Sunday, October 30, 2011



You’ve spent the summer performing at  lots of shows, perhaps you have been promoting a new cd. After 3-6 hard months of  playing the same songs over and over you start to get really getting tired of singing and performing the same songs, right?  and you worry that your fans are ALSO tired of hearing you sing and play the same songs.

I am going to provide tips and tid-bits during the last 3 months of the year to to help keep your fans engaged and keep you energized, while selling some more music during the last 3 months of the year.

  In 2010 physical CD album sales were down 13%  digital track and album sales at   iTunes sales grew 71% 

Having Holiday themed music creates additional  “brand awareness” and buying opportunities for your fans, and NEW fans.

Part 1 of my holiday music blog series is focused on the most Spook-tacular time of the year. The Fall Solstice, Dia De Los Muertes, or Halloween, what ever you celebrate All things relating to spirits, spooky things, and poking fun at popular culture icons are all fair game during this hauntingly fun time of year. You see it in costumes and defiantly hear it  in the music. During 2011 there are a lot of frightening things to take a poke at musically speaking!   Not to mention that the top television shows are themed around the holiday,  True Blood, Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries, Twilight movies…. There are lots of opportunities for really good spooky music.

Last year, I hosted a online Halloween song submission on Facebook, during the month of October artists were invited to write and record a Halloween themed song, right before Halloween the song that had the most LIKES  “won”.  The winning submission happened to be submitted by songwriter Alexis Harte who’s daughter Mia helped create a Halloween song, called "Mia's Halloween Song"  that they sold for $1  all the proceeds were donated to Smile train, additionally the song was picked up for a small licensing opportunity!    A definite win- win for artist and the Smile Chain Children who were benefactors.     It’s still a great cause- I recommend you lend a dollar to provide a child with a smile, what a beautiful gift.

During the 2011 Halloween holiday what holiday themed songs have you written to capture the season?  Submit the link to your Halloween song in the comment section below!    You will be bringing some new fans ears to your music, and have a great new song you can slip into your “fall favorites” catalog….

In November I will sneak in a link to the 2nd of our 3 part promoting your songs during the holiday’s  with the theme of giving (and receiving) Thanks.
Until then,    have a Booo-tiful day!  Bwaaa Haa Ha ha!

Need help creating a music marketing plan or simply have questions on managing your music business strategy?

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available for private consultations to help you develop your independent music business, You can read more about her at  you can email her at


iTunes Sales:
Mia's Song:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do we need a band agreement?

Do we need a band agreement?

      Do you write songs in the band your involved in?
      Do you plan on making a living playing in a band?
      Are you planning on seeking royalty payments for your music?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you decide you are going to pursue making a living with this group of people you need to look at obtaining a trademark with the group name,  and having a band agreement. To determine in writing how you are going to conduct business with each other, and how you are going to run your business.
Having a agreement in place early in your careers to clarify in writing how earning will be split, what roles and responsibilities for band members are,  and how decisions are made within the group will help avoid and resolve confusion and disputes as your band business grows.

Devote as much time understanding your business as your music they are equally important. Jay Z, Lady GaGa, Madonna, Tom Petty, ALL made the time to learn about the many business details, which has contributed to the success of their huge careers.

When your working with a group of individuals it is in each members best interest to define their responsibilities. 
Clarify compensation, and creative control, scheduled band meetings, to help prevent  huge misunderstandings, and  lawsuits.

I have outlined a few key points to help you draft your initial band agreement,

Getting Started:       

Do you get along and share similar values and goals?
Joining a band is just like dating, in the beginning, everyone is on their best behavior, after the “honeymoon period” is over,  unless there are clear parameters, and ongoing communication, disagreements, and disputes can derail any creative process and progress.

If you are currently booking a few local gigs, playing for the tip jar, you may opt to draft your own version of an agreement that all the key members sign and have a copy of.

If you are booking gigs that provide guarentee’s and contracts,  it’s time to have a entertainment lawyer draft a proper agreement helping you formalize your business identity,  and protecting your band trademark and  assets. 
Keep in mind that if you have having a attorney draft a copy of your band agreement, that one legal person is acting as "secretary" to legally draft a document. They cannot jointly represent multiple clients without creating a conflict of interest, therefore will need to agree to signing a conflict waiver . 

In California you can start by contacting California Lawyers for the arts-  who provides education,  representation, and dispute resolution services for artists.

The terms of your agreement should answer in writing :

Beatles Agreement
Clarify business relationships  and     responsibilities-
Are you a band member?  Are you self employed or contract? Solo artist or employer? What are key responsibilities?

Compensation: Songwriters vs non songwriters- Address division of advances, music publishing, recording royalties, merchandising, and performances.  

 Decision making: How will you make decisions, Leader rules, or Equal votes for all?

 Band Investments: Purchases/Investments, and debts- Is a band vote required for all purchases? Or only purchases of $250 and over?  How are purchase expenses re-cooped

Hiring/Firing: How are members hired or fired?

