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 a VA can help you stay within budget.

Originally written for guest post on Growth Group.
 
How is your summer going? It is hot, hot, hot in Florida, so for the most part I’m inside in the cool AC. This Sunday is Father’s Day, and while I cannot be with my dad this weekend, I’ll be hanging out with my boyfriend’s family and we’ll probably spend they day on the beach to soak in the sun! But before all the fun, let’s talk about something we all really want: staying within a budget.
 
I think we can all agree that saving money wherever you can is a good thing to do. But with the ongoing push and grind moving forward in your career, it can be hard to stop and take the time to analyze where you’re money is going and where you can save. Maybe you signed up for a music profile on SonicBids, which charges a membership fee, only to realize you only use it one month out of the year for their exclusive CMJ showcase submission. Or, you have been using the same web host services only to realize you could be saving hundreds if you switched to a newer company.
 
I get it, as an independent musician you’re not only trying to improve your craft and skill, you’re also running and managing your own career and business. It’s not easy to always keep your eyes open and you don’t always have the time to analyze every small purchase, membership sign up or investment you make.
 
That’s when someone on your team can take the time to analyze your spending or take the time to find the best price to ensure your money is well spent, therefore keeping you in budget.
 
Here are 5 ways an assistant can easily start helping you stay within budget:
 
Find the best travel deals. An assistant can research the lowest costing travel options for your next tour. Using sites like Kayak, Priceline, Groupon, Trivago and more, they can scout out the best deal for you, comparing costs of flying vs. driving, or with Priceline, bid to get the best daily rate for a rental – which you can usually get at 40% off the advertised price. After they do all the research, you’ll just have to choose the best option for you.
 
Remind you of deadlines. Most contests, conventions, events, and masterclasses offer early bird pricing for signing up earlier than everyone else. If there is a conference you know you don’t want to miss, an assistant can find out when those early bird deadlines are and set reminders for you to sign up, which can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
 
Monitor and manage your bills. Bills constantly come in and it can get overwhelming to keep track of which ones have been paid, which ones haven’t and when they are due. An assistant can step in and set up automatic payments, enroll in paperless billing, or schedule withdrawal dates, saving you time and the energy in dealing with your credit card company, internet company, cable company, and so on.
 
Dispute erroneous or late charges. Instead of spending 30 frustrating minutes on hold, delegate the task to your assistant to argue against late or erroneous charges. Make sure they have all the account information questions so they can get through securely, or ask your assistant do call in at a certain time you are available in case they need to get in touch with you for a few seconds to verify that your assistant can have access to your account, especially with phone bills or bank accounts, including Paypal.
 
Eliminate or reduce business expenses. There are a lot of sites you can sign up on to host your website, run your online store, distribute your music, and even manage your team, and all of them come with a price tag. An assistant can research the ones you’re considering so you can make the best choice for your needs. For example, one of my clients was looking to leave her digital music distributor, and in my research I was able to find DistroKid, who does online distribution for the lowest monthly fee I could find with similar, if not faster results, and is, get this, endorsed by founders of Tunecore and CDBaby, two of the top online distribution channels for independent artists. Being able to save those dollars each month can add up to $100s or $1000s in a year, and is definitely better spent on my client’s next album.
 
These five ways are a great place to start if you’re just beginning to delegate tasks to an assistant which will save you money, energy and your valuable time.
 
Saving those hours spent on the hassling and energy-eating things to do in order to make sure your money is being well spent will instantly open up your day to focus on where your focus should be, making music.
 
Happy Father’s Day tomorrow to all fathers out there, and cheers to a recharging weekend,
fionazsig

Get the most out of your VA

March is here and I couldn’t be happier – it’s my favorite month! I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased since my birthday is in March. Can you blame me? 😉

As you know, in my emails to you I like to share stories and experiences working with musicians, as well as my tips and tools I personally use to help save time and money for my clients. The tasks I’m doing for my clients are probably very predictable to you by now; I’m creating graphics, scheduling social media posts, drafting newsletters, organizing documents…but every now and again, I get a response from my clients saying, “Wait, you can help me with that”?

