Monday, January 20, 2014

Marketing 101 for Artists


Career strategy coaching is one of my passions. I find that many artists have no idea how to think about marketing themselves and end up stuck without momentum in their careers. Here are a few simple pointers to get you thinking about marketing.

"Why do I have to worry about this"? I can hear many of you saying to yourselves.I know, it's confusing, we're bad at it and it takes time away from what we love to do..making music..right?
YES all that may be true BUT without knowing at least the core elements of how to market ourselves our music (and our careers!) we will join the millions of other artists who cant figure out why their careers aren't going any where.

                                          WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?

What is the single most important thing an artist needs to know about Marketing? 

  Its simple. Who is your audience?

Thats the number one question labels, managers, producers and agents will be asking you when you are seeking their support and help.

Knowing who your audience is will help you (and your potential team) make all of the important decisions. Decisions like what should you wear in your photo…what venue should you be performing in…what other artists should you be performing and recording with..and a million other details all of which stem from the simple fact that you are a brand. A brand that you need to understand or you won't understand how to communicate your music and expand your audience.

Your job isn't to figure out everything about how to market yourself but you wont be able to start working with a team that can help you until your thought about exactly who your fans are going to be.

                                                 Who is your Audience now?

I don't mean who would you LIKE your audience to be.. I mean when you play shows and look out at the folks who have come out to hear you what kind of folks are actually coming out? Besides your family and best friends and if thats ALL who's coming out then you need this Blog more than you thought :)

IF you and your band play rock n roll and your audience is young men who like to drink beer and party and rock out then your marketing will look very different from the Jazz Diva whose audience may want to sip fine wine and dress for an expensive meal in an elegant bistro. Right?
These two acts appeal to a different age range with very different passions and interests  (and a VERY different pocket book!)…and consequently your pictures, online postings, video's, posters, newsletters, web site etc EVERYTHING THE POTENTIAL FAN SEES OR READS OR HEARS about your act will have to target them in specific ways that attract them to both you and your music.

                                       WE DECIDE IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE!

These days everybody is taking in mountains and acres of information every which way and we decide if something is of interest to us very very quickly. The wrong "indicator" and we have already decided that this music isnt of interest to us. So what they first see and what you present about your act is very very important.....
.......ESPECIALLY VISUALLY!! Those details of design and art direction are all elements of "branding" that we have to consider when looking to create a sustainable career in this business.

Sounds like a lot of details to handle doesn't it? Sure. 

Your job isn't to figure out everything about how to market yourself..its always better to have support and help with this important part of the creating success in the music biz....
 but you wont be able to move forward working with a team that can help you until you've thought about a few of these basic questions..

Starting with exactly who your fans are going to be? And what do they care about?

Please contact Micah Barnes for information on one and one skype and in person bookings!

Official Singers Playground Website

Performance Workshop Feb 22nd Voice Technique Class and Career Strategy Seminar Feb 23rd

Saturday, January 18, 2014

HILARY WEAVER on "Preparing To Tour"


                              "The best time I have ever had in my life"

Recently Singers Playground client Hilary Weaver had the opportunity to join Danny Fernandes recent tour of Ontario, Canada. Having worked extensively with Hilary on her voice technique and career strategy over the past few years I was impressed with her determination to make the most of the career opportunity. We recently sat down with the up and coming rock pop artist to discuss how she prepared for the shows.

Micah: For those who don’t know you Hilary..  what kind of music do you make and who is your fan base?

Hilary:I am a pop/rock singer songwriter based in Toronto whose influences are to Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson and Pink. My fan base is mostly a younger audience of 12 to 25 year olds. 
You are already an instinctive kick ass live performer but this touring opportunity came up fast for you didn’t it?  

This tour experience was a very last minute decision and offer. For this tour I had less than a month to prepare for a 9-show tour opening the show for the already established Danny Fernandes. 

Had you been doing live shows in the month’s prior?

No I hadn’t, the last show I had done was probably back in January of 2013, so almost a year later. 

Yikes.. thats a long time since you had been on stage. What were you the most worried about in terms of getting ready?

