7 Lessons from Self-Releasing My Music

I am an amateur musician. I love creating and performing original music, but I have never found the nomadic lifestyle of the touring musician attractive and therefore I have never pursued a professional career as an artist.

Having said that, I have been taking the business side of music more and more seriously in recent times, and I have been self-releasing my music since 2016. One could describe me as a semi-professional musician nowadays, even though the income I get from music generally serves to sustain and fund future musical activities and promotion, rather than funding my lifestyle.

As I have found out over the years, releasing your own music as an independent artist is not any different than marketing your service or product as a solopreneur, small business owner or therapist. In order to be successful, you need to do the things successful business owners do.

This year I released two albums of bands I am a member of. I did this through my own label, which is but an alias I use to separate the promotional activities surrounding the albums from my own artistic name (hey, no one likes a bragging musician constantly talking about the great music they make!) Doing so I learned some important lessons, which I am sharing below:

  1. Your Story is What Connects Your Art to Your Business  

Similarly to how you can not apply your therapist or cake baking skills to how you run your business, it is not possible to apply your skills or craft as a performer or music creator to how you market, sell and promote your musical activities. In order to get people to buy your stuff or service you need to get into their minds. What makes them tick, what is it about your offer that is different and unique and why is it something they need in their lives? Create a consistent story about your art and the process that led to its creation, and use that story to connect with your audience.

2. Separate Emotion From Financial Transactions

Artists are generous people. In their avid enthusiasm about their music, they tend to give away their merch for free to friends and family, or, after a certain amount of intoxication at a live gig, to pretty much everyone (as I have witnessed on several occasions).

Generousness is without a doubt a positive trait that helps your audience to know, like and trust you (especially in the early days when you are building your name as an artist). However, it can be a detrimental and wasteful trait if you don’t have a clear strategy as an artist in order to sustain yourself financially. Figure out what you need to do to sustain your musical career, and act accordingly. Only give away what you can afford to give away.

When you have decided on your pricing, stick to it and don’t cut any corners when it’s time for the payment to be made in order to please people. True fans will happily pay the actual value of an item when they know that it will support and sustain you as an artist to keep making music. After all, wouldn’t it be a shame if you were to give up because of running out of funds, and deprive your keen followers of your unique artistic talent?

3. Set Your Pricing Right

I am at the risk of becoming Captain Obvious here, but I think the obvious is often overlooked by artists: you can not know whether you are making a profit from your music if you don’t understand what your overheads are. Your overheads are the total sum of all your costs, many of which are often overlooked.

How much did it cost you to record, mix and master your music? What was the cost of printing your CDs/vinyls/merch? How much did you spend in magazine adverts, promotion, Facebook ads, videoclips? What recurrent costs do you have (e.g. monthly Bandcamp, Hypeddit and annual Tunecore subscriptions in my case). What transaction costs do you need to take into account? E.g. Bandcamp charges you 10-15% per sale, and Paypal charges about 6% in merchant fees per transaction (for a professional Paypal account).

Knowing your one-off, monthly and annual fees, will help you understand how much money you need to earn on an ongoing basis in order to cover your costs. Knowing your individual sales and transactional costs, will help you monitor how much progress you are making towards your overall financial goals.

4. Set Goals and Plan in Advance  

Following from the previous point, you now hopefully understand the importance of setting yourself clear financial goals rather than going where the wind blows. It is simply not possible to run the business side of your artistic career if you are not able to set yourself daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals (and beyond).

How much do you want to be earning from your music on an annual basis? What will you do with any profit you make? Knowing this figure, you can then work out how much you need to be earning on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. Breaking down annual goals into daily goals is very helpful, as it makes the task look less daunting and gives you a clear action plan on a daily basis. Once you know what you need to do on a daily basis, you can then work on developing good daily habits which will lead to sustainable, long-term results.

5. Hype Always Works

In the musical underground circles where I frequent, there is a lot of talk and bravado about how individual, sophisticated and unique everyone’s musical taste is. Listeners of less visible musical genres tend to define themselves as different from the rest and see their musical taste as something that has grown spontaneously, as a result of their own research and individual journey.

