Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Social Media: A Lesson in Self Defense for Musicians

Social media has become a massive part of our culture. In fact, it has changed our culture. It's changed the way we do business, how we talk to each other and how we entertain ourselves. It's also changed how music fans experience music and how they experience the artists behind the music. So if you are an artist promoting your music on the Internet and you're not already plugged into a social media outlet or two, it's time to jump in. If you're not connected, you are quickly becoming disconnected with what's going on around you, socially speaking.

The explosive popularity of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter demand that you, as an artist, become more immediately accessible to your fans. It's not enough to have a web site or even a MySpace page anymore. Your fans want to know you, they want to follow you and they want to interact with you. They want to chat with you personally, comment on your music and see what you're doing right now. Your fans expect you to be part of their daily "friend-checking" routine. Your life is interesting to them. Your life is entertainment to them. Your life is a reality show and you didn't even know it!

If you ask me, it's all getting just a bit creepy.

On one hand, the level of personal interaction social media encourages is a good thing. When it comes to Internet marketing, developing relationships with your fans is a key element. It always has been. But now, as you get more involved with social media and start posting your "status update" several times a day for the world to see, things begin to get personal, perhaps a little bit too personal. How do you cope with this?

Having been active in the social media world for a while now, I've discovered the importance of setting boundaries for what I do and do not post for the world at large to read. I have learned that if you cross these boundaries, there can be social consequences. Have you ever really thought about how the words you post come across to your fan base? What you post can drastically change your reader's opinion about you, in both good and bad ways. While a fan might be thrilled to find you on Twitter or Facebook at first, after following your posts for a while they may actually become bored with you, disappointed in you, turned off by you or even angry at you.

Social interaction with your fans is a good thing... to a point. But it would be wise to give yourself a few rules to go by; rules to help protect you not only from yourself (you can be your own worst enemy), but also those who follow you that may or may not have your best interests in mind.

Consider this a lesson in social media self defense. Here we go:

1) Measure Your Words Carefully. And Then Measure Again. Think twice about every word you're about to post before you actually post. When you first get involved in social networking, the most natural thing do to is to just "be yourself" and post your true feelings, thoughts and opinions about everything under the sun. This can be a two-edged sword when it comes to how your fans perceive you. Your fans like your music because they relate to it somehow and as a result on some level they think they know and understand you. But the truth is, they don't know you at all. That means that with every word, thought or opinion you post there is the potential to taint someone's image of who you are. Always measure how your words match up with your public image. If you write beautiful love songs, but your posts are filled with cynical ramblings, crass language and sexual innuendo, how does that affect your fans image of you? Destroy your fans image of you and you will cost yourself future sales. So, before you post your opinions on this or that, always make sure what you post is truly how you want to represent yourself to your fans. This means you should…

2) Be Wary of Discussing Politics, Religion and Controversial Subjects. That is, unless those very things define who you are as an artist. If your music is political by nature, you can be political in your commentary. If your music is not political, and you spout off in a negative, cynical way about politics or the leadership of your country, you'll likely put off some of your fans who may respond as if you are attacking them personally. The same is true about religion. If your faith in God defines you and your music, then by all means be that person of faith. Don't hold back. But if your music isn't defined by your faith, just know that if you start praising the Lord in your posts you might put off some of your fans. Politics and religion are potentially divisive topics, as are abortion, gay-rights, immigration and even extreme environmentalism. Being controversial can be good for publicity, but when you're trying to develop relationships with your fans, going on and on about your political, social or religious views can be the very thing that turns them against you. Be very careful not to use your status update as your own personal soapbox to preach from, unless you feel so strongly about those things that you don't care if you lose fans and sales over it. It may be that you don't care if you lose fans over expressing your opinions, and if you don't, then go for it. Be who you want to be. Your strong opinions will likely appeal to a few like-minded thinkers. Just be aware of what you post, how it might come across, and whether you're OK with how it effects others' perceptions of you. The question I always ask myself before posting something potentially controversial is; "does what I'm about to write define me as an artist and a person? or am I just venting?" My politics, for example, has nothing to do with my music. So I keep my thoughts on politics to myself, generally speaking. I am not defined by my politics. I am defined by my faith in God, however, so I, personally, have no problem praising the Lord in my status updates. I just do it tastefully. Not every post I write says "Hallelujah," but I'm also not afraid to thank God publicly for a beautiful day. It's all about balance, and being watchful of your public persona.

