Creators: Define Success First

tuk0005 copyRecently, I had the good fortune to speak to a room full of young, aspiring entrepreneurs about my professional journey. I hoped to draw some parallels for them to follow, to the extent that those parallels could aid them.

The first part of the session was a 60 minute prepared talk about the initial hurdles that young startups face from a legal standpoint. Following the discussion, there was a question and answer segment, and I was asked the following question by the host:

“How long did it take you to achieve your success?”

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Bobby Zeik: The Man Behind the Poster

Over the next two weeks, potentially more than one million visitors to Bethlehem will have the opportunity to get their hands on a plastic mug featuring the artwork of local mixed medium artist Bobby Zeik, a Banana Factory resident artist and the man behind the 2017 Musikfest poster.

Continue reading Bobby Zeik: The Man Behind the Poster

Sunday Thought Series: Your Band is Your Brand

If your website looks anything like that, you’ve already lost.

The indie music world is full of people who do what they do for the love of music. We love creating and discovering new things, and we find a kindred bond with those who share the same passion.

However, the reason many of us work so hard toward pursuing that passion is because we want our hard work to be recognized. We know that it’s a crowded, noisy scene out there – both at home, and all over the world – and we need to do our best to stand out among the pack.

So, what’s the key? What is the difference between being an artist who makes a statement and being just another run-of-the-mill indie band?

It all comes down to how you present yourself.

Your every move – whether it’s your music, merch, live show or online presence – should reflect what makes you unique as an artist. Your artistry is also your brand, and it should accurately tell your story in a way that makes you stand out as an artist to watch. I can’t tell you what that story should be, because it’s yours. Whatever it is, you need to find an effective way to tell it.

Brand consistency isn’t the only important thing. It is imperative that you present your brand in a way that will make decision-makers – like labels, managers, or producers – take you seriously. Look at artists who are making it big right now, and you’ll notice how everything about their branding –  web presence, graphics, merchandise and, of course, recordings – looks like it was created by professionals. Their posters look like they’ve had a graphic designer’s magic touch. Their websites are intuitive and easy to navigate. Their social posts have correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Their recordings are crisp and clean, and their live show proves that they have the chops to support their material. Every little detail is accounted for.

I know. You’re in this to make music, so what does spelling or a professional-looking website matter?

Well, ask yourself this: Have you ever seen any band with a website like these make it big?

If your website looks or sounds like this, that might be why the labels aren’t calling.

Sunday Thought Series: A Village of One?

When it comes to the indie music world, I operate under a simple M.O.

Everybody supports everybody.

Independent musicians, radio hosts, bloggers, photographers, producers and supporters already face an uphill battle. The music industry has certain measures in place to ensure that they control the narrative of what’s best for business. It’s no secret or surprise that certain artists are pushed to the moon, while others and their genres – who else is sick of hearing, “Rock is dead?” – are downplayed as insignificant. As time has gone on, and depending on your market, terrestrial radio play and mainstream publicity has become more difficult to come by on a typical indie artist’s budget, and much less opportunity is often the result.

So, the indie community and the internet prides itself on being the counter-culture; the foil to the mass-produced, overly processed content put forth by “the machine.” This self-proclamation is well-intentioned, sure – however, the catch is that the indie community will never be an effective counter-culture if everyone involved doesn’t work together.

Yet, there’s a sense of competition that permeates the indie world, with internet radio stations that all claim to be #1, radio shows and venues who close their doors to certain genres, and artists who, at times, arrive to a show, play, and leave, without so much as a second thought to get to know the other bands sharing their bill.

In a world full of social media noise and clutter – from branded content, to that aunt who shares every sassy Minion “quote” she can get her hands on – your one band, podcast, blog or venue will not bring about change on its own. A movement to point the “noise” in our direction requires strength in numbers. Therefore, we should not only look at our places in the indie world in an individual context. Instead of focusing on being “number one,” we need to look at the people around us – regardless of genre – and determine how we can raise up together. How can we, as a united community, fight for and achieve more relevance – and how can we do so while achieving a balance between individual and group success?

For starters, I suggest that you check out some artists you don’t yet know. Buy their music and go to their shows. Uncover things you like about different genres, and expand your horizons. Find some indie music media – radio shows, podcasts and blogs – and start to follow them. Reach out to the folks doing the work, tell them how much you appreciate what they do, and spread the word about it. Use your platform – whatever it is – to strengthen the indie community into a force to be reckoned with.

It’s going to take a village – here at home, and the world over – for our vast music community to get the respect it deserves. Don’t be a village of one.