Blog Contest Week 6 - How To Build Your Mailing LIst

This week's entry in the CyberPR Blog Contest finds us in newsletter land. Back when I was doing the band thing, I used to send out a newsletter to our email list. But since I made the switch from gigging artist to film/TV composer I just never thought about sending a newsletter. Well, that mindset is gone and I'll be sending out my first newsletter next week. I'm going to try and coordinate them around the first week of the month.

In this chapter Ariel makes the comparison that the size of one's email list is directly proportionate to the size of their income. And while I can't speak about that from the perspective of someone with an email list in the tens of thousands, unfortunately, I can however verify the other end of the spectrum of that statement. But hopefully with Ariel's help (no pressure!) that's all going to change.

She encourages you to set aside a scheduled time once a week of about 60-90 minutes to focus solely on building your email list. So tonight that's what I did. I think I went over the 90 minutes but I figured, what the heck, I'm already behind, time to start getting caught up!

She provides you with five tips on getting more fans onto your list, such as adding friends & family, creating a location to store potential email addresses, offering a bribe, list trading with other bands, and going mobile. I decided to focus on the first three methods mentioned.

For tonight, I focused on adding friends and family, as well as offering a bribe. The past two November's I've had a chance to go to the TAXI Road Rally in LA and make some great connections. In doing so, I've exchanged business cards with quite a few people. So the first thing I did was go through that stack of cards to find some potential list members. I ended up emailing 25 people tonight, using the template that Ariel provided. So far I've had 5 people respond back that I could add them. I think that's a good start!

Also tonight, I went through my followers on my Twitter account and sent a direct message to the 40 most recent followers and told them that they if they signed up for my monthly newsletter, they would get a free mp3. No response on that one yet, but it's not helping matters that about an hour after I did that, the ReverbNation site went down for maintenance.

Earlier in the week I started keeping a folder in my e-mail client with potential leads in it. I'm going to continue to do that and start making that a weekly habit as well. I'm going to grow this list. Oh yes! It will grow!

At the end of the chapter Ariel lists 7 steps to help jump-start your email list. Let's see how many of those I did tonight!
  1. Make dates with yourself for the next 3-6 months to focus on your list? Check!
  2. Create a list of bands/artists you play with? Nope. Might re-visit this one later on when list is bigger.
  3. Draft a "form" email? Check!
  4. Mobile fan club management? Nope, not for me at this time.
  5. Add a bribe to your home page? Check! Though technically, it was already there thanks to an earlier chapter in this book.
  6. Use ReverbNation sign-up widget? Same as #5
  7. Go through MySpace friends and ask for email? Nope. I don't have much of a MySpace presence at this point.
I'll be back soon with the next installment as this contest is coming to an end in the next couple of weeks.

Until next time...

Blog Contest Week 5 - Newsletter, Email List & Surveys

This week's chapter in the CyberPR Blog Contest is centered around a very important paradigm that some artists don't necessarily like to embrace; The concept of thinking of themselves as a commodity and their fans as a customer. I admit, I'm not always comfortable with that notion, but I completely agree with it, especially from a business standpoint. If you want to have a successful business, you have to give your customers want they want. Same thing with being a successful musician, gotta give the fans what they want.

One of Ariel's tips is moving away from the old business model of selling a few things to a large group of people, but instead, sell many things to a smaller group of people. Instead of trying to reach all of the masses, find your hardcore group of fans and deliver products to them that they WANT to buy from you.

So how do you do that? She suggests to start out by building up rapport with your email list. Don't communicate with them only when you're trying to sell something, but instead reach out to them for other reasons to help foster the relationship.

Ariel provides us with her 3-step process on how to get the most out of our newsletter - Greeting, Guts, and Getting. Start off with a personal greeting, something non-musical. Then move to the Guts of the email aka "the meat" of the newsletter. Then the last step is Getting them to act. Put in something that will get them to take action, like joining up to follow you on a social networking site, or offering them a free download, etc...

The next section is about using surveys to find out what your fans want so that you can maximize your potential to deliver it to them. She suggests waiting until you have a real fan base (minimum 1,000 strong) to ask them what they want from you. It's gonna be awhile before I get to that level but fortunately for me, the next chapter in the book is on growing your list :-)

I think the thing that I'll definitely take away from this lesson is the concept of selling many things to fewer people. Not sure what I'm going to do to make that work for me just yet, but I'll be spending some time brainstorming on that one for sure. Might even try and get some ideas from my fans while I'm at it... :-)

Blog Contest Week 4 - Musician's Web 2.0 Guide

Hard to believe that it's been almost a month since I wrote the entry for Week 3 in the CyberPR blog contest. Check out my last post to see some of the reasons (*cough* excuses *cough*) why (as well as pictures of our new cats!).

One area that I've been struggling with as I've read through this book is in the way that I perceive myself as a musician/artist. Here's what I know:

What I know that I AM: a songwriter and a composer for film and tv

What I know that I AM NOT: a touring artist

My dilemma lies in finding that line between writing music for use in film/tv and writing music for mass (hopefully) public consumption. Because I don't sing, or at least not in a voice that most would find pleasing, though I can do the scary cookie monster growling thing fairly well, I typically write more instrumental tracks. And though most of what I do is guitar driven, I am NOT a "shredder" like some of my favorite guitarists - Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Gilbert, etc... - who typically write guitar driven instrumental music.

I do have some side projects with a couple of co-writers that do sing, Crushing Gray (rock/metal) and Big Blue Shoes (indie/rock/pop), but I still have a desire to "do my own thing." I guess what it REALLY boils down to is a fear of failure. I think every artist deals with that though. In this instance, my fear is about something that I'm planning on launching next month. I know that on my own, there is NO WAY I will be able to achieve the results that I'm hoping to get. But instead of dwelling on that now, let me try to get back on topic for this post. Trust me, there will be plenty of time to talk about "the big project" after I announce it next month.

