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Old 11-11-2014, 10:26 AM
DavidWhitehurst DavidWhitehurst is offline
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Default Curiosity Killed the Cat

I have a question but you need some background before I ask.

I did my own guitar instrumental album in 2012 called "Legacy". I did everything. I played electric and acoustic guitarpiano, violin, bass, drums, etc. I did some MIDI. And, even used loops. I was a combination of Jazz and Blues. And, it was good. I've never played a single piece of that album outside of my house.

It was released by ReverbNation and I made a grand total of about $40 total for 2 years? I am curious if anyone else has done this and made any money only self-marketing it and never playing it publicly. I don't trust ReverbNation or other promotion outfits much either. This pay-to-play business is BS. I won't pay good money to have someone increase my like, hit, play counter.

There are lots of talented people playing music. Some are like me, just playing in their living room. But, truth be told, we should be able to do an album ourselves and get people to pitch the $9.99 to iTunes, download it, and enjoy it. I have a lot of weird music that I've purchased. I listen to what I like and enjoy. And, I am not one of Taylor Swift's 18 ba-zillion fans. I haven't spent a single dime on anything she's done.

If anyone out there has done their own album and has a recipe for success in the US or even in another country, please please share what you know. I would bet that there are lots of other guitarists like me that would love to produce guitar albums and not have to tour to fill people's ears with our music.

Thanks,

David
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:30 AM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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If you join CD-Baby you will be able to sell your physical CDs there, and they also put your music up on *most* digital download and streaming services....all completely controlled at your discretion. The main thing for me there is having my music up on iTunes.

They take a cut, of course, but it's well worth it to me. Modest amounts of money come in every month from the digital world, and some months are nicer than others...

I also make a bunch of money every quarter with digital royalty payments, and the majority of this is via Pandora, which I have a separate relationship. I don't know what the current parameters are for getting "up" on Pandora, but it's worth looking into.

All of that said, I do tour and have an active website promoting my music...and I'm sure that this helps.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:33 AM
RustyZombie RustyZombie is offline
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I find it interesting that you rip Taylor Swift, considering she started in a similar situation to you and managed to make it big. She definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but that doesn't necessarily mean she isn't talented, if that is indeed what you meant to imply.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:39 AM
DavidWhitehurst DavidWhitehurst is offline
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Originally Posted by BlackmoresNight View Post
I find it interesting that you rip Taylor Swift, considering she started in a similar situation to you and managed to make it big. She definitely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but that doesn't necessarily mean she isn't talented, if that is indeed what you meant to imply.
Not at all. My issue is with the big record companies that pay CBS to put on during the Superbowl. It's like a slot-machine that hits ... now the money is rolling in. I'm just very frustrated that I spent a lot of time and money doing something that made nothing in 2 years and I was pushing it hard, yet on my own via the computer and internet. Taylor is not my cup of tea but I do thinks she's talented. It's just sickening that there is really really good talent out there, that will never get heard by you or I.
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:47 AM
DavidWhitehurst DavidWhitehurst is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
If you join CD-Baby you will be able to sell your physical CDs there, and they also put your music up on *most* digital download and streaming services....all completely controlled at your discretion. The main thing for me there is having my music up on iTunes.

They take a cut, of course, but it's well worth it to me. Modest amounts of money come in every month from the digital world, and some months are nicer than others...

I also make a bunch of money every quarter with digital royalty payments, and the majority of this is via Pandora, which I have a separate relationship. I don't know what the current parameters are for getting "up" on Pandora, but it's worth looking into.

All of that said, I do tour and have an active website promoting my music...and I'm sure that this helps.
Larry,

Thanks for the posting. I need to try CD Baby. They were my next stop. And, I'm going to focus on the acoustic playing and less eclectic style stuff. My electric guitar stuff was very complex. The recordings and mixes were good but too much for the average listener. Other musicians liked it but Facebook friends from my hometown, e.g. not so much. And, I think I should do what I enjoy and that's learning new arrangements or doing originals and recording them. Build a portfolio of work and make a little money when I can. I do want to get fans in other countries. I know a ton of people from around the world because of what I really do for a living. I am a software architect and I've worked with people from different countries. I currently manage development that's done in India.

Thanks again for the CD Baby recommendation. I'm registered with them, I just haven't done anything there ... YET.

David
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  #6  
Old 11-11-2014, 10:49 AM
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A CD of Music is the output of effortful work. So is a washing machine.

It has a cost - the time and materials put into its creation.

It has features and benefits that will appeal to the appropriate buyer.

The next step is to identify the buyers that will find it appealing for the features and benefits that you are able to communicate.

Online there are a number of sites for making music available for listening/purchase.

At a performance venue, there is a merchandise table making the music available for purchase.

Online or in person, there is still the challenge of getting seen.

Advertising your upcoming performance, or, your online presence, both are activities that seem necessary to successfully increasing visibility to potential buyers.

Advertising isn't free - your time is worth money, and so is the time of someone who can 'work' the internet game for you. I'd ask you to be open to the idea of leveraging the power of the internet to increase the world's awareness of your CD.

