Tag Archives: Price

The Unfamiliar Sound of Competition and Managing Your Rights BY: BRUCE WARILA / MTT

Up until now, music was in a unique competitive product category: there simply wasn’t much competition (for consumer attention) between well-made songs.

Songs are inexpensive, consumed in under four minutes, easily obtained, and songs are the only product in the world where billions of users…each own thousands of ‘competing’ alternatives.  In reality, uniformly-priced competitors are often stacked up and then consumed in succession, and in the age of the iPod, the stacks (the playlists) are growing instead of shrinking.

However the modern world conspires to ultimately deliver, in every product category, the greatest value at the lowest price, and songs are about to loose their long held exception.

There’s a clash coming between legacy songs (established hits) controlled by disconnected conglomerates versus new music solely controlled by artists that can instantly, with the click of a mouse, manage all of their rights.

Consider the (partial) concept control panel (below) for a set-it-and-forget-it, radio-like streaming music service…

For the purpose of this post, we are focused on price competition.  Assume that the popularity fader…simply works as expected.  I believe there’s enough work being done is this area to deploy this (popularity potential) feature now or in the near future.

Price Competition
The ‘stream / song price’ fader (shown above) controls price (consumer cost); it could just as easily control the flow of advertising insertions within a flight of music.

It’s only natural that the average music fan will want to listen to a combination of the lowest-priced music, popular music, music with popularity potential (within genres), and/or streams of music that are minimally interrupted by advertising intrusions.  

Let’s examine what the lowest priced, popular mix might contain: at the very lowest prices, the mix will contain the least amount music that’s controlled by entities that are unwilling or unable to waive fees and royalties; this includes music from established (signed) artists and almost all preexisting hits.  If users want (more) familiar music, they will have to either increase the price they are willing to pay per-stream / per-download, or expose themselves to more advertisements (by sliding the fader to the right).

We already know that users would rather not continuously listen to streams that are over populated with unfamiliar songs, so I suspect that most music fans will choose a place on the fader that includes a comfortable level of preexisting hits; obtained at an acceptable price.

Everybody and every entity in the world that plays or consumes music is price/cost sensitive.  People steal music because of price.  Music services are cost (label fees, streaming fees) sensitive.  Bars, restaurants and nightclubs are price (licensing fees) sensitive.  Even radio would love to reduce the costs connected to broadcasting music.

Coming soon to a streaming service near you…  If your songs have popularity potential (within a niche/genre), you will be able to compete for spins against established artists and preexisting hits, and you will be able to be filtered into streams…all based upon price.  Moreover, you will be able to withdraw your willingness to suspend your royalty rights and forgo payments with the click of a mouse.  If you believe exposure leads to the revenue, then price competition is going to be great for unknown artists and not so great for legacy artists.

Now that you have the information above, here are four things to consider:

1) I do NOT believe that using a Creative Commons license  is the best way to withdraw your rights from the marketplace.  Wait until you are able to control your rights upon, and suspend payments from, individual streaming services via the click of a mouse.

2) If you are unknown, uniform pricing is not your friend (it’s probably not your friend under any circumstance).  Any deal, contract or law that shortens your ability to set your own price or to temporarily suspend your royalty rights is not in your best interest.

3) Remain vigilant and don’t get misled into believing that certain laws need to be extended, amended or adopted to protect “your” best interests.  Chances are, the laws and regulations will be protecting the entrenched interests of those that 1) don’t want to compete on price, or 2) exist off the back of the income streams you want to suspend and restore via the click of a mouse.

4) In today’s world, the interests of publishers, labels, management, investors and artists are usually not in alignment.  The last thing you want is a contractual situation that prevents you from freely using your songs to drive the remainder of your business.  For this reason, I am an advocate of entering into 360 deals with ‘partners’ that can deliver value to, and participate in the upside of, every facet of your business.

I want to hear from music publishers, industry attorneys and songwriters on the option of temporarily suspending rights and payments to compete for exposure on streaming services.  Consumers are one (huge) thing, but venues (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc.) pay for blanket licenses; I don’t think venues are going to stop paying for blanket licenses in droves, as music fans will expect to hear a reasonable flow of familiar music.  Then again, I could be wrong?

In the US, royalties from traditional broadcast radio are only paid to songwriters. Can songwriters legally suspend their radio royalty rights in consideration for more exposure?  Artists, would you give full commission on the sale of your music (you get nothing until you click out of the program) to a popular radio station in exchange for ongoing exposure?

The Unfamiliar Sound of Competition and Managing Your Rights 



The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation BY: DAVE COO / MTT


The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. Well, I’m going to borrow from that expression and talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. Part 1 is all about preparation.


