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The Most Profitable Instrument In Your Music Business (Guest Post)

This guest post was written by Greg Rollett of Gen-Y Rockstars. You can follow him on Twitter here.

photo by snebtor

Being a musician, or in the music business we love to have shiny tools. For me as a record and DJ junkie, I loved having my MPC, some Technic’s and later Serato and a ton of vinyl.

For others of you it may be the new Gibson or a classic Fender Rhodes.

We spend a lot of money on this stuff, the gear, the shiny stuff. It’s not cheap. In my last band we spend more on the instruments than we did on the trailer and guess what…the trailer broke. Yea, fun stuff when you are 9 hours from home and made enough money to grab something from the dollar menu on the way home.

This mindset hasn’t changed for most musicians over the last four years (the time frame from when that trailer broke till today). The mindset of most musicians is that their money is best spent in this hierarchy:

  • Gear
  • Recording
  • Duplication / Products / Merch
  • Marketing / Advertising
  • Fan Engagement

I understand this, from an indie musician’s point of view. From a business point of view, it sucks. It is downright backwards. If you are looking to make music for your friends, or are a hobbyist, then this is cool. If you really want to play music day-in and day-out and not have a cubicle dwelling or burger flipping, order-taking life, then you need to change your mindset.

And this mindset starts with the instruments you use to run your business.

The thinking I am asking all of our musicians to take is that your fans are the most important thing to your business. Yes, your music needs to be great. But that comes from gifted songwriting and arrangement, not the tools you used to make them with.

For $1,500 you can get a Mac preloaded with Garageband, a web can and iMovie. With this you can be extremely dangerous. For PC users look at Fruity Loops or Sony’s Acid. Less that $100 products that have been used to make millions (9th Wonder anyone?).

So, the tool, the instrument that is most vital to your success is an email service provider. Yes, old school emails. Like the kind you get from your buddies, your boss and your family. As a musician this is a direct line of communication to the people that want to hear from you. There is no greater tool to share your music, get your fans involved and engaged and ultimately support your income and lifestyle as a musician.

This tool is much more cost effective than a guitar. The sounds in that guitar are only as powerful as the number of people that hear the notes it produces. The Pro Tools rig is only as impressive as the amount of iPods that house the music it renders.

Collecting fan data and spending money to build your fan base needs to be top of mind. Some of the top indie recordings from the past few years have come from home studios, closet mic booths and laptops in Starbucks. Their songwriting is on point and the way in which they communicate that brilliance with their fans is the reason they are growing in leaps and bounds and supporting their rock star lifestyle.

3 Places To Get These Instruments

Aweber – This is who I use in my own business. They were made for internet marketers and it shows. The only downfall is importing emails from a spreadsheet, or having you fans write their emails on a piece of paper at a live show. There are workarounds, but no software is perfect.

FanBridge – FanBridge is a great solution that is built for musicians. They offer email and mobile solutions and have a unique way to import emails from live shows.

ReverbNation – FanReach from ReverbNation and FanReach 360 are a great way to gather fan information beyind the email address, finding your subscribers on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace can be a great way to engage them further.

No matter the tool, the concept is the same. Start putting a large focus on growing your fanbase. Change your mindset to believe that your email list is directly tied to your income. Recent TopSpin data suggests that 30% of your income can come directly from email promotions. Twitter, Myspace and Facebook combined accounted for 8%.

Get the tools and get the mindset right and watch your music business explode.

This post was written by Greg Rollett from Gen-Y Rock Stars. He runs a music marketing business from his laptop. His new course, the New Music Economy teaches you how to grow your fan base and create sales channels to live the Rock Star Lifestyle!

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.


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