Song Writing in a “Civic Cycle”

Here are some basic, but potentiall very powerful tips for writing a great song in a “civic cycle”.

1. Study music from the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s … based on the idea that our society is cyclical … every 40 years we shift into a new cycle.

2. Write so people can personally identify with what’s being said … make it real for your listener.

More on where this comes from on my other blog …

Kyle

Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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800 000 New Fans in One Year

Here’s a Q&A with Noush Skaugen, a rock artist from LA. She used social media, specifically twitter to get 800 000 follower’s in one year! 2 months ago when I first contacted her she had 500 000 follower’s … this woman is moving!!

This is proof to the point that independent musicians have SO much control & opportunity to really build an incredible career. It’s all about getting creative, taking a calculated “risk” and finding ways to break through.

——-

(start of interview)

1) Kyle – when did you join twitter?

Noush – About a year ago.

2) Kyle – How did you hear about it and why did you join?

Noush – Word of mouth, and I thought it was a good idea.

3) Kyle – Please describe your career, pre-twitter and social media … what was your approach at that point?

Noush – My career has always been grassroots and established through a one on one connection with my fans. So pre Twitter and social media it was very much centered around writing the best songs I could, and my live show. Bottom line it still is, as that is ultimately why I do this and I believe people want to see you and have that live connection. Social media is a way for independent artists, if used wisely, to have increased exposure, but you need the goods to back it up once they check you out.

4) Kyle – Compared to 0 followers, how has 500 000 followers changed your career?

Noush – I’m on my computer all the time:) That’s a joke but there is truth to that. In the past rockers would have never been on a computer, now it is an essential tool to building a career. I fought it a bit in the beginning as I am not tech savvy and wanted to play and write music all day. However I learned to use it and research how social media was affecting musicians, as I realized it was key in this modern music age.

5) Kyle – You came up with this song writing idea, how many requests do you get/week and how do you manage them all?

Noush – The deadline has now passed, but I was receiving many entries per week, and it has been a very interesting project to do. Everyone has a unique story. I am going through them this month and picking the three people’s stories that have a common theme, to write the song about.

6) Kyle – You were named the #1 independent artist on twitter, how did you reach this point?

Noush – Preparation meets opportunity meets luck. I think really it has been about using this fantastic platform Twitter, in an honest and real way, communicating with them on news, updates and some fun stuff I’m up to. Involving them on the process of writing a song, or my life from the inside. Coming at it not from a marketing angle, but a way to connect with my fans and hopefully grow with them through my career.

7) Kyle – What has 500 000 followers done for the bottom line of your career?

Noush – It has most certainly affected my career. Album sales have risen, ticket sales, increased exposure and fans are spreading the word virally.

8) Kyle – In terms of translation of fans to your live shows, what’s the trend you’ve seen since twitter has picked up?

Noush – A notable difference; many fans are now coming to my live shows from twitter.

9) Kyle – Artists often don’t understand twitter and what it can do. What would you suggest to artists in terms of using twitter effectively?

Noush – Keep it 90% chit chat and a way to connect with your fans, 10% marketing. People are fed up with blatant marketing pushed down their throat. Be real and honest with your tweets, give free downloads. If your music is good it will spread.

10) Kyle – Anything else you’d like to share with Canada??

Noush – Love your country and people, especially the mountains. I’m an avid snowboarder and fell in love with Whistler when I was there. Hope to be there touring soon!

11) Kyle – What are the benefits you’ve seen from your couch sessions?

Noush – I’ve learnt to play songs I never knew how to play:) I think it’s a great way to have fun with my fans, they get to see me do acoustic stripped down songs in my own way, which sometimes works better than others. On the whole it gives them an immediate benefit from following me and it’s a way for me to play for them even if Im not passing through their town at that time. A win-win situation.

(end of interview)

———–

Success and results don’t happen randomly. Noush Skaugen is a great example of this … an artist with an open mind, who is now reaping the rewards of an idea … turned decision to engage in social media.

If you want some help in figuring out social media, I encourage you to check out Ariel Publicity and sign up for the free ebooks & bi-weekly ezine, packed full of information. Ariel Publicity serves as many as 50 artists at a time through Cyber PR (online PR campaigns) and in the last 13 years has supported over 1400 artists. Also, study other artists that are doing what you want to do! After that, engage – take a chance and get your career moving!

