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Jennifer Grassman

Recording Artist + Author + Mommy

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Music Business

A Time Of Transition

I’m in the process of transitioning my identity. I know, I know, that sounds really extreme. But I can’t think how else to describe it.  Continue reading “A Time Of Transition”

The Writer’s Block Weekday Hack: How To Schedule Blog Topics & Get Inspired Again!

A Girl Writing, by Henriette Browne (1829–1901)

There are lots of very good writers out there, but even for the GREAT writers, getting ideas for what to write about is often the greatest hurdle. Well I’m going to try a little experiment. I’m going to assign a general topic that I often write about anyway, or that I feel knowledgeable enough to write about, to each day of the week.

Here are my topics:

Monday – Music Monday*
On Monday I’ll write about my own music, or the music of another recording artist I admire. I may also write about songwriting, from compositional structure to lyrics.

Tuesday – How-To Tuesday
On Tuesday I’ll write how-to blogs around topics I’m interested in or specialize in such as social media, public relations, marketing, or random life-hacks I find on Pintrest that aid me in my calling as a work-at-home-mom. That’s what you’re reading right now!

Wednesday – Writing Wednesday*
On Wednesday I’ll write a poem, a short story, or publish some song lyrics I recently wrote. Maybe I’ll review a book I’ve recently read, or interview an independent author I admire! Continue reading “The Writer’s Block Weekday Hack: How To Schedule Blog Topics & Get Inspired Again!”

I Don’t Have Fans, I Have a Listenership: The Complexities of an Artistic Demographic

Water color “Library Cat” by Craig Roffler. Click the image to read his blog.

I’ve never liked calling the people who love my music “fans.” That three-letter-word makes me think of those screaming hordes of ditsy girls who swooned over The Beatles. Fans buy stuff even if it’s crummy. Fans have crushes on celebrities they’ll probably never meet. Fans quote artists even if the quote is completely asinine. Fans get their butts autographed.

Niki Minaj has fans. Justin Beiber has fans. Even Grumpy Cat has fans. Fans are fanatics, and their fanaticism is often fleeting. My listeners are not fans. While very dedicated in a thoughtful and appreciative way, they hold me to a higher standard of artistic integrity, and I respect that.

When I was sixteen I used to dream about going on whirlwind tours performing in front of thousands of people at venues across the globe. Now that I’m “grown up,” I’d much rather sit at home with my cats, listening to Celtic music, and writing songs or reading a good book. I watch PBS Masterpiece shows, own a Kindle, occasionally scrapbook, and when my toddler wants a drink, she asks for, “Tea?”

My listeners are the same way. The majority of them blog regularly, love animals, sip wine, read books (if not write them), and know who I’m quoting when I say, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Yes, my music does sound a bit like Tori Amos’, Vienna Teng’s, Loreena McKennitt’s, or Sarah McLachlan’s, but my listeners aren’t necessarily listeners of those artists too. In fact, they may listen to everything from Handel’s Messiah to Blind Guardian. Why? Because they’re not “fans” in the pop culture sense of the word. They are purveyors of interesting things. They are discerning art collectors of an assortment of items from printed literature to replica LOTR swords. They are self-educators hungry to experience and learn about new things. They want to know what beer from Holland tastes like, and how to eat with chopsticks. They like rainy days, rescuing stray cats, volunteering in artistic endeavors, and attending the Renaissance Fair and Comic Con in full costume.

They are often creators themselves.

And that, my friends, is what an artistic demographic looks like. It isn’t cookie-cutter. It isn’t an audience you can reach by promoting “radio-ready” songs on Clear Channel or plastering your logo on a cheap junior’s department clothing line. It’s something new. Something different. Something beautifully messy and complex … and I love it!

New Facebook Page Analytics: The Best Time to Post

Facebook recently published new Facebook Page Analytics, and they ROCK.

You can now easily tell when people are most often viewing your page, by day of the week, and time of day.

I’ll use screenshots of my own page‘s analytics as an example:

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As you can see, most of my listeners view my page Monday through Wednesday, and especially on Thursday. They also tend to view between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 PM.

While many people might think, “Great! That’s when I’ll post advertisements!” that’s not what we want to do with this information. Instead, we’ll post our most engaging, friendly, and interesting posts on these days.

By hovering over each day of the week, you can also see if and when views spike at a certain time that day. See? Even though Thursday is my popular day, my views tend to spike to over 300 on Tuesday at 3:00 PM. Sweet!

