March 21, 2014 , , ,

War is Hell. Prepare Accordingly


War is Hell.  Prepare Accordingly.

Livingston Taylor often tells his students, “In the classroom you’re my student.  Outside the classroom, you’re my enemy.”  While somewhat harsh, he’s being completely honest.   If you’re a musician, and he’s a musician, you’re competing for fans.

The Beatles were your heroes – now they’re the enemy!   It’s enough to make you wish you’d studied harder in high school, right?

OK – maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true.  When you decide to become a professional musician, suddenly your music and marketing need to be not just enough to validate your efforts, but they need to make someone choose you over the other guy.  And yeah, that other guy can be the Beatles.

Standing out and rising above the competition is the work of marketing.  Again, we’re not going to give you the tired adage of “don’t suck,” but you’re gonna need to start thinking about a whole bunch of things above and beyond “just” the music.

First things first, do you have music?  It’s hard to be a musician without it.  When you try to book gigs for your band, the first thing they usually ask for is … music!  Shocking, I know.   You’d be surprised how many bands wither on the vine simply ‘cuz they’ve got nothing recorded but still try to market and promote themselves.

Think about what you’re recording.  If you’re heading into the studio to record your debut effort, nobody expects you to already have an album.  But you could have some demos, or maybe a previous band’s project that spotlights your abilities.   There’s enough technology in your iPhone to record a decent quality audio demo and an HD video.  Scary, but true.

Now assuming you’ve got some music, it’s time to have a goal.   This doesn’t have to be some multi-leveled super sophisticated statement of purpose, but it should get you through 3-months, 6-months, and a year or two.  When you can create and attain specific goals, there’s a feeling of progress and success that’s unstoppable.   That’s not to say you should lowball your goals to make them easy to meet, but you shouldn’t expect to sell a million records in 8 months either.

I once fired a client (and yes, smart consultants know when to do such things!), because he knew how he wanted to treat his fans.  He would often say things like “when I’m a star, I’ll talk to every fan.  I won’t let anyone feel like they don’t know me.”  While that’s great sentiment, it doesn’t help you when it takes you two weeks to deliver a two paragraph blog post for your new website.   Again, setting clear goals helps roadmap what needs to be done, who’s going to do it, and when it should be done.  You’ve got to be able to see the forest for the dive bars.

Goals should be realistic and tied to the amount of effort you legitimately expect to put in.   For example, if you plan to launch a website in two months time, then you should probably expect to have music ahead of the launch.

And yeah, you’ll need a little bit of money.  Not thousands of dollars, but at least enough to allow yourself to capitalize on opportunities that arise and create the bare bones (online) foundation.

The following image offers a timeline that represents a basic attempt at wrapping your heads around the pacing and protocol of where your real-world goals line up with what you’re going to be dealing with online to make them happen.



While every item on the table is important, it’s worth drawing special attention to Month 4 where you’ll measure and evaluate everything you’ve done to date.

One of the main issues with any new business (or band!) is that without constant forward momentum you feel like there’s no success.  More bluntly, if we’re not growing, we’re not succeeding.

While that’s true to a certain extent, you need to stop and make sure that everything works and has the potential to lead to the success you crave.  It can’t be “hurray – the website’s done, let’s go look at Facebook now.”  In Month 4 you’re giving extra special attention to your sales, your combined analytics data, and your own thoughts on what’s working well.  It’s likely you’re looking at these things anyway, but often it takes a month (post-launch) to get a reasonably solid set of numbers to use as reference.

Also – this table represents a calendar that works for a lot of people.  Any individual piece may stretch or contract depending on the unique specialness that represents your band.

No Comments

March 16, 2014 , ,

Your New Best Friend

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 10.58.38 AM

Your New Best Friend

Google Analytics is the bestest thing on Earth.  When you’re a marketer (if you’re reading this, you probably are…), Google Analytics is your best friend.

For those unfamiliar, Google Analytics is a program which tracks activity on your website.  Reading that back, it’s kind of like saying Jimi Hendrix was just a guitar player, or the Red Sox are just a baseball team.  Google Analytics isn’t actually “just” anything.  It’s so impressive, so important, that it may be able to save the world.

Assuming you’ve built and launched a fantastic website, it’s time to see if it’s actually working.  Google Analytics will run in the background of your website (invisible to visitors), and track activity.

