Super Busy…Taking a Breath

I had a few minutes to breathe today and realized that I’ve really missed posting to this blog. I just wanted to spend a few minutes filling you all in on everything that’s been going on. We’ve been busy recording my new single “Wait” which is scheduled to come out late August 2010. I can’t wait for you all to hear it. I’m really excited for everyone to get a taste of the next evolution of my sound. If you’ve been a fan for a while, you’ve heard the difference in delivery and the growth we’ve gone through when it comes to taking our sound to the next level each time we record. This time, we are producing the new recording on our own. We’ve been so fortunate to work with talented producers on the other two albums that we’ve taken what we’ve learned from them and others in our musician/music-business circles and continued to become better at every aspect of songwriting and development. For those of you who are only interested in the finished product, I bet that sounded incredibly boring to you *winks*, but I’m sure you’ll be happy with the ear-candy that comes from it.

That’s all for now, just a quick update. Be back soon to chat…

Kelly Greene, Guest Blogger on Ariel Hyatt’s MSI9W Blog July 8th

Take the Blog Challenge

Check out Ariel Hyatt's Blog Challenge 2.0

Not only did I win the last challenge, but now I get to be a featured guest on Ariel’s blog for a day. Swing by Ariel’s site by clicking on the picture above and check out my guest post on Thursday, July 8, 2010.

Challenge Week 9: An Overview of Traditional PR

Has it been nine weeks already? Time flies when you’re busy. This is my final “challenge” post about my experience with Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks. I’m nowhere near finished with the challenge of completing all the tasks, but this contest has forced me to learn and assess at a consistent pace and it’s been good for me; it’s forced me to un-complicate things quickly (my over-thinking mind tends to wind everything up into a giant ball of sticky string). During this final week in Ariel’s book she addresses traditional PR and all the papered-up gifts that come along with it such as Press releases, Bio’s, Photos, etc. I’m happy to say that this week has actually been one of the easiest for me as far as preparation is concerned. My current PR Kit and writing skills are up to par so I’ve only to re-write some of the components to update them as necessary for each gig and/or press-submission.

Throughout this final chapter I’ve found that the few key takeaways are things that I’ve done well because of my own personal preference and work style. As artists, it’s very important to think like a good business person when you’re dealing with people who work for *businesses*. Just as you hate working with seedy promoters who don’t keep their word, people in the PR industry and industries that publish the information you’re trying to get out there don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t have their act together. You need to remember that there is a person with a demanding boss and deadlines to meet on the other end of the phone or computer screen and if you cause delays for them, they’re going to skip over you; so be prepared by having all your information easily accessible, stand-out in appearance (not because you wiped pizza grease on it before mailing), and GET TO THE POINT…QUICKLY AND CONCISELY! Once you’ve done all that on paper, make sure you have the same thing ready to go online/electronically so anyone who needs quick access to your snazzy photos and such can download and post or print without worrying about screaming stop the press!

As I said earlier, those are just a few key takeaways from the last chapter of Music Success in Nine Weeks. Having sat in Ariel’s classes at various events, reading her newsletter, listening to podcast and such I was doing pretty well as far as being prepared; getting her book forced me into action and filled in the missing pieces for me personally. I highly recommend that you spend a few bucks on your career and get a hold of her book. Even if you have a good business head like me and the experience to boot, you’ll still benefit from the information listed because it will force you to rethink your current strategy and implementation. You never know, it may even make things a little bit easier. It certainly gave me permission to lighten up and enjoy the journey.