While I don’t dispute the value of personal research and recommendations (streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music have developed sophisticated algorithms that are very helpful in discovering artists similar to your musical taste), I think people strongly underestimate the importance of hype in the success of a musical release. Labels that are good at hyping their artists, create an impenetrable veil of positivity around their releases. This positive PR creates in turn an expectation in the listener’s mind that the album in question is going to blow them away, and that this is the music they need in their lives.

Music appreciation remains an abstract and subjective process, and hype helps to create an air of ‘objective’ approval around a new release, pre-framing the idea in the listener’s mind that this album will be better than other similar releases of ‘lesser gods’ (read: less hyped artists). And once the listener’s social circle has invested in the idea that this is a worthwhile release, it will be difficult to disagree and lose face in your ‘tribe’.

6. It’s Always About the Long Game

I remember about ten years ago, talking to people in the musical scene (including labels of smaller labels) who would orate convincingly about the importance of the first month after release. Apparently it’s make-or-break time, because once the initial hype has evaporated, everyone turns their attention to another new release and that’s it. The opportunity to promote your new work has expired! You will now have to wait another three years or so in order to release and promote a new work in order to create interest around your studio output.

I can confidently say, having been playing this game for over two decades now, that this is nonsense. Yes, the initial period after release is important as it sets the tone for the response to your release and you need to take advantage of the momentum created in that period. But at the same time, you also need to draw a long-term strategy for evergreen promotion. I can guarantee that the majority of people who potentially appreciate your music is still out there! With thousands of new albums released every year, it is just not possible for everyone to hear every album that would potentially appeal to them.

So keep promoting your music, set up some ongoing Facebook/Instagram/YouTube ads and keep telling the story of your record to new audiences. You will continue creating new fans and once they get to know you, it won’t matter whether you released an album a year or ten years ago. They will want it all the same.

7. You Can’t Do It All On Your Own

I have been guilty of this myself in the past. I believed that I could and should do everything by myself, because somehow ‘I knew better’. This belief is the result of a fixed mindset, and there is research showing that this mindset seldom leads to sustainable success. It stems from the idea that in order to be good in something you need to be somehow a ‘natural genius’. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Long-term success is mostly derived by experience and hard work. The more time you spend improving your skills in something, the more successful you are likely to be.

This means that in a complex and time consuming activity as that of creating and releasing music, you are simply not good enough to do everything by yourself, as you haven’t spent enough time to be good at everything, including writing, arranging, producing and mastering music, creating the artwork, maintaining the website and your social media, writing compelling promo copy, building up good distribution channels, marketing your art etc.

Humbleness leads to the best long-term results, so stick to what you do best and get others to help in the areas you are lacking because you haven’t invested enough time in mastering them.

Don’t Let Semantics Get in the Way of Action

I used to have a client who hated the word ‘goals’. In every conversation we had, we were going into painstaking efforts to avoid it, using terms such as ‘flow’ and ‘process’ instead, which suggested a more organic and fluid approach to goal setting.

Other people I have worked with recently, got stressed by the use of the term ‘to-do-list’. It implies a chore, something that will require effort, energy and the dreaded feeling of obligation or ‘must’. Instead, they suggested using terms such as ‘achievement list’, which imbues a sense of positivity and satisfactory action.

I’m recently hearing calls to abolish the term ‘failure’ altogether, as people fear it has a negative connotation. Instead, it is suggested that words such as ‘feedback’ or ‘failing forward’ are used to reframe it into something much more positive.

People often have very good reasons why they like or dislike certain terms. Historically, they may have associated them with unhelpful mental images or with trauma’s. It’s up to them whether they feel these associations are harmful enough to be tackled head on, or instead they would rather avoid them altogether.

However the danger with focusing too much on the ‘harmful’ effect of words, is that this can often distract from the positive action that needs to be taken. If where you currently are causes you pain and discomfort, then you need action to effect change, whether this action is pursued through setting ‘goals’, plotting the ‘process’ or actioning ‘achievement lists’.

By all means, use the terminology that inspires and motivates you to achieve what you want in life. But don’t let semantics get in the way of what you need to do right now in order to get results.