CDBaby and Reverbnation are the two sites my CD producing friends use, all with varying degrees of success.

Constant promotion of one's wares seems to be necessary to move ahead in today's marketplace.

Good luck to you!

yours in tune,
amyFB
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:53 AM
RustyZombie RustyZombie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidWhitehurst View Post
Not at all. My issue is with the big record companies that pay CBS to put on during the Superbowl. It's like a slot-machine that hits ... now the money is rolling in. I'm just very frustrated that I spent a lot of time and money doing something that made nothing in 2 years and I was pushing it hard, yet on my own via the computer and internet. Taylor is not my cup of tea but I do thinks she's talented. It's just sickening that there is really really good talent out there, that will never get heard by you or I.
My mistake, I misunderstood. My apologies.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:01 AM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidWhitehurst View Post
Larry,

Thanks for the posting. I need to try CD Baby. They were my next stop. And, I'm going to focus on the acoustic playing and less eclectic style stuff. My electric guitar stuff was very complex. The recordings and mixes were good but too much for the average listener. Other musicians liked it but Facebook friends from my hometown, e.g. not so much. And, I think I should do what I enjoy and that's learning new arrangements or doing originals and recording them. Build a portfolio of work and make a little money when I can. I do want to get fans in other countries. I know a ton of people from around the world because of what I really do for a living. I am a software architect and I've worked with people from different countries. I currently manage development that's done in India.

Thanks again for the CD Baby recommendation. I'm registered with them, I just haven't done anything there ... YET.

David

FYI, and to reinforce something I said in my first post, I make *much* more money every year (or however you want to break it down) via Pandora than I ever have with *all* the services CD-Baby offers. The money from Pandora comes in via SoundExchange, and with SE there are also royalties from cable and also internet radio programming.

I stick with CD-Baby simply because they "distribute" digitally via both iTunes and Amazon. I want my name and my music "out there" on those services, so it's worth it.
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:21 PM
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devellis devellis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidWhitehurst View Post
I'm just very frustrated that I spent a lot of time and money doing something that made nothing in 2 years and I was pushing it hard, yet on my own via the computer and internet. ... It's just sickening that there is really really good talent out there, that will never get heard by you or I.

I can imagine that it's frustrating. The reality is, that your effort entails a cost to you but doesn't necessarily represent value to anyone else. It's not how hard you worked but how good the product is that will have value.

To value your efforts, people have to be aware of them. And to become aware of them at low risk, people need a way to get a sample of what you've done. A web site with clips of your playing is a way to achieve this. You Tube videos is another. Even a link to your music imbedded in this thread would do that to a degree. Others have been very successful in gaining exposure by making samples of their work available gratis. The Milk Carton Kids, as an example, made their first couple of albums available in their entirety for free on their web site as a way of giving people an opportunity to hear them. I downloaded those free albums and subsequently bought their albums.

There's a lot of free music around these days and people have developed an unfortunate habit of expecting their music to be free. That has a negative impact on everybody, including established artists. But for a new performer, it's an even steeper up-hill climb. The unfortunate truth is that nobody owes you anything for the effort you've expended in making a CD. They will only "owe you" when they consume your music. To persuade them to do that, you need to educate them and expose them to what you do. Of course, there's no guarantee that even then, they'll flock to your music but it's pretty much a certainty that they won't if they never have the chance to hear it. If you're doing open mics or the like, you can offer CDs for sale there and see what sort of interest they generate. If not (which I gather is the case), posting samples online may be a way to generate some interest.

I hope that this doesn't come across as harsh or critical. I don't mean it that way. It's just that there are far more good musicians than there is demand for their services. You need to create (or try to create) demand by getting your music heard and it has to rise above all the other music that others are also trying to get heard.

All "being good" entitles you to is a sense of personal accomplishment. "Being successful" commercially, even in a small way, involves a different set of skills or some incredible luck. The most important factor, I suspect, is exposure of your product to your potential audience. People really have no reason to go looking for you as a performer; you need to go looking for them as an audience -- at least until they have the chance to hear and appreciate what you have to offer.

Do you belong to the RTP Guitar Meetup group? There are several others in a situation similar to yours who participate in those meetups and as best as I can tell, they're a very supportive group. Maybe they can share their experiences with you and offer concrete and locale-appropriate suggestions for how to get your stuff heard. It really takes a proactive approach to reach an audience, as best as I can tell. I don't perform but even in my field as an academic, those of us who want to succeed often have to do a bit of marketing and share what we have to offer without compensation in order to cultivate an appreciation of its value among potential consumers.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 11-11-2014, 04:15 PM
DavidWhitehurst DavidWhitehurst is offline
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Thanks for your very honest messages. You've convinced me to do it all again, make a second album, use CD Baby to get it to iTunes and Amazon MP3 just like ReverbNation except that I think CD Baby doesn't own exclusive digital distribution rights. And, I'm going to have some physical CD's made and I'm going to give them to the fans I know closely and sell a few when I do concerts. I think my marketing hands and mouths would be extended if I just gave some CD's away. I need to really put money aside for the physical CDs. The recording and production are just labor and time intensive.

