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Unfortunately, we all can’t be Regis Philbin from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Nepholococcygia is the practice of doing what?
A. Finding shapes in clouds
B. Sleeping with your eyes open
C. Breaking glass with your voice
D. Swimming in freezing water
For those of you without a falsetto range, don’t worry. The answer is not C, it’s A: Finding shapes in clouds. This was the million dollar winning question on the T.V show Who wants to be a millionaire? For one American, this question changed his life forever, but we all aren’t millionaires, and some of us don’t really care for Regis Philibin. Finding funding to create your dream, to record your album, and to get studio time isn’t as easy as choosing A, B, C, or D. So how do musicians without million-dollar answers find the funding they need to reach their dreams? Does crowd funding really work?
You’re not going to reach stardom and fame in the music industry with your head in the clouds, nor by finding shapes in them either. Musicians know that if you want to record a full studio album, as well as promote your band outside the city you live in, there is real work to be done. Things aren’t like they used to be 20 years ago. It’s not really safe to go door to door, and you’re probably not cute enough to sell cookies and lemonade on the corner. When I first heard about crowd funding, I was a little hesitant because it’s an advertisement to the world basically saying “I Need Help.” But then I came to realize maybe it’s true! We can’t all get there on our own.
Pro-bono music just doesn’t exist anymore. If you’re like me, it’s hard to be humble and ask for money. Nobody likes a hand me down. As artists, we like to feel that we’ve earned our money. On the other hand, we have minimum wage jobs, families to feed, rent to pay, and what was once a coin jar on the kitchen counter for your next album, has now become a coin jar to fix the kitchen sink. So before you become too critical about asking for money, hear me out: I think crowd funding is a viable option and there are several ways to go about it.
Founded in 2009, Kickstarter was one of the first crowd funding companies built on the principle that the artist retains full creative control. More often than not, record labels and producers manipulate the musician’s sound more than they objectively support it. They’re in it for the money, and they believe that their two cents is deserving of their two cents (and usually more). KickStarter is different. What they’re essentially saying is, We want to help you raise the funds to create your project, and when we help you get there, we’re not going to tell you how to produce it. The con to Kickstarter: You won’t receive a single dime unless you’ve reached your funding goal. That’s right! Even if you reach 99% of your goal, you won’t get any money unless the funding has fully come in. The pro is that it motivates you to promote yourself, because no one is going to benefit from making 65% of their goal. If you reach your goal, Kickstarter will charge a 5% fee and another payment and processing fee of 3-5%. In the end, they’ll make around 10% for helping you fund your album. It’s not a bad deal and it keeps you motivated to promote your own success (which is good practice for promoting your band anyway.)
In my opinion, one of the best things about Kickstarter is that they are a Benefits Corporation. What that means is that they are a for profit company that is “obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society.” Not only are their decisions eco-friendly, but they also make decisions based upon the impact of small communities. Whether you’ve thought about it or not, maybe artists do have a responsibility to making this world a better place. Kickstarter seems to be conveying the same message.
Interested? Check them out here: kickstarter.com
With buzzwords like Campaign, Momentum, and Marketing, Indiegogo has a slightly different approach to crowd funding than Kickstarter, but with the same end goal in mind. Indiegogo is efficient in their approach to supporting your funding. Some of the major differences include: pre-campaigning, multiple funding models, and continual funding after your campaign is over.
Indiegogo believes fully in the campaign of your work. They offer “coming soon pages” and pre-campaign tools to get you the head start you’ll definitely need. Indiegogo also emphasizes the importance of keeping close contact with your funding companies and communities every step of the way. Finally, Indiegogo offers certain project packages that allows you to keep your money, even if you don’t meet your funding goal. They highlight this as a primary advantage over Kickstarter. As a less familiar crowd funding company, Indiegogo knows the crowd funding competition is fierce so they’ve even provided a link of the differences between their company vs. Kickstarter. You can view that here: Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter
In my opinion, one of the greatest things about Indiegogo is their tools and resources, as well as the variety of funding models they offer, (especially offering you the $$$ even if you don’t reach your goal.) I haven’t worked with Indiegogo specifically, but they certainly have a milieu of resources available to you through the services that they offer. Maybe you should Go Go and check out the site for yourself.