Set your Intentions Now To Achieve Your 2022 Goals

One of the genuinely positive effects of social media, is the fact that it allows you to build a digital footprint of your goals, intentions and actions. Back in December 2020, I wrote in my music artist Facebook page that my intention for 2021 is to make a number of musical collaborations happen.

Just like in my coaching work, I do not believe in seeing colleagues as a threat, or ‘competition’. Many people in my field talk about a mindset of abundance, but when it comes to it, it’s only practiced by a few. If you truly believe that the universe will and can provide for everyone, then it’s only natural that you will consider your work as a coach, business owner, therapist or musician as part of a bigger mosaic, in which you are but a piece.

Collaborations not only help you grow and learn as an artist or business person; they give you the opportunity to offer to your followers a full package of support (or enjoyment); they also give you the opportunity to be introduced to the contacts or followers of the person you are collaborating with. In that sense, it is a win-win situation.

So this year, I set out to do the following things in my coaching business and musical activities:

  • I ran my first group coaching program and collaborated with a hypnotherapist coach who used abundant mindset hypnosis to help change the limiting beliefs of my participants
  • I started a podcast where I delve into the world of people who have found their freedom by doing what they love doing. This has allowed me not only to learn, but to also get to know better a number of people who inspire me and whose service my clients and I can use in the future (and of course vice versa)
  • I participated in a heavy metal charity single in memory of a young musician who sadly departed because of cancer. This gave me the opportunity to work with high profile musicians in my scene I have never worked with before
  • I collaborated with a fellow coach and a friendly singer-songwriter to create a Christmas charity single in a genre I wasn’t familiar with before (pop ballad). This is helping me to stretch my comfort zone and potentially get in the radar of a completely new audience

It’s doubtful that these collaborations would have happened had I not set my intentions a year ago. They helped me to set clear goals, as well as keeping my mind focused on opportunities coming my way. I would likely not have spotted these opportunities had I not been explicitly looking for them.

Setting your intentions means that you start from a place of clarity of purpose. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, and you have checked that these intentions are aligned to your values, it’s a matter of planning ahead and setting measurable goals in order to track your progress. The compound effect of your daily actions and habits will determine your future success.

What about you? What intentions are you setting yourself for 2022?

Confidence is Built On Knowledge, Not Feelings

As the United Kingdom is once again entering Covid Level 4 Alert, we are confronted with the ever changing nature of the reality we live in. A reality which is shaped by as many external factors beyond our control, as it is from factors we can control and influence.

After almost two years of restrictions due to the global pandemic, I sense a growing impatience with many of the people around me. Increased parts of the population feel disenchanted with government communications, expressing confusion at what they perceive as often vague and contradictory messaging.

While most governments claim they are following the science, the constantly changing picture of the discovery of new virus strains and the ebb and flow in the numbers of worldwide infection, often give the impression that the truth is ‘work in progress’ which governments and scientists make up as they go along.

As a result of this, there is a growing feeling among people that governments don’t act in good faith, and that all they desire is controlling us. It is healthy to acknowledge this feeling among ourselves, and listen to our emotions as we are trying to cope with a unfamiliar and rather unusual phase of our existence. But this is all it is: a feeling, not knowledge. And it is not a sound foundation for the truth.

Why are conspiracy theories so effective? because they are based on a ‘feeling’. The feeling that something is not right, that there is a small elite of people who are actively plotting against us; the feeling that we are in the possession of some hidden truth to which the majority of the population don’t (yet) have access. The truth is relative and often based on what ‘feels good’; therefore by asserting it often and loudly, we are providing evidence to ourselves that it is superior to that of others.

Unfortunately, equating truth with what feels right, doesn’t give us the desired peace of mind, even if we feel that our truth is superior to that of others. When events in reality don’t give us the feeling we expect, there is cognitive dissonance between what we feel as our truth and the information we receive. The feeling we get from cognitive dissonance is a negative one, leading to more far-fetched theories of reality in order to explain away the contradiction between our feelings and what our senses are telling us.

We live in a world where there is an increasing consensus that we need to take care of our mental health. Why then do so many of us spend our precious time engaging in energy sapping mental gymnastics in order to explain away what we don’t like? Aren’t we more likely to preserve our energies, as well as to maintain a positive feeling about reality, if we speak to an expert or become one in our field, rather than living with our ‘bad feelings’ as a result of incomplete knowledge?