Challenge Week 8: Creating a Continuum Program

Maybe we should call this week of my experience with Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks getting out of the tunnel and into the funnel. That’s my simple way of saying that so many of us focus on music, music, music when Ariel’s been trying to draw us out of that one way focus for eight weeks now and get us to spend a small amount of time each week drawing out our fan base and building our income potential. By getting to know our fans and earning their loyalty through newsletters, email list, surveys, and freebies we have created a way to offer them more than just another CD or someone bugging them to come to a show. This “funnel” works by giving those true fans an opportunity to buy a range merch or specialty items from you after you’ve established a trusting relationship. I’m not going to give away the nitty gritty of what Ariel teaches after all her expertise is quite affordable and you’re more likely to get somewhere if you’ve invested a little bit in yourself. This is my gentle way of saying go buy her book if you’re trying to create an income from your art, but back to what my funnel looks like. I’m such a business planner that I’ve actually had all the details of my continuum program laid out for a lot longer than I’d like to admit, I just couldn’t figure out how to get from A to B until I started listening to Ariel. Ultimately I have so many ideas for merch and fan club opportunities that it really can go in any direction. I need to use a survey to figure out what is most enticing to my core group of fans right now and make that available to them first and then I can try little limited time only offers and see what takes off, but I’m really thinking about a value-priced subscription-based program for my music with a variety of premium add-ons, i.e. merch.

Now’s where I give you the details of how I’m doing so far in this challenge and in a nutshell, my crazy life is putting me behind a few weeks. Right now I’m still somewhere around implementing week five and six although I’ve got number seven down, but I’m not freaking out about it; I’m actually pretty darn excited about seeing the light at the end of my tunnel and clearly making out my funnel. Honestly I haven’t been this excited about this part of my music career in a while, so big thanks to Ariel for writing this book and challenging us to actually implement what’s in it. I’ve finally realized that offering my loyal fans an opportunity to buy from me is not an annoyance, it’s just that, an opportunity for them to have a deeper connection with me and what I’m offering; after all if they’re a fan, they’ve already chosen me and my music.

Challenge Week 7: Real Live Networking Tips

Ah lucky number seven; I’m discovering that networking has nothing to do with luck – ever hear of six degrees of separation? Having had the day job that I’ve been in for a number of years now, I started to realize early on that there were quite a few people crossing my path in the office that would really be an important part of my learning and understanding the corporate side of music. Somewhere within those first two years I realized that not only could I learn from them, but I could make some great contacts just by improving on my networking skills. Ariel Hyatt talks about this, about adding to your mailing list in person, in chapter seven of her book Music Success in Nine Weeks. She offers two tips, right off the bat, that I think are super-important: be memorable and know what to ask for. These two things are fairly simple to do if you are or become a good listener, so that’s what I’m improving on.

I’ve always been a good listener in the realm of hearing what people are saying personally, but I’ve often thought that I have nothing to offer them. Over the years I’ve realized that I do have a lot to offer if I only paid better attention to what the person I’m speaking to might need from me, whether now or in the future. This is what I’m working on now, hearing more than what I’ve already trained myself to hear and why? Because I need to know what to ask for as Ariel put it. So as not to risk over-explaining my already over-thought post, I will stop writing and go listen to someone else for now.

Challenge Week 6: Building Your Mailing List

Still stuck somewhere between week 5 and week 6 of this challenge presented by Ariel Hyatt author of Music Success in 9 Weeks, I think this is where I’m starting to hit a wall. Not because what’s being asked of me is too difficult, it’s quite easy actually. It’s just figuring out what it is I’m going to do first with this new found email list power. Ariel makes it very clear right at the beginning of this chapter that building your fan base equals building your email list which in turn equals building your income. Well what independent artist doesn’t want to do that?

Ariel points out that some musicians make the mistake of only contacting their fan base when they want to sell something. I’m not making this mistake as I let my fans know when we’ve hit a milestone or received some great new all without asking for a sale. I’ve also done plenty of free shows in great locations, so again I’m always finding a way to give a little back to anyone who does want to come hear us play without asking for anything in return. So the issue for me is not necessarily always asking for money, it’s expanding on my email list – expanding on my reach versus how I reach out.

What I’ve not yet implemented is the strategy detailed yet in week 6. Other than asking for emails at shows or encouraging people I end up chatting with to join the list, I don’t harvest for my email list online. I want to implement this right away but have slight hesitation. Don’t worry, I’m asking myself why even before you had a chance to think it. Honestly, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I feel I don’t have anything to share at the moment which deep down I know can’t be true, but I think I’m focusing too much on having something new to offer, missing out on the fact that any new fan will find anything I put in front of them new because they haven’t experienced it yet. So maybe you’ve just witnessed me talking myself out of the one-inch hole I was standing in that seemed so massive just before I type that last line. Is this where I say mission accomplished, I will add to my mailing list??? Not quite. How will I do that and when?

