Musician and Entrepreneur

Independent bands are small businesses before they go public. Apply the same techniques as smart business owners to put your career on the right path.
It is important to think of your band as a business to reap the benefits. Most artists know they need to market themselves but they have no idea what that means. Thinking about your band as a business allows you borrow ideas from successful businesses. Coming up with a plan the same as any other start up would directs your focus. 
A business plan usually includes the company description, industry analysis, target market, competition, strategic position and risk analysis, marketing plan, technology, management plan, community involvement, development and milestones, and financials. I am not saying you must write about a full business plan but you need to consider all these important areas as regards to your musical career.
You absolutely have to know who you are as a musician or group in order to place yourself in the market. Contemplate what makes you special, and why listeners and music executives should care about you. Once you have that down you can begin building your team. 
Building Your Team
If you are a rock group with the message of fast money, women, drugs, and late parties you have a different target audience that a group with the image of peace, hard work, and wholesome living. Knowing your brand image means you can appeal to vendors with similar target audiences.
You will need a wonderful team to make your case. Everyone usually has a photographer and stylist on speed dial but you and your manager should have other people on your team. Let us direct our attention to marketing.
Bloggers should be a part of your marketing plan. They reach large audiences and the press is free.
Befriend as many music bloggers as you can, especially those you think will have a favorable review of your music. Building a rapport with them means they will refer you to others. This could be other bloggers who share your music with readers, or it could be others in the industry. These bloggers often participate in other social media networks. They will post links to their articles. People learn about your music and your fan base grows. Now in the age of social media bloggers are your best friends. An added bonus is they will probably post your link for interested readers to learn more about you. Your standing in search engines will increase also.
Blog about your work and have others blog about you. Cross-promote and grow your readership.
Event Planners
Having an event planner, particularly one with experience in musical events, is great to know. This way you can focus on the performance and entertaining fans and music. Be sure to select one whose work appeals to you. He or she should have a portfolio or video you can view. Be sure to get references to. Before you sign any agreement be clear on what it includes.
Do It Yourself
Unless you have thousands of fans chances are you do not have a publicist. Still, you need to get the word out about what you do so you can have those thousands of fans. Use your computer to aid in the process.
Press Kits
Having a downloadable press kit you can submit to blogs, newspapers, and radio stations is a must in the age of technology. You still want a good ole fashion hard copy, but having one on your site and on your computer means you can reach the world without leaving your home.
A press kit includes the following: Album cover, bios, photos, gig listings, important news features, demos with stand out songs marketed and notification of explicit lyrics, song list, business cards, and booking information.
Send your press kit out to the agencies you feel fit your band image. To locate these agencies enter “press agencies” into a search engine and check their demographics against yours to see if they match up. Google provides a helpful aid under their tools for advertisers. Remember to check their requirements for submission and follow their guidelines. Use the correct name if one is given. If not, call to find out. Knowing you care enough to learn who to address your package to shows the agency you respect the person in charge of reviewing your material.
Email Sign-Ups
If you have ever entered a contest online you know you have to enter your email to win. Even if you uncheck the box for further promotions the company knows about you. They use this information to learn about their customers. Leave that box checked and they send you emails trying to entice you to purchase later on. The collection of emails they received is more valuable than money.
You should take an email sign up with you everywhere you go. You will use it for the same purpose– to reach potential fans and sell your product. Sometimes you are selling persona; other times you are selling a song or merchandize.
Direct Mail
So you and your street team have been all over town stapling to posts those beautiful flyers you printed at Fed Ex. Now you can relax. NO, NO, NO.
You did not have your cute friend walk around with pen and paper, charming patrons so you could have that email list collect dust. You need to log them in whatever program you use and get your message out there.
You do not have to create these emails from scratch. Many companies offer the ability to promote and sell your product on their site. These packages are based on fans served and include email campaigns, mobile campaigns. Each campaign will report demographics and conversion rates.
Remember, a personal message is best. Include links to demos, videos, unreleased tracks, and anything else exclusive. Exclusive material is the reward for being a loyal fan.
RSS readers on blogs are email sign-ups. Make sure you have enabled this feature on your blog or website. Offer readers the option to share, rate, and comment on your posts.
Social Media
I am sure you know to tweet your next meet and greet using social media. Well, tweet your friends too. Chances are they will retweet your tweet and introduce you to a new group. Not everyone will care, but some people will. If they see your name with one of their favorites often enough they will start to pay you attention. So, do not be greedy. Like each other on Facebook and thumps up on Youtube. Make sure to comment as well because this is how fans get to see your honest opinions of each other.
Community Involvement
How will the world see you? Remember to give back to those who make you successful.
Successful business owners know it is important to give back to the community. This is not only to say “thanks,” but also a smart move for protecting their images. If you become active in the community you will garner their support. Your music may become the soundtrack to their lives. This is the goal of any band.
It is important to pick a community project that means something to you. You will be actively involved and your passion for helping should come through. If you are insincere and there only for the photo opportunity and a little press it will show. People may begin to resent you. This is the opposite of what you want to happen.
Of course, you want to be visible in your online communities as well. One quick study of popular YouTube users with thousands of subscribers and you notice they comment on their comments. They also link to other YouTubers.
Social media creates communities of people who may never have met otherwise. As with a physical community, the bond is stronger when people unite over a common cause. People connecting with you will relate to your love of music. You need embrace intimacy. Intimacy spawns friendship and friendship spawns loyalty.
When you respond to their questions and acknowledge their support your fans get excited all over again. Imagine how you would feel if your favorite artist quoted your tweet and responded. You may not be famous but if you think like a celebrity you may become an underground star.
Enjoy your novelty and use it well. Make others feel like they are discovering great music and even better people. They will share with their friends and soon you will be household names.  @caramelsarajo

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