Staying informed in our field of interest and remaining honest to ourselves about what our senses are really telling us, gives us a perception of control in our lives. If our theory of reality is the result of knowledge, rather than us trying to fit reality in some preconceived idea, we are more likely to find the peace of mind we are looking for. It is the right foundation of our sense of confidence and self-esteem, rather than theories designed to remove ‘bad feelings’.

Stop Overthinking to Find Your True Self

Being able to plan ahead using abstract thought, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the human race. It’s the main reason we have managed to conquer nature, go to space, dramatically improve our life spans and lay the foundations for our science and technology.

But as is often the case, our biggest weapon can easily turn into our greatest downfall. Thinking and planning ahead are useful tools, and essential in mastering our trade, profession or art, building our business and finding success in our lives. When used excessively or inappropriately however, they can quickly turn against us. They lead to anxiety, procrastination, self-doubt and negative thoughts.

I have two Birman cat pet companions, and what I admire most about them, is their ability to effortlessly connect with their authentic selves. Without this overthinking getting in their way, they exist in a state of pure being, and often one of flow. They eat and drink when they need to, visit the toilet when they have to, seek attention when in the mood for playing and sleep for the (considerable) rest of the day.

Overthinking is the enemy of being in the moment. It takes us away from an associated state to ‘looking at ourselves in the picture’ (to use Neuro Linguistic Programming terminology). Excessive self-awareness and self-criticism deny us the opportunity to connect with the moment, that condition where we just are, in a present state of focus and flow.

It is not always easy to beat overthinking, as many of us (and in this I include myself) have been conditioned by years of subjecting ourselves to it, and as a consequence have become expert overthinkers. One of the main reasons is the fact that we often grow up in environments where others are regularly triggering our feelings of guilt to manipulate our behaviour.

As children, we are constantly told what not to do out of fear that if we let our guard down, we will hurt ourselves. Later on in life, we are made to feel bad about the way we look ( I vividly recall a middle aged woman breaking down in tears on a training session as she remembered her mum exclaiming ‘who will look at you‘? when she, as a child, once wore a pretty new dress for a social occasion). We are also made to feel bad about our privilege (growing up in Greece, the biggest threat used against a child not eating their food, was: ‘Aren’t you ashamed? What about the children of Ethiopia, who have nothing to eat?’).

We are made to feel personally responsible for social problems such as homelessness, war and poverty. More recently, we are also made to feel guilty about climate change and environmental destruction (even though most of the change that is required will have to come from changes to government policies in order to regulate the companies that are the biggest polluters).

Overthinking is often the result of self-doubt and guilt. It is stopping us from existing in the moment, and that is exactly when we are connected to our true selves. If you are not able to banish it from your day-to-day life, promise yourself 15 minutes in the day when you allow yourself to indulge in that overthinking.

Every day you catch yourself doing it, remind yourself of that promise. Then come that time, decide whether you want to use it to overthink. You might find that you don’t feel the need to do it anyway. But doing this catastrophic thinking consciously and with self-awareness, almost in a mindful way, will mean that you will soon spot the exaggerations in your ruminating. Your thought processes will sound absurd and unlikely. Andin the vast majority of the cases, they are.

How to Regain Focus When Things Don’t Go To Plan

As life shifts, so do our goals. This is a natural process, as our daily reality is full of changes and unexpected twists and turns. I don’t recall having ever worked with a client who, by the time we completed our work together, had exactly the same goals they had at the start of our sessions.

Even experienced goal setters often see their plans change. John Lennon’s famous quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” perfectly captures our inability to control the whole of life and to fit it into our plans, without being prepared to be flexible when circumstances change.

Further evidence for this statement is provided by the poor ratio of success when it comes to keeping promises to ourselves. According to a recent figure, less than 8% of people stick to their New Year resolutions! This is due to lack of discipline, lack of awareness of how to successfully measure goals and inability to factor in the changing environmental circumstances in one’s daily actions.

But most people don’t fail because they were not able to stick to their original plan; most people fail because they give up at the first hurdle, or failure to achieve a micro goal within their bigger goal. Success requires discipline and long-term commitment, and the ability to avoid distraction by ephemeral obstacles.