Ok... Chapter 4 - A Musician's Web 2.0 Guide... There was a lot of stuff in this chapter that I was already doing or familiar with. But instead of glossing over it I wanted to put the time in to it as if it was all new to me.

The first exercise was to head on over to and check out some short videos on different Web 2.0 concepts. Though I was already familiar with the concepts, it was fun to watch the videos. They were short, concise and amusing. Well worth the 15 minutes.

Up next was setting up a Google Reader. This one has been one of the best pieces of advice for me personally so far. I had worked with an RSS reader once before a few years ago, not Google's, and just didn't enjoy the experience. But Google got this one right. With the exception of a few social networking/community sites, I've now got the RSS feeds for all of the sites that I visit on a daily/weekly basis set up in my reader. What a great time saver!

The next section was blogging and podcasting. One of the things she mentions to do is to sign up for an account with So I signed up for that and you should be able to see their plug-in is now on my blog.

This next exercise was to identify 50 blogs that you would like to have your music reviewed on. Remember the indecisiveness and the fear of failure from earlier? I think this exercise helped contribute to it... lol... I had to skip this section for the time being. I do plan to revisit it later, but it will be for when I go back through this book for my "band" projects, Crushing Gray and Big Blue Shoes. Actually... I just had a thought... instead of looking for blogs to review my music on the basis of it as being art, I think instead I will look to have it reviewed more for the basis of it's production quality! Yeah!!! I think that will be more in line with my "goals" at the moment. Then I'll start expanding the list to include reviews on the quality of the art. Whew... I'm glad that thought popped into my head. I actually feel a sense of relief, as funny as that may sound.

The next step was to join the Podsafe Music Network. I was glad that the book had the web site URL listed near the back of the book, but it would have been handy had it been included in this specific section as well. I didn't realize it was in the back of the book at first and I ended up going to google to find it. I created an account there and will begin the process of adding my music there over the next week.

The next section was on Twitter, which I've already been using for a while. I've got things synced up now so that when I upload a new track to my ReverbNation profile, it updates Twitter which in turn updates my Facebook profile. Thanks to an article by Robert Holland from - I was able to get my Twitter feed to update my Facebook Fan page as well. Unfortunately, the specific method he was advocating, using Yahoo! Pipes, no longer works due to a change in policy by the Third Party developers. I'm still able to do it, but it's not as "neat" or "clean" as Robert's first plan was but it still does the job.

Finally, the next step was to get set up on Flickr. I wasn't sure if I was going to follow through with this step or not as I was beginning to get concerned that I was starting to spread myself too thin. But I figured I'd go ahead and do it anyway. I created my account and uploaded a couple of live shots of me from a show I played a couple of years ago, a picture of me with the legendary Bill Gaither, and a picture of each of our cats, both past and present.

That's all for this week's chapter. Now that I think I'm out of my funk and moving forward again, I plan on getting caught up this weekend and knocking out Chapter 5 as well as trying to do a better job of organizing my time for blogging, facebook, etc... so that I don't start to get the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the "non-musical" music stuff that I'm trying to keep up with.

Until next time...

An update

I've got another blog entry coming up for the contest I'm in but before I get to that, let me get everyone up to speed on what's been going on the last few weeks. There have been several things that have both helped me stay focused and at the same time keep me distracted.

The short version is that it took me a few weeks to really work through the grief of losing our cat, Grey. There were several days that I just didn't feel like doing anything with music or being active online with Twitter or Facebook, and for the most part I didn't. Now let me say, I'm not one for drama and I'm not out for attention. I wouldn't go so far to say that I was depressed, but I was definitely not myself.

Even today, I still miss our cat but I think the grief is over with. One reason for that is we are now the owners of TWO cats - Ronan (the tabby on the left) and Teyla (the calico on the right). And to any Stargate: Atlantis fans out there, the answer is "yes" but I'll save that story for another day. Needless to say, they have definitely filled a void that our last cat left, and it definitely took the both of them to fill that hole.

Another distraction for me is college basketball season is in full effect right now. My love for music is equaled (some might even say surpassed) by my love for Kentucky Wildcats basketball. And with the season we're having, especially compared to the last two-four years, I'm in hoops heaven right now.

But all has not been lost. There were a couple of weeks in which I actually was very productive on the music front, thanks in part to one of my friends and colleagues, Lydia Ashton. She gave me a chance to work with her on scoring the music for a short action/drama film. We had a quick turnaround time (2 weeks, start to finish) but we were able to get it done in time and the director really liked the stuff we came up with. I'll put a link up to the film as soon as I get one.

This was my second score-to-picture gig and I gotta say that I absolutely loved it. We had to stay close to the temp music, which was fine, but we still had a chance to be creative. I enjoy the challenge of trying to write something that's similar to what the director originally heard when they put in the temp music but is still original and unique and sounds like me. THAT... is fun.

One of the most exciting things that I took from that project was getting to write my first ever non-guitar and non-drum kit based cue. Typically, every piece of music I've ever written has either started with a guitar riff (electric or acoustic) or a groove on the drum kit. But while working on this film, I got to write a cue that was based more on synth pads, ambient sounds, percussion and strings. I had a blast! Once I figure out a "formula", I hope to start knocking out some more cues like that.

Speaking of cues like that... Earlier tonight I got an offer to work on another project for one of the larger libraries that I write for. I'll only be writing a couple of cues for this one. It's a VERY quick turnaround but should be fun.

Until next time...