How to: Get programmed on a festival

How to: Get programmed on a festival

 Festivals are a great opportunity to play to new audiences, but landing a coveted spot requires some serious planning and research – performer applications can open as early as a year in advance.

How to give your application the best shot.

    “First and foremost, we are a blues festival,” says Gill. “Every year we get applications from musicians who are clearly not blues artists, trying to stretch the definition of blues to fit what they do. So number one, only apply to appropriate festivals.”
    “We are looking for a range of artists across the different blues genres, so the more we know about an artist, the better we know how they might fit in,” says Gill. “Read the application form closely and make sure that all criteria are addressed as fully as possible.”
    “Price is important,” says Gill. “We need value for money. Asking a fair price for your performance and being prepared to negotiate with our music programmer if necessary will help. Being flexible about the times and days you’re available to perform is also helpful.”
    How well you’ve been received by past audiences is obviously crucial, but it’s also important to make a good impression on festival staff. Programmers, marketers, production and admin staff all play an important role in getting you on stage and getting punters in front of it. Help them do a good job by supplying tech specs, marketing materials and completed paperwork in a timely fashion. They’ll be more likely to welcome you back with open arms the next time you apply.
    Don’t wait until the last day to submit your application. “Applying early will increase your chances,” says Gill. So start doing your research and get those applications in!
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HOW TO: Be a Smart Music Marketer

HOW TO: Be a Smart Music Marketer

There’s a lot to do when you release your music: Distribute it, promote it, get it heard, and get it sold. Using the right strategies, you can maximize revenue and sales and make the most out of how music buyers use digital sales platforms. Plan your next release around these 10 techniques:

Fig. 1. Indie artists Pomplamoose gained fame through their offbeat covers. Their version of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” earned more than ten million views.

INCLUDE A COVER SONGMost listeners of streaming services or customers of digital stores search for music that they like. Leverage this behavior by recording a cover of a well-known song. This can boost your sales since people will often listen to cover versions of the songs they are searching for, and if they like the cover, they often check out the rest of the music from that artist. Keep in mind that if you choose to record a cover, you need to clear the rights with the publisher or through services like the Harry Fox Agency.


If you don’t want to record a cover song, try giving your track a similar title to other wellknown songs or common search phrases. Since song titles can’t be copyrighted, you can legitimately name your song “Freebird” if you’d like. The only exception to this is you cannot use trademarked words in your title. This could make movie titles or names of sport franchises (think “Superbowl”) off limits.


Browsing a streaming service or digital music store is as much a visual experience as it is about the sound. People will see your record before they get a chance to hear it. If you can make a design that stands out next to the other albums on the store, you’ll improve your chances of getting your music streamed or purchased.


Lead with links to stores where your customers likely already trust their credit cards—such as iTunes and Amazon—making it more of an impulse purchase. Although you should also use stores that might give you a bigger cut, customers are unlikely to type in their name, address, and credit card information simply to buy a $0.99 track.


Make the most of your album/track descriptions by using keywords that customers are familiar with. First of all, always mention the genre of music that you play and your catchphrase if it helps describe the music (“hip-hop rockabilly madness,” “modern vintage”). Also, if the platform will let you, list other well-known artists that you sound like so you can piggyback on their notoriety. Lastly, if there are terms, topics, or lyrics in your song that touch on a cause or topic your fanbase relates to, add that to the description. These could trigger a play or purchase.


Enroll in affiliate programs at digital music platforms like iTunes and Amazon and use the affiliate links instead of the regular links to your tracks and albums. This will allow you to get an extra cut on the front end of the sale in addition to what you already get on the back end when you send people to these stores. There’s another advantage: They’ll give you a percentage cut of anything that the visitor ends up buying. This means that you can also make affiliate links to other music, media, or even consumer items if you end up talking about them.

Fig. 2. Getting placement on a big Spotify playlist can put your music in the ears of legions of potential fans: Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits” playlist, for example, reaches more than six million subscribers.