Interested? Check out Indiegogo here: www.indiegogo.com
Though an excellent site and resource, gofundme is a little more rudimentary than the other two crowd funding companies. Gofundme doesn’t seem to cater to artists as much as it does to the general public, which might be a good thing. (Maybe your aunt and uncle who don’t know so much about music would be more willing to donate to this site as opposed to the alternatives). Many of the projects range from raising money for a family member’s illness, to charity support and benefit. They offer step by step instructions that even Regis could follow. The website isn’t as chatty and gets right down to the point with lines like, “Make it Personal,” or “Keep it Simple.”
Gofundme advertises itself as the most trusted fundraising platform, and it also triumphs in slogans like, “More money raised here than any where else.” In Tips on how to raise money, Gofundme emphasizes importance on the name of your campaign, which I think is pretty wise. They also suggest events like “hosting your own brunch,” “emails and newsletters” and “Walk-A-Thons.” In my opinion, Gofundme is a great way to go if you have a huge following and support already. Gofundme seems to cater more to groups than it does to individuals or band members.
Interested? Check out the site for yourself: gofundme.com
So… For those of you who’d rather sit outside and practice nepholococcygia, maybe you can start imagining dollar signs in those clouds, but for the rest of you, I offer my own million Dollar Question:
What’s the Best way to fund your Album?
D. Ask your rich Aunt Suzie
Or…. Maybe there’s an E.
E. Do everything you can to implement your own knowledge and research into your decisions. Work hard. Be an artist who cares enough to put in the time and effort. Being a successful musician or artist is a lot of work. It’s more than posters and flyers, having money and the owning the right microphone. Being an artist means being fully dedicated to who you are. If you want to raise the funds needed to create the Album you’ve always wanted, than go out there and do it. Hopefully the 3 companies I’ve listed can be a jumpstart to the musical career you deserve. But earn it, and then let me know how it goes. If I see your own project on a site, maybe I’ll donate a buck or two. Until then, I’m going to Go Go and Kickstart it on the couch.
Imagine this: you’re an inventor, and you have built a new kind of multi-tool for home construction that nobody has seen before. You’re certain this tool is fantastic, your family raves about it, and now you want to sell it to the mass market. Do you march up to Home Depot and tell them how awesome your tool is? Maybe, but there’s a 99.9 percent chance they will tell you to go home. A massive company like Home Depot won’t waste their time and money stocking a product nobody knows about –– even if it is the best invention since the light bulb. In other words, if there’s no market demand for it, there’s no way Home Depot can make money from it. It’s the same with big booking agencies. Large, traditional booking agent’s don’t bother with unproven bands because they can’t make money working with them.
What do booking agents do?
Traditional booking agencies make exclusive deals with nationally-touring artists who are signed to a record label. They typically only book artists who draw, at minimum, 75 fans per show, per city. They don’t book bands based on talent: to them, it doesn’t matter that you can riff at a hundred miles an hour, or hit the high note, or win every rap battle you enter. What they care about is how many fans you typically draw to a show regardless of promotion.
Note that a typical booking agent isn’t there to build your fan base, either. Their role is to serve as the go-between for artists and venues. A booking agent for Lady Gaga doesn’t have anything to do with her promotion strategy, or nurturing her artistic goals. They simply work to match her to appropriate performance venues, and leave it to others to promote.
How can unsigned acts book shows?
Small or unsigned artists experience a bit of a Catch-22. In order to book shows with the big agencies, they need a fan base –– but in order to build a fan base, they need to book more shows. These music groups need a no-nonsense booking service that sees emerging artists as more than just a number on a roster.
When you join the Afton community, it doesn’t matter how unknown or unsigned you are. We serve as your event organizer, promoter, and booking agent, all in one. We can provide the boost you need to cross the bridge from obscurity into publicity. Because we’re musicians, too, we relate to artists of all levels with a level of awareness you won’t find at traditional booking agencies.
Since 2004, Afton has booked over 60,000 local acts in more than 10,500 Afton concerts, 40 cities, and 200 music venues. Afton is now the largest Booking Agent and Promoter of unsigned, independent local bands and rappers in the United States. Start booking with AFTON now to grow your fan base and get the support you need in your music career.
Why should musicians get paid? What about their music equals making money? You may be thinking, “because they make their own exceptional music,” or, even, “because they provide a service.” Though these are true to a degree, they don’t get to the heart of where your money actually comes from as a musician. For example, no butcher, baker, or candlestick maker gets paid to butcher, bake, or make candles. There’s no one pumping money into a bakery business just because they make a really wicked apple pie.