Who are you taking your advice from?

3 weeks ago , something really amazing happened. I was making some phone calls about Cyber PR and I met an incredible guy from Saskatoon. His name is Miles Patrick Yohnke, the Founder and CEO of 5 Star Productions. What Miles does (amongst many great things) is take only the best of what’s written for artists and deliver it once a month. The stories and lessons inside are rich and limitless. You can sign up for the 5 Star Productions Newsletter here and by clicking on “5-Star News”. A regular contributor to the newsletter is Derek Sivers from CD Baby, who’s also a close friend to Miles.

By the way – something I’m a believer in is: “are you taking your advice from someone that’s done what you’re looking to do”? If not, why would you listen to someone that talks a big game, but doesn’t have the success you’re looking for … only crumbled dreams. I’m sure you know a bitter booking agent, over the hill artist, etc. … who will layer you with all kinds of advice. Keep this in mind, “have they accomplished what you’re looking to do”?

Note: I’m not suggesting being disrespectful, because everyone can teach us something. Just be aware, that if you’re “betting the farm” on someone that’s run-down, beaten and pessimistic … I strongly recommend you reconsider!!

Instead, why not take your advice from someone who has achieved success & figured it out!

A sparkling example of this is Gilli Moon, who’s a driven, dynamic and VERY successful artist, author, coach & business woman. An article from Gilli is below.

Remember – find the best, study them & learn from them!

Enjoy,

Kyle

===============================

THE SUCCESSFUL ARTIST ENTREPRENEUR:
THE INS AND OUTS OF GETTING OUT THERE AS AN ARTIST IN THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC
By Gilli Moon, Warrior Girl Music – http://www.gillimoon.com
© 2009 All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.

The KEY TO SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS in the music business of TODAY is to be a unique artist, in charge of your own destiny. It means you need to be an artist entrepreneur.

I’m from Australia. Grew up in Sydney, Australia. Playing piano since I was 4 years old. Was a singer, actor, dance. I did it all. Like many of us, who come from another country or city to L.A, we usually are A type + artists who come to LA and want to be a star. It took me a long time, though, to find out who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to go.

When I first came to L.A I thought that the only way to be successful would be to do showcases on the Sunset Strip, and send my tape around hoping to get signed to a major label. I had all those commercial notions of success in my dreams, like number 1 hit on radio, a grammy, etc etc. The thought was “sign a deal, get a huge advance, and become an overnight success.”

But when I arrived here, (97-98) the music industry started to change right under my feet. It was like quicksand, and the only thing that was going to survive was a self-thinking, proactive artist who took no shit from anyone. Consider that is the time of the Internet. This was a new era, and the wild west, and my mouth was salivating at the chance to do something without relying on anyone else, because, by golly, I had relied on too many people till now, in my life.

In 2000 I decided to start my own record label, Warrior Girl Music, because I didn’t want to wait around for someone to make it happen for me; to at least start it off myself. It was my life. I started to do something entrepreneurial in a time when most artists weren’t willing to risk going out on their own. So I created my own self-made success, in a way, by releasing my own music, touring across the country, and developing great music concepts. I also developed Songsalive! worldwide which is a non-profit organization for songwriters and it has created a huge community. From all of this, I’m invited to speak about my adventures at workshops and in my books and it’s all icing on the cake. I feel like I’m successful today and I’m sharing with you how I see my life and how I see success as an artist, to hopefully inspire you.

I don’t see myself as any different now as I did then. I’m still the girl with a big dream and adventurous in spirit. I live my life one day at a time, and I’m holding on to my dream like there’s no tomorrow.

To this day, we still live in the wild west of the music industry. In fact, I’d rather call it Outer Space. We’re all searching for Mars and a new frontier. We’re in a flux and it’s a perfect opportunity for independent artists to think outside the box and create success for themselves. Artists need to be entrepreneurs. You need to be self-motivated, and in charge of your own ship.

Yes, it’s a lonely path. You will feel very “alone” in your journey, because it’s unique and untainted with any path anyone has taken before.

In order to be powerful as an artist, you have to be very business artist. You need to be very self driven and business savvy. You don’t need to know everything about the business (you can go to experts for advice) but you are in control.

