Ma-na Music

If music be the food of love, play on.

Month: February 2016

How To Gain Music Fans And Build Promoting Skills

Would you like to know how to gain more music fans? Do you wish you knew the secret to building a huge following? Would you like to know the best way to promote yourself as a musician? If you want to achieve long lasting success in the music industry, it is absolutely essential that you have a lot of dedicated fans who are interested in what you do as a musician. In order to do this, you must learn the most effective methods for promoting both yourself and your music.

However, the answer to “How do I get more fans and promote my music career?” is not easily found by taking a highly generalized approach that ‘seems’ to work for other musicians. At any given moment, you (or the band you play in) may be struggling with various unique challenges that would require that you take specific actions in order to get more fans or strengthen your promotional efforts. That said, no matter where you are in your music career and what challenges you face, you have 3 goals to achieve if you want to both gain more music fans and promote your music:

  1. You have to get more people to check out your music.
  2. Once someone listens to your music, you need them to help support you in some manner (buying your albums, watching you live, purchasing any merchandise, etc.)
  3. You need to transform your fans into totally fanatics who will use word of mouth to tell all their friends about you and your music.

No matter what it is that you are trying to achieve in the music business, the three goals mentioned above will apply to anything you do as long as you are trying to develop a strong relationship with your fans.

These goals may all seem to be separate from one another; however, they are in fact all connected. Once you are able to achieve success with any single one of them, you will greatly improve your chances for success with any of the others. As soon as you truly ‘get’ this basic truth, you will find it much easier to be productive in your efforts.

In order to achieve great success as you promote you music to your fans, you must learn how to think in a strategic manner rather than just taking inconsistent and isolated actions (a mistake that most musicians and bands make). Instead of trying to find a general formula that you can apply to help you get more fans for your music, you need to begin thinking in the same manner as most professional musicians. While training other musicians to succeed in their music careers, I help them understand how to find creative ideas that they can apply in their own music career in order to quickly gain more music fans. Once you gain the ability to think this way in your own music career, it will become much easier for you to overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of your promotional efforts.

To illustrate what I mean and give you various steps (that you can take right now to get more music fans), here are some quick and easy things you can do to accomplish all three of the music promotion goals mentioned above.

To get you on the path to gaining more music fans and expanding upon your current music promotion efforts, I will now show you various things that you can do yourself to accomplish the three goals mentioned above.

OK, now that you have finished the assessment above, continue reading to find several actionable steps below that you can use to promote your music. While you are reading through them, do not focus as much on the actions themselves; instead think creatively to see the ideas and thinking ‘behind’ the actions to understand why they are so effective. This will keep you from simply ‘copying’ them and will lead you to come up with ideas that you can benefit from in your specific music career situation.

Music Promotion Action Step: Get more people to listen to your music.

Solution #1: Join other musicians in participating in a compilation CD. After you have released a compilation album, you have achieved a couple of important things. First, you have successfully produced a record that contains your own music. Second, not only have you gained a tool to promote yourself to your fans, but you have gained a tool that potentially promotes you to every other musician’s fans on the album (with no additional effort on your part). Remember, the goal of this is not to make money directly, but rather to use the album as a very inexpensive tool to promote your music (and the music of the other musicians) to more people on a larger scale. You can also apply this idea as a way to leverage your own album releases and products to a bigger list of fans. The idea of “leverage” (using one action to gain multiple benefits) is absolutely critical if you want to achieve a high level of success in your music career. This is something I help members in my Music Careers Mentoring Program develop and refine.

Solution #2: Work together with other musicians locally. Instead of considering other local musicians to be your competition (for gaining more fans), work together with local musical artists of a similar genre to help you gain access to larger amount of fans who are interested in hearing and seeing you play music. One method for achieving this is to work with another band to perform at the same venue in an effort to bring together the fan base of both bands. By doing this, you will not only improve your relationship with the owner of the venue (because you are bringing in more people), but you will have the opportunity to advertise your music to the other band’s fan base (and them to yours). This idea is very fundamental, but in reality not many bands take initiative to actually go out and do it. On top of that, many bands make the mistake of sharing the venue with other bands who are not in their target market, or with bands who do not make a strong effort to attract their fans to the venue (thus taking away the mutual benefit). One example of pulling this idea off (which is fairly common in the music business) is when a band with a small following becomes and opening act for a much larger band. However, if you cannot find a highly successful band to open for you can still achieve this; you will need to simply find a band that contains musicians who have enough ambition to take ACTION and implement this strategy.

Music Promotion Action Step: Get your fans to take specific actions.

