Posted on 29-06-2011
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

Since reviving this blog last Saturday, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about working for $0, working for free, and creative ways to promote yourself as a record producer and audio engineer. That’s all well and good, but as I’ve stated throughout the those three previous posts (Do You Know What I Do?, Working For $0, and The Difference Between “Free” and “$0″), the point is to make money.

So I thought after spending so much time talking about promotion, I should spend some time talking about ways to make money.

All the work you have put in on the front end, both in previous projects, and projects you have worked on for $0, has increased your value. Leverage this value into a substantial daily or hourly rate.

It happens all the time. Someone books you for a full day, but then only ends up needing you for half the day, or worse-canceling altogether. Charge a minimum, as well as a cancelation fee. But be upfront about this when you’re hired for a project.

Increase your rate
Again, your work history (both in paid projects, and in $0 projects) has increased your value. Leverage that value into a higher rate.

Take a look at the services you currently offer. You probably currently sell yourself as a record producer, audio engineer, mix engineer, or all three. As far as “packages” go, you probably don’t really refer to the services you offer as packages in your marketing material.

Here’s the thing: in addition to creating information products, such as ebooks, that you can let people download for $0, you can also create information products, for example consulting services, that you can charge money for. You can “package” these additional information products and services in with your base set of production, engineering, and mixing services. Thus not only increasing your value, but also permitting you to charge a more boutique rate for your work.

Hope this ties together my previous three posts, and completes the thought on how working for $0 and free can increase your value, and ultimately generate more higher-paying work. Because the goal IS to make money.

Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 16-09-2009
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

Have you read Unleashing the Idea Virus or Tribes by Seth Godin? Or The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? All very inspiring books about how truly great ideas can spread and gain traction when the right people are rallied around the idea.

Oceanship Artwork

Jackson’s Science Fair Project is the current living example of these books. I met a band from Canada a few weeks ago-Oceanship-through a friend of mine. Turns out there is a 7th grader, Jackson, who really likes this band, and has decided to connect people together by creating a tribe on Facebook. It’s all a part of a science fair project assignment he is completing for school.

This is a perfect example of how new marketing can be very powerful for the music industry. Jackson’s Science Fair Project has been very successful very quickly because it creates meaning, tells a story, and connects Oceanship fans to one another.

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Posted on 19-08-2009
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

Matt McCloskey Album Cover

I’ve been trying to get around to writing this blog post since April. That’s the month my friend from college, Matt McCloskey, released his record. All along the way I’ve been very inspired by how he has gone about putting everything together-from the writing/recording process, to how he gives away his music, and employs a “participation is marketing” strategy to publicize everything. Matt gets it.

So I thought my opportunity to write about Matt releasing his record had escaped me, until he told me that he was about to go on the road.

These American Times

Matt put together a tour that is taking him and a band from Texas to New York and back, via Alabama, Tennessee, and Chicago. He’s thought up a theme of sorts to provide a story to the tour, and set up a website/blog where this story unfolds in pretty much real time.

These Times Won’t Last

On the recorded music front, Matt set up a website where you can either buy the record, or submit your email address and download the record for free. In this download, Matt even offered something I thought particularly forward-thinking. In addition to the standard mp3 format and the not-so-standard AAC format, he also included the option to download the record in full quality AIFF format. This is something I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails do as well, and although we do offer mp3, AAC, and FLAC via Radical Notion Digital, I have intentions to offer AIFF as well in the future. But it’s inspiring to see Matt making this available now, and acknowledging the value some people find in owning the full quality format (like us producers/engineers). That’s good marketing, friends.

Reason To Buy

So if you want a good illustration of an artist who gets it, and is employing marketing strategies that are relevant to music fans today, with examples of “participation is marketing,” and giving fans a reason to buy, add Matt McCloskey to your file of case studies.

Check out the links below, and if Matt is coming through your town on his tour, go out and see him. And tell him I said hey.

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Posted on 07-07-2009
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

FREE Book Cover

I’ve been anticipating this book for a while now (I don’t think I realized how much, actually). Today, as the book comes out in the United States, I’ve been reading some blog posts. I thought I’d share some quick thoughts as I prepare to read FREE: The Future of a Radical Price.

When Chris Anderson first started talking about the economics of free, it naturally piqued my interest as Radical Notion (independent media), my startup, is a company which uses various versions of free as one of the core concepts of it’s business model. Chris Anderson’s discussions on free have been very exciting to me, as it put a name and economic model around many of the strategies on the cutting edge of the music industry. Strategies in which I have found inspiration for my own company. Namely, strategies which bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have acted as leaders for many other bands which are now developing very similar strategies.

