Vote for My Ignite Detroit 2 Presentation Topic on Personal Branding

Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

Taking a break from our regularly-scheduled program, I must ask a favor of all my readers, no matter where you are. I have prepared an entry for a presentation competition called Ignite. As some of you may remember, I wrote a piece about a lesson we can learn from the first line that many of us ever heard uttered by the rapper known as Vanilla Ice. My preoccupation with the former pop star has extended to watching his failed biopic – Cool as Ice – which generated new educational fodder. This time, I want to present it to a live audience.

All I need for you to do is go to my Ignite Detroit 2 voting page and lend me up to THREE (3) votes, which is the maximum that you can offer to one topic. If I get picked to showcase, I will be sure to write up a post to let you know where you can watch it on the web. To make this easier, just use this link – – then share with some friends and them to do the same. I appreciate it.

For more information about Ignite Detroit 2 at Sound Board in the Motor City Casino Hotel  (which is going to be sweet, by the way), go to


Peer Pressure Cooker™

A Lesson Learned From Managing a Music Marketing Campaign

Your band’s album has been mixed and mastered.

All the creative design elements have been finalized and accepted.

You know you need an optimized website built for lead generation.

You plot to use your social channels to drive potential fans to the website either through a free song or a new video.

Obviously, you are not going to get fans without help, so you start by engaging your friends and family.

The reception for your feature media piece is well-received. It starts to get shared a bit.

As the e-mail list grows, you get excited. Things seem to be working.

Then you realize something. This is going to be more difficult than you thought.

No Matter How Much You Plan, Some Things Will Be Out of Your Control

Since late in 2010, I have been in consulting mode with a Detroit hip hop duo (D. Allie and Eddie Logix) by the name of Progress Report. It is not something of a novelty that I consult music acts, but I try my best to be sparing with my time. When I do decide to dedicate significant time, it usually means the act is special.

What made Progress Report special to me was simple. I was shown a investor proposal. In all my years being around musicians, I never knew any artist to have a business plan. This is not to say that artists do not write business plans. I just had not seen one in my young life.

The investor proposal was enough to intrigue me into dedicating a considerable amount of ideas, time and energy into seeing Progress Report have a successful launch of their debut record. The duo has put in even more time and energy, which has kept me motivated. As a young business owner, I made it a point to coach the guys into seeing what they were doing was a part of running a business. They made a product that they want to sell, so they needed to do things in a manner that will present value to the desired consumer. Fortunately, this was never a hard sell.

it is all in the details

In preparation for Progress Report’s debut releases, we did the following:

From these bullets, you would think we were textbook winning. I am here to tell you that while we have been doing okay there is still that layer of uncertainty that we all know. Being in the belly of the beast [admittedly for the actual first time], I have learned you rarely can plan something perfectly.

This might sound trite, but truth is truth. The dates I had down in spreadsheets, Post-it notes and moleskins were not scripture. The process I had envisioned became a clouded silhouette. If we were not so determined, this project could have easily been derailed. Luckily, our egos were in check and we were malleable to the situation.

We circumvented every slight setback and powered through each obstacle. We had to change CD replication companies. Our press goals had to be adjusted. The website is still a work-in-progress. The contest did not happen as announced. At the end of the day though, we still had an album that has been mixed and mastered for almost a year. It was time for it to be available to the world, so we made due with what we were able to manage.

Sure, I could say we just needed more time, but we needed to go ahead and do this. Honestly, I guarantee we would still have had snags. It is just the way it is. I needed this experience to see how things really work. It was time to put the books away and go to work. I am all the better for it.

What is your most cherished lesson from running a campaign for a music project? Please share with me in the comments.

Want an Affordable, EFFECTIVE Music Website? Ask These Questions

The Musician’s Guide to Affordable Effective Websites is a recent post on Ariel Publicity that that struck a chord. While there was nothing that was necessarily wrong with it, the air around it does not quite sit well. Sure, if you do not have thousands of dollars of accessible funds for the purposes of advancing your music career, you will look for the cost-effective solutions to doing so. That is smart. That said, you should invest as much as you can to get the best result.

It is not going to be constructive to facilitate an argument discuss the importance of using artists premium products for business purposes. Instead it is best to just add to the advice that has been presented by Ariel Publicity. You have been given 7 reasons why you should have your own music website, so it only makes sense that line of education should be continued.

If you do not have even an indie label budget to afford the development of a professional website, then you should figure out exactly what you truly need in a website. When it comes to web design, simpler is usually better. The less distraction you attach to the web experience, the likelier you will be able to achieve a certain reaction from site visitors. Without further ado, here are a set of questions you should answer before you begin to explore any affordable, effective music website option.

Who do I expect to visit my site?

When you build it, your friends, family and acquaintances will come. Knowing that, it makes sense to make it easy to help them spread the word about your website. Consider using a service like LaunchRock to build your e-mail subscriber list. When you launch your actual website, equip the site with Facebook and Twitter share buttons for key pages. The goal should be to drive new visitors to your site and your existing network is your best resource to get affordable, effective help.

Upon first visit, what do I want a new visitor to do?

If you have a hard time answering the previous question, try:

What is most important for a new visitor to do? Listen to music? Sign-up for your informational newsletter? Buy your new single?

When you ask these questions, you will have a good basis for what you need from your website. When it comes to building a new brand, it is always best to use the KISS method when dispensing communication. Before you go and create the same standard music website that everyone seems to make that do not drive action, take some time to ask the above questions. You will be glad you did.