Solution #1: Make sure that people have incentive to both be a fan of your music AND purchase your music. Those who have mastered the ability to successfully promote music find ways to get their fan base to buy their music as opposed to downloading it online for free. Additionally, they are able to take an average listener and turn him/her into a loyal fan. A great way to do this is to offer something special to people who actually BUY your music (that cannot be obtained by simply downloading it for free). To effectively do this, it is important that whatever you are offering cannot be easily reproduced through digital media. This could include things such as VIP passes to your concerts, merchandise or other creative and unique items. The main thing to get out this idea is that you can implement a single strategy to achieve good music promotion while also developing a stronger relationship between you and your fans.

Solution #2: Become familiar with your current fan base. It is easy to successfully promote yourself as a musician when you can put yourself out there to those who already give you their support whenever you pursue new projects in your musical career. Most musicians think that their biggest problem is a lack of music fans, when in fact, they simply do not know who their real fans are and how to get in touch with them. Instead of contacting these specific fans, a lot of musicians focus their efforts on the general public. The truth is, this approach can work; however, promoting your music in this manner will cost a great deal of money and time. To dramatically cut down on your costs with regards to money, energy and time; make your musical promotion more effective by finding an easy way to stay in touch with your fan base at all times.

Music Promotion Action Step: Transform your current fans into FANATICS

Solution #1: Put together special gatherings or events that immerse your fans in your music and engage them on a whole new level (in contrast to merely listening to your music or watching you live). There a nearly endless ways for you to do this – limited only by your own willingness to be creative. However, remember the key is to develop your relationship with your music fans.

Solution #2: Focus on rewarding your most loyal fans with unique gifts that casual listeners don’t have access to. This concept can be used together with the first point described above or as an idea by itself. If you’d like for your music fans to take a particular action (for example bringing more people to your performances or to purchase your albums), focus on finding something of high value that you can offer them that goes beyond the scope of music. (Remember: Your music fans do not necessarily want free money or t-shirts… think of something specific to offer them)

As you have read, once you take a more detailed approach to understanding specifically what it is that you want to do when it comes to “gaining more music fans”, it’s a lot easier to understand specifically which action steps you must perform to make this happen. The majority of musicians only think about improving their music while trying to appeal to the general public, but doing this is only one aspect of musical promotion. Of course, your music is important; however there are aspects of your music career that you must work on in order to effectively get more fans for your music. As soon as you begin focusing on these aspects, you will start to gain much greater results in your music promotion efforts.

How To Gain The Power To Create Intense Musical Emotion

Have you ever wondered how your favorite musicians make such great music? The answer is this: They fully understand how musical emotion works, and how to use this to create intense emotions in YOU while you listen to them. Understanding musical expression is key to becoming a great guitar player and musician. When you control emotion in music, you will gain the power to greatly affect the listener’s experience.

Most guitarists want to be able to express themselves better with their guitar playing; however, the majority of guitar players have no idea how to actually practice this skill. This leads to a lot of time being wasted on practicing guitar in a way that does not produce big results. The solution to this problem is to develop a more accurate fundamental understanding of how to develop creativity in music.

Many guitar players try to enhance their musical creativity skills by searching the music of their favorite bands for cool riffs and guitar ideas and playing them over and over. This is certainly an enjoyable activity to do when playing guitar, but in reality it does not do very much to help you to learn musical expression. If you spend a great deal of time on this, you will be missing out on the two most critical parts of being able to create emotion in music:

    1. You have to understand the manner in which great guitar players and musicians ‘think’. More specifically, this means determining WHY they choose the specific notes and ideas that they do. This is something that you cannot learn if you simply copy the “notes” of your favorite songs and guitar solos. Rather than just playing the same notes as other musicians, you must spend time thinking about the emotions you want to express, and what specific musical choices you need to make to achieve that goal. Once you gain this level of musical creativity, you will develop your own unique sound as it relates to the ideas and emotions that come from your mind.

  1. You must know how specific emotions can be created and expressed by making certain musical choices while composing music or playing a guitar solo. Additionally, you need to be able to make your audience understand exactly what emotions you want to express with your music, without having to say a single word. Many guitarists struggle greatly with doing this and as a result they end up limited to only playing the music of others without ever really expressing themselves through their guitar playing.

There is a big divide between most guitar players when it comes to music theory. Many people avoid music theory, because they believe that it is a bunch of rules that restrict their freedom of musical expression. Other people think that music theory is required for knowing how to make music. Both of these views are incomplete when comes to the big picture of the purpose of music theory.