If you want it to be life long, you have to be a visionary. You have to be able to think outside the box and “feel” it inside. A lot of inner work is required. So while you are working on your craft and techniques on the outside, you have to work on your mindset on the inside. There is a lot of inner work to be done.. Everything that I am is ALL about my mindset, my attitude about myself and where I want to go. So keep that in your back pocket.

A while back, I spoke for my second time, at Berklee School of Music in Boston. It’s such an honor to be able to do this and I thank the insightful and prolific Berklee author Peter Spellman for the opportunity, as Berklee is one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. Peter Spellman also gets my vision about the artist entrepreneur. In fact, he inspired me to use the title. It was very timely to speak to students there, not for the sakes of the writing progress of my new book (Just Get Out There), which I always feel inspired to write a chapter or two after a public outing, but also because it reminded me of who I was and what I wanted in life. Speaking and inspiring other artists, reminds ME of why I’m an artist. My audience is like a mirror to my own artistic soul, and my dreams.

I was asked to give my thoughts on the topic of “the inner game of music entrepreneurship” at Berklee. This statement conjured up some fascinating thought and ensuing dialogue. The most obvious cool topic is ‘entrepreneurship’. To be considered an entrepreneur in this business of music by Berklee is indeed flattering, let alone the opportunity to speak about it. With everything I do as an artist, musician, author, speaker, label owner, artist community builder, I guess I am indeed entrepreneurial. What is more important here though is that I feel everyone needs to be entrepreneurial, in order to be truly powerful as an artist in this new music/arts business. It’s automatic. If we want to lead our lives, or art, our business, we need to be self-driven, business minded, and a visionary. But this cannot be just shown externally. We need to feel it and “be it” internally too.

The next part about this topic that I was excited about was the idea of talking about the word “game”.  Dabbling in the music business can indeed be like a game, and it conjured up really cool concepts for me to speak about the game of music, the game of business and finally… the psychological game.

Click here for the full article on Gilli Moon’s website.

———————-

About Gilli Moon & this article

This article is an excerpt from Gilli Moon�s new book JUST GET OUT THERE. Check out her books at http://www.gillimoon.com/thebook

Gilli Moon is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. She is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, pianist, actor, producer, author, painter, motivator, entrepreneur, visionary and empowering community builder, and like her company name, she is truly a Warrior Girl. Her restless creativity and rebellious nature continually urge the artist to push the envelope when writing a song, recording in the studio, on stage, in business and with whatever she touches. Gilli (pronounced as with a “J”) is an illustrious, energetic poly-media artist, with multifaceted albums and dynamic live shows that have touched music lovers worldwide garnering high praise from the most jaded of critics. For the past 10 years she has been one of Australia’s most influential and iconic Artists, forging an independent path before anyone knew what “indie” was. She has produced and released 5 studio music albums of her original music, to critical acclaim,
released several EPs and singles, written hundreds of songs, winning songwriting and artist awards and licensing to film and television show, and has performed around the world many times. Gilli Moon is the quintessential renaissance woman, with a ceaseless contribution to the creative and artist community at large.

Gilli has become a beacon for artists around the world, inspired and motivated by Gilli’s story, and her creativity. She performs and tours
around the world and is constantly creating projects for her own music and arts passions, as well as for others. Inspired to make a difference in the music industry for songwriters, Gilli co-founded Songsalive!, in 1997, which is now the largest internationally based non-profit songwriters organization. Gilli has written a motivational book for artists of all genres called “I AM A Professional Artist – the Key to Survival and Success in the World of the Arts” based on her experiences in the music and general arts businesses as an artist and entrepreneur, and is currently writing her sophomore book release “Just Get Out There” due in 2009.

Discover this dynamic and organic artist at http://www.gillimoon.com Click on Bio for her full story. Her music plays from every page. Check out her label, Warrior Girl Music, which also offers private artist coaching at http://www.warriorgirlmusic.com . And the non profit organization Songsalive! at http://www.songsalive.org

The KEY TO SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS in the music business of TODAY is to be a unique artist, in charge of your own destiny. It means you need to be an artist entrepreneur.