Band Name /Trademark: Who owns and controls rights to the band name and use- while in the band and after a breakup?

Band members obligations- highlight some key responsibilities, beyond playing a instrument, are members required to devote time to booking? promoting? taking turns driving the bus? Attending scheduled rehearsals?  If a member simply wants to just show up and play- does that make them a minority member? or a gun for hire?

Dispute resolution: will disputes  be resolved in- or outside of court

Identify Key Members / Minority Partners    Identifying Key members, minority partners- do minority partners earn as much

  Travel and accommodations- when money starts coming in, does the lead singer always gets to travel 1st class, but the drummer has to drive the bus? Meal stipends?

Departed members rights to profits- can you sell a cd that has a former member in it?

  Term of agreement (1 yr 2 yr)

Each band member needs to sign and date the band agreement which they are given a copy of  as members of the band.

Need help creating a music marketing plan or simply have questions on managing your music business strategy?

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available for private consultations to help you develop your independent music business, You can read more about her at  you can email her at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is radio right for you?

Does being played on the radio make good sense for your music business?

 In today’s market, even if you hire a radio promoter your chances of getting repeated airplay with out a major label financing is very difficult and very expensive.

Radio airplay is basically divided up into Commercial, College, Satellite & Streaming formats.
Commercial radio- Play lists for commercial radio are dictated by the radio station’s corporate headquarters, Clear Channel  is the largest with 850 stations, and 237 million listeners followed by Cumulus, Citadel, Entercom, & Salem Communications. The songs you hear are selected based upon which record companies are paying these corporations top “dollar”.

College Radio- C.M.J. "College Music Journal" is  a music events and publishing company that hosts a annual festival in New York, it also publishes a weekly magazine for the music industry and college radio stations in the United States.  Roughly 75% of the music played is within the  alternative genre. Each week about 1000 colleges are eligible to submit their play lists to CMJ for consideration in to the top 200 listing,  of which 350-600 actually submit lists,  over 2,000 artists are competing weekly to chart  in the top 200 and do not.

I’ve put together a check-list to help you decide if  investing in radio  is a logical career decision for you.

1)    Do your fans listen to the radio?  Or do they primarily download music, or listen to streaming stations like Pandora, MOG or Last.FM ? You need to be able to answer this very important question, and put your music where your fans are listening it. If you don’t know, then the first thing you need to do is clearly understand how your fans consume music. If your fans aren’t listening to radio or the style music you are playing isn’t being broadcast on the airwaves it doesn’t make sense to pursue radio airplay.

2)    Do you have the budget for ongoing campaign? Let’s assume your fans are big consumers of commercial, college, or even satellite radio.  A 3-12 week campaign at one station can easily run $1,500-$6,000. If you are touring with a 50 station promo you very quickly have a $75,000- $300,000 in just radio ad costs.  Additionally, to support your radio campaign your budget will need to include a print and online media promotion to support airplay.

3)     Is your music currently available for retail distribution?  Do you have name recognition within the broadcast network?  You need to have retail ready product to support your promotional efforts, as well as have  buzz within the station network. Station managers, consider these factors when determining where in the play list you’ll be, The most sought after morning or afternoon drive time, or the Midnight- wee hours listening time.

4)    D.I.Y. campaign or hiring a promoter- Running your own campaign requires a tremendous amount of time. Researching where your music should be directed, developing and nurturing those relationships. Do you have a team of people dedicated full time to doing this work? If not, then you need to hire a reputable promoter- Estimate between $400-$800 per week for a 8-12 week campaign. Adding $3,200- $9,600 out of your promotional budget.  When interviewing promoters you need to find out what successes they have they had promoting other indie artists? Get references, and check them, does the promoter work hard? are they affordable? And importantly do they love your music?

5)    Are you the performer or the songwriter? Currently songwriters, not performers are paid royalties for music played on the radio. This is has been a issue of ongoing  debate in congress. This is worth noting, simply because if you are investing a minimum of $100,000 into your music business, you want to measure the return on your investment.  There is no guarantee that you will earn this in music sales, if you are the songwriter, only mid- top level songwriters are seeing modest returns in royalty payments.

After going through this check list, you may quickly realize before you even get to budget considerations, that you need to do the important work of simply  identifying your audience.Then, you can create your targets and start thinking about whether persuing radio markets makes sense for you,  or if your time and money are better focused in other areas.

 Stop and listen to feedback from your audience, most artists so are busy trying to get people to hear them, and spend no time actually listening to feedback from the people who are essential to your success. After your performances when you are working the merch. table people give you feedback, whether you want to hear it or not.  This is valuable information because when your listening you start discovering patterns and themes essential  to your business. This will help you learn if your selling the right merchandizing items. Should you press CD’s Downloads, or Vinyl? Do your fan’s like  T-shirts, hats, or hoodies? Most importantly you’ll discover how to spend your precious few dollars in the right places.

Need help creating a music marketing plan or simply have questions on managing your music business strategy?