So what is the real purpose of music theory? Music theory is a tool to accurately describe the effects of musical ideas on the emotions of whoever listens to a piece of music.

Change Your Mindset About Music Theory

Understanding how music theory really works likely means changing your current idea of what music theory is used for. Forget about music theory as simply explaining the function of scales and chords in music. Instead, music theory is all about explaining why we feel certain emotions when certain ideas are used. Knowing this is instrumental to you developing great musical expression skills.

Here is an example to illustrate how you can use this idea. As a guitar teacher, I spend a lot of time showing my students how to increase their skills with creativity. One of the exercises I use is to have my guitar students write down specific emotions they want to express in their guitar music. Then, I have them write down the specific ways to accomplish these musical expressions using a variety of music theory ideas.

Here are the most important skills you will get from learning music theory:

    1. You will gain an understanding of exactly WHY you enjoy listening to certain kinds of music. This will allow you to create the same emotions that you get from the music of your favorite artists without copying/cloning their exact guitar licks and solos. This skill will greatly enhance your musical creativity.

    1. You will be able to create music in a way that much more accurately expresses your ideas and emotions. It is common for most musicians (who are trying to write a song) to simply improvise on their instrument until something sounds “good enough.” This songwriting method is very limited and does not bring a lot of results consistently. However, if you have the knowledge of how to express specific emotions in music, it will be much easier to write great songs with less effort.

    1. Music theory gives you all the equipment you need to put together new musical ideas much more quickly, without having to rely on remembering the way something sounds. Having the ability to associate specific feelings and emotions with the musical tools needed to express them allows you to compose and organize entire sections of your music on paper (or by ear) before even playing any notes.

  1. When you understand exactly which musical choices to make in order to accurately convey a certain musical emotion, you will be able to anticipate how people will interpret your music.

What Do You Need To Do Right Now?

If your goal is to become highly skillful at musical expression, then you need to follow these steps to start achieving this on guitar:

    1. Expand your current thinking about music theory by watching the video in the link at the end of this article.

    1. Remember that although music theory is extremely important for maximizing your creativity, you need to also develop a variety of musical skills to achieve the most freedom in your musical expression.

  1. Understand that music theory skill is not developed by merely taking a certain number of music theory lessons, but rather by your ability to use your current knowledge to accurately bring out your emotions through your music. Use the exercise mentioned earlier in this article to see how well you can use theoretical music concepts to make music that is consistent with the ideas you want to express. If you struggle with this, this either means that your music theory skills are low or (most commonly) you do not understand how to use what you know in music theory in an actual musical context. If you play guitar while integrating together music theory and musical expression, you will notice a HUGE surge in creativity!

The most important thing I want you to take away from this article is the way I have defined music theory, and how you can use this understanding to enhance your own musical expression on guitar. If you keep all these things in mind, you will be able to take your musical creativity to a new level.

How To Make It In Music With The Training Of A Mentor

Have you been thinking about starting a career in music for a while, but are not sure what you must do to begin? If the answer is “yes,” then you are certainly not alone. In fact, this is a common problem for almost every musician who wants to start a career in music and become a professional in the music industry. That said, the majority of musicians become frustrated due to a lack of knowledge for the industry and give up on their dreams to pursue “stable” non-music careers. Fortunately, it does not have to end the same way for you.

The key to starting a career in music and becoming successful is finding a great mentor who has already reached the highest level of success in the music industry. In most cases, simply being around someone in the music business who knows a lot more than you is highly beneficial. That said, if you are able to not only be ‘around’ someone like this, but also receive direct advice from them about your own music career challenges, your potential success as a professional musician will increase MASSIVELY!

To show you what I mean, think about the world famous basketball star Michael Jordan. Even if you are not a basketball fan, it is likely that you have heard of the incredible success that Jordan achieved throughout his career. Over the span of about two decades, Jordan became known as one of the best athletes ever (in any sport) as he broke countless records, won many championships, and made A LOT of money from his player salary (not to mention through endorsements, shoe sales, and other means). By himself, Jordan was certainly a very talented athlete; however, he did not make it to the top alone. In every moment of his legendary career, Jordan continually received the advice, coaching and training of many mentors both within basketball and outside of basketball. As a result, he was able to take the incredible natural ability he had to play and turn it into something truly unforgettable. In fact, this situation is not exclusive to Michael Jordan, any athlete who has ever achieved incredible success has always maintained connection to a mentor even after winning major titles, awards or medals.

Similar to Michael Jordan, if you are starting a career in music, it is absolutely essential that you find a great coach, trainer or mentor who can help you leverage your natural abilities so you can achieve the highest possible success in your music career. To make the process for choosing a mentor much easier for you, I have written down the top 3 traits that your mentor should possess in order to help you start and maintain a successful career in music:

1. Is already highly successful in the music business, and is able to help you solve any problems that get in the way of your music career goals.

Starting a career in music is often a very frustrating experience for most musicians. Although there is a great deal of information about the music business online; most of it is intended for use by the general music community. As a result, you may have specific questions for your own challenges in your music career, but no specific answers to help you deal with them. On top of that, the music industry information you find online does not help you understand the difference between ‘useful’ information, and information that either no longer applies to most musicians or does not apply for you in your own music career. This is why it is absolutely essential that you find a mentor who understands the inner workings of the music industry and has already built a successful career by figuring these things out.

When you have access to personalized advice from someone like this, you will quickly be able to solve any issues that arise in your music career. This will give you the ability to approach a career in music with a clear understanding of exactly what needs to get done in order to reach your personal goals.

2. Has already helped many other musicians reach their highest music career goals (and has proof of this!).

In order to build a career in music, you will not need to complete any university program, become “certified”, or take any mandatory testing. This is something that sets the music industry apart from other industries. That said, it is very easy for amateur musicians to make claims of expertise when the reality is that they have not really achieved anything significant in their own career. It is very important that your music mentor is able to give you reliable, accurate and helpful advice that is truly effective for building a successful career in music.

A reliable method for determining whether or not a mentor can really help you in your music career is to observe the success of the musicians who he currently works with or who have worked with him in the past. A mentor who can truly help you succeed with a career in music will not necessarily need to tell you this directly. Instead, it will be obvious due to the overwhelming amount of positive feedback he receives from current (or past) musicians who have worked with this mentor and become successful in music. In the music business, a positive reputation takes a very long time to build. If you find a mentor with a reputation of getting big results for many musicians, then the chances are very good that he can do the same for you. Make sure to check for this by looking for reviews, testimonials or general feedback on your mentor’s website or other places online.

As someone who has personally trained many people to become successful professional musicians, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a mentor as you pursue a career in music. Fact is, I would not be where I am today in the music business if it weren’t for the help of my current and former mentors. Don’t make the mistake of trying to figure everything out on your own in the music business. This is the same thing that so many musicians do, and this is why most musicians DO NOT make it with successful music careers. Get the training, coaching and guidance a great mentor right now, and reach your full potential as a professional musician.

3. Has the ability to pay attention to the small details of your music career while also helping you to stay on track toward your larger, long term goals.

For many musicians, one of the greatest challenges is to stay on track toward their long term music career goals. These musicians will often become distracted by things that do not truly matter for their success, and will spend too much time on unimportant details or activities. Most commonly, it is thought that developing a successful career in music requires great musical skills. Although it is important to improve your musical skills, your success as a professional musician involves many more factors. It is important that you create an effective strategy for reach your goals in music, and stay focused on seeing it through. One of the worst things that could happen to you (I see this all the time!) is that you invest many years of your life into music, only to fail because you did not pursue what TRULY mattered.

When looking for your mentor, you must make sure that this person understands how to build highly effective strategies to help you achieve your music career goals as quickly as possible. With that in mind, it is possible that even with the right strategy in place, you may still become distracted, confused or uncertain throughout the course of your music career. Your mentor should also be able to instantly spot when these things are occurring for you and know how to help you overcome any momentary issues so that you can continue down the path to your goals.

The Music Gallery: Can Music Ever Be Valued As Fine Art?

Introduction: The Highest Art Auction in History

Recently a Christie’s art sale became the highest auction in history. The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others and in total generated $495 million. The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m). Christie’s said the record breaking sales reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.

Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1 million, while another Basquiat work, Dustheads (top of article), went for $48.8 million.

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction. Christie’s described the $495,021,500 total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

In addition, a 1968 oil painting by Gerhard Richter has set a new record for the highest auction price achieved by a living artist. Richter’s photo-painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million). Sotheby’s described Domplatz, Mailand, which depicts a cityscape painted in a style that suggests a blurred photograph, as a “masterpiece of 20th Century art” and the “epitome” of the artist’s 1960s photo-painting canon. Don Bryant, founder of Napa Valley’s Bryant Family Vineyard and the painting’s new owner, said the work “just knocks me over”.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, said “The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said. Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom.

Myths of the Music-Fine Art Price Differential

When I came across this article I was stunned at the prices these artworks were able to obtain. Several of them would hardly evoke a positive emotional response in me, while others might only slightly, but for almost all of them I really don’t understand how their prices are reflected in the work, and vice versa. Obviously, these pieces were not intended for people like me, an artist, while wealthy patrons certainly see their intrinsic artistic value clearly.

