The approach to practice real simple. If your main motivation is to indulge your ego, to become the famous one that everyone else envies, and to grace the “common man” with the privilege of allowing them to come to your show, you will fail.
I don’t care if you have a record deal with a major label, representation by a famous artist manager, or a booking deal with the top agent at the biggest agency. You will fail.
On the other hand, if you understand the new economy, you understand the value of trading information for content, and you’re willing and capable of creating meaning with people, then you will succeed.
You want to be a hit act? You need to understand what type of life that really is. You need to understand that by choosing this lifestyle, you’re joining the ranks of the working class. And you’re going to have to work hard for your success. Once you reach your goal, you’re going to have to work for a long time to maintain it.
You have to understand The Power Of Free Music
You have to understand that it is you who is privileged to have the honor to have the attention of a few people for the nite, that they have chosen to let you entertain them. You’re working for the common man, and you are the common man.
At this point, I’ve been working for a long time in this space – the place where the money comes only after you create meaning with people. It’s been a very rough road to say the least, and there’s still a long way to go. So far, it’s looked nothing like I expected it to, and directions have changed more times than I can count. But I’m still plowing away, and while not every idea comes to fruition, a few do.
One of these ideas is the Three Side Single, which I launched a few weeks ago. The idea of the Three Side Single is a simple three song release that is download only, and available for $0. All you do is trade your email address for a download.
The inaugural release of this series I did in partnership with the Nashville indie rock band, Kink Ador.
Kink Ador understands the power of free music. Both Kink Ador, and myself, invite you to join the tribe.
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.
When discussing new media and marketing, and ways to promote yourself online, I typically try to stay away from using the word “free”. The reason is because very rarely is anything truly free. I guess it’s really just my meticulousness, but I’m of the belief that somehow, on some level, it subliminally makes a difference in the language you choose-both internally (with yourself) and externally (those you’re marketing to).
So then what really is the difference between “free” and “$0″? To me, “free” is something you give away, totally free, with no strings attached. A gift of sorts. For example, if you contacted a songwriter and told her that you wanted record an album of her music with no compensation of any type whatsoever, I would count this as working for free.
On the other hand, if you contacted that same songwriter and told her that you wanted to record an album of her music, and that while she didn’t have to pay you anything, you did want to work out something that would provide alternative compensation. For example, a picture, blurb, and link to your website on the front page of her website. Or a picture, blurb, and contact info on the inside of her CD booklet. Or an email blast and blog post describing your work and your identity, blasted out to her list. This type of arrangement, I would consider to be working for $0. Because, while you’re not getting paid, you are thinking of creative ways to promote your work.
I think there is a place for both. While it should be approached with prudence, I think offering a certain amount of your time to people completely for free is a great way to contribute to the community. Think of it as a tithe (one tenth of your time as a contribution for the greater good of everyone). While working for $0 should also be approached with prudence, it is a great way to create meaning with people, equip people with tools to promote you, contribute to the community, gain experience, gain exposure, build value, and make more money.
Some further illustrations of working for free:
Some further illustrations of working for $0:
In my post last Saturday (Do You Know What I Do?), I discouraged the idea of working for “free” a little bit. And in further contemplating this topic, I think I may have gone too far. At the risk of contradicting myself, I want to now motivate you to pursue both working for “free” and working for “$0″. But always with clear purpose and prudence.
Yeah, it will be hard work to do these things, and a lot of it could be considered ancillary work. But if you pursue it honestly it will be a 100% fruitful investment in yourself. And if you’re not willing to do that type of work, then don’t expect to necessarily generate a lot of paying work, only focusing on carrying out the primary tasks associated with your business.
Over the weekend I brought this blog back to life with a post reflecting on the work I’ve been involved in over the last three and a half years, somewhat focusing in on whether or not this work has served the purpose I intended, and ultimately making an effort to encourage others to A) think bigger, and B) take time to reflect on the learning/growing experiences that your work will bring you. If you wanna read that post, you will find it here: Do You Know What I Do?
My thinking behind this post was that often times, when people who are new to the industry are looking to break in and establish themselves as a producer, engineer, or both, they offer their services for no pay in exchange for a credit on the record-hoping that their name will get spread around town, and in the end they will generate a lot of paying work. I think this is a mistake, because you’re going to receive that credit whether you charge no money at all, or you charge the highest rate in the history of record making. And from what I’ve seen, this method of promotion does not have a very good reputation of succeeding. Instead, it mucks up the market value for freelance record producers and engineers at large-it’s a race to the bottom.
Alternatively, if you employ some innovative thinking, it’s possible to promote your business, increase your worth, and raise the value of the community all in an astute set of actions.
I believe you should always periodically employ a certain amount of $0 tactics to your work, but they should always have a clear purpose, sensible objectives, and realistic limitations. The point is to make money, not work for free.
Before and after you ever take action on any tactic, ask yourself, “Do they know what I do?”
