Marketing

Little Buttons

I have never forayed into the world of merch, apart from the obvious CDs I have always have with me at gigs and sell online.

I have seen the t shirts, cup holders, water bottles and other such fun items to take home as a reminder of your favorite band.

As I spend most of my time recording for the purposes of licensing I don’t do a lot of touring so have never seen the need for anything extra. However, this summer I spent a lot of time at festivals and conferences and I suddenly felt like I needed something more than just my CDs. Of course, I didn’t figure this out until my last festival of the season.

So I started thinking… Stickers? Key rings? But it was my teen who came up with buttons. She just loves buttons and has them all over her school bag.

But what should go on them? I didn’t want to just have my website on there, although the purpose was to advertise. I didn’t want my face and I don’t really have a logo.

Again it was my daughter that came up with the idea of the names of some of my songs. I can be a little quirky in my songwriting and some have fun names. After careful thought (about 15 minutes or so) we came up with the following…

Little Strange
Perfect Girl
When We Were Young
Happy
Ordinary Girl
Three’s Company
Love Is
Let The Sun Shine
La De Dah
Take Me Away
5 Little Things
… and the most popular – High Maintenance
My son, who the song was written about, wears his button with pride everyday.

I found a wonderful button making place call Crucial Pins and they had my buttons made and to me within 3 days…. just in time for to play and MC at the Sunshine Musicfest this last weekend, which, by the way, was the most awesome little festival ever.

I decided to make the buttons free giveaways… after all, people would be advertising me (my website is on the button too!)

When I took the buttons to the festival I thought that the odd person would take one, but they were a hit and a saw a very large percentage of festival goers wearing them. And my daughter was correct… the teens loved them!

I need to order more now and after going through the few that were left I have narrowed the song names down to the ones below. It seems that people want buttons that represent who they are… which is mostly a little strange, high maintenance and perfect! 🙂

These little buttons seem to have hit on something fun that makes people remember my music and are now available at my website on their own or you get a free one when you purchase a CD.

Reverbnation Widget Revelation

I signed up on Reverbnation ages ago and uploaded lots of music, acquired new fans, added old ones and then thought “now what?”. Then I just let it sit there and received my weekly stats and watched my popularity remain static in a declining wort of way.

I knew that Reverbnation was a useful thing but I knew I hadn’t worked out how to use it properly yet. I saw so many tweets about how great it was – although I am not a fan of automatically getting a website to tweet something generic like “Check out ……… on ……….”, which I see a lot of (although I think that is more a misunderstanding of how to make use of site, rather than problem with the site itself).

After a lot of thought and a few emails to the support people, I finally figured out how to get people to listen to me using Reverbnation while at the same time coming to my website, which is ultimately what I want.

I decided to use the customizable, embedable widget to play all my albums on my site. And I have to say they have the best music widgets. The choice of themes is tasteful but the best thing is that you can truly customize the size, which is great for me as I have some full length albums and a lot of EPS.

The reason for this blog is that after finally figuring how to use such a well thought of website, I got to meet the founder, Lou Plaia, this evening at the Dewey Beach Music Conference. I spoke to him about my issues and revelation and had a good conversation about the misconception of sites like Reverbnation. They are not fan sites but they really do serve a great purpose if you dig deep enough to make it work for you.

I am so happy with my new widgets and I hope that people visiting my site now find it easier to listen to my music.

www.helenaustin.com/music.html

I am going to try their gig widget next. So many widgets, so little time…

Blog Challenge Week 9 – continuing on…

Well, here I am at the last chapter of Ariel’s Music Success In Nine Weeks and the book has certainly challenged my marketing thinking!

I am one of those musicians that hates asking people to listen to my music, become my fan, join my list etc etc (which is why I like the Facebook ‘like’ page… people join freely!), but I realize that I can’t just wait for people to discover me. I have to be more proactive.