Yes, there are some unconventional tasks that maybe you didn’t think of before to delegate (but you can!) that might lead you to get online and post a job offer for a Virtual Assistant.

Here are some tasks you might have not thought of to delegate before to your VA! And I know, I’ve done them all!

1. Dispute charges on a bill or invoice – Have you ever gotten an invoice that you felt was incorrect or not sure why you received it in the first place? Save the headache of being on the phone and on hold and have your VA contact them to find out the information you need to know. Most of the time, as long as they disclaim that they are your assistant and have the information from the invoice in front of them, they can find out why charges were made. Note, sometimes it does require you to be the person on the phone as your assistant is probably not a verified user.
2. Set up new accounts – online and off  – When I first started working with one of my clients, she admitted to hating to have to create a profile online or start an account online, which had to happen for her to apply to gigs or complete certain goals. It was overwhelming for her to keep signing up for more accounts and then manage and maintain them. Well, when we started working together, she was then able to pass off that task to me and not stress about another account to sign up for.

3. Personal purchases – Need some flowers sent to a friend but your schedule is nonstop on the road? Struggling with gift ideas for a friend? Your assistant can spend the time coming up with ideas and even place the order for you.

4. Receive mail for you – This is something I actually do frequently for my clients. One in particular travels a lot, almost every weekend, so sometimes we direct important documents being mailed to him to be sent to me since I am in my office every day. It ensures that things were sent and if needed, can be stored safely, instead of him wondering if it made it to his mailbox.

5. Something else? Just ask. – Almost every week I’m doing something new that I hadn’t done before for my clients, from mixing audio before submitting to a licensing company, or calling up a health insurance company to explain their benefits. If there’s something you need done and you don’t have the time or just don’t want to do it, ask your assistant to take on the task.

Every VA is different in what services they are willing and able to do, but you don’t know if you don’t ask. Bottom line, their role being there to support you in your business and your life, most tasks you will ask of them is to be expected.

Let them help you take time off of your hands to do less what of you don’t want to do and more of what you need and want to do for your career.

Cheers to delegation!

No gig is too big or too small for this.

These past few weeks were a force to reckon with…let me just begin with this…Have you ever agreed to do a show without any sort of written agreement? DON’T. Do not ever think you don’t need one.
 
Yes, I’ll admit, most gigs go by without a hiccup. You agree to terms, you show up, and you get a check handed to you right away. Everyone is happy. However, what if you finish your job and have a great, exciting performance, realize when you get home miles away, after the fact, that you were never handed your check?
 
Believe it, it happens to some of the top musicians in the industry. I’ve seen it. I’m still seeing it, and particularly this month I experienced a horrifying situation.
 
A performance was agreed upon in good faith with a long time colleague of my client. They had done programs like this together before and worked together for years so there was much trust built. All positive. My client wrote an email with all the terms to substitute for a full-on agreement, as no one felt it wasn’t necessary (It might be relevant for me to tell you now that no payment terms were given in this email.)
 
The concert came, went absolutely wonderful. They sold many tickets and my client had a great visit. His colleague helped every step of the way to make it a great performance.
 
After the event, my client didn’t receive the check. Why? OH, the venue has to process the payment first and then he can get paid, said my client’s friend.
 
After a month, payment wasn’t still received.
 
Another week went by, and that’s when I was asked to step in and ask my client’s colleague about why payment taking so long. He responded to me, explaining that unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to pay for another 2 months, that it was just a crazy time, that it was the soonest he could, that he still had to process the payment from the venue….get a sense of what’s happening here?
 

 
It made me and my client clinch, but we now had it in writing when payment would be made. Also, again considering the relationship, a little shaken but still strong, my client agreed to waiting.
 
Then, the new deadline was approaching, and there was no word, nothing, nada. After me having to reaching out again, he says as if there is no issue at all, “Of course, I will send the check! Right away! Yes!”
 
I was optimistic – finally, a sign that he will send the payment! My job was done, I thought. If only I had remembered who we were dealing with….Another 2 weeks went by, and no payment was seen.
 
