Category Archives: Music promotion

Investment for the future

longroadMusic business is a funny old business. You can’t just dabble at it for a bit and expect the fame and fortune land on your lap. Today we live in a new world. Sure enough there is a good living to be made in the music business for those who are willing to put the work in. But I think it is safe to say the scale of superstardom we have seen in the second part of last decade is going to be a whisper from the past. Music goes back to being art and a trade, not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem all along have been the distorted perception of what the career path looks like. So many young people enter the business in the hopes of seeing that overnight stardom. Most become very disappointed very fast. Those few who slip through the cracks mostly get gobbled up by the leftovers of the major label monsters, and eventually get spat out when the money runs out. It’s hard to explain the moral inequality record contracts hold to those who are not willing to give up on that old dream.

In the other hand we have tools that allows us  completely bypass the “system.” The “system” is not happy about it at all. You see the these tools let us build a relation ship with our fans, where the labels spent years trying to reduce the music fan just down to a number.

If you really want to give it a go, it will require sacrifices. It will require you to invest in your future today. It requires you to work hard on something that you have no guarantee of getting return on. And if you think a band rehearsal once a week will shoot you to stardom, you will be sorely mistaken. You need to get your hands dirty in the business. You need to be willing to build a fan base from ground up.

If you are a solo artist, it is going to be a full-time business. If you are a band, make sure every member of the band will carry their weight. Nothing builds resentment like you working harder than anyone else for a common cause, and everyone expecting to collect the benefits equally. Pull your weight!

It’s like you are on a long road that disappears in the distance. To get where you need to go seems too far a way right now. You know you won’t make into the destination today, tomorrow, next week, month, year… But if you just concentrate today taking on the road one step at the time, eventually you start to make a headway. And everyday you get little bit closer to the destination, as long as you are willing to do the walking.

What I am trying to say here is if you want to give it a go, be realistic. Know you need to work harder than you probably have ever worked before. You need to be innovative and inventive. You need to be able to produce a lot of stuff, and make the most of every minute of your waking hours. It is an investment for the future.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Bad promotion

megaphoneWhy do we spend days on Facebook and Twitter screaming out loud asking people to listen to our music? Why do we make our first point of contact a “click this link!” or “Check out my video!” Why do we go for the “elevator pitch” every time we meet someone in the business? Why we push and ask before we listen and give?

Because it works, at least for a little while. And we don’t know better… In our mind it is the most direct out from A to B. We want people to listen to our music, so we ask everybody. But would it not make more sense to find out first if they even are in to the kind of music we make? What other bands do they like?

I admit I am fascinated with music marketing. I know many of you run a mile when they hear the words “music” and “marketing” together. But let me explain what I mean here. Traditionally in any business there has been outbound and inbound marketing. The outbound marketing is that annoying sales representative calling you when you are about to watcher favourite TV show (because they know the chances are you will be home) and jumps in to a pitch to  convince you that your life will be revolutionised by something they are trying to sell. The inbound marketing is the shop front. You put your goods on the shelf of the shop, and wait for the customer to come in and pick it up.

Now obviously you can see here that one of them, the sales person is in charge of when to act, and in the other it is up to the customer to make that first move. So how does all of this relate to the independent musician trying to get noticed?

As a new artist, you often start building your fan base from people you know, family and friends. Sure thing, this is a great way to get the first few numbers onto you social media sites and email list and they might even be nice enough to support you by buying some of your music. And we all hope that from that group of friends the words spreads. Sounds a bit unpredictable and unsustainable to me. In fact, it sounds like a bad business plan.

As soon as possible you as an artist need to start building a fan base outside your own social circles. And yes, this does require you to do some outbound marketing! But here’s the thing that gets me exited, all you need to do is get people interested enough to stick around for few weeks on your social media sites. If you play your cards right, in those few weeks you can show them that you have something cool to offer and that your social media page, your mailing list or your website is a cool place to hang around. Then you can build a relationship with them.

And most of the time, this is not a result of “Hey, nice to meet you. Check out my music!” (It’s actually scary how often I get messages that don’t even have the “Hey, nice to meet you” part…) Don’t get me wrong, you can offer them your music, but let it be their choice. Don’t be that annoying sales person who try to stop people on the street and everyone are trying to avoid eye contact with. Do reach out to people, but do it in a  humble way. Do it the way you would like to be approached 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

What would you sacrifice to be able to have your dream job?

dream jobIt’s a Saturday afternoon here in Dublin and I have been twiddling my thumbs for the past half an hour 😀 The morning was glorious and I made the most of it by going for a two-hour walk. Then after quick stock up at the grocery store and breakfast I locked my self in to my little office/studio to record another song. Usually I don’t do too much recording during the weekend, as I have regular shows with Sliotar every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But tonight’s show was canceled due to the rugby world cup. Ireland is doing well, so things are getting bit intense. Every match matters now.

