2020 isn’t going to be on anyone’s list of favorite years. In ten years it might be “that year we don’t talk about”.
But that doesn’t mean we didn’t see some good things happen in 2020. For example, live streams becoming more popular isn’t a bad thing – I remember watching “pro shot” livestreams in 2010 that had awful quality, now anyone can beat that visual quality with an iPhone and some decent lighting.
So what do we want to see from DIY artists in 2021? Listen now to find out what our ideal 2021 looks like for the music community!
What you’ll learn:
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Welcome to Episode 60 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross, and I'm here with Matt Hoos of Alive in Barcelona, and this is a happy day because it's the first time in 2021 that we are talking.
Matt, how are you doing today? I'm doing pretty awesome, James. How's everything over there on the East Side? That's great to hear, and things are good over here as well. I'm very much in the Northeast, about two hours from the Canadian border, and we've had beautiful powder snow for the last week and a half, and it hasn't rained or slated, or anything to put that terrible layer of ice on top of it that we usually get. And I'm talking about the weather again. This is ridiculous. I can't talk about anything about the weather.
Honestly, it's the first riel snow, though, that we've seen all winter. So it kind of makes sense. It is, and I have gone out for five times to go sledding and snowboarding with my fiance, and it's been wonderful the past couple of years. There's always been that ice crust on top that just makes sledding terrible. So it's been good. I miss the snow, and in about two weeks I will wish it would be gone forever. So this being the first episode that we're recording in 2021 even though I guess it's technically the third one we're releasing this year, we wanted to talk about what we want to see in music this year.
And we're going to cover a couple things like, you know, big things like touring, coming back and shows and all that kind of stuff because we're all looking forward to that, but also things that we think artists should be doing to build their careers, that not enough artists are doing so. This is going to be very much a chatty episode. We were just talking about what we think artists can do to capture the momentum of technology of society, of whatever it is that's going on and how we hope 2021 will turn out for artists.
And hopefully it'll be as good or even better than what we are envisioning. So, Matt, right off the top of the bat, do you want to take us off into the list, which I mean, I kind of spoiled this first one, but we can dive right in. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The important thing to realize is that while we are in this weird state of limbo where we don't know exactly what's going on, there's a lot of opportunities that are created for us as musicians. The entire world is starved of art.
We haven't had really any musicians. Haven't you know any live shows? We haven't had any performances, really, which is actually led Thio. You know, I've heard stories around the country of, you know, like a local band going and playing at an outdoor venue, and they're being like hundreds of people there just because people are so eager to be back, you know, into the swing of things. And they're so eager to hear music again. And so for us as artists that leaves a really awesome opportunity. There's a lot of demand in the market, and so it's up to us to supply the needs of everybody who's starving Now.
There's lots of different ways that you could do that. The most important thing is to make sure that when this opportunity arises that you've got all of your ducks in a row, all of your foundation blocks laid perfectly. So where when the opportunity arises, you can actually capitalize off those opportunities. The main way that you will need to be ready is merchandise. You absolutely, positively have to make sure that you're selling your merchandise online and at shows once they've returned. If you're not doing this, you're missing out on really your main revenue stream.
Um, you know, that's 90 plus percent of what artists make comes out of their merchandise, so make sure that you have a good, healthy catalog of awesome merch that everybody can see and make sure that it's online to that. People could buy it. So that way, if they come and they see you play, you know, let's say a live show comes back. They see you there like I love you I don't have any cash on me right now, which is the mantra of people going to live shows.
Make sure that you have an online store and make sure that you have something that you can handle These people, like a promotional card, says that has your information on it. It should never be hard for your fans to find your social media platforms and even easier should be your online store. Really, everything that you have should be pointing to your online store. That's the end goal, so make sure that online store is set up. You know, there's lots of good places where you can make sure that you have a website, but if you don't have a website, you don't have an online store.
You've shot yourself in the foot already. Yeah, absolutely. And on that note, you know, have a square reader or a papal here reader or something at your merch table so people can pay you when they don't have cash. But they have a debit card or a credit card or square will now do apple pay. I think if you have the right reader, all kinds of stuff like that in addition to that, print out a Q R code that goes to your online store and put that somewhere very obvious on your merch table or hanging on the rack behind you, where your shirts are with big letters saying, Don't want to carry merch home Order online now, and they can scan it and place their order, and it will be shipped to them immediately.
