One thing that I've learned in the last 10 years in the music industry is that if you don't have a great online presence then you're not tapping into a huge part of both your networking and ultimately earning potential as an artist/songwriter.
I am currently active on about 100 different sites and have gone through some of the best ones and wanted to share with you what I believe to be some of the best ones. With that being said here are the top 3 networking sites in my opinion:
Best artist/songwriter sites (fan acquisition/opportunities/networking):
1. Reverb Nation-there's just no better site out there that constantly provides endless opportunities for artists as well as provide a huge network of other artists in all genres, booking agents, club owners and labels/publishers. I consider this the one stop site where an artist can pretty much do anything they are wanting to do.
2. The New My Space (fan acquisition/networking)-now hold your horses for a minute I know what you're thinking-the old Myspace basically became extinct so what good is the new one going to be? I can tell you honestly that the New Myspace is THE BEST way to pinpoint fans. I am blown away by the sites 'affinity' percentages where artists can see by % how a fan may like your music. Although it doesn't have near the outlets as Reverb Nation, we all know its about gaining new listeners and this site is very powerful for that.
3. Linked In (networking/opportunities) It took me a long time to realize the power in Linked In-I always thought it was a site for people in the corporate world but I have been amazed at the different music groups on the site and the ability to be able to submit and share tracks with other artists and for radio/publishing/label opportunities. I have personally had a lot of great things happen on this site. Besides making great contacts I've landed many great radio and licensing deals on the site.
Top 3 Licensing Sites
1. Tribe Of Noise-everything is free on this site and they provide world wide opportunities for every genre.
2. Sonic Bids-the tried and true, Sonic Bids always brings great opportunities to the table with the ability to mail EPKs to prospective labels and other opps and they keep their submitting prices low.
3. Music X Ray-these guys have gone above and beyond and have not only provided great opportunities for artists but have created online tip jars for artists, feedback from publishers and labels personally on every submission and song match analytics to find the best fit for songs for opportunities.
In the coming weeks I want to go through more of these sites. I have spent years finding the most effective ones and I want to save you some of the pitfalls I have come across. If you're not already on Twitter, Facebook band page and Soundcloud (the big 3) you need to have these in place. It's a never ending game when trying to get your music out there, but the more great platforms you have to share it through, the greater the exposure and hopefully the greater the success!! Til net time...
If there's one thing I have learned along this broken up, sometimes directionless and brutal road of the music business is that nothing comes easy. When I was 12 years old I remember getting my first rejection from a music publisher who I had approached to do some sheet music to some of my piano pieces.
As I went through my high school years I can recall going in for auditions and hearing how I didn't measure up and how hundreds of publishing companies turning my songs down.
Moving to Nashville was a whole different realm of rejection. In a town of such high standards I cannot even recall how many showcases I've played where I was criticized for my voice, publishers turning down what I thought to be strong songs and even writers refusing to write with me because I didn't have any credible success.
Music is a double edged sword; we all love it but what I've come to find is that it is a very individualized thing. Even if a person has a great song you're still going to deal with the individual tastes of the audience you're writing for-and it changes constantly.
I've realized I can't please everyone; and after over 20 years of pursing my career without making a living I've grown to just do what I love to do and not worry about what people think or feel about my music. Yes I've spent many nights getting 4 hours of sleep, doing free gigs and killing myself marketing and promoting my music. But I wouldn't change a thing-I am me-everything I have I've earned and I'm proud of the journey that I've been on and wouldn't retrace a step.
OK so here's my dilemma-I'm a songwriter who's got a huge collection of songs, 5 LPs, 2 side group EPs in indie rock and dance pop and a TON of energy to pursue this crazy jaded game called the music scene. The problem is after 13 years in Nashville with credible cuts with some big shows, some songs with up and coming artists, and producing some great acts, I could probably have paid my mortgage for one month with what I've made so far. So here's where it gets complicated-I moved here as a painfully white man pursuing Christian pop and I've ended up as a rapping dancepop artist (sort of). I've diversified to Indie rock, indie pop, country and many other styles just to see what it is that people latch onto. All to come to the conclusion that after all my research and recording that someone will probably just stream my music on Spotify and I'll be left with about enough money to get a Snickers bar at the end of the month. Well it was a good try. The Bitter Selway's EP just came out March 6th: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cold-as-numbers-ep/id616821327 and my other sidegroup World Kup just released their EP March 15th https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/world-kup-ep/id603726878 . Maybe I can upgrade to a dinner at Taco Bell by the end of the month!
In the beginning I thought it would be cool to diversify my sound and have a few side groups. Little did I know that it meant more networking, more websites, more music sites and a ton of other work that I never dreamed of! I finally feel a lot better knowing that both of our EPs are finished with The Bitter Selway (indie rock) and World Kup (dance/electronic) and we finally have a presence on I Tunes with both groups. A little note to all artists out there: don't start a side group unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands-it's about to kill me!!
The Bitter Selway (Shangri La-single)https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/shangri-la-single/id6171733060
The Bitter Selway EP Cold As Numbers https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cold-as-numbers-ep/id616821327
We were blown away to get our song 'Bump' chosen to be in a worldwide remix contest in late 2012. Just the other day we got the 6 top remix winners for our song and we were absolutely blown away by the talent and production quality of these entrants-here is the best one that we both agreed on www.soundcloud.com/nathanbrumleysongwriter/bump-in-the-night-secret
I have definitely figured out that in this crazy game of music that it definitely takes a team to get music out to the world; you definitely can't do it alone. There is no way we would have been able to do anything like this on our own and we are honored to have been a part of this opportunity (but we still want to learn how in the world they did those songs!!)