So the recording is done and here I am wondering what to do with my self tonight 😀 And while I was thinking this, it once again dawned to me how bizarre my life is. I don’t mind, I love bizarre 😉 But so many people come to me saying they would love to be musicians, without thinking what the sacrifices are going to be. I actually have Saturday nights so rarely off, that when I do I end up wondering what to do…

I remember few years back I had another band on the go. As is the case so often, I was taking care of the promotion and the booking for the band. In the beginning I was the only full-time musician in the band. The rest of the band dreamed about playing shows abroad, festivals even touring. I had done all of it, and still do with Sliotar. Sure thing the scenes were little bit different, but I had the knowhow to book a tour. What was holding me back? I knew what it would take, and the rest of the band had no idea.

Their idea of touring life was a fantasy. They thought everything will be taken care of, and that they can pick and choose the dates. I knew there was no hope in hell making a penny from it, unless we were willing to be on the road for several weeks. If you didn’t know, touring with a band is expensive. The rest of the band had day jobs and girlfriends that they could not just leave behind for months. I was fully aware of this, and I was not willing to be the guy responsible of them loosing their jobs, or wrecking their relationships.

I also knew there would be many disappointments alone the way. There are always some less than great shows at every tour. Also the lifestyle does take a toll on you fast. If you don’t love the music full heartedly, thins get very sour pretty fast.

So being a full-time musician was a dream to them. And it was one of those dreams where someday someone would just come and hand the keys to the kingdom of the professional musician, and it would not require any of the sacrifices that come with the job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the guys. This fantasy idea of some record label executive coming to put you on a roster and pay you salary is something most hobbyist musicians are not willing to give up on. But in reality, that just does not happen.

I made a lot of sacrifices over the years, I still do. But I am fully aware of it being the price for being able to do what I do. I love my job. But I worked damn hard to get as far as I am now, and I know this journey is far from over. There will be many more sacrifices along the way. But for now, I will enjoy my accidental Saturday off 🙂

So before you decide to go after your dream, please make sure you fully understand what it takes. I will be the first one to tell you to dream big. But you also need to be willing to make the sacrifices. What would you sacrifice to be able to have your dream job?

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

The so-called plagiarism

Robert JohnsonI’m sure many of you heard the story that made the front page music news about Irish singer songwriter Hozier and the plagiarism claims. In fact it is so well documented, that I won’t even go in to the details here. Lets just say it is all sorted now.

But I do want to talk about the subject of the so-called “plagiarism” in music. The lines have blurred a lot since the days Vanilla Ice got accused of using the bass riff from David Bowie and Queen’s collaboration song. This was an obvious case, that these days would have been treated just as “using a sample.” Using samples has become part of the process of making music. But if you use a sample from someone else song, you do need to pay for it and clear it using the proper procedures. So what I am talking about here is not sampling, but genuine plagiarism in the songwriting process.

A lot of the claim in the Hozier case was base on a chord progression and time signature. Let me just point out that you cannot (nor should you be able to) copyright either. The same three chords have been recycled since the beginning of time. Think of blues for a second, or the early rock and roll. They were mostly based on strict structures of twelve, or sixteen bar blues. Everybody was happy and no one got sued. I don’t think any historian interested in the history of rock n’ roll would deny the influence Robert Johnson has had on the music we listen today.

I also hear a lot of my older fellow musicians talking about how there is no new music these days. And they very much like to point back to bands like the Led Zeppelin. Well, Led Zeppelin “borrowed” heavily from left, right and centre. If the stories are anything to go by, maybe the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” made the lines in the songwriting sessions bit blurred. But then again I ask you, did they “borrow” or where they just heavily influenced by other artists, maybe even inspired? Either way, they revolutionised rock music.

There are several chord structures, for example (sorry for getting bit theoretical here…) if we take the first, fifth, minor sixth and the fourth chord of any scale, we can sing on top of those chords hundreds if not even thousands of songs. So I think we need to relax on the subject a bit. Plagiarism to me is someone copying a song on purpose, but if you write something similar, are you not being inspired by someone else’s work?

And you know what? That is how music has evolved over decades. We take something old and make something new out of it. Do you think your music is totally original? Do you think you have not been inspired by anything, or anyone? Did you live in a bubble for all of your life? Are you trying to tell me you have a control of your unconscious mind, where a lot of those ideas actually happen? We all are inspired by millions of things in our lifetime, and most of it without us even knowing about it.