Thanks for all the replies today. This has helped a lot.

David
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidWhitehurst View Post
Not at all. My issue is with the big record companies that pay CBS to put on during the Superbowl. It's like a slot-machine that hits ... now the money is rolling in. I'm just very frustrated that I spent a lot of time and money doing something that made nothing in 2 years and I was pushing it hard, yet on my own via the computer and internet. Taylor is not my cup of tea but I do thinks she's talented. It's just sickening that there is really really good talent out there, that will never get heard by you or I.
IMO the problem with you pushing it "on your own via the computer and Internet" is that you are fishing for a few certain fish in the entire ocean. Meaning that while you may technically feel like you are reaching millions of people on the internet but how many of those people actually like the style of music you make? And of those people how do you get them to stop and pay attention to what you are doing for a few minutes amidst the enormous amount of distractions on the web.

That's where touring and playing shows is awesome. Even if you are only doing small house concerts for 10-15 people a night, you are reaching 10-15 people a night who are interested in your music, who pay attention to it, and who possibly come away changed by it. Just putting an album out on the "internet" is a huge crapshoot IMO without more directed marketing.

-Mike
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:06 AM
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If you made $40 thorugh RN, you did well (after expenses). If hta twas yoru total income - how much did it actually cost you to produce the album?
Bandcamp is a free place to host yoru music and sell digital copies - and unlike the other polaces, people can download uncompressed WAV, FLAC or AIC files. You set the price from $0 to whatever (or even allow the buyer to decide).
Amazon (thorugh its Createspace partner) will sell your CDs (no longer offering MP3 downloads, though) as CD-Rs (made to order), your only expense is the proof copy.
Kunaki offers CD-Rs very cheaply - less than $2 a copy including shipping when you buy some from them. Them also set up a page where people can purchase copies directly from them and you get payment. I ordered 25 copies of my 2nd CD form them, sold about 15 at $5 each and made my money back, plus enough for another 10 copies, and I've given about 10 away, and still have 10 to sell 9at least I didn't lose anything!)
CD Baby (also look at Tunecore's offering) charges a fee to put your music on iTunes and their site - an annual charge, I believe. Other places charge a 1-time fee for it.
Larry's comments about Pandora are great - but you have to get Pandora to accept your music. Spotify pay for playing your music, but you have to pay to get on their service, too.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:49 AM
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I have five of my CDs on CDBaby and available through their distribution channels (e.g. iTunes and Spotify). Have not tried Pandora so don't know how that would pan out.

In the past I made more money on a regular basis with physical CDs and downloads. It has been less more recently.

The public's buying trend has been from physical CDs, to digital downloads, to streaming which means less and less money going to the artist. Anyone with half the interest can get free software to save streamed tunes to their computer instead of paying for a download.

Typical streaming "sale":

Sep 15, 2014 iTunes Match - Americas Derek Coombs Apple Juice Apple Juice No stream 1.0 $0.00370000 $0.00370000

That requires 270 streams of your music to make one dollar!

Anyway that is the trend. If you have little or no name recognition and don't sale your CDs at live shows don't expect much.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:11 AM
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CD Baby is great and easy to work with. I am fortunate that they are just a few blocks from where I work in Portland. So its easy to drop off physical cds when I need to restock. Which is not often. Most people seem to buy downloads these days when shopping online.

Here are my thoughts. Though keep in mind I just do this for fun and occasionally get paid, and enjoy connecting with people that enjoy my music.

Like Mobilemike said just putting it out there online you are trying to reach a few fish in a huge ocean. The market of people searching for instrumental acoustic guitar is rather small I think. It can help having some sort of niche, a website, and a blog to draw people in who then might buy your music. For example, I have celticfingerstyleguitar.com If someone searches for that in google hopefully my website will be near the top. I put up some free tabs for people looking for celtic guitar arrangements, and have a blog I dont update often enough.

There are a handful of small websites that review indie acoustic guitar recordings. It can help to have a cd that looks and sounds professional. If you are going to record it at home I might pay someone else to mix and master it.

I just signed up for soundexchange and cant wait for the checks to start rolling in
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Old 11-13-2014, 12:03 PM
DavidWhitehurst DavidWhitehurst is offline
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This is all great information. I'm doing this for fun and not professionally. I would if something popped and I was in demand. For now, I think I'm going to try write original music, record as I have material, distribute online (probably CD Baby) and maybe pay to have a small number of CDs physically to sell when I'm playing out. I may do two or three CDs and then get physical CD's of my best one to sell. I could give away self-produced versions to friends, family, etc. to start. My first CD was my self-pat-on-the-back and a wonderful learning experience. What did I learn? I learned that it's not easy to do everything yourself. And, I learned that there are more promotion-vultures than folks that really do compliment you for your hard work.

Thanks again folks. This was good discussion.

David
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