Or you could even say, Hey, order it before the show. See us after the show and we will hand it to you and market as fulfilled. That is another great option. If you want a solution that does that, you can also check out the merch cat app, which I really love, is a merchandizing app. But you can also just do this by yourself with your own online store and a QR code. Either way works, and that is something that will help artists sell more merch so quickly at shows or even online.
The reason we're talking about Mercury, the reason we're stressing this is over and over. We see artists who say, Oh, I don't have enough fans to sell merch. It's like I don't care how many fans you have. If you have merch and don't get me wrong, it's not on. If you build it, they will come thing. You're not going to instantly start selling merch because you have merch, but you will look so much more legitimate if you have merch. So if you spend, you know, let's just ballpark it $200 on a batch of shirts and you have that, and you have some CDs or download cards or whatever at the merch table at a show.
You instantly look more legit than the band who has nothing or the band who just has, you know, an email list sign up, which most artists don't even do any more of these days. But they should offer people something for that say, Hey, we have free wristband son of her email list. Here's a free wristband. Anyway, that is part of your image that is part of your branding. If you don't focus on that aspect of your branding, you just look amateur, which technically you are. But if you're trying to grow something, you need to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, you know, one of the big things that I think a lot of people like to ignore.
Or rather, their way of thinking is that merch is something that comes after music. But in all actuality, your music is your merch. You know your music. The only reason you go and you play live shows is that people like you while you're playing, and then they go to your merch table. That's the cycle. And so, like if you're not basically constantly updating, you need to be staying relevant in styles. You need to be making sure that you're reaching out and developing and maintaining good relationships with printers.
You know, it's we talk about the network that you have to create, like for me. The people who print are close. I consider them friends more than I consider them. You know, people that I work with because it's it's you know, before I even talk about what merch orders we need. It's like, you know, we catch up on life. We see how the other ones doing, you know, and and treat them like normal people, which, you know, that's why I encourage you to meet is many different people in the industry is possible because you might find people who you just you fall in love with.
You know, it's just like Show me your five closest friends and I will show you your future. It's absolutely true with all the tools that exist today, you can constantly adapt and find new ways to stand out on and really just to, like, make sure that you're staying relevant in the 21st century. There are constantly new APS that are coming into the market. There are so many new tools. I mean, even if you think about 10 years ago and the tools that we had for getting music out, the most popularized tool was iTunes and really, iTunes hurt the music industry more than it helped it because it literally decimated the amount of revenue that an artist would make from a sale.
And so this was not a tool that made things incredible for us. Now it's like you can make all of your own art. You can make you know you can launch all your own music. You can master stuff from your phone. You can we have Dropbox. You can literally send massive amounts of information in a blink of an eye to people on the other side of the world, and somehow we don't have the ability to like make sure that our merch store is updated or to make sure that, like our websites in a modern style, these tools are everywhere.
And if you actively seek them out, then you will find them. And the easiest way to do that is Google. If you're like Oh, I need a touring app well, then Google touring APS there's tons of them out there. You need toe. Start looking for tools that are going to fulfill your needs. And if they don't exist, and that's fine, you know, I'm sure somebody will eventually get there. And honestly, a lot of these smaller companies who develop APS that are really good for niche markets. You can actually message these people and give them input.
You know, if you say hey, like, I really like your product, but it would be really cool if we could do this and this and this They take that and they store that they put it on the back burner and they say, I'll think about this. And if there are small enough company and They're really focused on trying to make a product that's good for their consumers, like they should be a swell. Then a lot of the times those services end up getting integrated. You know, all of the tools and applications that we use on a regular basis are only as good as they are because of the feedback.
You know, it's it's because of the network. So, you know, we talk about building a network between you and your colleagues, and they're doing the same thing. And so you know, just again, you're making your network bigger. Start working with the people who network as well. It's a giant spider web. And the more that you integrate yourself into it, the more success you will find. Absolutely. You know, while we're on that note, I want to say two things. First of all, whatever you hate doing most when it comes to running your band Google that with the word app So going to use some low hanging fruit here.
I know artists hate posting on social media, so Google social media scheduling app and you're gonna find buffer you're gonna find later you might find publisher Hoot suite hoot suite. Yep, that's another big one. Personally, I think Publisher is great, except it doesn't do instagram videos for instagram videos. I recommend buffer, but either one of those will be great for you because it will take that pain point away. You can literally say cool. I've created seven posts. I've added them to my queue and it will automatically schedule them one per day on the schedule I set in advance.
