The Hot Seat: Marcus Taylor, Founder and Editor, The Musician’s Guide

Published in The Music Network


What compelled you to set up The Musicians Guide?

I ran Starharbour Records until late 2009. I identified that I didn’t really enjoy managing the artists but really got involved in the marketing side. I wanted to help musicians learning about marketing, and transfer all that knowledge. So I wrote The Musicians Guide. It’s such a constantly-changing environment, so I then took that one step further with the website and blog. Our readers are mostly proactive musicians. In terms of geographic, the US and UK are our hot areas.

What are the most commonly asked questions?

It’s frustrating, but I’m most often asked how to get signed to a record label. You can put the information out there, but you don’t really want to go down that route in this day and age. As an artist, you really want to be learning about the DIY approach. If a musician is proactive enough, why not go all the way.

Should artists even care about signing to labels anymore?

Record labels still have a place, but in my opinion there is very little benefit now. Technologies are now so advanced, it’s just as easy to do it yourself. The only downside is, to be a successful DIY musician you have to be incredibly proactive and incredibly willing to educate yourself in the whole field of music promotion. It’s not just about being a musician.

Perhaps the most important theme you drill into is how an artist can make a living from music.

We have to reconsider how we monetize the actual recording. Unless you have about 1,000 really loyal fans you shouldn’t be charging for your music, just because it’s so limiting. If you give your music out for free, you’ll get to the point of 1,000 incredibly loyal fans much quicker. When you’ve got an incredibly loyal fanbase, it becomes significantly easier to monetise that fanbase through other means, merch and gigs being the two most profitable areas.

What are your tips for online marketing?

When it comes to marketing videos on YouTube, I generally split it into two sections. Firstly, make sure the concept is really good. It needs to have share-ability, it must provoke an emotional trigger. Whether it’s really humorous, sad or makes you feel really happy, you need your video to convey some sort of emotional extreme.

As far as technical tips on gaming YouTube’s search engine to get your video more visibility, you need a basic understanding of SEO (search engine optimisation). It’s an amazingly valuable thing to learn. Ensure that your tags are as descriptive as possible. Also, use playlists and video responses to your advantage. If you create a playlist of say Jack Johnson and Ben Harper songs, then you might fit your songs somewhere in that playlist. When a fan is searching for their music, there’s a chance your work will come up as a related video.

You’re also big on time productivity and positive mindsets.

Everything is interconnected. If you have a positive mindset, you’re more likely to succeed as a musician. You’ll make clearer decisions and you’ll be more motivated to work harder and faster and educate yourself. In terms of time productivity, I hear a lot from musicians, ‘why should I spend two hours a day or week on marketing when we could be writing songs?’ There’s so much time wasted in the day that could be filled with learning about music marketing. When commuting, use that time by playing a music-marketing CD in the car. Consider, you might spend an hour on Facebook every day. That’s 365 hours a year, which is a few months working a full-time job. If you replace that thing you waste an hour each day with something productive, then you’ve devoted two months in a year to something that can further your music career.

What’s your tip on getting gigs?
Work out what it is that motivates any music venue. They want money, they want an artist that can pull a crowd, who will buy loads of beer and stick around. Contact venues, try to build a relationship and highlight as many of the real selling points. Come across professionally with a very good press pack, but call at the right time. And try to get a recommendation from someone. Go to gigs frequently and meet the performers. They’re the ones who know who to get in touch with.

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