It will never be perfect…

My bio says that I started in the music industry when I was 9 years old and would carry my uncle’s equipment.  What about my step into entrepreneurial music business?

I started a record label. Our mission was successful.  Take a town with little to no publicized hip-hop scene and turn it into a town where artists could get shows, media was calling, and fans were purchasing.  We stopped the record label around the time I moved so that artists and everyone involved could go their separate ways, but, I want to prove something here.

What right did I have to play expert and start a record label? Record labels take vast knowledge of the industry and up until that point I just knew how to market an artist (very well I might add).  The truth? I didn’t know what I was doing 100% of the time, all I had was a dream and an obtainable goal in mind.

There is never a perfect time to go for something, if you spend your life waiting until you’ve learned enough, or you’ve planned enough, you will never get anywhere.  I made plenty of mistakes along the way, I put money into things I didn’t necessarily need and purchased glossy flyers when matte would’ve done just fine.  I’m glad I did these things though, I learned greatly from them.  Running my record label gave me the knowledge to pay attention to every detail, delegate, and all around get things done.

But that doesn’t matter.  The most important thing that it taught me was this:

If you have a dream and you don’t pursue it NOW, you can’t expect it to come.

Will certain things not work out? Yes, and you make adjustments and carry on.  You can’t find out what works if you don’t learn what does not first.

If you want to work with someone, why are you waiting?  You should contact them as soon as possible! But, make sure you are networking properly, don’t just ask them to do something for you… that’s bad business. Want to release an album?  Why aren’t you working on it?  As an artist you’re never below anyone or anything, so long as you take action.

Do something for yourself today so you can make it count tomorrow.

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Thanksgiving reminds us that…

Every year, during Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the importance of being humble.

If you’ve seen my article over at skemusic.com (Check it out here) you know my feelings on how being humble can increase an artists overall network, and the importance of being humble in this industry as a whole.

But why?

Continuing with the theme this week: It helps you relate to your fans on an individual level.  If you go around acting like you’re better than everyone, when the reality is your just fronting, the possibility of building a genuine fan base is going to greatly dwindle.

Though I don’t agree with the true historical context of Thanksgiving, I greatly appreciate the accepted overall message behind it. The message of reflection, of taking the time to acknowledge the things which you are thankful to have in your life.  A time where even the most egotistic people are humble.

Its important to remain humble.  I promise, if you remain humble in your socializing, you will receive greater praise for your accomplishments, and will no longer need to tell people to “get like you” rather they will tell you that they are trying to get to your level.  I prefer praise from outside my own psyche personally.

So with that being said, here is my official list.

50 Things I Am Thankful For:

  1. My Family
  2. My Friends
  3. My Team
  4. Having food of Thanksgiving
  5. My Network
  6. You
  7. Music
  8. Hip-Hop
  9. Culture
  10. Knowing my ancestry
  11. Being able to follow my dreams
  12. Having the ability to think on my own
  13. Being humble
  14. Having to work hard
  15. Belief in a higher-power
  16. Technology
  17. DJs
  18. Rappers
  19. Musicians
  20. Go-Getters
  21. Michigan
  22. The Midwest
  23. The negativity that keeps pushing me to be better
  24. Positive people
  25. Good health
  26. Having the opportunity to gain the experience I’ve gained in the music industry
  27. Education
  28. Moleskin notebooks
  29. Hoodies
  30. Sports
  31. My German Shepherd who keeps watch on my house
  32. Books
  33. Having the ability to travel
  34. Having been overseas
  35. Living in America…even though there are a lot of foul things that take place…its still a great country to live in.
  36. Having leadership skills
  37. Being a fairly good speaker
  38. Relaxation after working hard
  39. Big Brothers, Big Sisters & American Red Cross: Two organizations I volunteered for who truly care about the people they affect.
  40. Having shelter and clothing
  41. Koala Yummies (don’t ask, I’m old school)
  42. Lemonade stands as a kid, for teaching the foundations of business
  43. Teachers and Mentors
  44. Everyone who pushed me to do better
  45. The UP, eh?
  46. The ability to communicate instantly with people all over the world
  47. Sharing of ideas via mastermind groups
  48. Being able to give back
  49. Community
  50. Those people who strive to make the world better even when the odds are against them

Have a great and humble Thanksgiving!