So why doesn’t music attract these kinds of prices? Is it even possible for a piece of recorded music, not music memorabilia or a music artifact (such as a rare record, LP, bootleg, T-shirt, album artwork, etc.), to be worth $1 million or more? Are all musicians and music composers doomed to struggle in the music industry and claw their way up into a career in music? If one painting can be valued at $1 million, why can’t a song or piece of music also be valued similarly? Apparently, the $.99 per download price is the highest price a song is able to command at market value, no matter what its quality or content, and the musician or composer must accept this value as such.

The financial equation looks something like this:

1 painting = $37 million

1 song = $.99

Sometimes people say that a song can change the world, but no one ever says that about paintings. So theoretically, if people want change $.99 is the price we must pay for it.

Now here are a few statements that should help us clarify what the monetary or value discrepancy between painting and music is based upon.

(1) There are fewer painters than there are musicians.

(2) Musicians are less talented than painters?

(3) It is easier to create music than it is to paint.

(4) The public values paintings more than music.

(5) Paintings are more beautiful than music.

(6) Paintings are impossible to copy unlike music.

(7) Painters work harder than musicians and composers.

(8) Blah, blah, blah.

Hardly anyone agrees with all of these statements and yet all, or at least some of them, would have to be true in order for the price of paintings to so greatly exceed the cost of music. Moreover, I doubt that art collectors and great painters have to deal with as much legal red tape as do musicians when releasing their work into the public domain, so why aren’t the rewards equal, if not greater for musicians who have to work almost as much protecting their work as in producing it. Musicians and composers, however, actually must do more than authenticate their work and obtain accurate appraisals concerning what their work is worth, but they get paid less. The equipment costs alone for musicians is much higher than it is for painters.

Maybe it’s fame, and not money, musicians are after? That would explain why most musicians settle for the low pay they receive from record deals and digital downloads. Perhaps, that’s also why many of them are touring more often to increase their fame and not their fortunes. But wait a minute, that’s where musicians actually make most of their money from live performances and the selling of merchandise, but not the music. I guess this is why many musicians see themselves not as composers, but rather as performers and entertainers.

So what can musicians do, who don’t see themselves as entertainers, but instead as composers who create music as a fine art? Because they too have a strong desire to earn a living to support themselves in their chosen profession, thus there must be a specialized approach whereby they present their work to music lovers or art collectors in search of assets and curators for unique pieces to place in their private galleries. Imagine that, a recorded piece of music that few have ever heard which is displayed and played only on a specified music player in a private art gallery or collection.

In thinking about how a musician can follow the example set by painters in the fine arts, I’ve isolated 4 principles that should help to make the spectacular financial rewards they’ve reached possible for the musician. So let’s analyze some of the characteristics that govern the market for fine art and see how musicians can apply these concepts to their creative, production, and marketing processes.

The Ideal Vehicle for Music as Fine Art

Here are 4 principles and practical suggestions for musicians who want to elevate their music into the realm of fine art by following the example of the painters of the past and present.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections.

The composer must design experiments with sound or compositional techniques. Some music belongs in the realm of the public, while other music solely belongs in the realm of fine art. It’s really not that difficult to tell the difference. The difference is clear when one compares the environment of the nightclub and the music one finds there with the elevated environment of the ballet or opera and its music. The difference is not necessarily one in terms of types of music, but rather in the composer’s sonic fingerprint. In other words, not everyone thinks Jackson Pollock was a great painter, but everyone acknowledges that it took him years of development to reach a point where his style could be born. It’s the style of the artist or composer that will call out to the attention of wealthy patrons, the respect of peers, and the exclusive admiration of the music appreciator. In music, the style of the composer, regardless of genre, I call ‘a signature sound.’ It’s the signature sound that music and art collectors will want to own and for that they might be willing to pay or bid up the cost of ownership to a higher price.

2) Create a music gallery.

This could be modeled after the art gallery where one or several artist put their work on display. The difference with the music gallery is that you would have a hall filled with listening rooms or stations. These showings would not be live performances, but instead will be in effect sound installations. You could also separate one hall into several compartments for different composers. The music showing would be an exclusive event provided to serious music and art collectors who actively seek out sonic experiences and buy what they like. The purpose of the music gallery would be the same as the art gallery – to give the public a sample of the artist’s talent, to give critics something to write about, to have other composers comment on the work of a peer, and to create buzz in the art world. Always remember that it shouldn’t be the event that drives the buzz, but the music that makes the event.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset.