After harassing him on the phone, email, AND Facebook, demanding him to overnight the payment right away, he finally responded, and said the best he could do was send HALF of the payment. I requested that he document the receipts so I knew I could trust that he sent it. I felt silly doing it, but it was the only way I could ensure that he would actually send it. I’m going to have to do it again when he is able to pay the second half next week.
 
As my client and I are discussing our frustrations, it’s clear that we are both thinking that we wish that even the simplest of terms, especially including when payment was due, were agreed to in writing. Even the most seemingly trusting people out there can easily screw you over! And the worst part about it is that it’s completely preventable.
 
Sometimes the biggest mistakes and negative situations can be a great blessing in disguise. Let this story be a lesson for any performance, big or small, have a written agreement on file. It protects everyone and avoids confusion and frustration. Most importantly, it avoids valuable time wasted on chasing payments and the energy spent doing so.
 
So, with your next concert or gig, draft up an agreement with all the terms laid out, including when and how you’ll get paid for your services, and ask the presenter to sign it. If an agreement feels too formal, put it in an email and ask them to say they received and agree. Simple as that, and you can go to bed that night knowing you are protecting yourself a little better. A small, forward step to improving your business. Trust me, you’ll be saving hours and hours of energy and follow up afterwards when things don’t go smoothly.
 
As always, have a wonderful rest of your weekend and see you next time.

 
Cheers,

Let’s take care of this now.

Today’s post comes from a huge project I have begun to tackle for one of my clients this week. Recently we teamed up with a service to help us promote the selling of a live set recording, right after the show. It’s a fantastic service, we were all really excited to set up some targeted email marketing to people in the area where the concert was and to where my client’s largest fan base is located.All was going smoothly until we took a closer look at the list of emails that were being pulled up when we searched for certain cities within our list. People living in completely different cities AND states than what we were searching for were showing up! It was bizarre! A search in Los Angeles or the state of California shouldn’t be pulling up people in Vermont or Las Vegas. It was clear right away that the list required some…maintenance.

 
It turns out that the initial import of the list, the people’s information of city, state or even country weren’t imported correctly. Therefore, every entry from that point was also  incorrect. Needless to say, our ‘target marketing’ was nonexistent and it frustrated everyone on all sides.

 
Now that we are aware of the problem, we’re taking steps and cleaning up the list. Correcting 1000s of contacts to ensure each of their location is correct will easily take 3 or 4 hours, even for the most tech savvy. If you don’t have someone on your team to take care of the maintenance of your list, that will mean a lot of valuable time of yours taken up. Valuable time that could have been avoided from day one.

 

Your newsletter list is one of the most important tools you have to promote yourself and your art, so it’s crucial to have the list updated and correct. So don’t let it run loose and get out of control!
 

Here are some ways you can ensure your list is where you need to be AND to avoid taking time going back and cleaning it up.
 

1. Initial Set Up – If you are new to building your newsletter list, don’t hesitate to ask for help from day one. All CRM sites are going to have support and step by step instructions on how to upload your list / add names. You want to make sure you get it right from the beginning.

 
2. Decide what’s important – You can ask for lots of  information on a person to add to your list. You can ask their gender, age, phone number, etc..this list goes on. Here is where you want to decide on what’s important. Do you care what city they are in or just their state? Do you want to know their birthday so you can send out happy birthday emails each month? Obviously, don’t go crazy and ask for their life story, but make it a point to get the information you need. In most cases, the three most crucial items are email address, city and state. You can target certain cities or states with promotion that way.

 
3. Stick to getting that information. – Be a stickler to getting that information from people who sign up for your list – whether in person or online. If you get a list of signups after a show of just names and emails, put them under the city the show was at. That is your best bet at target marketing them later.
 

4. Make it easy for people to get the most accurate information. – If you really want to know someone’s email, city / state and birthday, ask for it! Include it in your sign up forms everywhere. Also, if you’re able to use your own or borrow an iPad for people signing up on the go, do it so you can include the information you want on your form! Leaving it out or being lazy about asking for the information will only slap you in the face later.
 

