It’s now Feb. ’09, and I’m getting this year’s plan together for the jcouncil, so first thing to do is to take all of last year’s stuff and file it away, take a quick look back, and update the goal, strategy, and survey pages. I have posted last year’s pages below.
from the 2008 site:
With this site I will attempt to define my plan, gather feedback, and adapt. I spent the Fall researching and creating this plan. I owe a large part to the business strategies of three books: 1. The 4Hr Work Week by Tim Ferris 2. The Future of Music by David Kusek and 3. Making Money Making Music by Eric Beall. From these I took the following lessons.
- Focus on short-term goals and work ever smarter, not harder.
- The future of music is digital, where marketing and distribution are one.
- The best steady income, though slow to establish, is from licensing.
- Find your niche. The sharper the targeting, the more effective.
To keep the spirit of this site right, I refer to a quote from Making Music Make Money:
…the music business is such a constantly shifting landscape, with trends emerging and receding faster than any company can respond, that it may be best to keep your business plan fluid, with general strategies and flexible goals. If you want to put it down on paper, that’s great. But the important thing is to internalize your plan–so that you carry it in your head, constantly referring to is, reassessing and revising it as needed. – Eric Beall, Making Music Make Money p. 40
Thank you for looking through the site, and please take the survey when you’re done (tab-link at top).
My Dream Is To Be
- A prolific, poetic songwriter
- Known world-wide as one of Austin’s best singer/songwriters
- Able to retire on music income
Working backward from these broad goals, here is my idea of what they mean and what would indicate I was achieving them.
Inspired: Prolific Poet
- weekly song – write, produce, post song, story, versions, podcast
- bi-annual show – great local gig with full band, production, and marketing
- yearly album – best songs of the year, polished, packaged, promoted
by Jan 1
- begin podcast
- weekly post – developing songs for next album, porch song
- practice/record band to inform production
- determine studio/recording needs
- post – share raw track with parts, get feedback
- determine studio/recording options, make choice
- get studio/players scheduled to record
- post – use solicited feedback to shape album choices?
- finish recording all parts
- work with designer on artwork
- mix, master
- research and send to manufacturer
Recognized: Austin’s Best
- site analytics: hits, time spent on site, songs downloaded, new/returning visitors, subscribers to newsletter, podcast, rss
- my contact list: number and quality of contacts; grow fans, but more importantly, grow industry contacts
- press: print and online record review, articles, mentions, etc.; mp3 blogs
- airlplay: local and national radio, internet stations; get played from light to heavy rotation; distribution/inclusion on any site or station like Rhapsody
- screenplay: get on the soundtrack to anything on screen inlcuding films, TV, ads, online video, etc.
- tighten up and add to my contact list daily, get in the ‘keep-in-contact’ habit
- find a good list manager system for keeping lists, sending/tracking emails
- reposition my site for maximum conversion/interaction and tracking
- begin sending my weekly email 1st Mon., Jan. 7th
- grow my list of 250 to 300
- compile my list of Austin and online press
- court local ASCAP, BMI, SESAC
6 – 9 mos
- release my 2nd album to a packed Cactus CD release, best gig ever, record and post online
- get reviewed in Austin Chronicle and 11 other publications (print or online)
- get coverage on 12 mp3 blogs
- get airplay and in-studio on KGSR, KUT, KOOP, KVRX
- grow my list to 500 people
Professional: Music Income
In addition establishing an income stream, this first year is really about beginning to benchmark income and return on my investments, time and mony. The result will be an ongoing barometer for which of my efforts are paying off. I have begun to populate a hypothetical spreadsheet mostly to demonstrate the diversity of earning potential with revenue streams I want to develop.
Potential income broken down by revenue stream
As I have indicated, the two growth areas with the most potential seem to be, first, digital sales (of mp3s through my site, iTunes, or others) and, in the long-run, various licensing deals that produce a growing number of periodic royalty checks. I see a large part of what I am doing now as simply establishing a track record to make me attractive to industry folks. In the first few years income may not point anywhere near retirement, but this will be the equivalent of getting past the breakers, out to the ocean of opportunity.
