Tour Bus for Sale

19 Jul

tour bus

Looking for a new ride? This is a sweet deal. Read about it here:

CreativeLive music industry class w/ Steve Rennie

23 Jun

Steve Rennie

Music industry veteran and Renman Music & Business founder, Steve Rennie (aka “Renman“), will return to the CreativeLive stage for the course, “Dream It, Do It: Breaking Into The Music Industry,” on Wednesday, July 2 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. PDT (12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. EDT). During “Dream It, Do It: Breaking Into The Music Industry,” Rennie will draw on his 30-plus years in the music business, teaching the CreativeLive audience what it takes to get your foot in the door and where to go from there. For more information, and to enroll for free today, head over to the CreativeLive ‘Music & Audio’ channel at: A “Dream It, Do It: Breaking Into The Music Industry” teaser video can be seen on YouTube at:

3 Ways Musicians Can Learn from Other Industries

16 Jun

When I was in my MBA program, I often learned more about business from business owners (and running one myself) than the instructor. Usually, the people out in the field have a different perspective than those who are teaching. With the music industry, you have experts who come at it from many different angles: managers, lawyers, record labels, promoters, booking agents, publicists, journalists, solo artists, bands, studio musicians/session players, academics, consultants, and more. One of my favorite ways of learning is to study how other people are approaching their music career. Another is to look completely outside of the music industry itself.

When I want to improve on something specific, I often see what other successful artists are doing. This can be anything from a website layout, social media posts, biographies, and press kits to music videos, color palettes, song formats, and live performances. I often keep a portfolio of these artists’ work to monitor trends, key words, and imagery. It’s like having a list of reference songs in the studio when recording and mixing: the collection becomes a good point of reference to compare against.

When I want a different perspective on the music industry, I’ll look for articles written by people who are involved from completely different jobs. Then, I’ll meet up with someone in the industry, take them out to lunch, and bounce ideas off of them. It’s a great way to help keep each other informed and to build those relationships.

When I want to get more creative, I look outside of the music industry itself to either get ideas or find new ways of approaching problems. For example, when I begin designing merchandise for an upcoming tour, I’ll often look at Pantone ( and see what the hot new colors are for the upcoming season. Then I’ll incorporate those colors in if possible. Or, when I want to get creative about promoting, I’ll look and see what other independent creators are doing: authors, chefs, designers, and so on. In many ways, the book publishing industry has followed the same path of the music industry, so authors and musicians can definitely learn from each other.

Here are three areas where you can begin learning ideas for your music carer:

1. Nerdfighters, Assemble!

Brothers John and Hank Green have come up with some of the most brilliant ways to connect with their audience that I’ve ever seen. Between the two of them, they’ve built up a loyal army of fans called Nerdfighters. They have helped launch an independent record label with several Billboard charting songs, promoted multiple New York Times bestselling books, supported several extremely successful webseries on YouTube, established a massive annual convention called Vidcon, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities. If you want to learn how they did this, take some time out and learn everything that you can about the “vlogbrothers.” Or take a crash course here:

The vlogbrothers are a great example of how developing a very fine niche and appealing to a core community of followers can explode into a worldwide phenomenon. Every independent artist who is serious about their career should be studying the careers of these two brothers.

2. Comparison Charts

Create a list of ten artists (any genre, but preferably successful ones in your own genre) that you can follow in almost every way: look at their biographies, their social media feeds, their “brand” or image that they project to the world and look for common language, imagery, or behaviors. See what kinds of posts they make that get the most feedback (likes, comments, shares, retweets, and so on). Keep a list or chart and find ways to gain some ideas so that you can create your own set of best practices.

3. Follow the Leader

Check out articles and posts from business leaders who are outside of the business industry. Need some ideas of who you should be paying attention to? Try these lists:

Entrepreneurs, digital and social media marketers, business owners, etc. can all help you refine the business side of your music career by helping you make better managerial decisions, create better goals, learn how to use social media, and offer other tips that you might not get from following the usual suspects in the music industry world (ASCAP Daily, Music Think Tank, and so on). Many of these individuals who tweet will post useful links and articles throughout the day that you should be reading.