I know that this may seem tedious, but remember that taking those extra few minutes to ask for their city or adding the form field to your sign up forms will result hours and hours avoided spending on cleaning up your list. Make it work and make it work for you.

 
Have a great day (stay warm east coast!) and see you next time.

Cheers,

Are you staring at boxes and boxes of merch?

Hello from Florida! Woohoo, what a MOVE. Last Friday was such a long day of movers and an evening flight, but it feels good to officially start this new chapter in my life! I’m already enjoying the warmer weather here and I also think my dog is happier with it too. Sorry to have missed you last Saturday, but things move a tad slower here in Florida and we were working on getting the internet connected so that I could get back into my groove!

Looking at all these boxes from the move reminds me all to well about merchandise for my clients. No matter how well you plan or what kind of merch you have, chances are you’ll have leftover CDs, shirts, keychains, whatever at the end of a tour or after a release or any other event. It’s just the nature of having merchandise and I’ve definitely come to terms with it. 🙂

Well, my client is trying to clear out his apartment of merchandise that he’s had for a year now. We made shirts for a tour last year and over-ordered and we wanted to figure out how to get these shirts out in the hands of fans this year. Here’s what we came up with and easy ways for any artist to push their merch out!

1) Bundle your merch.
This is exactly what we are doing this tour to push the tshirts out (and it’s working!) When a person buys 2 or more CDs or live concert DVDs, they get a Tshirt. It’s simple and it’s a great incentive. We’ve already gotten 100 shirts out in one week!

2) Create a Contest.
If you want to give away a few things and don’t have a lot, this is a great option. Create a mini-contest on any social media platform you have a lot of interaction on. Say you always get RTs and mentions on Twitter and you know you will get a response. Tweet out that the next 1, 2 or 5 people that RT you get a free signed item from you! Keep it a low number so you’re not stuck making shipping labels for days. Remember, you want to use your time wisely!

3) Giveaway for a cause.
Another way we took care of some CDs is we donated the music to performance groups who would enjoy the music. He had a choral composition, so we found 40 choral societies to send to. We didn’t even ask, we just looked up their addresses and sent them out. We did however give them a heads up and emailed them the day we mailed them out, saying that we are sending some CDs as gifts. Every single group was appreciative and loved the gifts! It was very successful. The plus side to this one was that interest in his pieces spiked and opportunity for the groups to perform his piece was much higher than before, simply by giving them the music.

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you undersold merch, try one of these (or all three) to get it off of your hands. Maybe one of these will open up some doors for you! Do you have an even better idea to push your merch out? Let me know, I’d love to hear about what has worked for you in the past!

I hope all of you have a happy holiday next week wherever you are. I’ll see you next time!

Cheers,

fionazsig

Take the work out of networking…now.

unnamed(1)I hope you are having a beautiful Saturday. It is absolutely GORGEOUS here in the NYC and I’m ready to a great day outdoors. How about you?

 

This week I challenged myself to get out and do more during the week outside of work, ultimately not saying no to any invites. I took on the persona of a ‘Yes Man’. This ended me up at having friends of a friend who were visiting for the first time in NYC crash at my place, sharing cabs from New Jersey, trying new restaurants, going to a concert and the one thing I wasn’t looking forward to, a networking event.

 

I wasn’t completely dreading it, but I just didn’t feel good at that sort of thing. Meeting, talking about what you do and promoting yourself to a group of strangers. But I had promised myself to go out and say yes to every opportunity. And I remembered, I’m not going to meet new possible friends or be able to access new ideas staying back at work.

 

Something amazing happened the second I switched my mindset and started going in and introducing myself. I met people interested in similar industries, freelancers, musicians and even younger students looking for career advice. It was thrilling! And it was really great to get a feel for the words of what I do – a musician’s virtual assistant.

 

After that night, I made a new friend and freelancer connection, a student looking for virtual business advice, and a band in need of support. Three substantial connections that would not have happened if I had stayed home.