So the real answer to the riddle is this: you, the musician, making money because your fans are willing to pay for your service –– the service of delivering music to their ears. Your fans are your customers. Lots of customers equates to a thriving business, while no customers mean no business.
It’s a double whammy, in ways: first, without fans, you’re not making ticket sales or making money. But secondly, without fans, you can’t attract the attention of traditional booking agents. These agents won’t work with unsigned artists, or those who draw fewer than a couple hundred concertgoers. It puts industry newcomers and small acts in a tough spot, where growing your presence can feel impossible. How do you overcome the hurdle and rise to business success?
Here are Afton’s three tips for growing your fan base, and by default, start making money.
Focus on your target audience first.
Are you spreading your music broadly across social media? If so, reaching far and wide could actually be hurting you, says Dave Kusek, founder of New Artist Model, an online business school for musicians. Instead of fixating on numbers and getting whatever exposure you can, target your marketing approach to the people who already like your kind of music. Take a page out of the books of successful marketers, and write up a “fan persona.” What does your fan look like? Where does he or she shop, eat, and play? The more information you can nail down about your average fan, the more you can successfully reach new fans by advertising your show in the same places they’ll be hanging out.
Rethink your social media strategy.
Carole Billingsley, founder of Seek Social Media, recommends improving your social media strategy through a few simple tweaks. First, increase your website’s share-ability by placing social connect buttons on your website “above the fold,” or anywhere on screen that won’t require users to scroll to see it. Next, look at your gigs as opportunities to capture more social media contacts. Invite fans to join an email list, and give them the names of your social sites. Finally, start conversations on social media by connecting with other industry pros. From agents to other bands, music media professionals to venues, the more people you reach out to, the more chances you have of connecting with opportunities to grow your business.
Utilize free services.
If you’re a new, unknown, or unsigned band, you will likely have trouble attracting the attention of venues, promoters, and agents. You probably also face budgetary challenges, limiting your ability to hire marketers or partners to help grow your fanbase. What’s a band to do? One option is to utilize the free services out there to help you grow your presence, like MyAfton. Signing up for MyAfton is free, and we specialize in working with unsigned local and regional bands. Free is a great way to make extra money.
Start making money.
When you abandon the myth that only the quality of your music will determine your success, you take an important step. By focusing your energy instead on building your fan base, you’ll see your status as a musician –– and a business person –– rise to the top.
Since 2004, Afton has booked over 60,000 local acts in more than 10,500 Afton concerts, 40 cities, and 200 music venues. Afton is now the largest Booking Agent and Promoter of unsigned, independent local bands and rappers in the United States. Start booking with Afton now to grow your fan base and get the support you need in your music career.
Everybody runs on something. Cars run on fuel. Teenagers run on emotion. Track stars run on adrenaline, and artists, we run on inspiration. But what happens when you’re stuck in the uninspired territory? How do you keep going? How do you get unstuck? How do you find artistic inspiration and creativity?
There’s nothing better than being in that moment: the moment you write that perfect word, the word that leads to the star-struck chorus, which leads to the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for. And from the moment you wrote it down, you felt the tingling up the back of your neck. There’s nothing better in the world than finding your inspiration for creativity, right? But what happens when you lose it? What happens when you can feel yourself falling, and the words slip away from you? I’ve been there as a singer-songwriter and there’s nothing worse. I’ve been there as a business owner, a creativity consultant, a husband and a father. I’ve been in the stuck dimension before, and believe you me, there’s a way out. At Afton, we want to provide a few tips for when you’re feeling uninspired or stuck in the writing process. We’ve done our research and learned about the creative processes in the brain. We’ve put our resources together and compiled a list of suggestions on how to get those creativity juices flowing again.
The Right and Left Side of Creativity:
There’s a stigma associated with the left side of the brain, that it’s too analytical, logical and business like, that it has nothing to do with our creative processing. If the left side of your brain went to a party, he’d be the one wearing a full suit and tie, standing in the corner, writing an email to his boss. The Right side of the brain is the creative one; he thinks outside the box. If the right side of your brain went to a party, he’d be the one lighting the banister on fire and sliding down stairs on the snowboard. Neuroscience research has shown the idea above is a pretty outdated one.
