Author Archives: Mike Ippersiel

About Mike Ippersiel

I share the resources and strategies that I've learned to save you time while growing your audience so that earning a comfortable living as a independent musician becomes your reality.

Get more fans and earn more with smart digital marketing

Smart Marketing Leverage System ThunbnailThe first problem with growing an audience is finding out:

  1. Who they are
  2. Where they hang out
  3. A way to get them to take the first step to becoming a true fan

Most of us want to start at the very beginning – getting traffic.

The fastest way to do this is to pay for traffic from sites like Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. Smart musicians will send potential fans to a squeeze page where they can opt-in for free music and send a follow up offer to spend some money.

However, I believe that often it make sense to create a system before you ever start paying for traffic.

Having the system in place in advance allows you to:

a) make the most of the traffic you get

b) gather vital information to allow you to make informed choices rather than guessing

c) make more from your organic traffic as well.

I did a presentation on this approach today for my subscribers, I decided to call it the “Unfair Advantage” system.

It’s been geared from the ground up to address the deficiencies I’ve encountered with most bands online; a non-focused approach to grow their audience and sell their music. This happens because:

  1. They promote social media properties instead of their own website
  2. They don’t have their website setup to gather emails from potential fans
  3. They don’t use email to nurture potential fans through to paying fans
  4. They don’t have multiple touch-points to stay “on the radar” for potential and current audience members

With those issues in mind, I set out to create a system that would give an “Unfair Advantage” for a musician that wanted to make the most of their online promotional efforts – this is what I came up with:

The Online Marketing Leverage System for Musicians

membership_leverage_overview_breakdown
I’ll give you a quick run-through of each of the five components to this system, but first I’m going to answer the question you might be thinking as you look at this graphic – why?

The entire system is for potential fans to be gradually filtered out until they end up as a paid member. They’ll likely first view a social media update or perhaps find you via a forum or a search on Google. They’ll need to click, land on your website and decide to opt-in for a free music offer.

They’ll then need to download and listen to your music. Depending on how well your music is received and whether you can hold onto their attention, you’ll have the chance to potentially evolve your relationship beyond someone who likes your music to someone who will pay.

In other words – this is infrastructure.

Would you rather leave your house, walk downtown to the community well, draw up a bucket of water, pour it into a pail and carry it all the way back home, then finally pour yourself a glass of water to drink?

…or simply turn the faucet and have access to 10 times the water in seconds, both hot and cold?

In order to get to the point where you can simply “turn on a faucet”, you need to lay the ground work.

Yes, there is work to be done and there is potential for technical issues to slow you down, but assuming you can successfully build the infrastructure – your time will be well spent.

Another great reason for doing all this work up front?

Most other musicians won’t be bothered – which means you’ll have the “Unfair Advantage” over them.

I don’t mean to paint your fellow musicians as competitors in a zero-sum race for the most fans, but there is a limited audience for just about any band out there.

There’s so many other bands, businesses and content competing for your potential fan’s attention that anything you can do to stand out should be taken if you want to succeed.

Who shouldn’t bother with a system like this?

Musicians who don’t write their own music and/or don’t have any finished music to offer to their potential fans should skip this system as it won’t be worth it for them at the moment.

Stage 1 – Traffic

MaxLeverageSystem1-Traffic

There are many ways to get traffic that are free or paid. In the image above, I’m showing mostly social media websites, but that isn’t the only way to get traffic. Also consider using:

  1. Forums
  2. Groups
  3. Meetups
  4. Guest posts
  5. Popular blogs (comments)
  6. Offline publicity

If you observe closely, there are blue arrows coming from the bottom and orange arrows coming from the top.

In the big picture, I used the two different colours to indicate using social media to promote content on your website via status updates (blue) vs. profile links that point to your squeeze page (orange).

Technically you can also send traffic from sources like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter using paid ads or promoted content.

