Tucker, the secret to success is doing something. Then doing it again.

The secret to getting good at something.

I can't help but think that if Ariel Hyatt had written her book Music Success In 9 Weeks about 10 years ago this last chapter, The Real World, would have been the whole book. It's packed with a serious amount of traditional PR and Marketing goodness. Press kits, press releases, networking, list building, how to listen, how to find representation ... it's a lot. 

This is the last chapter of the book and the last entry into the Songwriters Association Of Canada's blog challenge (you can find links to all of the posts at the end). And now that I've come to the end, what have I learned about selling myself as an artist?

  • I learned it's not easy.
  • I learned it's a marathon. 
  • I learned it's about more than great songs. 
  • I learned it's about seeing what you want and believing you can get there. 
  • I learned a lot more as well but these are the big ones.

So, I'm done the book. Now What? Now I keep doing what I've learned and in a month or so go back to the first chapter and start again. Then when I'm done ... I do it again. The only way to get good at something is to do it ... then do it some more.

There is way too much stuff in this book to possibly complete it all in nine weeks. This book is a foundation for a career. 

 

All Challenge Posts

announcement - Tucker, are you asking for a challenge?

week 1 - Tucker, you do know that goals aren't tasks don't you?

week 2 - Tucker, can you describe your sound in a tweet?

week 3 - Tucker, PayPal buttons? Really?

week 4 - Tucker, do you need a finished product to build an audience?

week 5 - Tucker, are you a carny or a hipster?

week 6 - Tucker, let's be independent together. 

week 7 - Tucker, do you really want to hear my story?

week 8 - Tucker, isn't Continuum-Plan a Star Trek episode?

Tucker, isn't Continuum-Plan a Star Trek episode?

No, nothing to do with Star Trek. A continuum plan is the basis for the business part of the music business.

Once I pay musicians to use their professional skills to help record my songs. Once I've paid the producer/engineer/studio time to use their professional skills to help record my songs. Once I've paid CD Baby to make my music available on iTunes and Amazon. Once I pay Disc Makers to press my CDs. Once I've done all those things I've got a product to sell. The problem is that at this particular point in history there is a 50/50 chance that people won't want to buy my music they'll just want to have it for free. But I still have to pay for all the stuff I just did to get my music down in format that is more than just me and a guitar in my basement.

Chapter 8 of the Music Success in 9 Weeks book is the contiuum plan. How do you create sustainable sales so you can make a living and make music?

This chapter was scary for me on two levels:

 

  1. Spending money is easy but to make money I have to start thinking of people who listen to my music as leads and customers instead of just fans and listeners.
  2. I have absolutely no trouble thinking up cool shit that I think people will want to buy from me and I was scared I would run off into a sprialling brainstorming session that would lead me to my normal state of paralysis because I suddenly had to much cool stuff to do and not enough sales to justify new products. 

 

If you've been reading my blog for the last 7 weeks you know I'm taking part in a challenge to do each of the chapters in 9 weeks. For this week's challenge of creating a continuum plan, instead of thinking of new ideas for products, I put together a list of current ideas and how they could be used in the future. 

So, if 10 people are interested in a $20 hand-cranked music box that plays the melody from my Blanket Show lullaby please let me know in the comments or email and we can start on my continuum plan together. 

 

 

Tucker, do you really want to hear my story?

We are firmly entrenched in the 9 week challenge and this week was newsletters. I hope you're enjoying reading all my challenge blogs, it's been an interesting diversion for me from my usual blog topics.

Newsletters. Basically I have to presume I am interesting enough that you will give me your email address and in exchange I share some of my music with you (like my song that Eric Dover from the Alice Cooper band, Slash's Snakepit and Jellyfish produced and recorded for me). What I don't want a newsletter to be is a constant droning on about how fantastic I am so I'd like to ask for your help. I've been sharing my story with you for close to a year now and I'd love to hear about you now. 

Please listen to my latest EP and choose a song where the story reminded you of something from your own life. Then email me and share your story. I'd like to share these stories in each newsletter, I won't share who's story it is if you don't want me too. It's my hope that as these stories are shared that others will find find some smiles and perhaps a little inspiration. Because as I learned earlier this year The Story Is As Important As The Song

So I'll continue to share my story with you and you can sign up for my newsletter, on the top right of this page, and I'll share some free downloads and we can all share some stories with each other.

Tucker, let's be independent together.

Week five of the Music Success In 9 Weeks was about Youtube. I created a channel YouTube.com/SongsTuckerWrote where I will be sharing songs and stories and so much more1 so I hope you'll come over and subscribe. 

If you enjoyed my video, or didn't, let me know in the comments (either here or on YouTube). 

 

1 I apologize if I made you sing the theme to The Polka Dot Door. 

Tucker, are you a carny or a hipster?