Every time you hear about another plagiarism court case, guess who’s making the money? The system, the labels who usually are behind taking the case to the court and the law firms. And every time this happens, little bit of creativity gets destroyed as songwriters are scared their song sounds like some one else song…

I am not trying to tell you that you should not care about his at all, I have thrown away some of my songs as they sounded too similar to someone else songs, or even some of my own 😀 But I do believe we need to relax a little bit about who owns what. At the end of the day, it’s all music.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Are we caging art into a product?

cagingtheartWhat was the product in music 150 years ago from today? I mean surely most people had music in their life in some form. Granted, they did not have access to endless albums at their fingertips. Still, there were professional musicians. In fact the oldest known musical instrument, a type of flute is thought to date back at least 40000 years! So we have had hundreds of decades of musicians, and the first known audio recording only dates back to 1878. The first format was phonograph cylinder, and it was the first format of commercial music, and controlled the market for nearly thirty years. This also was also crisis in the music industry, as the recorded music took over and the sales of sheet music dropped.

So the idea of music as a physical product that we pay money for is less than 140 years old. Still the first record of “professional musician” dates back roughly 3500 years to the tomb of Nakht in Egypt. So thousands, if not tens of thousands years musicians survived without having a recorded product to sell. Every performance was unique, as that is exactly what it was, a performance. Musicians memorised music, as they did not have their smart phones to make notes in.

But with the recorded music, we started to expect a reproduction of a particular piece of music. We caged the song. That recorded version was the “original.” Now let me tell you this, by the time you hear the “original,” the artist more than likely has gone through several versions of the song. They have painstakingly crafted a song, rehearsed it, arranged it, probably abandoned many bits and bobs from it. And now you want to hear that “original” version. In fact, if you hear a covers band, you rate them based on how close to the “original” version they reproduce the song.

Music by its nature is living organic thing. The so-called fall of the record industry might present us artists with financial challenges, but at the same time it has presented us with a lot more creative freedom. Maybe we should stop thinking recorded music as a caged product, where we try to capture the essence of the song in its most polished form. Maybe we should start to view it as capturing the moment. I am a strong believer in capturing new music fresh, this is why I often record songs the day I write them.

Many of my fellow musicians struggle with this concept, because they have been brought up with the concept of that “Original” polished product. They believe that with time, they can make things perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn this approach at all. It’s just not for me. I believe in freshness, in the performance in the moment. I believe often your first instinct is the best.

So instead of trying to cage the music, why not let it be free? Why not take away the price and let people pay what they want? Why not let it be an artistic expression, without the expectation brought on by the $10 price tag? So I ask you, are we caging art into a product? Should we not let it roam free?

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Upside down business model

upsidedownYesterday I heard some rumours about an industry showcase / festival here in Dublin not paying the artists for their performances. The artists are expected to do it for the “exposure.” Unfortunately my landlord does not accept “exposure” for rent… So this got me thinking.

Sometimes it seems that the music business is built to support the business before the artist. It’s bit like a model railway, where we build the surroundings around the railway. Where as in real life, the railway is there to service the surroundings. We seem to forget that without the artist, there is no business. So why so often the artist is the last person to get paid? But even more so I would like to ask how can we change this? There is no point in moaning, if we are not willing to work towards solution.

Unfortunately my suggestion is something that many artist will not want to consider, as we want what used to be. To me the independent path is the only way to change things. If we build a direct relationship with our followers, maybe there is hope. If enough of us do it by our self with the help from our followers, the people in the business will be forced to rethink how they operate. But the artists cannot do this on their own, the music fan will also play a part in it.

But today more than ever we have a chance to change things, thanks to the internet. Even though it is very unstable time, it is also exiting time to be musician. But will new independent artists playing their own original music stand a chance against the big guns in the business? Only time will tell.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Are we on the brink of war over control in the music business?

music warI’ve had this thought for a while now. We have all been pretty wrapped up in the streaming music conversation for a while now. First we were all throwing daggers at Spotify. hen things stabilised a bit, and just when we were about to relax and try to figure out what can we do with this new technology, along came Apple music. For us musicians they were easy targets to wave our fists and blame them for killing music. They were letting people access our music, and the return we got was very minimal.

But as I pointed out in the past, most of the time, it was the big old labels who got their hands on the money coming from the streaming services first. And this got me thinking. In the past fifteen years the price of recording equipment has dropped massively, and the ability to produce high quality music at home has become not only reality, but part of our life. As a result, there has been a flood of new independent, self-produced music to the market. Now obviously a big chunk of it might not be professional standard, but a lot of it is. Surely this has been scaring the major labels for years now.

Back in the late part of last decade, recording music was expensive business. It would literally cost thousands of dollars a day! So the only real way to do it was through the backing of a record label. So they were in charge. That “control” was taken away from them by the help of budget home recording equipment. Also internet made it possible for the music to be distributed from our home computers, again a task that the major labels used to have control of.

Lets face it, major labels were, and still are powerful corporations. If they fight something, they rarely lose, just simply due to the financial resources they have. So why have they (quietly) made deals with the streaming services? Because they can make money out of them? Sure that would be one part of it. But I have another theory.