The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation


We’re going to start with the assumption that you’ve chosen a venue and confirmed a date with the venue booker. For tips about getting booked, see one of my previous posts 5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs.

Once the gig is confirmed, here are some things you will need to prepare for the show:


Who will the opening band(s) be?


I guess the first question really is will there even be an opening band? The answer will almost always be yes, as the benefits are clear. An opening band can warm up the crowd, hopefully bring their own fans to the show, and help with the promotion of the show. So when choosing an *opening band, a few things to consider (*and if you happen to be the opening band, much of this advice can still apply):



    • Does their music complement yours?


There are two schools of thought: one being that you find a band that is similar to yours for a more cohesive evening of music. The other option is to go for something totally different to give the audience a very different experience from each band. There is no wrong or right answer, it really depends on what kind of show you want people to experience that night.


    • Would their audience like your band’s music?


Another consideration to make is if there is a potential for the opening band’s fans to like your music. After all, in an ideal case, you are going to gain some new fans that night.


    • Will they help with promotion?


When choosing opening bands, take into consideration whether they are a proactive band that works hard on promoting shows. What you don’t want is a band that will simply show up the night of the show, without having done any legwork to bring their fans, and simply play and ask for their money. This can be hard to avoid sometimes, but do some research, and ask around before making a final decision.


    • Do they have other shows booked around the same date?


You also don’t want the opening band to have another show scheduled within a few days of yours, or worse, the same night as your show (I’ve actually seen that happen many times, where an opening act books another gig for later the same night). It is completely demoralizing, and will likely result in that band not drawing as many people to the show.



The Devil is in the Details: Show Logistics


It’s a good idea to get the logistics for the show sorted out well in advance. This includes:


    • Compensation


What’s the deal at the venue? A guarantee? Percentage of the door? Pass the hat? A percentage of bar sales? Once you know the deal, work out how the compensation will be split with any opening bands. Do not wait until the night of the show to do this. Sort it out well in advance and save yourself the potential headache the night of the show.


    • Food/beverage deals for bands


What’s the deal for food and drinks for band members? Free? Staff price? Full price? Any limits on quantity of meals/drinks?


    • Guest List


Is there a limit to the number of guest list spots? Do you have to submit the guest list to the venue in advance?


    • Ticketing & Seating


What is the cover charge? Is choosing the price up to the venue or the bands? Are tickets sold in advance? If so, where are they available? Or is it simply pay at the door? Can people reserve seats?


    • Load-in time and logistics


What time is load-in at the venue? Do the bands load-in at different times? Is there a special entrance to load-in equipment?


    • Sound & Equipment


What sound equipment is provided by the venue? What are bands responsible for? Are the bands going to share certain equipment? Is there a sound tech provided by the venue? Can you bring your own sound tech? What time is soundcheck for each band?


    • Start & End Time


What time do the doors open for the public? What is the start time for the show? What is the schedule for the bands? Is there a specific time that the show has to be over by?


    • Door logistics


Who is taking money at the door? The venue? A volunteer from the band(s)? Is there a cashbox with change supplied by the venue? A stamp to stamp people’s hands?


    • Room set-up


Some venues offer different set-up styles for the room, whether it’s all seating, no seating, some tables with chairs, etc. Talk to the venue and decide on the best option for your show.


    • Merch table


Is there a table/space for merchandise? Where is it located? Is there lighting provided? Does the venue take a % of sales? Is there a cashbox with change supplied by the venue? Who is responsible for selling merch? Venue? Bands? Can you sell merch throughout the night, or only before and after the show?


    • Promo materials for the venue


What does the venue need from you? Posters? Flyers? Bio? Band photo? Press Release? Be sure to supply them with everything they need well in advance of the show.


Download a Sample Live Show Logistics Checklist to help stay on top of these details:Download Here




Build Your Set List


I touched on this in a blog post about how to find a booking agent, but building a set list is really an art unto itself. Your set-list will determine what kind of experience your fans will have. Some considerations when building your set-list:


    • Set-length: How long of a set will you play? Decide what length would have the most impact and strikes the right balance between giving a satisfying set, and leaving the audience wanting more.


    • Select the songs: Once you know how long your set will be, choose the songs you want to play that night, including for an encore, if it should come up.


    • Pacing: Do you have high-energy songs and low-energy songs? What kind of experience do you want to give the audience? Start slow then build? Are there songs where the audience can participate? Where do you want those songs to go in the set? Figure out how those songs can best work off of each other.


    • Song transitions: Make sure your songs flow well together and that everybody in the band knows when there will be a small break for interacting with the audience, and when you’ll be going straight into the next song.