I have a blog. You're reading it right now. Thank you, I appreciate it. I used to describe Songs Tucker Wrote as 'My failed blog' because I did a few posts, shared a few songs and felt like I was talking to nobody. I probably was talking to nobody because I was expecting people to find me. What I've learned is that the way things work is you have to go find the people and bring them to your blog. You have to be the barker in front of the tent promising the world for a nickle. Music as I grew up with was created and marketed with the sole purpose of getting me to go to a music store and buy a CD. Music was sold like cereal. Nice enticing box with a promise of a prize inside. 

Music now is more like when you go to the Farmer's Market and the long-haired fellow behind the folding table tells you exactly where he got the oats and raw almonds for his granola cereal. Then he shows you a picture of his dog running through the wildflowers that his bees pollinated to make the honey that sweetens the clumps of granola he hand scoops into biodegradable bags for you.

I haven't decided if I'm the granola slinging hipster or the carnival barker but what I do know is that I can't rely on people to buy my music, I have to sell it to them. And before I can sell them my music I have to sell them myself. I have to let people know who I am so my song means something when they hear it. Then they can put their own story on top and carry it with them as their own. Once it belogs to them they'll share it with their friends. Then maybe those people will simply buy my music. Nah, I'll probably have to show them the picture of my dog in the wild flowers too1

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And if you liked this post, please use the 'share article' button below to share it with someone you think would enjoy it. 

 

1 I guess tha make me the hipster. Oh well, I've been thinking of growing a beard anyway. 

Tucker, do you need a finished product to build an audience?

"

It's Tucker. From the SAC blogging challenge. 
About a year ago I tried to do some social stuff like a blog and twitter and felt that I needed to step back and actually create a product so I finished a five song EP. I'm really proud of it and I get lots of great feedback from it. I've just recently paid attention again to the website, twitter and I'll be doing some youtube stuff coming up soon. 
What I've realized is that even though I didn't have a 'product', like an EP or album, it really didn't matter. I could have still cultivated an audience through some youtube videos. I could have shared my stories through my blog. I could have talked about travel and heartache and songwriting on twitter. Then when I had an audience that liked my content, that new me as a person and an artist, then I had a built in audience when I did do something more substantial. I also had a group of people who would most likely be willing to pre purchase my album. A group of people who are ready to support me with 20 or 50 dollars each before I even got to the studio. 
The best part is that they are now a part of the story of the creation of the recording. They are excited for you when you post pictures of you in the studio. They are excited when you tell stories of how exciting it is to be finally creating your vision of your songs. They are your external collaborators and chearleaders.
Once you're done in the studio and you have a CD release party or launch on your website you now have a tribe of people who are excitedly spreading the news of the art that they help create through financial and moral support. When you bring them along on that ride they can't wait for the next ride 'cause they know it'll be bigger and better. 
To summarize my little rant: I'd rather have an audience and no product because what I currently have is a product and no audience.

It's Tucker. From the SAC blogging challenge. 
About a year ago I tried to do some social stuff like a blog and twitter and felt that I needed to step back and actually create a product so I finished a five song EP. I'm really proud of it and I get lots of great feedback from it. I've just recently paid attention again to the website, twitter and I'll be doing some youtube stuff coming up soon. 
What I've realized is that even though I didn't have a 'product', like an EP or album, it really didn't matter. I could have still cultivated an audience through some youtube videos. I could have shared my stories through my blog. I could have talked about travel and heartache and songwriting on twitter. Then when I had an audience that liked my content, that new me as a person and an artist, then I had a built in audience when I did do something more substantial. I also had a group of people who would most likely be willing to pre purchase my album. A group of people who are ready to support me with 20 or 50 dollars each before I even got to the studio. 
The best part is that they are now a part of the story of the creation of the recording. They are excited for you when you post pictures of you in the studio. They are excited when you tell stories of how exciting it is to be finally creating your vision of your songs. They are your external collaborators and chearleaders.
Once you're done in the studio and you have a CD release party or launch on your website you now have a tribe of people who are excitedly spreading the news of the art that they help create through financial and moral support. When you bring them along on that ride they can't wait for the next ride 'cause they know it'll be bigger and better. 
To summarize my little rant: I'd rather have an audience and no product because what I currently have is a product and no audience."

Read More

Tucker, PayPal buttons? Really?

I have a store where I sell my CD and my book. I have spynoh.bigcartel.com as a shopping cart and it has a Facebook app that allows people to shop in my fan page. Then on my site, my home base, the place where I can embrace my visitors and give them the full Tucker1 I had a link away to those other places. I sent people away from my blog. My music. My newsletter sign up. I sent them away. In my quest to give my potential customers a nice shopping cart experience I, instead, gave them the run around.

 I thought of my goal for the store

  • sell my book and CD

I thought of my visitors goal for the store

  • buy my book and CD

Noticing how neither of them include the phrase "really nice shopping cart experience" I went for the simple approach. I went to PayPal.com and mad some 'buy now' buttons. It wasn't to difficult to put them together because I only have two items at the moment (three if you include a bundle of the book and the CD).