Here’re a few of the key questions that Google Analytics can answer:

  • How many people are visiting my website?
  • What pages are they looking at the most?
  • Which band member is the most popular?
  • What are fans interested in?
  • How are fans finding out about the band?

The answers to any of those questions are able to propel your band forward and allow you to make informed decisions.  If you know what fans are interested in, then you can do more of it.  This is far better (and much less time consuming) than guessing.  It’s also fairly indisputable:  numbers don’t lie.

Here’s a peek inside Google Analytics:

analytics3 analytics2 analytics1


This is a basic overview of an artist’s website for the month of September 2011.  We can see that he had 4,724 visitors of which 3,380 were unique – meaning they hadn’t visited the site any time in the last 30 days.  Just over 63% of the visitors were new.  How’d they find you?  Here’s where it starts to get fun: 


In this image, we’re looking at referral traffic – visits that were directed from other sites.  We can see that Facebook sent (or “converted”) 102 fans, and that Facebook’s mobile site (fans using mobile phones/browsers) sent 9 fans.

In the month of September, we can deduce that 3% of traffic to the artist’s website came from Facebook.  We got there with this math:  102 Facebook referrals / 3,380 unique visits = 3%).

Here’s another example: 


If you’re thinking about touring, wouldn’t it be nice to know where your fans are?  In this example, support is very strong in the Northeast.  Not surprising, but the #10 city is Allentown, PA!  In a list of big cities, you think Chicago, NYC, Boston, etc.  Does Allentown ever make the list?  For this band, maybe it should…

You’ll also get statistics from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  But your website is all yours – nobody else is advertising on it, and nobody else has the ability to alter its content or design.  As such, it makes sense for your website to be the “official source” for information about your band.  It’s presenting you specifically how you wanted to be presented.  In terms of understanding your audience, Google Analytics (only available for your website!) will give you more information about your fans than any other platform.  The more you know about your fans, the easier it gets to provide them with the content they’re looking for.

For those of you using Bandcamp (as of Winter 2011), they do not allow you to properly embed their storefront onto your website.  Thinking about your analytics, this becomes a bit of a problem.  You end up competing with yourself.

Let’s suppose that your main goal is driving traffic to your website (so that people can learn about you, find out when your gigs are, and buy your music).  You’ve got Google Analytics running, and you know exactly how your doing relative to your goal, right?


The second they click that “store” button, they’re whisked off to the country of Bandcampia.  While your website is a proud American, your storefront still lives in its native country where (much like North Korea) certain statistics are given out and others are simply unattainable.  Information is your greatest tool.  It’s the John to your Paul and/or the Ringo that makes the whole thing work.

Years ago, I worked for a company that was moderately successful, but they didn’t know why.  No previous marketing person had ever tried to either institute or provide quality statistical measurement.     So I went through all the company’s sales going back roughly five years.  I put together a breakdown of what type of sale, the cost, time of year, and a few other industry specific provisions.  Then I sat down with the CEO and told him that I needed the reports on his sales for the last 5 years.  While he had a strong sales team, the CEO still made roughly 30% of the company’s annual sales.

He turned me down cold.  He didn’t want to share his numbers or his info because he felt it took away his competitive edge – against his own sales team!

Aside from the inherent trust/team issues this brought up, it made my report somewhat useless.  Ultimately I had 100% of the info on 70% of the data.  There was still 30% that remained in the great unknown.   Incomplete data will always yield inconclusive results.

Here’s another way to imagine it:  you’re doing something right, and thousands of people are visiting your website each month.  But somehow sales are essentially non-existant.  For all the traffic coming to your website, you’ve got no sales to show for it?

All this being said, Bandcamp does offer statistics for plays and placements on their platform, but while nice, they’re not as robust as what Google Analytics does for you.  Keeping your entire stats “collection” in one place, amounts to higher quality of results obtained. 

No Comments

March 13, 2014 , ,




It’s pretty amazing how much content is on YouTube.  Over 150 million visits per month to the site.  This shows that all the stuff you thought nobody else but you remembered —that “lost” TMNT episode, every music video you could imagine— someone else remembers it too and wants you to see it.

In the pre-Facebook era, if you wanted to hear a band’s music, you probably went to their MySpace page.  In particular, indie musicians flocked to MySpace in its heyday.  These days, the kiddies are just searching the group name or song title on YouTube, and odds are they’ll find exactly what they want.