I will definitely dedicate time to looking for those who are most likely to be a fan of mine if they just had the experience. That would be the online hunt for fans, but in the everyday world where I still shake hands and interact with a bunch of people on a daily basis, I will make sure to ask permission to add them to my email list as soon as they show interest in what I’m offering as an artist. I now realize, looking back, that I have plenty of business contacts who also have become fans from a distance. They come to shows and ask how everything’s going with my music career, but I have never put them on the spot to be added. Why I’m not sure, but this may actually be easier than my mind would lead me to believe. It really is as simple as me saying, can I add your email to my fan-mail list? So why was I making this so difficult again?

Challenge Week Five: You want me to do what to who?

“Before we dive in…You may be freaking out here bit…” Ariel states calmly at the beginning of chapter five. You’re damn right I’m freaking out, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s the tail end of week five for me and I’m still facing this huge mental block about who my fans are. So before I have a blog-ular meltdown, I’m going to take a deep breath and talk through this in front of you.

Ariel wants us to understand the difference between our newsletter list and our email list. At this rate, I only email my fans when I have something to tell them, like when we’ve received recognition in a competition or have achieved a milestone with our radio play. When we have a show or a radio appearance, we let them know. Most of the time our shows are free or very low cost, so I never feel like I’m bothering my fans to spend money every time I email them, because I’m not. I feel like I probably don’t communicate with them enough just simply because I don’t want to bother them. That’s mistake number one. They’re a fan because they want to hear from me; easily noted and corrected on my part. I can and will reach out to my fans more, but there are a few hurdles in this marathon.

Hurdle number one: thinking of yourself as a commodity and your fan as a customer. In reality, I’m partially over this hurdle, but keep catching my the tip of my shoe on the fact that I feel like I have two sets of fans: one set who’s been around for a long time and knows me on a fairly personal level and a newer set who’s just starting to get to know me as an artist they are a fan of. I honestly feel like those who know you personally are sometimes harder to reach because they have a personal expectation of who you are and what you it is you should be giving them or asking of them. The second set is interested in buying CD’s, MP3’s and are the type that can truly be considered a “customer” of mine. Please understand that I love both sets of fans and the support they provide, they are just two entirely different groups and will react as such. Understanding all of that is great, but there is so much more to understand about all of these individuals that right about here is where I start to over-think everything again.

Over-thinking semi-halted, I feel like I have something in the works that will appeal to both old and new fans. It will provide them with something new and set a level of expectation for them and also help them connect to what it is they identify with in me on a deeper level. I’m not comfortable discussing this yet because it’s just a wee-baby idea that hasn’t quite incubated long enough to meet the world…soon enough, though. Back to jumping obstacles!

Hurdle number two: who are your fans? Arrrggghhhhhhhh!!!! Again, a frustrating topic for me. I think it’s becoming clearer, thanks to marketing research tools available online but I’m still a little foggy on this. Right now it seems as if there are two distinct sets of people who are into my music. Older males (married or not) who relate to that old school rock sound and grown-up non-male-hating songs as well as college age males and females who like the different sound as well as the lyrics that again are a little different from what’s generally out there at this point. I haven’t determined any commonalities at this point amongst any of these listeners other than the fact that we all share similar music tastes. I feel like the current research I’m conducting, as well as just getting to know my core fan base is helping me to better understand the likes and dislikes of my younger fans. As I continue to find out where and how people discover my music, I am getting new insights as to what they like to do and where they like to be. It does however seem to me that they enjoy an online presence no matter what way you cut it, so continuing to blog, tweet and FB will be key to keeping those newer, younger fans happy and connected.

I’m definitely going to be lingering in this chapter for a while as I figure out the what’s, when’s and why‘s of what I’m going to offer my fans and how I’m going to let them know what’s available. No more over-thinking, I promise, just good strategy that fits KG.

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