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The Music Business – let’s talk about it. In this man’s humble opinion, there is no industry in this world that is more competitive, precarious, or in some hopeful cases, worthwhile. It is one that is never stagnant. It is forever evolving into whatever it will become tomorrow. Something that a lot of musicians forget about however, is the actual "business" side of the Music Business. You can be the greatest singer, guitarist, or cowbell player in the world, but if you don’t have at least a small amount of business sense, then you can just keep playing as many coffee shops or small time bars that you want. Now, before you go blowing things out of proportion, I’m not declaring that playing coffee shops and bars is a terrible thing. Everyone should have to crawl before they walk, and there’s no better venue for paying your dues than those. This article is solely for the musician or band that is seriously aspiring for music as a career. The following is a couple of essentials on how to best market yourself in the Music Business.
The Press Kit
Probably the single most important marketing tool for a musician or a band is the press kit. A well-designed press kit will make you or break you in the Music Business. Like most kits, a press kit is made up of many sections. A complete press kit consists of the following:
Compact Disc of your most up to date material
8X10 Glossy Photo
Bio sheet with more photos
List of venues you’ve played and bands you’ve played with (only list bands that are signed to labels).
Contact sheet (phone number, email address, mailing address, Instant Messenger handle, etc.)
Every piece of press you have received (newspaper clippings, CD reviews, etc.)
Last but not least, a business card. The institution of a business card is the one thing that has stood the test of time. People still use them. They’re informative and small. People like that.
So compile all of the above into a nice folder with your band logo imprinted on the front, and your press kit is officially ready for delivery. Don’t think you can’t get creative with it. In fact, the more creative, the better. Just always make sure the essentials are present before you start adding fluff. In the Music Business, embellishments are just bonus points, but they certainly don’t get the initial job done unless they’re attached to the necessary checklist.
This concept is something that is useful across every walk of life, but especially the Music Business. An elevator statement is a short, yet informative paragraph you can rattle off in the amount of time you spend in an elevator (hence, the name). You typically try and keep an elevator statement no longer than 30 seconds long.
Let’s put an example to this: You are the front man of a – oh, what the hell – Hip Hop/Metal band. You step into an elevator on the 20 th floor heading to the lobby. An A&R rep, also lobby bound, cuts you off on the 19 th and he notices you holding a Flying V guitar (or insert other band paraphernalia). He asks, "What kind of music does your band play?!" Here’s where your mouth mimics an unfolding lawn chair. "Uh, well we’re kinda heavy, but, well, we rap, too&ldots; and it’s really fun, but we have some serious songs, too&ldots;" What do you think the A&R rep is thinking? Yeah, you’re right. He’s thinking you have no vision for your band. Now, let’s look at this situation again except this time while executing a great elevator statement: "So Flying V guy, what kind of music does your band play?!" "Well, the genre we’re in is broadly called ‘Hip Hop/Metal’ and we have been compared to acts such as Linkin Park, Body Count, and some older KORN, but something that sets us apart is our onstage antics and acrobatics. People really get into our live show – it’s truly an experience!" To use the mighty words of Emeril – "BAM!" You just captured that rep’s attention and he or she may come back with, "Where can I listen to more of your material," in which case you promptly slap a CD in their hand along with a business card and say, "Right here." So the moral of the story is this: have an elevator statement and always be ready to deliver it! Remember, once you reach the lobby floor, that A&R rep is out the door.
With a stylish press kit and a business savvy elevator statement, you are well on your way to becoming a more sought after act in the Music Business.