The obvious difference between a painting and music is that one is a tangible artwork and the other is not. In other words, one of the defining characteristics of a painting is that the medium and the art are one. Unlike music, where the music must be transferred onto another object such as a cassette tape, vinyl, CD, or mP3 player before it can be perceived, whereas with a painting (or sculpture) an object has been transformed into art. So how can it be or is it even possible for a cassette, CD, or download to be transformed into art? The cassette and CD are more akin to a photograph of a painting, rather than a true expressions where the medium and the art are one.

So one step a musician can take to elevate their music into fine art is by making your music and its medium one. The best way that I can think of to do this is by looking to the past. Ironically, the vinyl LP very closely achieved this quality with album art, its sizing, and packaging. Let’s quickly discuss some of the qualities of the vinyl LP and valuable marketing angles that I think opens up interesting approaches for musicians to turn their music into fine art at price appropriate levels commiserate with earning a livelihood.

Today there are several companies around that let you customize your LP vinyl album and artwork. This is wonderful because it gives you total control over the art direction your packaging takes. This is an expressive way to bring the personality of the artist, band, or project out into physical form. Many colors are available and unique mixtures are also possible to add a dimension to your music that isn’t normally possible with cassette tapes, CD’s, or digital downloads. Even split colored and glow-in-the-dark vinyl are available for bold composers looking for something with a bit more flair.

Etched Art and Your Album

Another fantastic way to elevate the music via packaging and presentation is to consider etched art in vinyl. Etched vinyl is an image pressed into the unplayable side of your record which has a frosted appearance. The etched side does not contain any grooves or music but adds a real touch of style to your music package. I don’t know if etched art can also be a hologramic look, but that would be another dimension that would enhance the visual component of your music package.

Art and LP Sizes

The last aspect I’d like to touch on is the size of the LP. Unlike the cassettes and CD’s, which both come in a single universal size determined by the media player, LP’s are played on phonographs or turntables whose arms can adjust to the different sizes of LP’s. In general, LP’s come in 3 sizes: 7″, 10″, and 12″. And because the album covers have to provide a sleeve for a large surface, they correspondingly must also be large. At a minimum the 12″ LP will require an album cover that’s 1 square foot. That’s about 4 times the size of a standard CD and anywhere from 8 – 12 times the size of cassette tape.

Understanding this gives you an additional angle to design artwork for the music package. There might even be a way to design a painter’s canvas which can house an LP within its frame to turn it into a cover. For those musicians and composers who possess multiple artistic talents, an original painting to accompany a music release could be another profitable approach to look into. If you think about it even further the size of the 12″ LP is actually the size of a small painting. Foldable or dual LP covers are also available which provide a much larger surface with which to more greatly present amazing album art work to dazzle customers. The dual LP album cover would give you exactly a 24″ x 12″ surface to work with.

The Non-Vinyl LP and other Miscellaneous Considerations

Other more sophisticated forms of the approach I’m describing here for the LP would keep the concept of the LP at the center of the music package, while removing the vinyl as material. Ideally, the perfect substance for a fine art music LP would consist of a material that didn’t warp, couldn’t be shattered, that would prevent grooves from wearing out, and that would be scratch-proof. So that would mean you’d need to do your homework and find out what’s possible with all known exotic substances, metal alloys, industrial metals, specialized plastics, and non-scratch surfaces to achieve the perfect substance for a fine art music LP. Moreover, this substance would play CD quality sound on any or a special turntable with a uniquely designed needle made specifically for this material and album type.

If a fine art music LP were to ever come into existence it would have to stand the test of time and survive usage, storage, and travel as it transfers custody from one owner to another over decades and even centuries. These are the main reasons why owners of fine art music LP’s will need to get insurance for the asset. A non-vinyl LP could also be manufactured to blow away the art collector, music enthusiast, and investor with something like an LP made of 24-karat gold or some other precious metal like silver or platinum. This one alteration could make such an LP worth a $1 million or more depending on the aggressiveness of the bidders. Overall you’ll have to do some research of your own to discover what your options are and can be in order to raise your LP into the class of an investment, a tangible asset (collectible), and fine art. In the absence of the existence of this ideal substance, we must aim for novelty to achieve appeal.

Exclusive Music

Another aspect to explore briefly is the exclusivity factor in regard to the ownership of fine art. Not everyone can afford a Picasso, but those who can, generally, aren’t willing to share it with everyone because they want exclusive ownership over the Picasso, that’s part of the package of owning fine art.