Keep in mind, that if you’re going to use “free” methods to get traffic to your website, it will cost you time and energy to produce. If you’re not going to spend money to promote your music, and you’re not going to spend time or energy to create content to use on any of the listed traffic sources above…then you’ll always struggle to have people find you…

…sitting around waiting to be ‘discovered’ just ain’t going to cut it.

If that is your preferred strategy, then don’t bother reading further as the rest of this system is going to be useless without some traffic coming to your website in the first place.

Why Not Facebook or Youtube?

But you might be saying, “Mike – I have a killer Facebook Fan page – why don’t I send people there instead of a website? Websites cost money and are a pain in the ass to manage”.

The reason why you always want to send traffic to your website that you own (with your own hosting) is because you own it. You don’t own Facebook or Youtube. They can shut you down and separate you from your audience in heartbeat whenever they want.

So don’t do it.

Not only that, but Facebook and Youtube are VERY distracting places to be.

You’re already competing for the attention of your audience, so take them to your website where you don’t’ have to also compete against ‘caturday’ videos.

Get traffic to your website for maximum insurance value and the best opportunity to help move your potential fans to sign up to your list and possibly buy.

Stage 2: Your Platform

MaxLeverageSystem2 - Your Platform

The blue square on the left represents your website (note the little house = your home page).

The blue square on the right represents your squeeze page.

Smart marketers like Mr. Music Marketing Manifesto (John Oszjaca) say you should send your paid traffic to a squeeze page instead of your website, and I’m inclined to agree.

So we have the orange arrows from our traffic representing “cold” or “paid” traffic to our squeeze page. You can also send traffic straight from the links in your social profiles to a page like this.

John also recommends having a dedicated domain for just your squeeze page so there are zero potential distractions, they either sign up for your free music offer or leave; again John knows his stuff and I agree 100%.

However, there are also opportunities to get your regular website working for you.

First of all, you’re going to be posting content on your site that’s interesting and helpful, insightful or entertaining to your audience right?

You’re also going to send people to your website from social media, guest posts, forums etc.

So now that they’re on your website, you can use a plugin like SumoMe to start collecting emails from your website as well.

Besides building the standard sidebar optin (which tends to not convert all that well), you can configure SumoMe to collect emails via a “smart bar” at the top of your page, a pop up optin lightbox as well as a ‘scroll up’ optin box.

You can adjust the settings so that they don’t all show at the same time, some may show on certain pages of your site etc.

Once this is setup, you’ll have the opportunity to grow subscribers from a squeeze page or from the cool content that you’re posting on your blog.

Stage 3 – Email Acquisition

MaxLeverageSystem3 - Email

So you have them on your list – now what?

Want to know what the two biggest problems musicians have with email are?

  1. Not collecting emails addresses
  2. Collecting emails addresses, but not sending emails.

But we know better than that right?

Now I don’t have the space to go deeply into email right here, but I have some free training you can check out if you’d like to learn more about how to use it effectively and avoid the common mistakes I see most musicians making.

Email is the first major conversion on the customer journey – the path that your potential fan takes from finding out about you, wanting to learn more, liking your stuff all the way through to buying everything you do and telling everyone they know about you.

In online marketing, email is the base form of currency.

If you have to choose between getting paid today and getting an email…always go for the email. With the right strategy, an email address can mean multiple options to get paid down the road.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

When you have someone’s email, you get to learn more about them by seeing what emails they open, what links they click on as well as the possibilities to see what they’re up to on your website.

This is particularly useful if they’re about to buy from you and abandon the shopping cart; now you can follow up with them to see if they need some help.

  • Use email to stay in touch
  • Use email to send your list to the cool content on your website (a.k.a. email as another source of traffic for you)
  • Use email to make offers to your audience
  • Use email to be helpful and cool – so you can warm your audience up into buyers

You can also use email to deliver the free downloads they signed up for and to deliver your new subscribers into your free membership area where they can download your free songs.

Email is the lynch pin that holds this whole system together, so make sure you’re giving email the attention it deserves.

