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What would you do with $100,000 for your music career? (seriously)

January 5, 2008

Date: January 5, 2008 5:05:33 AM EST
Subject: What would you do with $100,000 for your music career? (seriously)

About this time last year I posed this question to the list:

Yes, it’s a serious question.

What would you do if someone gave you $100K to promote your music career?

Why do I ask?

Because it happened to someone on my list.

What would you do?

I collected the responses and sent them out to the list.  Below are a few
more that I found that might interest you!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

*****

I believe everything, or most of it, can be done at your home studio, so
I’d use that $$ to do a great distribution.

-PG

[Editor’s Note:  I couldn’t agree more.  Artists that are going to succeed
in the future are going to be artists that can make their recording inexpensively,
ideally at home to cut down on costs.  But what does “do a great distribution” mean?
Get your CD in stores?  Sure, you could do that but distribution is difficult for even
indie artists on small labels so where is the demand going to come from?]

*****

Get a whole bunch of high school & college kids to hack on the computer for
viral marketing.   Spend some money on college radio packets, and a decent
designer to come up with your online presence look and a hook. Make sure
it’s current if not ahead of the pack.

-Lexi

[Editor’s Note:  Great, more creative solutions!  I like the sound of this!]

*****

The first thing I would do is hire a publicist and an attorney.

-LJ

[Editor’s Note:  And <poof> there goes your $100,000.  What do you need an
attorney for right now anyhow?  Do you know how expensive a good music attorney is?
Do you have contracts you need an attorney to review?  Sounds like you’re putting
the cart before the horse.  How about paying an experienced manager to manage you!
When you have a career, then you can worry about finding an attorney.]

*****

To answer in short:

30K on Radio Promotions

20K on Music Publication Advertisements

30K on Touring

5K CD replication

15K for 3 band members to live off of

These are just rough and quick estimations on what we would do.

Keep rockin’!

-Marcel

[Editor’s Note:  Be VERY careful if you hire a radio promoter.  Most I know
are scammers and make up fake reports to make it look like you’re charting
with big name artists when in fact they just take your money and do nothing.

Unless you can hear your songs on the radio, I would stay away!

$20K on advertising in magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone?
Waste of money unless you’re signed to a decent indie label.
You’ll get some name recognition going, maybe, but not $20K
worth.

$30K on touring / tour support?
I’d be down with but only if you can use that money to get on a big name
tour and even then – will you make $30K back?
Maybe.
So far it’s your best bet.

For $5K I hope you’re pressing up a few thousand CDs.
What about merch? T-shirts, etc. to sell on the road?]

*****

I would spend the money on a local and regional campaign to create as much
noise as possible in one place. Usually where the band is from is the
starting point. That encompasses buying a van first, touring everywhere with
cable television advertisement of the CD and the venue.

[Editor’s Note:  What kind of local and regional “campaign”?  Publicity?]

If the band is seeing sales in a certain overseas country I would also
consider establishing that market.
[Editor’s Note:  Depending on the type of music, going overseas may not
be a bad idea.  Some bands broke in the UK (The Killers) before getting
signed and blowing up over here (Coldplay, Radiohead, etc).

Touring is the only medium left that is not replaced by technology. The band
who establishes the touring market is the band who will last.
[Editor’s Note:  Very true!}

DO NOT tour in the dart board fashion with one gig in Texas and the other in
Boston. This is a waste of energy. Market online and build the band in a
three state radius. You will get better focus on the advertising and more
for your dollar as well as less exhaustion from traveling.
[Editor’s Note:  Couldn’t agree more!]

-David P.

*****

1.       Get a promoter
[Editor’s Note:  Why type of promoter? Radio? Tour?]

2.       Pay  radio station(s) to get airplay for my song(s)
[Editor’s Note:  I don’t think payola works if you’re an indie artist.]

3.       Make video clips for each of my songs
[Editor’s Note:  If you can make a video for $300-$3,000, go for it.
Otherwise you’ll never see your money back.  Videos don’t sell CDs.
Er, not unless you’re Ok Go and make a video as cheaply and brilliantly as
the one for the “treadmill” song!]

4.       Do better looking press kit, redo my CD design, re-write my bio,
redo my website, do my business cards, make tons of CD’s to shop them all
over.

