What’s in a Band Agreement (And Why You Need One!)

This year is FLYING for me. Maybe it’s because things are opening up again nationwide and internationally but things are moving and grooving, and it’s just making these months fly!

With new shows and tours coming together, my world has become about agreements recently for my clients and their band members (I prefer to use the term agreements over contracts). These documents have become so important for these groups. What’s helpful about them is that they spell out the details of the event, dates, times, what’s expected, and most importantly, terms of payment! You won’t get asked over and over again, “When do I get my check?”, “Do I get reimbursed for this Uber?”, or “Who’s paying for this meal?”

Maybe you already have your agreements created, maybe you don’t. That’s okay, you’re here now and I want to share with you some of the top things to include in your agreements that maybe you didn’t think about beyond date, time, and amount of pay. All of these tips came from REAL situations that I’ve seen happen. Doesn’t make anyone a bad person, just means life can get in the way of commitments and you have to protect yourself, your name, and your business at the end of the day.

Here are 6 things you may be forgetting in your band agreements:

1. How they will be paid: Be sure to specify the way that you will be paying so it’s clear to folks when they will receive their money. With checks, sometimes it can take a few days to process and if you have bills depending on the paycheck, that can cause your bandmates late fees. Which brings me to…

2. Late Fees & Lost Checks. Make sure you state you’re not responsible for any late fees, charges, or lost check fees if you are paying by check. To reissue a check it can cost you, so your bandmates should be aware of that and understand they should be timely with depositing your checks.

3. Lost or stolen instruments or equipment. Sadly, this has happened a few times on tour to a couple of my clients (Be sure to park your tour vans in safe, well-lit areas!). Be sure to make it clear that you’re not responsible for paying for your bandmates stolen or lost instruments even though it was during your tour.

4. Tour and Performance etiquette. This can be touchy, but I’ve seen it included in some high-profile performances. This is if you don’t want someone chugging a beer on stage, cursing on stage, or jumping in the crowds, etc. It can also be having no phones 5 minutes before showtime or making sure phones are silent during the show. 

5. Recording ownership, publishing rights, copyright, writing credits. Sometimes you have times where you are recording new music or during rehearsal, you write a new melody to your songs. Make sure you clarify who gets the rights and percentages to the band if it’s picked up by publishing.

6. Terms if the band member has to leave the tour early. This happens more often than you might think. Life can hit hard and band and personnel sometimes have to leave the road. Make sure the protocol is clear in how they should leave. They can’t just be gone one morning. Request communication and replacement options if applicable.

I hope this proves helpful in navigating agreements with your bandmates. I’ve never heard anyone regretting putting agreements in place with their band members, so be sure to start doing it today.

Keep making your great music

Enhance Your Single Release With On Demand Merch

To make up for the lack of live shows, 2020 was a big year for online streaming. The growth as the number of paid subscriptions increased by 24% in early 2020, and lots of music was released during the pandemic. Many of my clients started pouring out singles and releasing them throughout the year – so we got to working on how we could make these releases a fun experience for the fans – beyond just listening to it on Spotify or Apple.

One strategy was using the on-demand printing service, Printful, to create merch specifically around a single release for a limited time. The major artists do this all the time – they get you hyped up about a new release and create unique merch around it. However, you don’t always want to invest in 100s of items, so using the on-demand services is ideal. There are some things I learned along the way. Here are the pros and cons of using on-demand printing that I feel are most important to understand, whether for a release or in general.

CONS
1. Limited items – You are limited to the merchandise that the on-demand printer can offer. That can sometimes be frustrating if you’d like to offer something unique. 

2. Profit Margins – You may have to increase the cost of your items to your customers in order to make a decent profit margin, but you have total control on how much you want to make.

3. Return management – It can sometimes be trickier since you’re depending on a third party to process a refund to you in order to refund a customer if there’s an issue. That’s why it’s important to have a clear return policy on your store site that benefits you. Most of the time though, the on-demand printer will want to work with you because they only make money when you do!

PROS
1. No Bulk Orders – The obvious one here is you don’t need to place orders of 100s of items to be able to offer merch in your store. So, you don’t have to worry about having boxes of merch that doesn’t sell sitting in your closet.

