8 Insider Tips from YellowPhone Music Conference

Chicago, IL

16 Sep 2013

SAE Chicago - 8 Insider Tips from YellowPhone Music Conference



8 Insider Tips from YellowPhone Music Conference

16 Sep 2013

If you want to make it as a musician, writing songs and playing shows are just the beginning.

Last weekend, the third annual, Milwaukee-based Yellow Phone Music Conference assembled members of other oft-important roles in a musician's success — label representatives, talent buyers, managers and more — for illuminating panel discussions.

Here are eight takeaways:

1. Use social media with Japanese table manners, suggested Martin Atkins, the music business department chair for the SAE Institute in Chicago. "In Japan, it's rude to pour your own drink, so you pour everyone else's drink, and eventually somebody will pour yours."

2. The unapologetically crude, always entertaining Atkins suggested when it comes to music videos, "just like having sex with me, you've got 13 seconds...or they're gone."

3. An established touring business makes a band more attractive to a record label, said Evan Peters, recently appointed director of artists and repertoire for Virgin Records. "It provides the first insight into what the band is all about, what markets are doing well and what fans look like," added Tim Des Islets, artist manager for Toronto-based Bumstead Productions.

4. Before you tour, develop a strong following in your market and in markets within a two-hour drive. "You lose a lot of money really quickly" on national tours, said Brian Waymire, owner of the Agency Collection in Nashville.

5. When pitching a venue, "don't say you can draw 300 people in Montana when you know you're worth half a person," said Marc Solheim, talent buyer with the Pabst Theater group in town. "They're probably not going to trust you the second time."

6. Asked what a band should acquire first, a manager or booking agent, Solheim suggested "a publicist." "You need to make some mistakes and learn a few things."

7. You're an entertainer, so give entertaining interviews, said Damon Ranger, an entertainment reporter with CBS-affiliate WBBM-TV in Chicago. "Reporters will generally only ask you 20 questions, so come up with 150 words for each one and memorize them until they become second nature," said Adam Lewis, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based artist development firm The Planetary Group. "The best interview (subjects) will be booked back."

8. Believe it or not, physical discs are still important for radio stations. So forget about sending links to a Bandcamp page, or a CD in a sleeve.

"Program directors have 50 CDs on their desk, so if there's no spine, it gets lost," Lewis said. Added Mark Keefe, program director for WYMS-FM (88.9), "You're a needle in a haystack when you send something to a radio station, so make sure you have the sharpest, prettiest needles."