The way to provide exclusive ownership to interested parties is through contracts, so you’ll have to hire legal advice to shape the legal framework governing ownership of a music album or music as fine art. The contract can be shaped in any number of ways according to your wishes, but basically it should state what the owner has permission to do or is prohibited from doing with the work you are selling them. You want your buyers to know that they can transfer ownership of the album to heirs or sell it to other private collectors as you can with any other tangible asset. This is part of the process of owning fine art, which they’ve come to expect in their dealings with galleries and other collectors, so deal with them as a professional.

In addition, you’ll want to legally prohibit the buyers from broadcasting or disseminating the music from your fine art LP or other media. To preserve its value the music must be kept out of the public domain and remain in the hands of those who have the right to hear it. If the owners want to talk about it and even play it for a small gathering of people as a fine art music exhibit then great, but they should not be permitted to make copies or profit from your recordings.

The beauty of a limit supply and contracts is that together they will help you to track all of the owners over your lifetime and preserve the value of your work. If one of them can be found to be responsible for leaking the material out into public, you’ll have a lawsuit on your hands which you should easily win. But if a leak was to happen, the value (price) of the LP might drop precipitously and demand could even dry up completely. But really what’s the worst that could happen, that the price of your music ends up at the low end of the price scale – $.99 per track?

A Word on Supply and Demand

Similarly, the law of supply and demand must also be part of the equation for pricing your music as fine art. Basically, the law of supply and demand works like this: the greater the supply, the lower the demand and the lower the supply, the greater the demand. In other words, the more of something there is, the less it’s worth and the less of something there is, the more it’s worth. The law doesn’t always work out this perfectly, but as a general rule it works.

The problem with this law is that it only slightly takes into account mass psychology and the way demand is created, which is by advertising, marketing, and PR (public relations). Without these 3 factors working in your favor, there will be little or no demand for your fine art music LP, no matter how small your supply is. It’s only when these 3 factors are working in your favor and demand is fairly high that the price of your singular or limited edition fine art music LP, CD, or digital audio files can rise and skyrocket. So become fluent with hope to employ advertising, marketing, and PR and make sure the demand is there among your target audience prior to releasing your work so that you can be certain your album receives a high bidding.

A Digital Point of View

Some of the ideas I’ve presented here so far can be applied to music in digital formats as well. For example, a limited edition, gorgeously designed iPod or alternative mP3 player with your fine art music programmed into a locked memory is one approach. For example, high-end buyers there’s an iPod available that’s made from 22k gold and it features an Apple logo made of diamonds, it estimate price is roughly $120,000.

Something like this could work or even just a really cool looking, READ-only thumb drive could work. You just plug it in and enjoy exclusive access to an album that only one collector or a select few have in their possession.

The number one problem with a digital format is that it’s too easy to copy files from one device to another, which is why a locked or unhackable memory is crucial. Without the locked memory, the exclusivity factor cannot exist and undermines the creation of a fine art music digital device.

4) Put your music to auction.

Part of the reason why the paintings in the beginning of this article sold for so much money is because competing bids pushed the price upward. After you’ve designed an amazing fine art music collection and package, you’ll need to decide how to sell or auction your product.

Many options for auctioning items are available but probably the most well-known is eBay, but eBay is probably not the best place to sell fine art music this way. To start it might be a good place to test the concept, but you might not reach your target clientele. Another option could be Bandcamp or Amazon, but there’s no auctioning available with these companies. However, you could set a high price for downloads, CD’s or vinyl LP’s and sell few of them.

For example, downloads might go for anywhere from $15 to $200 per track and for the album maybe the price of a mid-range painting, perhaps $800 to $2,000+.

You could also set up a simple website where you present and sell your fine art music like painters, sculptors, sketch artists, wood workers, and artisans sell their work. On your site you can talk about your album on video, with a music blog, on internet radio, through interviews, on music or artists-oriented podcasts, and through articles, so that you can send all the traffic to your eBay page or personal website where all you’re selling are copies of your limited edition collection of fine art music.

The simplicity of this plan is that you, along with eBay as your broker, control the entire process. The idea here is as with most auctions which is to watch the bidders compete with one another as everyone watches the price go higher and higher.

Name Your Price: The Radiohead Experiment

The band Radiohead did something like this but differently. Instead of auctioning a one of a kind or limited edition exclusive digital album, they allowed their fans to pay what they wanted for their new release at the time. The experiment brought in mixed results but overall was a success for the band members who made more money personally than on any previous album. However, it’s been reported that 38% of buyers spent an average of $6, while the other 62% downloaded the album without paying anything at all – $0. Globally, the average price paid was around $2.26 and $3.23 in the U.S. Of those who did pay something, 17% paid below $4, but 12% paid between $8 and $12.