People want to see what journalistic outlets think of your music. Think Hollywood: Add quotes from positive music reviews in your descriptions, websites, and digital stores. Also, encourage your fans to post reviews. These ratings can be influential, so ask your fans to post reviews to seed this section when you release the album.


Once your music is available for sale or stream, get it played in places where people are listening. These channels include MP3 blogs, podcasts, college radio, streaming radio, uncountable music websites, and more. A play can drive other platforms to get interested in your music, so when you succeed in one place, reach out to others and tell them about other listeners who played you as social proof to increase your odds of being played.


Streaming platforms are social networks centered on music and playlists. For example, Spotify allows anyone to make playlists and some are incredibly popular. Find the most popular playlists that fit your music and contact the owner about adding your track. If you can get added to these playlists, you’ll generate more streams (and payments) and get into the ears of new fans. This work may only result in a small amount of money at first, but builds over time since songs on a playlist tend to stay on it.


Videos allow people to sample your music as well as easily share it with others. In the video description, provide the (affiliate) link where they can buy the music. On YouTube, include the link as an annotation/hotspot on the video as well. To boost your sales, include pre-roll or post-roll audio that’s different from the song you’re selling, since it’s so easy to download audio from a YouTube video. This gives fans an incentive to buy the track.

Maximizing sales requires a combination of marketing and continual effort. So you’ll want to capitalize on any success such as reviews, interviews, or song plays, and use these wins to reach out to build more opportunities. Each success can give you a larger platform to promote your music, all while generating revenue.

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How To Get Paid from New Music-Streaming Services

How To Get Paid from New Music-Streaming Services

You may have noticed that everyone’s jumping on the $10-a-month bandwagon lately. In the case of the new SoundCloud Go listener subscription, it may be a do-or-die attempt to better profit off of the 175 million monthly SoundCloud listeners. On the other hand, the recent YouTube Red subscription feels more like a “why not?” value-added service for a site that’s already dominating the Internet.

No matter the motivation, more and more media services are looking for your monthly patronage. There has to be a ceiling to how many $10-a-month dings people are willing to subject their bank accounts to, and by extension, how many companies can be Netflix-level successes with the subscription model. However, it will take time to suss that out, and in the meanwhile, musicians like you can and probably should attempt to profit off all the new revenue opportunities that this competition and innovation in the streaming space are creating.

So here’s more info on how to benefit from YouTube Red, SoundCloud Go and Apple Music’s new partnership with Dubset, which allows DJ mixes, unofficial remixes and mashups to stream on the service with the permission of all the rights holders.

YouTube Red
Don’t panic about losing all your hours of YouTube rabbit holes when you should be making music and/or bettering yourself. The free YouTube as we know it will not change with the advent of the $9.99/month YouTube Red service. Rather, this is a value-added charge. Subscribers will get ad-free viewing and access to Red-only original shows and movies on all platforms, and on iOS/Android devices, they’ll get offline viewing and the ability to listen to videos with the screen turned off.

Okay, bully for them, but how does that affect music creators? According to YouTube’s information aboutYouTube Red and the the YouTube Partner Program, “YouTube Red will play an important role in expanding user engagement on YouTube and provide you with an additional way to get paid for the content you’re already creating. And while it’ll take time to build a significant membership base, we’re confident that as membership grows, YouTube Red will begin to deliver more and more value to you.”

Other FAQ answers go on to say, “YouTube Red provides a secondary revenue stream for creators in addition to what you’re already earning today through ads.”

“Subscription revenue payments will be sent at the beginning of each month, at the same time you would normally receive ad revenue payments.”

So if you’re not already posting your music and other fan engagement videos to YouTube, not only is it a good to start, but you also need to join thePartner Program.

As a YouTube Partner, you’ll be able to collect ad revenue, sell or rent videos, as well as benefit from new initiative like YouTube Red and Fan Funding, which basically seems to be a donation system similar to what Twitch uses for its live streaming broadcasters.

If you own the rights to your music, you’re also encouraged to get into theContent ID system (or get your label/publisher to add you), after which you can allow fans to create derivative videos using your music, and share in the revenue derived from them.