    • Type of venue/seating arrangement: Is it a dingy bar, a night club, a fancy theatre, a coffee house? What’s the seating arrangement? This can impact the type of set you want to offer.



Once you’ve decided on your set list, rehearse it. Then rehearse it again. And once more. Make sure everyone in the band can play that set with their eyes closed and that they know all of the cues and transitions between songs without having to think twice.


Visual Presentation: On Stage & Merch Table


On Stage

You should also prepare what your visual presentation will be at the show. Does your band have costumes? A certain dress code? Will you have video projections playing in the background? A banner with your band name hanging on stage? A custom drum head with your logo?

For some good ideas for visuals at your show, check out Chris “Seth” Jackson’s guest post on the Bandzoogle Blog: No One Will Remember Your Band: 10 Ways to Stop Being Forgettable

Merch Table

How about for your merch table? Do you have an eye-catching set-up? Proper signage?

Here are some essentials to have for your merch table:



    • Signage: Your band name, list of merch items & prices displayed clearly


    • Cashbox with change (don’t rely on the venue for this)


    • Inventory sheets to track your sales


    • Pens/markers (for mailing list, signing autographs)


  • Mailing list sign-up: Email addresses are still the most reliable way to stay in touch with your fans, and the best way to convert fans to paying customers. So get those email addresses anyway you can, even offer a free sticker/pin in return, it will be a great long-term investment for your band.


Here’s an example of a great merch table setup, including proper signage and a mailing list sign-up: What’s Your Merch Setup (Grassrootsy Blog).

*Note: Accepting credit card payments at shows can increase your sales dramatically, as not everyone carries cash with them. Services like Square-up or Indie Pool (for Canadian bands) can turn your iPhone into a credit card swiper.


Preparing For Promotion: Give Yourself At Least 6-8 Weeks


Part 2 of this blog series will go into detail about promotional tactics you can use to promote your show. But for the purposes of preparation, you should give yourself a good 6-8 weeks lead-time to plan and execute the promotion for your show. This will allow you to take into consideration things like a media & publicity campaign, whether or not you’re going to go after sponsorship for your show, and promotional collaborations with the other bands performing.

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Promotion BY: DAVE COOL / MTT

Dave Cool is the Community Manager for musician website and marketing platformBandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle |@dave_cool

The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. Well, I’m going to borrow from that expression and talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. Part 1 was all about preparing for your show, and in now in Part 2 we focus on promotion.

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Promotion

Before getting started, the first thing you need to do is take personal responsibility for the promotion of your show. Chris “Seth” Jackson wrote a great blog post called “How to Promote a Show: Don’t Rely on Anyone Else”. I highly recommend reading it. You really can’t rely on anybody else to promote your show; not the other bands, not the venue, not the booker, not your manager, and not even an outside promoter. To really get the best possible result, you need to do everything you can as a band to get the word out to your fans. Here are some of the ways you can do that:

List the show

Start with the basics: list the show on your website, your ReverbNation page, Facebook page, Bandcamp, and yes, even your Myspace page. Anywhere that you have a profile online, make sure the show is listed. You never know what site your fans are going to look at for details about your next show. You can use ArtistData to save time doing this.

You should also list the show in weekly newspapers, music blogs, and news/entertainment websites that feature event listings.


One thing you can do as soon as the show is booked is start blogging about it. You can blog about booking the show, about the other bands performing, interview the other bands, talk about rehearsals, putting together your set list, how the promotion is going, any media you’ve received leading up to the show, and so on. This will not only create awareness about your show, but also drive people to your website, which is always important.


With Facebook’s use of complex algorithms to determine if/when updates are shown to your fans, and the short lifespan of Tweets, your mailing list remains the most reliable way to reach your fans. So be sure to send an update to your mailing list subscribers with details about the show. If you send the newsletter about a month in advance, you could then send a reminder a few days before featuring new content promoting your show (a blog post, video trailer, etc.)

Media & Publicity

If you have a budget, you can hire a publicist to handle outreach to the media, but that could cost anywhere from $500 to over $2000. There are online services like StoryAmpand StereoGrid that can also help you connect directly with the media. But if you’re like most bands, you’ll probably end up doing your own media and publicity. You can use resources like the Indie Bible or Musician’s Atlas to find media contacts.

You’ll want to start contacting media at least 6-8 weeks before your show. Journalists are extremely busy people, and receive dozens if not hundreds of press releases daily, so it usually takes several follow-ups to get a response, if you get one at all. Give yourself enough time to do the proper following up, and in turn, show journalists respect by giving them enough lead time to consider your story.