I never have to touch my schedule again unless I want to change something because I just add new posts and it will post them in the order. I add them at those times everyday. Boom, You're done. It's that easy now. No, it doesn't make it completely automatic, but it takes the biggest pain point out of having to go in. Set the date set the time. Make sure you don't have anything else posted that day. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It just does it. It also covers your but yeah, exactly.
And they will send you a reminder. Once you're Q is empty, they'll be like, Hey, you don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow. Like you should probably fix that. The second thing I want to say is you can creatively use APS. So, for example, there is software for booking meetings. I'm talking about book like a boss. I'm talking about callin DLLee. I think Square has a option that you can use because Square doesn't just do the reader anymore. They do a bunch of stuff now, and it's made for booking meetings.
So you know, if you're doing a product demo or something, let's say you're in the software world. People can book a demo with you for your software, and it automatically creates a zoom, meeting link or whatever. But most of these tools will also let you charge for events in advance so you can go on and, for example, on book like a boss. That's what we use for Bandhives coaching. You can go in and say, I'm going to do a private one hour livestream for $95. It'll be me and my acoustic guitar will be face to face on camera.
You can book it. Here's my schedule. You can pick one of the available slots, and as soon as you book it, you pay. I get the money and then we do the live stream. It shows up on my calendar automatically, and we both get the zoom link. That would be a great way to get some small side income. Now, maybe you can't charge $95 because you're just a local band. But think about it. If you could spend half an hour with one of your friends or one of your biggest local fans and they give you 15 bucks for that and you're just basically practicing your songs anyway, that's amazing, because then you've turned that from a practice where you're sitting alone in your room to a practice where you're getting 15 bucks, so literally practice while somebody is watching and you have a little bit of a chat with them between songs.
That is a great way that you could take a tool that exists for one purpose and adapt it to another purpose. But there's so many other things you could do, like you could do guitar lessons. Using those tools, you could do singing lessons you could dio coaching so many things that you could dio. If you have the skills to teach, you can teach them absolutely. You know, there's so many awesome tools and mediums and and and just avenues for us to take as artists. You know, a lot of artists have taking to the live stream now due to covet.
And hopefully those things will stay around because again it's just an extra. It's just icing on the cake. No, it's not for everybody, but, like you were saying James, like if you're gonna practice and you have the opportunity to say, like, bring in one or two of your biggest fans or, you know, a small group, the types of people that this is appealing Thio are going to be the people who are both starved of art and the people who are your biggest fans. So many people would look at that and say, like, Oh, you're just trying to make money off of your fans blah, blah, blah, blah.
It's like, Well, no, the people want this and that's the biggest thing. Essentially, it's that, like, Look, we're going to practice. I'm going to practice by myself acoustically, and you can either come and watch and pay 10 bucks or you don't have to No worries at all. Six and one half a dozen in the other That's just if you are starving for our enough that you want to come in and support. And so that's why you need to create that avenue. You know, like when you go to the grocery store, there's always candy sitting in the aisles.
It doesn't matter. It's always there. You don't wait for Reese Is or Hershey's to manufacture a bar while you're A. Soon as you decide that you want one, they've created the avenue. It's there if you want to partake in it, then you grab that candy bar and you stick it on the belt and then you pay for it. You eat it. That's the same exact thing You don't have Thio. It's there for the people that want it. If you don't want to do that, that's fine. I would advise to do it just because it's you know, maybe you don't even have to do it on your band page.
Maybe you do it on your personal page. You know, maybe you do that. It's some sort of value. Add that's that's just one closer level of intimacy between you and your fans, where it's like, you know, it's not even on the band Page. It's all I follow the singer and the singer actually does this once a week. You know there's different ways to do it. Maybe you got one guy in your band who just love who will sit there for hours and just play guitar. So we throw a camera up record that it's worth it.
People enjoy watching it. People enjoy watching other people create art. If you don't believe me, well, that's why YouTube exists. There's there's literally, you know, at this point, probably billions of videos that, you know, that's just us watching other people make art. That's all it is. You need to be a part of that community. You need to create all these avenues. You know, like Tic Tac. I know that as older people and as you get older, it's weird to go onto trendy year platforms. It's strange there's some sort of pride that exists inside of people that I don't understand where it's like Oh yeah, I can't I can't use this new hip app because this is what kids are doing.