I just watched a video of Rich Fahle interviewing Chris Anderson for Borders, discussing his new book. There are a lot of interesting ideas touched on in this interview that I can hardly wait read more about as I study the book. There were a couple of the things I thought particularly interesting in the video, though. One was hearing more of Chris’s thoughts on this idea of “freemium.” And the other was that (according to Chris) people who are over 30 tend to not believe in the idea of free as a business model, and people under 30 say, “no duh” to the idea of free as a business model.

Something that I whole heartedly disagree with, however, happens around the 5:10 mark where Rich Fahle says, “you can’t turn to an expert anymore, in this model that you’re describing, to do all that background business work. It sounds like what you’re describing is you gotta be a business man. If you’re an artist, you also have to be a business manager.”

Of course I totally disagree with this. I think that today, an artist needs a manager in a way that they have never needed one before. They need someone who thinks radically enough to direct their career in a way that is relevant to the changed establishment. To be successful in today’s music world, it is most important to find a manager who not only will pursue and/or invent new ways to harness the power of free (among an infinite number of other new marketing concepts), but an artist needs to find a manager who realizes that it is their obligation to protect this strategy at all costs. Because there will be others who want to partner or invest in the artist, then water down the strategy.

I recommend you watch the video (total length 15:02) [] Pay attention around 5:35 when Chris says, “Radical Notion.” I love when things like this happen!

Also, in honor of “walking the talk” of the book, Chris Anderson has partnered with a few companies to offer several ways to consume the book:

For what it’s worth, I think I’ll opt to purchase the book, acquiring the “freemium” version. Nothing like being able to actually touch and smell a creative work.

Got any other links/thoughts/etc about Chris Anderson’s new book, FREE: The Future of a Radical Price? Please post comments.

Talk with you tomorrow, where we’ll get back to our usual discussion of making records.

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Posted on 18-05-2009
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

What if you simply organized a few people? What if you took the remarkable idea you have, and instead of going out with intentions of marketing to the masses, you focused on the extremists-your biggest fans? What if you simply empowered these people to do your marketing for you? If instead of putting all your focus on ways to get new fans, deciding how your fans will be fans, and how to convince more people to buy your music instead of trading it for free, you focused only on the fans who care about you the most? The fans who will buy your music no matter what. The fans whose lifestyle is built around your music-empowering them-giving them control. Giving them everything they need to promote you. What if you gave your biggest fans the privilege to be a leader who organizes others around your music, converting them to the lifestyle?

Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone put forth the effort organize a group of people around your music without getting paid, or necessarily getting any recognition? Because to them it is a privilege. Just like it’s a privilege for Mac geeks to build a website all about Mac rumors, NIN fans to participate in the band’s online remix community, or for German car enthusiasts to create a message board where they can meet and talk about their cars. You and I do this everyday within the communities we’re privileged to be a part of.

One of the communities I’m privileged to be a part of is one that organizes itself around the ideas Seth Godin shares, and as usual Seth himself articulates this idea of “empowering others to spread your message” best. [Seth Godin on the tribes we lead.]

What action can you take in your career in music to position yourself so that your biggest fans are empowered with the privilege of organizing others? What do you think would happen if you gave them this privilege?

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Posted on 03-05-2009
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

I’m posting on an off day because I just read this post on the Techdirt blog, which reminded me of a topic I wanted to riff on a while ago.

I will never understand why software companies, as well as the music industry, choose to focus so much on piracy. In college I took a marketing class, and if I had to summarize the entire class to a single learning experience, it would be that it’s ten times more expensive to focus on gaining new customers than it is to simply focus on existing customers. the focus on existing customers part is the point to emphasize here. Ironically the university where I took this class does not practice this principle at all.

And neither do the majority of software companies or music companies. The readers of this blog are all too familiar with the ridiculous hoops we all have to jump through to authorize our DAW software, and the plugins that go with it.

The ridiculous iLok key, the convoluted authorizing process that seems to change with every software vendor and software upgrade, and the constant process of having to prove, wait, and re-prove that you did in fact pay $1000 for this piece of software.

Why does this stupid authorizing process even exist? In this context there are two types of customers. A) people who run legitimate business and want to own the proper equipment they need to do so, and B) people who steal things and will always steal things regardless of whether there are methods to prevent piracy or not. Hey software companies, you’re not hurting the crooks, you’re hurting us, your loyal customers!

Why do the customers who are loyal-the people who keep the software makers in business by supporting them-get penalized for doing so? These companies should be rewarding us by giving us price breaks, along with free upgrades for repeat purchases.