SUGGESTION: When it comes to politics, especially, I understand how hard it can be to restrain yourself from venting your political frustrations in your status update. If you find you simply can't restrain yourself, let me suggest you create another outlet specifically for your political rants. Perhaps a Twitter account specifically set up to let you express your political views, one that doesn't have your name on it. Then you can have the satisfaction of expressing your opinions to the world at large without destroying your relationships with fans of your music that have an opposing viewpoint.

3) Stay Positive. Don't Worry. Be Happy. Listen, no one likes a complainer. Don't use your status update to tell the world how lousy you feel, how stressed out you are, how hard life is, how unfair you've been treated, how misunderstood you are or how much you hate your job. People tire of whiners quickly. Do you enjoy listening to people complain? Neither does anyone else. Complaining is the fastest way to lose friends and followers (in real life too). Whatever you do, when you post a status update, be positive and encouraging to others. Present your life as good, blessed and happy, even if it isn't at every single moment. If you are a joyful person, people will be drawn to you. When you post, do so with a smile, and you'll make your reader smile. Smiling is good.

4) Be Interesting. Be Inspiring. If you're going to update your status to tell the world what you're up to, find ways to make your posts exciting to read, even if it's just the way you phrase something. Don't post an update that says… "checking e-mail" or "watching tv" or "just chillin'" Blah. Who cares? Be creative. Be imaginative. Be specific. Make every post count and mean something. If the post you're about to write isn't something you'd care about if someone else wrote it, then why bother writing it yourself? Make sure that, from your readers' perspective, you lead a very interesting life. If you don't feel like your life is very interesting, then do something about it. Don't just sit there staring at the TV. Make your life interesting. It's in your power to do so. Then talk about it in happy, positive ways. Make your life sound like the "dream life." Your fans don't expect you to be dull. Life is too short to be dull. Don't be dull!

5) Watch Your Back. Guess what? Not everyone who follows you is a "fan." Did you know that people might follow you who don't care about you or your music? It's true! It's easy to forget this sometimes. You just happily post away assuming everyone loves you and thinks you're terrific. But you never know who's following you, and not everyone who follows you is friendly toward you. People who are curious about how you do business might follow you. You ex-girlfriend with a grudge, stalker boyfriend or an overzealous fan might follow you. People looking for ways to tear you down might follow you. People who want to test your integrity might follow you. People who are looking for good ideas might follow you. People who want to copy what you're doing might follow you. Always be aware that people might be following you who don't have your best interests in mind. So don't be giving away all those family/trade/business secrets and don't be too revealing about yourself. Don't give your enemies ammunition to use against you.

6) Keep Your Private Moments Private. Doing something cool and fun with your family? Use social media to tell people about it after the fact, not before. Don't post a status update saying… "Taking my kids bowling at Lois Lanes in a few minutes. Should be fun!" That will just invite curious fans to come down and join you. Might be OK. Might be weird. Instead, wait until you've finished your fun family outing and then post a message about the great fun you had earlier in the evening. There are, of course, times when you want your fans and followers to meet up with you somewhere; when you're playing a show, or just a special meet and greet with fans, for example. But keep your private moments private.

7) Don't Ignore Your Fans. Respond With Enthusiasm. When you start posting frequently, fans and others will respond with comments of their own. Respond back, acknowledge them and be positive, enthusiastic and encouraging. If folks respond to your comments and you repeatedly ignore them, some are bound to take it personally. Always engage your fans. If they comment on a song or an album of yours, thank them and let them know you appreciate it. Tell your fan their comment made your day and in doing so you'll make their day. Just think - every day you can chat with dozens of total strangers, encouraging them to share your music with their friends and family. Do you realize the power of this? If a hundred people are following you, that's a hundred people you can ask, via your status update, to spread the word about your music. With social networking, you always have a crowd at your fingertips. Work the crowd.

