Thanks for tuning into our 2016 podcast episode for the International Acoustic Music Awards.
Intro & Outro Music: ”A Bakers Dozen” by Muriel Anderson
Advice to musicians who aren’t getting major league results: Artist Development Workshop: Image Identity Materials (I2M) Formula
by Tom Stein
For the most part, in today’s competitive music business, the responsibility for Artist Development has changed hands. Independent labels and entrepreneurial music artists have inherited the responsibility of nurturing new talent by fine-tuning their artistic and business development, and slowly growing their careers over several album releases. Developing a music career for the long haul is all about controlling one’s own destiny.
As an artist development consultant, aspiring musicians and artists regularly approach me with the question: what are the next steps I should take to develop my career as a recording/performing musician? I’d like to offer a few friendly pointers with this post to answer this common question.
Not knowing where to start can certainly feel overwhelming, because there are indeed many stages to developing an artist career, and many areas that need to be addressed. Over time, I came to see a pattern of perceived helplessness. I would need a much larger space to address all the aspects of artist development, so for now I am going to focus on the creation of your image identity materials, which I call I2M (pronounce: “I squared M”).
Bring Order From The Chaos
As with any complex endeavor, one must organize the work into sections, and devise strategies for dealing sequentially with each area. It is wise to take the perspective of music as a business, as a way of understanding the patterns of success and adopting the techniques that will lead you in that direction. I always recommend that artists study successful business role models and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Information and inspiration are your weapons.
Most musicians sense that marketing is a key to “breaking in to the business” but again, don’t know how to begin. You can learn much from how others successfully promote themselves. Considering marketing strategies from the very beginning of your artist business development is one way to bring order to what seems like a plethora of tasks. Focusing on marketing your music will help you to organize all the other aspects of artist development in alignment with your goals.
A Magic Formula
I like to build and test models for everything I do in my own career. A potential formula for this early stage of artist development would be expressed as:
I2M(B + R) = Ma
Or: (Image Identity Materials) times (Branding plus Resonance) equals Market access. I could express this in several other ways that are considerably more complex, taking into account the demographic of the target market, viral marketing techniques, and social media, etc. but this simple equation will serve our purposes for now. I like this kind of simple equation because it helps us to focus on what we can do right now, and why we need to do it. Let me explain each part of the equation.
What Is I2M?
I abbreviated Image Identity Materials this way to highlight that your image and identity are intertwined, and each supports the other in a synergistic way. Image identity materials include, but are not limited to:
Your visual materials are super important because people decide in a nanosecond whether they like you based on visual impact, whereas it takes a bit longer for them to process the music aurally. In the digital era, if you don’t have compelling visual images people won’t likely ever make the decision to click a link to listen to your music, or go see you live. Images are key in defining who you are (your identity) to a potential listener and fan, and they do it quickly.
Your image materials should immediately convey the alluring aspects of your identity, forcing people to listen to your music. Importantly, your I2M needs to make sense to the viewer and match up with your music in a clever way.
*(B + R)** is Branding and Resonance*
*Branding* used in this context refers to the execution of your image identity strategy. It can refer to the crafting of the messages, the professional quality of your materials, the memorability of your name, your logo, color scheme, fonts, plus any other unifying elements that create superior impact. Successful branding is certainly crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. There is an overlap between I2M and your branding execution.
*Resonance *I use to describe how well your materials are received by your target demographic. In social media marketing circles, resonance is a measure of how many people access and share curated content. When a YouTube video is released and quickly gets millions of views, this is because many people like it and want to share it. Highly resonant memes and videos are viewed and shared millions of times over a very short period. Most people are quite familiar with this phenomenon by now.
*Adding It All Up*
To summarize: when you add high potential *Resonance *and effective*Branding* together, and multiply it by your *Image Identity Materials*, (with a little luck) it should give you *Market Access. *This last term is obvious, and dependent on your actual goals. The instant accessibility of image identity materials via the increasingly interconnectedness of the web is a powerful tool for gaining traction as an artist. The next step is to devise a monetization strategy, but that topic will have to wait for another post.
