How a VA can help with Crowdfunding

I know I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to be, but some exciting projects took off last month that I had to devote my time to – in a great way! It definitely hasn’t been a slow summer!

One of these projects is helping out with a Kickstarter for a pre-release of an album – which I’m really excited about getting out in the world! Kickstarter’s, and any crowdfunding efforts for that matter, take daily commitment for the 30 days you have to raise your goal.

If asking funds from your family and friends for your next album isn’t overwhelming enough, setting everything up on your Kickstarter page, planning and pricing out rewards, creating your video, promotional graphics, emails, messages, posts, publicity, shipping, fulfilling orders….well, that should be! Especially for just one person!

If you’re starting to sweat it when pumping up for your Kickstarter and you’re coming up short with hours and help, you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you before, during and after the campaign!

Here’s just a few ways they can help you make it happen:

Pricing your rewards – Have a VA price how much it would be to order merch, CDs or Vinyl you are planning to include in your rewards so that you can make sure you level those accordingly. Don’t forget about shipping costs, too.

 

Proofread your Page – Have a VA proofread your full story, page and rewards so you can publish to the world with confidence.

 

Schedule out Emails – A VA can help draft, proof and schedule out emails to you mailing list to promote your Kickstarter to – especially during the first few days of launch and last few days for the final push!

 

Send out messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – Work together to create a non-spammy message to help send out to your followers. I recommend keeping the outreach to your close friends and families personal, but to those who you don’t know, a VA can help send the message out!

 

Build graphics for promo and social – With Canva, it’s now easier than ever to build out graphics for promotional and social media use. Have a VA layout banners for your social media profiles to make every platform lead fans and followers to your Kickstarter!

 

Keep you on schedule – When building out your daily to-do’s, a VA can load the tasks with deadlines into a project management system like Asana or Basecamp, so that you can always know you’ve done everything you wanted to do to make your Kickstarter a success!

 

Brainstorm promotional ideas – Kickstarter’s usually have a lull period. The first and last week are where your campaign will get the most action. During that lull period, you can offer contests to boost funds in the middle. Have a VA come up and brainstorm with them contest ideas – like offering a live concert or give everyone a CD if $1000 are raised by a certain date.

 

This is truly just the beginning of how a VA can help you with a Kickstarter. Each campaign has a different goal and audience and with that, requires different ways of getting it out there. In any case, a VA will make you seem superhuman in your Kickstarter!

 

P.S. In case you are curious as to what project inspired this post, I’m excited to share with you Robyn Cage’s Kickstarter for her upcoming album, “Slow The Devil”! I’m more than honored to be involved in this project and hope you will consider supporting her music! My favorite is that Mystery Box – can’t resist a little mystery! 😉

What is your best incentive?

Mailchimp rolled out a new feature and I just had to make sure you knew about it – especially if you use Mailchimp or if you are thinking of using it.

Now every account has access to use their free automation tool! Before, you had to pay at least $10/month just to use the automation, even if you had less than 2000 contacts. Now, everyone can use their automation tools!

What is the automation tool? It’s a way to automatically send emails to your mailing list when they sign up, when they click on a link, based on their location, on and on. This saves energy, time, brain power and ultimately money.

So, are you using an automated response with your email sign ups? If no, what’s holding you back? There are so many options that you can do to help build your relationship with your fans, make you look professional and make you money!

Here are some ideas for an automated email to new sign ups for your list.

1) Free music – tried and true, people love to get your music for free. Make it enticing by giving away studio versions, acoustic versions or songs they won’t get anywhere else.

2) Coupon – give a coupon away for new signs ups to your online store! Capitalize on their interest right when they sign up for your list but offering a great deal on your latest album.

3) Personal stories – if you’re a storyteller, share a sequence of stories and how you started out as a musician, or about your last album and how it came to be. Set the tone to your list that they are going to get the background on your music and you.

4) Throw it all in a bundle – put together a bundle of your music, a coupon and maybe a few more ‘digital’ goodies. Recreate the experience of joining your fan club in the digital world!