SoundCloud Go

SoundCloud made headlines in mid-March for inking the final major-label deal it needed to launch a paid streaming service with all the major labels onboard. Now that paid service, SoundCloud Go, is already available (in the USA only for now).

Similar to YouTube Red, the free SoundCloud experience people have used to this point won’t change, but SoundCloud Go subscribers will have access to a lot of more music from the major and other labels SoundCloud has licensed, as well as offline play and ad-free listening. SoundCloud Go also costs $9.99/month or $4.99/month to creators who are already signed up for a Pro Unlimited uploading account.

As a creator, you can choose whether SoundCloud Go subscribers have offline access to each of your tracks. You’ll still get credit for their offline listens in your stats.

The company has also added the Pulse app dedicated to SoundCloud creators, and the On SoundCloud creator partner program. Currently, to become a Premier Partner and earn revenue for your music off of ads and Soundcloud Go subs, you have to apply, which means it’s probably not going to happen yet unless you’re a pretty huge player. However, in a recent email, SoundCloud claimed that “eventually, everyone will have the opportunity to earn money from their SoundCloud presence via our creator partner program On SoundCloud.”

However, the folks at Premier Sound Bank have alerted us that along with their partners at Rightsify, you can apply for their SoundCloud Monetization Service. If approved, you’ll keep 80% of your monthly royalties generated. The trade-off seems to be that if you hold out for SoundCloud to open up monetization to everyone, you may be able to keep 100% of your royalties. So choose carefully.

Apple Music and Dubset
One of the real sticky wickets since the democratization of music production and Internet distribution became factors has been the explosion of unofficial remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes, as well as the on-and-off efforts by the powers that be to delegitimize them and remove them from many sites. However, Dubset Media, a self-described music industry technology solutions company, estimates that both the original artists and labels, as well as the producers and DJs making derivative works from them, are leaving potential millions from streaming revenue on the table by not monetizing these works.

Clearly, trying to ignore or stop the popularity of bootleg remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes is not going to work. Dubset cites estimates that the traditional music distribution system releases 20,000 tracks per day, while there are 300,000 user-generated tracks posted online per day, most of which could not previously get to legal music services.

Dubset plans to change all that, and Apple Music has become its first major streaming partner in doing so. During SXSW Interactive, Apple announced that it has partnered with Dubset to stream a certain amount of unofficial remixes, mash-ups and DJ mixes to stream over Apple Music. We don’t know yet if Apple will allow all of Dubset’s approved content on its service, or if it will have exclusive access to it, but this is an exciting development for a huge amount of electronic musicians and producers who have this kind of music in their catalog. It also seems likely that other streaming services will want to jump on a partnership with Dubset if they’re allowed to.

Using a technology it’s calling MixBank, Dubset identifies all the content owners present in a remix/mash-up/DJ mix and matches them up with the permissions that labels, publishers and other rights holders have issued. If the derivative work is cleared for distribution, it gets sent out to the music services of the uploader’s choice (Apple Music is the only major one available for now). If or when there are royalties due, Dubset distributes them with a cut going to all the rights holders, as well as the uploader (you, the DJ/producer).

You can sign up at MixBank to get started right away. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved for the program, but I for one am very excited and pleased with this development. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a long-term solution for remixers and DJs to produce the musical works they love, to give fans a legitimized way to acquire them, and to compensate the original creators in a way that most of them deem to be fair.

Micro-Mixed Feelings

Certain artists and labels have well publicized their unrest for Spotify’s low rates of compensation, and that’s for the music-streaming giant that Billboard reported in February had passed 30 million subscribers, compared to Apple Music’s 11 million subscribers. With YouTube Red and SoundCloud Go just getting started, it will probably take quite some time for the revenues you see from any of the above initiatives to grow beyond micro-payments.

Yet micro-payments seem to be the future of the music business. Woe be to those who try to turn back the tide of momentum, and the momentum of music consumption has swung definitively in the direction of streaming and subscriptions—in other words, “renting” access to music, rather than buying it. This may be a case of joining them because you can’t beat them. So will you join these emerging services?


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