I am not doing this musician thing the usual way. I don’t gig much outside my local area (I spent 20 years touring as a comedian!) and my main goal is licensing, which I am having some success with. So I thought a lot of the marketing stuff didn’t apply to me. I was wrong. If I want to make a long term living as a musician and writer I still have to do all the usual marketing things… and maybe even start touring bit, something I swore I would never do again, but here I am in the UK doing my first non-comedy gig tomorrow!

So back to the last chapter… Creating a Continuum Program. There are a list of ideas for doing this and I am a big believer in keeping momentum going and not resting on your laurels (I didn’t even know I had laurels!). Here’s is where I am at..

I offer the free mp3 to join my email list, which is working especially well after one of my songs has been on an MTV show.

I am selling my albums and singles on itunes as shown by my Tunecore and CD Baby statements!

I have lovely business cards with my pitch, which match my website, press release and all my social networking sites.

I am very much affiliated with The Relay For Life Cancer walk. I wrote a song for them a few years ago, which is played at Relay’s all over the world now. I lost my Mum to cancer in June so this is a cause very close to me. I have also put songs on various fundraising albums the latest of which is ‘Up, Up, Up‘ for autism.

I regularly email my list with news, competitions and new albums/singles I am releasing.

I am attending conferences this year and getting to showcase at some so will be collecting lots of business cards and have my own at the ready… always!

Here is what I need to work on…

Fan club… I hate the word fan, but will have to get over it and set something up! 😉

More live gigs… I have been approached about doing house concerts so need to follow up on that and I have applied to the BC Touring Showcase. I keep getting asked about touring in the UK (where I am originally from) so I am going to look into that.

I have already spent a year writing, recording and uploading a new song every week for a year, which got a lot of people on my email list. So now I really like the idea of offering a custom written song. I love to write and I think that would be a fun thing to do for anyone that wants one. The suggestion of charging $1000 is appealing and not appealing all at the same time. It’s not that I don’t think one of my songs wouldn’t be worth $1000… I just have to get over myself! If anyone wanted to one, I would be happy to do it! (see, there’s my first step… I just put it out there!).

This has been a great exercise in both blogging and challenging one’s thought’s on marketing. I will be reading this book several times and maybe each time i will get more comfortable with some of the aspects I currently find uncomfortable with.

I have met some great people on the forums on the msi9w website, some of whom I shall hopefully meet at the Taxi Road Rally and where I will hopefully get to meet and chat with Ariel herself.

Onwards and upwards!

Msi9w Week 8 – Networking Tips!

I am writing this from my iPad while I wait for one of the many flights I am taking today (and tomorrow) to get me and the kids to the UK. This is a great way to pass the time (although the kids are bugging me for the iPad!)

I loved this chapter in msi9w for pointing out one of the simplest techniques, but one which many people (including myself) neglect to do.

Listening….

And Ariel is right, the more you listen to someone the more they find you interesting.

Having attended music business conferences I can tell you this is absolutely the case. It is those times that I merely got into an interesting conversation with someone, without thinking about trying to sell myself, that I have gotten asked for my card. As soon as I approach someone I think can do something for me, with the selfish goal of getting them to notice me, I go unnoticed.

I have never had a problem talking and I enjoy the banter at social and business gatherings but there is one thing that I have learned and this book confirms that…

If you want or need something, then give it. It’s amazing what comes back to you when you do this genuinely.

And I love the simple, non-business follow-up email idea and it is something that I am going to do more of. If nothing else, it’s always great to forge new relationships!

The section on the business cards was great! I had some great pics by Mckinnon Photography , so I put a big pic of myself (the one that is on my website, myspace, YouTube, this blog) and my pitch on the card, along with the obvious contact details. I have had SO many compliments on the card and I am so glad that Msi9w encouraged me to go bold!

Only 1 week to go…

Connecting with Fans – Blog Challenge Week 6

This was a scary chapter as the Music Success In Nine Weeks asks us to take off our artist’s hats and put on business ones. We’re not in Kansas anymore!

I totally get the 1000 true fans thing… I really do (it’s an interesting concept). But I don’t want to bother the people who allow me into their inboxes with surveys so I can find out what they want, which sounds silly even as I write this. Surely I want to find out what they want, then I can give it to them.

