this is jacked from jpoly’s twitter, which was jacked from NIN blog…


If you are an unknown / lesser-known artist trying to get noticed / established:

* Establish your goals. What are you trying to do / accomplish? If you are looking for mainstream super-success (think Lady GaGa, Coldplay, U2, Justin Timberlake) – your best bet in my opinion is to look at major labels and prepare to share all revenue streams / creative control / music ownership. To reach that kind of critical mass these days your need old-school marketing muscle and that only comes from major labels. Good luck with that one.

If you’re forging your own path, read on.

* Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of mouth is the only true marketing that matters.
To clarify:
Parter with a TopSpin or similar or build your own website, but what you NEED to do is this – give your music away as high-quality DRM-free MP3s. Collect people’s email info in exchange (which means having the infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods. Base the price and amount available on what you think you can sell. Make the packages special – make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU would want to have as a fan. Make a premium download available that includes high-resolution versions (for sale at a reasonable price) and include the download as something immediately available with any physical purchase. Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters… whatever.

Don’t have a TopSpin as a partner? Use Amazon for your transactions and fulfillment. [www.amazon.com]

Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere. [www.tunecore.com]

Have a realistic idea of what you can expect to make from these and budget your recording appropriately.
The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or not. Every piece of music you can think of is available free right now a click away. This is a fact – it sucks as the musician BUT THAT’S THE WAY IT IS (for now). So… have the public get what they want FROM YOU instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process (plus build your database).

The Beastie Boys’ site offers everything you could possibly want in the formats you would want it in – available right from them, right now. The prices they are charging are more than you should be charging – they are established and you are not. Think this through.

The database you are amassing should not be abused, but used to inform people that are interested in what you do when you have something going on – like a few shows, or a tour, or a new record, or a webcast, etc.
Have your MySpace page, but get a site outside MySpace – it’s dying and reads as cheap / generic. Remove all Flash from your website. Remove all stupid intros and load-times. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO NAVIGATE AND EASY TO FIND AND HEAR MUSIC (but don’t autoplay). Constantly update your site with content – pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and start a community. Engage your fans (with caution!) Make cheap videos. Film yourself talking. Play shows. Make interesting things. Get a Twitter account. Be interesting. Be real. Submit your music to blogs that may be interested. NEVER CHASE TRENDS. Utilize the multitude of tools available to you for very little cost of any – Flickr / YouTube / Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.

If you don’t know anything about new media or how people communicate these days, none of this will work. The role of an independent musician these days requires a mastery of first hand use of these tools. If you don’t get it – find someone who does to do this for you. If you are waiting around for the phone to ring or that A & R guy to show up at your gig – good luck, you’re going to be waiting a while.

Hope this helps, and I’ll scour responses for intelligent comments I can respond to.


TopSpin Media info:

This was written on a bumpy Euro-bus ride across the wilderness – may ramble a bit but I think the point gets across.

Thanks for the insightful comments already – when I get a moment (and a reliable internet connection) I’ll respond to some of your very valid points. Please keep in mind – these were just some thoughts I quickly wrote down and posted and not meant to be a complete guide by any means. I’ve neglected to get into publishing and some other things. I’ll update pretty soon.

Here’s a message from Ian Rogers of TopSpin

Here’s a few responses – more to come when I get time.


This looks excellent to me. I have not used it but it appears to be great. This would cover your digital distribution of files and the collecting / amassing of your database. Looks like you’d still need someplace to handle fulfillment of merchandise / physical goods (like the Amazon link above).

Pay-what-you-want model
This is where you offer tracks or albums for a user-determined price. I hate this concept, and here’s why.
Some have argued that giving music away free devalues music. I disagree. Asking people what they think music is worth devalues music. Don’t believe me? Write and record something you really believe is great and release it to the public as a “pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth” model and then let’s talk. Read a BB entry from a “fan” rationalizing why your whole album is worth 50 cents because he only likes 5 songs on it. Trust me on this one – you will be disappointed, disheartened and find yourself resenting a faction of your audience. This is your art! This is your life! It has a value and you the artist are not putting that power in the hands of the audience – doing so creates a dangerous perception issue. If the FEE you are charging is zero, you are not empowering the fan to say this is only worth an insultingly low monetary value. Don’t be misled by Radiohead’s In Rainbows stunt. That works one time for one band once – and you are not Radiohead.

Why put something on iTunes for a price fans can get it from your site for free? Won’t it piss people off?
Do it and don’t worry about it. Lots of people apparently shop at iTunes exclusively and that’s where they get their music. They are generally not the people that would be mad to discover they could have gotten the same record (at a better bit-rate) for free elsewhere. We put The Slip up at nin.com for free at all fidelities and STILL sold a fairly large amount of copies at iTunes for $9.99. At the time iTunes did not allow variable pricing (I don’t know what the deal is now).