 

Why am I telling you this story? Well it got me thinking of my clients and if or when they do networking as well and if they have any struggles with putting themselves out there. The truth is, YES! Musicians have to network just as much as the next person to gain followers and spread their music. You have to do it to keep people coming to your shows.

 

It’d be impossible for you to have a successful career, thousands of listeners and do what you love if you’re hiding in the studio or hiding behind the laptop. You have to get out there! It is just as important as practicing, performing, recording, etc. all the other parts of your career.

 

I have a client who has been in the recording business for over 40 years, so when I do go to events or conferences with him, I’m really seeing a master at someone who selflessly promotes. And I believe it is because the ‘why’ behind his promotion is so strong. He has a clear vision of why he wants to share his latest album or his latest project with the person in front of him. And I don’t see him as a person being an annoying pusher on his music, but I see him as the hardest working artist in the business.

 

Self-promotion is a necessary component to your career, so here are some key tips that might help you step out of the door.

 

1) Just say yes – Say yes to the next networking event you can go to. The people you meet in person and share your story/music with in person is so much more effective than a tweet or a post.

 

2) Remember your ‘why’ – Remember why you are sharing your music. Is it because your music can help others? Is it therapy for them? Is it because you love playing to packed shows?

 

3) Get to know the other person – Make sure you ask questions and find out about the person your chatting with, too.

 

4) Stay humble, but be confident – Set any pride you might have and remember why you want to grow your career, why you want to connect with this person.

 

5) Follow up – When you talk to the person, promise to email them a song. And then do it! Contact them within 24 hours, stay fresh in their minds and send them a gift and ask them if you can add them to your mailing list.

 

I hope this helps you to say YES to more things and to not be afraid any more of the ‘hate’ people have for musicians who self-promote. Now go out there and connect!

 

Have a great rest of your Saturday and I’ll see you next time!

 

Cheers,

Solve your biggest struggles as a musician.

This week through a conversation with a previous colleague and good friend, we dived into our current struggles we were having. For me, I was realizing that even though I was really enjoying being a virtual assistant to my clients, I admittedly still had things to work on that could bring me to my highest possible self in my position. I also talked about what my clients struggle with – what musicians struggle with – and what I could possible do outside of the box to assist them, since I do love being able to help. Even if we’re in a position where we are doing what we love, there are still struggles that come with the day-to-day grind. There’s no formula that says when you reach your goal the struggles stop. They just are on a different level or area.

After our conversation, I was inspired to focus in on what are the top struggles for a performing musician, or rather, any musician, and give small steps they can take to help lighten the pervasiveness of these struggles.

I wrote a list of everything I could think of that musicians struggle with. Pain, fatigue, boredom, burnout, stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties, no time, artistic skills…the list goes on. And then I went digging online to compare my list with others, to see if anyone else is talking about this – because it needs to be talked about! We need to know our struggles and address them in order to improve, correct?

Sure enough, I found a woman who created a survey asking exactly what I wanted to know (The internet is great, I’m telling you) and shared her results. What she discovered were the top 3 struggles creative and performing musicians have, and they are:

1. Time Management
2. Worry/Anxiety/Fear
3. Pain issues

Can you relate to these? I’m sure we all can, and I believe it’s on point with what full time musicians struggle with or stress about. So what can you do to alleviate some of the pressure from these common problem areas?

Pain Issues

This issue coming up reminded me of the days when I was part of a summer chamber music festival, and we had intensive rehearsal days. We only a month to learn 4 new pieces with 3 other people you’ve never performed or played with. Your body goes through so much especially when your heart and mind is determined to write that song, perfect that phrase or make it the best performance of your life.

But, you can’t have the best performance of your life if you aren’t taking care of yourself. If you know that you are in for a long day of rehearsals or a marathon of songwriting, schedule some time to relax in a way that works for you. Take a hot bath, get a massage (or ask a friend for one), take a few minutes in the sauna – whatever your options are, choose one and stick to it. Your body and your playing will thank you.

Worry/Anxiety/Fear

The thing to remember with having worry or anxiety is that you are NOT alone. Even if you are winning Grammys, there will be moments of worry that can take over. It is not forever.