*A Few Final Tips*
Now that you are organized in your thinking, make a plan around my formula. Look at it as a project, and apply tried and true project management techniques to getting things done (read up on project management techniques if you don’t understand them fully). That means making a list of milestones, and creating a timeline for completion for each milestone on the list. Figure out what you can get done on your own, and what you need help with. Write out a brief description of each milestone, and collect reference materials. If you need a budget, figure out how to get it, and conserve your resources where possible.
These are the things that most serious-minded artists do when starting out. Not every part of the process is equally fun; sometimes it feels like work, because it is. It’s important to seek out inspiration, and make sure to enjoy your time in the sun, when it comes as a result of your planning, hard work, and dedication.
I welcome your comments and ideas.
About Tom Stein:
Tom Stein is a visionary musical entrepreneur, music producer, artist development consultant, arranger, bandleader and performer on electric bass, voice and guitar. He is also a professional educator; he teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and is the founder of Music Connectivity, a cultural diplomacy firm. www.tomstein.com
For more information on the IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), please go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
IAMA Winner Wins Grammy Award, takes the Music World by Storm
by Jessica Brandon
Meghan Trainor who started out as an unknown indie artist, won IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) as a 16 year old, just won Grammy award last night for Best New Artist. She has broken a staggering number of records of IAMA: youngest to win IAMA (at 16), the only IAMA winner to have to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, #1 on the Billboard 200 Charts, and main category Grammy award of Best New Artist. Her hit “All About That Bass” is one of the best-selling single of all time by a debut artist, hitting #1 in 58 different countries (US, UK, etc) and selling over 15 million copies.
This shows you that anything can happen as an indie artist. When Meghan first won IAMA 6 years ago, IAMA entrants laughed when she won. But when she got signed and chalk up one hit after another, they were shocked. She has a total of 6 songs that have hit the Billboard Hot 100 Charts so far and shows no signs of slowing down (Watch her Grammy Acceptance Speech Below).
Meghan Trainor couldn’t hold back her tears While accepting Best New Artist Award, weeping through her acceptance speech. Past Best New Artists winners include: John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith and Mariah Carey
“I have to thank L.A. Reid for looking at me as an artist instead of just a songwriter,” she said while accepting the award from presenter Sam Smith, who won the award last year. “And my mom and dad.”
Last year she was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (both for “All About That Bass”), but lost out on both.
“This is me forever balling my eyes out. Can’t believe what happened”, said Meghan. “My dad whispered “you made it” before I walked up and I lost it. I love my family so much. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you to my team and everyone who got me here. Gonna cry happy tears all night”, said the jubilant Meghan Trainor.
Besides winning the Grammy Award, Meghan has also won two Billboard Music Awards.
MEGHAN IS NOT THE ONLY IAMA WINNER
Meghan Trainor was not the only nominee of IAMA. Ron Korb (this year’s Best Instrumental Winner of the 12th Annual IAMA) was a nominee in the Best New Age Album category. Ricky Kej (this year’s Best Open Winner) won a Grammy Award at last year’s Grammy Awards.
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
IAMA is extremely proud to announce that our winner Meghan Trainor and finalist Ron Korb have just been nominated at the prestigious Grammy Awards.
Meghan Trainor is nominated for Best New Artist. With her debut single “All About That Bass” staying #1 for 9 weeks, it is also the second biggest debut single of all time by a debut artist. She has a total of 6 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: All About That Bass (#1 for 9 weeks), Lips Are Movin (#4 on Hot 100), Like I’m Gonna Lose You (#8, a duet with R&b/Pop star John Legend), Dear Future Husband (#16), Marvin Gaye (#21, duet with Charlie Puth), Title (#100, even though it is not released as a single).