Mailchimp has a forever free plan that allows you to have up to 2,500 contacts. It’s pretty user friendly but costs money when you want to start creating automated sequences. I highly recommend using Active Campaign instead, it’s affordable and nobody can compete with their automation for the price.

Automation helps make this system even more powerful, because you can set parts of it to run by itself without any intervention on your part.

This is the stuff that I really love creating, I geek out on marketing automation for some reason….

Stage 4 – Freemium Membership

MaxLeverageSystem4 - Freemium Membership

Okay, now we’re really separating the men from the boys.

Collecting emails from a website with pop ups or with a squeeze page is relatively old school and membership sites are nothing new…

But just like many are guilty of not collecting emails or not emailing the subscribers they have…few have a membership area built into their website.

Even the thought of setting one up is enough to scare off many people. But the good news is that membership sites are getting easier to setup. There are free options that are more than capable for what we need here.

Why have a free membership?

Here are a few of the reasons:

Greater control over your downloads – if you don’t want your free downloads shared all over the web, putting them behind a membership firewall helps.

Convenient for those who lose their password, you can use the built-in password reset feature in WordPress to allow them to change their password and still get access to their music.

The fact that they are a ‘member’ allows you to also send them occasional “transaction” emails – which keeps you well within the confines of some of the more restrictive email marketing laws (like CASL).

This way, making new downloads available to long-time freemium members is a great way to regain their attention without being spammy.

But most importantly, since you control this membership area, you can make additional offers to your freemium members to help nudge them over to becoming a paying customer.

Stage 5 – Paid Membership

MaxLeverageSystem5-Paid Membership

Finally, getting paid at long last.

When your prospect follows through the entire process, they’re more likely to buy then if you simply hoped and prayed they’d make a purchase.

We’ll also need a shopping cart to get paid and unlock access to the music you’re selling behind the membership. You lucked out because I found a system that does both for free to start – it’s called Zaxaa.

They have a free wordpress plugin called Zaxaa Member that lets you do membership levels and you can assign the cost of the level along to what is accessible on each level.

This allows you to designate one level as a “Freemium” level and others to be paid.

Your membership area is where you can sell your music direct to fan. You can charge a monthly or yearly fee if you want, or you can just set one time fees for each of your products, or bundle everything together for one massive fee that occurs once.

There’s a ton of flexibility here, it basically comes down to how much of a back catalog you have as well as how creative you are.

One of the keys to making a system like the 1,000 True Fan Theory work, is that you need to offer multiple items at different price points if you want to hit the $99/year/fan sweet spot to earning a solid six figures per year.

So get creative, you don’t need to offer just 99 cent downloads – you can also;

  • Make multiple album bundles
  • Bundle MP3s + CDs
  • Bundle music + merch
  • Create an insider membership with closer access to the band members, first listens to new music etc.
  • Sell songwriting or how to play [insert instrument here] lessons
  • Even sell house concerts directly off your website

The only limit here is your creativity and understanding what your audience values the most.

Summary

Having a system in place like this allows you to work smart and not hard.

While at first glance it may look like a lot of work to set up, I would counter that many musicians are already doing many of these steps but are reaping little to no results because they don’t have a system like this in place.

Technology has only recently made setting up a system like this affordable for musicians to do, and I hope you can take what you learned here and apply it towards growing your audience and earning more money with you music right away.

But if you need a helping hand on how to get all of these pieces integrated properly, then you owe it yourself to check this out.

I’m offering my services to not only ensure you have the right software to make all of this work, but to show you step by step how to connect it and also my personal help if you get stuck.

All for less than the price of using one popular email service provider.

Want to learn more? Get the full free training here.

Is The 1,000 True Fans Theory A Piece of Crap?

For almost five years now, I’ve been a fan of the 1,000 True Fan theory; you know, the idea that if you have 1000 true fans willing to pay you $100 each per year = a pretty good living as a musician.

But years later and what has really changed?