2. Inventory Management – You don’t have to worry if you will sell out of an item because it’s all on-demand. Plus you save the headache of having to count and keep track of what was sold / not sold.

3. Design Experimentation – You’re able to explore as many designs as you want, and in turn offer that to your followers. However, I do recommend having a limit of items. You don’t want to overwhelm your shoppers!

4. Fulfillment is a breeze – Never go to a post office again or deal with packing up envelopes of shirts. You can even customize your products and packaging with your branding with Printful, so there’s no sign that it’s coming from a third party.

It’s been really fun to be able to play with new merch items for my clients’ stores without having to invest in boxes of merch. We’ve learned that some things sell really well, and some things do not. So, go ahead and head over to Printful (or another on-demand printing service) and see what merch items you can create today!

Getting Google Verified

One of my favorite things is to figure something out with a client and then be able to share that tip with the rest of my clients, and you! And that thing this past month was claiming their Knowledge Panel.

What’s a Knowledge Panel?
Knowledge panels are information boxes that appear on Google when you search for entities (people, places, organizations, things) that are in the Knowledge Graph. They are meant to help you get a quick snapshot of information on the topic you are googling. It looks a little something like this 👇

Now, my client came to me saying, “How can we remove XY and Z! It’s not correct, it’s not relevant!”. Which is when I noticed the button at the bottom of the panel saying “Claim this knowledge panel”. I thought this had to be the way to edit this panel since there’s no dedicated person or any person on the side of support that could just change it for us. 

We worked on being able to claim the panel. Once we were successful, boom, we were able to request edits to be made to the panel! Now, of course, the changes could take months, but it does assure us that we have *more* control than before with what is shared with the world when they search for my client.

So, what are you waiting for! Claim your knowledge panel today. It’s quick and painless, full instructions here.

Musicians Adapting To COVID

Wow – I think we all have recently been reflecting on the fact that it’s been an entire year already since the COVID virus essentially hit the nation. I remember shopping for masks back then, seeing they wouldn’t arrive until June, and me not ordering because I thought it’d be over by then. Boy, we were all wrong! So much has happened in the past year. I hope for you it hasn’t been too rocky. 

I’m very grateful that I was able to continue helping my clients despite COVID impacting the live show and touring industry. For some of my clients, touring and performances was easily over half of their incomes, so needless to say, they had to adapt to what was happening and fast.

I thought I would share a little into what my clients pivoted to this past year without being able to tour – maybe there’s some things in there that you haven’t tapped into that could help you keep your business and fanbase healthy.

Online Streaming. I’ve always advocated for live stream concerts (check out my blog post on how my client made $400 in one hour via live stream!) because I saw the value of fans watching and feeling like it was an intimate experience. But with COVID, this industry EXPLODED. I have an old-school client who had done 1, maybe 2 live steam concerts in his career. This past year, he has converted his living room into a world class recording “studio”. He’s set up to go live anytime, and has converted many of his to-be in person concerts into streaming concerts, keeping his performance schedule busy. He also started a weekly concert series, bringing on guests from around the world. His fans are really enjoying it, and I know my client is too.

Focus on Releasing Music. Clients were always releasing music – but with COVID and everyone at home, it felt like the singles and albums were just pouring out. Without the ability to tour, releasing singles in a drip form allows them to keep in communication with their fanbase continuously! Look at Taylor Swift. No tours and she released 2 full albums.

E-Commerce. With new music pouring out, it was only natural to also be pushing out new merch, not just new designs but also new products like facemasks! It also gave clients a chance to look at what was working, and what was not, to clean up their online offerings.

Tapping into other skills. Some of my clients hold workshops – for music or meditation – as well as sell their own sheet music. This time off from touring and performing allowed them to push out their courses and sheet music when they couldn’t before, opening that door of revenue to them.

Getting Organized. All of our clients took this time to get organized, make those website updates we’ve always wanted to make, update profiles online, etc. etc. It was a good year to catch up on administrative things that were always pushed back when touring / performances were the priority.

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.

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.

 

10 Thoughtful Gifts for Musicians

This time of year means gift giving, and I always hear from the people I work with that they need to find a thoughtful gift for their friends or colleagues. So, this year, I wanted to put together a list of what I know are considerate to people in the music industry.

