About Kevin

Kevin is a Grammy nominated artist, podcaster, and indie musician advocate. He resides in Portland, OR where he is the Director of Marketing for CD Baby (cdbaby.com). Oh, yeah, he also plays guitar in Smalltown Poets.
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    Simple steps to lose your Twitter followers

    I clicked the unfollow button on a friend today. It wasn’t an easy decision. I thought about it, and weighed all the options. I even gave second chances, but when it came down to it, I had to do it. Why you ask? Because they continued to commit what some consider to be obvious Twitter no no’s. Here they are to make sure you avoid the same fate.

    They used their Twitter account like it was their personal email – It was typical for them to go on a Twitter frenzy, and in a matter of a couple minutes, Twitter well over 30 posts. Usually @reply messages that were not relevant to my Twitter experience (or interesting for that matter). It made me feel creepy, like I was snooping through their inbox. If you have that many personal messages, use the direct message option.

    They would give running commentaries of TV shows – A witty comment or two about a show is always welcome, but Twitter is not the place to practice your play by play skills.

    They would get into arguments with other Twitter users – I don’t use Twitter to make up for the lack of Jerry Springer in my life. When it turns juvenile, I must unfollow.

    I think Twitter works best when you keep the blogging aspect in mind. A blog has interesting posts and relevant comments that you can join in on. Twitter is just blogging on a smaller scale. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to come up with a profound statement every time you make a post.

    Just remember, that if you want to keep your followers, you should respect their Twitter feed as well.

    Knowledge is power – Especially when you know people!

    This past week I had the opportunity to speak to the music business students at Full Sail University in Orlando Fl(Good people!). Full Sail is a state of the art media school that features everything from recording, film, graphic arts, and of course music business. During my visit there, I was reminded of a couple simple facts that I think are very important for anyone pursuing music, music business, or just a career in a creative field.

    Understand how things work – In life, there are always gate keepers that stand between you and your goals. This is especially true with any creative field such as music, and that is where a little knowledge goes a long way. You’re chances of success will go way up if you just take the time to understand how things work. Learn how people do there jobs. There are plenty of resources available, so there is no excuse. Those gate keepers, they feel that you should know better as well.

    You must know people – Yes, networking is important, but I think you have to have a proper perspective on networking. Don’t just gravitate to the people that do exactly what you do. It’s important to talk shop with those folks, but it’s also important to know the people that can complement you pursuits. For example: Thinking of starting a record label? Besides the obvious of knowing great artists and music business folks, spend time getting to know web developers, graphic artists and film directors and people in the advertising world. All these folks can play an important part in what you do.

    The New Digital You!

    In the comment section of my previous post, Arthur Pope left an intriguing comment that I thought deserved a post of it’s own. Due to vision impairment, Arthur is not able to tour extensively, therefore, he is not able to participate in what has traditionally been the bread and butter for musicians, the live show income. So, it begs the question – is it possible for a non touring artist to find income streams outside of touring? Can you build a following of fans that not only pays for music, but sees value in supporting the artist and their art? The answer is a big YES! Presently, people consume more music than ever, but there is also the largest supply of consumable music that the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, when supplies of a product are up, prices generally go down. When music is made a consumer product(Instead of art)values go down. So the real question becomes, “How do I separate myself from the musical glut and bring value to my music?” The answer is with real connections with real music fans(Also known as people). Honestly, it’s the same answer it’s always been for the indie artist, but for some, the “venue” may have changed. So how is it done in the digital landscape? By creating videos, starting a podcast, using the social networks like Facebook and Twitter in an intentional way. Don’t just post information on the web, interact, create and communicate the real you. Be genuine and interesting. By the way, after hearing Arthur’s podcast, I can say that he is on the right track!

    Give Arthur’s podcast a listen -> http://www.arthurpope.com/songfactory/

    Sports talk radio gets it! Why doesn’t the music industry?

    I was driving in to work listening to sports talk radio, when the host, Colin Cowherd, said something very interesting. He was discussing another athlete who got caught smoking pot, and how some people just don’t care that this famous athlete broke the law. In reference to how people have come to view the law in general, Colin used speeding as an example and said, “Americans don’t see speeding as a law, but as a suggestion. There are two many laws, and the more we pile on, the more people will pick and choose which laws they think are important to them.” Colin, without knowing it, pinpointed the reason why the music industry has such an up hill battle in the digital age. People don’t see file sharing as breaking the law, because they see anti piracy laws as suggestions. I started thinking about this cultural shift and what has caused us to view copyright laws like we view speed limits. My conclusion is that the main culprit is taking music out of the physical world, and putting it into the digital world. Not because it’s now easy to share files, but because we don’t see a digital file as having any value. I think the point can be easily made by considering a painting. An accomplished painter can sell their paintings for thousands of dollars, but if they scanned that image and tried to sell it in a digital format, they would have a hard time getting any money at all. The image is the same, you can still see their handy work and enjoy it’s beauty, but the real perceived value is in having that physical object hanging on the wall. The problem isn’t that there are a bunch music pirates giving away entire music catalogs for free online, it’s that the the average person, while consuming more music than ever, just doesn’t attach the same value to it as they once did. Instead of addressing the real issue, the music industry as a whole, has just been setting up speed traps, trying to catch perpetrators as they speed on by, and the response from the public at large has been(to quote Sammy Hagar), “I can’t drive 55!”

