Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On Axis Music Travels to Mississippi

I've often looked at myself as Chicagoan. When I graduated art school (I know, I know, barf on the implications of intelligentsia), I thought I was being super professional by making an email with the word "Chicago" in it. This was when emails were cryptic and the Internet was still on the ripples from the stone of AOL.

It took a little planning, and careful meandering of my goldfish watching responsibilities but I was able to break away from the ties that bind and go, camera in hand, like Hunter S. Thompson, to the Second Annual Mississippi Saxophone Festival.

I look forward to sharing the article and the photos and the most important lesson, however, was getting out of Dodge.

It is an important thing to do literally-- we are meant to travel as musicians and spread the love, and our brand, and CD sales (if anyone is buying) on "tour". Tour these days usually means grungy people (hey, I am running sound and I took a shower) playing on a stage to about 5 people. These touring musicians usually have a great, complex merch display which is really thought out, and a wimpy, empty feeling set. Clearly, priorities are in the wrong place. But I digress.

While I suppose I covet these traveling musicians, I was glad to be finally able to travel myself, even as a Journalist.

Sometimes traveling literally is a bunch of wasted time (i.e. the young indie bands on tour that are playing to empty rooms and begging the audience for gas money in thinly veiled jokes, you know who you are). So let's travel figuratively.

Let's get out of "Dodge" whatever that is. Our routines, our common steps, our every day activities that go nowhere and break new ground, even if it is with one footstep, one train ride, one step into the unknown.

- On Axis Music

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Event Promotion Basics

Understand and identify context, then make deadlines. If you're advertising an event with national interest, the event listing in a major city newspaper may need 2-3 month notice, if you're running a pop-up event in a small venue, a local blogger may need 2 weeks notice to spread the word.

Think of the top five media outlets you want to connect to and CALL the main switchboard to connect to the appropriate department to find out deadlines and introduce yourself (if it's a large media outlet). If the media outlets are niche blogs or college radio hosts, send and email to introduce yourself!

Make a theme or slogan that connects people to the event. This can tie in current events, trends, holiday, time of year or a topic that interests the audience. An event with a concept that is easy to grasp goes farther.

Think beyond social media announcement. Use services like EventBrite, e-mail updates, print flier, advertising, or asking specific industry people who support your event to contact people individually. Receiving an invite from someone you know and trust is ten times better than simply seeing a billboard. In the least, obtain recommendations of the event from major players to create testimonials.

 Incentives can implore people to be involved in more than just the event. Can they now be part of a new scene, movement, organization, club or community? People want to be part of something. Answer the question: How can they be part of something greater via this event?

Make it practical as well as fantastic. The logistics of arriving at the event, parking, food, facilities and ease of movement is important.

We hope these tips help make your event promotion a success!

Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Book Your Act in 2017

How to Book Your Act in 2017

special feature to kick off the new year!

I'm a Chicago-area Music Industry Publicist, sound engineer and booking representative for a podcast organization called Chicago Acoustic Underground. We've booked talent at festivals, conferences and showcases. In the seven years I've been with this company, I have helped with shows ranging from nationally recognized venues like the House of Blues, to small cafes. I've read books on concert promotion and touring, the business of music and online music marketing including social media. I am here today to share this information with you so that you can successfully book your band in 2017 and meet your booking goals.

This article is for local-level musicians seeking gigs in small to medium sized venues (capacity 40-400+). If your band is regularly playing larger venues, perhaps there’s still something to learn here. If you’re just starting out, then read this and let me know if any questions. You can email me at axis.contact@gmail.com. This is written for the artist that has had some success booking but wants to refine the process. Let’s get to the downbeat.

First, let's cover what not to do.
  • Don't wait for opportunities to come your way. I’ve overheard artists say “ I am only booking what people are asking me to play”. It is unlikely you will be completely happy this way. You must be pro-active.
  • Don't hyper-focus on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Linkedin, Bandcamp, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Flickr, Vine, SnapChat, Reddit, Meetup-- you name it, it’s out there waiting to suck your time up. Use it for fun until your heart’s content, but don’t hit social media with a marketing angle until you have a focused plan. Here's an article about not being overwhelmed by social media HERE. Also, use a service like HOOTSUITE to automate posts.
    If social media is overwhelming, wait-- scratch that-- because it IS inherently overwhelming, start with a plan and consider scheduling your posts with a free service like HootSuite.

  • Don’t look to others (paid professionals, industry friends, the elusive record industry boss, the stranger watching on YouTube that will make your video go viral) to change your band’s world. It must come from the inside out. That means you! Become essentially useful to yourself first, then you have the tools to work TOGETHER with people, venues, labels, fans, you name it-- to make value for everyone. 