Once I start putting out more products to buy I may need to look at a bigger shopping cart system. But at the moment what I have is just fine. It matches the design of the site, it's easy for a fan to use (a one click purchase path) and it runs on PayPal so it's basically free me. 

I thought I needed to be fancy but I made it complicated. These buttons are good enough and sometimes good enough is good enough.

 

Leave me a comment if you liked, or disagreed with, anything I talked about in today's article. 

 

1 I didn't mean for that to sound dirty. Sorry. 

Tucker, can you describe your sound in a tweet?

When I finished my EP I asked a group of friends and fans to listen to the songs and fill out a 5 question survey (Feel free to take the survey if you wish). I was given artists as diverse as Chris Isaak and The Wallflowers to Blue October. I was offered genres of Country and Folk. People pulled out Girl All Alone from the group more often than the songs I was expecting to resonate. I talk about my surprise at the responses in a previous post.

Taking all this into consideration I put together my 'Elevator Pitch', the phrase that intrigues enough to elicite the action of checking out your music. I took pieces of everything and put together a few:

"Imagine Danial Lanois produced The Wallflowers making a folk rock album for dreamers"

"I’m a rock-infused-folk-pop singer-songwriter with songs from love soaked ballads to dreamy lullabies."

"Poppy-folk-rock delivering dreamy lullabies, songs of wanderlust and love soaked heartache."

"Imagine The Wallflowers and Fastball had a fight on Daniel Lanois' front lawn."

All pretty good1 but the advice given by Ariel Hyatt is you have to live with it because it's going to go everywhere your music goes. Everywhere your brand goes. Everywhere you go. So I landed on what my biggest fan (Hi Mom!) is tweeting in the side graphic.  

"Singer-songwriter sharing folk-pop songs of wanderlust, dreamy lullabies and love soaked heartache."

So there you have it, me in less than a tweet. And it only took a survey, a trip through my iTunes library, advice from a few of the other blog challenge participants, rereading Ariel Hyatts 'elevator pitch' chapter a couple times and 10 revisions.

I hope you like it 'cause it's going to be on my site, my Facebook page, my Twitter, My Soundcloud etc...

If you have your own pitch feel free to share it in the comments I'd love to hear it.  

1Although I kinda like the visual of Daniel Lanois in his underwear pulling Jacob Dylan off Tony Scalzo in the middle of the night.

Tucker, you do know that goals aren't tasks don't you?

Last week I not only recapped my entire last year of blogging in a single post, I told you how I had joined 60 other artists in a 9 week marketing and business skills challenge. Read it when you're done this week's post. 

My six month and twelve month goals.

My 6 month and 12 month goals for my music business

The first chapter of the challenge was on setting goals. Sounds simple right?

I kept writing out lists of things I needed to do: Write a blog post, Contact so and so, Stop looking at tech blogs and write a new song already etc. These are all things I need to do but they aren't places I need to be. They aren't final desitnation kind of things. 

I just kept writing and I wound up with a couple pages of tasks I needed to do. Then I started grouping them into common buckets and labeling them with what they pertained to: Grow Audience, Sell CDs, Sell Kids Book etc.

I still had a million things to do but they all fit into less than ten buckets. They felt way easier to deal with because the were working towards something (not just doing work).

I looked at my big buckets and asked myself “What do you think you can do with all of this in 6 months? In a year?” Then I wrote those down. If they didn't really fit with my bigger buckets I wrote it on my 'more than a year' list to be visited later. As an example I wrote down ‘Make a full length CD’. Since I’ve only just put out my EP it’s not really feasible for me to be writing or funding a new album project. 

Once I had my big goals I wrote them out pretty and hung them on my wall. Now every task I do, will be in support of those goals. 

Tasks: What you do to get to your goals. Goals: What you say you'll finally get done one day. 

If you'd like to know more about how I got to my goals just get in touch. Or if you'd just like keep up with how I'm doing with the challenge you can follow me on twitter, @SH_Tucker, or you can come join me at Facebook.com/SongsTuckerWrote

Tucker, are you asking for a challenge?

If you are one of my regular readers (I love every single both of you), then you may remember some of my posts where I was putting together my current philosophy on Getting To Done. 

These five articles are the mantras and phrases that have been helping me get to done: 

  1. If you want to do something. You have to do something
  2. Done is when you say you're done
  3. Find the reason to say yes
  4. Success is what you say it is
  5. The story is as important as the song

I wanted to get better at networking and buildng an audience for my songs and stories. So, in the spirit of mantra #1, I have accepted the challenge set out by Ariel Hyatt and her book Music Success In Nine Weeks. The challenge is simple: Do each week's exercise and write about your experience each Monday. 

The first chapter is about setting goals so you can look forward to my retelling of the self torture I put myself through because goals I have some trouble with. Tasks I can list out for days. But goals? That's a different story. 

To keep up with how I'm doing with the challenge and meet some of the other artists taking part you can follow me on twitter, @SH_Tucker, or you can come join me at Facebook.com/SongsTuckerWrote