I’m from Australia. Grew up in Sydney, Australia. Playing piano since I was 4 years old. Was a singer, actor, dance. I did it all. Like many of us, who come from another country or city to L.A, we usually are A type + artists who come to LA and want to be a star. It took me a long time, though, to find out who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to go.

When I first came to L.A I thought that the only way to be successful would be to do showcases on the Sunset Strip, and send my tape around hoping to get signed to a major label. I had all those commercial notions of success in my dreams, like number 1 hit on radio, a grammy, etc etc. The thought was “sign a deal, get a huge advance, and become an overnight success.”

But when I arrived here, (97-98) the music industry started to change right under my feet. It was like quicksand, and the only thing that was going to survive was a self-thinking, proactive artist who took no shit from anyone. Consider that is the time of the Internet. This was a new era, and the wild west, and my mouth was salivating at the chance to do something without relying on anyone else, because, by golly, I had relied on too many people till now, in my life.

In 2000 I decided to start my own record label, Warrior Girl Music, because I didn’t want to wait around for someone to make it happen for me; to at least start it off myself. It was my life. I started to do something entrepreneurial in a time when most artists weren’t willing to risk going out on their own. So I created my own self-made success, in a way, by releasing my own music, touring across the country, and developing great music concepts. I also developed Songsalive! worldwide which is a non-profit organization for songwriters and it has created a huge community. From all of this, I’m invited to speak about my adventures at workshops and in my books and it’s all icing on the cake. I feel like I’m successful today and I’m sharing with you how I see my life and how I see success as an artist, to hopefully inspire you.

I don’t see myself as any different now as I did then. I’m still the girl with a big dream and adventurous in spirit. I live my life one day at a time, and I’m holding on to my dream like there’s no tomorrow.

To this day, we still live in the wild west of the music industry. In fact, I’d rather call it Outer Space. We’re all searching for Mars and a new frontier. We’re in a flux and it’s a perfect opportunity for independent artists to think outside the box and create success for themselves. Artists need to be entrepreneurs. You need to be self-motivated, and in charge of your own ship.

Yes, it’s a lonely path. You will feel very “alone” in your journey, because it’s unique and untainted with any path anyone has taken before.

In order to be powerful as an artist, you have to be very business artist. You need to be very self driven and business savvy. You don’t need to know everything about the business (you can go to experts for advice) but you are in control.

If you want it to be life long, you have to be a visionary. You have to be able to think outside the box and “feel” it inside. A lot of inner work is required. So while you are working on your craft and techniques on the outside, you have to work on your mindset on the inside. There is a lot of inner work to be done.. Everything that I am is ALL about my mindset, my attitude about myself and where I want to go. So keep that in your back pocket.

Quote – Shining Through

This is something a new friend of mine shared today in a phone conversation … it resonated 🙂

“It’s when we stop forcing it … trying to impress that we really shine through; we start having strong people like us, just fall into our laps – and those that are weak are empowered by the tone of our voice” – Miles Patrick Yohnke

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to write a captivating email for booking shows …

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get a solid response from a venue?

Well the reality is venues do, what venues do … and we can’t control that. We can control our approach & the strength of our communication. Here’s an example of an powerful & professional email. Marlon Wilson who books for Politic Live sent this to a talent buyer and cc’ed me (b/c I have a relationship with the venue he’s approaching).

Note: out of respect to the venue I’ve disguised the talent buyer, venue & city.

Here’s a copy of his email …

—–

Subject: Edmonton Band “Politic Live” & (Your Venue)

Hi (Talent Buyer),

My name is Marlon Wilson.  I am a colleague of Kyle McNeil from Kmax Entertainment and former manager of Edmonton’s Smoothride.  I myself manage an Edmonton hip-hop/reggae group called Politic Live – who recently did a 14 date tour of Western Canada as an opener for 2009 Juno Nominee DL Incognito and 3X Juno Award Winner Red-1 of the Rascalz.  While not their first tour, it was their first ever as an opener for such celebrated artists.

This coming summer Politic Live are hoping to line up some shows both in the primary and tertiary markets of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  The tour is set up around the last week of July and the first week of August.  Dates confirmed so far include Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Winnipeg.  Politic Live would love to include (insert city name) in our routing, hence my e-mail.  Should the timing on this tour not work with your schedule, Politic Live is more than happy to set up a show at a later time – be it this summer or in the near future.