I was worried about so many things! I am a huge perfectionist and am extremely hard on myself. So when it came to preparing for this tour I was worried my vocals wouldn’t be up to proper standard, I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough time to get in some kind of shape to be able to do a show night after night and also how I was going to look on stage. 

You must have felt very rushed to have to decide about all the various things like Clothes, Fitness, Voice, Material, personal of the Band, rehearsal time etc!

You have to think and decide about everything! Even the finest details have to all be figured out. The one thing I had to do for tour was figure out 9 different outfits for each individual show, including jewelry and shoes. I had to make sure I was running and getting my cardio up so I wouldn’t be out of breath on stage. Every single day I had to vocalize and run through the songs for the show and practice exactly what I was going to say between each song. Figuring out the band and making sure we were all-together and had no mistakes. Let just say there is a lot to think, decide and worry about. 

The 'brand" or identity of an artist is expressed so many ways but none more importantly as in what clothes we wear on stage.Can you tell us the process of deciding about your outfits for this tour?

I would have to say the timing for this tour was quite good. Before for my CD Release I had gotten a stylist to help me and move me a little out of my comfort zone and I thank her for that because she actually helped me find my style in that one session. That’s why I was able and confident to do all the shopping for tour myself. My theme was very much old vintage rock and roll / musician shirts with lots of leather and studs. So I did about 3 bottoms and 2 leather jackets, with 9 different musician shirts. Dressing yourself is a lot about knowing who you are and expressing that with what you wear, and being confident doing it! 

Sounds like you smartly chose to focus your fans on the music you play and a powerful image.
What about choosing which material you were going to perform for this tour?

Picking the songs was the easy part! We had a certain length of time for our set so we picked what we thought would be strongest songs. Debated back and forth on the order and finally decided to do an  Up Beat – Ballad – Up Beat as our approach. 

What about deciding what kind of band you were going to use for this tour. Of course finances are often a consideration here, what with travel and accommodation costs.

For this tour, being an indie artist, money was very tight. We had many factors to figure out as for what might look best on stage and present me in the best possible way as well as weighting out the cost. As I am sure a lot of you know hiring musicians are not cheap! We thought at first a guitarist and keys with track would be good, and then it was like well maybe drums and keys with track are better. It was a big toss up. You had to think about the fact that drums are a big instrument to take on tour with you and would guitar be the best? We finally decided that the best thing would be to just have keys for an economical perspective and then the keyboardist can play the tracks on stage herself as well. Even though I usually play with a full band. 

What specific daily preparations did you make in terms of bringing your card and vocal chops up to speed?

Vocalizing and cardio would be for 40 minutes a day at least. I really had to make sure I was on top of that everyday because I had such a short time to get ready for such a huge gig! I also needed to actually run the show exactly how I was going to do it and exactly what I was going to say between each song so I didn’t have to think about it. You see a huge difference when you do all of those things. 


How did the tour dates go for you overall?

The tour went absolutely amazing! It was probably the best time I have ever had in my life. It was definitely a highlight in my career. I proved so much to myself and to others, that I was actually able to do back to back shows and handle my first tour! 

I know the tour was hugely successful for you and built a new fan base for your music across Ontario, what would you do differently next time in terms of prep?

Of course I wish I had had more time to prepare and be in even better shape then I was on tour, but that was the circumstances. Next time I probably would spend the extra money to have a full band on tour to have a better real and live show. But honestly otherwise I don’t think I would have changed really anything. 

What advice would you have for other artists who are doing multiple tour dates?

The best advice I can give is from what I have learned from my own experience. Give yourself enough time to be in the best shape overall with your voice, doing your cardio, and getting your band together. Be extremely organized even down to the littlest details and make sure everything is set in place so there is no stress or anything to worry about. I did all my planning right away and didn’t waste any time at all. The best thing I can say is you know yourself best and you know exactly what you need or at least you should! Make that a priority and everything will fall right into place. 

Check out Hilary's world online (see below) and watch for upcoming career strategy, voice technique and performance workshops at Singers Playground at   Singers Playground
Micah Barnes