It’s been so incredibly long since I last posted anything on Producer Notes. This is the first time I’ve posted anything in 2011, which is such a shame (it’s been almost a full year since my last post-that’s a shame!). Since I started Producer Notes in mid-2007, there have been quite a few stints of extended absences. As I excitedly set out to take part in the many different projects over the last three and a half years (Producer Notes being one of them), I envisioned that these creative schemes would organically loop together to complete my overall vision. But in reality they each ended up needing to be delicately tended to-hence the lack of regularly published content. But through that process I certainly have learned – and continue to learn – a lot, which moving forward is going to be very valuable.
As I was reflecting over the last three or so years of work, and lamenting my lack of consistency in posting, a question popped up in my mind…
Do you know what I do?
If you’ve been reading Producer Notes a while – and if you have, then I have unending gratitude for you – then you’re aware that I’m a record producer and music business entrepreneur. But obviously most people out there don’t read this blog. Over the last two to three years I’ve made an intentional effort to get involved in projects as more than only a record producer, projects in which I functioned as producer, engineer, marketer, and manager. One of my key intentions for making this shift was to build a stronger personal brand and awareness of my work.
But I want to stop short on the “Jon Stinson biography” and get to my real take-away point…
I believe there should always be a certain amount of work you should do for $0. I encourage recording artists to do this all the time. And let me be clear: I didn’t say “free,” I said “$0.” There is a difference.
You should always be very specific about the purpose of this type of work, and what the specific desired outcome is. Set goals and draw up a plan, before you begin, of how you will achieve this desired outcome. Think bigger than the album credit. You’re going to get an album credit for your work whether you charge $0 or or $100,000. Radical Notion (independent media) is an example of one such project that I dreamed up for this purpose.
So just as I took some time to reflect on my work and my projects, I encourage you to periodically set aside time to do the same. Every time you ship an idea ask yourself the question, “Do they know what I do?” What are your weak points? What one key thing can you do differently from this point forward to move significantly closer to your desired outcome? And if you’re working for no pay in exchange for just an album credit, hoping that “clients” will spread your name around-STOP. Think bigger, otherwise you’re selling yourself short.
Cheers to 2011. We’re already at the halfway point, and I hope it’s gone well for your so far. I’m working on pulling it together, weeding out the dead ends, and bringing Producer Notes (slowly) back to life.
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.
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.
*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: [www.12southtaproom.com/contact.html]
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.
Well I left out a point. In my haste to get my previous post published and then run out the door, I forgot to call your attention to something specific David Armano says in his video. I wanted to tell you to pay attention about 3/4 the way in when David says, “learn by doing.” This struck a chord with me because I am often preaching that sermon. You read about it all day long. You can have all the text book knowledge on any given topic in the world. But you don’t really have a clue what you are doing until you get your hands dirty. It gives you perspective…
Why do I spend so much time talking about marketing/promotional ideas when my blog is supposed to be about music production? Well possibly the main reason is because I’m really interested in the subject, especially internet marketing/promotion. I get really excited about the opportunities the internet creates every day.
The bigger picture is because I believe that if you are starting out as a producer or engineer, it is important to know how to market yourself in today’s music industry. Learning the trade of recording is the obvious stuff to know. Learning how to market and promote yourself is, on the other hand, kind of grey. If you want to become a great producer or engineer, of course you will want to develop the skill of capturing music perfectly. But do you think of yourself as a business? Do you know how to manage that business?
But what if you are in the music industry because you are employed by someone else? Perhaps you are the house engineer at a recording studio. Do you still need to think of yourself as a business when you already are employed by one? Absolutely. I have held staff positions at recording studios myself, and I have the inside perspective on what it means to be “employed” by someone in the music industry. The music industry requires you to be a self-starter. It takes a person who has an entrepreneurial mind set.
I believe that in 2008 this entrepreneurial mind set has actually leaked into pretty much every industry. In the 21st century, getting paid means being an entrepreneur and being on the internet.
This morning I came across a new (to me) marketing blog called Logic + Emotion run by a guy named David Armano [darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion]. The only reason I found it was because I recently signed up for Twitter. One of my longtime friends from high school found me on Twitter, and when I took a look at his list of people he follows, I found David. Not to get off topic, but this proves social media works (perhaps I should talk about that in future post). Anyway, the whole point of this post was to leave you with a video on David’s blog that inspired me.
Hope you enjoyed/got inspired by/learned from David’s video. I want to read your opinions. How do you see blogs and the internet playing a role in the future of the music industry? Leave your comments.
I have been posting a lot more than usual lately. This is party because there is more to talk about, and partly because I’m contemplating increasing the frequency of my posts. It’s kind of a hard decision to make. On one hand I feel that I would be stretching myself way too thin, as I have so much going on right now. On the other hand, I feel that if I stick to my current schedule, which is to post every Monday, that I miss out on talking about a lot of things because they are no longer current. I feel I would be doing my blog and my audience a disservice if I tried to post too often, and the quality of my blog suffered. In any case I wanted to talk about something now, and not wait another four days, as I feel it won’t be as relevant then.
Nine Inch Nails has been coming up with some awesome ideas to connect with their audience. They recently have released a collection titled Ghosts, with different options for downloading or buying physical copies. Now they are taking the Ghosts project and enhancing it by doing a collaboration with their fans through YouTube. It’s really inspiring to me, and I plan to copy some of their ideas. Check out Trent Reznor’s latest blog post [www.nin.com]