    Creating Moments on Stage: Idea #1 Your Influences

    Well, this is the first post of what I hope will be a long series of posts where I share a specific “moment” creating idea. All of the ideas I plan to share come from first hand experience, whether I was a part of the performance, or a member of the audience who was moved by the moment. I’m starting out with something we incorporated into the Smalltown Poets’ set for the Listen Closely tour. We heard over and over again how it was an audience favorite.

    Sharing Your Influences: In the 90’s you might recall how the acoustic set had become extremely popular thanks to shows like MTV Unplugged. When we were planning out the Listen Closely tour, the acoustic set had become a little too trendy, but there was something to be said for the intimacy that the acoustic set added to the performance. We decided, that instead of playing a few of our songs on acoustic instruments, that we would set up an intimate moment and share some of our specific influences that were the foundation of our musical journey. We did sit on stools, but I played a hollow body electric instead of an acoustic guitar, and we had a little drum set that we brought out to the front of the stage. Each individual in the band had their own little segment.

    For my segment, I explained to the audience, “I got my start performing in church(This was long before there were pop/rock bands playing worship music in church like you might find today). Being an electric guitar player, there weren’t many performance options that would be appropriate for that setting. I was a big fan of Phil Keaggy, so I learned a couple of his instrumental pieces that worked perfectly” It was at this point, where I would play about 8 bars of the instrumental piece by myself. It was a little nerve-racking, as you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as I played. This created a huge contrast to the full band production they had been hearing up until that point in the show. After I finished the 8 bars, I would say something like, “ Phil Keaggy is still a big influence on my playing, but this isn’t a church service!” At that moment, the whole band would kick into a shortened version of an uptempo song by Phil called ‘Shouts of Joy’. After that, we would go on to the next band member, and they would share their story. Each time, the story would conclude with all of us playing a song by one of their influences. Every night we heard how that was the favorite moment of the show, which at first left us thinking, “Great! You liked all the songs that weren’t ours!” In reality though, the reason that it was such a striking moment, is that the audience felt like they knew us better after that set of music. We shared our musical past with them, and they felt a stronger connection to us as a band. An idea like this would be easy to incorporate into your show. You don’t have to do the alternate setup like we did, just think about how you can creatively incorporate the story of your musical influences into your live performance.

    Music Subscription Service – Will it be voted off the island?

    The Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish sea, plans to institute a music tax which would make every citizen pay a tax in exchange for an unlimited music subscription service. Payment of the tax would be added to the internet service provider bill and would be required, even if the user doesn’t listen to music through the service. What the Isle of Man has planned is extreme, but serves to highlight why I think the subscription model in of itself, is not the future(Or at least the near future) of the music industry. Not only is sweeping legislation required for it to work, but it makes some big assumptions.

    1.Music fans will all be happy to consume music only in that manner

    2.People don’t find the need to “own” their music(Remember what happened when Yahoo music closed? Lots of money down the drain for those subscribers)

    3.There is a long term perceived value – That $15 a month adds up over time!

    The Isle of Mann will be an interesting test case and the world will be watching!

    Please don’t do this at your show!

    I recently had the chance to interview, Tom Jackson, of Tom Jackson Productions for the DIY Musician Podcast(Episode 43 listen here). Tom’s career as a performance coach runs the whole musical spectrum from working with solo indie artists to chart toppers like Taylor Swift. I’ve also had the pleasure to work with Tom personally, and have seen first hand how his idea of building “moments” into a show works to connect with the audience. In future posts, I’m going to highlight some specific examples of moments that I have personally seen work, but before we get to that, I had to share a few of my performance pet peeves. They seem pretty obvious, but I have seen artists at all levels commit these offenses over and over again. They definitely work against inviting your audience into a moment.