Do you know what you need in a website? I can help you with an affordable, effective music website. Contact me!

WordPress vs Tumblr – Which is Better for Musicians?

Image by Julia Roy via Flickr

It goes without saying that Tumblr has been gaining in popularity recently. Many of the (micro)blogging platform’s users swear by it for its simplicity and snazzy themes, most of which are available for free. WordPress has been a favorite for the majority of people have self-hosted blog websites. That is why it makes sense to do a comparison to give you a good idea, which is the best option for the serious music act. It is my opinion that both should be used, but the strategies for usage should be different.

For my Tumblr site (, I used to have Shelf (affiliate link). As I like to lead by example, please do not expect to be impressed by my posts. I have gone back to the drawing board with my usage of Tumblr. I hope that my explanation of the pros and cons for both WordPress and Tumblr will be helpful to us both in figuring out how to best use the services.

Which is Better for Musicians?

WordPress (.com or self-hosted)


  • Easy to use
  • Open source (self-hosted)
  • Thousands of themes for a customized look or feel
  • Thousands of plugins to do just about anything you can imagine
  • Tons of support from web hosts


  • If you are not web savvy, there may be some headache in getting acclimated
  • Similar to maintaining a home, it takes work



  • Ease of Use
  • Social Connectivity
  • Content Feed
  • Mobile-Friendly
  • Ask Function
  • Growing Community / Popular


  • Not open source
  • Goes down constantly
  • Sharing and comment features are awkward

WordPress vs Tumblr – The Final Verdict

If you are just starting out with your first website and you are new to things like blogging, then Tumblr is a great training option. Tumblr will get you in the habit of engaging with other micro-bloggers, which may acclimate you in an addictive way. It will spoil you with having everything in one nice dashboard. When you realize you need to optimize your site to build an e-mail list or have a place for your electronic press kit, then you will have outgrown Tumblr.

WordPress is great as an all-around website option. You may need to hire someone to help you build your ideal site, but the investment will be worth it. The potential for your site will be endless and if you pick the right web hosting company, then your site will rarely go down like with Tumblr.

For well-built WordPress and Tumblr themes, consider Theme Foundry. Tell them Hubert Sawyers III sent you!

Simple Content Strategy for Musicians

Image via Wikipedia

I want to thank Saron “Sean Uppercut of Detroit CYDI” Dier for the inspiration of this piece.

Music. Marketing. Social Media. Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Blogging. RSS feeds. Viral. Insert buzzword here.

When taking the plunge into the sinkhole that is Internet, it will get overwhelming if you are not properly equipped. You need a map, a flashlight and possibly a hard hat.

This does not mean there is not an easier way to deal with the inevitable evil that is marketing your music online. You just need to learn how to simplify things, so without further ado, let’s get to the advice you came to get.

If you plan to have a music career, then you need to consider this simple content strategy for musicians when approaching your craft. Now depending on where you are in your creative process, you may be able to skip a few stages.

Note: this is more of a plan than an actual strategy. Going through these stages though will help you plot a proper strategy when it comes time to marketing the music and supplementary content that you make because of it.

Stage One – Set SMART Goals for Content Creation

That’s right. It is best to know where you want to go before you get started. This is not to say you can control what kind of music you will make, but you can control how much you would like to make and when you plan to get it done. We all believe we are just creative geniuses, but you know that if you leave it up to good old Inspiration to get working, you may not even punch-in.

Stage Two – Create Content Within SMART Timeframe

Have at it. Make all the music you can. Make sure you record the process with cameras and with journal entries. Go crazy and post occasional tweets and Facebook updates about your work as well. Your SMART goals should guide you on your bare minimum, by the way.

Stage Three – Access Content After Deadline

Time is up. What do you have? Is there an album in all the tracks you recorded? Are there multiple projects?

Use this period to figure out what you made and what you can do with it. Try not to forsake these efforts. If you thought everything was bad, why did you wait until the deadline to decide that? To avoid doing that, set periodic mini-assessment times to go over what you are making. Better yet, stop being so hard on yourself.

Stage Three point Five – Create Supplementary Content to Finish Projects

You might realize that you almost have enough for a full album or there are a few songs that need tweaking. Take this time to tackle that and also add any supplementary content that you can distribute with the main material you created. This includes music videos, remixes, photo shoots, etc.

Stage Four – Develop Marketing / Engagement Strategy

Your project is done. You now need to figure out how to market it. The best way to do this is considering who your ideal consumer (read: FAN) will be and establish how you envision reaching them. This is where you get specific on where the content will go and how you plan to deliver it.

Need help coming up with a clever strategy? I am here to help.

Stage Five – Implement Marketing / Engagement Strategy

Do what the title says.

Stage Six – Access Results of Engagement Plan

This is the part where the instructions go, “Rinse. Go Back to Stage Four and Repeat.”

Actually, you should monitor your results throughout the process to make adjustments, but when you are done, do a final review. Establish what worked and what did not. This will help you when you go back to Stage One and do it all over again.

Content Strategy Simplied – Plan, Create, Assess, Plan, Market

In short, the simple way to an effective content strategy is make your content first within a certain timeframe, then examine what you have. When you have made sense of what you made, then you can finally develop and implement a marketing strategy.

It really does not do any good to ponder creative business activity when you are trying to be creative musically. Some might say it ruins the sauce. Regardless of that, it is best to focus on doing one thing really well. That does not mean you cannot stay in touch with your fans or build new relationships, just know there should not be a major business focus to it.