3 words for indie artists


[Orginally posted at Dysonsound]

For the past few years new media guru Chris Brogan has practiced the “My 3 Words” exercise to guide how he conducts his many efforts in the coming year. The idea is to chose 3 resonant words around which you set goals and develop projects. Given our increasingly over-complicated world, I found this to be a fresh way to plan my year as an indie musician and marketer.

As winter turned to spring I began to realize how perfect this exercise is for the indie musician. We’re bombarded every day with new tools, new platforms, new “best” practices. new opportunities and new challenges. “My 3 Words” is a great way to make sense of it all, providing a means to organize, prioritize, and focus. So, without further adieu, my 3 words for 2010 continue to be…

Content. Network. Equity.


As a musician, and the primary marketer of my band’s endeavors, content is obviously pretty important. While we did release a new EP this spring, there’s so much more that can be done. Given the “arcade” theme of the new EP, we’re busy creating 8-bit, video-game style versions of all 6 songs on the record (here’s the first), and aiming to develop simple “side-scroller”games to match. One of the artists I work with, Kurt von Stetten, is regularly blogging demos and drawings. We also shot a video this past fall. Baby steps for sure, but content is king, and grander (and more experiential) ideas are on the horizon.


All artists need to focus on the different facets of their network: nurturing fans, building connections with like-minded artists, cultivating relationships with tastemakers, and growing a distribution presence are all vital. There’s an in-person and online component to each, and you must be genuine. Having “network” as one of my 3 words serves as a constant reminder that the work starts long before, and continues long after, songs are written and recorded. It also reminds me that we should to seek to give as much as a we might receive (for instance, we often promote other bands via our social media efforts).


With apologies for the manufacturing metaphor: if content is the “input,” and network is the “machine,” then equity, ideally, is the “output.” As above, equity comes in different flavors. On one hand, making a few dollars back from all the hard work is nice. And indie artists should set basic monetary goals to gauge the resonance of their content and the effectiveness of their network. On the softer side, yet perhaps even more important, are notions of general awareness or (perhaps?) “band equity.” When talking to booking agents around Boston, do I need to constantly explain who we are? Do I need to bug DJs to give our CD a try, or do they give it a spin on their own? Equity helps conversations start at square two rather than square zero. This type of equity matters, and will come long before the coins.

So there you have it, my 3 words for 2010. We’re underway creating new and different content and have a lot of network building to do. If we do it right, we’ll hopefully notice an uptick in equity by the end of year. We have a ways to go, as do many indie artists, but having 3 simple words to guide us makes it all a little less daunting.

What are your 3 words for the year?

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