    Not telling the audience your Artist/Band’s name – It’s sad that this even made the list, but I’ve seen this obvious mistake happen over and over again. The first thing you do when you meet someone is tell them your name, so the same goes with your musical career. There’s always someone in the crowd who is “meeting” you or your band for the first time. Give them the courtesy of telling them who you are. It should be noted that I’m not talking about introducing the individual band members. Yeah, like I said, it’s sad that this made the list

    An artist who insults the audience – How many times have you stepped up to the mic and said, “Where is everybody?” First of all, all your fans don’t live and hang out together, so they don’t know where “everybody” is. Second of all, you basically just told them, “I’m disappointed in the few of you that actually came out to see us play!”

    Not selling merch at the show – I’ve heard bands go on and on about how the audience should buy their CD, only to say that anyone interested in making a purchase would have to buy it online when they got home. If you listened to my interview with Tom, you’ll realize why this is such a costly mistake as fans buy moments. The moment is long over by the time they get home and are online.

    Those are my top three, but I would be interested to hear what your live performance pet peeves are. Please add them to the comment section!

    Is there a digital music showdown looming in 2009?

    Like everyone else, I was glued to the TV for the inauguration of Barack Obama to the US presidency. Later that night, as the media bounced from one inaugural ball to another, I was a little surprised to see a ball sponsored by the RIAA. I started thinking that just as Americans have high hopes for the new administration, the RIAA might have high hopes as well. After all, it has been a rather challenging couple years for them. I did a little searching on the internet, and here are a few interesting facts I dug up that might set the stage for a big digital music showdown for 2009.

    1. Obama’s pick for the third highest ranking spot at the justice department is Tom Perrelli. Tom has been one of the RIAA’s go-to lawyers for some of their most high profile cases involving file sharing
    2. In the past, Joe Biden, has urged the criminal prosecutions of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer users and tried to create a new federal felony involving playing unauthorized music.
    3. Congress has said it plans to take another look at, and potentially re-write, the copyright act in 2009

    I’m a copyright owner, so I’m definitely for the protection of copyrights, however, I am curious to see if the inevitable future of digital music is embraced, or if lobbyist like the RIAA will win the day and attempt to legislate away the digital music future. Let the games begin!

    Hidden opportunities do exist – Make all your music available!

    This is just a little story about why I think it’s important to get all of your music catalog available (even the old stuff that you think sucks!) online in stores like CD Baby and iTunes. About a year ago, I started a sync licensing division at CD Baby. I had been a student of music licensing for a long time(even had some of my own songs placed), but it wasn’t until I actually undertook the job of pitching music for placement that I realized an interesting trend. Most of the music that the networks and film companies approached me wanting to license were tracks by artists that I never would have added to my library of songs I pitched to them. These license requests have been anything from songs about swamps for a show on Animal Planet, a song about Julia Roberts for a promo spot on TBS, to an old gospel song that AIG wanted to use for a commercial in Spain(Very nice pay day!). In all of these cases, the artists were not promoting their music in any way shape or form. The only thing they had done, was to simply make the music available online where anyone could find it. In some cases, the music had just been sitting there dormant for years! If you’ve listened to the DIY Musician Podcast, you know that it doesn’t take much to get me talking about licensing, so don’t worry, we’ll discuss that more later. My main point here, is that it’s very important that you make every piece of music you’ve recorded available online, as you never know when someone might find it and want to use it. The old rules of what music is useful and needed are fading away. Pop music still rules the charts, but for those of us trying to make a modest income from our music, there is more musical need than ever.

    I can already hear the excuses, “Our band doesn’t sound like that any more and we’re embarrassed by that album!” I’m not talking about promotion, or including it on your myspace page. Just get the songs into the iTunes directory and CD Baby so people searching keywords can find it. Change the band name if you want! The important thing is that the songs are searchable. Obviously, there is no guarantee that NBC will come knocking on your door, but what if?

    Twitter 101 for musicians and bands

    Well, at the urging of a few friends, I’ve taken the Twitter plunge. At first, I was confused by the micro-blogging format and thought it to be a little ridiculous, but I hung in there, and I have to say, they were right. Much to my surprise, I’ve found Twitter to be an extremely useful tool, not only for promoting your music, but for connecting with people on an individual basis. Since there are a lot of Twitter newbies out there, I put together my a list of 5 tips for new artists/bands getting on Twitter. If you have any other starter tips, feel free to add them by leaving a comment on this post.

    1. You have to stick with it and be consistent. Twitter will take some time before you start to see it’s full potential.

    2. Start out by following people that tend to discuss topics you like. Seek out other artists/bands that are experienced on Twitter and “follow” them. Chances are you’ll pick up a few points

    3. It’s a great tool to help develop your story telling ability. Take everyday events and make them sound interesting.

    4. It’s a public forum, so don’t say don’t say anything that you want kept private.

    5. Don’t use it for just shameless self promotion. People will see right through that on Twitter