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How to Engage and Grow your Fanbase

Part of being a successful artist is understanding your target audience and fans. While you still can’t interact face to face during Covid, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with them through the Internet and social media. Doing so requires you to understand your fanbase and know how to most effectively reach out to them.

Run online advertisements through platforms, such as Facebook and Ad Builder to promote your music. For instance, through Ad Builder, you can identify your target audience and most effectively promote your music to them. Through Spotify and iHeartRadio ads, listeners can learn more about your work, and you can build a more diverse, dynamic audience. Most importantly, Ad Builder provides analysis on the effectiveness of your ads, which is vital feedback that will allow you to most successfully target and build your fanbase.

Plan a merchandise or album giveaway. Take advantage of your social media platforms to set up your own giveaway events. This is a great way to engage fans and reward them with a physical piece that showcases their dedication as a fan. Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for launching giveaways and is a quick way to grow your fanbase. To be eligible for winning giveaways, ask your fans to follow your account and tag their friends. This is an effective method to engage fans, reward them for their dedication, and build an even larger fanbase!

Create a song cover contest where fans can post their own creative song covers of one of your songs on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. This is a wonderful opportunity for fans to demonstrate their own abilities and passion. Not only will their song covers serve as a powerful marketing tool for your music, this is a smart way for you to learn more about your fans, interact with them, and show that you appreciate their dedication.
What are you waiting for? Plan out your next action steps to continue building strong, tight connections with your fans through the universal language of music. Think outside of the box, and most importantly, remember to stay consistently creative!

FREE Songwriting Workshop with Multi Platinum Producer – Register Now!

Every artist dreams of the chance to work with an industry pro, and Rock the Dream is giving songwriters the opportunity with our free Songwriting Workshop with multi-platinum producer Loren Israel.

Major label A&R Consultant Loren Israel has worked with Coldplay, Plain White T’s, Less Than Jake, Jimmy Eat World, Sugarcult, Neon Trees, and The Unlikely Candidates, to name a few. He will lend his expertise in a writing session where you’ll produce a song together and learn to elevate your music and create hits.

In this month’s sessions, artists Mitchel Madak and Rosahlee met with Loren one-on-one to discuss their styles and goals for their music. Now, over this month, Loren will produce a verse and chorus of one song for each.

Our next workshop is September 19th and takes place over zoom. The $200 registration fee will be covered by Rock the Dream, and includes a free month in our artist development mentorship program.

More info at contact@rockthedream.org

“Record Label Advances – Is it Free Money?”

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

A big part of the allure of signing a record deal is getting an advance (aka, the money). There is much to consider before taking a check from a label, however. Understanding how the advance works and the terms of your deal will help you make the right decision.

A common misconception about record deals is that the artist gets paid just for the deal. The payment the artist receives is only an “advance”, and has to be made back for the label. The label is making an investment in you and your brand, and is expecting a return. Your advance might be between $50,000- $350,000 (sometimes much more or much less), but the label will also put much more money into your recording, production, and promotion.

The advance you get is simply a living wage while you work on producing music, plus performing and promoting it. One thing to consider is the size of the label. While a major label has the resources for a large budget, a small label may be limited. A larger advance in this case could mean a smaller marketing and promotion budget, so consider how this will impact your goals. A larger advance does not always mean a better deal.

Keep in mind that this “advance” is just that, a credit that you have to pay back. Regardless of what percentage of revenue you are entitled to in the deal, all of your royalties will be taken by the label until their investment is repaid. This means you have to make back the entire advance, as well as recording costs and other expenses specified in the deal. You can end up personally liable for these costs if your music does not generate enough income, and likely be dropped from the label. It’s a good idea to consult an entertainment lawyer, so you understand what you are signing.

If your “break even” point is far out of reach, you might not see any more money from your music for years to come, if ever. When considering an advance make sure you’re ready for the commitment you are entering, and that it will take you further in the direction of your goals instead of halting you.

Source; Weibe, David Andrew. “How Much Advance Do Record Labels Give, And How Much Should You Try and Get. ” Music Industry How To, https://www.musicindustryhowto.com/how-much-advance-do-record-labels-give-and-how-much-should-you-try-and-get/

Virtual Live Concert Tomorrow!

August 1st brings another Virtual Live Concert from Rock the Dream! Featured artists are Onella, Mitchel Madak, Sarah Shipley, Corry Michaels, and Nojac, and our MC is Kam Cinnamon. Tune in at 5pm PTD/ 8pm EDT on instagram and vote for your favorite performer!

While in person concerts are on hold, you can still enjoy live music from home. And you can help support us and our artists with a donation. Join us @rockthedreamnonprofit on instagram, see you there!

Step Up your Instagram Live Performances

Written By Diane Martin, Rock the Dream

Instagram Live has been popular since it came out four years ago, but now with in-person concerts on hold it is more valuable than ever. Instagram offers features that make it the perfect platform for your live performances.

