you and not the record industry. Links from these guys sites, their message boards, their liner notes are invaluable.

    - MP3.com, Garageband.com, ect - Though you are offering your music from your site, you might be better served by posting it to the above sites. Regardless of other factors, they are a 3rd party that keeps track of listeners for you. This is hard core information that can be used as leverage to get signed by a GOOD label who isn't JUST out to make money off of you.

    A friend and I have created a system for the web in which bands within the same genre can share an online radio station. It gets linked from each bands website and listeners vote on songs which determine upcomming playlists. We also developed a system in which visitors who want your music are dynamically sent to different music online sources (MP3.com, ect) as to spread the love around. We have the perfect setup for indie community / band websites.

    I have made websites for bands for 3 years now in the Boston area, in all genres including hard core. I have managed bands, made press kits, been involved in producing, booking clubs and festivals, ect. Feel free to contact me as I have more info than I could possibly write here.
  • Make sure you post a link to your website in ID3 tags of MP3s/OGGs you distribute. That or make sure a search for your band's name turns up your website on google--provide sales through your site and I think your albums will sell (provided you don't suck).
  • One of the big problems with bands today is their dull performance -- no creativity, no humor, no novelty. So give the audience a reason to keep looking at you on stage, and give the casual page-viewing-person a reason to download your music.

    I looked on your site, and it was flash-ridden scene from "Quake." It had pop-ups, too -- wow, *extreme*. If your web page isn't interesting, odds are your lyrics and songs are pretty dull too. (Alt-metal, I presume?)

    (If this just seems like a knee-jerk reaction, get used to it. It's how web browsing works. I'm sure to get modded down for this.) Getting your page slashdotted is a good idea, though, and some banner ads might work (as the text ads work on k5.) But put out something interesting and novel, or you'll be correctly ignored.

  • As the title say, forget about marketing on-line. Try selling your music on line, and by that I don't mean listing your CDs on your web site, but selling your tunes on MP3 format to whoever shows up. Yes, there will be some piracy out there, but the gains will far exceed the losses.

  • Try selling your full length for $6. The majors have been trying this with newer acts like the Vines and they ended up charting much higher than they would have if the CD were full price.

    Sell the first CD cheap, tour a lot, build the fan base, second CD full price.

    If you're doing it yourself, you can afford to do that and still make more money than you would if you were on a major selling the CDs at full price... No label/distributor/retailer markups to cut away from your share of MSRP.
  • ...have a self financed music video made.

    Seriously, why limit yourself to online only stuff.

    Once you have a video you can send it to MTV, MTV2, (Where it will most likely be ignored...) stream it on the web, get it played at college TV stations and of course public access.

    Don't forget your local news people...they can take a video you make and air a clip as part of a local interest piece.

    Expect to spend at least $1000 USD for a basic video that meets US broadcast regulations. It is important that your end result meet broadcast standards, other wise you cut off distribution paths and will end up reshooting. If whoever you get to do the shoot can't tell you what both a waveform monitor and a vectorscope are and why you use them, then get someone else.

    Don't expect miracles, a number of the videos you see on TV today are in the million dollar budget range...

    What kind of video should you do ? I'd go for a performance video, AKA the "band shows up at yet another club and plays to a screaming wildly excited crowd" sort. Use the club's existing lighting set up and you'll get that grainy documentary look. You'll probably need a couple extra lights for some crowd scenes, many clubs have almost no lighting for the crowd.

    The reason this sort of video is so cliche is that it is cheap to make and still manages to look acceptable. Also, if you have time, energy and possibly money invested in an interesting stage performance, that all gets shown off, spicing up the video for no real additional cost.

    If you can, buddy up to some club owners and shoot mid day. Invite YOUR friends and fans. You want this sort of crowd as opposed to what you'll get at random some Friday night...it would suck to be booed off stage on your own video cause the crowd thought you were a rap group but you do rock music or whatever.