Now, five easy steps you can take today:
  • Time: Decide how much time per day or per week you have to devote to band promotion and band booking. These are two separate categories. You may decide 20 minutes/day on social media promotion, and 15/minutes a day for booking. Booking actions can be web research and sending two emails to clubs or artists you want to do a show with. Put this time, as if it is a work appointment, on your schedule. It works best if it’s attached to a time of day and an ‘if-then’ statement. “If it’s 11am and I am not under a deadline for work, I will spend 15 minutes researching new venues."
  • Organize: Start a filing system. If you’re digital, Google Drive is a great start. Make folders, spreadsheets and/or documents to keep all your research and records in one place. Suggestions are using a spreadsheet for venue names, contact info, dates to inquire about, and notes. In this drive, also keep your EPK (electronic press kit) materials. This includes your bio or promotional pitch (one paragraph), photos, and links to website, social media, press release, stage plot/input list, and any other materials you’ll need to send to venues or booking representatives. When you get even more fancy this includes contracts and stage riders! Be sure to have your EPK on a handheld flash drive (one or more) to carry with you-- you can hand it out like a business card (if you do happen to meet an industry pro), and as a data backup.
  • Choose: Begin branding your act. This does not mean going extra slick and losing your hard-earned street cred. No, this just means choosing colors, designs, patterns, fonts, photos, text and layout that will make your visual materials look cohesive and as cool as you are.
  • Play your horn. Or bass, keyboard, guitar, software, whatever it is you do-- DO IT! Do it often, play it til you can't play no mo. You have to be ready when the gig comes, you know!
    Most Important Step-- 
  • Hire On Axis Music to write a killer bio, as well as put together a one-sheet for your latest album, or a press release about your upcoming show or latest achievement. This concise writing can get the attention of industry professionals and send the message that you’re awesome.

Bonus Tip: Start the year with great video! YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Are you proud of your band's videos? Ask us how we can help make super simple, affordable and effective live video of your band to help with booking. We work with various recording studios and onsite to give you the video your act needs to succeed.

We hope this helps you with your booking goals for 2017. If you need more assistance or consultation, please don’t hesitate to reach us!
- Hannah Frank On Axis Music
Email axis.contact@gmail.com 
(free consultation!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

From 2014 OnAxis Music & Media Business Plan

In an unprecedented move, I am posting a business plan for OAMM which was developed almost exactly TWO YEARS ago. Then I am going to go to bed. In the morning, I will wake up, read it and say "Oh, Why didn't I do this" and "Oh, I am glad I did that" and last but not least, "Ooh I will really do that as that will make everyone benefit (readers, musicians, businesses and OAMM).  I'd also like to say, I am not going to let any H8ers get in the way!

In a general way, I hope this serves to inspire readers as well as show how much we can learn from one year to the next, how to hold onto good ideas, and how sometimes we just need time to grow. Here we go...

Editor's Note: From 2014
OnAxis Music & Media Business Plan
OnAxis Music & Media is an online news outlet which serves Chicago-area music fans and musicians. OAMM presents live show and album reviews, directories of event listings, articles, and photos for music fans; plus well-researched resources and links for musicians. The quantity and quality of information for musicians makes OAMM the first resource of its kind in Chicago. OAMM also serves musicians, agents and companies with for-hire media services including writing, photography, graphic and web design.

Immediate Goals
·      Complete live show reviews from fall 2014.
·      Develop logo, graphics and website.
·      Develop presence on Twitter and Facebook, focusing on “likes” and “followers” so that advertisers can use these numbers as a metric.
·      Use web research to develop content for musician resources. This includes a listing of local press outlets, record labels, retail outlets, promotion/management companies, and musician-related service providers.
·      For-hire services
-       Writing for: website copy, press releases, articles
-       Photography, Video and Audio Services
-       Graphic and Web Design
·      Advertising Packages
-       Email newsletter: include coupons for customers from service providers
-       Featured listing as a service provider
-       Website ads (revenue per ad, run for a definite timeframe)
-       Content Provider. Example: OAMM includes press releases or monthly updates/columns from a record label for $25/month.
Define monthly operating expenses, such as $1000.  Model the number of advertising packages and for-hire clients to meet expenses; such as $1000 in expenses covered by 10 ads for $50/ea. and 5 clients at $100/ea.
Legal: Register as LLC (within 12 months) as needed.