And society tells me that adults are supposed to hate kids and kids. They're supposed to, you know, adults don't understand kids and kids hate adults. That's what society says. But in reality it's like I'm watching like middle aged moms get popular on tick tock just because they put themselves out there. You know why Justin Bieber became a $200 million. 18 year old? It's because he put himself out there like, Yeah, you can say whatever you want about O. P. Diddy found, even know he had all these opportunities and blah, blah.
Yeah, whatever. The kid busted his ass making videos and he put them on YouTube. He put them on YouTube over and over and over again. He wrote his own songs and he put them out. He never stopped creating content. It didn't matter what the world was saying about him. It didn't matter that he was adorable. He could have stopped just soaked in all the praise because he was a little kid. But he didn't. He kept making more music and kept putting it out and slow and steady it actually for him.
It happened really quickly. And then Pete did. He found him, and then it was just like, holy crap. You know, this kid is the biggest artist in the world. That only happened because he put himself out there. He invested in himself. This is something I kind of want to dig into a little bit, because investment everybody always thinks of monetary. But money is not the only way to invest in yourself. Like when you pick up a book and you start to read, you are investing in yourself.
You're learning something now that hopefully you can apply in the future, which you will then arrive at a better result at the very end. Three idea is to spend a little bit of time now to forego something you want right now in order to have something greater later. And so, with investment, it is the on leeway to advance. You know, you have to think about building a house. That's what you're doing. You're building a house when you build a brand, and you can't do that without tools.
And so what do you have to do? You have to slowly but surely find the tools that you need. You have to make sure you have the tools for the job. Every tool that you acquire that is investing in yourself. Every book that you read about the way that the industry works or about marketing strategies or every time that you listen to a podcast and try to apply the knowledge that you learn that is an investment in yourself. The only possible way to advance is to become better.
That's what advancement is. You become better, and investment is saying, I'm going thio instead of sit down and place in video games today, I'm going to sit down and read a book. And instead of reading a book, that's, you know, instead of reading Huckleberry Finn, I'm going to sit down and I'm going to read Warren Buffett's opinions on, you know, investing because maybe investing my money is going to be, you know, the tool that it takes for me toe make more music. I don't know. Maybe there's a whole bunch of different avenues, but the point is you need to figure out what tools are going to be perfect in your life to help you.
What investing tools are you gonna use now? Sometimes an investment is clothing. Sometimes an investment is a tattoos, and that might just be because you need thio fit the image. Or maybe That means that, you know, maybe an investment is a new car, because that is going to allow you to get to and from band. Practice and investment can be one of many things, but you need to be spending a bunch of your money on investments. You need to be spending a bunch of your time on investments, and you need to be mentally prepared and mentally aware that it's your job.
It's your job to be better. That's what the goal is is always to be better if you can be better. And if if your goal is to constantly get to that next step of being better, eventually you'll start to notice that you have a following. You have a fan base. You have people that are dedicated to you. You're constantly looking for new tools to make your business better, and they're constantly looking for new music to make their lives better. So if you use the tools given to you if you buy a new guitar, which is going to make your music sound better, that's an investment.
If you buy pro tools and you are going to use it to make high quality demos, That's an investment. You need to be thinking about those things. If you're putting money into marketing, that's an investment. And so, like you need to have active investments, things that grow your fan base. You need to have personal investments, things that grow, who you are as an individual and then of those personal investments. Some of them need to be internal. Some of them need to be investments into your brain. You know, some of them need to be investments into your hardware, so always be looking for different ways that you can make yourself better.
That's so true. And I want to say, you know, all of that together. Confound, really overwhelming. But it's absolutely necessary. And by listening to this podcast, you are already investing in yourself. Now that shouldn't be the end all like, if the only thing you do is listen to this podcast, we're gonna help you as much as we can. But there are so many other areas like, you know, personal finance that you mentioned reading Warren Buffett books. We're not personal finance experts. We could talk a little bit about what we do for our own personal finances and for band budgets and that kind of stuff.
But we're not experts in investing like Warren Buffett. If you want to learn about something else, you have to go seek out that information. There are so many great books about being a nen dependent musician in the music business. Read them between you and I'm at. I bet we've read most of the books that were published in the last 20 years about D. I Y artists in the music business. That's just because we both want to learn, and the day you stop learning is the day you start dying.
Always focus on that continued growth, just like you're saying that you need to always be learning artists. If there's one thing you need to come to terms with its you're not just a musician, you are a content creator. Now here's the jumping off point for you. If you wanna learn what it means to be a content creator, google it. If you wanna learn the demands and the requirements to essentially put on the suit, you know if you want to dress for the job, you want your content creator, and that means that you have to compete against other content creators because you're not just competing against another artist, another musician.