See you tomorrow.

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Posted on 05-09-2008
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

For three years now Jason Moon Wilkins and his crew have been putting on a festival in Nashville, appropriately called Next Big Nashville. It began as a way to shed light on performing artists who are members of genres which fall outside of country music; genres which many people living outside of Nashville are not aware exist in Music City.

Now, NBN has grown into a full blown music festival. Each year the festival has gotten a bit bigger than the last, and this year it is promising to be the biggest it’s ever been. There are scheduled many daytime conference activities, discussion panels, music industry parties, film events, block parties, VIP parties, afterparties and of course, MUSIC!

I don’t need to explain to you how important of an investment this is for your music career. If you are looking to get your start as a record producer, engineer, artist manager, A&R guy, musician or whatever else, you need to show up at Next Big Nashville. With all the extra events planned this year, the opportunity to network in the industry is bigger than ever. You will be rubbing elbows with some of the industry’s most legendary people. Even if you live hundreds of miles away from Nashville, it’s worth the trip. Nashville is an extremely unique place for music, and you will be surprised at the people who are hanging around this tight-knit music community.

So don’t miss this opportunity to jump-start your career. For $100 you can pick up a VIP Badge, which will snag you access to pretty much anything and everything that is going on at NBN, as well as some discounts from certain retail partners. You will also get free subscriptions to Paste and American Songwriter magazines. Trust me, the return on that investment is ten-fold. It’s rare to find a conference/expo which is that cheap in any industry.

However, if $100 is still too much, you can grab a wristband for $35, which will get you access to all the showcases and some of the discounts, subscriptions, etc. Take a look at for all the details.

Finally, while your at Next Big Nashville, swing by The Mercy Lounge on September 11th, and check out Mother/Father-a band I’ve been doing some work with for the last 3 or 4 months. They are playing the SESAC showcase at 11pm Central.

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Posted on 09-08-2008
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

We have extended the 888 promotion we did yesterday. If you missed your chance to download the free recording from yesterday, then you now have the whole weekend to get it.

Send an email to [email protected] anytime today or tomorrow and we will send you the link for the download.

Get to downloading!

BTW-Don’t send any correspondence to the above email address, as no one will see it. It is purely an auto-response message. If you do want to talk with someone real, send me an email at stinson[at]producernotes[dot]com. I’d love to talk with you about anything.

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Posted on 08-08-2008
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson
Wes Sp8 888 Album cover

Wes Sp8 888 Album cover

Well things have become very busy lately, which is a good thing. I have not posted on producer notes in over a month, but thought I would show up for a minute to run a promotion. Since today is 888, and I am part of a team who manages and produces an artist who goes by Wes Sp8, I thought it would be cool to tell you about something we cooked up to play to the 8 theme.

If you send an email to [email protected] by 8pm tonite, we will send you a link to get a free download of a live version of Behind My Back, recorded at a band rehearsal.

Additionally, I want to link you to another free download of Please. This is the studio cut, and title track off Please EP. Go to and right click (ctrl+click on Mac) on the please.mp3 link near the top of the page. Choose “save file to disk.”

While I’m pointing you to free downloads, I might as well remind you that you can get the full mp3 version of Please EP for free at While you are there take a look around, because Please EP comes in several other higher quality formats you may be interested in (they’re cheap!), such as FLAC Lossless, Apple Lossless and the physical CD.

Finally, you can find Please EP at these online retail outlets:

Download away, and come back here to leave comments.

Happy 888, and hope to be posting again sooner than later…

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Posted on 24-03-2008
Filed Under (marketing and promotion) by Jon Stinson

Wes Sp8 EP Release Poster

*The Wes Sp8 EP Release Party and CD is FREE*
This Friday, March 28th, will be Wes Sp8′s EP Release Party to celebrate the release of his debut, Please EP. The party will be at The 12 South Tap Room in Nashville, TN with O’ Don Piano playing first (Josh Hood, Wes Sp8′s drummer). There is no cost to get in, and the first 50 people who show up get a free copy of Please EP. You don’t want to miss this show (unless you hate free stuff). Come be a part of the community that Wes Sp8, myself, Jonathan Harms, Radical Notion and others are building in 2008. We put the value in the guest’s experience.

Get directions to The 12 South Tap Room here: []

One more thing…
Thanks for reading my blog, and taking an interest in what I do. If you live in Nashville I’m going to do a special promotion of Please EP for you. It’s going to end on Friday, or once the first 10 people act-whichever comes first. Come by the Radical Notion office (my apartment) any time between now and Friday to say hello and get your FREE, pre-party copy of Please EP.

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