Is the 1,000 True Fans theory just smoke and mirrors? Is anyone really making a full time living who wasn’t before the record industry tanked?

I wish I could say definitively that it is working or it isn’t; unfortunately it seems to be in a bit of a limbo.

I like the theory, I really really like the theory. I’ve heard it repeated in other places outside the Music Marketing niche…but I’m still not sure if a) it works or b) musicians can make it work for them.

Maybe there’s too much mental gymnastics involved to get musicians to profit from their own music?

…I still haven’t gotten the answer to that question.

I’ve been fired up about helping musicians make money selling their own music for a while; even thought I’d create myself a Music Income Challenge to see if I couldn’t help some musicians take that next step.

A lot of these ideas didn’t translate into reality for whatever reason, I’m sure I can give you at least a half dozen reasons why…

But even so, I didn’t feel great about leaving those of you who requested and downloaded the 1,000 Fan Formula with some solid concepts, a few hints and then a ‘good luck and godspeed’ send off.

I think more than a few of you have been wondering, “Now what?”.

But if I’ve learned anything from my past of over promising – I need to be realistic with how much I can actually help any of you with what and I know and the time that I have.

So instead of putting together an elaborate training that lasts six weeks, has 30 videos and 8 step by step walk-thru tutorials, I’m thinking of keeping things a little more condensed this time around.

I’m talking about a “cheat sheet” with tactics that you can start using right now to do a few of the core requirements (in my humble opinion) of making the 1K Fan Formula work:

  • Find your audience
  • Grow your email list
  • Nurture your audience
  • Sell your music
  • Acquire a tribe

This is strictly an MVP approach to see if anyone out there is interested in hearing what I have to say about building a career by selling your music and leveraging the internet, technology and marketing for all its worth.

So if you’re interested in my 1,000 Fan Formula Cheat Sheet – the steps to take after you’ve completed reading the 1,000 Fan Formula and 1,000 Fan Formula Update and are thinking “now what?” – then sign up here.

Once you do that, let me know what you need the most help with in reaching your 1,000 true fans and I’ll do my best to ensure the topic is covered the cheat sheet.

Mike

The 1,000 Fan Formula 2014 Update

A little over four years ago I wrote the 1K Fan Formula and made it available on my website – chances are if you’re my subscriber today – it’s because you opted in to get your copy of that report.

But four years is a lifetime when you’re dealing with anything to do with online marketing – and music is no exception.

What’s changed? What is still working? Where are things going? 

I made a short update to the 1K Fan Formula that touches on some of these questions.
You can grab your copy here: —> 1K Fan Formula 2014 Update

Also – I’ve been doing a little training called the Music Income Challenge which begins where the 1K Fan Formula left off. I have a series of video trainings that will be released shortly. If you’re looking for ‘next steps’ I suggest you check those out.

Later

 

Mike

 

Music Income Challenge Overview

Overview of the music income challenge program
The Music Income Challenge is free training to help you to start selling your music online. This video gives an overview of the steps involved before you can start selling successfully and help you to raise your first dollar online.

Why are we looking at only earning a single dollar?

First of all, because you have to start somewhere. Yeah, it would be great to sell thousands of dollars each month and quit the day job, but realistically most of us are going to have an extremely hard time getting to that level of sales. So rather than set the bar too high and become potentially demoralized if we can’t hit those targets I find it’s often more rewarding to start small and build from there.

Secondly, if you can earn a single dollar – you can turn that into $5, $10, $100 by getting in front of more people and optimizing your conversion rate. But until you make that single sale (and preferably more than just one) you’re not going to know what works or if people are interested in your music/offer.

The “challenge” behind the challenge is: 1) For you to earn your first 1.00 by applying the techniques that I outline in these videos and 2) for me to prove that you can apply direct response and inbound marketing techniques to generate sales of something that doesn’t solve a problem for a consumer – music.

Stay tuned for further training that dives deeper into each of the core modules outlined in this training.