So begin following/subscribing to several business leaders. If you tweet, follow their accounts. If you use blogs, use RSS. Many also have YouTube accounts, Linkedin Influence accounts, etc. It’s an endless source of ideas that can help you develop your own artistry and business finesse. In fact, might also find content that is relevant to your audience that you could repurpose or retweet yourself.

To learn more ideas about “hacking” your music career, check out my newest book, Music Business Hacks!

Two Things That You Can Do to Start Making Music Industry Contacts Today

4 Jun

Below is a short excerpt from my new book, Music Business Hacks. The book was written with the idea that “music industry” books should be filled with actionable items for artists to directly apply in their careers so that they spend more time doing something with purpose. Think of it as the music career cookbook – you find a topic, you get the “recipe.” Please enjoy – and check out the book (a free loan of the digital version of Amazon Prime members is available).

It’s no secret that often in the world music, it’s more about “who you know” than what you know. The industry generally favors pre-existing relationships, whether you are looking for a venue, a sponsor, a review on your new album, or a slot at SXSW. Like it or not, networking can often make or break an act.

Today, focus on taking a few steps closer to your goal by working on your contacts. Here are some of my favorite tips on networking:

  • Start With a Goal in Mind: Before you haphazardly contact just anyone in the music industry, think about what you want to achieve and who some of the people are that might be able to help you. You might also think about how you can help them in return. Most of the time, you’ll make new contacts in social situations but you can also be strategic about who you want to meet and why.

  • Use “Pull” Marketing Strategies: “Push” marketing is exactly what it sounds like: taking a proactive approach to reach out. However, “pull” marketing is far more effective. That’s when you draw people in.

  • Make Networking a Lifestyle, Not an Activity: While some people will be more inclined to be the social butterfly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make networking a normal part of your career. Don’t be the one who is shoving their business cards in everybody’s face. Instead, be the one that listens to others’ needs and the one who takes the initiative in helping meet those needs.

  • It’s Not Who You Know, it’s Who You Know: Your name is a brand and the more excitement and buzz about you, the more likely you’ll attract others. Learn how to market yourself (social media, especially Linkedin, is a great place to start).

  • Give Them a Reason to Call You: With each exchange (whether online or in person), show the person that you respect their time by giving them something of value. This can be a tip, an interesting story, an incentive, or answer to a lingering question.

You can find more tips with a quick Google search or at the library. I highly recommend books on sales, especially by Jeffrey Gitomer, Jeffrey Fox, and Dale Carnegie.

Activity 1: Create Your Strategy

Create a networking strategy. You can use a spreadsheet, a notebook, email/contact management system, or whatever system you are most comfortable with. Start with:

  1. Your Goals: Who are the people you want to get in touch with and why. What industries are they in? What do you hope to gain out of a relationship with them? Organize these contacts in categories (Managers, record labels, promoters, media, sponsors, etc.).

  2. Degrees of Separation: Who do you know who might have get you one degree closer to the contact? This is where sites like Linkedin are exceptionally useful. Don’t worry if you don’t have a line of contact for each person, just start with who you know.

  3. Add Contact Information: Include their basic contact information as well as any public social media accounts that they might use, such as Twitter.

  4. Value Proposition: List what they are interested in, what you can do to bring value to them. Can you help market their product/service? Create a partnership? Expand their roster?

  5. Contact Plan: Keep a track record of when/how you contact them. Treat this like a sales call sheet. There are many templates available online for this.

  6. Timeline: Group together contacts and create a regular schedule on when you’ll reach out to new contacts and build up existing relationships. It doesn’t take much, consistency goes a long way!


Activity 2: Generate Some Buzz

Build “pull” marketing strategies. Sometimes the best way to make new contacts is to give them a reason to contact you. In other words, find ways to make them take the initiative. There are a couple of ways to do this online:

  • Become a Resource for Them: Create some “online capital” by writing a regular blog or contributing to content on sites like Quara, HARO, or Linkedin. If you create meaningful content for things that your target contacts are interested in, they’ll be more inclined to contact you.

