In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Secrets In Stereo 2 Years + No Live Shows = $97,000 – Part VI

Josh Ryan

Here I go again….  It’s Part 6 in my 1,000 True Fans series.

For this installment I asked my new friends at Sorted Noise in Nashville to introduce me to some of their artists who are doing it right.  I am happy that they introduced me to Josh Ryan. Josh fronts the group Secrets in Stereo and in just two years has made some impressive inroads by using social media (blogs) to bond with a tight knit community of fans who support him. What is interesting about Josh is the fact that he makes a lion’s share of his money from TV/Film placements and not from live shows.

Ariel Hyatt: Do you believe that 1,000 true fans is a theory that can work?

Josh Ryan: (quoting directly from the article) “Someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work.”

Then, geez…absolutely.  Obviously, this means that it’s the artist’s responsibility to continue to crank out content, and give them something to buy.  And I think (as you are finding out with previous “In Defense” interviews) the number is much lower than 1,000 for a solo artist because of the low overhead.  Although I write, record, and promote under a band name, I’m actually a one man show.  So, this applies to my situation. (more…)


Get Paid in 2010

Want To Increase Your Bottom Line? Focus On Your Fans!

moneymaking1Its here! A whole new Decade :)

Paying attention to this article could be the difference between you making a little money off of your music in the New Year vs. making A LOT of money!

All of the current news surrounding the music business is bad news. Music industry professionals are getting laid off left and right and CD sales continue to drop.

But I think that this is a very exciting time to come up with some alternatives and some offerings for your core fanbase that could make you a lot more money. (more…)


Indie Max 100: Category 7 – Making Money

89: Consider Fan Financed Recordings/Projects

As the fan base grows, so does their desire to see an artist succeed. Last year, Shane wanted to record and went out to the fans for support. See This effort raised just over $34,000 in just 60 days.
- Michele Samuel

90: Start Your Own Subscription Service

In October of 2008 I started my own subscription service- -with no clue whether the fans would like it or not. Part of the offerings were two new songs and one live concert recording every month. It seemed like a tall order to me, but something I could accomplish. Little did I realize that new releases every two weeks would be better than any good album reviews or press coverage. Giving my fans something new to talk about every two weeks meant exactly that: they talk about me every two weeks. They’re not buying an album, raving about it, and losing interest after a few months, they’re constantly spreading my name to their Twitter followers, coworkers, pets, etc. Regular delivery of quality material is damn near my one-step panacea for the whole industry.
- Matthew Ebel

91: Legally Record & Sell Cover Tunes

Singer/songwriter Steve Acho realized that fans who love a particular song will often collect other versions of the favorites. After getting the proper publishing licenses, he would record new arrangements of songs popular by various artists, and release them on iTunes via TuneCore. When a song-collecting fan enjoyed one of his tunes, they would often also buy his originals.
- Carla Lynne Hall

92: TV/Film/Game Licensing – aka SYNCH Licensing

The Billboard Maximum 100 article was ba-na-nas off base overall, but they were on the right track with Synch Licensing. If you own the copyrights of your music (if you don’t, you’re a complete moron, leave the music business now) placements of your music in TV/Film/Games is a vital part of your long-term financial success. There are about 900,000 shows besides Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl that need music, and there’s no reason why your music can’t be the right pick. As you dive into these waters, remember two things: THEY need YOU, and a Music Supervisor needs the right song for their show more than they need a household name singing it.|
- Phil Putnam

93: Sign With More Than One Licensing Agency

Licensing Agencies have relationships with TV/Film production companies and work to get their clients’ music placed in TV shows and films. The beauty of this is that a contract with a Licensing Agency is non-exclusive, according to current industry standard. That means you can sign with a few agencies and have them all working to place your music. It may add some more work for you on the admin side, but can payoff on the paycheck side. Note, however, that standard cut for the Licensing Agency is 50%, so if you can get placements without them, do it. And never sign an exclusive Licensing contract.
- Phil Putnam

94: Create iMixes at iTunes & Sell More Music

With artists that compliment your music and artists you get compared to. Add in some top sellers as well to ensure popular music buying choices are in your iMix. The key here is: include your music. This will be putting you exactly where you want to be: in harm’s way! Online where people have their credit cards out and are ready to buy music.
- Ariel Hyatt

Jazz guitarist Cameron Mizell developed a technique of creating iTunes iMixes that featured one song of his among other songs in his genre. iMix lovers would discover his tunes, and buy them as well.
- Carla Lynne Hall

95: Make Merchandise for $0

Sell merch for free, and make money on every sale

With sites like,, and, you can upload pictures that can be printed on all sorts of merch. The stores are available for free, and you’ll make money each time a fan makes a purchase. You can use sites like this to find out what designs are the most popular in case you want to do a mass printing to have an inventory of your own to bring to shows.
- Randy Chertkow

96: Let Fans Pay What They Want

Stop setting prices at shows for your merch, unless you already have a huge ‘brand’. Most fans are either buying memorabilia from the event to mark that they were there, or they are donating to support the band. Don’t put a price ceiling on them by limiting them. Let them pay what they want for that t-shirt and you will be rewarded with more money.
- Jed Carlson

97: Learn Tom Jackson’s Live Music Methods & Sell More Merch

Just like you learned how to play and sing, there are techniques and tools/ gear, theories, and concepts that make a great performer. I’ve seen Tom in action and I have interviewed artists who are making more money from merch sales at live shows directly by implementing Tom’s teachings. Everyone is scratching their heads trying to figure out what will make them money and Tom Jackson will make you more money.
- Ariel Hyatt

