WHERE IDEAS ARE LAUNCHED
4S DEFINED | SONG | SOUND | STYLE | STORY
4S – Four essential requirements to achieve success in the music industry.
“ …simply put, the music industry may have changed, but there are still essential requirements to achieving success no matter how you personally define success!”
~Raymond Hayden, Artist
In an industry saturated with new music, have you ever wondered why some rise to the top and others never see the light of day? The simplicity of the answer may surprise you. In a word? EFFORT Another word? INTENTION Like anything in life, the sheer amount of effort you put into anything exponentially increases your chances of rising to the top.
There is plenty of room for EXCELLENCE at the top! MEDIOCRACY is the killer of dreams. As artists, we want to share our vision with the world, but, we focus so much time and energy on the music…we lose sight of “how to get it to our fans.” With over 40 years in the music industry I’ve contributed to this mind-set too many times. It is only recently that I have grasped the reality of what is truly needed…THIS, is what 4S is all about…honing in on the “essential” requirements to achieving success. Of course, as in life, there are no guarantees, but, you can greatly amplify your chances by focusing in on what is truly required.
As music IS a business, you must treat it as such by creating a plan. I promise you that it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. In the end, if you take these four simple steps to creating a plan for your music (dream), you will realize different results. Of course, there are many basics that must be in place first…aptitude, skill, gear, attitude and willingness to be patient and most importantly – enjoy the ride.
Let’s keep it simple…I’ll define each of these four elements to 4S and you develop your plan “intentionally.” Take your time and enjoy the process that will bring your vision to the world. As artists, it is incumbent on us to shine a light by providing hope and healing to a world in a constant state of chaos.
4S DEFINED: SONG / SOUND / STYLE / STORY
S O N G Songs are your contribution to the world. Whether sad or happy, they are important and you should treat them as such. Write as many songs as you can and be honest about which ones are “ready” to record and share with the world. Think about your favorite artists and keep in mind that they did this. Make sure that only the GREAT songs you write come to fruition. I’m not saying throw away the less than great songs, but shelf them until they are great. Keep in mind that all songs are not great. Some songs are merely therapy for us as artists and should be treated as such. Truly great songs have the ability to connect with everyone.
S O U N D Now that you have your song(s) selected, make sure you research where and how you will record them and spend time looking for reference tracks that allow your producer to know exactly what “sound” you are going after. Be intentional about “how you want them to sound.” Some songs need a lot of producing and some not so much. The sound should be apropos to the genre and intended audience. (i.e. POP heavily produced / PUNK raw)
S T Y L E Another word for style is presentation. The next time you peruse a toy store, take notice of the packaging that these toys are wrapped in. Style is how you present both your music and you as an artist/band to the world. It allows the consumer to know exactly what/who you and your music are and what they will be purchasing. We all have different tastes and your fans only have a moment to see your brand…don’t let that moment pass them by. Style also relates to how you look on stage and how you present your music and show to your audience. (i.e. Kiss, Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, etc…) This isn’t to insinuate you need to wear a mask or dance…just make sure that everything you do is intentional…in other words, meaningful.
S T O R Y The final element of 4S and quite possibly the most important element of this plan. This is how you package all of the above into a nice tidy little presentation. Every artist/band has a story. How you became an artist? Why you became an artist? What your songs are about? Etc… When you write your songs, record them and then develop your style…you absolutely need to package it all up with your story. When completing all aspects of 4S, consider “why you are doing what you are doing?” Reference this Ted Talk – every aspect of what you do should fall back on YOUR STORY!
There are no guarantees in life, but a little intention and effort behind what you do will get you closer to the fruition of your dreams. A lot of those two elements will get you even closer. Good luck and I hope my 4S philosophy helps guide you there!
About Raymond Hayden – Raymond Hayden, is a 40+ year music industry veteran. Raymond has toured throughout Europe and the East Coast, produced 5 albums which are currently on iTunes, performed as a guest keyboardist on over 20+ albums, created two music podcasts (The Aquarium on NWCZRADIO / Houston on SEATTLE WAVE RADIO), been a co-host on Strangely Alright Television with Regan Lane, owned an independent record label for a decade (Maurice the Fish Records), blogged for SHURE.COM and currently performs in five bands (Grieve the Astronaut, Strangely Alright, Jessica Lynne and the Cousins, Monsters in the Dark and sits in with Limberlost) and mentors up and coming young artists in the Ted Brown Music Live It Outloud Program (Rock and Roll Camp for 12-yrs old).
How To Book Your First Paid Music GigWritten by Cheryl Jennison DaProza on May 18, 2017 under EducationWhether you’re aiming for musical superstardom or just regular bookings at your local club, there’s a lot of legwork involved in getting that first paying gig. Where to start, once your band is feeling confident and ready?
First of all, identify the band member with the greatest appetite for taking on key marketing activities. You can have all the talent in the world, but scoring paying shows is about determined self-promotion. So figuring out who among you is most inclined to enjoy this kind of work can make all the difference.
Set GoalsIt’s important that everyone in the band agrees on your goals before you start promoting yourselves publically. Get together and talk about your expectations first.