Today, Google owns the world.  And conveniently they own Google Analytics and YouTube.  For musicians, this will rock your world.  If you post a cool video to your YouTube page, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll see some conversion[1] to your website.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss what makes for an interesting video.  There’s a few ways to accomplish this without requiring you to spend thousands of dollars and hiring a production team.

First off, have an idea about what it is you want to do.  It can be as basic as a vlog (video blog post), or as big as a full scale music video.  Either way, knowing what you want to accomplish going in saves infinite frustration.  Make an outline – or even a basic script/guide.

Team D.I.-Why are huge Apple nerds, and with good reason.  Most of what you need to create quality audio/video comes standard with every MacBookPro and iPhone.  We’re guessing there are some Android phones and PCs that can do that too, but seriously and for realz, Apple rocks.  With the built in iCam, included iMovie, and a little iMagination (sorry, couldn’t resist), you can be the next YouTube sensation.

So you’ve got some video content, and you need to do something with it.  Setting up your own channel (page) on YouTube is pretty damn simple.

  1. Create a YouTube account – keep the account name as close to your artist/band name as possible.
  2. Set up your channel with a color scheme/design that matches your website
  3. Upload content to your page.

Seriously.  It’s that easy.  From there, you can get all creative and fancy, but for now, we’re just getting started.  If you’ve got easy access to the design files for your website, it’s simple to upload a matching background to your YouTube channel.  Wow, branding!

About a year and a half ago, we worked with a band to create a fundraising video.  They were gonna hit the road, and wisely, they didn’t want to lose money in the process.  With nothing more than a MBP, digital camera, and creativity, they created a video that was heartfelt, funny as hell, and effective.[2]  The entire production was composed, produced, and completed over a weekend and for a total cost of about $50 – in beer and wigs.

From that video and accompanying website, Facebook, and Twitter promotion, the tour was accomplished at a profit.  Not a huge profit, but nobody lost money either.

When you’re starting a band, and you’re trying to come up with content for a website without actually having finished your disc, recording a acoustic demo is a nice easy way to show what you’re up to without going nuts on the budget and time.  Turn on the webcam, pick up your guitar, and just go for it.  We recommend proper lighting as well as picking the spinach out from between your teeth before starting.

YouTube also gives you the option of adding captions and annotations to your video.  This added “commentary” can include information you want people to know about you, your music, your next gig, or whatever.

Here’s an example:


YouTube makes it easy to time/sequence the captions and annotations so they fit inside the action.  When done properly, it’s very cool.  Done badly, it can look totally amateur, so take your time with this.

On its own, YouTube provides very similar (looking and functioning) analytics to what you’ll already have inside Google Analytics.  The difference is that they’ll give you some added info about where people are watching your video.

We reposted an interview one of us did with Blink 182 from 2004.  Here’s a snippet of those analytics:


While not earth shattering in terms of the number of views we got, it was very interesting to see that 83% of viewers were male.  It’s also interesting to note that while this video was also posted on our website, a solid majority of the views came from YouTube.  We can then take this info and compare it with what Google Analytics tells us.



In this case, YouTube drove a whopping total of 4 hits to  While not thrilling, it definitely helps us figure out where to direct our focus.  In other words, we’re not going to bank our success on converting traffic from YouTube to

Yet again, the point to be made is that the analytics are what helps you figure out what to do.  We had an intern once who swore by posting stuff to YouTube and watching the flood gates open.  I asked him if he had proof of concept – specifically analytics that validated his concept.

He didn’t.

Sure enough, when we dug a little deeper, it just wasn’t there.  Creating unique video content can take some time to do.  If you’re going to invest a concerted amount of time/effort, make sure you’re getting something back in return.  And make sure you can prove it!

Another strategy for YouTube is to “favorite” videos you like and create a channel that along with helping promote your band directly (with your own unique content) but also by helping clarify your band’s brand/image with content that defines your likes, dislikes, and sound.  It can also help draw some traffic to your channel.  When D.I.-Why posted that Blink 182 video, we got a lot of attention from Blink fans.  Odds are, they wouldn’t have found us otherwise.

[1] Conversion – moving website interest from one destination to another.  Ex.  “I saw you on WooTube, and now I’m on your website!”

No Comments

War is Hell. Prepare Accordingly
Your New Best Friend