The Only Way To Save Your Music Scene As A Musician

Photo by Amanda René Photography

Photo by Amanda René Photography

Here in Nashville, I try to stay as connected as I can to the music scene. I go out to see as many shows of different genres as I can. Because of that, I meet a lot of different artists and bands. I do pay special attention to the hip hop scene and also the electronic music scene, since those are the pockets that I mostly easily fit into myself as an artist. Within these two scenes, I’m often asked my thoughts on what we can all do to make the music scene better.

I try to entertain these discussions as best I can. However, I have experienced a philosophical shift in my own music scene beliefs. Let me explain. Here’s how most of these conversations go.

  • “Man, we need to have more unity!”
  • “We need to come together!”
  • “Artists need to support each other!”
  • “Venues need to book different artists!”

Maybe some of this is true. However, I think we’re missing the point. We’re especially missing it as artists, musicians, & DJs. In addition to the music scene here in town, this blog attracts a lot of DJs, rappers, musicians, bands, and producers. They all have similar questions about what software to use or how to get started & mainly how to impact their music scene immediately.

I try to answer whatever I can, but I think this is a great chance to sum up what I think is the greatest thing that you as an artist can do for your music scene.

You ready? This is the secret!

(This probably can extend beyond music scenes and just apply to life as well.)

The #1 thing I think all musicians, DJs, producers, rappers can do to change their music scene is…

Be Awesome.

That’s it. Change lives. Create an experience. Blow people away with your awesome awesomeness. Be freaking awesome.

Only after you are awesome will your music scene change. Let’s examine the artists’ cry for unity. When I hear that “artists need to support each other” I hear “they need to support ME.” When I hear that “venues need to book different artists,” these artists just mean “they need to book ME.” But all the unity, support, & promo in the world won’t help if the music, bands, or artists aren’t awesome.

Or if they suck.

And I didn’t say “Be mediocre.” Mediocre is everywhere. Don’t waste your time or other people’s time by doing the same thing everyone else is doing. I understand that this is subjective, so…

6 Ways Musicians Can Be More Awesome

I’ve been thinking about how I can apply this very simple yet complicated principle for my own life and my own music career. That’s right, this advice is for me too. No one is safe. No one is exempt. So few musicians, bands, & DJs do this; the ones who do will stand out very quickly.

I have come up with these after considering my time in the music scene here in Nashville (Music City) plus my time studying music business, and additionally my time on the road touring with Mutemath.


Make Awesome Music.

Yes, those other things absolutely matter, but only when you make the music as good as it can possibly be. If you have great music, than great branding, design, &social can give you a huge advantage and push you to the next level. It can help you stand out from the crowd and make it easier for you to become popular. But without great music, the best marketing, branding, or even meetups won’t matter at all.

quiet entertainer music

P.S. all my music is here. Click the pic 😉

I’m not saying you should start out without thinking of marketing. If you have time and resources to make videos, get merch, & get all the other stuff right, then do it all. But if you only have time to do one thing really well, there’s no question you should be focusing on your music.

The same goes for promotion. Once you’ve created something epic, you need to make sure other people find out about it. But if you really write awesome music. It won’t take much effort on your part to get the word out. Your new fans will do most of the work.

I’ve seen it happen here locally with people like Wick-It or Cherub or Mike Floss. Every time I’m tempted to get down in the dumps about how I am not getting the gigs I should get, then I have to look in the mirror and ask if I’m making awesome music.


Perform Awesomely Live.

Don’t mistake length of your set or how much time you put into it for how awesome something truly is. I’m sure you’ve seen the way-too-long-and-completely-boring sets out there. Awesome doesn’t necessarily mean long. It also doesn’t mean how many people are on stage at once. I’ve fallen into this trap before. Every time I’ve been inspired at a show, it’s because the performer showcased their skill in a way that no one else can. Blow people’s minds. Look at this KDSML video below. No one else can do this. So he stays booked. What can you do that no other performer can do?

 


Throw Awesome Shows.

I’m not even talking about your set anymore. I mean the experience you create at your shows. Are you booking your own shows to build credibility? Great. Now who is doing the show with you? What’s the vibe you’ll create? What’s the venue? Can people really hear your music there? Can they see you? Is it well lit? Is it a raised stage? Is it all ages? 21+? Can people easily park there? Do people need to BYOB?

Don’t make the mistake of trying to throw awesome shows without outside inspiration. Get out there and go see some shows. Get inspired yourself, then infect your music scene with that inspiration. Locally, This is Art does this very well. I’m going to see his show tonight.

 


Use Awesome Professionalism.

You might not have to be professional if you are strictly booking your own shows and they are all house parties and you never have to deal with people who are doing business. But chances are, you’re going to have to work with other people. I’ve found that in my own music career; it’s been much better to be courteous & on time whenever possible. Not only that but also if you’re in charge of a show, you have to make sure everyone knows what they’re expectation is. Let people know how long your set will be. If you don’t know, ask. Is it a paying gig? If you don’t know, ask. If you know it’s not paying, tell them. Do you not have a huge draw? Be realistic about the show expectations. Or be honest if you don’t plan on promoting. (Psst… why aren’t you promoting?)


