From hiring a songwriting consultant to getting a sound man for your live performances, what follows are seven ways to spend your money to enhance your music career.
Most indie artists don’t have a lot of money in the bank, but if you’re going to spend your valuable savings or that money you raised crowd funding, there may be alternative (i.e. less obvious) investments you can make to enhance your music career. From hiring a songwriting consultant to getting a sound man for your live performances, what follows are seven ways to spend your money when you’ve got money to spend.
1. Songwriting consultant
Just because you can play your guitar does not mean you can write a well-crafted song. Songwriting is a skill all its own that takes years of practice to perfect. A seasoned songwriting consultant can offer objective advice about your songs and improve them significantly. It makes no sense to spend zero dollars on the most important aspect of your music career – your songs – and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars recording and promoting your music.
Trust me on this one, if you don’t have undeniably great songs, it’s over before it begins. People like Robin Frederick and Jason Blume are just two people off the top of my head who may be available to work with you – in person or via the Internet. Check them out.
2. Focus group marketing
Some of the most important people related to the success of your career are the very people to whom you are trying to appeal: your fans. Yet, it surprises me how most bands don’t spend the time or money to conduct research and get feedback from them. By rounding up two groups of 30 people, inviting them to your rehearsal studio, serving pizza and drinks, performing sets of your music, and having your fans discuss/rate your songs (or sound, stage presence, look, etc.), you’ll produce some important information that can help save you a great deal of time and money in the long run. My band did this when planning a recording project and it worked great – we played 15 of our songs and let the fans pick the compositions they wanted on our record. After all, if its the fans who you are trying to satisfy with your music, doesn’t it make sense to see what they think before spending thousands recording your EP?
3. Photographer and stylist
Anyone with a camera phone and mirror in their bedroom can think they are a photographer or a stylist. While camera phones are quite impressive these days, an experienced pro who has access to amazing locations, knows how to arrange a shot, understands proper lighting, knows about hair and make-up, and understands fashion can give your band the visual edge it needs. Look, if they say that a picture is really worth a thousand words, and you agree with this statement, then why not spend at least that much in getting some really professional photos done? Your brand depends on it.
4. Graphic designer
Your band’s logo serves as the stamp of your brand. It is what is put on your drummer’s bass drum heads, your banners, your road cases, your merch, and it even becomes your tattoos. While you might feel fairly confident playing around with Photoshop yourself, an experienced pro can really make a difference. Hire someone who has an outstanding portfolio of band logos and several years of experience to back it up. Remember, you want to have a bad-ass logo that can become part of that bad-ass T-shirt that people will gladly be willing to pay $15 to take home. So let the pros do your logo and design.
5. Sound man
Most artists spend thousands of dollars to get their music recorded, mixed, and mastered, and zero dollars to replicate that sound on stage! Think about it: you book yourself into a club with four other bands playing on the same bill, and then use a house sound guy who knows nothing about your music and vibe. Don’t get me wrong, house guys do some really amazing work, but hiring someone who knows every snare drum fill, every guitar riff, and every vocal harmony can make a huge difference and give your band’s live show the competitive advantage that it so desperately needs.
6. Light man
While on the topic of your live show, let’s discuss your light show! What light show, you ask? My point exactly! Once again, most bands rely on whatever the club provides, and that’s precisely what the other bands on the bill do. This means that every band ends up looking the same. But imagine having a light man who synchronizes every snare drum roll with a series of strobe lights, projects bright white lights from the stage into the audience on dramatic power chords, and builds special boxes that project bright lights upwards into your face making you look like a superstar every time you step up on these boxes. Awesome! Right? Remember, you’re in show business. No show typically means no business.
7. Bar and food tab
Want to get a really important person to come and see your show and hear your music? Then why not pick up their food and drink tab for the night? Really! It blows me away how indie artists will pay some random company to blast out their music to hundreds of bloggers, but never think about targeting one or two local magazine writers (radio DJs, etc.) and offer to comp their night. Surely, there are still no guarantees that the person you invite will like your music, but I’d bet on this more personal approach any day over some “get successful quick” campaign that sends unsolicited emails to the world.
So, if you have money to spend, why not consider a few of the above basics before taking the more obvious routes? If you’ve got a few suggestions of your own, please share them with us in the comments.
Image via ShutterStock.com.
A renowned drummer, teacher, consultant, and Disc Makers contributor, Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited Budget (September 2014, Hal Leonard). The book is available on the Hal Leonard website, Amazon.com, or at BobbyBorg.com.
The contents of this post are © 2014 by Bobby Borg BobbyBorg.com. All rights reserved. Not to be posted, printed, or used in any other way without proper attribution to Bobby Borg and Disc Makers.
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2 thoughts on “7 creative ways indie artists can spend their money (when they’ve got money to spend)”
Awesome advice Bobby. I was a member of TAXI last year and first seen you on their TV show, also bought your book! Being on a limited budget especially after recording my album, it’s great to see that it seems like I’ve taken the steps in the right direction as far spending my money wisely. As much as I’d like to think I can do everything, it really pays off to get a pro to help make whatever it is graphic design, photos, etc… look the best they can. Even though the songs are the most important thing, without the other stuff, good songs won’t’ get the right representation they deserve to the public/fans without all of your mentioned points above. If you get a chance, check out my website http://www.chrisbolint.com and tell me how you think everything looks/sounds. I’d appreciate any feedback. Thanks!