Whether it is a deal with a record label or publishing house I seek, I must first make myself desirable and legitimate. I hear this played out and stated time and time again: If an artist can demonstrate a solid and growing list of fans, songs, albums, publicity, sales, venues, distribution, and licensing, they can impress the people who are looking for artists who are ready for the next level and worthy of their investment. These people appear much more attractive to the music biz. Not only does my success, however modest, as a business make me more attractive, but it means I am in better bargaining position when the deals get made.
- make $50 a month through digital distribution
- set up my publishing office, business, materials
- make one good industry contact a month
- make $100 a month through digital distribution
- get one song published (album, film, etc.)
Please leave comments below.
produce songs > web presence > digital distribution & marketing > sales & licensing
Roughly speaking I’m figuring I ought to split my time 50/50, music and marketing. Success hinges on a steady output of good new material. The first discipline I must learn is rigorous creativity, the fountain of my joy. If I can keep to the habit of creating, while working on the habit of recording and quickly producing a/v content on a weekly basis, that becomes the essence of what I can provide my audience. This will be the primary way I provide not just a product but an experience for an audience to be involved with. Freinds, fans, industry can watch and take part in the evolution of my songwriting.
Posting songs (videos, pictures, podcasts, favorites, stories, poetry) and updating fans replaces playing gigs as a more efficient way of gaining recognition and interest in this first stage of getting exposure and get discovered. Beyond becoming an Internet music-production and direct online-marketing machine, I need help from the music biz with digital distribution and publishing (getting my songs pushed and covered). The goal of the Internet-based marketing plan will be to get interest from the media/marketing industry and attract fans. A pinch of attention from the right review is worth a pound of fan interest. The goal of this phase will be to gather the type of attention that Doug did with NPR where awareness, hits, sales, shot up a thousand-fold.
Here’s the breakdown for how I spend my time and structure my approach.
- Music Creation & Documentation – ‘In Studio’ & ‘Live’ a/v for online 10 hrs
- Marketing 10 hrs/wk
- Marketing/Distribution 5 hrs
- Directly through my site – post a/v, rss, podcast, weekly newsletter
- Through partner sites/services – iTunes, Rhapsody, Paste, Pitchfork, MP3 blogs, reviews
- Publishing 5 hrs
- Musicians – get covered by big artists
- Music directors – movies, tv, games, ads
- Marketing/Distribution 5 hrs
I want a rich, active connection directly to my Internet fan base as well as to my chief industry contacts.
Perhaps, as in the past, we can once again become part of the experience of music, rather than the static purchasers of it. We can be involved, we can cheer our favorite artist on, we can participate in events and react to them, and we can actually make a difference–as the audience or the creator, or both. This fits in nicely with a general trend in our society, of moving, step-by-step, from the “Information Society” via the “Knowledge Economy” to the “Experience Society,” as we will explore in this book–that is, from a place where we are mere recipients of a flow of data and information, as in the traditional media models, to a place in which a lot more value is being placed on experiencing things first-hand and unfiltered. p. 13
The real promise of the Web is to develop an online audience large enough to be my own marketer and distributer, cutting out all middle-men. I need to define and my brand presence enough to get attention that breeds more and more attention. To do this I need to balance the updating and promotion of my site with participation in other networks/communities, being an active member, getting feedback, fans.
This starts with direct marketing and distribution through my site. The first thing I’d like to do is re-work my site. I want it to quickly showcase what I do, to get people to sign-up for my list, the podcast, or rss feed. I want to grow my site traffic. If I can get people coming to me for music,
Next comes every fruitful partnership possible. This starts with the revenue from CDBaby’s direct digital sales and extends outward from iTunes to any site that can sell copies and give me a good cut. The circle quickly expands to mp3 blogs and other community networks.
Of course, the real steady money in the music business is in publishing, where songwriters, due to the compulsory mechanical royalty on all records sold and the revenues that flow from public performance, can often make a decent living over a reasonable period of time–nickels and dimes from a multitude of sources…Publishing and all kinds of licensing will likely be digital cash-cows for artists and writers, in the future even more so than today. p.108+110
Ultimately, this is probably my best bet for actually retiring comfortably. Though initially I will focus on making and releasing a new album, press and getting digital distribution growing, I want to set some simple goals for getting this up and running, the number of contacts I make per month, and one good song placement by the end of the year. Following the release of a new CD, I will have a new product to offer as soundtrack material. I need to set up my publishing business in time to promote the next CD onto the screen, discovering which type of screen that may be.