Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

The Launch Pad Has MOVED

March 11, 2010

The Launch Pad has moved and is now parked at it’s official home.

Go see!¬† And maybe sign yer’self up on the ol’ RSS ūüėČ


Twitter Doesn’t Kill Music Careers Musicians Do

March 9, 2010

I have been kind of floored the past couple of weeks.  There seems to be a ton of twitter-hate going on in the music world. 

But look – I¬†guess I shouldn’t be a¬†hypocrit here.¬† I really do¬†understand where some of you are coming from.¬† It took me close to 6 months to figure out the value of twitter and then another 2 or 3 months to figure out how to use it.

Before moving on I do need to say that I would never tell someone they are using a certain social media tool in a “wrong” manner.¬† But I will say this about twitter:

If you are not having any success with Twitter, then you may need to re-define your definition of “success” with that medium.

And keep in mind:¬† Success is individually defined.¬† When I open my Tweetdeck, here are my top¬†4 goals in order of importance.¬† If I have been “successful” at completing any of these during a session, I feel really good about it:

#1  Engage with people

#2  Pick up useful/educational info

#3  Share useful/educational info

#4  Promote my blog and music

[Technically #2 and #3 fall under “engaging” I guess…]

So how are you using Twitter?  Are you just blasting out information about your projects?  Are you only using it to promote yourself?

Twitter is just one big long conversation.  And it is REALLY important that you take that seriously.  Otherwise, you risk being the guy at the party blabbering about your band all night.

NO ONE WANTS TO TALK TO THAT GUY.  No one wants to help that guy out.

And look, you do not HAVE to be on Twitter.¬† I built a decently successful indie career with almost zero social media tools.¬† Well, Myspace…but hell, that really didn’t count.¬† It was basically just one big spam orgy.¬†

But I really do wish I DID have Twitter.  I have met some really cool people these past few months.  Formed some real relationships.  Yes real relationships.  I can actually call these people or meet up with them and feel like I already know them. 

The “faux followers” argument does not apply if you really take the time to engage.¬† Quality over quantity.

Yea, this is great for total no-label indie bands, but what about the bands on a label?  Why should they have to tweet?

I keep seeing this question.  Here is my answer:  If you are on a label and they are forcing you to tweet then they are doing you a HUGE FAVOR.


Let me see if I can break it out in a linear fashion

  1. Forcing you to tweet “forces” you to engage with your fans
  2. Engaging with your fans builds a stronger connection
  3. A stronger connection leads to unwavering support of your career
  4. Unwavering support of your career by your fans means you last longer and are no longer beholden to said label.  Remember, your fans are YOURS.  Not the labels.  If you have REAL fans, they go where ever  you go.

Engage is the keyword though. 

On a larger scale, Lady Gaga is a great example of someone who engages with the audience.  She tweets backstage at awards shows to thank her fans.  Shoots out tweets during shows and calls people from her cell in the audience to come up onstage. 

Pete Yorn¬†is another one I’ve noticed.¬† He does an excellent job of just being “one of the guys” on twitter.¬† He posts some useful info, links to things other than music, and every once in awhile he tweets about something going on with his career.¬†

This stuff isn’t fluff people.¬† It’s real.

The day of the “mysterious musician” is dead, I’m telling you.¬† We are jaded to that.¬† Sure some guys and gals will still be able to pull it off.¬† But that is the exception now, NOT THE RULE.


So to bring it back to my headline:¬† Twitter doesn’t kill music careers.¬† Musicians who use the medium to constantly promote and¬†wear out interest in their projects kill their careers.¬†

Instead – hop on¬†and retweet a few tweets that might help someone out.¬† Poll your audience and ask a question.¬† Answer a tweet from a “follower”.¬† After you’ve done all that THEN send out that promotional tweet.

Still not sold on Twitter?  I say give it a shot.  What do you have to lose?

Puppetmastering Reviews: Make ‘Em Say What You Want

March 2, 2010

I recently talked to¬†a friend of mine in a band called Yellow Light Maybe that just released a record in my hometown area of Columbus, OH.¬† Great local record in my opinion.¬† Most of the press was great, they had an amazing turnout at their cd release show¬†– but (sound the suspenseful climactic music) the typical “everything sucks” paper in town gave them a pretty crappy review.

I immediately started to think back to when this same publication ripped me to shreds.¬† Oh man, and did they…they did everything but come to my house and slap me in the face.

We got all up in arms about it too.¬† Called to talk to the editor, wrote a letter about how they are just “tearing down the scene by slamming local artists rather than leaving the story open ended to give it a chance¬†for people that may actually dig the record…” blah, blah, blah.

Pretty foolish of me, yes I know.¬† But I was pissed.¬† This was my first experience with not only a bad review, but a public flogging.¬† I didn’t really know how to handle it.

After a couple of weeks though, I calmed down and thought back to some advice a friend/early manager had told me:

“There is no such thing as a bad review.¬† You can always make them say what you want them to say…”

Holy crap!¬† In that case, this publication did say that my songwriting “Invoked the better days of Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner”

So guess what?  I only used THAT sentence. And with that I completely turned a sh*t ass horrible review into one that I was actually proud of.

And I didn’t cheat or make anything up.¬† It was true.¬† They said it.¬† I just left out the bad stuff and then slapped it on my press kit and website.

Get a bad review lately?

What was the good part about it?  There had to be something decent.

Ever see the movie reviews come across the screen and they are just one word? “Exciting…”¬† “Breathtaking…”

Those are the distribution houses or labels¬†puppetmastering the reviews.¬† You can do it too.¬† There isn’t a damn thing wrong with it.

Will people still see the bad review?¬† Yea, but who cares?¬† If you are really in this for the long haul like I always preach – one, two, or a handful of negative reviews aren’t going to hurt you.

You will still find your audience.

In the example above YLM¬†still had 400 people show up to the show and almost completely sold out their merch.¬† Friends and fans left comment after comment on their social sites about how great the show was.¬† Bad review?¬† Didn’t affect them one bit.

In fact, it helped them.¬† Made them stronger and more united.¬† Brought the¬†fans together and united them.¬† And not sure if they’ll use it or not – but I fished together this review from the original negative one:

“Yellow Light Maybe has the formula down…”

What are some ways you have been able to change around a review or two?

Yellow Light Maybe’s new disc More of the World is available at or on iTunes.

Light the Path for Others: An Experiment in Being Genuinely Helpful

February 26, 2010

Photo Credit:

I want you to run a little experiment, so I’m keeping this post short.

To start, pick one of these things.  Then do it:

1.  Use and share your contacts to help a friend or neighboring band secure a show out of town or at a venue they are having trouble getting into.

2.¬† Promote another band’s record or upcoming show¬†on your¬†social media sites, mailing list,¬†or website –¬†and link to it for people to check it out.

3.  Donate money from one of your shows to a local cause or struggling high school music program.

Repeat over the next few weeks.  Be genuine about it.  Expect NOTHING in return.

Watch what happens ūüėȬ† It’ll kind of blow you away.

Artists: STOP Social Media Shouting

February 24, 2010

I was browsing my blog drafts and I stumbled upon the title above.  In the body of the draft, I had only typed this below:

(talk about one way un-engaging bands that only promote themselves)

What did I mean by that?  A couple of different things actually РHere is part one (notice the ALL CAPS):



Other variations include:  Come to our show, etc.

Whether or not you believe in promoting community, you shouldn’t be doing this.¬† It sucks and people hate it.¬† And it WILL NEVER sway ANYONE to check out your music.

Part two has more to deal with the bands that only “broadcast” on these mediums.

Yep – I’m talking about the band that links up their twitter to their facebook and never checks their twitter to respond or engage with people.

I’m talking about the groups that only post things on Facebook/Twitter about THEIR band about THEIR shows.

Throw rocks at me if you want – but the guys and gals doing this aren’t even getting the half of what these mediums are about.

To the experts that may read this, I know I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here.¬† I’m not trying to blow anyone’s mind with this post.¬† But this has to be brought up repeatedly.¬† STOP SHOUTING AND STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF.

I’m sure by now you have heard the old cocktail party analogy?¬† It’s kind of beat up and played out, but it is so true.¬† Would you go to your friends house and talk about your band all night?¬† Of course not, even your friends would tell you to shut up after awhile.

So don’t do it in Social Media circles either.

For every one post/tweet you send out about yourself Рyou should be posting at least two things about someone else. And in my opinion it should be more.

You should be taking the time to comment on things other people have posted.

The golden rule is that you should lift others up around you and by doing so they will lift you up with them.

You need to take time to engage with people more.  Retweet their stuff on twitter.  Share their stuff on facebook.  Suggest local music, local shows, etc.

Guess what will happen when you start doing this?  Your followers and fans will grow.  They will see you as someone who wants to be part of the day to day conversation.  They will be more apt to spread your message.