There are endless ideas to include your welcome email because you, your music and your brand are individualistic! Are you a guitarist? Offer up a chord sheet of your favorite song. Big fan of unicorns? Offer a coupon for some fun merch in your store. Get creative in how you can connect with your fans!

I hope this gets you thinking about how you can give an experience to your mailing list sign ups.

How do you get started with a VA?

 

Today’s message is all about getting started with a virtual assistant. Most of my clients have never worked with a virtual assistant with intentions of working long term – most work they have hired were temporary workers from Upwork or Fiverr, or one time projects. So, a very common question I get is – how does this work? How do we get started? How do we build this relationship?

After years of working with many clients, I’ve learned a few basic things to start with every new client to make sure boundaries are set, goals are being met, communication is made and the relationship can grow into a strong team!

1) Set up a weekly or bi-monthly check in call with your VA, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. This will keep both of you on top of your goals and together you two can stay on the big picture of your career.

2) Create a shared online workspace. I highly recommend signing up for Asana or Trello – both free – to organize your to-do lists and delegate tasks, included with deadlines. Being online and shared, it makes it easy to communicate with each other and avoid email back and forth overload. If you don’t want to learn a workspace program, utilize a shared document or sheet of your to-do list.

3) Create a shared folder of your most updated assets. Every musician should have a folder from the get-go of their best tracks, photos, bio and links to videos. This way, you aren’t always emailing the assets you want your VA to use for press or festivals, AND he or she doesn’t always have to ask you for it.

4) Password management. Use Lastpass or Dashlane to store your passwords and share safely with your VA. You can even use these sites to store credit cards so that your information is protected.

5) Let them know to speak up. Empower your VA and let them know to speak up if they see a better way of doing things, or have any suggestions. They are working closely in your career and they might see and feel there is a way to streamline a process, find you a connection or save you money!

These 5 tried and true tips are a GREAT way to build a solid trust between you and your VA to handle your career and goals. So go out there, find your team and rock it!

Encore Blog Feature

 

Today, I’m keeping it short and sweet. Mostly, I want to address the #ShamelessPlug subject and share with you my first interview on Encore Music’s blog! I’m honored to have been interviewed and would like to officially thank them for including me in their blog!

If you don’t know Encore, definitely check them out if you are active on the gig market, think private events, corporate events and the like. They have a great, easy to use site, have worked with BIG names like Carnival, Guinness, Google and many more. Their customer service is also fantastic, which is a big plus for me personally.

 

How To Get On Wikipedia ?

Well, I was pondering what to share with you to start the year off right and I thought, why not about something that most of my clients ask about / wonder if they should do this / why it matters / how it can happen…and that’s having a Wikipedia page!

You might be thinking, “wikipedia page? Who cares?! My website and my multiple social media profiles are enough.” Sure, it’s enough for folks to get information about you. But, a wikipedia page can open doors to verification, credibility and online reputation. It gives you a platform that not just anyone can get.

NOTE – not every musician should get a wikipedia page.

If you are starting out, it’s just not going to be possible to start a page. If you’ve been at it for a few years with press, mentions, performances, placements, etc., you have more of a reason to build a page and your chances are very good.

You see, wikipedia requires you to prove that you accomplished some status with your music. I found as long as you can link each sentence in your wikipedia page to a press source or other Wikipedia pages, you should be able to have your own.

Here’s how to get started if you’re ready for a wikipedia page.

1) Sign up for Wikipedia. You can sign up yourself and create your own profile, but if you can, have someone else like a VA, family or friend sign up in order to write the article for you. Better yet, see if you know anyone who has a profile who regularly contributes. If you’ve submitted on wikipedia before successfully, you have more credibility to add more articles.

If you are signing up for the first time and just getting started, walk through their tutorials, make slight contributions if you can to other articles, and get comfortable. I also recommend creating a fake name so it’s not so transparent that you are submitting an article for yourself.

2) Write out your article. Your existing biography is a good place to start – but cut down the fluff. Wikipedia does not care about your ‘sultry voice’ or ‘outstanding performance’. They want the cut and dry facts – with proof!