[Editor’s Note:  Press kits are a waste of money. Who do you need to send
them to?  Everything is done online these days anyhow. Why waste money pressing
expensive B&W or color photos?  A decent web site? That might be worth spending a few
hundred bucks on, again, but no more than $1,000.]

5.       Definitely invest in my own studio, write more songs and record
them professionally and promote them and explore my talent even further.
[Editor’s Note:  Great idea.  If you invest in your own studio you can
record whenever you want and also rent it out to other musician’s and maybe engineer and produce for
other up and coming artists. That’s your best idea yet!]

-Marina

*****

Ah!  I believe with the fall of the CD and the rise of the MP3 and return of
the live show I would focus on recording, web based promotion, and touring.
Recording – ($10K) would get me a professional grade home studio.  I could
write and record at my leisure, not being under someone else’s time
constraints or worrying about an hourly budget.  I would sell those
recording (CD’s at gigs) for more money.

[Editor’s Note: Sounds good!]

Web Based promotion – I would scour the internet, trade magazines, seminars,
and networking events for promotional web sites.  I would join every
reputable site I found and at the highest membership level for maximum
exposure.  I would submit submit submit. ($2k) That would eventually lead to
placements which would lead to more $$$.
[Editor’s Note: What is a “promotional” web site?”]

I would have massive Myspace and Youtube marketing to get more people to my
shows($1k)
[Editor’s Note:  That’s a great idea!]

I would look for the next Myspace/Youtube and get myself established early
on. ($1k)
[Editor’s Note: Again, good thinking!]

I would continue to find vocal placement services for film, tv, demos, and
every other avenue available to make money and make myself heard therefore
making more $$$ as I do now singing.
[Editor’s Note:  Hiring True Talent. Smart. VERY smart :)]

I would get on every Itunes, Napster, Rhapsody, CD, Ohiogo baby type
web-based music sales site.($1k)
[Editor’s Note: It shouldn’t cost you to do this – isn’t CD baby $35?]

I would keep working with every radio station I could to get plugs, airtime,
and relationships going with the DJs.

Touring – I would by a large used Winnebago ($15k – $20k), Convert it to
Veggie fuel ($3K)
[Editor’s Note: Very environmentally friendly but can you refuel on the
road?  You could definitely get some press by being “green” esp if you figure
out a unique way to do it – maybe passing out free light bulbs at your gigs
and get GE to sponsor you!]

I’ve still got $~60K for living during my touring.  I don’t need to buy gas
because of the veggie fuel (It works, my buddy has a Veggie Bus he bought
and converted for $8K total!)  I don’t need hotel rooms ’cause the Winnie
has a shower, fridge, stove, and beds.
[Editor’s Note:  Smart!]

The recording equipment would fit on the Winnie so I could record on the
road.
[Editor’s Note:  Not sure about the sound quality there but for some demos
that might work!]

I already have pretty good musical gear.  Say I needed  a bigger
better PA, I could upgrade for less than $5K and have everything I need to
play a small venue.  Anything larger will have it’s own PA.  With wireless
internet I can do my promotion from the road.  I’m a singer/songwriter so I
don’t need a band, I do great with an acoustic.
[Editor’s Note:  Still, wouldn’t it be cheaper to drive a small car (hybrid)
and stay in cheap motels than tour around in your Winnie?]

If it grew and I made enough $$$ with promotion, touring, placements,
ect…I would hire a couple
other musicians..  I would be going for paid gigs to supplement this income.
I would spend $5K on CD’s, posters, flyers, and t-shirts which I would be
selling to make more money.

Right now I have to work a full time job so I don’t have time for all of
this.  With $100K, I could spend around $50K for the recording/music gear I
would need, touring vehicle, and promotional materials.  The other $50K
would take care of feeding me and my one person crew that would help with
sales, promotion, tour organization, and marketing (this person is my
fiance, a contract attorney, and very willing to live this lifestyle I am
describing.)  It would also ensure keeping the maintenance up on the Winnie.
We could make that $50K work indefinately as we would be generating income
with this income.

Thanks,
-CP
[Editor’s Note:  Yours is the best plan I’ve seen so far!  Very well thought
out!]

*****

I know that with $100,000 there’s a TON my band can do. We’re not some
semi-popular local Hollywood band who plays once or twice a month and then
sits back and enjoys being recognized while eating pizza at The Rainbow.