The best thing you can do is release your worry to a friend or support group. Share your struggles, share your fears, and you will find others who will help you through it. Be reassured that you are not the only one and it can lighten the worry for you.

If you are having intense anxiety, you will want to seek a professional to help ease the tension you have. It’s important again, to take care of yourself. You cannot do everything you need to do with anxiety in your mind.

Time Management

Even though we all have the same hours in the day as Beyonce, there’s a second part of that line that we all forget. Beyonce has a TEAM behind her that build all the pillars required to reach her goals. No musician who is successful gets there or stays there alone.

Time management is what I do for my clients as a virtual assistant. If you don’t have an assistant on your team, I wrote a few posts on time management, why it’s important and ways to keep yourself organized with daily tasks. Check out the posts below:

-Don’t Let It Slide (Keep Yourself Organized)
-How Musicians Waste Time (Coordinate a rehearsal faster)
-5 Benefits of a Virtual Assistant

What’s a small step that can help you quickly change that way you manage your time? Take the first 30 minutes of the day to plan your day with a to-do list and by each tasks, specify how much time you will spend on that task. Stick to it and your day will be structured and more productive.

I’m interested, can you relate to these three common struggles musicians face? What do you do to help yourself and keep yourself productive? Come over to my blog and let me know. Maybe you have a special trick that everyone could use!

I really hope that if you are feeling pain, worry or stress about time management that what I’ve shared will help you along your journey. There’s no joy in doing what you love if you are struggling the entire way. Address the struggles and you can find the freedom in doing what you love!

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and Happy Labor Day.

Cheers,

Where Youtube could be headed and where you can go instead (for Indie Musicians)

I hope all is well in your world and that you had a wonderful holiday weekend last week. I had a great weekend with my newly adopted dog and friends, making the trek to Prospect Park and spending the day BBQ’ing. Summer is in high gear and I’m loving it.I’m also going to be taking a trip soon to visit my 90 year old grandfather in Germany! This year for me has been about taking the time to see the ones I love, so I’m very excited to be able to go and see a part of my family that I haven’t seen in about 5 or 6 years.

 

Okay, back to business and why I’m here writing to you today. If you’ve been following the news, you know that YouTube recently announced they are going to be rolling out a new paid service – said to be called YouTube Music Pass – and be fully launched by the end of the year. For music videos, labels (both major and indie) will have to agree to licensing terms which apparently are not in the independent musician’s favor.

 

Ever since that announcement and their decision to ultimately force all labels to sign this deal, there’s been a hugh uproar and controversy to what YouTube is doing. Indie labels and the like have spoken against the move, and as a result, YouTube has postponed the move, but as this article says, I’m only wondering: for how long?

 

Every advancement in the music industry has been an uphill struggle with everyone (the advancement of radio, recordings, mp3s, streaming, all of it!), so I think yes, let’s let YouTube know that it’s unfair and that indie musicians aren’t getting the good end of the deal, but realize that we have alternatives – they may not be run by Google, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to put your music videos out there for discovery or enjoyment.

 

I’m on the side of the conclusion of this article in Buzzfeed, stating:

So far, the streaming services that have been the most widely adopted and long-lasting are the ones that have treated all copyright owners fairly. And until better data is available on who is streaming what and how often, any service that plays favorites based on an old paradigm is gambling with its own life. For once, the great equalizer here may just be the free market.

 

“If you look at the services that are really making an impact, they haven’t pushed independents off to the side of the business,” said Caldas. “They’re putting independent artists right next to any other type of artist and letting people listen to and discover them based on the merits. That’s the future.”

 

While we can’t predict the future, I think it’s important to remember that there are alternative and an audience on other platforms that you can start building right now.

 

What are your alternatives? View below:

 

Vimeo
Free to register, can opt for paid account, third largest video site in the world. The Pro account allows you to choose pay per view option.

DailyMotion
Free to register, familiar layout, second largest video site in the world. You can earn money by signing up for their OpenVOD program.