For example, take this existing sentence from an artist bio:

As a performer, she’s dazzled audiences from Davies Symphony Hall,  to thousands at outdoor festivals, and the prestigious and intimate singer-songwriter circuit in Nashville. 

To put that into wikipedia, you’ll want to rewrite it as:

She has performed at Davies Symphony Hall, the Outdoor Music Festival, Summer Music Festival 2016 and at venues like Nashville Shows and Nashville Concert House.

PLUS you are going to want to be able to link to either another wikipedia page or news source saying that you performed at those places.

If you can’t prove it with an outside source other than your existing bio, leave it out.

BUT there are exceptions. I found that for your intro sentence, such as:

Artist Name is an American singer-songwriter.

You can link that to your bio as a source. It’s when you start linking yourself to venues, festivals, organizations and other people where another source is needed besides a site run by you.

3) Add your discography, videos and other credits.

In addition to your intro and career paragraphs, you’ll want to then add your discography – this includes singles, EPs, full albums, remixes and videos.

You can also add other fun facts if you’d like, such as where you studied, other talents (acting, teaching, etc.) as long as you can prove it!

4. Add your ‘Infobox’. This is that little box to the right with your name, image and overview. In wikipedia, it’s under Templates>Infobox Musical Artist.

You will have to add your image to WikiCommons before you can link to it in your Infobox. I strongly recommend using a live or action photo, not a promo shot, and be sure you have permission from your photographer to upload it to Wikipedia.

5. Establish your page. Once published, be sure to add categories to your page so it can be listed with similar articles (or artists in this case). Also, if there is another wikipedia page you can add your name to, such as a producer’s page, an awards page, etc., add your name. The more your page is linked to in others, the better.

It may seem intimidating, but I promise, if you take some time to sit with your bio and make it just how Wikipedia likes it, you can have a page up and running within a day.

As a bonus, it will come up in Google search almost instantly, you can link to it when you’re trying to get verified on Twitter, and now you’ve got something to distinguish yourself from other artists online.

Even if you aren’t quite there yet in your career, stash this away for when you are ready and you’ll hit the ground running getting your own wiki page up.

 

Album Release Checklist

 

One of many reasons why a client comes to me is helping them handle their next album release. Being independent, it’s up to them to handle artwork, distribution, registration, the works – on top of promoting it, performing and practicing – which is on top of normal life obligations. Doing it alone is not a light task.

While I hope it’s clear to you that you need to delegate on help with artwork, press, booking, music videos and promotion, sometimes the actual paperwork of getting the album release gets buried – but is essentially just as important when it earns you money for every stream, purchase and play of your upcoming album.

Some of you may find check lists boring, but I LOVE them. Why? Crossing off that item lets me know the next step was completed, and I can go to sleep at night without my head spinning and thinking, wait, did I do that? Should I do this?

I don’t use them for everything, but I definitely have one for album releases. There’s just too much to miss or get confused by with everything that needs to be done.

So, here it is, in no particular order.

__ Register Copyrights. You immediately own your copyright when the song is in fixed format (sheet music, recording, etc.). It’s very easy to do and I recommend handing it off to your VA right away. Just visit http://www.copyright.gov/ to get started. Note, you can register your album as a collection, so you aren’t paying the fee for each song.

__ Affiliate with a PRO if this is your first release, or add the track information to your PRO – ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Some distributors that work with independent artists will do this part for you when setting up your album for an extra fee.

__ Add the album to SoundScan. Whether it’s a single or album, register the title at Nielsen Soundscan. Visit http://titlereg.soundscan.com/soundscantitlereg/ to fill out the form. If you have any questions while filling it out, I’ve found their phone support is always available and always helpful.

__ Set Up Distribution. Whoever you use, make sure to get started early on distribution. Some need at least 2 weeks in order to set up pre-orders, and delays can happen. So once you know the date of your release, go ahead and start on the distribution. If you need some guidance on how to find the best distributor, Ari Herstand has a great resource on his blog here.