When you stay connected to your original focus and purpose, you can always pick up things where you left them off after a temporary setback. The only rule to remember is: don’t let it slide twice in a row. If you planned for something and it didn’t happen when you needed it to happen, then ensure it happens later or tomorrow.

If you got up late and didn’t have time for your morning meditation, plan to do it the evening instead or go to sleep earlier today to ensure you are up and running on time tomorrow. However, do incorporate your purpose and self-identity in your planning.

Why is it important to meditate? Do you want to lead a calmer, less anxious life? Does it help you to sharpen your focus for the day and make the best of it, so that you obtain a sense of fulfilment and happiness? Visualize and evoke that feeling you want to achieve before resetting your intentions. Connect that feeling to your self-identity. Who is likely to be consistently doing their morning meditation? A happy and fulfilled person who wishes to remain happy and fulfilled.

Regularly reminding yourself of your values and purpose, the ‘why’ you are doing what you do, as well as the ‘who’ you want to be, goes a long way towards creating the habits that will set you up for success.

The Fallacy of Perfection

It’s remarkable to see how many talented people are walking around this world with unhelpful ideas of perfection in their heads. Like some sort of abstract Platonic Idea, perfection is an ideal scenario of things we expect or demand to happen in any given situation.

The theory of Ideas, also known as the theory of Forms is a concept outlined by Plato, that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas. According to this theory, Ideas or Forms contain the perfect essence of all things, of which objects and matter in the physical world are merely imitations. 

This is an interesting and fascinating philosophical concept. However, the idea of the existence of a ‘perfect’ world out there unspoiled by the limitations of our flawed daily routine, is the source of suffering and misery in our day-to-day realities, leading to unrealistic expectations about our performance. It’s also leading to illusions of control in situations and events where we can’t control things.

I recently spoke to a client who had such ideas of perfection in her head. They led to feelings of insecurity, which is turn led to nervousness. Nervousness led to mistakes at work, which gave rise to feelings of guilt, which in turn led to feelings of insecurity. And so the cycle went on.

Perfectionism often leads to a lack of enjoyment; when expectations of an ideal scenario are no met (which is more likely than not) you get frustration, unhappiness and self-criticism. Focusing on finding pleasure and meaning in the things you do rather than doing them perfectly, helps to shift the focus away from your inner critic to things you can adapt in your environment in order to find pleasure and satisfaction.

Like most other things in our lives, problems related to perfectionism can be tackled by changing the way we think. Small changes seem insignificant on short term, but due to the compound effect they give rise to big changes on longer term.

Feelings are often the product of our own thoughts, even if they are first to notice. Observing carefully the feelings that start the process of self-criticism and self-disapproval, can be key in adapting our mindset in such ways that it shifts away from our inner critic to things that give us meaning and pleasure.

Daily affirmations such as “I allow myself to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes” can start a process where the mind gradually shifts away from the idea that your performance in any given situation needs to meet standards of perfection. Breathing techniques can help you focus and reduce negative feelings. Next time you notice the physical sensation that accompanies that unhelpful feeling, such as e.g. a tightness in your stomach or nausea, stop and take deep breaths for a few minutes.

This simple act gives you a sense of control about your physiology and your thinking. It will allow you to change that physiology and look at your state as an outside observer, rather than feeling completely absorbed in your emotional response.

Giving yourself permission to fail and to make mistakes will be your best self-investment in order to silence the inner critic and improve the way you experience and enjoy your life.

Know Your Values- Interview with Dr Bridget NLP

In my most recent podcast conversation with Dr Bridget, my coach and NLP trainer, we discussed Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), curiosity, values, identity, goals and much more! A former GP and medical director, Bridget is now known as the Chief Unsticker: she helps business owners get unstuck from their unhelpful thinking patterns and create clarity and consistent action instead.

The tool she is employing in this, is called NLP. Neuro Linguistic Programming is looking for the patterns and processes people are using in their heads to get the results they do. It’s about modelling successful patterns and getting rid of unhelpful ones in order to get the best possible outcome.

Curiosity and quirkiness have been key in Bridget’s career. As her parents were both scientists, they instilled in her a sense of wonder about the world and people’s thinking process. Add to this her innate rebellion against ‘what she should do’, and this is how Bridget has managed to forge her own path and become -currently- the only NLP Master Trainer in Wales!

