This will be the first in a multi-part series on how to navigate the waters of Music 2.0 using the limited financial resources available to a new band, indie or management company. What I'm hoping to do is to formulate an action plan for the new artist using real business techniques as well as emphasizing the limitations of the "old" music biz and it's methods - such as the reliance on CD sales and inflated importance of chart rankings. We'll explore why these things just aren't relevant anymore, and why this is good for you.
For this first entry, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some core values - my strongest recommendations - before you begin to put yourself out there and begin your venture:
#1. Your mailing list is PRICELESS!!!
Begin constructing your mailing list - emails, addresses, phone numbers, screen names - NOW! Do not wait. These are going to be the people you work for. This is your core fanbase. These are the folks that will keep your career afloat because they believe in you! Treat the list like GOLD and keep building it. Your list represents a targeted group of consumers who have already expressed their appreciation just by signing up. They know who you are. They're into you. These are the people you will OVERDELIVER to - beyond their expectations!
#2. Build community before commerce. The Trust Component.
In music, you're in the business of hearts and minds. Build a relationship with your fans FIRST, and everything else with follow. Invite their input - give things to them for free - make them feel exclusive. You are building a town placing yourself as the mayor. Make sure to get the support of your constituents by any means neccessary.
#3. Songs should be forever - but not recordings.
When it finally comes down to recording your music, look at the big picture. The CD is dying (dead.). Why? Hell, there are so many reasons that I can barely conceive of them all. My opinion? The labels intent was always for you to RENT the music, not to OWN it. [I'll be sure to explain this later.] Give your music away. Once you record it, send out the MP3s to everyone on your list for free. If you insist on printing CDs, hand them out for promotion too. Make sure you use this valuable opportunity to GROW your mailing list. Free music is not only a great incentive for an email address, but it helps build community and goodwill with a new potential fan. It's probably the best way to bring people into your circle!
By now it should be obvious what the common denominator is: FANS!
Treat them like family - ignore them at your peril.