Shall we?

pillow10) Pillow – comfy and stylish. I love this pillow, which is great for any music lover. Simple, clean and a great place to rest your head after a long day in the studio ($26)
Buy it now

9) Wifi HotSpot – For a musician, or any friend on the go, a personal wifi hotspot is a huge upgrade. I use KarmaGo personally and cannot recommend it more for a personal hotspot. The best part? You only pay for the data you need. Even better? When people connect to your hotspot, you get free data. ($129)
Get $10 off your purchase: Buy it now

8) Battery Extender – Another techie gift that’s useful for anyone, especially a musician on the go, is a portable battery charger. Great for when you just can’t find an outlet while on the go. This charger has been said to charge your phone to 100% in 90 minutes. ($30)
Buy it now

earbuds7) Ear Skinz – these are colorful covers that slip over most in-ear headphones, offering the next level of comfort, fit and sound. These are definitely on my wishlist – wearing those earbuds all day can give me a headache! Right now, they are offering a deal of buy 3, get one free. ($11)
Buy it now

6) Membership to AAA – this is a hugely helpful gift for any musician going on tour. The van will break down, no question about it. ($66 for classic membership for 2 years – 1st year is free!)
Buy it now

5) Pick Punch – this nifty tool should be with every guitar player in my book. This punch can make picks out of old credit cards, hotel key cards, gym member cards, the list goes on. ($25)
Buy it now

4) SpaFinder Gift Certificate – being a musician takes long hours of practicing, and the physical demands increase even more if they are in the studio working on their next album. Give the gift of wellness with a SpaFinder Gift Certificate – you pick the dollar amount and they can use it at several types of health spas (even chiropractors!) in their area, whenever they want. (Starts at $25)
Buy it now

3) Vocal-eze – This throat spray has been recommended by musicians like Tim McGraw, Joss Stone and always seems to be on the vocal coaches recommendations. If the singer in your life doesn’t have this already, treat them to some soothing support. ($13)
Buy it now

tea2) Tea Variety Pack – Tea has endless health benefits, perfect for the hard working musician and singer. One of my favorite tea companies is David’s Tea, mostly because of their many tea samplers. For just $26, you can give 12 different types of teas. They are bound to find a taste they love! ($26)
Buy it now

1) Support – the best gift to any musician is to give their career support. Buy their albums as gifts for your friends, fund their projects on Kickstarter, Pledgemusic or Indiegogo. Share their music with your friends because the most thoughtful way to give to a musician is to support them.

 

I hope this helps you in your gift giving search and don’t forget to most of all – enjoy the season!

The biggest hiring mistake I see.

This week, one of my clients showed me a spreadsheet of radio stations he wanted to send his album to – more specifically, U.S. stations that have Jazz Programs. He told me that he got the spreadsheet built by someone on Elance. My job was to comb through and pick out the top 50 (there were something like 200 found) so that we could start mailing out his new release.
 
I was excited to tackle the research he received, but after a few searches, I realized that this spreadsheet was not going to help us at all. Unfortunately, we realized that most of these stations didn’t have Jazz programs, were not even radio stations in the United States or worst case, weren’t even radio stations! On top of It was disappointing to know that my client paid for a service that ultimately will not help us. I’m still combing through as there have been a couple that will be beneficial to reach out, but for the most part, we’re going to have to start from scratch.
 
I’m not sure what happened or why the results were this horrific, but it got me thinking of ways how this could have been avoided. I understand that it’s not simple to find freelancers or a virtual assistant who understands what you are trying to do as a musician – most of the VA’s are trained as if they were working strictly for small businesses or offices, so understanding that you need a Jazz program with a local radio station is not going to translate when you ask for Top U.S. Jazz Stations. It was clear the freelancer just wanted to send a lot of results to be impressive. A classic quantity versus quality.
 
So how could my client’s dollar have gone farther to get the results he needed the first time? Here are some ways to give clear direction when asking a freelancer or virtual assistant to complete a research task.
 
1) Walk them through the steps – yes, this takes time, but it will save you the headache later. Brief them on what your goal is with this task and what you need to make decisions to reach that goal. Either jump on the phone (best) or show a video via Jing, or type up a paragraph explaining it all. For example, “I want to get my album into people’s hands who have a Jazz program on the radio, online and offline. Let’s get the name of the program, website, who runs it and their contact info – phone, address, email.”
 