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Every page will have variations in best audience engagement times. To view YOUR page’s unique prime times, go to your page and click:

Insights > Posts > When Your Fans Are Online

You’ll want to monitor your page analytics to adapt your strategy for best engagement. For example, people’s schedules are going to change after school starts, and – if your audience includes kids, students, parents, or teachers – then their online patterns will likely change as well to accommodate their new routine. Watch your page analytics and adapt to meet activity!

Here’s A Creative Momma Entrepreneur Music Business Model Proposal For You

Why cycle alone when you can cycle with friends?
Why cycle alone when you can cycle with friends?

Being a creative person, I often enjoy reinventing the wheel. Of course, this statement only applies to FUN wheels. Accounting wheels, laundry wheels, homework wheels … I’m 100% happy sticking with what works and what everyone else is doing regarding those wheels.  But when it comes to being a Work From Home Mom, and a Music Business Entrepreneur, I will quite happily reinvent that wheel until it fits my wagon!

FACT: The Traditional Music Business Model Sucks.

Here’s Why:  Running my own business by myself is overwhelming. The traditionalist says, “Get a Manager!”  But a Manager would require about 10% of my income. Now, I would not mind paying 10% at ALL, except that iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other sites like that, only pay me about $50 a month. That means my manager would somehow have to survive on only $5 a month, and I just don’t see that realistically happening.  It’s the same story with Booking Agents, Promoters, Producers, etc.  Everyone wants a slice of the pie. But my pie is a tiny, low-fat flan, not an extra-large, meat lovers pizza.

Now, I know many of you are thinking, “So play concerts! That’s where all the money is at!”

Not so.  At least, not for my genre.  Maybe if I were a Rock N’ Roll cover band and could play at Over The Hill Birthday Parties and such, that would be true. As it is, I’m stuck making roughly $100 per gig at coffee houses, AND I now have an 8 month old baby, so gigging like mad doesn’t really suit my lifestyle.  In order to play enough gigs to make a decent income, I’d neet to play about 30 gigs per month.  Just booking that many gigs is a full time job, and I think I’d get burnt out pretty fast.

HERE’S MY BIG REINVENT-THE-WHEEL THEORY:

SPONSORS: Back during the Renaissance, the Pope, the King, and Particularly Cool Noblemen would sponsor artists and musicians, and commission works.  I intend to come up with some sponsorships so that businesses and art patrons can invest in my music and writing, commission works, and enjoy special benefits in return.

START A CLUB: A fun team of friends who love my music, enjoy my writing, and have 2 or 3 hours of spare time a week to help me with creative projects would be a BLAST! We could coordinate over getting my music aired on radio stations, reviewed in magazines, and come up with artsy themes for music videos and CD and Website Art together. Of course, members of this club would have to have access to my unreleased music, books, and poetry, and we’d need to schedule Skype meetings about once a month so we can brainstorm ideas.

OFFER INTERNSHIPS: I’m ging to create a simple curriculum for high school and college students interested in Business Management, Marketing, and the Music Industry. Every week they’d have a new, easy project. In return, I’d work with their school to earn them extra credit, and I’d also write them letters of recommendation when they apply for college or a job.

RESULT: A fun and friendly community of art patrons, entrepreneurs, friends, and students, working together to make the world better by creatively supporting the art that they love.

What are your thoughts? Post comments below! 

HELP! An Artistic Diva’s Music Marketing & Distribution Conundrum

The ever mysterious and highly unusual, Bjork.

I’m trying to figure out how to get my music in front of the right listenership.  I need to make it visible and available to people who will understand it and appreciate it.

I know there is a demographic of music enthusiasts out there who wants to listen to music for its lyrical and artistic merit, as opposed to a juvenile hook and a monotonous beat you can bop to while your pants sag below your bottom.

I know there are people out their who still want to read the words to a song, and want those words to have meaning more profound than oversexed materialistic narcissism.

I know many of you reading this ARE that demographic. You listen to a broad array of music, and tend to shy away from the prepackaged jingles that play ad nauseam on corporate radio stations.

Sadly, many people in today’s world don’t care much about art. They don’t appreciate why the painter may take months to finish a masterpiece. They think attending a symphony is for old rich people.  They feel that reading classic literature is a boring waste of time, particularly when you can just download the movie on Netflix.

