by Cari Cole
This list is not for everyone. It’s for you if you are ready to pull out all the stops and get serious about your career. It’s for you if you like to hear what no one else has the guts to tell you. This advice, which is my professional opinion comprised after 28 years of coaching thousands of independent artists, celebrities and Grammy winning artists from my voice studio in New York City, is for the express purpose of helping you become a great artist (musician + songwriter) so you can get ahead and make a dent out there. It’s not for the faint of heart. Keep in mind that this is a list to work on accomplishing – it’s not important to have all of this aced ~ consider it 10 lessons to work on.
1. You post your demos publicly.
Don’t post demos for all the world to hear, keep them private. No one has any imagination. All the imperfections scream amateur (unless you are an amazing demo-er). The only way I say ok is if you have a ton of great material out there and you are posting demos to get feedback from fans (but the demos better be friggin’ good). I’d prefer you share a private Dropbox folder though unless it has a marketing angle behind it. Mediocrity never wins the race.
2. You only have one or two or three songs up.
You still need an album’s worth of material out there to be taken seriously (10 or more broadcast quality songs – not demos). It’s about having more than one song – a body of work for us to sink our teeth into. It’s fine to release a single but be sure you have a string of them!
3. You think that marketing is what makes people convert into fans.
Yes, marketing is important, really important. Yes, good marketing makes people convert into fans. But all the marketing in the world will not make up for music that doesn’t blow us away. You’ve got to have the goods to truly go the distance. Learn the science behind making a breakthrough record here.
4. You did your vocals in one day.
No matter how good you or your music is, we can tell if you did all the vocals for your record in one day. No one will ever come right out and say it, they’ll just click away. There is no excuse for squeezing your vocals in last minute or leaving unfinished vocals on a record, no matter how tight the budget was. Take the time to save up for more editing or go back in and make it better. Your record is forever. Especially with all the tools of technology today at your fingertips. Nothing screams amateur more than off pitch or less than par vocals. No matter how “organic” you want your sound to be.
5. Your record is better than your show.
If a fan comes all the way to see you and your live performance is not as good as your record, you will lose them. Today with recording technology being as slick as it is, the bar is raised. Be sure that you are well rehearsed, matter of fact, that you are over rehearsed to avoid this happening to you. And please – get a vocal coach to help you rock your voice live. You won’t regret it.
6. You wrote your bio yourself.
A bio that starts out when you were two years old about how you sang before you spoke, we can all tell you wrote that bio yourself. Leave the hairy details for those that want the full story (a link to a pdf at the bottom of your press or About page will do). Until then, keep it short, compelling and make sure it’s well written, and by a professional music writer.
7. You’ve got tons of views on Youtube but few comments and even worse, numbers on social media that don’t warrant those views.
It’s obvious those views are purchased when you see a large disproportion of the ratio of comments vs. views/likes. Same with your Facebook page: you have tons of likes on your Facebook music page but very little comments. It’s more transparent than you think. It’s best to grow organically by engaging with people!
8. You don’t have a website – only Reverbnation.
When you haven’t invested in your own site, it tells a potential fan that you are stabbing at it. We all know you aren’t 100% invested in your own career yet, so we aren’t either.
9. Your website is a FIREHOSE.
Too much information on your website is suicide – it begs low self esteem. Trust that if we want the info we’re looking for, we’ll find it on the properly titled page. People have the attention span of a zipper. If your site has too much going on (the fire-hose syndrome) people will click away – and they won’t convert into fans!
10. Too much text, not enough images.
Too much text on your website or promo materials is a big turn off. No one has time to read all of that! The trend now is clean, lots of white space, one call to action. Use more images and less text to grab people’s attention.
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