Social media is a great thing, and a fantastic way to stay in touch with your fans on a day to day basis. But words are powerful, lasting, and shape people's perceptions of who you are. So always be watchful of how you present yourself in writing. Think twice before you post, stay positive, be enthusiastic and avoid being negative or boring.


David Nevue is the founder of The Music Biz Academy and Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio. He is also a professional pianist, recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Calendar: "How to Promote Your Music" Workshop - Sept . 25th, 2009

Mark your calendars,

David Nevue, author of "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet," is making a rare appearance on September 25th, 2009 at "The Sound Kitchen" in Franklin TN to discuss ways independent artists can use the Internet to successfully promote their music and generate CD and digital music sales online.

Unlike many other "music marketing" authors and consultants, David does more than just talk theory. He is himself a successful musician who built his music career entirely on the Internet. He started promoting his music online in 1995, and was able to quit his "day job" to do music full time in 2001. He has been a "full time musician" ever since.

In the FREE two hour workshop, David will talk about his approach to music marketing and Internet promotion and take questions and answers from attendees.

Here are the details.

WHERE: The Sound Kitchen, 112 Seaboard Lane, Franklin, TN 37067.
WHEN: 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
COST: It's FREE. Seriously. David will have some of his books on hand if you would like to purchase one. That's it. No pressure. No sales pitch. Just the information. The workshop is being sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University. Register here.

David's talk is one of several workshops happening that day. Here's the complete Schedule

10:00 am-Noon: Recording the Piano. Learn how to make high quality recordings of the piano. Talk given by Joseph Akins and Michael Fleming, professors of the Dept. of Recording Industry at MTSU.

1:00 pm-3:00 pm: David Nevue - How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet

3:30 pm-5:30 pm: Piano Workshop with David Lanz. Lanz will cover many aspects of performance, composing, practice, and the application of music in the real world. David Lanz is a two-time Grammy nominee, whose "Heartsounds" album helped launch the famed Narada records in the early 80's.

8:00 pm - 10:30 pm: Whisperings: Solo Piano Concert - For the past five years, Whisperings solo piano concerts have been growing in popularity across the country. Ignited by the internet radio station with the same name, a Whisperings concert showcases artists (pianist and composers) heard on the broadcast. This show will feature the legendary David Lanz with guests David Nevue, Joseph Akins and Philip Wesley. This will be an intimate event that allows you to get close to the artists as they perform their compositions and tell the stories behind them. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and can be purchased in advance from

Hope you can make it!

David Nevue
The Music Biz Academy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The "Secret" to Selling Lots of Music...

I just received my biggest single payout ever for digital music sales from CD Baby. How much? Over $2,000 just in digital music sales. That completely blows my mind. Seeing that I make "about" .60-some-odd cents per track sold on average, that means this single payment represents about 3,200 downloads sold.

It's amazing to know there are that many people buying my music. Lest you think my success is the result of some gimmick, think again. I'm just a pianist. Nothing extravagant. I just play, write, and record my music. I have a few cover tunes, yes, but surprisingly that's not where most of my sales come from. A hefty portion of my digital music sales comes from my original music. In fact, my best selling song is an original tune called "No More Tears." If you look at my top ten best selling singles, six of the ten are original tunes I wrote.

I have been enjoying great digital music sales for awhile now. I typically average between $1,500-$2,000 over a month period. But to get one single payment of that size (CD Baby pays out weekly) is a marvelous thing. My lovely wife, the love of my life, is rejoicing.

I posted a simple comment about the event on my personal Twitter account ( . Here's what I said:

"I received my largest deposit ever from CDBaby. Record month for digital music sales! I'd do a happy dance if I wasn't so full from dinner!"
And that prompted this response from a fellow musician:
"Hi what do u owe your great digital sales success?"
That got me to thinking about it. Why do people buy music? What is it that makes someone, a total stranger, actually go out and PURCHASE your music? Especially when, in this day and age, people can find so much music for free on the Internet? To what do I owe my great digital sales success?

