‘Ear 2 the Ground’ Archive

Biz: Why You Need Musicians Insurance (Pt.1 of 2)

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Being a professional musician these days often means being self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and self-employed. You may throughout your career work with different bands, be signed to different labels, or work for different companies that help shape the story you tell.  One thing that you may not consider until you’ve started to develop your career is the importance of musicians insurance. Whether you’re a band on the road, a studio owner, or a private lesson instructor, several levels of musicians insurance can help ensure that your livelihood is protected.

Indie Ambassador Resources Musicians Insurance

Overheated RV or Roadside Bomb?

HIGHWAY TO HELL

Matt Souza, a freelance drummer in the LA area, hit the road with the band Broke on Friday in 2008 and returned with a tour story that is every musician’s worst nightmare. After a roll of shows in Colorado, the band was driving their rented RV through the desert of Nevada when all of a sudden smoke started billowing out from under the hood. With just enough time to pull off the highway and get everyone moved a safe distance away, the RV exploded into bits and pieces with a mushroom cloud reminiscent of the A-bomb.  In the end, the band lost its PA system, generator, and all individual band members their instruments, computers, clothing, etc. There was over $35k in damage, and with no insurance, none of the lost equipment was covered. Matt was kind enough to talk to us about his experience, and what steps could be taken with musicians insurance to prevent running into a situation like this.
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In-Person Networking Tips for Musicians

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We’ve recently welcomed music marketing savant Jem Bahaijoub as a contributor to the Indie Ambassador Blog. We’ll give you the full rundown on her background and experience later, but for now, check out her most recent article on the topic of face-to-face networking. As Jem points out, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the digital sphere and forget the value of engaging eye contact and a solid handshake. Take a look at her in-person networking pointers as outlined below, and give us any memorable networking stories (good or bad) in the comments!

-Aidan

(ImaginePR) Five Principles of Face-to-Face Networking

Credit: Jem Bahaijoub

Indie Ambassador Blog E2G Physical NetworkingIt’s easy to forget the importance of good old traditional human contact. With all the hype over Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and now Google+, most musicians are under pressure to be online 24 hours a day. However, one of the most effective ways to network is still face-to-face. Remind yourself of these following five principles when you go on your next schmoozathon and you’ll be good to go -

Quality Not Quantity
Networking at industry events should never be viewed as a numbers game. Musicians and industry professionals who race around trying to gather as many business cards as possible are forgetting the most important aspect of networking – good conversation. I strongly believe that establishing a genuine connection with a handful of people (even just one) will make you much more memorable than getting into the face of dozens.

Think of it as similar to dating – ask questions, listen and get to know your colleagues or potential fans. You may not gel with everyone. That’s okay. You don’t always have to aggressively target the people you feel you “should” know. Being relaxed, friendly and genuine will make you much more memorable.

Giving Not Getting
When I first moved to the US, I was really touched by a handful of people I met at events who went out of their way to help me for no reason at all. They either introduced me to friends of theirs or sent me information about a topic of conversation we were discussing. They asked for nothing in return, and as a result instantly stuck in my mind. This made me realize that by focusing on what you can give, rather than what you can get will lead to more valuable relationships in the long-run.
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YouTube to Announce Merch Store for Musicians

Monday, October 17th, 2011

800 million unique visitors. That’s how many YouTube boasts…on a monthly basis. Even more impressive from a musician’s standpoint, YouTube is one of the most popular methods of music consumption and discovery online. But visitors are limited only to the music when visiting an artist’s channel, until now. As Digital Music News reports, YouTube will announce their new consumer-facing merchandise store for musicians on Thursday. Get the details below!

-Aidan

(Digital Music News) Sell Stuff, Straight from Your YouTube Channel…

Credit: Paul

YouTube is arguably the biggest and baddest platform for music consumption. So why not leverage that power-position further with ecommerce?

Glad you asked.  YouTube is now sharing details on Merch Store, a build-out that will allow artists to layer downloads, merchandise, tickets, and other items into their channels.  The formal announcement happens Thursday in New York. “With 800 million people per month coming to YouTube you have a pretty big stage to share your music, and now we’re adding features to also make YouTube your box office, merchandise table and music store,” the company shared on Sunday.