You can see your viewer count and their likes and feedback while broadcasting. Comments can be turned off if they’re distracting, but are a great way to engage and interact with fans. We’ve been forced to keep our entertainment virtual for now, so take advantage of live streaming for your fans!

Use these tips to make your live stream top notch;

  1. Plan ahead. Before you start a live stream, make sure you have a plan for the entire time.  If it’s a performance, write out your set list, practice, and time it (You can go live for up to an hour).  You may want to be more interactive with fans like with a Q&A, but have something else to talk about or get some questions beforehand, so that you don’t end up sitting in silence with no questions!
  2. Promote.  After you plan your actual performance, plan when you’ll go live. Starting on a whim could be hit or miss depending how many of your followers are online. Post on your story or page, and on other social media, at least a few hours before, so your fans will know when to find you.
  3. Background. Even though it’s a pretty informal way to put on a show, make sure it still looks clean and professional.  Plan your backdrop and outfit to fit the vibe of your performance. Your messy bedroom as a background won’t scream professional artist to your fans! Also, set up any equipment and a place to set your phone before starting, so you’re not fumbling around on camera.
  4. Lighting. Adequate lighting makes a huge difference. If your room lighting isn’t up to par, it might be worth it to invest in some more professional lighting, like a small ring light.  Amazon has some affordable options starting around $30.
  5. Review.  You can save your live streams to your camera roll. Take advantage of this and watch back any live concerts that you do to see where you can improve for next time.  The comments won’t save, so try to read feedback between songs or at the end, or tell fans they can DM you after.

You don’t have to make your fans wait until the pandemic is over to see you perform, go live for them now!

The Do’s & Don’ts of Networking with Industry Professionals

By Kerry Oliver, CEO Rock the Dream

Every credible source advises to “network” with industry professionals as the sure fire way of getting ahead. “It’s WHO you know” that determines your level of success in the music world. Great advice, but two questions come to mind: One, how do I meet these mover n’ shakers; and, two, what is the right protocol in approaching them.

To seek out how you meet these important people, first you must determine what you wish to achieve. Do you want to be signed by a major label or just license your music? Or, do you want to work as a booking agent or tour manager? There are many facets to the industry, so it’s important to narrow down your focus of who you NEED to meet.

For example and because we are Rock the Dream, let’s use “signing to a record label” as your goal. For this, the most practical path is to build relationships with Major Label A&R Consultants. These are the people who can connect you to the right labels. Watch industry news pieces for when they are speaking at an event, go up and introduce yourself, be prepared with an intelligent question. Other routes are to ask other artists you know who have representation for their rep’s contact info; also, check the industry social media news on up-and-coming artists you are now hearing about, because they normally have A&R and that is why you are hearing about them.

Of course, you can go through the traditional information sources who can give you all the names of those who you can approach, but knowing someone who knows someone is your best bet to open a door. There are many of these sources out there selling various lists of names.

Treat opportunities to meet industry professionals tied to your eventual goal as gold. Take advantage of every opportunity, no matter the cost, because it will cost you a lot more in the long run by not jumping on it. These opportunities are very rare.

At Rock the Dream, we are fortunate to work with Loren Israel who is a multi-platinum producer as well as an impactful A&R Consultant. His resume includes Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay, Sugarcult, Less Than Jake, Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, and many more. His current band, The Unlikely Candidates, recently had the #1 hit song on the Alternative Charts.

This leads us to Question #2 — protocol. Here’s a quick story that will explain it all. One of our interns wanted to train as an A&R person. She had an opportunity to attend one of Loren’s Workshops that we hosted for free. She chose not to attend, and then emailed him directly without our permission. She asked him to train her for free. To add insult to injury, she also stated that she needed these private sessions with him, because she didn’t have time to attend his workshop. I’m sure you can spot several problems here already.

Don’t be this person! You are not the VIP’s most important item on his/her agenda. In fact, your first thought in approaching them, should be “what’s in it for them?” It never works to rush in with a “Hi, my name is, will you do this for me?” Take the time to build a relationship with the person, try to assist them with whatever they allow you to do — for free. Show them your value, first!

Don’t sing your accolades, they don’t care. You’re wasting their time. You are asking them for help, they did not seek you out. SHOW them what you’re worth.

Random communication with different A&R consultants or any industry professional may possibly work, but most often is not an efficient use of your time. “Find someone who knows someone.”

Your Song Went Viral, What’s Next?

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream

The best thing that can happen to an artist who hopes to top charts and make it big is that one of their songs goes viral. In the era of social media, this has become more common and a goal attained by a number of artists, even with small followings. Whether on the new sensation, Tik Tok, which has propelled many songs into the spotlight, or some other way, what you do after a song or video goes viral is crucial to your career.

