I am an independent artist with my own record label.  What that means is that I don't have access to the same avenues of marketing and distribution that an artist on a major label has.  I rely on word of mouth from my fans and internet promotion to spread the word.  I don't have a powerful company with money and connections behind me, getting me commercial radio airplay or press in major magazines.  I send my own press releases, package my own promo kits for radio promotion, and book my own shows. I make a lot of phone calls and write a lot of emails.  I don't have a team of experienced professionals guiding my every move. I am the webmaster, bookkeeper, booking agent, secretary, manager, photographer, stylist (ha!), tour manager, driver, etc.  If I don't know how to do something, I have to learn.

However, what I do have is freedom to make the music that I believe in.  If you like my music and believe it's worthy of attention, you can make a huge difference in helping me reach a wider audience.  In fact, fans are the only way anyone gains any degree of success whether they're a little fish like me or a big fish on a major label.  Fans are the ones who ultimately make or break any artist.  It's all up to you!

If you'd like to be an integral part of my success or the success of any other independent artist, here's a list of 10 ways you can help.

1.  Come to a show.  Many venues, particularly those open to acoustic acts, don't pay much, if anything.  Spending an evening playing music for free to an empty room is no fun.  Besides, the majority of venues won't book an act again if they don't bring even a small audience.  Many coffeehouse venues are family friendly and some even offer games like chess or checkers that you can play while you listen.  Consider having a family evening out at a local coffeehouse or meet some friends at a cozy venue for a glass of wine to unwind after work.  Going to a concert doesn't have to mean loud music in a bar, although that is an option.  Find a venue with an atmosphere that works for you and support local music with your finest asset, your presence.

2.  Buy a CD.  Whether recorded in a home studio or in a professional studio, bands spend thousands of dollars and countless hours recording their songs, not to mention the hours writing and rehearsing them in the first place.  Purchasing a CD is a vote of confidence in the artist(s) and their work.

3.  Tell a friend.  Bring a friend to a show, recommend a CD, or buy a CD as a gift.  When you give the gift of an independent artist's CD, you're helping that artist continue to make music AND you're giving your friend a unique gift.  (An autographed copy makes it even more special!)

4.  Toss a few bucks in the tip jar.  Believe it or not, many venues don't pay, so artists earn only what they dig out of the tip jar at the end of the night (and any CD sales if they have a CD).  Tips generally buy food and gas to travel home or to the next gig. 

5.  Support media and businesses that support local and independent artists.  I think everyone is aware of the sorry state of commercial radio these days.  Large corporations play "music for the masses" and independent and local acts have very little possibility of any airplay.  Check out community radio, independent stations, and internet radio.  Buy CDs from the "Mom and Pop" retailers who support local artists or on-line independent retailers like CD Baby.

6.  Sponsor a house concert or hire a band for a party.  If you have the space and the inclination, why not bring the concert home?  Live music is an excellent addition to a BBQ or backyard party.  Private parties featuring live music or house concerts are a great way to entertain AND help artists reach a wider audience.  They're also a great way to help national touring acts make a little gas money when they're traveling through town.  Visit Concerts In Your Home for more information about house concerts and how to host them.

7.  Be a referral source.  Do you know a great venue where an artist should play?  Do you know a venue looking for musical acts?  Does your cousin book entertainment for a local festival?  Don't be afraid to make suggestions and don't assume the artists know what you know.  Musicians are constantly looking for opportunities to get their music heard and it's impossible to be completely "in the know."  Networking is very important.  Share your opinion and what you know.

8.  Share your thoughts.  Just because you think a band is great doesn't mean the venue owner or talent buyer shares your opinion (or is even listening or present at the time of the show).  If you like the entertainment being provided tell the management.  You are the customer and your comments count.

9.  Join a Street Team.  Many artists have folks on a "street team" who are willing to post fliers and help promote their shows, particularly in towns they visit on tour.  If the band is from Denver, they need all the help they can get promoting a show in Wichita.  Street team members are often rewarded for their efforts with free tickets, CDs, t-shirts, etc.

10.  Listen and enjoy.   Music is an expression of the human spirit.  Whether it speaks of something beautiful or something not-so-pleasant, it makes us feel and think.  It helps us to understand our own experiences and each other, offering healing, companionship, and inspiration like no other artistic medium.  When your world gets hectic and crazy, don't forget to include and value music in your life.

Thank you for your support!

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