SAtN interview with Stewart Walker (Musician, Founder of Persona Records)
Our friends at Stand Above the Noise sat down with Stewart Walker, an electronic music producer and Founder of Persona Records. In this week’s discussion, Stewart & Andrew contemplate the state of the Music Industry, and how musician’s art is taking a back seat to things like Social Networking. Check it out, and let us know if you’ve also got a record collection hiding out in your basement - awaiting it’s epic return!
Landing Musician-For-Hire Gigs with your Presskit
A musician-for-hire is someone who provides a service to an event coordinator, talent buyer, or group of people that caters to the event’s specific needs and generates a notable yearly income.
You know, the guy that’s singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in the background of a picture-perfect wedding reception, or the guy kicking off “Hava Nagila” at the most anticipated Bar Mitzvah of the year. Even the cover band at the coolest bar in town is an example of musicians-for-hire work. There’s plenty of work like this out there for us to make a living from - but how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the bands trying to compete for these kind of gigs?
Well, although there’s no short answer, there are several steps you can take to set yourself ahead of the competition and create a “wow-factor” for yourself. Indulge:
Presskit.to Recommends: Unsigned Only
Tired of entering music competitions whose prizes leave something to be desired? Or that leave the judging up to average music fans that are there just to vote for the band that invited them?
These are common pitfalls of online music competitions, which is why we were excited to come across Unsigned Only.
Now in its second year, Unsigned Only is a music competition that goes above and beyond other online music competitions. Here, artists are judged by world-renowned musicians and industry vets, and the Grand Prize winner is put in direct, personal contact with influential record label executives who are the ultimate decision makers. We know what you’re thinking - that the chances of winning are slim, right? We can’t promise it’ll be easy, but with “high touch” competitions like this you can rest assured that the people judging your talent actually know what they’re talking about. You can learn more about the competition on their site, or check out the info we’ve included below.
And, if you’re interested in registering for the competition and choose to do so online, it’s the perfect opportunity to use your Presskit!
(Paste your link in the “Where can we listen to your songs online?” field)
Featured Interview: Indie On The Move
Indie On The Move is an online service that connects artists with venues and press outlets, to make booking shows and tours across the US much easier. Artists and venues can sign up for a free account and browse venues, show availabilities, and gig classifieds. IOTM even provides valuable tips for approaching a particular venue’s talent buyer. On the flip side, venues can browse bands in a given area or post available show slots to be filled by interested artists. Our team has followed along since the early days and really respect their dedication to independent artists and the DIY/DIT (Do It Together) movement. If you haven’t checked them out definitely do so!
We recently had the chance to chat with Indie On The Move’s beloved President, Kyle Weber, to learn a little more their service and how it has evolved over the last three and a half years. He also gives some great advice on contacting venue bookers and music professionals.
Presskit.to: IOTM has been a free service since day one. Has it been a struggle to sustain the business over the years while providing an awesome service that requires a lot of manual upkeep?
Kyle Weber: It has been and will continue to be A LOT of work, but I would not say a struggle. We are actually working towards putting in some new features that will make the manual upkeep easier on the administrative side of things and will cut down on the man hours. Additionally, we get a lot of great user input and have amazing workers and investors that really believe in our product.
Pk: Have you seen any interesting emerging trends — either on the venue side or with artists — in the live music sector since starting IOTM?
KW: The first major trend that we saw was the disappearance of Myspace. One day it was there and almost every venue and band had a page that was kept up-to-date. Then all of a sudden everyone jumped ship and we found ourselves removing almost all Myspace links from the venue listings. With the daily venue checking that we do, we tend to observe a lot of what is going on on the web and how venues and bands are utilizing those services. Facebook and Twitter are obviously still huge resources for everyone, but we have noticed that people have kind of stopped using the [direct] messaging on there. Now if you want someone to see your message, it needs to be posted publicly either on their wall or on your wall with a tag.
Live streaming has popped up somewhat recently, but with all the copyright infringement issues that it can cause, only a small percentage of the IOTM venues actually utilize it the way that it can be.
Pk: You guys have been at this for quite a few years now. Do you have some notable successes (or “Wins”) — company, artist, or otherwise — that you’re proud of?
KW: Of course! Growing from about 950 venues to north of 5500 in just 3 and a half years is a big one for us. Keep in mind, those are live and active venues too; we remove all listings from the site for venues that have either stopped hosting live music or have shut down. Since the site was first launched (solely as a music venue database), we have been able to add additional sections that cater to show/band availabilities, classifieds, live streaming, radio, press, forums, and more, all that assist in the success of our users’ experience and ultimately their music careers. And that is where the real “wins” lie, in the success of our users. Check out these testimonials: http://www.indieonthemove.com/forums/view/17.
Pk: Booking Agents, Venues, and Music Professionals receive hundreds of emails a day. Do you have any tips or best practices for artists hoping to stand out when contacting intermediaries that they don’t already have relationships with?
KW: Definitely. Keep your emails short, concise, to the point, and grammatically correct. More than 4 or 5 sentences is too long in my opinion. The thing to keep in mind is, like you said, agents, venues, and professionals receive hundreds of emails a day. The last thing that they want to do is have to spend 5-10 minutes reading a really long email. Typos and spelling errors look very unprofessional and might stop someone from reading on. Remember, this email is your first impression a lot of times, make a good one.
Start with a short intro (name, band name, genre, city of origin, etc.); then mention 1 or 2 of your biggest selling points as well as exactly what you are emailing them about (if emailing a venue about a show, include any desired dates), make sure to include a hyperlink to your music (the exact page that the music is on, don’t expect someone to go looking around; think just 1 click), and thank them in advance for their time. If you have a direct solicitation, be sure to mention that in both the title and the body. Lastly, a good subject will help ensure that your email will get opened, so spend some time on it.
Pk: Are there any new IOTM features or initiatives on the horizon that you’re excited about?
KW: There most certainly are and I am VERY excited about them, but I can’t really divulge what we have in store. We are always working towards making the booking, performing/touring, and promotion process easier, more efficient, and as successful as possible, so you can bet that the features will be along those lines.
Pk: Anything else you would like to mention?
KW: Yes, Indie Ambassador is awesome. Thanks for doing the interview!
Pk: Thank you, Kyle! Right back at you.