A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘Music Marketing’

Stepping up as a songwriter

I’ve just written a long convoluted email to one of the advisers at the Berklee School of Music. I am thinking of studying some papers on their online school, given that I live in New Zealand and they are in the USA.

The gist of the email is that I feel their courses and degrees are largely focussed at the performing songwriter, aka singer songwriter. Songwriting seems to be focussed around getting your story out, using your experiences to paint word and music textures based around what you have felt, seen, heard, tasted……

I love performing, but it is not want I think I am best at. I am way to old to try to make it as a performer. It’s too narrow a scope for me. I want to write for many genres, but my voice and playing style wouldn’t support that. I’ve written R&B which includes rap, but there is no way I could ever perform it.

I want to write, not about my own experiences, but to be able to make a credible portrayal of the artist/s who perform my work as though it came from their heart.

The courses and most books are about how to make it as a writer performer. They talk about how to market your songs to listeners. They talk about how to get gigs, how to increase your revenue by selling merchandise at gigs. How to build a fan base etc. This is all great for most people, but of limited benefit to me.

I’ve put a lot of effort into sites like MySpace and Music Forte, with relative success if you look at it from the perspective of listens. I’ve had number one songs in Country on Music Forte and been in the MySpace top 10 in the same genre for New Zealand. This means people like some of my songs, but it doesn’t help me sell songs.

One of my greatest strengths is probably also my greatest weakness. I am a generalist and do a little of a lot. I read lots of books, concurrently. I listen to many genres and enjoy most of them. I put energy into dozens of web sites, hoping that one of them will make a difference and I have had a few small successes. I had a song signed with a publisher, but he didn’t sell the song. In hindsight, he wasn’t the right publisher, but it felt good to be able to say I had one. I’ve had a few opportunities to write songs for albums, but haven’t sold one.

I’ve written some good songs, but they were largely written for my own performance and the ones that weren’t, I didn’t have access to the right artists to perform them.

The market here today seems to be largely made up of singer songwriters who write or collaborate to write their own music. When they get dry, they have sessions with fellow singer songwriters. Because I’m not focussed on performing, and took myself out of the scene many years ago to raise a family, I’m not in those circles. I’d like to be, but not as a fellow performer. I’ve written songs with local artists in mind, but haven’t made the effort to try to get them to listen. I wrote one with Bic Runga in mind, but procrastinated to the point of inactivity in making contact with her. Interesting really, because in my business life, I am constantly networking with business leaders.

This sounds like a lot of bleeting, but really what it is about, is me refocussing on my goals at the end of the year, with a view to making something really good happen. To work out how to make this career happen. It’s going to take some serious discipline and work. I’m going to need some help and I’m hoping that Berklee is going to be part of that equation, because at the very least it will help me focus and allow me to access a network that I can’t find locally.

It will be very important for me to make sure that the work I do is centred on my goals. That when I study or work, it is with the end in mind and not just about finishing a paper because there are assignments due. It’s a lot of money to spend if it doesn’t help me realise my goals.

What really helped me focus, was a blog I read and reread, by Eric Beall, author of Making Music Make Money (Which I have just ordered on Amazon, which was called Back to Basics, and seemed to describe my situation perfectly. So, if what I am saying is relevant to your situation, you might like to hang around and follow my journey.

Stumble upon another way to promote your music

Having posted music on one or more websites as well as other marketing activity such as a blog, photo’s,  social networking or whatever resources you are using, there are opportunities to market these.

One I recently found out about was Stumbleupon. It’s a very interesting concept. The key concept is that you register and then download a toolbar and you use this to tell the Stumbleupon service what you are interested in. In effect, every site that you visit, you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to.

The service starts to understand what you are interested in and you can troll your way around the web looking at web sites. The more you vote for or against, the better it becomes at helping you find sites that will be of interest to you. It will also combine your interests and sites that you like with those of other people so that your recommendations may then in future be recommended to other people.

Thinking about promoting your music or songwriting efforts, this means that you can ‘stumbleupon’ those sites and recommend them. Of course besides self promotion, this also does provide an ability to provide you with useful information that you may be genuinely interested in which you can explore by ‘stumbling’.

The toolbar has a number of other features. You can use a button to send a URL to someone else who you think will be interested and you can do this by importing your contacts from your email application or by inputting an address. This is a nice feature which means you can do this without having to open your email client.

You can view ‘Channels’ of information such as images, video, viewing sites that your ‘friends’ like as well as links to sites that others have stumbled on from a selection of areas of interest that you opt in to.

So far this looks simple to use and unobtrusive. The only concern I had really was that it is one more toolbar on my browser as I now have the normal Firefox toolbar, a toolbar where I locate sites I visit frequently, a Googe Toolbar, that I don’t really use, but probably should and should probably utilise better (says he as he adds a Gmail button to it), the new Stumbleupon toolbar and the bar that shows the tabs that I have open.

I don’t know yet how much Stumbleupon will help me promote my songwriting and music, but will let you know how it goes.

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