They don’t comprehend the time and care a songwriter puts into constructing a composition, and are satisfied to listen to tracks compiled by a team of producers and lip synched by a Barbie doll model with a bad attitude, raunchy antics, and too much makeup.

Hardly anyone wants to “stop and smell the roses” anymore, except the small group of people who also tend to enjoy my music.

They’re the sort of people who read the book before they see the movie the book inspired. Whenever possible, they prefer hand prepared meals as opposed to “fast food” or frozen dinners. They may not be able to afford real paintings, but they definitely prefer them to posters of Katy Perry. They like blending real limes in their margaritas instead of using a mix. They appreciate natural and healthy beauty as opposed to airbrushed models and shallow ideals of sexuality. They often to strange and cultured things, like make their own jewelry, attend wine tastings, go to nerdy conventions, recite poetry, and eat hummus.

They enjoy listening to other artsy musicians, including Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and the occasional Swedish prog metal band like Opeth.

Now we’ve defined by listeners. They’re awesome people, aren’t they?  But how do I reach them?  How do I, on a shoe string budget, get my music in front of those people?

My Ingenious, Creative, & Slightly Nefarious Plot To Take Over The World!

“Siren Song” (2009) by one of my favorite artists, Clifford Bailey.

Here’s What We Know:

My music is most popular with people who love literature, art, theater, culture, attending posh events like house concerts and wine tastings, and giving patronage to charities such as museums, art galleries, and performing arts societies. They still buy physical albums and collect “special editions” of their favorite CDs, books, and films. Another random fact: They tend to love animals.

A second demographic my music tends to appeal to falls within the conservative and/or Christian crowd, and it’s made up of people who are looking for music that has a positive message (i.e. not saturated with sex, drugs, violence, and narcissism), yet isn’t cookie cutter “worship music” like you’d typically hear on mainstream Christian radio.

My music is artsy. And positive. And dark. But still positive. (You know what I’m trying to say.)

So. Here’s my ingenious, creative, and slightly nefarious plot to take over the world (and you’re totally invited to help out! I’m going to need a posse to make this happen). We shall …

Target #1: MUSIC VIDEOS: LISTENER MADE + CROWD SOURCED

  • Select a song or 2 for listeners, theatrical peeps, film gurus, and animators to make their own music videos and photo collages for. Viewers can vote. Figure out some sort of prize for the winner. Possibly a pet turtle named Bullet Bill. Scratch that. Maybe an interview in my Washington Times Communities column? Whatever the prize, the winner’s video will be deemed an “official” Jennifer Grassman music video and be featured everywhere I can feature it.
  • Make 1 or 2 crowd-sourced collage videos using submitted film snippets, photography, and other visual art from listeners.
  • Team up with Kaitlin Grassman of Penny Electric to shoot 2-5 more awesomeful music videos.

Target #2: DEVELOP A UNIQUE CONCERT EXPERIENCE

  • Perform during the intermission or opening of a theatrical play, ballet, or other performing arts show.
  • Book a concert series at a cool museum, winery, or art gallery.
  • Coordinate some wildly creative shows that feature a ballerina, or painter, or magician, or rhythmic gymnast, or fire juggler … Make each concert (or at least one song during each concert) into a performance art piece (i.e. a memorable experience). Give people something to talk about!

Target #3: SATALLITE RADIO & NPR

  • Tap into Satellite Radio. Find some artsy shows that would compliment my music and work on networking with the music directors.
  • Begin stalking cool NPR peeps.

Target #4: THE BLOGIVERSE {YES. WE SHALL TAKE THAT OVER TOO}

  • Indeed. I shall blog. Just like I’m doing now. And I shall write interesting things. Things about music, babies, cats, and also pastries, because I love pastries and baking.
  • I shall also trade blog posts with other artsy, musical, bookworm, writer people like myself so we can offer our readerships a greater and more interesting variety of posts.

So … who’s with me?!?! I need a posse to help me brainstorm and make this stuff happen. We will convene  for top secret meetings on Skype.  It will be fun!  And you can help with as much or as little as often as you want. We’ll be very informal yet relatively organized and generally goal oriented.  Firstly, what shall we call our posse? I’m open to ideas.

Please comment below with your thoughts, questions, feedback, suggestions, and tips on how I can hit the above targets with Annie Oakley precision and poise.  Thanks!  I’m excited!

Love,

Jennifer

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