To help build your media database and keep track of your progress, download thisSample Media Progress Spreadsheet

For some great tips on approaching journalists, I highly recommend reading 5 Tips for Approaching Music Journalists from MusicianCoaching.com


Entire blog posts have been written about Facebook promotion alone, but be sure to cover the basics:

  • Facebook Events: Create an event for your show and post regular updates on the event’s wall (blog posts, photos, videos, press articles, etc.)
  • Regular updates on your fan page: Post the event on your wall, share photos from rehearsals, blog posts, and videos on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to your show to help create some buzz about it
  • Ads: Facebook Ads can help create awareness about shows and remind your fans that you have a show coming up. ReverbNation has a great new tool called “Promote It” which makes creating Facebook ads way easier. If you do create ads, set a budget and stick to it, it can be easy to get carried away and spend a lot of money.


Once again, entire blog posts have been written about Twitter promotion, but use Twitter to post regular updates on your preparation for the show. Post info about the other bands performing, links to blog posts, links to any press you’ve received, post photos from rehearsals, links to videos, etc.

Run a contest

One way to get your fans involved and excited about your show is to run a contest. Give away a pair of tickets, a pre-show dinner with your band, backstage access, a post-show party, whatever you feel comfortable with and that you think your fans would enjoy. The more you can get your fans involved in the process and make them feel special, the better.


Post photos on your website, Facebook page, Twitter, etc. It can be photos from rehearsals, photos of the venue, of the other bands playing the show, a photo of your set list, even photos from soundcheck the night of your show as a last-minute reminder. Try using Instagram to make it even more social (for some great tips on using Instagram, check out Mashable’s 10 Instagram Tips For Bands, By Bands).

Create a video trailer for your show

Another way to get people excited about your show is to create a video trailer for it. It doesn’t have to be the trailer for the movie 300 (i.e. the best movie trailer ever), but it could be a compilation of live footage, a personal message from the bands, a tour of the venue you’ll be playing, etc.

Posters & Flyers

Not too long ago it was standard practice to put up posters in areas around the venue, and some bands still do. But just having a handful of posters to put up inside the venue itself can help create awareness about your show (and some venues still insist on it). As for flyers, besides at music conferences, it’s something I haven’t seen in years, but bands still sometimes hand out flyers at other shows leading up to theirs. If it works for you, go for it, but if you have a tight budget, save the design and printing costs and stick to online promotion.

Email fans individually

Reach out to people on your mailing list individually with a short reminder about the upcoming show. Even if you just do a little bit every day, it all adds up, and this personal touch will no doubt bring a lot of those people through the door.

Pick up the phone

If an artist knows me well enough to have my number and calls to personally invite me to their show, most of the time, I’ll go to that show. It means more to me than a mass email, or a mass invite on Facebook. Part of it is because I probably know that artist well enough for them to have my number, but it also shows a level of dedication to the show’s promotion. It’s always smart to cover your bases.

Image credit: http://poofytoo.com

Send a Hand-Written Note

If you have a person’s mailing address, try sending them a hand-written note (on the back of a promotional postcard is an easy way to do this). For a few album launches I’ve received a personalized, hand-written invitation from the artist, and it’s kind of fun when it happens. So if there are some key people who you want to have at your event, try sending a personal note. Even if they don’t show up, they’ll likely remember the gesture.

You Have LOTS of Competition

I know this sounds like a lot of work, and this blog post was really just an outline of some of the things you can do to promote your show. But here’s the thing: you have more competition now than ever before. Just take a minute to think about all of the other choices people have when it comes to entertainment:

Dozens of other shows

In my home city of Montreal, there are literally dozens of shows happening on any given night. I often get invited to 5 or more different shows per weekend night, it’s a little overwhelming. To get anyone to your show instead of another, you’re going to have to go the extra mile.

The multitude of other entertainment options

Going to the movies, going to see live comedy, going to the theatre, going to a festival, or simply going out for drinks with friends. These are all activities (along with many others) that people can do rather than go see your band play.

Staying Home

And arguably your biggest competition: staying home. People can simply stay home and watch a movie, play video games on their HD TV, have a house party, spend the night watching goofy YouTube videos, or have a quiet night listening to their favorite music while they relax on the couch reading a book. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier than driving 10 miles, paying for parking, paying the entrance fee, buying a drink, staying out late, and being tired the next day at work, all to see your band perform live.

Even with all of these challenges, if you put in the work and take the time to make your fans feel special, you can pack the venue. Just make sure that when they do come to your show, you give them a great experience, which brings us to the third “P”: Performance. Stay tuned for part 3 of this blog series, which is all about making the most of your live performance.

The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Promotion

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