On the contrary, we’re a very popular local band who leaves town right after we
play a sold out home-town show to play out of city/state for small audiences
to realize that we have A LOT more work to do to get the kind of recognition
that we really want… which is more than the occasional spotting at the
rainbow.  Hahaha.

So with $100,00 i would put it ALL towards touring.  For us, our tours pay
for themselves.  We earn enough in selling merch and getting paid by the
clubs to cover all expenses for the road.  So I wouldn’t use the $$$ for
gas, or transportation, or food, or accommodations.  I also wouldn’t use it for
making more merchandise because the money we make on our tours pay for that
as well.

I would use a portion of the $$$ for ad time on radio stations in local
markets that we tour in and hope that generates spins on radio in the cities we
visit across the 12 western united states.
[Editor’s Note:  Great idea except radio ads are VERY expensive and not
that effective.  You’d get a better bang for your buck on cable TV.]

Let’s face it, bands don’t need a major label anymore for distribution.
[Editor’s Note:  Here, here!  If only more artists would realize this!]

Tower Records declared bankruptcy and most of the big record stores are
really suffering.  Digital distribution is not all that hard to attain.  So with
our band on every major digital distribution company like itunes, napster,
rhapsody, cdbaby, etc etc etc, our music is already available to anyone who
can point an click from here to some African village with a laptop and an
internet connection.

So the only question is how to drive people to go purchase our product?

My band has seen through first hand experience that heavy touring is a huge
help.  We play upwards of 20 shows every month.  And there is a direct
correlation between the number of shows we play and the number of online
sales we see.  But how do we expand that?  Opening for bigger bands helps a
LOT!
[Editor’s Note: Sounds like you’re doing GREAT]

We started off on New Years Eve opening for “THE KILLERS” and we’ve seen a
big push in sales since that show. But without being attached to a major
record label those shows are hard to come by.  There are festival tours that
have helped us as well… We were a part of the VANS WARPED TOUR over the
summer and saw some great numbers through that tour. But again, indie bands
have a hard time nailing down these types of large audience tours/shows.

So it’s all about marketing if you ask me. Every cent of that $100,000 needs
to go towards marketing.  So radio ads ONLY if you’re touring in the
markets you’re buying ad time in helps I think.  But I would also spend that money
on making some kind of fresh new video and hope for the viral type of spread
that “OK GO” saw with their YouTube video footage of their treadmill antics.

Beyond that I would also use the money for guerrilla marketing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerrilla_marketing
and street marketing to spread the word. But before this is possible a legit
street-team has to be developed to help with this push. Guerrilla marketing
(although the cheaper means of marketing) also costs money.  And if you’re
just going to do it in your home town it’s not worth it.  Again, I go back
to wanting to be recognized at The Rainbow or wanting something more… so
having a street team in place, then supplying that street team with
materials all at the same time, and making a big marketing push altogether
in the 12 different states that we tour continuously, would be a major help
to us.

THEN, and only then… I’d put a down payment on an RV so we can travel in
style! hahahahah. just kidding…. get in the back of a windowless work van
(astrovan) and slum it!  Use the money where you need it, not on comfort you
prissy LA f*cks!  Hahahahahahaha!

Marketing marketing marketing!!!  As I said, bands don’t need majors for
distribution anymore.  We DO need their tour support but if you just get out
there and make some sacrifices for a while you can develop a strong enough
fan base to cover touring expenses… so marketing marketing marketing!!!
It’s the one area where major labels still have a stronghold on bands
because of all the money they can throw to back you.  I still think it takes
a million dollars to say “hello” in the music industry, but $100,000 is a
tenth of the way there and a GREAT place to start!!!!

I hope this helps.

-Jonny

[Editor’s Note:  Again, really great and SO well thought out!  Keep up the great work!]

*****

What would I do with $100,000?

Well for starters I would stop procrastinating over every excuse I have!
[Editor’s Note: Really?  I mean, really?  I don’t buy that.  I think an
artist, if driven, will figure out a way to work, tour, etc. with or without money.  An artist
that says, “Oh, I’ll do it as soon as I’m signed or someone invests a lot of money in me” is just
lying to themself.  Sorry but I’ve seen it first hand.]