If you want to get started right away instead of waiting, check out this resource I put together for you here to take it to the next level.

How to start selling your music online

The American One Dollar Bill

If you’ve been wondering how to start selling your music online – then you’ve come to the right place.

I’m going to share with you the four key ingredients that you need to start selling your music online so that you can make your first dollar from the internet as a musician.

Why is this important?

Because if you can make even just $1, then that means that by applying proven marketing and business concepts – you can turn that dollar into $2, into $6 into $12 into $24 into $48 etc.

I call this the Music Income Amplifier (name change is pending).

But, just like the most powerful amplifier can’t make a broken guitar (with zero output) sound louder – a broken business that can’t generate a single dollar cannot be amplified into a more profitable income stream.

How can I help you double your online music sales if your current sales are zero? It’s not going to happen.

So this is the idea behind what I’ve called the Music Income Challenge (M.I.C.) – where I challenge you to earn your first $1 online using proven digital marketing fundamentals…and I challenge myself to show you how to do it.

Fair enough?

So let’s do this…

The four things that you need to make money online with your music are:

1) Your own original music in a consumable digital format (i.e. MP3, wav etc.)

2) An offer – a way to make your music appealing enough to someone to want to give you their email…or even their own hard-earned cash in exchange for your music.

3) An audience who wants what you have – this is where the marketing part comes in.

4) A way to deliver and collect payment for your item.

Put another way, what you need is

  1. A product – needs to be of good quality in both sound and appearance
  2. An offer (on a landing page with only one action they can take)
  3. A venue where you can reach your audience in an affordable way
  4. A shopping cart to collect the money and deliver your product.

There you go – now go out there and make some money!

What? You need a little more help than just that?  Okay, how about this…

I’m going to walk through each of these steps and show you exactly how I would go about doing this were I still in a band right now. All you have to do is show up, ask questions and apply what I teach you…is that fair?

Will you take action, or will you just read this for entertainment and lose the chance to earn your first buck online with music?

That’s up to you.

The challenge is on.  I’m going to help you make your first $1 online or…I’m going to close down the website.

No use having Indiebandalliance.com if I’m not able to help people with what I’m teaching – so that’s my guarantee to you.

Either I help you make your first buck online, or I’ll shut down my website.

So we both have some skin in the game here. Are you up for this?

If so – then I want you to click this link (coming soon) and register for this powerful training. I’m not sure how long I’ll leave it open to the general public, so if you want in…you need to make up your mind pretty fast.

So decide now – I help you make a $1 online or I’ll shut down my website.

I’m not kidding – and April 1st was well over a month ago…so this is real.

Let’s do this – Click here to register for the Music Income Challenge.

Image Credit: David Guo

The Music Income Challenge

Happy New Year!

As I write this, we’re already more than 10 days into this new year of 2014 and I’ve been working hard on establishing some new habits that will allow me to reach some lofty goals.

One of my big goals this year is to help you out a lot more with music business, marketing, mindset and the resources that you’ll need along the way to succeed.

I just re-read my epic post from last October entitled: “Your Music Career Will Fail Without This…” and I have to say it’s one of the best posts that I’ve ever written. I sincerely hope that you take the 10 minutes or so to read it – it’ll help to make sure that your head is screwed on right if you want to make some significant headway this year to earning a full time living as a musician. Please, give it a read if you haven’t already…or simply read it again like I did.

Actually – there’s something I left out in that blog post that is implied…but I didn’t come right out and tell you. It’s the key to me helping you succeed this year as well as you succeeding too.  Stick with me for a bit and I’ll share with you what it is – in the meantime see if you can guess what the answer is….

So here’s the deal. I’ve come up with a little something that I’m calling “The Music Income Challenge”, and if you’re looking to start earning an income with your music online, or earning more or more consistent income then I do hope that you’ll check it out.

I’m calling it the Music Income Challenge for a few reasons…

Number one – it’s about generating income, period. I don’t care how many Twitter followers, Facebook “friends” or whatever you have…at the end of the day it’s about making money. Without money, you’ll either bleed away your money and have to give up or forever be a hobbyist.

