Bob Lefsetz's tips on 'Doing Business' online

May 2008 - c/o Bob Lefsetz Years ago you could get away with just being the artist. You'd surround yourself with handlers and they'd get the day to day er sh*twork done. This was an extremely labor intensive system but it worked because very few artists got this treatment and those that did were throwing off huge sums of cash to pay for it.     Those huge sums are gone. Except for a handful of superstar acts. And there's not enough manpower to service each and every act down the food chain. In other words you've got to be your own manager your own publicity agent sometimes even your own booking agent!     I know I know you don't want to do this. You just want free time to sit around and write smoke to watch DVDs... But that's not how our world is constructed anymore. Along with the burden of needing two incomes to support a family a lot of the lifting in life some of it quite heavy has been put on the shoulders of the individual. We do our own banking whether it be at the ATM or online. We chart our stocks. And we like some of the modern conveniences. I've had bank clerks make mistakes but never ATMs.     In other words being a musician is not enough. Thumbing through ancient Rolling Stone" magazines you might yearn for that lifestyle but it's gone. A new act can't get the kind of traction needed to sustain those numbers. And the new paradigm is coming down off your perch and interacting with fans.     So you've got to be able to type. I'd say to put this in front of guitar lessons (assuming you already know how to play!) If you can't type quickly without mistakes you're going to be left out of the Web world and everything is driven by the Web now. Sure radio delivers its own hits but those acts are usually flashes in the pan anyway.     2. You must familiarize yourself with music sites and blogs. If you don't know what Pitchfork and the Hype Machine are chances are you're not going to make it. Furthermore you've got to know what's hot. That iMeem is streaming more music than not only Yahoo but MySpace ( Stop concentrating on acting cool and start tracking cool.     3. You must have a Web presence. A front door to your music your career. It must be more about information than flashy graphics. It must run fast and feature an extensive bio that is not cookie-cutter but unique written by you and a plethora of photos not only studio shots but candids to humanize you. At least stream your entire new album. And give away at least one MP3. Your music is your calling card. If you can't give your card away how is someone going to remember you how are they going to spread the word? And if you're really lucky the word will be spread via the P2P mentioned above. Or via instant messenger. You do know you can speedily transfer files via IM right? And you must post new content preferably the story of your career your struggles and heartbreaks to your site every day. At least three times a week at least. So people will keep coming back so they can bond with you. If you're not willing to answer all your e-mail quickly put up a forum/message board. Or do both. As for creating this site? Speak to your friends. If you don't have someone knowledgeable who will do this for free then you don't have any friends. People want to give to be involved!     4. No one will come to see you live if they don't know who you are. Create a frenzy online then give a concert. Use to book shows. Go where the demand is don't think just because you set up your gear people are interested. Maybe you're in New York but your fan base is in Wisconsin. You can track not only the location of the demand via Eventful but you can use Google's stats to find out about who's coming to your site and just this week YouTube announced they're delivering a ton of info to video posters. Use this data! It's the new SoundScan. Cliff Burnstein is the master of SoundScan this almost math Ph.D. uses this information to plot and steer careers. Utilize this new information to your benefit. You don't have to be a math major yourself this information is not that complicated to understand but you must dig in!     5. You're the retailer. And the wholesaler. And the manufacturer. You've got to sell stuff on your site. It's about satiating the core more than scouring for new fans. They want to download your music for free and buy a CD and/or vinyl record. They want t-shirts. They want autographed photos. All of this is easily provided. Maybe your spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend has to do the heavy lifting but they love you right? It's a way for you to get closer! That's the focus on the core team not looking for some heavyweight to rescue you. How can they they just started reading their own e-mail they can't type at all they're not net-savvy they're going to save you? Save yourself! --
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