98: Keep Detailed Financial Records

If you aren’t keeping stock of what expenditures got you a worthwhile return you will run out of money even quicker than most.
- Rick Goetz

99: Invest in Your Own Career to The Best of Your Ability

You need to spend a certain amount of money to appear professional so while bartering is encouraged if you have big gaping holes in your marketing material or image – spend the money on yourself. Be it a professional website, a well written bio, professional sounding recordings, quality press photos etc.
- Rick Goetz

100: Be Like Amanda Palmer: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Money

Singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer had a major deal that was doing nothing for her, so she took matters into her own fans. By announcing impromptu all ages shows on Twitter, she found that her fans were willing to come out on short notice to hear her play, buy her CDs, and eat cake. She then began whipping her 30K+ twitter followers, aka “the losers of friday night on their computers” into a frenzy. She created a hand-designed t-shirt in real-time which made $11,000.00 in a matter of days. She followed that up with a webcast auction, and a twitter donation-only gig, which brought her month’s income to $19,000.00

Amanda wrote an inspiring blog post about this topic here:
- Carla Lynne Hall

Return to Main Page

1 Comment

Money – Change Your Outlook Around Money

Money BagMost bands and artists have to reckon with the moneymaking part of making music for a living. I have had countless conversations with musicians who are struggling to earn a living from making music exclusively and with the “new” music business it’s everybody’s guess how exactly to earn money with CD sales at record lows. Last May, a friend turned me on to an extraordinary book called Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind which has dramatically altered the way I think about and earn money. This book discusses strategies to increase your Income and change your way of thinking about money and your money “blueprint.”

Since all bands and artists are entrepreneurs just like I am, I want to share this wonderful book with you. If you are interested in receiving this book, please send me your mailing address, and I will send you a free copy (first 5 people that respond to my email).

This book led me to a seminar that the author puts on called Guerilla Business School and in February I spent 5 days in Orlando getting a crash course in business fundamentals.

Spend 40% of Your Time on Marketing & Sales

The most important thing that they drove home (which really struck me as a great tip for musicians) is in order to be successful in ANY business you need to spend 40% of your energy on sales and marketing, 30% on product, and 30% on operations. And the ONLY time you ever get paid is as a direct result of sales and marketing (think about it) I know all musicians want to do is spend time practicing and writing music BUT the reality is you have to spend real time on marketing and sales. In summation: rich people spend their time on sales and poor people spend their time on operations.

So a great exercise I suggest for you to do is visualize how much time you are really spending on sales and marketing, and if it’s less than 40% of your energy make a list of 5 things you can do right now to beef up your sales and marketing time!

Some notes compiled from panel discussions at PODCAMP NYC, and The Folk Alliance:

A wonderful panel called “Getting the Most Out of the Internet” took place at The Folk Alliance conference and here are the highlights that struck me:

Put Your Music in Many Formats All Over the ‘Net

People want their music their way. As technology gets faster and faster more options are available to listeners each day. Within the next 2 years it will be commonplace to hear MP3s on all cell phones, web streams will greatly improve, and Podcasts will become more commonplace, and you need to be in charge of how you get your music out there and getting out to as many outlets as possible.

Internet Radio – Internet radio is still in its very early stages and there will be more extensions for local devices developing every year. In the future, there will be much more reach for Internet radio and the Internet will roll out over wireless networks and Internet radio will be available in places we never thought possible. – A lot of artists are annoyed that Amazon takes too much of a percentage, but please know that many, many people exclusively buy music on Amazon and no where else so make it your business to have some product available at

So, have your music in as many different places as possible. Unless you have name recognition, no one is going to visit your website. So, you need to get out there onto other music websites and make it available for purchase in as many places as possible.

Music on Your Website

You should definitely have your music on your website, on your home page where it is easy to find it (If you don’t have a link to a player put a link to your MySpace page where people can get at it from the home page). If you are going to put a player on your site, I suggest putting a button that says “listen to my music” with a player. This way that when visitors press it they can play your music as they choose. Never, ever have your music play when people land on your page because they could be checking out your site from work and it won’t be good for them.

Build a Cell Phone E-Mail List

This tip was a great nugget! – At your gigs, before you start playing ask your audience to shut off their cell phones, but before they do this have them text your cell phone their SMS / Mobile # and information.

After the gig, you can capture their cell phone numbers and create a list for each market, and the next time you’re coming through an area, you can e-mail them your upcoming show directly to their cell phones.

Start a Blog

It’s a great way to engage your fans, get linked up to the net and keep yourself FRESH in everyone’s eyes. Go Here:

Consider Recording Podcasts

You already have a home studio and you know how to record – this is half your battle! Create interesting fresh content (even if it’s only a few minutes per week) and distribute your podcast around the net. Interview other bands that you play with and like or include interviews with friends, mentors, other artists and let them help you promote your podcast to their fan lists (it’s like a built-in endorsement). Link your podcasts to your blog and RSS feed them to the World!

If you have no idea what in the heck I’m talking about a GREAT place to educate yourself is on my friend Jason Van Orden’s fab website:

Learn how to podcast and blog to establish thought leadership, extend your brand and engage your target market from podcasting consultant and author, and Jason was in a touring band for years – so he understands your needs and explains everything in English. He explained Podcasting to my mother at Podcamp NYC, and she actually understood him perfectly. Trust me, that was no mean feat!