    Without getting into the stratosphere price wise what are your options on this type of shoot ? Mostly its the addition of more cameras. This is difficult enough to manage and can easily send the budget too high if you get carried away. If the budget is there you could try integrating CG elements if they fit your band's style.

    A good recent example is Janet Jackson's Live in Hawaii HBO special. ( I think that is on DVD now.) Now this is a whole concert, but you can break it easily into songs, all of which are suitable as music videos.

    So, in yet another bit of self promotion...I make films and videos. Anybody need one in the Washington DC area ? Drop me a line.
  • The RIAA's fear and loathing of Napster notwithstanding, file sharing could be your best promotional tool, and a uniquely Internet-age opportunity to build a fan base without signing your interests away to the music establishment.

    Make your songs freely available. Allow fans to trade them legally. Don't give up your copyrights entirely, but noncommercial copying should be explicitly allowed and guaranteed with the proper legalese. If someone wants to redistribute your songs and charge more than a nominal copying fee, they should negotiate a license with you. If Joe Sixpack likes your stuff and wants to burn free CD's for all his pals, count your lucky stars and leave him alone. The "lost sales" are more than compensated by the promotional value, and how many of Joe's buddies would have bought your songs if they've never heard of you anyway?

    This will get you more exposure and gain you new fans who never would have heard of you otherwise. Signed bands with serious financial backing can afford to purchase exposure outright. Small indie bands cannot. Don't fret over control like the RIAA does; learn to let go control and the rewards will be much greater. It's kind of a Zen thing; go with the flow... (The Grateful Dead always encouraged their fans to trade "bootleg" recordings of their concerts; did it hurt them or create legions of Deadheads? Think about it.)

    Don't just make 128 Kbps MP3's available, either. Offer uncompressed CD-quality .wav files for download, and let people redistribute those too! (Yes, they'll burn perfect CD's with them; deal with it.) Also offer high-quality as well as low-bandwidth versions in both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis formats. (MP3 has the mindshare, but Ogg Vorbis is better.) Anyone who prefers a different encoder or bitrate can simply download the .wav file and encode it themselves.

    Of course, there's a downside to this -- bandwidth costs could become significant. The best way to deal with this is to charge for downloads ($1.00 or less per song) and thereby encourage people to get it, legally, from a friend instead. This would reduce your costs (OPB -- Other People's Bandwidth!) while retaining the promotional value.

    However, don't charge for the lowest-bitrate encodings! You need to make some version of each song available completely for free to seed some interest in the high-quality versions. The free version could be a 64 Kbps MP3, but it has to be available so people can hear the songs without paying any money or looking for copies elsewhere. If they like the song, they could then pay to download the high-quality .wav file...

    For all versions you offer for download, publish the MD5 checksums on your website so people can get a copy from a friend, yet still verify the authenticity of the file.

    Also, offer a way to "buy" songs (or simply donate money) for fans who want to support you, but don't need to download another copy. And, of course, sell CD's online for those who'd rather get something more tangible and simpler than dealing with downloading the songs.

    Major record labels can afford to spend millions of dollars promoting the chosen few. Since you can't afford that, leverage Napster-like services to your advantage by allowing (and encouraging) free trading of high-quality digital copies of your songs. Trust that you'll do better with a smaller piece of a larger pie than jealously guarding a little pie...

    (For an perspective from a different content industry, check out the Baen Free Library [baen.com] for similar arguments.)
  • You might consider stealing an idea from Invisible Records, and set up a website for turning fans into "field reps" that do local promotion of the band. Put all that hyped-up-fan energy to work!

    Meg Lee Chin [megleechin.com] appears to be doing this on her current tour.

  • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Friday September 06, 2002 @05:09PM (#4209286)

    I went ahead and downloaded the two full tracks that "Tallman" has to offer on their site. After listening to the bland formulaic dated head-banger crap, I think I realize why this eager to sell out band hasnt been picked up by any major studio: they suck. (IMO,YMMV)

    Artists who wish to make their music/code/prose/whatever are supposed to do it because they like to. Becoming a consumerist success is NOT nirvana.