“We all tell ourselves stories. By working out what is relevant for you, lightbulb moments are created”. Everything you read, little things you see around you in your day-to-day life, TV programs you watch…it’s all content you can use to create your own metaphors about your life. We are using our memories, values, experiences, language, metaprograms etc to create our stories. But above all, employing metaphors and using stories in your life, should contain an element of fun. If the story you are currently telling yourself doesn’t work, all you have to do is re-write the script.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my forensic psychology studies many years ago, is how unreliable the human memory is. You can ask three eyewitnesses to give you an account of an event and they will all have a different story to tell. Our stories help us to close these gaps and reframe our memories in a more helpful, constructive way.

Gurus will often tell you that as a business owner you should be modelling the behaviour of billionaires. If you adopt their habits, routines and processes, you will become a wealthy person too. However, the crucial element that gurus often omit, is that this will only work if these billionaires share a similar purpose and values with you. If the habits and routines you adopt don’t suit your purpose, they are not likely to be sustained long enough to create consistent results.

People often start their business careers with huge goals, until negative thinking and the imposter syndrome take over, forcing them to adjust and shrink them. Working through past and present negative experiences that affect your perception and the story you tell about yourself, helps to get clearer on your goals, take consistent action, get the right people around you and get unstuck from negative and unhelpful thinking patterns.

Noticing these patterns will be instrumental in aligning your goals with your purpose and values; freed from their constraints, you can connect with what gives you inner pleasure and you can just be.

INTERVIEW WITH DR BRIDGET NLP: KNOW YOUR VALUES

7 Marketing Tips for Independent Artists to Increase Sales

The latest Bandcamp Friday has given me once again the opportunity to observe the variety of marketing techniques used by independent musicians to promote their work. And I have to say, a lot of what I’ve seen wasn’t pretty.

Bandcamp Fridays are shaping up to be a blessing for independent artists, as they offer a free marketing opportunity to promote their music during the pandemic, where live gigs have been scarce and often cancelled or postponed due to the changing situation across the world.

This situation is likely to continue for a while, because even though gigs are being booked again, several independent venues have closed down due to the effects of the pandemic. Furthermore, many venues have been already pre-booked for future gigs and tours by bigger artists, meaning that smaller artists are likely to continue suffering from a lack of gigs for a while.

How does Bandcamp Friday work? On the first Friday of every month, Bandcamp waives the fees they charge artists for their sales, giving them the opportunity to earn more per individual sale. Typically, artists pitch their music in emails and messages to their followers on that day.

Just like with Black Fridays marketing communications however, the platform is crowded as people are bombarded with messages from literally thousands of artists pitching their music. It is therefore advisable to stick out from the crowds, as well as to ensure that your messaging reaches the right people.

I am listing a few tips below that will ensure you maximize your chances of success. Whether you are a hobby artist or someone who is making a considerable income from your art, the key is to approach this in the same way any successful self-employed small business owner would approach their business: with a sound strategy and understanding for what works in terms of sales and marketing.

