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Mid-Week Beat: Happy Birthday Macklemore!

macklemore-366287So, most of you probably know that us Seattlites are pretty proud of our hometown, hip-hop hero Macklemore and his recent success. Well, today, we have another reason to celebrate Mr. Ben Haggerty (Macklemore’s real name), it’s his 30th birthday today! I have a feeling that the 30s are going to be pretty kind to Macklemore. He’s certainly accomplished a lot for such a young man.

We’re proud of Macklemore’s DIY roots and love to see artists take their careers into their own hands as opposed to letting them be dictated by industry “experts” who are only interested in the bottom line. So, in honor of Macklemore and DIY hip hop everywhere, we decided to feature three independent hip-hop artists that are using Brown Paper Tickets for some of their upcoming shows and tours.

One, Oakland’s Del tha Funky Homosapien, is a bonafide legend in the independent hip-hop scene but let’s hope the other two can achieve the level of success Macklemore has, while still staying true to their DIY roots. Either way, it’s great to have hip-hop artists like these out there, challenging the mainstream and pushing the musical boundaries of the genre.
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Mid-Week Beat: Introducing Song, By Toad Records

SongsbytoadThis week on the Mid-Week Beat we look at the art of DIY, something that is very close to our hearts here at Brown Paper Tickets. Of course, we do not mean that new bathroom you put in or those shelves you put on the wall (well done, all the same). We’re talking about the DIY approach to making music, booking gigs and releasing albums; an approach that allows artists to take full control of their artistic output.

In the digital age, it has never been easier to get your music online and heard by the entire planet with just a few clicks. But, what about those who want to have something tangible in our hands? People are not buying anywhere near the amount of physical Top 40 CD’s that they used to. The recent demise of HMV in the UK has made this very apparent.

However, the fact remains that music fans are still buying music. Bands and labels are still creating music and getting it out to their fans, through the internet, through social media and good old fashion word-of-mouth. In fact, you could say there has never been a better time to go DIY. This week we focus on a label based in Edinburgh, Scotland that truly takes the DIY ethic to heart.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Song, By Toad Records!

In Edinburgh one of the key players in the DIY scene has to be Song, by Toad Records. They have a clear idea of who they are and what they want to do. Unlike large record labels who are chasing down the next big thing and are all too keen to ditch a band after disappointing sales, Songs, by Toad are there to support the less commercial acts. It would be fair to say they are about the music not the unit sales.

Song, By Toad create short runs of 300-500 handmade albums, all made in house. Each release is designed to break even so that smaller acts are able to release their music without losing money. Doing everything means that Songs, by Toad are not just a record label but also a blog with album reviews, gig listings, podcasts and video sessions. There is a clear sense of community here and the blog covers news, reviews and supports other local labels and bands who also appear at the live shows they promote.

Using their contacts and experience Song By, Toad have been able to help other people put out releases. Such is the beauty of the internet! They are able to support DIY labels regardless of their geographic proximity and have worked with labels from Portland, Oregon as well as nearby Fife. Their “Rough Guide to Self Releasing and Album” is very useful and shows, again, that the music is the focal point, whether it is theirs or another label’s.

They have built up an impressive list of recording of acts including Jesus H Foxx, Jonnie Common, Sparrow and the Workshop and Meursault and continue to go from strength to strength.

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Mid-Week Beat: 2013 – The Year of the D.I.Y. Musician?

2013 is starting to look like a very good year for D.I.Y. musicians.

There was once a day when most musicians longed to be “discovered,” which really meant “marketed and paid very, very well” simply for performing, creating and sharing their art. Those musicians had no interest in becoming entrepreneurs, and gratefully allowed others to take the reins of the business side of their career, in exchange for a cut of the profits. Using that model, both the artist and the fans were paying quite a bit for the privilege of finding each other. Most times, it also meant compromising your artistic vision in order to become more accessible to a mainstream audience.

Today, it has become easier for a gifted artist to keep control of the reins of his or her career: booking gigs and tours, selling recordings, interacting with fans and avoiding the “middlemen” of the industry. Artists can do this armed with nothing more than a solid work ethic, a laptop and a sufficiently large core of faithful supporters and fans.

A recent example of this is Seattle rapper Ben “Macklemore” Haggerty and producer Ryan Lewis. The duo have taken a D.I.Y. approach to gradually building a fan base. They shot and edited their own video for “Thrift Shop” which now boasts more than 50 million YouTube views. Macklemore and Lewis avoided signing with a major record label, turning down potentially large advances to put out “The Heist,” their second album, which debuted at #1 on iTunes and #2 on the Billboard charts. In the past, it would have been literally unheard of for a self-released album to achieve this level of success. Also, Macklemore and Ryan decide for themselves which shows they will play and which services they will buy/use to promote themselves. By doing this, they stay true to their art, and the messages they are sending through their music.
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5 DIY tips for expanding your audience


In the world of advertising, promoting and marketing it can be hard for an independent band or promoter to see growth in their fan base. Fret not! Make use of these 5 DIY tips to expand your audience with ease.