  • Generate Some Buzz: Hire a publicist, find ways to create some momentum through social media, create some industry buzz. Remember, focus on their industry. It doesn’t help you to reach #1 on ReverbNation for bands in your area if they have never heard of the website before. The best publicity gained is in areas where they will “stumble” across you and your work.

  • Draw Them In: Think of other ways that your target contacts will discover you. What interests them? What kind of websites or trade journals do they visit and read? Who do they know that could make that introduction? Some research can save you a lot of time and make your efforts much more effective.


By spending just a few minutes a day working on these two activities, you’ll begin to cultivate new relationships that can help take your career further than ever before.


Music Business Hacks Now Available!

31 May Music Business Hacks cover

Music Business Hacks cover

My new book, Music Business Hacks, is now available on the Kindle store here. The print version is available here.

Do you have 15 minutes to spare?

If you want to spend more time doing and less time reading, this is going to be your kind of book. This isn’t the kind of cover-to-cover manual on the music business where you have to figure out how to apply vague concepts to your career. No, this is your recipe book for music business success.

Every section is broken down into short bites with specific actions that you can take to begin taking control of your music career right away. You’ll learn things like:

How to book your own tours
How to get sponsors
Who you should hire
Using social media in a way that actually works
How to become a better musician
How to be more strategic with your art

Crammed with over 2,000 tips and idea-generators, this book will let you hack your way through the music business. Also, it features advice from A&R reps, label owners, publicists, attorneys, artists, and more!

Check out the book now! 


Talking about Music Business Hacks

29 May

Talking about Music Business Hacks

This week, I’ll be a guest curator on OPB’s State of Wonder. We’ll be talking about my new upcoming book, Music Business Hacks, and discussing how artists can navigate their career with creativity and passion. Tune in on Saturday – and keep watching this blog for the link to the new book when it is released!

How to Find New Audiences Through Market Segmentation

26 May

Market segmentation involves breaking down a broad audience into a smaller subset of customers. You can divide along demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and/or psychographics (values, lifestyles, interests, etc.). The more that you can segment a market by narrowing it down while still having an audience large enough to offset any investment, the better. Broad marketing is not only very expensive, but generally ineffective as well.

Example of Poor Segmentation (too broad):

I want to target the young (ages 12-25) Christian market in the Midwest.

The above example can be improved by narrowing and/or adding additional qualifiers. For example, this could be re-written to:

I want to target male Christians, ages 18-25, who live in the Midwest and are interested in bluegrass music.

Here are some guidelines on finding new markets based on segmentation:

  • It Requires Experimentation: You will need to try out different combinations of demographics and psychographics before settling on some. Researching different groups will help give you an idea over the size of the market that is available to you.
  • Don’t Rely on Stereotypes: People are often complex and have varied interests or habits. Sometimes, you’ll seemingly contradictory values, traits, or interests – in fact, those are often the best niche markets because they are often ignored. For example, there are many Buddhist Christians and vegetarians who eat bacon. By trying new, unique combinations, you might find a new niche.
  • Have a Minimum: You’ll need some standard to measure by in order to see if there is enough of an audience in a particular market. Some examples include: number of websites or interest-based magazines, followers or groups on social media, message boards, subculture-based videos, books, and the amount of other musicians targeting this same market, if any.
  • Connect the Pieces: It’s best if you have a direct connection with that new audience, even if you aren’t actively targeting it. You might have a song, imagery in a music video, certain fans, personal values, or other things related to the interest of the new market already. Coming from a place of authenticity is going to be much more effective than if you are only pandering to the market.

You can’t effectively market yourself to everyone so it’s important to be strategic about the process. Do some research, look at the potential, and find ways to connect. As you collect this information, save your notes so you can compare the pro’s and con’s of each potential new market.



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