It’s not about the marketing. It’s not about tips, strategies and secrets – it’s about money at the end of the day.

And the bulk of this income should come from the music you make, or at least be music related – that way you can eventually give up the typical ‘day job’ and focus on music more often.

So that explains the “music” and the “income” part of the name – why “challenge”?

The challenge comes in for two reasons…actually…three reasons. 1) The challenge is for YOU to earn money with what I’m going to teach you. The challenge is for you to take action and make things happen. 2) The challenge is on me to teach you well enough that you can actually make the money. The goal is income – it can be $1 or $10 or $100 – but it has to be something. When you have some income, it’s possible to build it up – if you have zero than 2x zero or 10x zero is still a heck of a lot of nothing…

The third reason for “challenge” is that I’m also partly inspired by Ed Dale’s “Challenge” that he puts on each year. I’m not saying the Music Income Challenge is going to be the same, or as good…but I think it’s awesome because it’s training for people to learn the fundamentals and apply them to generate income of some kind – which is what I want to do for you.

Lastly, the initials are: M.I.C. – which is not only an instrument, but rhymes with my first name “Mike” – pretty cool eh? (Okay, maybe not…I am easily amused I suppose).

So enough about why I’m calling this M.I.C. and more about what it means to you. I’m going to do weekly training on the things that you need to know to make money as a musician today.

I’ve heard from musicians that they want more case studies, they want the real stuff. They want to know that THEY can do it, not just musicians that were already famous, on a major label or had some type of advantage that the typical ‘normal’ musician doesn’t have.

Okay, so the goal is to do a training each week – I’m not sure how long each session will be – maybe 15 to 60 minutes tops…and chances are there will be some homework to do, otherwise it’ll be hard for you to make any progress towards making money with your music….

So what was the thing that I didn’t say explicitly in my blog post that both you and I need to succeed?

In the post I mentioned that “consistency” is what you need to succeed – what I didn’t say is that for you to do something consistently, you obviously have to commit to doing the thing/activity each day…which means you need to first carve out room in your life to fit in the new activity.

If you don’t make in your life and commit to the process…you’ll never have the chance to do the required action enough for it to become a positive habit and become consistent in your life. Consistency allows you to build up momentum, which allows you to roll right over the problems that stop other musicians dead in their tracks!

So what’s the catch?

This training is going to be 100% free – but it won’t be available forever.

You see – it’s only human nature to put something off until later. So if I make this training available forever…there will always be something more important for you to do and you’ll put off watching it.

So MIC will be available for 7 to 10 days only…

…the new training will be compiled into a full blown course. It will be VERY affordable but not free. So this is your chance to watch it all for FREE.

So, if you want to start earning more money with your music in 2014 – leave me a comment. Let me know what the single biggest problem is that you’re facing with making money as a musician online right now.

Since it’s doubtful that most people will read this far – chances are very good that if I like your idea – it could be one of the very first MIC training sessions that I do.

Thanks for reading – and stay tuned for the Music Income Challenge (coming soon).

 

 

Marketing for Musicians 101

This is a short-ish marketing presentation that I put together to address the fundamentals needed for you to succeed at creating a full time income with your music.

I’m calling it Marketing for Musicians 101 as it is more of an introduction into marketing…which is a subject that can take years to perfect. Since this short training focuses on the essentials, it will be relevant for a long time to come, no matter what changes Google, Facebook or whoever end up making this year.

So sit back, turn off the distractions, turn up your speakers and prepare to learn the fundamentals that you need to succeed.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions at the bottom of this page – or send email to mike[at]indiebandalliance[dot]com if you’d prefer to keep it private.

I’m happy to dive deeper into this topic so your feedback is necessary for more in-depth training on this topic.

So here it is:

Resources:
Need to track your marketing efforts so that you work smarter instead of harder this year? I put this together to help you do that!