According to research studies from the Scientific American, neuroscientists have recently discovered that the whole brain takes part in the creative process. Cognition involves “large scale networks.” The Dorsal Attention Network (DAN), (located between the frontal eyes) deals with visual spacing/images/ how to make things fit. In song writing that could include: lyrics, beats, word syllables, rhyming, spacing out the line of a chorus etc. The Executive Network (EN) (outer regions of the frontal cortex and towards back of brain) focuses on challenging details, problem solving, reasoning and memory. In song writing, this could include: the melody, the context of the song, reason for writing the song itself, how to express the message behind the song. And lastly, there is the Imaginative Network (IMN), which is located in the prefrontal cortex and Temporal lobe. The imaginative Network specializes in social cognition. How will others react when… What are my personal experiences with… The imaginative Network is like the person at the party who has a PhD in Philosophy and is the one engaging in deep discussion on the couch with a platter of special brownies. So, what’s the point?
The whole brain takes part in the creative process. Your whole brain has to be present, not just a part. As a songwriter, it’s important to be aware that different parts of your brain have a part to play in your creativity. You have to be willing to create a space for your whole brain to participate. It’s important to know that these brain networks will play larger roles at different times.
Science suggests that if you’re stuck in the creative process, especially in songwriting, it’s important to let go of the Executive Network and start out in the “imaginative network.” Some artists call this the state of flow. The creative process is like a river: you can either ford your way upstream against the current, or lay on your back and let the ride happen, but there’s a balance to it. You don’t want to let go of your Executive Network completely; you want to enjoy the river without drowning in the process. Activating your IMN has been proven to increase the flow of creativity and open you up for artistic inspiration.
Here’s a list of ways you can exercise your Imaginative Network:
- Take some time, set yourself aside. Try to see things from a different perspective, there’s no stronger path to creativity.
- Day Dream. Go Stargazing/Cloud-watching. Lay by a river and just let your mind drift.
- Be outside. Find some good workout music and go for a hike (without the pad of paper and smartphone.) Go to the ocean.
- Take a breath. For centuries breathing exercises have been proven to increase health, study habits, and decrease stress levels, leading to an increase in productivity and brain functionality.
- Travel. Go overseas. Experience another language, another culture. Meet people who are different than you and learn from them.
- Write, write, write! Whatever is on your mind. Every Word. Just write. This is a simple exercise to get the brain flowing and working in the way you want it to.
- Draw your song. Use lots of colors. Become a kid again and get out those Crayons. You might be surprised by what can cause inspired lyrics.
- Close your eyes and Listen. Put on your favorite record album, light some incense, lay on the floor and enter Dream Land. There’s nothing more inspiring than your favorite album.
Engaging in activities that use the imaginative Network of your brain will help you in the unstuck process, but it’s not the only network that will help. The Executive Network has an important role to play as well! Here’s a list of activities that can help exercise your EN:
- Brain Food. Nope, we’re not talking about the gummy candy in the shape of brains. There are actually foods that can help increase brain activity and creativity. Look for foods with OMEGA-3, like Salmon, Blueberries, Turmeric (it’s a spice used in Curry), Broccoli, Pumpkin Seeds, Dark Chocolate (none of the Hershey’s products, get the real stuff), Nuts and Seeds, Green Tea.
- Different scents have proven to help increase brain activity and cognition, which leads to better focus. Get your nose ready; it’s the most underrated sense you have: Try Lavender, Cinnamon, Turmeric, or Coffee.
- Rack Em’ Up. A game of Pool and a pitcher of beer with the Amigos. That’s right! Get out of your head for a bit, and out of your Garage. Go have a beer, lighten up and hang with some friends.
- Sudoku or other word/number puzzles: Engage in word and number puzzles that exercise parts of the brain you normally don’t use. This can increase stimulation in other areas.
- Read the Newspaper. Be active in your world, see what’s going on. Take a stand. Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation to help with creativity. Trust me, our world could use your help.
- The Mozart Effect. Research has proven that listening to classical music helps brain functionality. It’s a study largely based around infants and children, but can include adults too. Don’t be too quick to judge the classical music, you’ll get wicked smart.
- Take a cold shower. No, not that kind of cold shower. Exposing your body to the cold in extreme ways can release endorphin’s in the brain, which is a pretty quick way to get the juices flowing. It’s like jumping off a cliff into an ice lake, or skydiving.
- Open Mic Night. Play some music and also meet other bands who are playing too. It’s called doing your research. Get to know others, listen to different music. Play in front of a crowd and feel the rush of excitement. It’ll make you want to go home and write all night long.
