Here’s a Tip. Actually, Here Are 40 CMJ Tips to Ponder

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After a long week in New York, we strongly questioned whether CMJ was actually helping artists by simply doling out endless DIY marketing tips.

But the tips themselves were often quite good, though the real question is whether it makes any sense to be full-time marketing specialists and musicians at the same time.

Anyway, alongside that debate many just wanted to review the tips and judge for themselves.  And, not just artists, but also managers, indie labels, consultants, and lawyers.  So, here are 40 that we wrote down – which really is just a fraction of the overall stream of information from last week.  And, this goes beyond DIY and into highly-related areas like publishing and music supervision.  Enjoy.


(1) Reach out to the promoter well in advance.  They want to make money and fill the club just like you, and if you prioritize the promoter, the favor is likely to get returned  (credit: various panelists).

(2) Ticketing links, venue directions and dates should be clearly posted on the artist page.  Make it brainless for fans (Marc Schapiro, Branch Marketing Collective).

(3) Syndicate tour dates across many sites and services.  Create once, publish several times. (Ian Hogarth,

(4) Shows are actually a great place to win new followers.  The average person buys 2.5 tickets to a show, and many are along for the ride (Hogarth).

(5) Opening bands should create and distribute mash-ups with the headliner to create more buzz (Brian Pacris, The Syndicate).

(6) Use SplitGigs to join forces with other bands and collectively book shows (Pacris).

(7) Create positive relationships with other bands to increase the likelihood of getting future shows (various).

(8) When posting your event on Facebook, make the promoter an admin to grow the potential number of attendees (Jaison John, 5B Artist Management).

(9) Get a laptop, start a Google mailing list or open an Excel spreadsheet, and collect emails right at the show (Schapiro).

(10) After the show, the time to connect with fans is the next day – not a week later (Hogarth).

(11) At the show, take a picture of the crowd, then post it on Facebook and ask attendees to tag themselves.  Then, give a prize to one of the taggers (various).

(12) When to start a real team?  If you’re spending more than half your day on logistics, you need to get outside help.  You need more than just your college roommate (John).

(13) Target fan emails by zip code to create awareness about local shows (various).

(14) Before hitting a city, build the buzz with the media, local outlets and the venue.  Everyone wants to help break a band and then brag about it (Schapiro).

(15) Bands should tell fans that they will be signing stuff at the merch table after the show.  That will draw more fans with their wallets, and help to convert offline fans to online fans (Tommy Brunett).

(16) Don’t complain about the sound.  It’s so cliche and unoriginal (Jeffrey Rabhan, Trifecta Consulting)

General Direct-to-Fan

(17) Assume your fans are really lazy (because they are).  Make it incredibly easy for them to get information, get to shows, and participate (various).

(18) Give away a download, but get something in return – like an email address (various).

(19) Pitch your tiny band to major outlets like the Village Voice.  The odds are better than you think, simply because they seem big and intimidating to competing bands.  It’s like the hot girl at the bar – everyone’s afraid to approach her (various).

(20) Respond to every Twitter and Facebook fan message (various).

(21) Don’t Twitter too much.  Don’t clog the channel too much or it will be hard to get important messages through (Schapiro).

(22) The amount that you Twitter depends on the relationship between the artist and audience.  Some artists Twitter all day, and their fans love it (Dick Huey, Toolshed).

(23) Pitch to major radio stations.  Commercial radio stations often have local shows, with deejays that want to break local acts (Schapiro).

(24) Don’t be afraid to be yourself and take a stand on things.  Not everyone is going to like you (Ariel Hyatt, Cyber PR).

(25) It takes about 7 years to get a substantial amount of traction.  “It takes forever.” (Hyatt)

(26) Not all criticism is bad.  Negativity can often spur positive counter-responses, and create a positive snowball (Elizabeth Leahy, Section 101).

(27) Fans want access, perceived or otherwise.  Appreciation is important, and artists can no longer “just come out for the flashbulbs.” (Jeffrey Rabhan, Trifecta Consulting)

(28) Bands using Facebook, MySpace, or something like ReverbNation for their homepages are generally making less money.  The artists that have a website they control – ie, – are typically making more, though they also have that site interconnected into pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others (Ariel Hyatt).

Entrepreneurial, Business

(29) There’s still a market for recordings, if presented and packaged properly to the audience (Cliff Chenfeld, Razor & Tie).

(30) If you’re starting a label today, you’d better do something that no one else has thought of.  Or, smartly spread across a number of non-recording areas like publishing and touring (Mark Kates, Fenway Recordings and various).

(31) There’s more value in super-serving a specific niche or scene.   That goes for the broader, hit-driven approaches of old.  “If you’re a generalist, you’ll have a tougher time.” (Chenfeld)

Artist Branding

(32) Be aware of your image. Your clothes, your actions, and the way you talk all represent your brand (Jon Ostrow, MicControl).

(33) If you’re going to create a persona, then you need to own it.  Otherwise, they’ll know it’s a sham – so be yourself, be your persona, but don’t waffle in between. (Jeffrey Rabhan, Trifecta Consulting)

Music Supervision

(34) Music supervisors are really in a service position; they have to handle the requests and demands of lots of different people.  “It’s not that different from being a bartender.” (Barry Cole, SPOT music)

(35) Managing expectations is critical in music supervision, though having relationships with content owners is also critically important.  Producers often have big concepts and small budgets – you figure out the rest  (Jonathan McHugh, Island Def Jam Music Group).

(36) Both creative and organizational skills are critical to survive.  “Publishing, masters and syncs, cue sheets, and all of the things that make it so a producer or director doesn’t come down on you for something…” (G. Marq Roswell, 35Sound)

(37) Controlling your copyright – or at least having it easy to license in one place – is a good thing.  Music supervisors love to clear something in one step – it makes your music more attractive to them (Jake Ottmann, EMI Music Publishing).


(38) You absolutely need the best team to make it – manager, publicist, label, etc. – and a publisher is part of that (Justin Shukat, Primary Wave).

(39) If you can write a hit, you can still get rich (Ron Perry, Songs Music Publishing).

(40) If you’re working with a major label, remember that they want a hit.  And they will go through endless versions until they feel that they have that hit. (Perry)