  • Accept that you need to market your music. Too many independent artists show a misplaced pride in not engaging with any marketing activities. They reason that people will find their way to it if the music is good enough. I was literally told these words some time ago by a former guitar player! But let us be honest to ourselves, how many artists truly believe that their music is not good enough? We tend to have a positive bias towards what we create, so naturally we will feel that our music is good and that it deserves to be bought. The hard truth however is that no matter how good your music is, no one is going to engage with your music, let alone buy it, if they don’t know it exists in the first place. Music is about connection, so unless you connect with your audience, you will join the ranks of the thousands of unloved and underappreciated artists out there
  • Understand that any activity related to sharing your music, or talking about your music in any shape or form, is a marketing activity. When artists distance themselves from the ‘sellouts’ who are marketing their music, they imply that they don’t do any marketing themselves. However the reality is that they are usually poor at marketing themselves, as they don’t understand its principles. The sooner you accept that marketing is an indispensable activity of your life as an independent artist, the sooner you will realize it isn’t the dirty word you think it is. It’s the tool which will help your ‘tribe’ discover your music. And isn’t this what we all want?
  • Be generous. Too many artists I know guard their music in secrecy as if it’s the precious Ring of Power. New developments such as Non Fungible Tokens further encourage this worrying trend. If you are an unknown artist, increasing your visibility should be your main concern. Give away freebies and bandcamp codes; organize contests to give Cds and other merch away. Music supporters are generous by their own nature and when they get the opportunity, they will reward your generosity in turn. It is not unusual for Bandcamp buyers to pay well over the selling price of a merch item in order to support their favourite artists!
  • Give out a personal message when you promote your music. People love stories. They want to identify with you, their hero, and get in your shoes! ‘Buy my album’ is not a personal story. Give them a reason to buy, by allowing them to get to know you better. Give proceeds to a charity your care about, talk to them about how their support keeps you going and creating awesome music, give them sneak peeks about your equipment and behind the scenes material…however always stay positive! Pity parties about how broke and unappreciated you are will not have the desired effect and are likely to contribute to you remaining a broke and unappreciated artist.
  • Make marketing activities fun. A contest with a free giveaway engages people and helps you to spread the word in a pleasant way, and you can make of ‘spreading the word’ the call-to-action of your giveaway (share my post/like my page etc in order to get the chance to win)
  • Engage people in a Facebook group. Your Facebook/Instagram artist pages are but the store front. Facebook groups help you engage your fans with fun stories, related to your music’s culture. This is where you get to know your fans and identify your superfans. Who are the first ones to respond to your posts, give you feedback, buy your music etc? Once you identified them, engage them in your Facebook group and get them in your email list. Once you have a sufficient number of these superfans, you can send them exclusive emails (most email clients help you segment your email list) to further increase engagement and make them feel special and unique
  • Paid ads are a helpful way to gain new fans and grow your audience. However the word ‘grow’ is key! Facebook has been so effective at promoting its paid ads service, that it has given us the illusion that Facebook ads are the solution to all our marketing woes. In reality, they are only useful in helping grow what is already there. You will need to first plant the seed with your organic marketing. Once this is done, you will have a foundation to build on with paid ads

Doing a combination of the above will ensure that you steadily increase your visibility and with it, your chances to sell your music and your merch. For more detailed tips, download my free Marketing Guide For Solopreneurs , some of which are specifically written for artists!

What other marketing strategies have you found useful as an independent artist? Let me know in the comments below!

The Spooky Truth About Your Anxieties

There are literally thousands of articles about anxiety on the world wide web. In our 21st century Western societies, stress and anxiety are part of our lives, albeit playing a larger part for some than for others.

Unless you live in a Blue Zone (and I congratulate you if you do), chances are that you will have experienced some stress or anxiety at some point. Many of the aforementioned articles focus on strategies to remove that anxiety. In a recent post on my Facebook group I asked what strategies people find effective in dealing with it.

Some people find it useful to focus on physical sensations, giving them a sense of control over their body. Controlling your breath, tensing and releasing muscles, inducing laughter…are all techniques that can be used successfully to release tension and dissipate feelings of fear.

Others are using external strategies, such as consuming alcohol, taking medication or listening to relaxing music. Sometimes professional help can give you the extra assistance you need to overcome your fears. The effectiveness of mindset techniques used by Neuro Linguistic Programming is well documented. They help us raise awareness about the stories and the films we play in our heads, which contribute to anxiety and stress.

The truth is that developing mental toughness and mental resilience is the quickest shortcut to dealing with anxiety. The nature of the solopreneurial existence is such that stress and overwhelm will be here to stay and we need to find ways of protecting us against them.

The most effective way to tackle anxious thoughts, is by staying present in the here and now. Dwelling on the past creates worry, and by being preoccupied with past events we are missing out on present opportunities. Likewise, focusing on trying to predict and anticipate the future creates anxiety of the unknown. Our energy is consumed unnecessarily, instead of using it to focus on the present.

There are various techniques you can learn to help you focus on the present whenever you feel overwhelm welling up. Practicing mindfulness, meditation and journaling are all tried and tested methods that have helped thousands of people across the world. If you don’t know how and where to start to improve your anxiety levels, some professional assistance might help you to find what works best for you.