Sounds big, and a really big deal for the early partners involved.  That includes Topspin, which is powering the merchandising portion of the play; and Songkick, which finds itself powering concert ticketing, according to preliminary details.  Amazon and iTunes are on the download side, and more partners are expected in the near future.  We’re not sure if competitors like Bandcamp will also be invited to this party, but let’s see.  Here’s a peek at what the Pomplamoose Merch Store looks like, with Topspin and Songkick powering.

Indie Ambassador Digital Music News YouTube Store Preview

If you’re in New York this week, the Thursday announcement is happening at the Mercury Lounge.  Featured artists include Buckshot, Portugal the Man, and Ryan Leslie, among many others.  RSVP here.

A Rundown on Sample Clearance for Musicians

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The stories of musicians’ careers and lives being ruined by lawsuits over uncleared samples are few, but that doesn’t change the fact that any musician choosing to sample without the rights to do so should at least be aware of the process and reasons why clearing is the law. Ian Clifford of Make it in Music has written a very informative article detailing the two music copyrights, and also threw in a worst nightmare scenario at the end that, again, musicians should at least keep in the back of their minds. Give it a read through and let us know if you have any experience with sample clearance negotiations in the comments.

-Aidan

(Make it in Music) Sampling – A Cautionary Tale

Credit: Ian Clifford

Indie Ambassador E2G Sampling a Cautionary Tale Ian CliffordI used to be a music lawyer and I was a bit of an authority (for a while) on sampling and sample clearance in the early ‘90’s.

Then I ran a bunch of dance labels and worked with a lot of electronic artists.

I have cleared a lot of samples but I have released way more records with samples in them that we didn’t bother to clear.

Why?

Because we thought that no-one would notice that we’d used their music – these were generally small specialist underground records – and that if they did, we would be able to agree something after the event, if the need ever arose.

The reality is that it was too much bother and too expensive to try and clear a sample of an obscure and hard to find piece of music or of a snippet of a big successful tune when you knew that your record was going to sell just a few thousand copies – i.e. we felt at the time that the risk was well worth it. And hundreds of thousands of records have been released with uncleared samples in them.

Will I get sued for using a sample?

There are very, very few cases where someone who samples a record ends up in court – and there’s two reasons for that.

If your record containing an uncleared sample goes from being an underground momentary thing of interest to a limited audience to about to become a radio/commercial hit of any scale, you will quickly clear or remove/replace the offending sample(s). Well, you will, or the indie or major label that have come to sign your record will do it for you.
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Creatively Collecting Email Addresses for Bands

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Time and time again we are told of just how important fans’ email addresses are for musicians. And while most artists recognize the importance of these addresses, many falter when trying to come up with an inventive method for collecting them. After all, no one wants to come across like a cut and dry salesperson. The always creative Brian Hazard has listed ten ways to swap songs for email addresses in his post below — do yourself a favor and give every one some consideration. Have any ideas that weren’t mentioned below? Let us know in the comments! 

-Aidan

Indie Ambassador E2G Know The Music Biz Brian Hazard Email for Song

(Know The Music Biz) 10 Ways to Trade a Song for an Email Address

Credit: Brian Hazard

I measure my success as a recording artist by the growth of my mailing list. The best way to get someone to subscribe is to offer something in return, and a great song is a powerful incentive. Here are ten techniques to negotiate that delicate exchange:

1. The classic squeeze page. You’ve probably stumbled onto one of these before: a fine-tuned infomercial-style pitch with a clear call to action and no exit links. The sole goal of the site, often just a single page, is to generate conversions. In our case, a conversion means “squeezing” an email address out of a potential fan. Seamus Anthony describes the method here and demonstrates it using his own music here. It may do the trick for first-time visitors, but returning fans have no clear path to explore the rest of your content.

2. The homepage squeeze. Identical to the classic squeeze page, except for a small link that takes you to the rest of the site. Returning fans are forced to opt out every visit – an annoying speed bump. Then again, if the free song is rotated often enough, it may encourage repeat visits. Theoretically, a site could use cookies to bypass the squeeze page for return visitors, but I don’t know of any service or WordPress plugin that does it.

3. The “free mp3 download” page. This is my current strategy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An SEO friendly “yourbandname.com/free-mp3-download” URL and clever use of keywords can pull in traffic from Google searchers trying to freeload your music. While a simple “free mp3s” link in your site’s navigation isn’t distracting for repeat visitors, it’s easy to overlook. Still, I’m not going to force my fans to jump through hoops every time they want to post a comment.
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