Plus, if you are still totally into what you will directly get out of this, think about it like this:¬† when you “share” something on facebook it shows up in the news feed giving people an opportunity to see you and fan you.¬† When you @-link someone in your status update, it shows up on their page – again, giving their crowd a chance to see you and fan you.

CAUTION:¬† Do Not Abuse the @ Link thing.¬† Too much of it CAN be annoying to people and appear “fake” just like spam.

We have come a long way in a short time with these social communities which means the way we interpret communication while we are using them has come a long way.  Conversation on these mediums mirrors real day to day conversation more than it ever has.

Here is what it boils down to for me:  Facebook and Twitter are communication tools.  Just like a telephone, email, video chat, etc.  The reason some people struggle in these mediums is that they treat them like promotional tools.

No one wants to be promoted to anymore.  As an audience we have too many choices.  We are jaded to shallow tactics and see right through them.

Just talk to people.  Promote them, be helpful, shut up and listen every once in awhile.  Then, start throwing your stuff in from time to time.

Your Second Most Important Marketing Tool: Thank You Cards

February 19, 2010

If you have been reading this blog the last month or so you have probably started to notice a theme. RELATIONSHIPS.

Why do I focus on relationships so much? Or wait, let me pose another question.

Remember when you first started playing music? Who were the only people who would come see you?

Yep, YOUR FRIENDS. And maybe a couple friends of your friends.

As our fanbases grow, why do we get away from this? Why are we drawn to this concept of blindly blasting our music to as many ears as possible?

Why do we “Pray and Spray” with our press releases HOPING that the local mag will pick up on it?

Enough questions Dave.

Yea, well I’m in a philosophical mood.

Ok, I’ll work towards my point.

I’m kind of a Bob Baker groupie from back in the day. Bob is a publisher himself and used to run a local mag in St. Louis. One of the most important things I learned from him was to send people thank you notes.

This is even more important now than it was 3 years ago, when I started doing it.  Why?

Because everything is so digital now that it makes it too easy just to send an email, tweet, or a facebook message.

Wanna stand out from the crowd and show you really care?  How about a hand written note? Yes, HAND WRITTEN.

Here do this:

1. Visit a site like or and order postcards (Not affiliate links)

2. Put your band’s logo/web address/etc. on it as the design

3. Leave one side blank

4. Order a TON of them

5. You can use them as a “thank you.” You can use them as a follow up note. You can use them as another great way to touch somebody (get your mind out of the gutter, yea mine went there for a sec.).

It’s all about the touches, man.¬† “The 10 Touches” to be exact.¬† If you want to set aside all this relationship mumbo-jumbo and go at it from a¬† strict marketing perspective – factor these postcards as a “touch tools”.

I’m sounding all pervy now, but you get the point.

Local or out of town radio station book you to come on air?  Send them a thank you note. Alternative mag review your record?  Send the journalist a thank you note with a certificate for a burrito.

Time to stop acting like these people owe you something.

If thank you cards are the second most important marketing tool, then what is the first?  YOUR MUSIC.  Obvious right?  Then why do so many still insist on spending less time writing and more time looking for that magic answer to new fans?

The magic answer is a great song.¬† Then a genuine “thank you” to the people who choose to stop and listen.

A few weeks ago I wrote a little about this in a blog about sending press releases.

Content Quality Doesn’t Matter, Worry About the Context

February 16, 2010

My brother stuck in perfection paralysis

Ok – yea quality does matter some, but here is what I mean:

Don’t spend all day and night trying to get that video of you guys in the studio looking like it was put together by James Cameron.

Just record the damn thing, edit accordingly, and get it up on your site.

And I’m not just talking about with videos.¬† Same goes with blogs and yes, even your music.¬† Bruce Springsteen recorded one of the most heart wrenching albums of all time on a four track recorder (Nebraska).¬† By all accounts, the quality of the record is horrible, but the songs are placed in the right context – so you don’t really pay attention to the quality.


That is part of what is so beautiful about working hard to build this totally indie career.  Because you are constantly adding value to the relationship with your fans, you start to build this amazing amount of trust with them.  They start to genuinely care about you as a person.  So in the end, they only really care about your story.

That said, I’m not saying you should forget about producing great looking and sounding stuff.¬† I’m just trying to push you past getting stuck in perfection paralysis.

You know those guys that are still working on their record almost 3 years later?  Perfection Paralysis.

Or how about when your lead singer is on his 10th vocal take?  Perfection Paralysis.

I promise you, that 10th vocal take isn’t going to be better than the 2nd.¬† That extra hour you spend editing video isn’t going to cause your video to go viral.

If you are satisfied with the story the content tells, get the stuff out there and let it breath.