Blogging Til I Win A Grammy: Day 785

Post #45 of ANNIE B.’s D.I.Y. MAGAZINE: LIST: 40 Tasks that Original/Indie Artists Need To Do To Compete in 2011’s Music Arena

“I promise to post blogs here, sharing some daily activities & the work I do to achieve my career goals, and especially, to give inspiration to all, whether you are – or are not – an artist yourself! And, when I do win that Grammy, YOU can say you followed me all the way! Enjoy, and SEIZE THE DAY!”

This blog entry was inspired by my “Low Point,” mentioned later on here. If you are an artist, you know that it can sometimes be very disheartening trying to get where you want to be in your career… doing everything by yourself with no machine in place to do all the “grunt work,” and other time-consuming jobs like posting flyers around town for your next show. Don’t get me wrong, I feel very richly blessed, as I am able pay my bills doing nothing but singing & playing music (and, of course, all the “other work” involved, which is about 70-80% of what I do in order to have enough work to pay my bills)!! And as I looked at my messy desk & office the other day, I became incredibly frustrated with all the many, many tasks that indie artists need to do & keep up with on a weekly (sometimes DAILY) basis. So I thought I could get my frustrations out by creating this list. Not sure if it made me feel better, but it DID put things into a little different perspective for me, and I hope it does the same for you. If YOU are an indie artist, I hope you comment on the list and on the TRUE DEDICATION required to keep the faith! One thing I learned today: Never give up on your dreams!! In the great words of REO Speedwagon (and many others): “Only the strong survive!”

Ok, here we go: 40 Tasks that Original/Indie Artists Need To Do To Compete in 2011’s Music Arena

BASICS:

1. Write songs

2. Practice your skills on your instrument/voice/both

3. Book gigs (this requires phone calls, e-mails, visiting venue websites, sometimes visiting the actual venues, and networking with other artists), and this means keeping up with your e-mail in-box!

4. Promote for gigs, including the following:

Create posters and post them around town, burn sampler CDs for the venues’ patrons if you are really ambitious (plus there is an array of other promotional ideas to get people to come see you for the first time)

5. Create Facebook (and MySpace) events and invite your friends to them

6. Tweet about your gigs, and blast your e-mail fanbase about your gigs

7. Research out the right studio (and maybe producer) for your project & THEN record your songs, with your band or without a band.

8. Copyright your songs

9. Create CD artwork

10. Get your CD mastered

11. CD Duplication (research out the right duplication service for your project, come up with the money AFTER spending plenty of money at the recording studio, and perhaps for artwork, and order your CDs!)

OK, now you are actually ahead of the game compared to a LARGE number of artists.  One thing that WILL set you apart is having a full-length CD to sell at your gigs, and get out there to radio stations, booking agents, and press contacts.  Congrats, that’s GREAT!!! BUT…

IN ADDITION TO THESE BASICS:

12. Find & recruit other musicians if you want to have a band

13. Rehearse with your band

14. Network with other bands & research those bands who have bigger names than you around town, and do this for other towns in your region

15. Build a website or have one built

16. Keep your website updated with upcoming gigs, photos, new music, news, press, new videos, new merch, blog entries, and anything else you’d like on your site.

17. Have band photos that really represent what you sound like, and have those photos updated on a regular basis

18. Create and maintain your (multiple) Facebook pages, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc etc etc, and answer messages on these sites & on your event pages

19. Create and maintain your “regular” e-mail list and e-mail those fans about once a month with exciting information for them to want to find out about

20. Research out bigger & better venues on a regular basis

21. Send your CD to local radio stations/radio shows that might play your music, and contact radio stations (especially college & community stations) to secure radio interviews for special appearances (CD Release Party, out-of-town gigs, charity gigs, etc).  Be sure to “Regular mail” them notices about your special appearance so they can have all the applicable DJs announce your show if they wish!  They have to HAVE the info in hand in order to announce it!

22. Keep in contact with these people once a week to ensure your CD is somewhere on their radar, or is actually bring played.  Find out how many “spins” you are getting on the station and be sure to add that info to your website & press kit!