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How Are You Talking to Your Fanbase?

If you don’t have an E-mail list yet, stop reading this, go out and set up the service, then come back and read this.

As an artist, you NEED to have an E-mail list that your fans can sign-up for.  However, I see a problem with the way many artists are using their E-mail list. Nobody is building genuine connections with their list of people. Very few are trying to tell their story.

I’m not going to get into telling your story because everyone talks about having a story (an integral part of being an artist).  But I want to discuss getting that story to your fans.

The majority of the E-mails from lists I receive from artists have the following in common:

  • I never signed up for them
  • Every E-mail they are trying to hard sell me on something
  • There is no strategy behind when they are sent (sometimes I don’t get an Email for a month)
  • The subjects are typical
  • There is no creativity
  • No Reward

Let’s break these down a little.

I never signed up for the list:

I understand the need to reach as many people as possible, but you definitely should not just add people who’s Email’s you see.  When you do this, a lot of times, your message is going unnoticed entirely.  So, how would you go about adding people to your list if they are someone you met and they gave you their Email address?  Shoot them a personal Email along the lines of “Hey, we talked at ______.  I’d love it if you checked out my website, also when you sign up for my Email list you’ll get a free mixtape that we did”  I’ve gotten a few Emails like this, and while I didn’t sign up for every list, I signed up for a few of them.

Having genuine subscribers also boosts your credibility, I’d rather work with an  artist who has a loyal Email list of 500 than an artist who has a list of 1000 that deletes their Emails or moves them to spam.

Every Email Someone is Trying to Hard Sell Me:

If I begin receiving Emails and I notice a pattern of someone trying to sell me the same stuff everytime.  I’m going to get in the habit of deleting those Emails before I even receive them.  Soft selling is much better if your working the same products.  Try, at the bottom, something like “Oh, by the way, be sure to check out my latest CD here: URL”.

But what should you put for the body of your Email, then?  This is where you tell your stories, people/fans, love stories.  You can discuss the process behind writing one of your songs, something funny that happened while recording, you can take a video of a recording session and hit up your Email list telling them its been posted while giving a little background to the video.

Creating a personal touch to your Emails is SO important to creating fans that convert.  I guarantee the artist who connects with their fans will sell more than the artist who never gets personal.

Subjects Are Typical:

I receive a lot of Emails per day.  If the subject doesn’t catch my attention, I probably miss it. Especially with Artists lists! I can’t even tell you how many Emails I receive that say “NEW SONG CHECK IT OUT NOW!” Be creative with your Subjects, play off of your song name.  If your song name is something like “Never lasts forever” make your subject something like “I knew it wouldn’t last…” you’re going to get people curious to find out WHAT wouldn’t last. That’s your key to a creative subject line.  Getting the fans to be curious enough to open your Email.

No Strategy:

If you’re going to build an Email list, be consistent.  Consistency will ensure that you or your band’s name is fresh in your fanbases mind.  This doesn’t mean send a bunch of Emails a week, it just means find a formula and create a strategy around your Emails.  There is no need to go into anything blind.

No Creativity:

As with any music marketing, promotion, or networking campaign, you NEED to be creative with your approach.  The creative artists are the ones who are breaking molds and building loyal fans.  Why send a message to your fans if you aren’t going to be at least a little creative?

No Reward:

Why would I sign up for an Email list, just to be on an Email list?  Make sure you’re offering people free music, videos, etc.  I also like the approach of occasionally throwing free music exclusively to the Email list to keep giving them reasons (besides your personal, creative, strategic Emails 😉 ) to stay on your list and not click that “unsubscribe” button.

—–

Musicians and Artists need to look at their fans as people, people who want value behind the things they are involved in.  Give them a reason that you’re different from the rest of the artists and musicians out there.

-Eric

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Are you selling smart?

When you walk into a retail store and buy a product, I guarantee the sales people don’t just say “thanks” and let you go on your way.

No, generally they are going to make sure that you have all of the accessories you need, that you have any services they offer, and that any possible item that goes with the core product you are purchasing is indeed offered.