Now, I could get spiritually-minded here. I could say, To whom do I owe my great digital sales success and then thank God for His great provision. That would certainly be correct and true. However, it would be a bit prideful and silly to say that God is out there telling people to buy my music. Yes, there certainly is a spiritual element to what I do. My music is faith-based. But there's more to it than that.

My response to my fellow musician was this; two reasons for my success came to mind:

1) I write music that some folks love so much that they can't wait to share it with others.

2) I have a large catalog. I have a discography of ten albums now containing somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 tunes. More product = more sales.
It's easier to sell a little of a lot than it is to sell a lot of a little. When someone discovers a song of yours that they love, they'll listen to your other songs as well. And that single sale might turn into a whole lot more sales. The more product you have, the more you have the potential to sell.

But when all is said and done, it comes down to the music. You can be the best online marketer out there, have a fantastic web site, get widespread distribution and all the press in the world and still not sell very much music.

True? Yes, absolutely. A great web site and publicity will help you sell great music. But it won't help you sell mediocre music, or even skillfully played music that people don't connect with. You can watch someone play and be amazed at their skill on their instrument, but is that what makes you buy their music? No. You don't buy the music because someone is a great player, you buy the music because you like it. And even if you get caught up in the moment and buy someone's CD because you were amazed at their skill, what happened when you got home and actually listened to the CD? The excitement faded, didn't it? Because what you want to listen to for enjoyment is music that speaks to you emotionally, not technically.

Music is all about emotion. For total strangers to buy your music online, especially if they are hearing it or sampling it for the first time, they have to fall in love with it in that very moment. Call it "love at first listen." They have to want it, to desire it, and then for you to find real success, your buyer has to love it so much that after experiencing it they can't help but to share it with their friends, family and co-workers who, in turn, fall in love with your music. That's how real success happens. That's how you grow a business based on your music.

At its core, music is more than just dials and buttons. It's more than good production. It's more than a great mix, more than a marketing plan, more than a skillfully played instrument.

It's raw, untamed, emotion. Capture that, and you just might have something.

1) Focus on your music and songwriting, first.
2) Then focus on the recording and production, taking great songs and making them sound the best they can possibly be.
3) Then focus on the marketing, distribution, and promotion.

A final word of advice: Never, ever, ever release an album or song before it's time. Never be in a hurry to release your music. Make sure what you put out there is 100% what you want it to be and that it represents you well. Because once you put it out there, you can't take it back.

Do it right, no matter what it takes. If you settle for doing less than your best, then less than your best is what others will perceive as your "best." And is what you are about to release really your best work?

Make it your best. Do it right. And then enjoy life.

David Nevue
Author of "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet"
The Music Biz Academy

Friday, February 27, 2009

House Concerts: Be an "American Idol," One House at a Time

I'm a big fan of house concerts... when I go out on tour, about half the concerts I perform are in people's homes. There's nothing quite like it. I LOVE playing them. You meet so many great people on a one-to-one basis. You talk, you share, you play... and these folks love your music. So going in, you have that in common. Makes it easy to small talk.

You may scoff at the idea of playing a concert in a persons home because you are concerned about SIZE. The size of the audience doesn't matter. In fact, you will likely find, as I did, that playing a concert to a small audience in a home is much more effective and financially lucrative than playing in a "typical" venue.

How much money do you usually command when you play a show in a club? $100 bucks? $200? I typically ask $500 for a house concert. I know musicians who charge as much as $1500 for an intimate home show. Now, I don't do that, because personally I want my concerts to be affordable to the average person. Most people won't and can't justify paying $1500 for a concert. But if someone is a real fan of your music, they'll find a way to come up with $500 for a show custom tailored just for them - and they'll be even more stoked about if it you offer to play their favorite songs for them in their own home.