Have an Awesome Web Presence.

We can’t be everywhere at once. Having a web presence is the next best thing. Do you have your own site? Your own place to let people know about shows? Your own spot to host your music? Your own place to spread your ideas? You can’t just rely on Facebook. What about other social media? Where are you? Where does your music scene hang out? You should be there. But really, it’s not the one social media site you’re using. It’s everything you’re doing.


Have an Awesome Mindset.

This is the one I struggle with the most. Yet it’s the most important and it’s the one from which all these others will spring. Your mindset will absolutely determine your actions. Your belief in yourself and your music scene will inform and inspire all the moves you make and also informs what the rest of your scene will do. It’s hard to try and get everyone on the same page about what you want to do for your music scene but then when you get together, all you do is complain. I’ve done this and I have seen this especially in hip hop and electronic music. Guilty as charged. No one wants to get behind cynicism. People only will get behind awesomeness.


The next time you start wondering why you aren’t getting tons of fans or people at your shows, the next time you wonder why no one is sharing your stuff, don’t start looking to Twitter or Facebook for the answer. Instead, start by asking yourself one simple question:

Am I being awesome?

A big thanks to Corbett Barr who inspired this post many years ago with an epic post of his own.

Follow me on Twitter @qentertainer

  1. Make Awesome Music
  2. Perform Awesomely Live
  3. Throw Awesome Shows
  4. Use Awesome Professionalism
  5. Have an Awesome Web Presence
  6. Have an Awesome Mindset

 

 

Quiet Entertainer Orchestra at FooBAR Too w/ Undiscover, Hobbledeions, and Rain

quiet entertainer orchestra  foobar nashville

The show is tonight! I’m very excited to finally do this show. It will be my first time doing a headlining show with the live band, Quiet Entertainer Orchestra. As you’ve seen, Q.E.O. is just a  live interpretation of my previous DJ tracks. We’re playing tonight at Foobar Too which is the venue side.

Also performing are Undiscover. Kind of a party-core, rave hip hop group. Similar to Die Antwoord.

Hobbledeions is hard to explain. He’s kind of a noise rock drummer playing hip hop beats both on a sampler and a drum kit. I’m excited to see him.

Rain is an MC in town. He kind of sounds like Tyler the Creator to me but he does a lot of cool things with his voice too. On the low, he makes killer beats too! Better than mine. 😛 I wish I were kidding.

This show will be great! Come on out to FooBAR too.

Quiet Entertainer Releases New Record: Intelligent Design

Quiet Entertainer Intelligent Design front cover

My new record is finally here! It’s called Intelligent Design. It’s the most rewarding collection of music I’ve done because you can start to hear a new production style and writing style that I’ve been working on. It perhaps isn’t new to some producers but it is definitely a part of my own personal growth. So I feel great about it! You can download Intelligent Design for free here!

Quiet Entertainer Intelligent Design Back Cover

If you can’t see that image, here’s the track listing.

Sunset
Now I Know (Hunz cover)
Self-esteem
Better Days
Companion
The Billy Goats – Hey Girl (Quiet Entertainer Remix)
Sam & Tre x Blue Sky Black Death – I’m A Stoner (Quiet Entertainer Remix)
Clams Casino x Gold Panda & Star Slinger w/ Yelawolf (Quiet Entertainer Mix)
Set from the MUTEMATH Tour

I’ve released some of the tracks before as one-offs on soundcloud but I’m glad to finally put it all together on an official release here along with my brand new original material.

Don’t forget that you can download the entire album for free here.


Additionally, I’m having an album release mini-tour starting today! I’ll be in Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Clarksville this weekend promoting the Intelligent Design release!
quiet entertainer album release mini tour intelligent design

Thursday will be in Murfreesboro, TN at The Social with Dotcom, Body of Light, Crayons & Antidotes, and Boyfriend.

Friday will be in Nashville, TN at Cafe Coco with Last of the Horsemen, Spoken Nerd, Rally & Don Cruso.

Saturday will be in Clarksville, TN at The Coup with Blak Tha Map, My Day At The Races, Spoken Nerd, Smokee B, & Kid Dead.

Heath McNease Creates Under Weight Of Glory and Depth of Artistry

Heath McNease Hip Hop Remix CS Lewis
When I thought back to the artists that I’ve listened to the most over the past year, I was a little surprised. I thought it might be Blue Sky Black Death (my favorite producers) or DJ Shadow (my all time favorite DJ). But actually there is an artist I listen to more than anyone else right now. He’s Heath McNease. Who? Is he a producer? Rapper? Singer-Songwriter? Well, he’s doing it all. So, all weekend I’ve been listening to his latest record, The Weight of Glory: Second Edition (a Hip Hop Remix Inspired By The Works of CS Lewis). I realized then that Heath fits the criteria that I talked about in my post on How To Take Over The Internet.

