Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

November 26, 2008

Recalibrate Your Music Career

The writing has been on the wall for years. But it's amazing how many people are still stuck on the old ways and outdated paths to music success -- they need to impress gatekeepers, they need massive radio and media exposure, they need to sell out stadiums, yada yada, blah blah.

For a little insight into this, check out the latest rant from the ever opinionated Bob Lefsetz. The thing I like about him is that he's polarizing. You either love him or hate him. And when it comes to his take on the state of the music business, I am definitely a member of the choir he's preaching to.

Here are some gems from his Nov 24 post, called "It's 1968 All Over Again":

It's time to recalibrate. Don't even worry about hits. Uniqueness plays to your advantage. It's about growing your niche to the point it can support you.

Focus on how you can keep your core satiated, how you can grow that core, not how you can leapfrog into major media exposure.

It's not about impressing the gatekeepers, but making sure your audience has enough music to listen to, to pass along.

It doesn't pay to spend a fortune to reach an ever-shrinking audience of singles buyers. What you need is a higher price point. You need fans to generate revenue from multiple streams.

Amen to that, brother!

Wake up and smell the gigabytes. Today it's about serving your audience -- which, by the way, does NOT include everybody.

Today it's about finding the intersection where your style, substance and talent overlaps with a particular slice of the music enthusiast population.

Today it's about growing a core audience of true fans who will enjoy and support you, and will spread the word to their friends.

Read Lefsetz entire post. Absorb the articles, podcasts, videos, and music resources on this site.

Then get busy honing your sound and connecting with your core audience!



posted by Bob Baker @ 10:40 AM   11 comments


At Nov 26, 2008 1:01:00 PM, Anonymous Will said...

Musicians need to think of other things to sell than just the songs or playing bars for free beer or chump change. Like teaching an instrument online, create a singing, drumming, etc course and sell it online. Or an exclusive members-only area with behind the scenes video, songwriting sessions, etc.
You need to make a clear offer and don't be afraid to charge for the offering.

At Nov 26, 2008 1:56:00 PM, Anonymous Music, Websites and Marketing said...

Thanks Bob for once again providing another very useful and informative post that validates the need for musicians to be self reliant!


At Nov 28, 2008 9:42:00 AM, Anonymous Geert Fieuw/beyondthelabyrinth said...

With the kind of music my band , Beyond The Labyrinth ( plays, we're quite unique.
And let me tell you : we approach the "market" by all means. Because we have an audience that still buys CD's and is only discovering iTunes, we have had to take on a dual approach : CD's and an indepth website for those who prefer a classic approach, downloads and myspace for the "contemporary" approach.
We diversify : not only regular T-shirts, but girlies and kids T-shirts as well - our audience is already older, has XXL or even XXXL size and/or kids.
"Thank you" cards, posters ... not to mention that the first run of the new "Castles in the Sand" album was "pre-order and get your name in the packaging" - it's a limited edition digipak where the true fans can find their name !

National Radio airplay can still be an asset, even if they have some limitative lists. We add to that a massive call to action to the fans "Support the band by requesting our music", in collaboration with fellow band Doncker ( and for that we even combined the foreces of both street teams.
For the man-in-the-street it is a reference that the music - even be it only once - is played on national radio, and it beats local radio stations in efficiƫncy - but we know each and every radio show host in the style - mostly on a first-name basis

For gigs, we decided that we were going to be slightly more exclusive : a good point for organisers as well, because we avoid overexposure and overkill.

Geert/Beyond The Labyrinth

At Nov 28, 2008 10:55:00 AM, Anonymous corey said...

Hey Bob--Thanks for turning me on to this guy. His advice is great...very are you.


Corey TuT

At Nov 28, 2008 2:27:00 PM, Anonymous KleerStreem Entertainment said...

Thanks Bob for more great free advice.

Concerning fans: You label them 'true fans', my label is 'true blue fans'. All fans are great, but, those that allow you to do music full time are 'The True Blue Fans'. These are the ones that will purchase your merchandise & come out to your shows when you are in their area. All the other fans are great, but, the True Blue Fans are the ones that have connected with you, your band, and your music & show their support & appreciation by spending their hard earned money on your shows, your music & your merchandise & they consistently tell others about you & always bring new people to your shows.

Have a great holidays.

KleerStreem Entertainment
Dallas, Tx.

PS: Please bring one of your seminars to either Dallas or Austin.

At Nov 28, 2008 6:38:00 PM, Anonymous Robert Sutherland said...

Wow, that is some really good advice. Everything kind of fits together now. I can now stop side tracking and go for the finish line. Thanks Bob!

At Nov 28, 2008 7:56:00 PM, Anonymous stinson said...

hey bob-

i love lefsetz's blog. i'm definitely a member of the choir he's preaching to as well. i'm part of a team that manages a couple of artists, and what you quoted from the lefsetz post is exactly the plan we are executing.

i have seen a lot of talk on the internet this month about the importance of artists having multiple revenue streams. every time this discussion crops up, i think of nine inch nails, and their clever business model.

At Nov 29, 2008 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Luigi Cappel said...

As always lots of great advice, Bob. I guess a key difference is that we now have a reach to a huge base of potential fans on the web. With hundreds of millions of people on the net, finding a few thousand fans shouldn't be hard at all.

At Dec 1, 2008 11:28:00 AM, Anonymous Lee Jarvis said...

Hey Bob, nice post, definitely ties in with the Niche marketing lessons ;)

Will check out Lefsetz's blog now, thanks for the heads up!


At Dec 2, 2008 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Sam Bhattacharya said...

I am completely sold on the true fans idea. It's basically what people have referred to as "hardcore fans" for many years.

I've been a hardcore fan of bands like Rush and Led Zeppelin for decades. Ever since I came across Bob Baker's web site, this is the kind of relationship I've tried to foster with my own customers. I like the results I've gotten so far. :-)

At Dec 4, 2008 10:13:00 PM, Anonymous Jamie Marino said...

Hey Bob,

Thanks for the posting; it is a great supplement to the other Berklee course materials and reinforces all of the changes that have taken place in the musical landscape in recent years.

There are clearly more mediums for producing music and connecting with fans than ever before, but even before the rise of social networking sites and personal computer based production programs, artists were utilizing targeted niche marketing.

In an age inundated with media hyped "American Idol" overnight success stories, few people recall that even mega-stars, for the most part, started out playing small local clubs, personally working the room to get people on mailing lists, and doing appearances on college radio stations. By gathering these small, loyal groups of fans, they were able to garner attention from larger and more influential industry insiders and become the mainstream successes we know.

Unfortunately once that level is reached too many of them forget what a smaller band of hard core fans (the true fans as you say) can do and they lose that aspect of personal connection by trying to appeal to everyone.

A marketing professor of mine once said "There is one thing that appeals to everyone: breathing, but who ever notices to appreciate it?" If musicians and marketers don't take the time to forge personal connections with specific core groups they may be heard by a lot of people, but they won't leave a lasting impression. In a time when it is easier than ever to make and market music (saturation of the market) that is the defining aspect of success or failure, in my opinion. Of course the music shouldn't suck either ;)

Talk to you on Monday!


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