And what's even MORE fantastic about playing house concerts is how easy they are to do. All you have to do is show up and bring your instrument (if you are a pianist, as I am, you can play THEIR instrument. In that case, you just bring the clothes on your back and CDs to sell). Your concert host does all the promotion, bringing in their friends, family and coworkers to show off YOUR music - which is among their favorite music - to their personal network of friends.

So you have no promotion costs to worry about. Oh, and guess what? The host provides the food too. And they will probably even invite you stay the night to save you that hotel bill.

And how are CD sales? Ridiculous. At least, compared to playing a club.

When you play a club, how many fans are there to see YOU? Or do you play and do your thing while people mill about talking, eating and drinking and hardly take notice you? Maybe you sell a CD here and there, but are you selling DOZENS of them?

At a house concert, you have a totally attentive audience. You can engage them, telling stories about your songs, laughing together, crying together, sharing not only your music, but YOURSELF with them.

And if you're engaging, and if your storytelling and your music touches them, you'll sell CDs like candy.

When I play a house concert, I generally sell an average of 1 CD per person in the audience. There are those who don't buy, but those are made up for by those who buy multiple CDs.

So with one house concert to say 30 people (about 15 couples), which is about my average, I'll sell 30-40 CDs. Let's say 35. At a $12 per CD average, that's $420. Plus my $500 fee. That's $920 for 3 hours of playing and hanging out with people who love my music. Oh, and they provide me a meal and a place to stay. What's that worth? Another $120 bucks?

So when I play a house concert I come out ahead by $1,000 bucks a night. If you sell merchandise as well, you can do even better.

Now that's great money, and if you're in it for the money, then, well, there you go. But I'm not in it just for the money. House concerts are also a great way to develop relationships with your fans. And if your life and music are faith-based and ministry-based, as mine is, then there is no better way to connect with people and share your faith and testimony.

It's about meeting and touching REAL people with REAL lives. Encouraging people who love your music. Exhorting them. Lifting them up. Helping them to get back on their feet. Making a difference, one home at a time.

But back to the money, because I know that's an important factor. We all have to support our families and our art. None of us want to lose money on a tour.

I've played to house concert audiences as small as seven people. Guess what? I still made $500 bucks plus a few CD sales. On the other side of the spectrum, I've played house concerts to over a hundred people - and sold well over a hundred CDs at a show. Almost $2,000 for 3 hours of work? That buys a lot of groceries. My wife loves that.

And it goes beyond that. ANYTIME I play a house concert, I see lots of follow up sales through my web site. Fans invite their friends to the concert, their friends buy a CD, love it, then buy more music via my web site or iTunes. They tell their friends. They are excited they saw me live, in person, and actually met me. They are jazzed. And the next time I come to town, guess what? These new fans want their OWN concert. And they bring their friends, and now I'm playing to MORE people. Which leads to...

More OPPORTUNITY. Not only financially, but to build relationships that are lasting.

I talk about setting up house concerts in my book, How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet. If you haven't got that already, you might want to check that out.

In today's connected world, with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace being all the rage, setting up a house concert tour is easier than ever before.

Read the story of solo bassist Steve Lawson. You'll find his blog posting about his own house concert tour experience at . It's well worth reading.

Also recommended: Concerts in Your Home.

So the next time you're on tour and want to fill up those empty nights on your calendar, start talking with your fans in the area. Offer to play in their homes. You can ask your fee or even just ask for donations from the crowd. You might not make as much in donations, but playing a show in someone's home and making $200 from donations plus any CD sales you do is better than sitting at a hotel all by your lonesome eating pizza and watching American Idol.

Play house concerts and you can BE an American Idol, one house at a time.

David Nevue
The Music Biz Academy

Monday, January 26, 2009

Facebook Now Twice as Big as MySpace?

I knew MySpace was losing people to Facebook left and right, but the latest report from comScore really took me by surprise. According to the latest report, Facebook now registers TWICE as many unique visitors than MySpace.


Wow, it sure didn't take Facebook long to overcome MySpace. MySpace feels like a sinking ship.

I know that I, personally, have more or less abandoned MySpace for Facebook. Yes, I still approve "friend requests" on MySpace, and I still reply to friend requests with my web site, music, and mailing list signup information, but that's about all I do on MySpace now.

