What About Bob?

Bob Baker got bitten by the music bug at age 11, when he sang a collection of Elvis songs (Presley, not Costello) in a living room full of cheering relatives. Something clicked in his young mind. "Hey, this music thing can be fun."

By high school Bob was jamming in rock bands and filling VFW hall kegger parties with classic songs by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull. (Okay, this was the '70s, mind you.) By the early '80s, Bob was providing lead vocals and guitar duties for nightclub bands in St. Louis and surrounding areas.

In the years that followed, Bob also put a lot of effort into writing songs and was drawn to melodic pop artists such as Crowded House, Cheap Trick, Squeeze and Elvis (only it was Costello this time). Bands he's been in over the years have produced three independent releases, on which Bob was a primary singer and songwriter.

Music Meets Publishing

In 1987, Bob combined his love of music and feature writing and founded a St. Louis music magazine called Spotlight. Unlike other local publications, Spotlight focused on local artists and their activities.

Not having much money to work with, Bob promoted his magazine using creative marketing tactics. He was soon appearing regularly in the St. Louis media discussing local music issues and for four years hosted his own music video program. The popularity of Spotlight magazine grew and became Bob's primary business for 10 years.

Rockpress Publishing liked one of Bob's book ideas and published 101 Ways to Make Money in the Music Business in 1993. (He's often joked that his next book should be titled 1,001 Ways to Lose Money in the Music Business.) Being a published author got Bob excited about information publishing.

He started writing a regular column in his magazine filled with tips that musicians could use to promote themselves better. He offered the column to other music magazines around the U.S. The book and the columns allowed Bob to get his message to a national and international audience.

From Real World to Web World

From 1993 to 1997, Bob also served as director of the St. Louis Regional Music Showcase, the annual music conference he founded. Once a year for five years, more than 100 artists from a 10-state region convened in St. Louis for three nights of showcases and two days of industry workshops. Organizing the annual event became one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of Bob's life.

In 1994, Bob signed up for an AOL account and joined the wired world. He soon started publishing an e-mail newsletter filled with his music marketing tips -- one of the first e-zines of its kind on the Internet. Some time later The Buzz Factor web site was launched and Bob was hooked on the potential of the Net.

Bob put Spotlight magazine to rest in 1997 and has since been pouring his energies into writing and marketing his indie music marketing expertise. Over the years he has self-published a number of how-to titles, including his bestselling book Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook (which made an appearance in the major motion picture The School of Rock, starring Jack Black).

Onward and Upward

Bob has been a panelist at SXSW and the Nashville New Music Conference. He's been featured in Music Connection, VIBE, American Songwriter, Canadian Musician and Electronic Musician magazines, among others.

In more recent years, Bob has cranked out several new books, reports and audio programs, including MySpace Music Marketing, and Guerrilla Music Marketing, Encore Edition, Unleash the Artist Within, and Branding Yourself Online

In addition to writing and presenting workshops, today Bob enjoys life with his girlfriend, Pooki, and his daughter, Kelli-Rae. He serves as president of the St. Louis Publishers Association, and continues to write and perform music as much as time allows. Curious about what Bob's music sounds like? Take a listen to his old band, Roomful of Jimmys.