A lot of people think that getting your “15 minutes” of fame is all that it takes to show the world who you are and launch into stardom. This is not always the case, though, as many of these viral stars fade out of the limelight nearly as fast as they arrived. It takes effort to turn this into an opportunity to capture long term fans.

You want to keep your song on people’s radars for as long as you can, since you know your viral stint won’t last forever. The more time it’s trending, though, the more listeners it will reach. Make sure to promote anything big related to the song on your social medias, like a well known artist posting a cover or comment, or if you get added to a major playlist. Ask friends to do the same, and be grateful to everyone who helps promote it.

If the song doesn’t already have a video, you should start working on one right away. Try to release it while it’s still a recent memory, and this might give the song a whole new life in the spotlight, or even make it a bigger hit. And, don’t slack on the quality either, put in time and effort since you know you have a big audience right now.

Many videos, whether the official one or ones responding to it, have a dance or theme that contributes to them going viral. This is something to consider, because if this isn’t why the song went viral, you may have the opportunity to turn it into a challenge or trend. Be creative and try to start one that you think can catch on, or turn to collaborators who might help blow up the song even more.

In your “15 minutes” you’ll have more success reaching out to other big creators or artists who might want to collaborate or help you promote. Maybe you won’t get a response, but this could be a chance to gain allies and friends in the industry.

Some songs that go viral are an artist’s first release, but this is rare. You probably already have other music out or created. You, of course, want the viral song to keep being successful, but you really want to promote yourself as an artist while you have this new audience.

One artist who went viral and has kept up the success afterward is Doja Cat. This was highly due to the fact that she had a strong catalog of music, to which she directed new fans. You should actively promote your other music and make it accessible to fans of your viral song. If you don’t have much other music, start working on new releases as soon as you can.

Having a viral song will help your career in many ways, but it probably won’t make you a ton of money like you may think. Streams alone don’t produce much revenue for an artist, even big ones. That’s why you should promote your whole brand during this time. This includes merch and live shows or tours. If you don’t already have these in the works, start planning them as soon as you can. Although, don’t rush to make something that doesn’t represent you well, as that can have the opposite effect on continuing your success.

Finally, you may be thinking about how to turn this virality into a record deal. You should first add the song to your press kit or EPK. Know your stats about the song, so you’re ready to discuss it if the right people come your way. But don’t use this song as your only selling point. You want people to believe in you as an artist, not a one hit wonder.

Enjoy your success, but don’t think that’s the end of the hard work, because it’s only just beginning!

Turning Your Song into the Next Hit on TIK TOK

Written by Jessie Cheng, Rock The Dream

Stuck at home with your creative musical juices? With over 800 million active users, Tik Tok is undoubtedly one of the best platforms to take advantage of when promoting your music. While we may still be social distancing right now, your music can powerfully connect people all over the world! Read on, and you will be steps away from making your song a hit on Tik Tok.

Which song should you promote? Choose a memorable song, one with catchy and easily learnable lyrics and beats. Tik Tok users love lip syncing and dancing to snappy songs, so ensure that your song is suitable. If your lyrics can be matched with simple and fun dance moves, even better! Users are looking for entertaining, lively, and exciting music to jam out to. The trendier and friendlier your music is, the more likely you are to experience success on Tik Tok!

Tik Tok users also create thousands of hashtags for all kinds of videos. When promoting your music, make sure to include related hashtags that already have a substantial following, such as #music, #foryoupage, #fyp, and #challenge. Because the Tik Tok community is worldwide, users love sharing videos where they lip sync and dance to popularly shared songs. By including hashtags, your music will spread quickly through Tik Tok!

Also consider creating your own memorable hashtag related to your song. For example, the successful promotion of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X is heavily attributed to the hashtag “#yeehaw,” which resulted in thousands of videos with over 67 million plays. Your’s can be next!

Most importantly, have fun and be consistent! Think about ways to make your video more quirky, such as by adding unique filters or including hilarious outfits and props. When promoting your music, it is important to frequently interact with other Tik Tok users. Comment and like other posts, share new videos, take on Tik Tok challenges yourself, and believe that you are fully capable of promoting your music. Be confident that your music is powerful and can connect millions of people––keep it up!

Music Videos Aren’t Going Anywhere!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock The Dream

As streaming continues to take over the music industry, it might seem like even music videos are becoming obsolete. Many things in the industry have begun to fade over time, like physical albums, long release build ups, and even albums themselves. It may seem like videos could be next, but don’t write them off just yet.

Videos are still a huge part of music from both an artistic and business standpoint. Youtube is still the largest music streaming platform in the world, and only second to google of all search engines. And you can’t have music on youtube without a video! You can always upload a title screen or single picture as the visual of the entire video, but this can be a missed opportunity for creativity.