__ License any cover songs. You’ll need to obtain a mechanical license in order to release a cover song on your album. I’ve only had to handle this with a Christmas album, but with covers being more and more popular, it’s becoming easier to license as well. Some distributors will help with this, but you can also do this by visiting http://www.easysonglicensing.com/.

__ Set up a Private Soundcloud playlist of the album. This will be key if you want to share the album with anyone before it drops. No one wants to download your mp3’s, give them easy listening access via Soundcloud. Plus, most blog submissions and press submissions request a streaming link!

__ Add the album to Soundexchange. If you’re the owner of the songs, primary artist or in the band, there are additional digital performance royalties you can collect on when music is played on internet/satellite radio. PROs don’t cover this, but Soundexchange does. Note, it can take months to get added so if you haven’t registered on their site, do it now.

__ Send the album to Pandora. Lots of people still use Pandora so you’ll want to make sure your album gets added. It takes all but 5 minutes to send it off and if you’re approved, you’ll know in a matter of weeks. I’ve seen it happen in a few days before, but the earlier, the better.

Once you have registered with all of these sites and gathered the album information (UPC, album cover, ISRCs, credits), all of these tasks above can be handed off to a VA to complete. That way, you can focus on the more important things, like practicing for your big release concert! 😉

Hope you find this helpful – feel free to print it off for your next release – and can’t wait till next time!

Did you know about this setting on Facebook?

Today’s message is a short one but I think you’ll find it super helpful. I found something out about Facebook I didn’t know before.

Our news feed on Facebook can seem random, unpredictable,and just plain mysterious, and you probably feel like your page just doesn’t reach to your followers. Well, now there’s a feature that can help your followers see your updates.

It’s called the ‘See First’ button.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Facebook doesn’t want you to know about it because I’m surprised I haven’t learned about it yet!

What it does is show selected pages in your news feed first, making sure your true followers never miss an update.

Here’s how to set it up:
1. Click “Follow” near the cover photo of a page
2. Hover over “Following” or “Liked” near their cover photo
3. Select “See First”

That’s it!

Now, it’s up to you to tell your fans how they can keep up with your music. Post and share to your social media profiles and mailing list!  Make it even more fun with a phone or video on your wall – video is usually best – instructing your followers on how to see your updates first! Boost it to your followers for a few dollars to make sure everyone sees it.

Collect royalties every time you perform.

Today’s topic is something I’ve been meaning to write about since the beginning of the year (better late than never, right?). If you’re recording and performing, you most likely are associated with one of the 3 big publishers – ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. (If you’re not, you should be. Sign up now!)

With that membership, you have access to earning royalties for plays on radio, TV, and what we’re mostly going to talk about today, LIVE. The catch is – you are responsible for reporting it. If you’re not reporting it, you’re losing royalty payments for performances of your music! And no one likes the sound of that.

I get it – if you perform a lot, it’s overwhelming, it takes time to get all the info, then you have to meet deadlines – but look, this only helps you in the long run so you wan to make it part of your routine. Whether you are doing it on your own or if you’ve hired someone to do it for you, here are some things that will speed up and make the entire process less painful for you.

Here’s what each PRO needs to know when reporting the shows:
Artist Name
Headline/Support *SESAC and ASCAP only
Submitted By (Name, Phone, Email) *SESAC only
Date of Show
Venue Name
City, ST
Address
Venue Capacity
Paid Admission?
Tickets sold in advance?
Time of Show
Length of Show
Setlist **

**If you perform the same setlist often, build the setlist beforehand and then you are able to select that setlist when you are reporting each show. Also, most of them let you duplicate an existing reported show which is helpful when you are reporting a month long tour (trust me!).

To make it less overwhelming when it’s time to report, build a spreadsheet and then fill it out every week, 2 weeks, month – this depends on your tour schedule. This way, it takes minutes at a time, and not hours on end.