I have always believed that a songwriter or artist should have a voice for something; a cause to stand for or a charity to uphold. Music can be so influential and can not only move people to melodies but can call people to action.
I have always had a passion for supporting the homeless. From the time I got out of high school I frequented local rescue missions sharing songs of hope and a message of better things ahead.
I have seen it become such a growing epidemic in my own town of Nashville that I have started handing out homeless backpacks equipped with food, basic toiletries, socks, and t shirts. I realize my supply is limited and I will only impact a portion of the homeless population, but it's a start and a blessing to those who receive them.
My purpose in writing this is to call others to action and help people realize that homelessness doesn't always stem from being an addict or having a mental disorder. Times are tough right now and many of these homeless folks are ordinary people who have come across difficult times.
Obviously we can't give to everybody that is homeless, but we all can do the best we can to help those around us whether it be volunteering in a rescue mission, handing out a homeless backpack during the colder months or helping out at a Room In The Inn at a local church. You will be blessed and you will feel incredibly good helping those less fortunate!
I went bowling tonight with some friends and my kids ended up getting really stir crazy so I let them take my turn after the first round. The one (and only) time I got to bowl during our game I ended up getting a nice spare. Even though that was the only chance I had I went out well, like a champ; those watching around me had no idea if I was really good or just a lousy player who got lucky that one time-but that one chance I got I delivered and left no pins behind.
I started to think about this in terms of social media marketing and even went as far as to think of the relevance of having a facebook band page. You see before I had any cuts at all in TV and film, most of my friends, clients and coworkers thought my music was kind of a joke; something I did as a hobby in my spare time and nobody took it seriously. When I shared my first big cut with Warner Brothers with them heads started turning and clients who thought I was a hobby musician quickly asked for links and MP3s of my songs. One simple bit of information completely transformed their view of my music.
I see so many musicians today (and believe me I've been there too) who share such mediocre information and news on their major social media pages-and they do this too often!! Things like 'Check out my new song' or 'vote for me in this new contest' can only drive fans to the familiar tune of the Myspace days when people were inundated with music spammers that drove the site to its untimely death.
You see what most people don't realize (or maybe do realize and do it anyway) is that so many of the music networking sites are tied in to Twitter and Facebook to where no only is mediocre news shared on the main pages but are shared 2 and 3 times over on Twitter and Facebook-that's a big reach especially if it is insignificant! This has almost driven me to quit my facebook band page simply because I don't want to come across as a music spammer to my loyal fans because of things I've put on my 20 or 30 other music networking sites that are linked into Facebook.
So the bottom line is this: I could bowled the rest of that game and absolutely sucked! But I pulled out early and I looked like a hero with a great spare. If you got GREAT NEWS then share it-in fact share it multiple times on big social media platforms. But don't share mediocre, repetitive or downright insignificant information if its not going to move people. Shoot for a STRIKE and SPARE people the fluff!
It is so strange how we go months and months or even a year without any progress and then in a month everything seems to come at once. December/January have been some great months for us!
After winning 1st in the USA Songwriting Competition for lyrics (with Sherri Gough and Bill DiLuigi), we had a great opportunity to do an interview with Tribe of Noise and then were just contacted about placement for 56 seconds in the show The Young And The Restless.
Now that doesn't mean we're going to be hooked on mid day soaps but it's at least reassuring that our music is being used somewhere.
In addition, our group seems to be getting a good response on Reverb Nation and Twitter as people are latching our Indie sound. Music is a tough road and I believe its as hard now as it ever has been, but we're just excited to see some glimmers of light on this long road!!
2012 has been an eclectic year of testing different trends and genres to see what people are responding to. After finishing an EP with my electronic/dubstep/dance side group this year, I started an Indie rock group called The Bitter Selway. Living in the Rocky Mountains for 22 years, I am always drawn back to them in my writing and am on my 5th song of the EP right now. This is a story album of a man who longs to find himself by spending a winter in the Rockies with just a tent and food to live on. So far I'm really pleased with the direction of how things are going. I was shooting for a more rootsy Mumford & Sons meets Fleet Foxes sound but somehow I ended up with this www.soundcloud.com/nbrumley2/when-the-snow-breaks
I have often set unrealistic expectations for myself-getting 3-4 hrs of sleep to get a song recorded for days on end, writing 50-60 plus songs a year for 10 years, maintaining a goal of putting out one record per year on top of doing about 50 song demos for co-writes with a full time personal training schedule and raising 2 boys.
I've often asked myself where all my hard work has gone after years of pursuing my dream. Though publishing deals, show placements and artist cuts have been nice, I've yet to have that viral song; that one tune that has pushed me over into the 'I've finally made it' level of songwriting.
I can recall early publishers saying to write when you don't feel like it and try to co-write at least 2-3 times per week. I've run into other Nashville writers who write 4-6 hours per day doing back to back co-writes.
But still I've wrestled with this question: I know there's strength in numbers, but are my fans and friends going to care about the number of songs I've written? Aren't they just focused on that one song that has drawn them in; that undeniable single that keeps them constantly singing and wanting to go back and listen.
Don't get me wrong-it definitely takes numbers of songs to get a great one, but you just know when a song has 'got it' or doesn't.
My goal in years to come and I believe what has become the reality in our current music scene is better quality songwriting. With the shear volume of music out there, artists and writers are forced to writer GREAT songs and sometimes only get one shot to get the right people to hear the song. I would rather write 5 great songs and have them circulating online then 50 OK songs just to say I've written them-chances are a lot of them are going to sound very similar anyways.
Bottom line is it only takes one and people will often remember you for that ONE song they like-I want to make that song a GREAT one!!!