2) Ask them if they have any questions – Give them the opportunity to ask questions about the research task. Almost every time I receive a research task, I ask questions or recap to ensure that once I start, I know what I’m looking for.
 
3) Offer examples if you can – If you have past examples of what you need, it’s always good to share. It’ll be easier and faster for them to deliver the results you want.
 
4) Ask them to do some of the task for your to review before moving forward – Especially for research on contacts, you can ask them to search for a few and then you review to make sure you have the information you need and that they understand the task. Once you approve, they can take it away and complete the task with confidence.
 
5) Hold them accountable – If you receive the research and something is incorrect or you wanted it delivered a different way, the first time this happens is the best time to let them know. This way, they can learn what your preferences are and you’re happier with the results.
 
Thankfully I got a hold of the spreadsheet from my client before he started sending his Jazz album to talk shows or shows in Puerto Rico! We’re taking direction by finding local stations first, and then building a list from there to help get his album into the DJ’s hands.
 
Have you ever had a horror story with a freelancer? Did you ever have trouble voicing or giving direction on a task you needed done? Did this help? I’d love to hear from you.
 
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.
 
Cheers!

5 Ways to use Fiverr as a Musician

As a musician, there are going to be lots of instances that you need some creative jobs done, like a poster, a lyric video, or a quick logo. With all the hats you have to wear, you can’t expect to be a pro at performing, songwriting AND Photoshop. Sometimes you need an extra hand at these projects when you don’t have the expertise or time.
 
A site that I’ve found handy with clients is Fiverr.com (http://www.fiverr.com) . It’s where you can hire creative experts for one time projects, starting at $5.00. It’s perfect for when you need a poster done for an upcoming concert or a lyric video to promote a new single, or business cards for the next conference.
 
I recently worked on a special project with a client to create a whiteboard video promoting their online store, and we wanted to use Fiverr as our source for the talent. Whiteboard animation can cost upwards of $2,500, so with that out of our budget, Fiverr was a good option for us. During the project and getting familiar with the site, I was seeing how musicians could use this service, either to benefit their business by providing marketing materials or even creating an extra revenue stream for themselves.
 
So if you’ve never heard of Fiverr, or only browsed the site and want to learn more, here are 5 ways I discovered that musicians can use the site:
 
1. Lyric Videos – Lyric videos are a really great way to promote and market a new album or single, and there are more and more being produced today by every artist, big and small. Youtube is one of the top visited sites, your fans are going to be one it, so it’s a great tool to use for your music. You can find creatives to make a lyric video in a few days and boom, you have a great promotional video.
Pro Tip: When sending instructions to the person making your video, pick a font for them to use to save modification time. You can select and download fonts to send via Google Fonts or DaFont.com
 
2. Logos – While it’s not my favorite recommendation for a place to get a unique and stand out logo, it can be a place to get a quick new look on your name. Be careful, there have been rumors that some creatives steal copyrighted font or images, so just make sure they aren’t ripping someone off so it won’t hurt you in the end.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have your brand’s message in place and send it to the designer. You want to make sure your logo reflects your brand, no matter who is designing it!
 
3. Posters – Venues typically ask for you to send concert posters to post around their town to promote your show. But if you’re on the road or in the studio, it’s going to be hard to sit down and design a poster that reflects you. Send off the task to someone on Fiverr.
Pro Tip: Send 2-3 examples of posters you LOVE. This will help make the process go faster.
 
4. Business Cards – Everyone needs a business card for networking events or conferences, so you should have them handy, too. While these look easy to put together, Photoshop can get frustrating and you certainly shouldn’t be spending hours figuring out the program when someone comfortable with the program can whip out a card in minutes.
Pro Tip: Grab the template from Vistaprint, OvernightPrints or wherever you’ll be printing the cards to avoid any sizing errors later.
 
5. Share your talent & sell your service – Last but not least, create a profile and offer your services to potential buyers. Businesses are always looking for unique jingles for commercials or individuals looking for a special song to use for fun or for that special someone. In a discussion with Fiverr’s co-founder and CEO, Hypebot posted examples of how artists are using Fiverr for extra revenue to support their tour, next album and their business. If writing takes a ton of energy out of you, maybe this isn’t the best fit, but if you thrive on being able to write short melodies or light lyrics, you could really create a way to exercise your talents for extra income.
 