On the other hand, I spend time every day on Facebook. It's hip, it's fun, and people are just much more talkative. Bottom line. I like Facebook more. I feel more connected with the people I care about... and people who REALLY care about what I'm up too.

In comparison to Facebook, MySpace feels slow, bulky, ad-swamped and just, well, cluttered. My desk is cluttered enough. Don't need to see it on my computer screen, too.

Anyone else jumped ship at MySpace? Your thoughts?

David Nevue (if it matters)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CD Baby: Coming to Life Again...

You know, when Disc Makers took over the helm at CD Baby, I have to admit I was somewhat nervous about the change. CD Baby was such a fantastic "little" independent music store, and there was a sense that, in a way, CD Baby belonged to the musicians who sold their music there.

I feared that Disc Makers takeover would change all that. That CD Baby would transform into something more "corporate"-ish. That it would lose the sense of belonging to the artists. That it would be "used" as a prop by Disc Makers for the purpose of soliciting more manufacturing business from independent artists.

I am happy to say I was wrong.

One of the first things Disc Makers did was change the look and feel of the CD Baby web site. I never really felt it needed changed, but once it happened, I realized how static the old look had seemed. The new look is stylish, current and happening. There is a definitely "cool factor" with the new design that surpassed what was there before. The new design, to me, made it vastly more appealing to just browse and discover new music.

So even with just the design change, Disc Makers had begun to win me over.

And then I received an email from CD Baby today talking about all the new changes in the works. I am excited. Really excited.

CD Baby is reinventing itself, and doing so in a major way to the benefit of its artists.

Here's an excerpt from the email that came from CD Baby today...

"...We've made progress, and there's a lot of work left to do. We intend to introduce new features for artists to make it easier to work with CD Baby, like an uploader so you can just upload your new music instead of having to send in a CD. We also want to introduce single song downloads, merch, and download cards. And we plan to add some exciting features to the album pages to create a more rewarding shopping experience for our customers. Many of these improvements involve significant programming, and will be rolled out around mid-2009. They're all geared to helping you sell more music, and making sure you get more value from your CD Baby membership."

The ability to sell merch? single downloads? Fantastic!

I am pleased, very pleased, because it seems that CD Baby development is moving again, and quickly too. CD Baby feels "alive" again. I never realized how static it had become until now.

Thank you, Disc Makers. You have taken something already great and made it even better. I can't wait to see what you do in 2009 and 2010.

David Nevue

Friday, January 09, 2009

Big Growth, Big Questions: Facebook Hits 150 Million

From Digital Music News...

"Facebook now has 150 million active users, up 10 million since last month, according to information recently shared by Mark Zuckerberg. Of that figure, half are checking the site daily. "This includes people in every continent - even Antarctica," Zuckerberg blogged. In total, Zuckerberg boasted penetration across 170 countries, in 35 different languages.

The figure, if accurate, represents a continued climb past MySpace, at least on a global basis. By mid-2008, Facebook had surpassed MySpace, according to comScore, though MySpace still retained a strong lead within the United States.

The growth is certainly impressive, though nagging revenue issues remain - especially as the advertising sector softens. Just recently, eMarketer estimated year-2008 advertising revenues for Facebook at $210 million, up 45 percent from 2007. But Facebook was hoping for a much higher total, and eMarketer is dialing down its advertising forecasts for the social networking sector.

Other analysts are also predicting trouble ahead. That includes Norwest Venture Capital Partners principal Tim Chang. "Microsoft isn't likely to renew its search-advertising contract — at least not at the same rate — and Facebook makes a significant amount of money from that deal," Chang recently told paidContent at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. "Imagine if you lost $300 million worth of revenue — how would you make it up?"

The milestone also tilts the music picture somewhat, especially after the arrival of MySpace Music. Facebook has music, most notably through application iLike, though Zuckerberg and company are pondering the possibility of a homegrown music initiative. But bands have been on MySpace for years, and "not on MySpace" means "not in existence," even for the smallest groups."