Friday, February 5

Derek Siver’s (Creator of CD BABY): 7 Critical Marketing Basics Every Musicians Should Know

Here are 7 wonderful lessons, which are great to revisit no matter how strong your marketing muscles are...

But before I dive in I want to start with how Derek got his own music career off of the ground. This speaks volumes about how he achieved his CD Baby success later in his career. There is a huge marketing lesson in this story…

When he was a student at Berklee College of Music, Derek was attending a music business lecture. Before the lecture started, he overheard his professor whispering to the guest speaker, Mark Fried from Warner Chappell Music, that there would be no time to eat before the lecture and it was a 3-hour talk. Mark was looking hungry and there had clearly been a miscommunication about eating before the class started. So, Derek slipped out of the room to a pay phone and ordered pizza for Mark and for the entire class. Forty-five minutes into his lecture, Mark was eating pizza with the class and was extremely grateful to Derek (who was one of many students in the room) who went out of his way to help him.

After the lecture, Mark gave Derek his card and told him to keep in touch, which Derek did for the remaining 2 years he was at Berklee. When he came to New York he would meet Mark for coffee and their friendship grew. A week before his graduation, Derek called Mark to ask if there were any jobs at Warner Chappell opening up. Seven days later Derek had a job working at Warner Chappell in the tape room.

Lesson #1 A Marketing Golden Rule: It’s about THEM Not YOU
What struck me about this story is a simple marketing lesson that is also one of the golden rules. Always think about this question: How can I be helpful to other people? That is what will make you memorable in the long run. It was Derek’s courteous consideration that opened all doors for him in the music business.
The pizza took Derek one phone call and $25 and it secured him a job in the music industry. There were probably 45 students sitting in that lecture hall that day and he was the one who ended up with a relationship with Mark and in the end…a job.

Lesson #2: Unsolicited Actions Will Get You Nowhere
Derek then went on to explain what it was like in the tape room at Warner Chappell. It was there he got to see first hand what it looks like from the inside when indie musicians send unsolicited music to a publishing company. Warner Chappell is a large publishing company that was not looking to sign new artists and Derek saw the packages arrive by the dozen on a daily basis. From this he learned exactly what never to do.

Lesson #3: No One Is Coming To Save You In The Music Industry
Derek points out (and I have repeated this line in my own talks) that no one will come along and be your music business “fairy godfather”, it all has to start internally. If you hire anyone to be on your team, no matter what they are doing for you, you must understand that that person is your hired partner. You will both have to work to achieve your desired result. This is especially true in the realm of social media and online marketing.

Lesson #4: Marketing = Consideration
Reach People the Way You Want to Be Reached
Stop thinking of it as Marketing and start thinking of it as creative ways to be considerate. Think of things from the other person’s point of view: Imagine if you called your friend up and screamed into the phone: “THURSDAY COME SEE ME PLAY NEXT THURSDAY!” (HANG UP)
You probably would not show up if you were spoken to that rudely and then hung up on and it was funny to see Derek act this out but his point was: This is exactly the way most musicians speak to their newsletter lists.
If your friends spoke to you the way you speak to them on your newsletter list you wouldn’t be friends. Begin to pay attention to other artist’s messages and notice what works on you. The considerate thing is to be so novel and creative and innovative so that people say: you have GOT to see / hear this musician play!

Lesson #5: DIY Does Not Mean Do It All Yourself – Decide It Yourself
DIY does not have to mean do it all yourself. Doing it all yourself will surely set you up for exhaustion and will leave you no time to be creative.
Instead Derek recommends that you think of DIY as: Decide It Yourself – you call the shots but you MUST learn how to delegate, put your fans to work and get things off of your plate. If you have a sense of STRESS and UPSET around every decision and everything becomes so important you really miss the point. Just try delegating things and don’t make it all so serious and significant. Start every decision with: Let’s see what happens if… and try it!

Lesson #6: Act AS IF….
“You are whatever you pretend to be.”- Kurt Vonnegut
This part of the talk really inspired me…. Most people do not know this: Derek Sivers is an introvert by nature. His instinct when at a music conference is to retreat to his hotel room. To combat this he ACTS as if he is an extrovert. Pretend to be the biggest extrovert possible for an hour at a networking event or at a party.

Lesson #7: It’s Who You Know Mixed With How You Persevere
Everything major that happens in your career starts with someone you know. Here’s Derek’s story of how he got the gig touring with world-renowned Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamato: Derek’s roommate from school was working wrapping cables in a studio and he overheard the musicians saying that they needed a guitar player to go on an upcoming tour.
To prove that he was the perfect guitarist for the gig, Derek got a hold of some of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music that he was in the process of recording, wrote all of the guitar parts and mixed it and sent it back.
After a few days when he did not hear from Ryuichi he wrote a cello part out of another one of his songs and sent that to the studio.
After the third day he got the call and toured Japan for 2 months in front of 20,000 people each night.
But Derek proves that it’s not only who you know but also what you do once you get the connection. He demonstrates how to fully take advantage of each situation.
Persevere With People
Get used to staying in touch with hundreds of people with blogs and with your newsletter – it’s a psychological shift in your head but once you can make it you can be very very effective staying in touch with many people. This is the miracle of technology.
Make yourself meet 3 new people every single week: Do this by picking up the phone – people get hundreds of emails and dozens of phone calls.

TIP: AVOID saying the words “pick your brain” to anyone. That says: I want something from you…. and when you do talk to people, prove that you have already done your research. Derek says that people will ask him: So, what does CD Baby do? And It’s totally disrespectful – you want to let them know that you care enough to have spent some time learning about them before you talk / meet.

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