Most music industry people laughed when Meghan entered and won Best Female Artist in 2010. But, when she hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, heard her Multi-Platinum selling song on the radio, they were left completely stunned and speechless. The entrants of IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) were surprised and even angry when a 16 year old girl won 5 years ago, completely unaware of the incredible success she was going to achieve. Her song “All About The Bass” has sold over 5 million copies and reached #1 in 58 different countries. The video has garnered over 1 Billion views on YouTube (at press time).
Meghan Trainor has continued to shock the entrants, winners, judges of IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) and now the music world.
Ron Korb is nominated for Best New Age Album in the Grammy awards. He was a finalist in the 2010 and 2012 IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards). He is a unique flute player and plays both the chinese and western flute styles. His music is an electrifying blend of Eastern and Western music.
Ron Korb is a Canadian flutist(flautist), composer, songwriter, and record producer, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ron Korb started on the recorder in grade school and later joined an Irish fife and drum band in his teens. While attending the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he won several local music competitions.
ABOUT IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards)
IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) promotes the art and artistry of acoustic music performance and artistry. In it’s 11 year, IAMA has a proven track record of winners going on to hit the Billboard Charts. 2nd Annual IAMA winner Zane Williams’s winning song was recorded by country music star Jason Michael Carroll, that song hit #14 on Billboard Country Charts and #99 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Jeff Gutt, finalist at the 9th Annual IAMA was a runner-up on X-Factor USA. For more information on 11th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
by Kate Beaudoin & Jessica Brandon
How did Meghan Trainor do it? It’s been a year since pop singer Meghan Trainor hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts with, “All About That Bass.” Within the year of the video’s release, it racked up an impressive 1 Billion views on YouTube. Before long, the single hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for nine weeks (also hit #1 in 58 different countries) and helped Trainor’s debut album, Title, debut No.1 on the Billboard 200 charts. The media has written that Trainor came from nowhere, but did you know she was discovered in IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) in 2009 and won Best Female Artist with an acoustic song “Waterfalls”? And she became one of the most-talked-about artists of the year. And she did it all on the mantel of empowerment — at least, that’s what she’d have you believe.
“All About That Bass” was so successful in large part due to the idea that it was the new feminist anthem; after all, 2014 was the year of the booty and empowerment was in. But to those who read between the lines of Trainor’s clever marketing ploy, it’s clear as day that “All About That Bass” is as far from a feminist anthem as they come. Trainor’s problematic stance extends far beyond that single. By simultaneously claiming a feminist mantle and advocating an anti-feminist agenda, Trainor has become a threat to all the gains that pop music has made in feminism recently.
What the lyrics are really saying. The messages in Trainor’s songs are often ostensibly about encouraging healthy self-confidence. “I hope [‘All About That Bass’] helps girls love themselves more, because they’re adorable. Women too,” Trainor told Glamour. The issue, however, is that those supposedly empowering lyrics encourage impressionable girls to be happy with themselves only when men deem them acceptable. People criticized “All About That Bass” for its skinny-shaming, but even more concerning is that Trainor claims your worth comes from what men think of you.
“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” Trainor sings, explaining why it’s OK not to be a “skinny bitch.” It’s OK not to be a “skinny bitch,” but only because some boys prefer you that way.
The crown jewel of Trainor’s anti-feminism is easily “Dear Future Husband.” When the video for “Dear Future Husband” hit YouTube in March, many rightly claimed that her message was sexist. Trainor’s lyrics advocate outdated gender roles (“Cause if you’ll treat me right / I’ll be the perfect wife / Buying groceries”), seeking self-worth based on men’s opinions (“If you wanna get that special lovin’ / Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night”) and, of course, confirming the idea that all women are crazy, emotional creatures (“You gotta know how to treat me like a lady / Even when I’m acting crazy”). But those who defended Trainor claimed that it was just a song and shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
“I don’t believe I was [being sexist],” she told MTV. “I think I was just writing my song to my future husband out there, wherever he is. He’s chilling right now, taking a minute getting ready for me; it’s going to be great.”
He’s getting ready — doing crunches and 200 pound dead lifts so he’s ready to be strong enough to impress Trainor!
For more information on the 12th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com