The Stuck Dimension is not a world you want to be a part of, but we all enter it at some point. It’s not as much about avoiding it as it is preparing for it. Sometimes we just have to sit through it. At least now you have a few tricks up your sleeves for when it happens. If you have any resources or tricks of your own, pass it along. At Afton, we believe all artists are on the same side.
Our world is now more digital than ever. Here at Afton, we believe you should use it to your advantage. We are a culture connected through social media and we think it’s an opportunity for musicians to grow their network. It’s not something to get bogged down in, but something to take advantage of.
When I was 16, I was the lead the singer of a band called “Faded”. For nine years, I wrote the music, recorded, played shows, and even toured. Looking back, we would have killed for the kinds of digital connections and networking opportunities artists have today. Over the stint of nearly a decade, I discovered that having the right kinds of resources can make all the difference. With the internet at most artists’ fingertips these days, there is no reason not take advantage of every available opportunity to reach your target audience.
At Afton, we are your ally, and we want to give you the best resources for your musical journey. Through our own social media sites, we offer helpful articles, blogs, new media content, tickets, prizes, contests, reviews, booking opportunities, upcoming concerts near you, flyers, expert advice, artist spotlights, social media tools and most importantly, personal experience. I want to encourage you to follow us on all our Social Media so you don’t miss a beat.
You are now part of a world that allows you to invest in one another like never before. Please take advantage of it and know that we are here for you. The road can be a rough one, that’s why we want to give you all the resources we have. They are available to you 24/7 on our social network:
Don’t forget to like our pages and comment with any ideas or feedback you have!
Ryan Kintz and the rest of the Afton Staff
The Perfect Band Name… Before Queen it was Smile. Before Green Day it was Sweet Children. Even before Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was Tony Flow & the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. They say the “name makes the band.” How does one use songwriting inspiration to create one? For bands like Symphonic Disorder or Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, perhaps it’s back to the drawing board. According to Digital Music News, 91% of all artists are undiscovered, which can be attributed to the effectiveness of a band’s name. Can it be pronounced? Is it memorable? Can people shout it easily at a concert? read more…
In Ancient Buddhist philosophy The Zen Koan was a spiritual journey handed down from Zen Master to novice. The Zen Koan was an unsolvable question that the Master would give to his disciple about his life or about his journey. In the end, the Koan became the answer to his own questions. Transcendence requires the courage to ask the questions and sometimes be okay without the answers. We can use this concept today as a tip for how to get your song heard.
Repeat after me: promotional flyers are not obsolete.
This claim may surprise you, because a quick look around the internet would suggest otherwise. The vast majority of people believe that they are outdated and inefficient.
The arguments in favor of this claim are convincing enough. Receiving flyers is annoying. No one pays attention to flyers, they go straight to the trash. Promoting a concert on social media is way easier than passing out promotional flyers.
Don’t listen to any of that advice, because it’s bad. The truth is that using flyers to promote your concerts may be more important than ever, and we’re about to share the secret that all these other people are missing.
That secret is simple: The effectiveness of a flyer is entirely based off of the manner in which it is distributed. And almost everyone is doing it wrong.
Consider your own experience with flyers ‘in the wild’. I can almost guarantee that the majority of flyers you’ve seen were attached to poles, piled on tables and counters, or shoved in your face while you walked down a busy street.
If you’re anything like every other aspiring artist in the world, you probably spend a good deal of time wondering how to increase the attendance of your concerts. Event marketing can be difficult, but as industry veterans, it’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at over the years.
That’s why we decided to put this guide together that goes over online concert promotion. If you are interested in growing your audiences, developing a loyal fan base and actually selling tickets and albums, then this guide will be invaluable to you.
“Should You Rely on Others to Make Your Band Successful?”
That is a question I’ve asked myself many times over the last 15 years. But I’ve found the more that an unsigned band or rapper chooses to rely on other people to make them successful, rather than relying on themselves to put in the work, the less successful they become.
As a local band or local rapper, you are in many ways like a new startup company. You have a product you created; your art, your music, your live show. Your goal as this new startup company is to get your product out in the world, and to sell your product so others can enjoy it.
We all know that a new startup company cannot survive if their product is not selling or if it’s not bringing in enough revenue. This is why it is so crucial for you to cultivate and develop a strong fan base. The more fans you have, the more music you will sell, the more Merch you will sell, and the more money you will make when playing live. Every successful band or rapper makes their money because they have a large fan base.