Please take a look at the Politic Live MySpace page to check out their music.  Below I have included a brief bio on the group as well.

Cheers,

Marlon Wilson

POLITIC LIVE
• 2008 Indies Award Nominee for FAVOURITE URBAN ARTIST/GROUP OF THE YEAR.
• Politic Live’s last album Adaptation placed #17 on Earshot’s Top 20 Hip-Hop Albums of 2007. Adaptation spent 10 weeks on the National Campus Radio Hip-Hop Charts where it peaked at #2.
• 2007 Western Canadian Music Award Nominee for OUTSTANDING URBAN MUSIC RECORDING.
• Nominated for a 2007 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for BEST RAP RECORDING.
• Politic Live has performed at nationally recognized Festival like Canadian Music Week (Toronto), New Music West (Vancouver), and the Western Canadian Music Awards (Winnipeg).
• To date Politic Live have had 4 music videos in rotation at Much Music.

www.MySpace.com/PoliticLive

—–
Marlon did a few things that literally made me say out loud “wow, great email Marlon”!

1) Marlon used his relationship with me to create association. The talent buyer knows who I am and was pleased with Smoothride’s performance (the band I used to manage) when they played his venue. In this instance, “guilty by association” played out in a positive way. This also turned Marlon’s emailinto a warm approach, which is much easier than a cold approach.

2) Marlon demonstrated his group actually plays shows & is established. Specifically he did this in mentioning a recent 14 date tour. It’s important to show you’ve played shows … even better if you can mentioned subtly. He’s almost saying it in a passive type of way, like: “this happens all the time”, which is exactly what talent buyer’s want (experienced & capable acts).

3) He also alluded to opening for a 3x Juno Award winner, which is known as borrowing credibility. This happens all the time with reviews, testimonials & producers. For instance if a well known music journalist gives you a great review and you put it in your email signature line, in your press kit … you are “borrowing the credibility of the music journalist, so that you can get more press, win more fans, etc.

4) And lastly, his email was succinct and very much to the point. Talent buyer’s don’t have much time and it’s important to make their job as easy as possible, especially if you want to play their venue.

There’s a few tips on writing a great email to venues.

I hope this helps you!

Kyle what are you doing now?

Kyle what are you doing now?

That’s a fair question. One I get more then once a week … the reality is I’m doing a number of things … in fact projects and interests that stretch into completely different industries. Lately I’ve been answering with “talking to people”, which is pretty much what I do now … it’s much fun, keeps me on my toes and engaged.

In terms of something I can share, that’s concrete … this is what “I’m doing now”: I’m collaborating with a woman (Ariel Hyatt) out of New York, who has worked with 1400 artists in the last 12 years in PR (I’m not drunk … that number is actually accurate).

All the impressive stats and glitz of New York aside, I’m excited to help Canadian artists navigate the complexities of the online world … and not only navigate them but take advantage of the opportunities found within Web 2.0 & social networking sites.

I truly believe that if you want to create something … including a career in the music industry it’s completely possible. Something like what Ariel has created for artists, has leverage and generates results. Naturally, I wouldn’t be working with her if I didn’t believe it wasn’t any good.

I’ve sat down with a few artists in the last few weeks regarding Cyber PR (our online campaign for artists) and it’s been really interesting to see how little I have to say. The program seems to be just as strong in the eyes of the artist, as it is in mine. It’s fun to share something that has that much obvious value. Powerful stuff!

Here’s an artist that used Cyber PR and loved it:

Ariel has incomparable reach. Less than one month into my campaign, I’ve already been played around the world, in Australia, England, the US, the Netherlands, and more. I’ve already come across in-depth reviews of my debut album from widely-distributed bloggers to which I would otherwise have no contact. No effort is wasted, and I can follow the campaign, in detail, in real time. It’s incredible, and it’s working.”

– Trey Green

Thanks for reading &. feel free to say hi & leave a reply 🙂

Cheers,

Kyle

P.S. I really want to blog some more … this can get so captivating for me!! At some point I’d like to share two concepts that I feel are so huge 1) reaching out, i.e. asking for help when in need (people love to help other people) 2) The “what can I do for you approach” … this is powerful and 180 degrees different from the other approach of “what can you do for me”.