In terms of your art, a video is an opportunity to further convey your vision and message to your audience. No matter how simple or thought out the video is, it can enhance whatever mood you are going for and make fans feel even more connected to your music. A video will also bring more attention to you and your song. It’s another way to draw in fans and keep their interest to listen to an entire song, and maybe look for more after.

Some videos even end up becoming more popular than the song itself. You can probably think of at least a few dances from music videos that became huge trends, even if you don’t remember the song, (think Gangnam Style, and more than one Drake video), or some really notable videos, like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.

An example of a video success story is Mike Cover’ video of “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish on youtube. He made a simple but well made video for this cover, which was noticed by a popular Tik Tok promoter. The video blew up and became his most viewed video, claiming 119k views and counting. The cover probably wouldn’t have found the same success posted elsewhere.

Even the biggest artists don’t make videos for every song they release, and it’s not necessary for you either. Not every video needs to be super complex or high budget too, just intentional and relevant to the project. If you can, try to make a video for at least one, if not a few songs as you release new projects throughout your career. It can also be a way to keep promoting a song if it was already released on an album or single recently.

Spotify and other platforms are even starting to add more video elements to their services. Just log onto one, or youtube, to see that the music video is still very much alive!

Source; Medium. 4 Feb. 2016, medium.com/@pulsefilms/ why-music-videos-are-still-so-important-views-from-inside-the-industry-ebaa7d4758d2.

Virtual Songwriting Workshop!

Rock the Dream is sponsoring select artists to participate in a Virtual Songwriting Workshop with multi-platinum producer and A&R Consultant, Loren Israel.

Loren, who worked as an A&R for Capitol Records for over 15 years, is well known for discovering and developing the Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, Jimmy Eat World and most recently, Unlikely Candidates.

The workshop will take place on Sunday, June 28th at 12pm PDT via Zoom. The participating artists will receive one free month in the Rock the Dream mentoring program.

To register or for more info, email contact@rockthedream.org.

Do You Have What Booking Agents Are Looking For?ng Anywhere!

Written by Lindsey Batista, Rock The Dream

As many musicians find out early in their career, talent isn’t everything. Your music has to be high quality, but what will set you apart is hard work. This is also what will impress booking agents. As an artist you have to market and advocate for yourself, but at some point you will want the help of an agent to really evolve your career.

A booking agent will do exactly what’s in the name, manage your bookings. They will also work to get you fair compensation, set up tours, manage budgets for entire shows and tours, as well as arranging more press coverage to grow your fan base. Though this is something you can do yourself, an agent will have the connections to get you gigs that you wouldn’t be able to on your own.

Before you’re ready for a booking agent, you should be regularly playing live and filling venues. You also should have a good amount of experience playing live, as an agent will definitely be able to tell the difference. Once you feel you are at the point where a booking agent can help boost your career, there are a few things to help you stand out.

One of the biggest things is professional and active social media accounts, as well as a website. This means having active accounts on multiple platforms, quality photos and promotional posts, and of course, a solid following. This is one of the first points of contact a lot of fans and agents will have with you, so make sure it represents you well. You should also link your artist website to your accounts, so people can quickly connect to your music and live show schedule.

Something else to put together before looking for booking agents is a digital press kit, or DPK. This is your music resume, and brings together your artist bio, music releases, tour dates, music videos, social media and contact info. Most booking agents find DPK’s on sites like Sonicbids, reverberation, etc. annoying because the format is not a quick and easy to follow. It’s best to hire a graphic artist to design a “One-Sheet” with all your information, and then create an online version on wix or your artist website, which essentially mimics the one-sheet design, but with videos.

Actually finding a booking agent is like most other things in the industry; through connections. Agents often find artists through managers, promoters, publicists, venue owners, and even other artists or producers. Occasionally, they will find artists through a popular song on a certain playlist or a popular chart. You also have the option of reaching out to booking agents yourself. Remember to keep it professional and start with an email with links to your music and inviting them to a live performance. Or, try calling their office, but be very weary of cold calling an agent directly. Do not brag about your music or yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Let your music and/or your numbers do the talking.

If you are ready for a booking agent, or once you work up to that point, make sure to put your brand together as professionally as possible, and then start your search for a booking agent. You get just one chance to make a first impression!

Announcing the Winner of our “It’s QuaranTIME” Contest

Written by Angelica Herrera, Rock the Dream

We want to send a huge thank you to everyone who submitted a 30-second video and helped make it a success!

The contest served as a fun way to raise money for the charity as Rock the Dream and the entire music industry has been significantly devastated by Covid-19 and the stay-at-home mandates implemented throughout the country.

All of the video submissions were funny and incredibly creative, and we want to give a special congratulations to Emerson Jones, the winner of the $50 Target Gift Card in our “It’s QuaranTIME Contest! His video submission (see below) received 39% of the votes, the most of any entrant, and has been awarded the gift card!

Click here to see all of the video submissions.