In addition to ways you can use Fiverr, or sites like it, be wary of some best practices I learned from my experience.
* You aren’t always going to pay just $5 for a service. Most of the gigs require add-ons to get the results you need, say HD posters or longer videos. I first attempted hiring the a person to create a video for $25, which ended up being a disaster, and we ended up hiring someone to create a great video at $60. While this is a far cry from $5, with whiteboard animation costing more than $2,500, it was a steal.
* Be selective and study your choices. Take the time to really watch their examples and read their reviews. You’ll be happy you did when you save the time of having to find a replacement from your first or second choice.
* Try to plan ahead and don’t procrastinate when hiring someone. Getting results isn’t going to be a day or two so expect at least 3-5 days to get the finished project. And that doesn’t include any time for modifications you might have. Give yourself time to work with the person to create a great product.
 
Utilize these sites and embrace the system, but be careful and smart, and you can create some great relationships with these designers to take some of the things you need done off of your plate. You’ll save time and the aggravation of learning Photoshop. 😉
 
I’ll see you next time.
 
Cheers!
fionazsig

Extra stuff = extra cash

This month, I went a little out of my comfort zone when a client of mine had me manage selling extra gadgets she had sitting around, wasting space. We discussed selling online and the argument came up – via eBay or Craigslist. I had never sold on either, only bought, so I was excited to learn from this. She had a handle of items, some small, some heavy, so I got to researching and got to listing. Some surprises, frustrations and success were the results.
 

If you’re looking for ways to make extra cash, here are the biggest pros and cons with both platforms, all learned first hand!
 

Craigslist – Pros
* Completely free, no listing or selling fees
* Great for local sales. Perfect if you’re in music city like NYC or Nashville.
* Best for large, heavy items (speakers, pedals, instruments, etc.)
* No shipping estimates or hassle.
 

Craigslist – Cons
* Less serious buyers, with some not even showing up.
* Last minute negotiations.
* Haggling very likely.
* Lower offers.
* Less credibility and no sense of how much of a sure thing buyers are.
 

My tips:
Things like furniture or large items that would be very expensive to ship. Clothing, accessories or books are not best sold through Craigslist.
Never give your personal email, use the email through Craigslist.
Plan ahead to meet in public place near you if at all possible.
Cash only!
 

Ebay – Pros
* Clothing, accessories, household items and collectibles sell really well on eBay.
* You can reach more buyers – nationwide, even worldwide.
* You can do an auction or list a price at Buy it Now, allowing possibility to earn more than expected.
* Free relisting option up to 2 times so you don’t have to manually update it.
 

Ebay – Cons
* Listing fees (10% of sold price) and payment fees (2-3% with PayPal) do apply.
* If you are estimating shipping, it’s difficult to estimate accurately.
* Possibility of getting negative feedback on your profile if you rub the wrong person the wrong way.
 

My tips:
Things like beauty products, jewelry, books sell really well.
Be sure to list your correct PayPal email and make sure it’s set up to receive payments to expedite payments.
Skip the hassle of estimating shipping and decide on a price with free shipping for your item with the fees considered. Free shipping attracts more buyers!
 

So for example, you want to get $100 from a watch? Set the price at $125, allowing $10-$15 for eBay and PayPal fees and $10 for shipping. You can also use this handy dandy fee calculator (http://www.fees.ebay.com/feeweb/feecalculator) from eBay. Remember to add on PayPal processing.
 
My experience? I went in thinking eBay was the better option, being that it is secure and protected, but unclear fees and unexpected shipping caused a frustrating experience. However, we successfully sold more items on eBay than Craigslist right away, so, with knowing the fees involved, I’d be happy to list more on eBay than Craigslist. Which is exactly why I wanted to share with you a) how you can use these sights to make extra revenue and b) what to expect and c) your best options. Bottom line, keep in mind what you’re selling and you should be able to strike a deal.
 

Look around and see what you could sell – you might be surprised!
 
Cheers to selling!
 

fionazsig