DIY Religion


November 2nd, 2011


“This is the first time in the history of popular music that the artist can define success on their own instead of the industry defining it. No longer are you successful if you go platinum or gold or win a Grammy. You can actually have your own success idea and form a success plan around that definition of success.” – Steven Beer, Entertainment Lawyer

I attended the DIY Religion Panel at CMJ, where six industry experts discussed why and how emerging artists can make the most of the increasingly decentralized industry. I’ve condensed the discussion into a few key points in the hopes that some of their ideas might help you musicians out there create a sustainable career. 

Let’s assume you have created a truly great album in this age of (honestly) mediocre to good singles. It’s time to get noticed.

1. When you play gigs, make the most of your performances. Recording yourself would help you understand your strengths so that you can emphasize them in the future. You may also want to note when your audience seems particularly enthusiastic (or tired). Try to open for a variety of acts to expand both of your audiences.

2. Turn your audience into fans. You could pass out a free download card in exchange for email addresses. A mailing list is usually the best way to communicate noteworthy updates. Never be satisfied with the number of names on your mailing list, always recruit!

3. Once you start to communicate with fans, be aware of “speaking” in a consistent voice and that different mediums demand different kinds of communication. For example, if you have every Twitter post automatically reposted to Facebook, your Facebook posts will stop appearing in others’ NewsFeeds. Covering famous songs on YouTube is a good way to get clicks. Also, us fans like it when you are personal and share updates in terms of quality not quantity.

So now that you have so many folks paying attention to your band, it’s time to look internally at your goals as a musician. DIY is about keeping control over your art, not doing everything alone! Managers who believe in your music are worthwhile, and the ability to delegate might as well be a virtue. Try sitting down to write a two-year plan. Where do you want to go and how are your going to get there? Your manager and your plan are there to help you be objective day-to-day. If your plan involves publicity on underground blogs and online magazines, include steps to re-use that glowing review wisely!

 Now it’s time to see if you can make a living off of your art. I know you’ve told everyone on your new mailing list to check out your BandCamp site and scored a few paying gigs. The next step may be as easy as selling tshirts to your friends. Make merch yourself or check out SoulBlendr.com. Especially if you are considering fundraising with a KickStarter, remember that people don’t really want to give you their money; they want something unique and interesting in order to support you. Also, never underestimate the power of guerilla marketing tactics!

I hope you make it big or at least make a band-tee I can wear.

Madison Poche


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