More about the Content for Musicians:
OAMM provides information for musicians, and guides them on how to use it. Here are some useful comparisons:

Like a Yellow Pages or Yelp, OAMM provides a listing of service providers useful to musicians; ranging from recording studios, photographers, rehearsal spaces, repair shops, record stores, record labels, booking entities, etc. This includes location, description and contact information. This saves hours of web research and allows for quick side-by-side comparisons.

Like an Encyclopedia or a Business Partner, OAMM provides a listing of links for the musician looking to enhance their knowledge; ranging from websites about specific instruments, genres, organizations, music businesstopics, etc.

Like Craigslist, OAMM provides leads on performances, marketing ideas and connecting with people and places. Unlike Craigslist, OAMM researches all leads for reliability and value so you don’t have to.

Like a Bulletin Board, OAMM provides an event calendar of clinics and workshops.

Like a Consultant, OAMM provides a listing of links for the musician looking to enhance their career, with tips on how all the elements such as rehearsing, booking, promotion performance, merchandising work together to build an artist's career. OAMM serves musicians by helping them outline a strategy. OAMM not only provides a listing of service providers, but provides guidance on utilizing the service providers as part of an overall game plan. By providing musicians with a strategic mindset, musicians aremore motivated to seek out service providers and close sales for those service providers.

Like a Publicist, OAMM provides a listing of links useful for promotion, including local event calendars, press contacts and outlets, blogs and related resources. It also provides advice on how/when to use these resources to make them most effective.

OAMM readers are independent musicians ready to expand or enhance their career— a focused demographic for companies and individuals that provide services and products for musicians.
More about the Content for Music Fans:

Currently: For a variety of genre, OAMM aims to present:
·      live show reviews with photos
·      album reviews
·      news from specific record labels
·      news from specific venues
·      Directories of event listings for music events. Examples include a listing of event calendars (Do312, Metromix, etc.) as well as “Where to Find Blues in Chicago” or “Where to See Jazz in Chicago” or “Where to see Acoustic Music in Chicago” or “Where to See Metal in Chicago”.
Value: OAMM is one of few local publications featuring many genres under one roof. OAMM is the only local publication which offers news from various record labels under one roof.
Long game:
·      OAMM presents comprehensive event calendar for live music
·      OAMM is a point of sale for purchase tickets for these shows
Value: News attracts readers, who become customers. Real world example: The website AXS.com, which presents news on major music acts, plus direct access to purchase tickets for shows at venues owned by AE Entertainment, was created by AE Entertainment.

Currently, venues in Chicago independently use subcontracted companies to handle online ticket sales. Examples include the company Brown Paper Tickets. What if OAMM allowed users to purchase tickets for shows not by providing links to the venue’s website (which is customary on event calendars), but by becoming a point of sale itself? What if OAMM took a percentage of resulting ticket sales? What if OAMM had contracts with all the venues in Chicago to handle their online ticket sales?

Background: OnAxis Music started as a blog in 2009 and includes lengthy interviews with local independent artists, music industry advice and album reviews. The title is taken from the Jimi Hendrix song “Axis Bold as Love”, inspired by reading Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross. The title also refers to the microphone placement on guitar amp.

P.O.D. (Point of Delivery). Content is delivered to the following online outlets:
·      Main website www.onaxismusic.com
·      Facebook.com/OnAxisMusic
·      Twitter @OnAxisMusic
·      Tumblr Blog www.onaxismusic.tumblr.com
·      YouTube.com/on axis music (Video)
·      Soundcloud.com/OnAxisMusic (Audio/podcasts)
·      Flickr.com/OnAxisMusic (Photos)
·      RSS Feed
·      Email newsletter
·      Press release

State of the Publishing Industry: The publishing industry has changed drastically in the past ten years, due to the prevalence of the Internet. Profits plummeted as publications lost advertising dollars. Newspapers and magazines now must integrate with the Internet.

When asking, how can newspapers be successful in the age of the Internet? One must ask, what are some of the most successful sites on the Internet? The answer is Facebook, Craigslist and Google.

OAMM can integrate these attributes, making it ready to be a successful online publication:

Like Facebook, users are directly involved in the content which is presented to their community. Record labels, recording studios and other music entities are invited to include their press releases or monthly columns, which are in turn shared with the music community.

Like Craigslist, users share their info with the public and can be contacted for services. The Professional Services Directory (for services such as audio, video, photography, web design, merchandise development, management and booking, media duplication, etc.) includes businesses and their contact information. It is a bulletin board of service providers, and announcements, specifically for musicians.

Like Google, users can search for specific information which is presented in an organized way. OAMM provides listings for a variety of musician-related topics, which organizes the web for musicians. OAMM determines which links are of most value and prioritizes them.