Also, I don’t do a newsletter ( I know, I am a very bad student). I don’t like getting newsletters, usually as they have lots of images that don’t automatically appear in my email and I find them a little impersonal. Just my opinion. I find adding colour and images hides the message of what you want to say.

I prefer to send personal style emails to my email list and only when I have some news or a new project. There is usually something going on with my music as I obsessively try to get it licensed, so I send out an email around once or twice a month. If I need to ask them to vote on a competition, or leave an itunes review I always try to ask in a way that let’s them know that I still appreciate them if they can’t/don’t want to.

As I write a LOT… it’s easy for me to give away free downloads and I think my list appreciates that I do.

So call me a bad student and I will keep an open mind about the survey thing. I think we all have to do as our gut tells us.

Blog Challenge Week 4 – Social Media

I love that the book Music Success in Nine Weeks addresses that musicians HATE this aspect of being a musician. It takes us away from what we love to do… write, make and play music.

But being married to a computer tech guy for 18 years today (that’s right it’s our anniversary and I’m blogging and he’s working… we love each other but we also love our careers too!), I have been forced into Web 2.0. He was the one who made me tweet. “Just try it… you’ll like it” he said. He is like a internet pusher.

But I did try it and liked it enough to keep going, along with facebook, youtube, reverbnation yadda yadda, yadda.

Really I started with youtube a few years ago, which ended up getting me 3/4 million views on a comedy song called the Childbirth Song, that I performed at a concert. I was always very keen to thank everyone who left comments on that and all the other songs I made vids for and posted.

So then came facebook… again I really like to acknowledge all lovely comments. Then there was twitter, then reverbnation, then MySpace, then, then… there are only so many hours in the day to reply.

But then I read and liked the the way the book describes this all as watering your social media garden. It somehow makes it less daunting Although I am well known for being a terrible gardener, I have managed to grow some tomatoes as well as get new followers on twitter this year!

There is SO much to the social media thing that blogging about it starts my head spinning. It’s one of those things you just have to do little by little and only look at the trees and not the whole forest otherwise you could implode.

So I will keep watering. Most sites will get tended to regularly, some will wither and some will got thrown into the garbage.

If you want to find me on the internet at the places that are blooming (other than this blog!) here’s a list of the places that I regularly update and interact with.

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

It’s also important to spend some time away from a screen, so I’m off to watch Star Wars for the 56th time with my son! 🙂

Blog Challenge week 3 : Optimize Your Website

Optimize my website? After reading this chapter of Music Success in Nine Weeks I not only optimized… I changed the whole thing!

The part on having a consistent feel all over the net coupled with having a consistent feel with business cards etc, and the fact that I’d just had some lovely photos done for my new CD, I decided that a makeover was needed. I may have had the same hairstyle for more years than I care to mention, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change my image.

The ‘must load in 3.5 seconds’ is something that has been hammered home to me many times by my iPad software developing, attention to detail, husband. So I do have an advantage having in-house help. However, I do my own website and my husband believes in tough love… ie you’re on your own unless…

So after using the great photos in a large format with half my face cut off (looks better than it sounds!) as a theme, I went about putting into practice the notes in chapter 3. I have added my pitch, have no flash intros (which I hate anyway!) and have added a ‘free mp3 for joining the email list’ to my home page.

I also decided to make the home page my ‘Latest News’ page so people don’t have to scroll through a whole load of writing to find out what I am currently working on. And of course there is the usual easy navigation question which I spent a lot of time thinking about before deciding on my menu items and what takes you where. I hope I have been clear…

The thing that makes me giddy about my website is a little feature that I did get the husband to do for me. I wanted the large pics to re-size with the size of the window which he did and I am very grateful!

So then I set about changing all my other sites – myspace, twitter, reverbnation etc to match my website.

I love a change and I LOVE this one. I am so glad that the book gave me the impetus to really look at my site because I now have one that I proud to point people towards!

www.helenaustin.com

Any comments are welcome 🙂