    What a waste of bandwidth.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @06:03PM (#4209600) Journal
    Back around 1993, I was a guitarist in a local band put together by an older friend of mine - who was aspiring to be a musical success for at least 10 years before I met him.

    He had written literally hundreds of songs, and from the sound of his old cassettes, had a pretty good band together for a little while in Chicago.

    Anyway, the only "marketing" we did was an investment in flyers and a couple batches of t-shirts with cool artwork on them - plus mailing tapes to any underground paper or local newspaper that would accept them for review.

    The rest was just plain old "word of mouth". The most effective thing we did was playing for free at house parties. Pass the word around that there's a kegger at such-and-such a house on Sat. night - and collect "donations" for the beer at the door when people get there.

    After a year or so, we developed a following of fans/groupies. Did we ever make any money from it? No, not at all... but it was a lot of fun, and I'm really glad we did it.

    I think it *could* have become serious, but if you don't have money to sell yourselves (or cater to a record label who will provide that funding), you just have to do it the hard way. That is, win over fans one at a time - until you've built up a "critical mass" of fans.

    Basically, I think the trick is, get a day job - but don't lose track of your long-term goals. Keep playing gigs. Above all, keep writing your own stuff and putting it out there. I see bands in this area that are musically very talented, but they keep playing everyone else's stuff. Sure, the dance party/nightclub crowds love hearing that - but in the end, the credit keeps going to the original writers of the songs, *not* to you! That's no way to become any more successful than what you earn playing those weekend nightclub gigs.

    Keep on doing whatever it is that makes your fans like you. Rinse, repeat!
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @06:09PM (#4209627) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I know we all like the net and it really neato to download files from P2P, but lets all face it, a butt-load of people still get a lot of their music from the store, hear it on the radio (then download it), word of mouth, etc, etc. My suggestions, for what they are worth--

    You say you perform live. Great! SELL CDs (if you don't already). Really, it's not hard to record and burn a master then copy 5,000 either through yourself (heh) or pay a third party to do it. Yeah, the latter option requires you to shell out some cash, but what you do sell, you pocket. I've seen street performers do this successfully.

    Radio. Somehow, some way, get air time. Even if you have to buy it. I won't claim to be a marketing genius, but radio is the best way to reach a lot of people. Buy a commercial slot. Play a condensed minute-thirty version of your most popular song and where you'll be playing next. Heck, some DJs might even give you a free shot or two.

    Find a way to slip it into the format of popular internet radio. Yes, I remeber what I said at the top, but that doesn't mean it isn't without use. Winamp is hella popular, as is WAR. Find the most popular channels and hook up with their directors, slip your song in with a blurb about you. A few of them are revenue starved. Pay them. They'll like you. A lot.

    I know, most of my solutions revolve around fundage. I'm also assuming you have jobs other than the band. Unfortunately, it's a nessisary evil, especially if you don't want to sell out. That's the big trade-off. "The Man" provides you the capital and as such, has lots of influence over you. In your situation, it's the opposite. You don't want his influence, but you still want to reach as many ears as possible. Unless you catch some extrodinarily lucky breaks, money is part of that equation. I'd hope there are easier ways, but these are the best I can think of. Unlike a previous co-worker mine who had a band thinks, success rarily jumps out and bites you on the ass while you sit at home, unemployed and play at a bar twice a month. I wish you the best success.

  • CDBaby (Score:3, Informative)

    by inkfox ( 580440 ) on Saturday September 07, 2002 @12:08AM (#4210987) Homepage
    One word: CDBaby.com [cdbaby.com].

    These guys give you a nice, professional front end for selling tunes, they create sampler discs, host music samples, and what's more - they'll even help you set yourselves up to take credit cards for your merchandise (and/or ticks) at your gigs.

    They're 100% RIAA-free so far as I know, and there's a LOT of good stuff there.

    On the down side, they're making me go broke.

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