Competitive Edge: OAMM presents information relevant for persons operating in the music industry. With a development team that is active in the music industry in a variety of roles, this inside perspective on the music industry results in a new format. It creatively integrates the need for musicians and service providers to market themselves to the music community; while also providing content that attracts music fans, who are the ultimate audience for musician’s efforts. The comprehensive approach of OAMM will have a competitive edge, and integrate with, the following websites and publications:

Chicago and National Websites and Publications That Serve Musicians: Illinois Entertainer Studio Guide and Classifieds, Chicago Reader Classifieds, Craigslist, websites MainFloor.com and ChicagoMusicGuide.com, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Performing Songwriter and others.

Chicago and National Websites and Publications that Serve Music Fans: AudioTree.tv, Do312.com, Chicago Acoustic Underground, Chicago Innerview, Chicago Reader, Fearless Radio, JBTV.com, MetroMix, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, SPIN, SwizzleSteve.com, and others.

Advertisers and Clients could include: Any of the above publications and companies, plus record labels, rehearsal spaces, venues, booking & management companies and music-related service providers.

OAMM Integrating with Social Media: OAMM’s Facebook and Twitter profiles have the purpose of providing information and content that increases:
·      Number of likes and followers, as these numbers are often used by potential advertisers to determine the size of a publication's audience.
·      Awareness of OAMM brand and services to readers, clients and advertisers.
Funding: Grants can be applied for by showing how OAMM positively impacts the music community.          

If you'd like to be involved in helping make OAMM happen, or enhancing the music press in Chicago, please contact axis.contact@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six Website Strategies

by Hannah Frank

Some sites offer the kitchen sink while others are like an intriguing first date. Here are some categories to help your online game. Organize your site by deciding your purpose: sales, familiarity with your brand (soft sell), presentation of data, email capture (ongoing communication) or "internet tourism".

  1. Sell, Sell Sell: The homepage features an immediate "call to action" and display of merch. The goal is clear: the site "first impression" is designed for clicking and buying. This isn't necessarily bad: if fans will come to the site to find out how to buy a product, this is a declaration that the website is a trusted POS (point of sale).

  2. Pleased to Meet Me: Many website designs are focused on blogging, but that doesn't mean you need to invent yourself as something more interesting than you are. This type of site is a labor-intensive collection of videos, blog entries, essays, poems, artwork, pictures of cats, etc.  It's time intensive for the artist (most sites in this style are built directly by the artist) and not focused on sales. While this type of presentation can be magical in giving a quick feel to the artist's creative process and inner workings of their mind, it also requires serious fans willing to browse it at length. It creates a personal connection with the artist, yet the conversational tone can be unfiltered (TMI) and familiarity can breed contempt and boredom. For some artists that operate in a niche or are truly working in an advanced multimedia style requiring explanation, the shoe may fit. However, for the most part, get your head out of your ass already.

  3. Search & You Will Find: Organized information about artists, projects, releases and/or services. The goal of this site style is to give brand credibility and build a legacy. It tells readers "this information is important." It is extensive, but feels respectful. This type of site is high on easy to find information and low on drivel. It will likely have crisp bios and professional photos. Be careful of being too slick...make sure the deep content is as good as the surface.

  4. The Overwhelming First Date: we just met, but can we have your email address to take this further? Sites with a lot of content often want to share it, but can invest more time in learning about the viewer. If your site has a lot of content to share that's great. But consider ways to learn about the readers, or make different areas of the site for window shoppers, customers, public and/or industry partners so that all viewers are not funneled down the same chute.

  5. Bits and Pieces: This type of site is a destination, you can almost feel a breath of fresh air as the browser opens. It includes integration with social media, image-based blog entries (look at the pretty colors), and plenty of subtle calls to action. There's no single call to action, and the website style encourages browsing. While this style is great for not hitting viewers over the head, make sure it's "sticky" enough to give them a reason to return, share and buy. If branding is the goal, and only goal, then show the bits.

  6. The website for offline...seems counter intuitive, but consider if your website or online presence is actually meant to drive action off line. Examples are readers attending an event, physically walking into a brick and mortar store, or another offline activity. Hard to believe, but there is life beyond the screen. Take this to heart and make sure the online world you create isn't more interesting than real life. Hope this helps as you build a new website or tweak an existing site for maximum leverage. As the Internet, especially with the combo of social media and smart phones, makes it possible to capture and share just about any content designers desire...make sure it's what your readers desire also.

  Media Bonus: The magic of the Internet allows us to view this video in regards to #1. Coffee is for closers, but will hard sells cause the reader to close the browser? That is the question.

 Reach Hannah at axis.contact@gmail.com or Twitter @HannahFrankGrp