After all, what right do they have to determine what you have the ability to purchase?  It’s only right that they make sure you are aware of any products that may benefit you.

A lot of times, when selling music, we forget to offer all of our products.  Artists need to pay attention to their backend!  You may have just sold me your CD, but when is your next show? Do you have any merchandise? Any DVD’s? Do you do anything else in the industry (i.e. master, design, etc)?

These are all important services and products that any potential fans deserve to know about!  Simply saying “yeah, check my myspace, I post on there” is not going to help you reach your goals.  Build a connection with your potential fans, show them all of the quality entertainment you offer as an artist.

I’m currently working on a report that I will release exclusively to my Newsletter Subscribers (for free) on ways to sell backend products to people buying your CDs.

So be sure to go to the upper right hand corner and subscribe to my newsletter.  It’s free! Plus you get my Report on the Top Ten Mistakes New Artists Make.

If you want to ask a question, simply hit up the “contact” section.  I usually reply within an hour of receiving the Email. Plus, if I feel the question will benefit a lot of people, I may post about it.

-Eric Phillipson

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What Can You Learn From Yahoo’s Troubles?

Yahoo has been in the news lately for its trouble striking a deal.  Yahoo had been the target of deals with such giants as Google as well as Microsoft,  with Microsoft offering a $47.5B takeover, and Google working advertising deals (an avenue Yahoo is struggling with).

Needless to say, Yahoo did not work both of the deals.  Then, later this year Microsoft said they were no longer interested in Yahoo.

Finally, I just read that Yahoo’s co-founding CEO Jerry Yang has resigned from his position.

Ok, so what does this have to do with you?

It teaches us a lesson.

When deals are on your plate, you SHOULD look at them. Let me make a quick note here though, I am not referring to record deals (though you should look at those, with an attorney). I am referring to contacts that may come your way wanting you to work with them. Too many times people strike down “deals” with people willing to work with them. Now, there are a lot of people out there who may just want your money, so be careful.

When evaluating deals you should always look at the following:

  • What do you get out of the deal?
  • What are they getting out of the deal?
  • What kind of investment (if any) is required?
  • Who is attempting to make the deal?
  • Where is this person located?
  • When are the requiring your time?
  • How will this deal affect your time?

Each of these should be done in depth, of course, but by following these simple guidelines you are giving yourself a better shot of finding a proper partner.

Don’t forget to also consult your team! They are there because you trust them, and they work hard!  Plus, if you have selected a proper team, they will give you their No BS opinion.

-Eric Phillipson

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How Ready Are You?

Today, while I was out and about getting things done, I ran into a little problem.

See, I was expecting to be booked all day, but at the last minute I had a networking call canceled. This meant I had about 3 hours of my day to kill. Now, I like to stay busy, so I tend to fill my book with ideas.

Moleskin Notebook: Check

Here’s the issue, though.  The majority of my projects deal with computer work, so I ran into a few issues.

1.  I was out and about and had forgotten my laptop

-See, this wasn’t that big of an issue because computers are widely available via University’s and internet cafe’s.

I went to the local University and hopped on a computer and thats when productivity lost.

2. I forgot my jump-drive

-This was a problem.  Without the jump drive and computer, it means I’m not getting much done.  I hate being unproductive.

3. Phone was not charged

-I don’t know how you are, but I use my phone like people breathe.  It’s my MP3 player, my secondary memopad, my voice memo recorder, my Email system, my internet access, and of course my phone, so needless to say I drain a battery like its nothing.

Why do I tell you about this?

Well, it reminded me of the importance of keeping all of your tools on you at all times.  As an artist you should always have a demo cd and a press kit on you or nearby at all times.  You never know when you’ll go to a club and meet someone who just might be able to help you.

Being without your own product can make you seem as though you aren’t serious about your products.  Just as most business people are quick to present a business card upon request, you should have a demo available or a sampler cd available upon request.

A simple, yet, very important and effective tip.

Be sure to do something effective today

-Eric

By the way, I ended up going to Borders Bookstore and reading up on some topics I’ve been meaning to learn about.  Remember, lingering on what you don’t have doesn’t get you to what you want.

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