This approach is unlikely to work for lesser known artists who want to present their music as fine art. The main reason why it wouldn’t is because it fails to fulfill the factor of exclusive ownership. Everyone and anyone could get a copy of the Radiohead album, therefore it’s value is reduced because the quantity available was infinite instead of limited or rare, since the demand was high.

NIN and a Tiered Approach

Likewise, tiered fine art music packages whose prices range from a few dollars up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars is a much better way to entice collectors to buy music as fine art or music as an investment.

Here’s how Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor made a small fortune with his “Ghosts I – IV” album release. In total 5 tiers are available.

The first tier offers a free download of the first 9 tracks from the album.

The 2nd tier offers a $5 digital download with a 40 page PDF.

The 3rd tier offers a 2 CD’s with a 16 page booklet for $10.

The 4th tier is a $75 deluxe edition which includes 2 audio CD’s, a data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, a 48 page book of photographs by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan, a 40 page PDF book, and an accompanying slideshow on a Blu-Ray disc.

And on the 5th tier you get pretty much everything else on the lower tiers except you also get a 3rd book with art prints of imagery from Ghosts I – IV and each limited edition copy is numbered and personally signed by Trent Reznor. This limited edition was restricted to 2500 copies with a limit of one per customer for a grand total of $300. The $300 tier was known as the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package and is currently sold out.

The financials on the 5th tier look pretty good. With the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package, we know there were only 2500 copies and that each sold for $300. So, 2500 x 300 = $750,000. Imagine what prices could have been reached if Reznor had allowed the buyers to bid on the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package. He could have started the bidding at or just below $300 and watched the prices go up from there. Interestingly, as fewer of them were available the prices might have started to get astronomical. He probably still would’ve sold every copy and his income might well have been closer to $1 million, but either he did a great job structuring his price scale as demonstrated by his results. And let’s not forget that our equation excluded the income he generated from tiers 2 – 4, which most certainly brought his total revenues far passed $1 million.

Review

As we end off let’s briefly review the factors that will lead to fine art music success.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections. To do this you’ll need to experiment with unique methods, techniques, or styles that offer a signature sound. In the art world, this will be known as your sonic fingerprint. This is what art collectors will want to purchase and appreciate.

2) Create a music gallery. Come up with ideas for how to present your new compositions at a music exhibit. It should look and feel much like an art exhibit, but be adapted for music. This might include setting up private listening stations for individual art collectors or small rooms for a limited listening audience and where auctions can occur.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset. Painting elevates the canvas and paint into art, whereas music can never elevate a cassette tape or CD into art. For music, the medium must be turned into art as part of the package for presenting music as fine art. Painting also elevates and transforms its medium, while music is usually transported by its medium, unless its digital, then it’s all about the music. Remember what we discussed about digital formats and the vinyl LP as ideal vehicles for selling music as fine art.

4) Above all, offer exclusivity as an essential part of the package of fine art music ownership, so find ways to guarantee this for your buyers. Art ownership is strongly based on its exclusivity, which for the collector means they are part of a very select group of individuals who have the right or privilege to receive exposure to your fine art music. If you can exclude the masses and create demand amongst a select few, then the prices you can attract will rise as few buyers try to outbid one another for exclusive ownership of your music.

5) Lastly, use an auction system to create massive profits. Keep the law of supply and demand in mind when building your music into a tangible asset and don’t forget the vital role advertising, marketing, and PR play in creating demand. There’s no purpose in creating a limited supply of anything for which there is no demand.

Conclusion

These are by no means all of the ways in which these ideas can be applied to your situation or in these formats, but whatever you choose to do you’ll need to formulate the right balance of factors that make the price of your fine art music rise. Many of you may be stunned by the extent of initial investment capital you’ll require to elevate your music into a fine art collectible, which is why you’ll have to amplify your people skills and take courses in sales training, marketing, investing and business. Several of the approaches I mentioned will require you to raise capital from a bank, institution such as a private equity firm, or venture capitalists to get you started, otherwise you’ll need to get access to personal or small business credit at low interest rates. This will give you more time to implement your program and generate your first wave of sales.

If your business plan for turning your music into fine art is solid and your sales presentation is thorough, then the money will find you as more investors see profit in the opportunity. Additionally, wealthy patrons may see your work as an important contribution to art history or your presentation may just resonate with an investor or group of investors that they may just give you money to finish your project. In either case, be business-like, get all of your agreements in writing and have them reviewed by a competent legal representative expert at intellectual property issues and financial transactions in particular.

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