When I first heard about him, he was touring his 3rd record. He actually came through Nashville. Since then he’s put out a LOT of music. For instance:

He did a Nintendo-themed hip hop mixtape.


He did a Wu-Tang Clan tribute mixtape w/ Playdough.


He did his own official hip hop / pop release

He did an indie folk album inspired by the works of CS Lewis.

An album he recorded in 15 hours


Another hip hop mixtape using popular beats


And now he’s done a hip hop remix album of his previous CS Lewis inspired album.


And he’s done all this within the past two years! Reminds me of Ducko McFli! So, I’m really impressed with all this. According to the 5 ingredients I mentioned in the other post, he already has great music. It’s easily accessible. He obviously has the prolific output. I assume he has low overhead; most of these record are free! So I just hope he has evangelist fans! Even as a fellow artist, I’m a fan. This post is me doing my part. Definitely support this dude. As I am posting this, I’ve been listening to the new hip hop remix album. Really good.


How To Get Your Music on Pandora and What To Do Next

Quiet entertainer pandora
One of the questions I’ve been asked the most is: How did I get my music on Pandora.com? Well, this is an easy question. Pandora has a wonderful FAQ section and the step-by-step process is spelled out nicely there. However, for the benefit of us all, I will walk you through everything I did, my thought process while doing it, and even what I am doing now that I have music on the site.

First off, it goes without saying. I’m a big fan of Pandora. Just about all the music I currently love is music that I discovered through either word of mouth or Pandora’s random selection. People like Blue Sky Black Death, Bonobo, and Free The Robots. So when I released the Machismo EP, I knew that I wanted it on Pandora. However (and in spite of the great instructions on their site), I hesitated. If you’re an artist, you might be hesitating too. I needed to do a lot of research. I felt like looking around and seeing if other indie artists were going this route. Thinking back, they obviously were or else where would all this great new music be coming from? Anyway, I kept stalling until I read a great blog post about Pandora over at genyrockstars.com. That’s a great post from Greg Rollett and long story short is a retelling of how to and why it’s great to be on Pandora. I recommend it for anyone who is wanting to do this. So anyway, it was a great kick in the pants and if I was going to be serious about my music, I needed to get on it. So, I got started.

I sent my Machismo EP in. I needed to have a barcode. At the time, i was struggling over whether to go with CDbaby or Tunecore to distribute the Machismo EP. I don’t know how it is now, but Tunecore was giving out barcodes with their subscription whereas CDbaby was charging extra fees. So I went with Tunecore for that reason alone. Also, you have to have your physical CD for sale on Amazon. You can easily set this up with Tunecore as i did with their on-demand store. You have to do this and you have to make sure it’s physical copy.

I uploaded two tracks to pandora.com ; filled out all the paperwork and sent that in along with a physical copy of the CD and then you wait. I took this time though to also fill out and get my stuff registered over at SoundExchange. Lots of paperwork, but you have to do all this stuff. Anyway, from the time I started this Pandora process until the time it showed up was about 6 months. Long time, eh? But hey, now it’s on there.

click to enlarge
Ok great! Well, how was anyone going to find my music? Well, if you’ve heard the Machismo EP, you know that I have two instrumental tracks and 6 tracks with emcees. Pandora had only analyzed one track (Machismo) into their system. This means that only that track would possibly show up in rotation. Also, it means that my similar artists would only be artists who had music similar to that one song. Well, it’s the curse of having a diverse little record. I emailed their support to see if they would do any more. They got back to me to say that it’s customary that only 1-5 songs would be analyzed. Well, I thought that was both good and bad. I was able to up the load to 3 analyzed tracks. You see in the pic above it’s the 3 tracks that it says “try tracks 2, 4, and 6.” Anyway, so I have made comments over at my profile and at my record about how anyone can download Machismo for free. And I can edit those comments later if i need to.


click to enlarge
So that’s cool. I noticed that they matched me up with artists like Dela & Panacea. Pretty cool, but I want people to catch my instrumental stuff too. Maybe the next record. One thing I also have done is create a Pandora station. I did this using Quiet Entertainer (again, that’s ME) as a seed. Also, I added some other artists that I like and other songs that I like as seeds. So anyone who listens to my custom Pandora station, will not only get a good mix of similar sounding artists according to Pandora but a great dose of stuff similar to what I’m listening to now and hopefully will have a keen ear to what my next record might sound like. Of course, you can hear the custom made Quiet Entertainer Pandora station here.


click to enlarge
That’s really about it. The joy of Pandora is that it picks music for you. I can’t really push my music on people; and I wouldn’t want to. I hope that it plays my stuff for people and that they enjoy it. I wish I could tell if people were finding me through Pandora. But I guess I have other things to worry about. Like working harder and creating more. Meanwhile, I hope this was helpful to artists and also to anyone else as more of an insight to another aspect of something I deal with as QE.

Two things: 1) If it was helpful, then I’d love it if you’d share or re-tweet this. 2) Are any of you getting your music on Pandora? & how are you promoting it?

Also: If you want to know how I figured this out, then take a look at the NME Blueprint. I went through this system and learned how to market my music like a champ.