Vube
Completely free to register and upload. Just launched last year and quickly grew to the top 100 visited sites. I see that they are building contests on the site to encourage higher quality contenct and no pay per view options are available (yet). Could be the one to watch.

 

What are your thoughts? What do you think the best alternative is? I’d love to hear from you, comment below!

 

Hiring your own Virtual Assistant? Know what to ask in the interview.

Happy Saturday! Saturday mornings are my absolute favorite time of the week.You can sleep in and still have a day ahead of you, or you can wake up early and be the most productive you can be. It’s up to you and that feels wonderful to me. Personally, I like to use this time to sip on the biggest and slowest cup of coffee and read up on the industry, news and more. Making some time for yourself during the week really makes a difference.

 

I’m hoping all of you are able to make time for yourself during the week to relax, meditate, do your favorite hobbies, see friends or just veg out. Since starting my own venture, I’ve seen how badly it can go if you don’t take a moment to rest – sickness, overwhelm, burn out, even outright quit. And that’s why I feel it’s even more important for people who do have a lot of their plates (aka you busy musicians), to be able to delegate some of those tasks to someone they trust.

 

I believe this idea is starting to take hold of musicians trying to do it all by themselves. Gone is the romantic notion to say that you hustled and bustled to the top with no ones help. In my eyes, that’s simply not true. You have influences, mentors, coaches, leaders and assistants set up to assist you and help you reach your goals.

 

The top three questions I get when I talk about what I do are:

 

“What does a VA do for a musician?”
“Where do I find a VA for a musician?”
and
“What questions should I ask when interviewing a VA?”

I’ve shared every week what a VA does for a musician, and also have shared resources on where you can start your search for your own (check out and read through my blog for those posts here), but I have yet to brush the subject on what to ask when interviewing a potential VA for yourself.I believe that you want some passionate about the industry itself, but also has the balance of knowing how to keep a musician balanced and organized.

Here are a few questions to include in your interview to find the best candidate for you.

 

1) Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you want to be a Virtual Assistant for a musician?
I’d like to know this because this is where they have the opportunity to express passion for music or interest in what the industry is about. A little spark in their response is really good.

 

2) What music platforms do you have experience with? Reverbnation, Bandcamp, CD Baby, (fill in any sites that you like to use on the regular).
They are going to have to have a good idea of what needs to be managed on a day to day basis. If they don’t have experience, ask them if they have heard of it or if they feel they could learn it quickly.

 

3) Have you ever worked with a musician before? If so, what did you do for them? If not, why do you want to work with a musician?
Find out if they have experience working with a musician. Also, you can ask about the genre the musician was in, considering a hip hop artist will need a different sort of skill set from their assistant than from a bluegrass singer.

 

4) What is one way you went above and beyond for someone you’ve worked for? In what way to you exceed what was expected of you when assigned a task?
This will tell you how driven and how much of a go-getter they are. In this industry, it’s constantly changing and it’s not easy. You’ll need someone on your side pushing along with you.

 

5) What can you do to help me stay organized and on schedule?
You’re hiring this person to help you keep organized and keep you on track. Find out more about how they work and if it would work well with you.

 

6) Tell me a time that you weren’t sure how to complete a task that was given to you. How did you handle it and did you get it done?
Get a sense of what they would do or say if you gave them a task they had no idea how to do. See if they would take the extra effort to research and find the answer on their own, or just turn to you for answers. You’ll want someone who will try to figure things out on their own and THEN come to you with questions if they are still unsure. This shows drive and the extra effort they would make while working for you.

 

And then, be sure to take this extra step: Find a couple scenarios you know that will happen on the job and ask them what they would do or suggest in that situation. For example, you would like them to send an email to a few presenters introducing yourself and interest in their venue/festival, so ask for a writing example of that very scenario and see what they send back.

 

These questions will help you learn more about the person, how they work, why they want to work with you and will give you a better sense of if you will work well with them.

 

Remember, all new team members will have a learning curve, however, you want the V.A. that will give their best effort, whole heartedly. After all, this is your career and life that you are working so hard to enjoy!

 

Go out there and ask the right questions to find the right V.A. for you.

 

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