Note: there are deadlines! Below are direct links to each PRO’s deadlines:

ASCAP: http://www.ascap.com/members/onstage/onstage-faqs.aspx
SESAC: https://www.sesac.com/writerspublishers/howwepay/generalInfo.aspx
BMI: http://www.bmi.com/special/bmi_live

My advice? Get caught up now and then just make it a habit to report each month. This way, you will never miss a deadline.

Last piece of insight I have. As you may know, live venues are required to pay a fee to the PROs if music is publicly performed there. There’s some exceptions, but very limited. Keep in mind, smaller venues may be operating unaware of this requirement so if you’re unable to find that venue in the PRO Venue Database, check with them ahead of time. You wouldn’t want to accidentally draw a big target to the venue. Ideally, try to focus on booking shows where they have their licenses in place so that everyone benefits. 🙂

I hope if you are performing you found this helpful, and that you’ll start reporting your performances!

This blog post is interrupted by…[Social Media updates]

I was ready to share with you all about a task I’ve been tackling for my clients especially this year, but two new updates for all of our social media profiles happened this week that I wanted to make sure you knew about!

 

What were they? Can you guess? Okay, I’ll tell you!

 

1) Twitter Verification is now open to everyone. That little blue badge let’s followers know that your account of public interest is authentic.

 

You’ll need to confirm your email, phone, and make sure all the details are there. In addition, you will have to send them 2-5 links, plus a paragraph on why you should be verified.

 

Click here to get started on the verification process and join the blue badge club! It’s about time, Twitter!

 

2) Facebook Pages got a new look. Have you noticed? Here’s a shot of my favorite musician’s page with the new layout:

 

What to notice? First off, the banner image is no longer (unnecessarily) covered up by the profile picture. Second, the call to action button is shining through in Facebook blue and larger on the page. Overall, things have shifted around on the page, giving us something new to get used to.

 

What this means for you? You can get more creative with your branding on Facebook with the more visible banner. With the larger call to action button, that gives you more leverage to whatever you need to promote – mailing list, album, video, etc. so make sure it’s set to something you want your followers to be aware of.

 

I for one am enjoying this update and I think everyone else will too.

Building your fanbase by playing for new audiences

photo-1455503521443-c39d5b861bc4I have noticed a theme recently, and that is I’m realizing that it might not be clear on how you can delegate or what to delegate to a Virtual Assistant as a musician. I get questions like, “How does this work?”, “What do I do?”, “What do you need, how do I give it to you?”. You see, I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years now and so it’s clear to me, but maybe not to my clients.

If this is something you struggle with you question, let me know! I’d like to know how many of you are sitting with that question so that maybe I can help.
Anyway, on to the real topic of today….:-)
I wanted to share with a strategy I’m carrying out with some of my clients who are looking for performing opportunities and connecting with venues as independent artists, i.e. with no manager or booking agent.
There are ways to play more shows in places and venues you want to be in (but maybe can’t get in with just your name/following) by connecting with other bands or artists like you that are either from the same town as you, or touring through your city. You can also connect with venues that present your type of music.
By building a relationship with these booking agents, bands and venues, you can also reach a larger audience to grow your own fanbase!
Here are a few ways to get started on building those opening opportunities:

 

  • Reach out to booking agents or management of artists that have a similar sound to you – try to connect with them on a personal level, let them know that you are interested in opening opportunities and what numbers you could pull. Be friendly!
  • Do the same with venues – let them know you’re local (if you are) and would love to be considered as an opener. Let them know about your pull in the area.
  • If you know the band is coming to your town, make it an even easier situation by telling the band what date / venues / city you want to open them for. You will be more likely to get a response. Even if they can’t accommodate, you’ve started the relationship!
  • Make sure to watch their tour schedule to see when they are coming to you. Check each month on their website and reach out when it makes sense.
  • You can also watch a venue’s schedule to see if any bands need opening. Submit your EPK to the booking agents when you email them – they’ll keep you in mind if there’s a slot they need to fill, even if it’s not the original one you inquire about!

 

All of these actions get your foot in the door to the venue, the band and the band’s management and touring companies. It’s about being proactive and creating some opportunities for you, so that you can start building your career. So, what are you waiting for?