Build RelationshipsThis may be the music business, but it’s still serious business. The network you develop will play a key role in getting you where you want to go. Is there a way to open for a friend’s already-established band? If so, that could be a great start.
Keep the momentum going by widening your circle. Become an active member of your community. That includes other musicians, other bands, local and college radio stations, club and coffeehouse managers, bartenders, servers and bookers—anyone and everyone who is playing, promoting or hiring. They’re a wealth of information. When going to see shows, ask to talk to people in these roles about what they’re looking for and how they hire bands. Begin building a knowledge base and keep notes for later reference.
Research VenuesMake a list of all the venues within driving distance that are booking bands like yours. Some book only original bands or cover bands, for example. Find venues in local publications that advertise live music shows. Then visit them to get a sense of the space, the crowd and the vibe. Check out their websites and social media pages. Get contact names, phone numbers and email addresses, then put them all in a simple spreadsheet database that can double as a mailing list. Be sure to keep it current!
Develop Promotional ToolsThese are the building blocks of your band’s marketing plan.
DemoIt’s unlikely that a club owner or booking agent is going to hire your band without first hearing your music or seeing your band. If you’ve already played a few gigs, you may be able to entice him or her to check out a live performance. It’s more likely, however, that you’ll be sharing a video or an audio demo either as part of a press kit (more about that in a minute) or online.
In either case, make sure the quality—especially the sound—is as good as it can be. If you’re shooting a video, an effective rig can be as simple as an iPhone with an external microphone like the MV88 and a recording app like ShurePlus™ MOTIV™.
You don’t have to include an album’s worth of material. Three songs is probably sufficient. However much you include, the goal here is to offer a true representation of the band’s music.
Also, don’t expect to walk into a club with a demo CD or flash drive and have the owner play it on the spot. It doesn’t work that way. Rather, whether you introduce yourself in person, on the phone, or via email, expect to hand off your demo and other materials for the club owner or booking agent to review at their convenience.
Press KitThis is the focus for all your promotional materials. A digital version (often called an EPK for electronic press kit) is probably sufficient and a low-cost way to get started. But down the line, you also may want to produce a print version that you can hand out to booking agents and club managers.
Here’s what you’ll want to include:
WebsiteA website can be your storefront. There you can provide background about your band, build an email list, share audio and video clips, write blog posts, direct fans to music download sites and social media, and, of course, alert them to upcoming gigs. With dozens of low-cost, feature-rich DIY site-building solutions, it’s easier than ever to create a fully functional band website.
Social MediaSocial media has become an essential tool for building a fan base and connecting with your music community. And on a Facebook page, for example, you’ll find many of the same features you’d have in a standalone site without spending a penny.
Post news. Upload videos. Start a dialog with your fans. And don’t forget to follow other artists and bands. Shares and retweets expand your reach.
Facebook and Twitter still lead the field, but Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Live-streaming apps like Periscope should be on your list, too. Don’t forget that booking agents and club managers will want to see how many social media followers you have before booking your band, so post several times a week if you can. Invite family members and friends to get things rolling.
Gig Booking Tips from a Pro
We asked Seattle-based musician Raymond Hayden to offer a few thoughts based on his years of experience not only as a solo artist and band member, but also as a promoter and a label executive. Here’s what he told us:
This means giving props to the booking agents and talent managers willing to take a chance on you, and treating everyone at the club (from the manager to the house sound crew, bartender and wait staff) and your fans with respect. Without them, you’re just another band rehearsing on weeknights with a great flash drive or CD you recorded in your home studio.
Show up and set up on time. Keep partying and performing separate. Give the people what they want. In fact, give them a little more.
And, of course, invest in the best gear you can afford
by raymond hayden
"WHEN YOU THINK ALL IS LOST?"
"And I see you walkin'...and I see the tears you've cried, but when you think all is lost...the answer comes across..." ~raymond hayden (grieve the astronaut)
"That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be un-dreamed." ~Neil Gaiman
So, your spaceship has crashed on a strange planet and you have been be-friended by an extremely talkative alien? Or maybe you are just at a place where you feel lost and out of touch with your dreams and aspirations? Either way, just remind yourself that it is just a temporary predicament. Most of the time, we BELIEVE things are much worse than they ACTUALLY are. This is a trait that most of us share...call it social engineering or just, well, mass paranoia...either way, we all share very similar journeys.
We've all heard the expression regarding not being able to really grow until we hit the proverbial, rock bottom. Not saying that we NEED to hit rock bottom, only that sometimes it TAKES hitting rock bottom to open our eyes to other ideas or other possibilities. No matter what it is that makes us feel as if we are truly at rock bottom or lost...you can overcome and move past it. This process may take time, but, everything in life that is worth its weight in gold, requires patience.
EXPERIENCE provides us with hindsight...PAIN builds callouses that insulate us from further pain...LOVE is the balancer and the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel." When you feel as if you are at rock bottom or when you think all is lost...take a step back, breathe and ALLOW the answer to come to you. It will. You cannot force it or conjure an answer...only be open to it. Believe me, you'll know your answer it as it will hit you like a wall of bricks. You may not necessarily like the answer, but be open to it as the actual manifestation of what it means may not come for some time...
"Follow the Yellow Brick Road..." ~L. Frank Baum
Copyright © 2015