23. Bookkeeping, including CD sales, money made from gigs, expenses, and budgeting for future projects

24. Tweet AND facebook about interesting/valuable information for your followers at least once a day if possible (even if it’s just mentioning the restaurant where you had lunch and how you really liked the seared tuna salad.) (Social media gurus recommend you tweet/facebook AT LEAST 2-3 times a day!) AND, include a photo in your tweet/facebook status update if possible

25. Research and follow important music blogs for your genre, and submit your stuff to the blog writer on a regular basis

26. Maintain your calendar with booked gigs, potential future gigs, rehearsals, and other opportunities

27. Answer facebook & twitter friend requests and seek out friends that are good to have on these sites

28. Purchase and maintain gear (and maintain & feed your cat if you have one)

29. Design AND purchase promotional items to increase your awareness & your revenues (stickers, t-shirts, hats, thong undies, wristbands, keychains, shot glasses, etc etc etc)

30. Sonicbids (a whole animal in itself)

31. Create & maintain a press list to contact when you have a big thing coming up like CD Release or an opportunity to open for a big act

32. Create and maintain a list of booking agents that you want to work with, and contact them on a regular basis with exciting news to spark interest on their end

33. Licensing your songs to TV, movies, commercials, video games, internet shows, etc etc etc (another BIG project that can easily require a team of people)

34. CDBaby = A MUST!!!!! (takes care of getting your songs in iTunes & other internet sites, and lots of other helpful things for you, like their AMAZING credit card swiper program)

35. Choose which internet music sites you are going to get involved in, and then create accounts there AND MAINTAIN those accounts (PureVolume, Garageband, LastFM, TheSixtyOne, and ALL the other many, many, many opportunities out there!)

36. Choose which music community/gig listing websites you are going to get involved in, and then create accounts there AND MAINTAIN those accounts by adding your gig listings to their sites (in Milwaukee, this might include OnMilwaukee.com, ShepEx.com, wmse.org, radiomilwaukee.org, milwaukeerocks.com, craiglslist.org, etc etc etc)

37. Create and maintain a “hard” press kit and an online press kit for whatever opportunities require press kit submissions.

38. Research opportunities & take advantage of music networking sites & music yahoo groups, such as GoGirlsMusic for female artists, Couchsurfing if you are traveling & looking for a couch to crash on, you may even wish to subscribe to MusiciansAtlas.com to find more gigs, etc etc etc

39. Follow up, follow up, follow up, and then follow up. After that, follow up.

40. Create & maintain systems to stay organized with all of these tasks!!!

Of course this list can’t be complete, because I didn’t even get into things like satellite & cable radio stations/services, tracking festival submission dates and making sure you submit for those on time, or music conferences like SXSW, CMJ, or the college networks like APCA & NACA. Radio campaigns are a whole beast in themselves, as are press campaigns. Online campaigns (facebook, twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn, mostly) might be a little easier to manage, since they may not requite you to maintain a hard/online database, but they still require lots of time.

It’s no wonder us indie artists have a hard time competing with artists signed to major and indie labels…. who has the time to do all this crap when there are only 24 hours in a day??? Plus, we all need to have a LIFE! (Balance is CRUCIAL here… we will never accomplish our goals if we don’t have balance in our lives!) Major and indie labels have systems in place that have been handling many of these things for years, and they are able to easily add to their tasks (like realizing that facebook is the place to be instead of MySpace) because it’s just adding a cog to the wheel of an already well-oiled machine.

On behalf of all indie artists everywhere, I am putting this list up so we can all realize that we are all in this boat together, so we need to support each other!!! YAY!!!

Allright, now to continue with my regular blogging… Low Point of the Last Few Days: When I looked at my office and saw a big, huge mess with no time to manage it all. SO, I “started” this list pointing out all the tasks that indie artists HAVE TO do these days in order to compete. I may add to the list on occasion, but for now, I think it’s almost complete. I really need to learn more about prioritizing, but it’s not easy, given that there is certainly a credible reason for EVERY SINGLE ITEM on this list.

High Point of the Last Few Days: This past Friday, I got a call from Vic Thomas of Summerfest and he gave us our Summerfest Date: Sunday, July 10th at the Briggs Stage at 2:30pm!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!! Sooooooooo totally excited!!!!!!!!!! He said he’d call or e-mail me to confirm all the details on Monday!

Thanks for reading!!!

🙂

Annie B.

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