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available for private consultations to help you develop your independent music business, You can read more about her at  you can email her at

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jesse Brewster- talks to his fans

In these pages I focus on the tips and tricks to help creative individuals step above  the ordinary.
 Sharing your personal stories, struggles, and heart aches with your fans often creates a connection removing the barrier between artist and audience. 

Jesse Brewster  has a deeply personal story he has woven into his sophmore release “Wrecking Ball at the concert hall”. His live performances deliver rocking roadhouse guitar, gritty red dirt vocals, with the tender twisted roots of California-Americana.   On 10/21/11 lucky ticket holding fans can attend his San Francisco CD release party  that kicks off his Pacific Northwest tour.

 Today, readers get  a peek behind the stage curtain, meeting  a man who is part guitar slinging outlaw, and hero rolled into one.

How did you come up with the title to your new cd “Wrecking ball at the Concert hall”?
JB:There’s a two part answer to that. The first being a reflection my feeling that the battle of the almighty dollar vs. the arts seemed to be favoring the former. Music venues I played for years were being shut down. I’m happy to report that this trend is changing for the better. The second, refers to the two distinct vibes I tried to put forth on the album. Wrecking Ball being the uptempo, electric guitar-driven tunes like All Those Things I Said and God Fearin’ Man, and the Concert Hall side reflected in the more delicate tracks like Consider This, and All She Deserves.

Are there any particular “causes” that you would like to share with readers?
JB:   Polysistic Kidney Disease,  PKD- Not only do I have the disease, but my brother passed away from it in 1998, my dad has had a kidney transplant as result of the disease as well.     My 2005 release, Confessional,  is a benefit to that cause.
Additionally, Community (support of) the arts and music.   My song My Great Escape was featured on 104.5 KFOG's Local Scene CD vol. 6 benefitting- Music in Schools today.
 It's up to us as members of our local communities to keep the arts alive!" 

Regarding your work to educate communities about PKD;
What are some of the big ah-ha’s AND disappointments you have encountered doing this work?
JB: The re-ocurring surprise to me is just how few people are aware of the disease. In an era of media saturation and social networking where news spreads like wildfire, think of how quickly everyone knew Steve Jobs had passed away. It’s amazing that more people aren’t aware of PKD, esp. since 1 in 500 people have it. I’m disappointed that we haven’t been able to get more congressional support, as the genetic disorder is vastly under-funded federally. But,  stem cell research back on track, the outlook for a cure in my lifetime is a bright one.

Keeping balance in relationships  & routines is pretty hard when your on the road. Do you have tricks  that you use to help you stay healthy and centered day to day?
JB:I feel like it’s easier when I’m on the road because I have only one goal and purpose-the next show and delivering the best performance possible. All the pre-work involved in touring as indie musician is far more difficult. As a result of having PKD, I  must be very health conscious . It can be difficult to find affordable, healthy food depending on what town your in. In the Pac. Northwest (for the upcoming tour) I’m not worried about that, in middle America it can be tougher.

What is the biggest challenge about having a independent creative business that you have over come?
JB:The frustration level can be extremely high in this business.
 I think I’ve learned to have more faith in the process, as results come with persistence, patience, and continuing to hone one’s craft. I’ve also learned to trust my gut creatively, and try not to second  guess my writing or motivation for a piece of music.
The ultimate goal for me has never been about money,  or I’d have thrown in the towel long ago, it’s about moving forward and reaching more and more people with the music
I’d (rather) spend more time writing, recording, touring and collaborating with other artists, (than) trying to make ends meet, an independent artist must wear so many other hats (to complete the) mundane tasks of booking, promotion.   Overall, I feel so blessed to be able to be doing what I’m doing, and I’ll keep at it until my fingers get arthritic or my voice gives out!

Readers, can purchase CD's or tickets for Jesse's S.F. CD release party  (while they last)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting heard above the noise?

Van Gogh- Red Vineyards at Arles
Van Gogh during his lifetime only sold one painting, he lived in near isolation thinking his work would always be shunned.   
Imagine, if he had a social network filled with fans and other emerging artists?
What a difference it would have had on his confidence as a artist? on his body of work? and influence on other emerging artists?   

For the first time, the ability for a individual to have access to a world wide audience is possible.  The internet has given everyone a microphone, and everyone is talking at once.
In a recent blog, I offered some ways for artists  to be newsworthy to provide you with creative options to cut through the clutter.

Mass media that most of us grew up with has evaporated.  A hit pop record used to sell a million copies, now, the average hit song is selling on average 129,000 copies.  Keep in mind the RIAA issues a gold record once you have sold 500,000 records.
 Tools to publish physical art, books, & music are all available in our homes for anyone to create and put that creation, good, bad, or in between out into the world.

Social media  allows us to market directly to the individual who likes the same things we do,
This is your opportunity not to be ordinary, the microphone is on, what are YOU doing to make a big difference and capture the worlds heart? share with our readers in the comments below.

Van Gogh "The Red Vineyard at Arles"