1. Know, develop and focus on your product and story
Once you get past the “it’s-hard-to-describe-us” stage of your career, learning how to articulate who you are will help expand your audience. Every artist has a story and that’s what people really want to know. What makes you different than thousands of other bands? Or what makes you similar to them? Your story doesn’t have to be grand or shocking, it just has to be concise. It can be as simple as: “We are a classic rock cover band,” or as intriguing as: “We are a Norwegian-style metal band from Papua, New Guinea.” Be sure to include a relevant accomplishment in your story. Whether it is the release of a new record or the overcoming of an unusual obstacle. Any reason for an audience to come see your live show or listen to your music at their next available opportunity is a great piece to add.

2. Identify your goal
One of the biggest and most common obstacles for young and/or independent artists is not having clear and achievable goals. For instance, if you want to expand your tour circuit to Europe, pick one geographical location in Europe and start there. Then, research the area and test the waters with a radio campaign, reaching out to agents or artists in that region. Focus social media efforts there and even do a small “building” tour there. Be realistic. It’s a fine balance between investing in expansion and maintaining the financial sustainability of your career.

3. Tell the world (or at least your target audience)
Once you have your story articulated, get it out there and let it start working for you. Make sure it is present in press releases, photos, interviews, social media posts, etc. It doesn’t need to be specifically explained, but should be at least implied. Try to keep things fresh and relevant to your story.

4. Leverage your relationships
When it comes to breaking the ice with bookers, press, radio or anyone else, look for ways to get there through paths that you’ve already established. Whether it is your Aunt Martha who knows a local bar owner, a DJ who has contacted you about your music or a band from that area, it can be effective to let your connections connect with their networks to initiate the first conversation.

5. Everything counts 
Keep in mind it takes time for general results to show. Be sure to consider every spark that comes up, no matter how tedious or seemingly insignificant the lead. Most contacts, bookings or press interactions can lead to more, and while you don’t want to constantly bug a DJ to play your record, it is a good idea to keep a radio/press list for sending out new releases. If they don’t play or review every one you send them, don’t worry about it. Chances are they will at least see it and perhaps pick up the next one and give it a listen. You have to be there to be seen or heard.

Warning: Don’t wear out your welcome!

Everything mentioned above can only work if there is a receptive audience. If you feel like you’re starting to sound like spam to those you reach out to, pull back. Make your efforts count the first time.

Looking for extra help booking a tour, recording an album, or submitting music for copyright, we’ve got an in-house music expert at your service! Email for all inquiries and be sure to check out what he’s up to, here!

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Breaking in: How to build your music career from the ground up


It takes a village to make an artist. This message sounded again and again at a discussion with swoon-worthy industry experts at SXSW. There is no magic elevator to the top. Today’s musicians build their careers with an entire community pitching-in. Read what the experts say about building your music career and start building your village today.

Don’t expect success to happen over night. As Dez Dickerson ofPavilion Entertainment said, “Musicians think that they’ll go from obscurity to fame in one fell swoop. More like boxing. Rather than one big Mike Tyson punch, it’s more like the knock in the 12th round.” He added, “You can’t just put your music ‘out there’. You have to build awareness and differentiate.”

Even once you get your foot in the door, your work is not done.Jonathan Daniel of Crush Music Media Management shared this with us, “When you get into the business, you think you’ll get a record deal and then be huge. After four record deals, we realized that wasn’t the case. You have to work and preserve and hone your craft. The record deal cannot be the goal.”

Musicians expecting to simply sit back and expect the label or agent to do everything for them are in for a shock. Daniel said once you get a deal, “It’s roll up your sleeves and do it yourself time. Build your village—radio, TV, video and advertisers. Stay humble and you’ll have much better success. Major labels can be incredibly valuable, but they can’t be your only tool. It’s your job to get it started.”

Sara Baer of 4Fini Sponsorship & Marketing, which organizes theWarped Tour, tells us that even the big names hustle during the shows. “On down time, smart bands work the merchandise booth and find non-profits to partner with.”

Jenna Lomonaco of Glassnote Records (known for breaking Mumford and Sons), wraps up the discussion with this, “There’s a lot of pieces to an artist breaking in. Every piece of what you’re doing will make change.You need to tie everything together—interviews, television, performance, tours, blogs, digital sales and social media. Really reach out to the bloggers and let them know what’s happening and what’s going on. You need to build up all of the pieces. It’s vital that artists develop relationships with their audience. It’s the weird stuff that builds the loyalty.”

Building a career in music is a worthy and challenging goal. We support your efforts and applaud your awesome courage! We hope to be there for you ever step of the way.

Need help getting started? We’ve got a whole department dedicated to assisting you with Event Promotions. Call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5) or email for free personalized support today! We’d love to help.

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