It still costs money to make professional quality recording. Yep it is cheaper than before, but still it does cost money. And as the CD sales are dwindling, downloads are dropping and streaming is rocketing through the roof, the return on an independent recording are small. Too often so small that they don’t even break even. Where as the major label can still push enough money in to advertising to tp the scales, even through streaming.

So what if the main reason behind the major labels lack of resistance to the streaming services has been control. What I they are trying to make the recording process something once again only they can afford to do? We think of them as small sighted and out of touch, but what if they are actually playing much bigger game? What if we independent artists are the ones who are small sighted? The majors throw enough fuel that we attack the streaming services, while they quietly gain control again. I  believe we better wake up before it is too late.

What can the independent artists do? We have the tools to fight back. Direct connection between artist and the consumer is where we will still win. Things like crowdfunding and Patreon are out there to provide us a format. They don’t do the work for us, they just provide a service we can utilise. But if we are willing to build those relationships between us and our audience, we will kick the major label monsters in the back side every time! But as long as you are willing to believe the lies, that the streaming services are the enemy and that the old school major label model is the only viable option, they will win.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Mental endurance in music business

don't give upBack in the late nineties I was playing in a band, that was making waves locally. We had a residency here in Dublin, and it was pretty much packed night after night. We crowd sourced our first album well, by asking our audience to donate money towards the recording costs well before online crowd sourcing was even a thing. We were very engaging with our audience. We even got to do some touring. It was an intensive few years, but then eventually the flame started fading. The venue we were playing got sold, and the new owners were not so interested in music. Some of the band members started to get more session work around the town and things like traveling and life in general got on the way.

But it was a great learning curve, where I cut my teeth as a working musician, and I still today find lessons in the experiences I had back then. One thing I remember clearly was my own drive to make it work. I was young, eager and exited. I am sure I drove my band mates, who all were older than me, crazy on regular basis. But looking back now, I know that youthful drive did play a big part in our short-lived success.

It is easy to have that focus when things are going well, but it can be lost as easily when things are turning south. Back then I did already believe in hard work, but at the same time I was searching for that lucky break. Now as I had years time to reflect and look back, I know that focus and drive were the biggest things that made it all possible.

Today I am more aware of the importance of that focus. Why do most artists fail? Because they give up. So having the mental endurance to keep your focus, even when things are not going so well, is extremely important. You never know what’s behind the next corner, or the next one. Just keep going.

And when times get tough, say to your self: “You can do this, you will succeed.” But surely that kind of mental reinforcement is load of crap, I hear you say. It has worked for some of the greatest business minds and some of the most successful people in the world, so why do you think it would not work for you? Have faith, and never give up!

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Automation

breakfast in IschiaIt’s another sunny day in the beautiful island of Ischia. I am drinking my morning coffee overlooking the bay of Napoli. Down below Ischia Porto goes about its daily business. Even though I am high up on a hill, the fresh sea air fills my lungs. I’ve been here for the past week, recharging my batteries. We all need it from time to time 🙂

Even though I truly, unconditionally love what I do, it is important sometimes to switch off from it all. On this trip I can say I have been successful at it, more than in the past. But this does not mean I need to disappear from the world. After all, the modern music business is all about being present.

So I have been testing different types of automation, for my online activities. “But it’s not real, if you are not there in person” I hear you say. OK, lets break this down a bit. I would consider myself quite good at “being present” when it comes to my online promotion. I know there are some independent artists who I look up to, who are brilliant at it. But even they can’t be there all of the time.

Today’s artists need to get good at multitasking and time management. So we should utilise any available tool at hand. This is where Tweetdeck, Hootsuit, Facebook scheduled posts and WordPress scheduling become extremely valuable tools. And while I am on the move, there are always little bit of time here and there, which I can utilise to write and schedule blog posts, and social media posts.

So if you don’t utilise these tools yet, get on it right now! Why should others have the advantage, just because you believe in some out of date preconception?

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Break the Business podcast

I had such a great time chatting to Ryan and Dave on the Break the Business podcast 🙂 I am especially happy that it turned out as information packed as possible, and I also had to know what happened to the Jell-O 😀

I set a challenge for independent artists out there in the podcast. If you decide to take the challenge on, share the results with me and I’ll feature them on my blog.

Also describe to the Break the Business podcast! It is A show for indie artists and the people who love and support them. The Break the Business Podcast is a fun and informative discussion of entertainment law (for non-lawyers), independent artists, and popular culture.

You can find even more information about the show on in a blog post HERE

Big thank you to Ryan and Dave for chatting with me, they really have a great thing going. I won’t ramble much more for now, as there is enough stuff on the podcast, hit the play and enjoy it 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE