posted by on Conferences, Marketing, Music


Macklemore Same Love

I first wrote about them in October 2012 on this blog, but the world now knows that a combination of strong, socially conscious messaging, a well-defined visual persona, an electrifying live show, and great music characterize the hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Amplified by impeccable marketing execution and excellent timing, they have become the poster child group for DIY indie artists around the world and put Seattle back on the map of music industry innovation.

Zach Quillen (@wexington), who began managing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis full time in 2012, was interviewed this past Saturday live and in person by Larry Mizell Jr. (@lar206), DJ from KEXP Seattle. This happened at Seattle’s EMP Museum at the Pacific Northwest Chapter of The Academy’s Songwriter’s Summit 2014. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience.

As both a marketer and an indie musician, I was fascinated to finally hear Quillen talk in person about the details of marketing The Heist. I’ve been waiting to meet Quillen for almost two years, and I wanted to hear straight from the source what his biggest challenges and most difficult decisions have been. I was not disappointed.

There Has Always Been A Plan

My key takeaway? There is a plan. There has always been a plan. It’s a plan you can trace back to the early 2000s, but the additon of Quillen brought music industry marketing expertise, experience and connections to the mix. The seemingly meteoric success of The Heist has been planned by Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis and Zach Quillen for years. Marketing for The Heist has been strategically thought out, considered, discussed, rehashed and then tactics executed boldly – with adaptations made on the fly as opportunities arose.


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posted by on Music, News, Thoughts


Walking The Dog Episide 2

Most every morning I walk my dog. That’s where I do a lot of my thinking about my own music and social media, about music marketing and about what’s happening with music and technology in general. I thought you all might want to come along and hear what was on my mind this Friday morning.

The subject of today’s podcast is gear. What is the role of gear in your music career? Have you recently purchased some new gear and has it made a big difference in your recording or live performance?

In this 5 minute episode I talk about my own experience and also my observations from watching Stevie produce local bands. I didn’t admit it in the podcast, but I’m not immune to the siren song of gear. I’m like a kid in a candy shop at Guitar Center. In fact, I purchased the JamMan Looper/Sampler pictured above in October of last year. I haven’t yet figured out how to use it.

It often seems that musicians are more willing to purchase expensive musical gear than to spend the same amount of money on music lessons, professional performance coaching, song critiques, marketing, or legal services. In my mind, expensive gear is a social signal – but what it signals to others is not necessarily what I think many musicians believe it signals.

I’d love to hear your experience and your opinion on this issue in the comments section below. I’d also love your feedback on this format!


posted by on Interviews, Marketing, Music, News


Eric John Kaiser (Copyright Kenton Waltz)

I recently made friends via Twitter with musician Eric John Kaiser, a native Parisian who now lives in Portland, Oregon. Like many who make a living full time from music, Eric is a busy person, juggling several different sources of income, as you will read below. 

Eric has managed to successfully carve out a niche for himself in the Portland musical ecosystem playing “French music” several days a week. I thought it would be helpful for other musicians to read some of the smart and practical things he does to find, classify and promote his local and regional gigs. I also feel it is worth highlighting how Eric does business as a musician: he treats bookers and the other musicians he works with respectfully, fairly and professionally.

Question 1: Tell our readers a little about yourself: your music, where you are from, and how you ended up in Portland.

EJK: I’m a professional singer-songwriter originally from Paris, France, now based in Portland, Oregon, USA. After doing over 350 gigs in France and several records, in the summer of 2006, I followed a girl from Portland whom I met in Paris. Now I tour mainly on the West Coast, Idaho and Montana, in Louisiana and in Quebec and some parts of Canada. I also go back to France to tour once a year. I have released, at this point, three full length albums and three EPs. It’s been a great musical adventure so far.

Over time, I’ve learned that I needed to be flexible and be able to play solo gigs, as a duo with my accordion player or play with my full band.

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Walking The

Most every morning I walk my dog. That’s where I do a lot of my thinking about my own music and social media, about music marketing and about what’s happening with music and technology in general. I thought you all might want to come along and hear what was on my mind this Friday morning.

I was having a conversation last night with Michael Brandvold about my own content strategy on YouTube. The conversation was inspired in part by a great post by Lucy E. Blair published yesterday on Digital Music News entitled “STOP Making Viral Videos, START Making a YouTube #Content Strategy”.

Michael and I got to talking about the difficulty of committing to creating any kind of social media content consistently. If you’re going to commit to producing content for social media, he argued, you better enjoy creating it, or you won’t do it regularly. But the most important thing is that you create something and get it out there regularly. I argued that knowing what type of content your fans want from you is also important, and you ought to have a content strategy and understand your market before you start creating content.

Who cares if I create a music marketing podcast every Friday (for example), but no one is interested in hearing it?

So here are my 6 minutes (I thought I would keep it mercifully brief) on the conflicts between creating social media content and art for art’s sake – and creating for commercial consumption.

I’d love to hear your experience and your opinion on this issue in the comments section below. I’d also love your feedback on this format!

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Seattle Chihuly Museum and Space Needle

You’ve probably heard people talk about how if you’re “serious about your music career” you should move to Nashville or LA.

I’ve been thinking lately, however, about what makes my hometown of Seattle such a great incubator for talented musicians.

It’s not just the recent blockbuster success of (multi-category) Grammy winners Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. A lot of really great music and music production has come out of Seattle over the years. From the Kingsmen and Bing Crosby to Jimi Hendrix, the Sonics, Quincy Jones, Heart, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Queensryche, Mudhoney, Tingstad and Rumble, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Danny O’Keefe, Alice Stuart, and Kenny G all the way to current success stories like The Head and The Heart, Brandi Carlile, Blue Scholars, Shabbaz Palaces, Allen Stone, Kris Orlowski and Shelby Earl. (I’m not even counting Dave Matthews, although he does live here.)

Here are some of the special things about the Emerald City which make it a better environment than Nashville or LA in which to nurture a music career:

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10 Lessons For Musicians From The Lego Movie

This past weekend I saw the Lego Movie. It’s a fun movie – more than just a 90 minute commercial, as FastCompany wrote, (really, I promise). Now, I rarely go to see movies, so it’s even rarer that I actually like one.

Will Ferrell has a great (non-animated) role, and Morgan Freeman shows off his considerable deadpan and off-the-wall comedic skills. Is there anything Morgan Freeman doesn’t narrate these days? If you’ve never heard him narrate his own life, I’ve embedded it below. It’s hilarious. But let’s get back to the movie.

I think in all honesty, the Lego Movie’s target audience is GenY parents and Baby Boomer grandparents more than children. I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie creates a boom in adult Lego construction. If you’ve read anything about Lego recently, though, they have been amazingly astute at marketing their products in the past ten years. They didn’t exactly need the movie to sell their products.

The movie is packed full of sly inside jokes and life lessons. I thought I would pluck just a few and write them down, trying not to spoil the movie for you, in case you haven’t seen it:

  1. Encourage creativity in yourself and others. Be patient. Like Vitruvius was with Emmet.
  2. Sometimes an empty mind can be the most fertile place for ideas to appear. Also, like Vitruvius said.
  3. Stay flexible so you can adapt to change on the ground. Keep moving forward even when you don’t know what’s going on. Like Emmet did.
  4. Sometimes a little anger accomplishes a lot. You don’t have to be happy all the time. Like Unikitty.
  5. Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else just because you think it’s cool. You’lllucy 225x300 10 Lessons For Musicians From The Lego Movie attract the wrong kind of people. Like Wyld Style (AKA Lucy).
  6. Teamwork and collaboration can build things no individual can. Like Emmet showed the team.
  7. Sometimes the most mundane idea can save the day. Like the double-decker couch.
  8. Maybe someone who is standing in your way just needs a little encouragement and love. Like Mr. Business.
  9. Even the most ordinary creator is special. You just have to believe in yourself. Like the cat poster said.
  10. The prophecy is just made up. You make your own destiny. Like Morgan Freeman (AKA Vitruvius) said.

I think this is the shortest blog post I’ve written in quite a while. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for me, too…

Would love to hear your thoughts, comments, rebuttals – as always, please leave a comment below.

20140210 081421 10 Lessons For Musicians From The Lego Movie

posted by on Marketing, Music, Social Media



[The following is a guest post by my friends at Ditto Music. That's why the spelling is British icon smile 10 Simple Ways To Promote Your Music Ditto Music is an online music record label services and digital distribution company servicing over 50,000 artists across the world. Services include chart eligibility, royalty collection and online promotion. I have guest posted on their site.

This post is particularly relevant for me this week. Being a DIY musician, I have done each of the things suggested below myself to promote either my current band, Solveig & Stevie, or my former band, Shades of Red. So I can personally attest to the fact that they are all important. I think #6 below is something that many bands and singer-songwriters wrestle with, myself included. I'd love to hear your feedback on this.

Stevie and I are planning a professional photo shoot and a band website redesign this month, and I'm pretty excited for that. You'll probably see a blog post or two from me about those experiences. Meanwhile, here are some great music marketing tips from Ditto Music.]

If you are embarking on a career in music, having talent and determination will only get you so far. In order to reach the heights of international stardom, you will also need to promote your music if you decide to go down the road of independent publishing. The internet and the wide range of digital outlets available will provide you with many opportunities to spread the reach of your music. By adopting these 10 simple strategies, you can maximise your chances of reaching the top of the charts.

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Hard Rock Cafe Global Battle Of The Bands

posted by on Marketing, Social Media


SEO Basics For Musicians

A friend of mine recently asked me about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips for his music industry and marketing website. Now, I’m by no means an SEO expert. However, I love when people ask me questions and I don’t know the answers, because it’s an excuse for me to do research. I knew I could improve the SEO on my own websites with what I learned, and also pass that information back to him, thereby placing him forever in my debt. Just kidding about the debt part. But I do enjoy building long term relationships based on openly sharing practical information that helps others.

When one person asks, it also means there are probably other people out there who would be interested in the answers.

I’ve posted links to the articles I found in the process of doing my reasearch at the end of the article. I want to give a special shout out to Stan Smith of Pushing Social, whose recent webinar on 7 Blog Marketing Tactics was especially useful in the section below on SEO for images.

What Is SEO For Musicians?

My Google results 300x293 10 #SEO Tips For MusiciansSEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. All this means is that if someone searches (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) for either your personal name, your band name or perhaps even for the type of music you play (eg. “dubstep Celtic”or “ukelele classic rock cover band Seattle”), your website will appear at the top or close to the top of their search results.

Have you Googled yourself or your band name lately? Try it and see what comes up. You might try also your musical genre if it’s narrow enough. My results are shown above and to the right when I Google my name, and below left for when I Google the words in my band name, Solveig Stevie.

Solveig Stevie Google 258x300 10 #SEO Tips For Musicians

Just remember to go “Incognito” or “anonymous” before you search yourself, otherwise the search will take into account all of your own recent searches, and might be skewed. You want to see what the average person will get when they do a search, not your own “tailored-by-Google” search. There’s more in this CNET article on how to search anonymously in other browsers such as IE and Firefox as well as Chrome.

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