For those who aren’t familiar, I run a electronic dance music website where we constantly post the latest music and news in the industry. At the end of January, I decided to take my knowledge of web design, digital marketing, and my knowledge of the music industry to help up-and-coming producers. I will also be cross posting all of the articles here as while the information is made for electronic dance music artists, it can be easily translated into any other industry.
Nothing is what it seems, but actually it is the total opposite – PJC
This quote was told to me during my freshman year of high school. It becomes more and more relevant as I travel through this game called life. It is more apparent with the music industry. In the past few weeks, we have gone through making contacts, the core fundamentals of social media, basic branding, and more. They’re all good, but if you don’t have a plan, then they don’t have the biggest bang for the buck. You need to come up with a gameplan. Doing so is going to make everything easier as well as help prepare you if anything pops up. The whole idea is to build momentum in your career and have it snowball. Every big artist has a game plan. Strike that. Everyone who has ever made it has a gameplan.
This isn’t going to be the easiest post to write. I am not you. I don’t produce your music. I understand there are collectives and labels and everything that tend to be involved, but there is nothing wrong with doing it on your own. Every artist goes through waves (no pun intended, but partially why we have our name). You create a track, you share it, you gain listens, you gain fans, and repeat. Idealistically, you just keep getting bigger and bigger until you hit the festival mainstage. Well, that doesn’t happen for everyone. It doesn’t happen in a day, nor a month, or perhaps even a year. I need to stress this as this is the most frustrating thing to hear.
Overnight Success isn’t Literal
.@chancetherapper won best new artist, but started in 2011.
Overnight success is a figurative statement.
What's your excuse?
— ByTheWavs – EDM Blog (@ByTheWavs) February 13, 2017
There is a lot of summarization there so let me start from top to bottom. You need a plan. You need a plan that isn’t necessarily short term, but has milestones to keep you grounded and sane. This is going to be your roadmap. Where do you want to be? If your goal is to just make music and that is it, fine. Maarten Vorwerk would agree with you. If your goal is to play around the world at some of the biggest events, Tiesto travelling around the world over 62 times would agree as well. No dream is the same nor is it a bad thing to not want what others want. Remember, you’re creating art. If it happens to pay your bills, you have an ideal career. If that isn’t what you want, that’s perfectly alright.
Although, it is a good idea to understand your point Z. Most people call it point B, but I believe that to be nonsense. You see, the alphabet is finite. There is a beginning and an end. Your goal is your end game. Each step along the way to achieve your goal is each letter. Obviously, there isn’t going to be exactly 24 steps in between your point A to point Z, but this is metaphor, so step off! Now, to argue those who say well, the reason you get to point B is so your next step is point C, well, we can look at it that way or we could look at it my way. When you set a goal, you aim for it. You can set it as high as you want and aspire to it. Nothing wrong. When you finally achieve it, you’ve set a bar. Guess what? You’ll have a new goal. Something bigger. Time to reset that alphabet. That’s all. Similar scenario, but I like mine better.
In my tweet, I wrote that Chance the Rapper won best new artist. His music that I could find started in 2011. I am willing to bet that he started before that. For a new artist, that doesn’t sound very new. Six years. That’s how long it took him. I am willing to bet that 99% of artists will say the same. None of them had marketing budgets or huge dedicated teams. Nope. Not a freaking chance. I know it is hard to imagine what an artist was like grinding when you see them on television or their face on a billboard. It is the truth. Malcolm Gladwell said in his book, Outliers that 10,000 hours is the magic number to be an expert at something. While this is an oversimplification of the idea, his notion “is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.” So what you need to take away from this is that create that goal. That all-time goal. Use that goal to propel your ideas, actions, and everything that drives you to make music and even wake up during the day.
Scheming Isn’t Always Done by the Villains in Movies
Scheme. You need to scheme. New track coming out? Is there any movement behind it? If the answer is no, you’re doing it wrong. You know what sells easily? If you answer sex, you’re not wrong, but that isn’t what I want to focus on. Stories sell. What would you rather hear; a track that came out and you enjoy or a track that came out about how you were in a happy mood and you enjoy? It will always be number two. Although, I use happy mood as an example, but replace it with anything. Point being is that people like stories. It is what captivates us on a daily basis. You tell a story, people are enticed. Every track you make is a story. It captures your current mood, your feelings, everything about you. A piece of your soul is in that track. Sell it. Sell it. Sell it.
Here are some examples that a lot of artists do. When tracks are being made on Facebook live, Snapchat, Instagram Live, etc, the story of your track is being built. When it is shared on Twitter and Facebook, the story continues. When the track is in a mix or multiple, you have people craving. Finally, you release the track and it explodes. You see where this is going? There are many methods. No method is the correct one nor the wrong one. Each thing you put out should have a plan behind it. Share it with artists. Share it with blogs. Share it all ahead of time so when it comes out, you have the biggest bang.
Thinking Outside of the Box
The whole making a track, sending it to the blogs, become big thing doesn’t quite work anymore. Sorry. We didn’t fail you. We’re a 24/7 information overload society. You get your music and your information from every source possible. Why settle for the ordinary or what everyone else does? Do you remember the old Apple ads? I am not talking about their old school breaking 1984 ads, but the ones for the iPods. I’ll give you the example below.
They were neat. In fact, they were great for every artist who had their track featured in these commercials. It raised track downloads up around 4000% and more. This is the same with other commercials, but obviously different percentages. Although, this isn’t 2005 anymore. What about YouTube? Familiar with Casey Neistat? What about What’s Inside? Shonduras? Gary Vaynerchuk? I can go on and on naming extremely popular YouTubers. Do you see where I am going with this? A possibility would be sending your music to popular YouTubers. Some of these guys get over 1,000,000 views per video within 24 hours. Andrew Applepie is the man responsible for a lot of Casey Neistat’s music.
You know who agrees with this? Gary Vaynerchuk, the man responsible for awesome marketing ideas that you don’t realize you’re appreciating and buying products. Yes, you’re giving up something for free. Yes, you don’t make money off free. You have to think long term. People will come back.
Give Some; Gain More
There is a cartoon by The Oatmeal where a blog gets paid in exposure. He tries to buy hot dogs with said exposure. He gets laughed at. The same time, you’ll read and follow Gary Vaynerchuk and his methods detailed in his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. I am in no position to give you the same type of information that he can do. He has clout and respect. But I can help relay some of that information and translating. I am not asking you to give music away. That is your livelihood. That is your lifeblood. You cannot sell bootlegs. You cannot sell mixes. You cannot sell playlists. You cannot sell yourself. There is no reason why you cannot share them and happen to gain followers. I emphasized this in the social media post, but you need to interact and create. Not just memes, but legitimate content. Content is king. To quote Gary Vaynerchuk one more time, “Content is king, but context is God.” This is legitimate in a time where Pewdiepie makes videos is called a Nazi. This is where ghost producing can never be more rampant.
To make it simple, be consistent. I have said this time and time again. If you do a weekly or bi-weekly mix, stick with it. If you do A&R and listen to other tracks, stick with it. If you put out a bootleg of a popular track, relevant or irrelevant, stick with it. I can name artist after artist after artist who does one or more of these. You need to hustle and grind. If you’re content and happy with where you are at, that is fine, but if you want to achieve your goal, you better give your all and then give some more. Bassnectar’s fans drive 10+ hours to go to his shows. Tomorrowland sells out in minutes. EDC Las Vegas brought in over $1,300,000,000 (1.3 billion dollars I wanted to write all the zeros for dramatic effect). I know we can talk about how art doesn’t equate to money and you do it for the art and not the money, but I want to emphasize how much this music means to people.
Give content. Give it away. You can ask for a follow as long as you don’t beat your listener senseless. I get it that collectives ask for this. I get it that you have to trade exposure for building up others brands. Although, you don’t need them every single time. Trade it off. Made one out of five times or one out of ten. You become one with your listeners and they’ll be more than willing to check out your latest track or even buy your next album. Although, if you’re not willing to give, you’re not worthy to receive.
Manipulate the Wav(e)s
Timing is everything. Timing will make sure everything goes smoothly. Idealistically, you want your track/EP/album to get the most traction within 24-72 hours. That can make or break it. Yes, there are anomalies to this, but that is neither here nor there. Think of this like a big wave. You can’t just have big waves. It becomes too much and then the big wave just becomes an average wave. So you warm it up. You have little waves. This will prepare you. This is you including it on social media here and there. This is you sending it to the blogs for any support. This is your sending it to vloggers, friends, family, other DJ’s. This is all before the official release. Give it out for free. Sell it. Whatever you may choose, but put effort into it and let those who know about you, know about the track. If you have to pay to get the track out there, pay. If you aren’t willing to pay for your track, is it worth it? Now, I am not talking payola type nonsense, but rather boosting a post on Facebook and Twitter.
This is a chart I made. Please don’t take this literally as I could have attempted to make this a bit better. This is ideally how you should treat your music. This is where you have a backlog of music ready to be shared. This may take some time before you build up a worthy catalog, but use it to your advantage. Having a catalog will allow you time to build other tracks before releasing them. This is how you should treat it. Build up the track. Drop it. The red represents the area where people are enjoying the track, but it starts to fade. This is where you start again with your next track. You can’t go immediately right away. No. That would be too aggressive. When Zhu started his music, he had new tracks come out every two weeks because that is when he reminded people he is back. If you look at The Chainsmokers lately, each track of theirs was huge and they dropped another track as they were barely fading. Sure, they could have waited a bit longer, but they’ve skyrocketed to huge heights.
At the end of the day, what works for someone may not work for you. What works for you may not work for someone else. That said, it is good to have a plan. I know someone is going to state Mike Tyson’s famous quote “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” He’s right. It may not be in the literal sense, but he’s not wrong. Although, I’ll argue to say that if you have a plan in place. You don’t have to have a specific time and day set out, but having a plan will allow you to have backups and be able to handle everything. You rather be over prepared than underprepared and by having a plan, you’ll be absolutely fine. In basic terms – create and distribute. Be smart and not random. Remember, this is more towards the person who is starting out and trying to grow. Once you have a big enough following, you can get away with doing what you want as it works out for you.
To go back to the quote, “Nothing is what it seems, but actually it is the total opposite.” I say this because while tracks seem to come out randomly or they “leak,” remember the majority of the time, it has all been planned in some sort of way or another. When everything seems to just happen, don’t think it just happens because it doesn’t. This isn’t a science or even hard. You could simply draw a calendar on a whiteboard and map it out. Use analytics from all your social media and your website to figure out what works best or you could just test the waters. You’ll be getting bigger in no time!