You're competing against the world of YouTube and you're competing against Netflix and you're competing for people's attention. And so it's your job to create quality content. You got to do it consistently. You have to make sure that you are accessible. If people can't find you, then they can't enjoy your music. They can't enjoy your art. You need to grow friendships, develop a network, find people on social media, find musicians, find artists, find managers, find people that you love and develop those relationships. Continue those friendships find, you know, check on all of your local promoters and see how they're doing because their industries have also been decimated.
It's not just the bands who have been screwed. Check on your venue. Owners develop relationships with these people, support them when they're down, and you'll find that that support comes back around. If you're wasting your time. If you're just not creating content like you should, then you're wasting time every day that you don't create content, you're losing to somebody else. They will always be better than you if they are constantly creating content and you are not. So make sure that you are constantly becoming better. Make sure that you are working hard to find out exactly what your fans are actually interested in and just to have conversations with, um, you know, I think everybody in this world right now is a little bit exhausted from social media fights and degradation.
You know, get on there and be a voice of positivity towards people. I guarantee you just is. People are starving for art. People are also starving for positivity. So be that for people. The idea that it's so hard to find what people want in the business world, I think is ridiculous because people want so many things. And more than anything, people just want a connection to something that they care about. Like you were saying earlier, James like, I would absolutely pay 100 bucks thio talk with the red hot Chili peppers well, and while they like and have you know, they play a practice session and I talked with them for 100 bucks, you better believe I would do that.
That would be incredible to me. You'd probably pay more than that. They're your favorite band. You pay like 500 right? And on top of that, I've never been able to see them in concert before because of like member changes and things like that. There's so many extraneous circumstances that all tie into, like why people make their decisions on, like, for me. I might not ever get to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers as my favorite line up. And so I had even Mawr incentive to if they were to do a live stream to try and watch that because I would wanna watch the four of them play together.
And so, like, even if you know, let's say for some reason like this last time, they're you know, they've had a few guitarist changes over the years. And for the last few tours, it hasn't been John for Shanti. And so even though they've toured, I haven't really been interested in going to see them. There's so many things that are going on in the mind of the consumer. There's so many incentives for them as to why they might want to do something. So that's why we say it's like some people will say, Oh, you're just you're just trying to do anything you can to make whatever penny you can, you know, it's like, Well, it's not really that.
It's more of that. We want to create the avenue for everybody toe have something that they might enjoy. And if this isn't what you enjoy, then that's cool. Move along. But if you create the avenue for your customers, you will attract the ones that want it. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, to put it in another perspective, you wouldn't walk into a restaurant and say What? You're going to charge me for food? You're just trying to get money from me. It's like they're giving you food they're feeding you.
They're giving you that pleasure of good food in your stomach. So if an artist is asking for some amount of money to give you a private show where they will sing the songs that you ask them thio that make your heart feel good, Come on, give them some money for that and for you as an artist, if you want to do this properly and grow relationships with people, do a weekly you know, half an hour or hour long live stream that's open to anyone you know, Just do it on Facebook or something and play the songs that you wanna play and then at the end, because people will have been asking for songs the whole time say, Hey, you know what I love to do request.
But it's really difficult for me to get to what everyone wants. That's why I always just build my own set. If you want to make a set, go to this link and book me for one of the time slots that's available, and you can literally fill the entire half hour with songs that you want to hear, you know, like I will play seven songs as long as they fit in that half hour, maybe 35 minutes. If it goes a little over, pick those songs and I will play them anything from my catalog.
I can't promise I'll play any cover you want me to hear. But if it's a song that I wrote that I can sing, I will play it. That's how to add value because then you're giving people that little free snippet and they enjoy it. But they want to hear their favorite song without having to come back every single week and hope that you're gonna play it. They will pay you to play it and then they get to have a little chat with you as well. That does it for this episode of the band.
I've podcast happy Belated New Year to all of you. Thank you so much for listening. I really hope that this episode gives you some ideas about how you can improve your band, your business yourself and how you can have growth during 2021. I know 2020 was really tough for all of us, especially with shows getting canceled and family and loved ones getting sick or worse. It's been a rough year, So here's to a great 2021 that looks much better than 2020 fingers crossed. Thanks again for listening. We'll be back next Tuesday at six AM with another episode of the band.
I've podcast. Until then, have an awesome week Stay healthy And, of course, as always, keep rocking
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