My Flash comments
I don’t hate Flash, just go easy on it and avoid anything that takes time to load – ESPECIALLY your front page.

Managers / booking agents / small labels
Any or all of these may be good for you – or not. Here’s a truth: nobody knows what to do right now, me included. The music business model is broken right now. That means every single job position in the music industry has to re-educate itself and learn / discover / adapt a new way. Change can be painful and hard and scary. If any of these entities we’re discussing are interested in you, ask them about their strategies IN DETAIL. None of them know for sure what to do. Some of them have an idea of how to negotiate these waters. Most of them don’t. If you are young and use the internet, you know more about your audience than they do – for sure. This is a revolution and you can be a part of it. The old guard is dying, if you have good ideas – try them.
Bottom line – before getting involved with anyone else, ask yourself what it is they can clearly bring to your table and is it worth their cut. Do they know what they’re talking about, and does their strategies match yours?

I have not gotten into the basics which I believe are self-evident: believe in what you do, do the best work you can, work hard, practice, practice more, find your voice, hone in on it, take chances, play live (if applicable), practice more, keep believing in yourself and prepare for the long haul.

Category: Rec Shit


9 Responses

  1. sooo…does this mean we can start pushing out some up cuts…cause that’s what it sounds like.

  2. not haji p says:

    I think that guy meant to say “HP” cuts. But he probably has a stupid iPhone, with a stupid auto correct that doesn’t recognize “hp” as a legitimate noun.

  3. mfshalem says:

    i very much want to put out some hp cuts. i very much want to finish an hp album. i very much want to hear the new songs, not to mention mix and master them. i love hp. regular guy raps, with a lil’ somethin’ extra… extra “p”. get it?… get it, got it, good.

    Only a ____ wears new shoes to the club on ladies night.

  4. Rob Rush says:

    Everyone is looking at me now huh…. alright, we finished everything yesterday… looks like bounce down time.

  5. mfshalem says:

    as far as what this post is about… i agree with it all, especially this part…. “Here’s a truth: nobody knows what to do right now, me included.”

    I can’t get over how MANY rappers there are nowadays. At least you could count them in the 90s/early 2000’s, it’s out of control now. It’s too easy to record and put up a myspace page/ start a tunecore account now.

    I think vinyl is coming back, I want to start pressing 7″s of single songs, song on one side, instrumental on the flip. collectable. and 12″ singles with instrumentals and acapellas.

    here’s a list of shit that makes an artist a little more “elite” at each step.

    myspace/facebook page – 5 billion people have this, all you have to do is record your songs, which you can do on any laptop.

    .com website- this has more authenticity, you have to either know how to build websites, or be invested enough to pay someone to do it properly. as everything else, you can tell instantly whether the artist is legit. I like what trent wrote about the websites.

    youtube videos – this weeds it down a LITTLE, just have to upload crappy 30 second video clips, more elite when there are “videos”. live performances, found image videos, “real” videos. once again, you can tell how professional they are by how busted their videos look. shot on a camera phone vs. hd.

    Flyers/Posters/business cards- you can tell instantly who is “doing this shit themselves at home on photoshop” and who has a real graphic designer. remember, as with EVERYTHING in life, you get what you pay for.

    T-shirts and stickers- here’s a step where a lot of people get cut out, this step usually goes along with someone who actually performs on a regular basis.

    burnt cds- not that hard to do, bootleg style, your man has a burner and you print your own covers and insterts etc. very common.

    real cds- you have to spend at least around $1,000 to press. this is where all the hobby/part-timers get cut out. You have to at least be semi-serious to press real cds.

    vinyl- in order of importance (45s/12inch/10inch/full-length) here is a real cut off, you won’t make any quick money off vinyl, you have to be serious about music to put the time, effort, and money into pressing vinyl. It also means the music is better, no one is going to press a “throw away” or “mixtape” song on vinyl. Has to be a song that you want to last FOREVER. that’s probably my favorite thing about records. Cds are disposable, records are permanent.

  6. QM says:

    Vinyl has been back For like the past year or so… on late night shows the music groups hold up vinyl when they’re being announced….it blew my mind the first time I saw it. But pay attention next time you watch Conan, letterman, fallon etc. Vinyl singles are a good look if you do like super limited runs

  7. Mashka says:

    ene IU fan uulzaltiin taaalr delgerengui medee oruulaarai amjilt , asuult: busad adminuud maani yaachwaa huurhii Uka chi gantsaaraa medee hiigeed yadarchinu, saihan medee oruulj bgadchin bayarlaa amjilt

  8. Greta says:

    Areitlcs like this make life so much simpler.

Leave a Reply

Upcoming Shows

For booking info email Info@RoutineFly.com

New Music