Not enough money for demos, music gear, travel…..need to keep my job,
missed this showcase coz had to work, missed that seminar coz day job had
overwhelmed my vision…my focus…my every dream and reason for leaving my
Mum and Dad, moving to USA, saying goodbye to my aging dog, all those
weddings I missed, funerals I heard about on emails and new babies that are all now
just  simple lyrics in my songs that sit on the shelf or coffee table best
used as a coaster!
[And a list of excuses….Successful artists don’t sit around complaining. They get out there and DO IT!]

Firstly I would get my studio/producing software really working…I mean
really working..not trying to program my songs through my uncle’s headphones,
a borrowed speaker and some copied programs.  I would invest in a
really good microphone as I believe sometimes the song may not be programmed
by the latest producer, but a very good true clear vocal in can be breath
taking.

I would then find out every music festival in the US (and OS) and attend all
the ones I’ve always dreamed of going to… SxSW, etc. and not
first complain about the cost of airline tickets/hotels… I would create
backing tracks so I could take them with me in case there were open mic nights
and find out who and where I could send my songs to and try to see them
personally while I was there(dreaming of course…but hey it’s my dream!.)
[Editor’s Note:  Sounds like fun and a vacation.  Where’s your marketing plan?]

I would also not be so tight on hiring other players to perform on my
recordings and get someone really great behind me so I could focus on the
performance.

[Editor’s Note:  Blowing money on good musicians to play on your record or tour with?
Are you kidding me?  Again, that’s great if you look at music as a hobby but if you want
to do this for a LIVING you’ve got it all wrong. That’s what a major label would do!]

On a sad note I may even reimburse myself for those 1000 cd’s and studio
time I had done in 2000 and all the stamps and special deliveries before
mp3’s….but mainly I would focus on putting most of it into the package so
there were no flaws no loose ends, gaps or room for another rehearsal.  If I am
to be rewarded w/ all that I put in then I would rather wait for the rewards
after the hard work than take a pay check now.

I guess the biggest question I’m asking myself while writing this is…Am I
doing enough now w/out the $100K????

-Brooke.

*****

Since it’s indie:

First off I would use the money to record one great song if the band/group/artist can
pull that off without drama, that’s the first test.  NOT A GOOD SONG,
NOT AN AVERAGE SONG… NOT AN ALRIGHT SONG…A GREAT SONG!

[Editor’s Note:  Money doesn’t make great songs.  Hard work and talent does.
Go do this now – you don’t need $100,000 to write a great song.  All you need
is pen and paper.  How much does that cost??!]

I would hire all the right people in order to get that one song that gives
you goose bumps!  Not a “single” in the minds of corporate labels
but that GREAT SONG from a real level that can make
the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!

[Editor’s Note:  If you’re talking about hiring a professional songwriter to write with you, that’s not a bad idea!
Someone that has written current hits that are on the radio today, not hits 10, 20 or 30 years ago as that
type of songwriter is likely out of touch with today’s music sound!]

That type of music that seems to be lost nowadays but that will
change and I’ll be apart of that revolt.  If the band
or artist couldn’t come up with that one GREAT SONG
then the rest of the money don’t matter it would be a
waste. We just better off buying 90,000 jumbo jacks
with it and passing them out to the needy. At least we
contributed to feeding the hunger of about 90,000
hungry people plus tax, might be tax write off too in
a good way!  There are many factors in this question but
regardless of what the corporate world thinks…it’s
all about the music!  So if the band had to spend
100,000 on makin that one song that can change the
world that would be my bet because it would change the
game one day.

[Editor’s Note:  Jesus, there is no way I would spend $100,000 to make one song!
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  If you have
an amazing song but no way to market or promote it, no one will hear it!  Rethink your
logic here!]

But if it took them that much to make
that song I wouldn’t have invested in them in the
first place because the artist has issues. That’s my
two cents…I got more cents to add.. but it probably
be a novel…thanks for asking Jennifer my pleasure!

-Charles

http://www.truetalentmgmt.com

“Motivation and determination are 1000 times more potent than talent alone”
-Some guy online
“Be nice to everyone.  You never know if the intern will be the next
president of your record company.”
-Michael Buble
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“People have to learn they have to juggle everything until they get lucky.
They need to work a steady job, make a living and make time for the band.
They need to take all the money they make from the band and throw it back
into the band”
–David Draiman, Vocalist for Disturbed, interviewed in Music Connection

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