What is Music Success in Nine Weeks? The title of a book? A mindset? A road map for a golden path to marketing enlightenment for musicians? Or is it just a marketing gimmick to get musicians to blog and talk about Ariel Publicity and CyberPR? I feel the answer is yes to all of the above in varying percentages. But most certainly I do think it is a great tool box for the entrepreneurial musician. And, as with any self-help book, it all depends on the point of view of the reader and whether or not the reader has the fortitude to apply the teaching the book offers.
I first picked up Music Success in Nine Weeks (MSi9W) in the Fall of 2009 because I was searching for answers to my questions about how to focus my songwriting and performance efforts. I wanted to create a sustaining cash flow from performing and from my songwriting. I just needed guidance. When I got the book I was also starting one-on-one coaching sessions with Debra Russell, so I put the MSi9W book aside and concentrated on the actions my coach was giving me for my performing as well as for my studio business (Blue Cave Studios).
Fast forward to June 2010. I had just finished 6 months of coaching with Debra Russell, learned a ton of stuff about business/marketing/personal-focus and felt I was ready to apply my nascent skills in the real world. That’s when I saw a Twitter post from Carla Lynn Hall about the new MSi9W challenge and figured since I already owned the book, why not jump in? I thought that perhaps in doing the challenge I could focus what I had already learned from my coach to an even tighter beam. Plus I was getting out of school (I’m a public school teacher) and would have the whole summer to devote to applying what I learned from Debra and what I was about to learn from MSi9W and Ariel Hyatt.
What I Learned
The material in MSi9W held no real surprises for me and I was already aware of much of the information that was covered. That said, I still found a treasure trove of info-bits that I added to what I did know. One thing I found to be helpful was to go over the material as a way of check-listing myself and shoring up some of the loose ends that I had in my marketing plans, web presence and social media strategies.
I really liked Ariel’s approach to presenting the material. It was methodical and step-by-step which made it easy to follow and check-off progress. My web presence and marketing ideas were reinforced from going through this challenge and I added to what I had in place by applying concepts that Ariel suggested. I gained a new appreciation of social media’s subtle power and how it can enhance an artist’s ability to get the word out.
Results and What I Gained from the MSi9W Challenge
So what results did I have from spending 9 weeks of my summer vacation blogging about MSi9W? Let’s go chapter by chapter.
Week 1 – Goals
I set 2 month goals, 12 month goals, music-career goals, 12 month money goals and Lifetime intentions and goals. That in and of itself is an accomplishment, but lets focus on the 2 month goals. I put the results in BOLD under the stated goal:
- 25 new people on my email list by 9/5/10
- signed up 40 new fans
- 1 print or radio interview by 9/5/10
- got a print story in a local paper in Cleveland when I was on tour
- 3 new songs written by 9/5/10
- finished 2 and have one just about finished
- 5 songs demo-ed by 9/5/10
- 4 songs in the can (finishing the last one this week)
- Book 4 gigs in 4 states by 9/5/10
- booked 2 and I’m still talking to another, but only 1 state
- purchase a new PA by 9/5/10
- decided to wait due to financial considerations, but I did research
Week 2 – Pitch
I did have a pitch, but this chapter made me think about adding to it and then putting it all on a business card. I did not have a “Darryl The Performer” card until now. I had one for my studio, but not as a performer.
Result = new pitch + new business card.
Week 3 – Optimizing the website and web presence
This chapter made me look at all of the places I had a web presence and making them look consistent.
Result = Twitter, Facebook, Website all have the same or similar colors and photos plus the pitch.
Weeks 4 & 5 – Social Media, Blogging and Podcasting
In this week I gathered a working list of bloggers and podcasters that I can build a relationship with and comment on.
Result = in less than a week I had my music played on two podcasts and I have been reading and commenting on a few blogs.
I amped up my use of Twitter and Tumblr.
Result = new fans in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and a referral for my studio ($$).
Week 6 – Newseltter and Fan Communication
In this week I added more calls to action in my newsletter by asking readers to get involved in my next CD. I also recommend music of other artists to my list and give them an insight into what I’m doing beyond my music.
Result = fans have been telling me of their anticipation to hear new tracks – I’m creating a buzz!
Week 7 – Building the List
I used strategies from the this chapter to get more names onto the list.
Result = new 40 people during the 9-weeks.
Week 8 – Networking
These are the strategies I took away from this chapter:
- Be a Listener
- Know What to Ask For
- Be a Gatherer
- Have a Plan ~ Be Prepared
- Follow Up
Result = new sign-ups for my list, a gig that paid $200 for playing 2 songs, another new venue to play in Cleveland, a new way of approaching events with a strategy and a goal.
Week 9 – Creating a Sales Funnel
I write music and perform songs. Not enough! This chapter got me to start thinking outside of the standard box.
Result = 8 new ideas of how to repackage my music.
What was the BIG TAKEAWAY?
For me the big takeaway was the holy trinity of Product, List and Relationship. First of all you need good songs/stage-show/musicianship. Then you need a list of people who want that product. Then you need to develop relationships with the people on your list so that it grows and consequently grows your business.
The other big takeaway from Music Success in Nine Weeks and from Debra Russell is that this takes time and consistent work. Goals take time and scheduling. Building a list and developing relationships through a newsletter and social media takes time and consistent work. None of this happens overnight even though fans may think so. It’s a business. It’s a process.
How Will I Use This Book In The Future?
I feel that Ariel wrote this book so that it functions on different levels. First it is a basic guide for those artists just starting in the world of marketing, social media and fan relationship building. I can see this as a primer for her new PR clients: “Here, read this and then I can help you…”. It’s also a jumping off point for those indie artists that need that extra push to find the niche that they belong in. I feel that this is where I am, and I will definitely keep referring to this book and checking in on the message boards in Ariel’s mastermind site to keep on the right track.
I will recommend this book to my artist friends but it definitely needs to be supplemented with other business books and music marketing books. This is a basic beginning to a world that is constantly changing. Between the time I had purchased my copy of MSi9W and when I started the MSi9W challenge, Ariel had put out a 2nd Edition due in part to the changing landscape that the book was addressing.
I just want to say thanks to Ariel, Carla and the rest of the artists who took part in the challenge. I was inspired by the blog posts and the messages on the mastermind site. For those of you about to take the challenge, if you make it through to week 9 you’ve definitely won more than a PR campaign. I plan to put my blog posts into an eBook format so that those who plan to read the book can benefit from the insights I gained from doing the challenge. I hope it helps.