EvO:R-Pedia - Internet Shelf Space Secrets
By Deborah Diak

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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section

    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used successfully so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip.

    This section was painstackingly put here by musicians, for musicians so that artists that followed can take this knowledge and use it's full power.

    It's not always who you know, sometimes you just have to read the road signs.
    Charlie Harrelson
    Founder of EvO:R

    Internet Shelf Space Secrets
    By Deborah Diak

    Back in the day, you could visit a retail record store and talk to the owner or manager - get great recommendations for new releases and lesser known artists, spend hours listening to in-store programming, and meet people with like tastes in the aisles. This model worked for a while, but technology opened up the universe to freedom of choice and physical retail music stores have gone the way of drive-in theaters. The fatal flaw in the old retail model was too much control by major labels and distributors - and, as a result, the very people trying to rule the world of music forced technology to solve the problem with new formats and P2P networks. Surely there are some white-haired executives still scratching their heads wondering what happened and trying to figure out how to stop people from buying and discovering music online.

    I DO NOT advocate pirating music because I believe musicians should get paid for their work, but, I am happy that I have access to just about every musician in the world through the internet. The drawback is that there are so many outlets, so many websites, and so many artists . . . that finding music takes patience and several hours to search the vast number of sites that sell music or offer free MP3's. If that wasn't enough to scare you, major artists are gobbling up internet space so Indie's still have to fight for shelf space. Why? Because search engines work by popular demand and jockeying for that top position is tough if you don't have an endless source of funds to advertise for large volume hits. Every day, more and more sites emerge that allow artists to upload their music and provide their own content. Both artists and fans have to choose which sites suit them best and with the proliferation of free web space; it's hard to filter out the good from the bad. There is a lot of badly written content and no one seems to edit or filter tracks that need more polish. It gives the Independent Artist a bad reputation. Many consumers believe that Indie's are just hack amateurs that aren't good enough to get on a major label. What the public doesn't understand is that very professional, polished and talented musicians have opportunities to sign up with a major label, but opt-out because they lose control of their music . . . their brand . . . are told how to look . . . how to be produced . . . and which tracks to release. Ultimately, the artist gets lost in the formula used by majors to grind out hits.

    From a fan's perspective, looking for music to fill an MP3 player has become more of a chore and less of an adventure. Most music fans don't have the time to wade through hundreds of pages of uploaded, unedited content, AND there is no "record store owner" to help you; so we have to do all the filtering ourselves. How do you find talented and skilled musicians and avoid the hobbyist with a little talent, but not enough skill to be viable?

    Artists have many outlets to showcase their music, so it's easy to get lost among the millions that are doing the same thing. How do independent artists distinguish themselves to stand out among throngs of musicians and be heard above all the noise? Where does the Indie Artist find the people that "get them"? Most independent artists depend on word of mouth, and a fan base built from live performances. Artists also use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and others to get a buzz going. Many Indie's hope their music catches fire through this type of viral marketing. Social networking is a great tool, but it's hard for potential fans to find the time to go through the hundreds of messages received every day. The average person could use an army platoon just to keep up with follows, friending, blogging and tweats.

    After doing a bit of thinking and research, I believe that independent artists need to assess what works for them and discover their strengths. Then take action by following this checklist:

    Understand yourself. Develop your story. Make sure it's authentic. Your story is more than a bio, it's what drives your music or art and attracts people. When you look at an ad, aren't you generally attracted by the unusual? The Geico gecko? It's the image that sticks in your mind. Use the concept of uniqueness, but don't try to mass market. People have sophisticated and eclectic tastes, so if your thing is yodeling, let people know why you yodel. Did you go to school for yodeling or were you self-taught? Was there a family member that passed on this talent to you? How many generations of yodelers are there in your ancestry? Who influenced you? Was it a neighbor, friend, famous yodeler, or family member? You get the idea. So before you decide upon an outlet or channel to sell your music, know who you are, develop your story and write it or get help writing it. Your story shouldn't contain every detail about your childhood, just those watershed moments that impacted your life.

    Create yourself as a brand. Your name matters and will ultimately be associated with what you do and how you do it. Do you write for a specific audience? What image do you want to project? Do you want people to think you're a party band or a serious songwriter? Use your outer image to advertise who you are. First impressions matter when you only have a few seconds to make an impact.

    Make sure your photo is well thought out. Digital photography puts creating an image in your own hands. If you don't want to take your own photo, then make sure you are well prepared to be photographed. This is YOUR image we're talking about.

    Be open to suggestions or criticism from professionals. Sometimes the people closest to you hold back because they are afraid of damaging a personal relationship with you. Ask fans for ratings or feedback and listen to what they have to say. After all, they are the ones making the buying decisions. Pre-screen your track selections by asking people to take a survey of tracks before you decide which songs to promote the most.

    Carry well designed and professional looking business cards wherever you go. Remember to include your website and primary distribution channel on your card. The information must be well presented so you get the biggest bang for your buck. You don't want to send potential buyers to a home-made site, that looks home made.

    Have a downloadable press kit ready in pdf format,so if someone wants to hire you, they don't have to wait for the details. Use a contact page, guestbook page, or membership page and encourage visitors to your site to sign up. Remember to ask permission to send newsletters, gig information or general updates to that email address. Consumers are turned off by spammers and getting permission ensures your content is welcomed.

    If you are gigging, have a merchandising table with business cards, signed photos, and fan surveys to go along with that box of Cd's you drag to each gig.

    Keep this last thought in mind. Music is a universal language for a reason. It's a gift that not all people possess. If you are well prepared, you can contribute your insight to the world through song. Music can turn a bad day into sunshine or provide comfort if a loved one is lost. Music is a powerful medium. To be heard, you need to make powerful changes.

    These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Rising & Mega Star Artists is a great partner to add to your resource list. Good luck getting better shelf space and share your thoughts. Feedback is always appreciated!

    Rising Star Artists (www.risingstarartists.com) is looking for Independent Artists to launch a new feature program. You'll be able to reach more people through our monthly newsletter and one stand-out Musician is showcased per month with an in-depth interview. The feature space is free for the first 30-days where we send you a personalized critique of your content and music or art. You can opt-out at any time and retain your free membership. If you decide you like our service, you can sign on at $4.95/month where you simply send in your content and we keep the search engines running! There are no strings attached to this promotion, simply sign-up as a member, agree to our terms, and if you wish to opt-out at the end of the 30-day promotion, we will part as friends and you still retain your free membership. With membership, you'll get a monthly newsletter which includes industry trends, marketing advice, featured artist interviews, production insights and access to free resources. Why not be one of the first to help us launch this project? What have you got to lose?

    Visit our blog at http://www.risingstarartists.com/blog

    Back to the EvO:R- Pedia Section

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