I like to profile indie DIY musicians in an effort to distill practical music marketing lessons that the rest of us can learn from. My fellow Seattleite, Seth Jackson, has been doing this on his website, HowToRunABand, for much longer than I have. Like me, he’s a musician, blogger, and music marketer (as well as a techie – website designer and software developer), and he’s been a role model for me for almost two years now.
Seth and I met in early 2012, when I was just beginning my journey as a music marketer. I was present at the first In Real Life (vs. social media) meeting between Seth and Brian Thompson at a Hard Rock Seattle music marketing panel discussion. Two peas in a pod, eh?
Seth has a new podcast series on his website called Work Hard, Rock Harder (WHRH), where he interviews other musicians who make a living fulltime via their musical talents.
Seth is now up to interview #37. I thought it was time to check in with him and see what this WHRH thing was all about. || Read more
I am in the process of creating a new visual brand for my music. I am not including links just yet, because it’s not quite done. Read on as to why.
This new “band brand” is for my duo, Solveig & Stevie, and it’s separate from my blogging and marketing online brand (Solveig Whittle). It hasn’t been a particularly fast or easy process. I’m certain much of this is due to my personal combination of obsessive perfectionism and lack of graphic arts skills. However, I suspect, fellow musicians, that I am not alone.
Perhaps you can relate: I’ve tried seven different WordPress themes for my band website. I have agonized over which band pictures to use. I created a band logo myself, after trying crowd sourcing one with two different websites. I started with one album cover, and then changed it.
Because this has been a difficult process for me, I thought perhaps it would be useful to share some of what I learned during this process and some of the online resources I used.
In Part I of this series, I focused on the successful Kickstarter ($20K+) campaign held last fall by the female-fronted indie Seattle band, the Aury Moore Band. Their recently released CD, Here I Am was produced this spring by Stevie (full disclosure). I’m not affiliated myself in any way with band, although I’ve shared some marketing tips with her over the years, and I appreciate what Aury has done to market her CD. In this post, I will detail Aury’s June 2013 CD release party for Here I Am, including the budget and key promotional elements.
I received several requests for more detailed cost information after writing a blog post about my own (much smaller) CD release party in April. I think Aury’s party is a better lesson on how to make money on a CD release party, so I asked her if she would be willing to share her numbers. She was most gracious, so here they are:
- Venue: $0
- Merchandise: $200 (most was left over from the Kickstarter campaign)
- Raffle Items: $100
- Posters, Flyers and VIP Passes:$260
- Pre-printed Tickets: $40
- 1000 CDs (jewel case, 4-page color folder/traycard): $1500 (roughly 400 were given out the night of the party, and an additional 200 mailed out to Kickstarter backers)
Revenue: Approximately $10,000
- Pre-sold Tickets: $4000 (online ticket fees were paid by purchasers)
- Tickets Sold At Door: $4000 (some attendees were “comped”)
- Extra Raffle Tickets: $200 (went to charity)
- Merchandise: $700
(I assume Aury has some kind of revenue-sharing deal with her bandmates, but I didn’t ask about that.) So how did Aury end up netting around $8K at her CD release party?
Stevie and I were talking the other day about the fact that all of his professional musician friends are childless. As a member of GoGirls, I have also gotten to know many female musicians online. I’ve noticed that in general, the women I have met online who are working musicians (those who make a living working full-time as musicians – no day job) don’t seem to have any children. My local female musician friends are the same way – regardless of age, they have no children.
It got me thinking – why is it that being a professional musician and having children seem to be incompatible, especially for women? I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about touring – is it a necessary part of a band’s evolution?
I have decided that it may well be true that these are two very important things that separate a professional musician from an amateur: having children and touring. Of course, these two things are related. This is one of the reasons that choosing to be a professional musician is perceived (perhaps logically) as a young, childless person’s game. Touring and putting off having children are both things that younger musicians do, but find increasingly difficult to juggle as they get older.
(Note an important caveat: the story may be different for professional studio musicians or those who write and record music primarily to license it for film and TV. This post is meant for indie musicians who are performing artists with their own original music groups).
Let’s face it, male musicians can and do have children, but only if they find a partner willing to stay home and take care of their kids for them while they are out on the road making a living. In some ways, that’s even harder, because they then have to make enough money to support not only the band, but their families back home. If you read Peter Townsend’s recent autobiography, Who I Am, he talks about the pressures he felt to continue touring to support his wife and children. This was true even mid-career, when people would have assumed The Who were so successful that Townsend could have slacked off or retired.
For female musicians it’s a lot less acceptable to have kids. It may be a provocative thing to say, but I think society frowns more on the absentee musician mother than the absentee musician father. Other (childless) musicians look at you sideways when you have to leave rehearsal suddenly because of a sick child (been there, done that).
Here are a few of the other reasons I think many musicians – men, too, but especially women – have to choose (or feel they have to choose) between a professional music career and having a family: