10 Sites Every Serious Indie Musician Should Have Bookmarked, and Why - Pt. 2

6. The Sixty One
The URL:

One of my personal favorite music communities, and probably the one that has shown me the most love as an artist, The Sixty One (or T61) somehow managed to marry music fandom with gaming. I've made a few personal friends and valuable allies over there. Basically, the more love you can show for the music you love by "bumping" it, the more points and status you can gain, which ultimately give you a reputation among other people in T61. And of course, the more points you get as an artist, the more music you can upload.

Why Bookmark It:
The notoriety you get is real and long-lasting. The people of T61 very rarely "bump" something they aren't feeling. Even if they do, they have to sit there and really listen to your music before they can even think about giving you a thoughtless "bump" (if that makes any sense). Usually though, once the folks dig your music, they expose you to other users and word can spread very quickly about who you are and what you're doing.

How to Maximize It:
Listen to the stuff people are bumping, make comments and connect. You'd be surprised how much talent is on that site.

7. MOG

The URL:

Why Bookmark It:
Well, this is like a super-blogger training ground. Budding music fans, veteran music fans, bloggers, writers, publishers, all kind of collide here on this big ass site that combines the scrobbling powers of Last.FM with the intimacy of Facebook. Many people move on from MOG to become top-notch bloggers, so it's good to meet them before they spread their wings. Not to mention it's a great way to discover new music (indie or not).

How to Maximize It:
You know the drill...go out and talk. Make friends.

8. Tube Mogul
The URL:

Why Bookmark It:
Well, if you're looking to promote your video, this one's a no-brainer. With one upload and one click, you simultaneously hit all the major video outlets on the internet (Youtube, Vimeo, Yahoo Video, etc.), and maybe even a few you haven't heard of. They also give you several options for how to actually promote it once they put it up for you.

9.TheHypeMachine (Top List)

The URL:

Why Bookmark It:
The Hypelist is cool...kinda. It can be a good resource for finding new music and blogs that are getting props for writing about new music. It is also a hipster haven, so beware. You will run into a ton of crappy electronic remixes and pictures of bearded men in tight pants with keyboards under their arms. I'm not judgin'...I'm just sayin.

How to Maximize It:
The secret jewel is the toplist, which lists for you which blogs are actually on their business, so you don't have to waste your time wading through tons of sites that are dead. You can go straight to the ones that are actively looking for new music and posting about it everyday (or in some cases, several times a day).


The URL:

Why Bookmark It:
This is the one-stop solution for status updates. Unlike Tweetdeck, which is Twitter-centric, you can use Ping.fm to update ALL of your sites at once. No toggling between tabs and pages and browsers to tell your Myspace fans what you just told your fellow Tweeters and Facebookers. Just go to Ping.fm, type it in once and save yourself a few minutes and some needless distractions.

How to Maximize It:
Coupled with the Flock browser and a cool lil application I found called Self-Control, Ping.fm becomes an effective way to manage the way you spend your time online, and how you promote your business.

DIY Touring -- Get on the Bus!

Indie Musicians hold on to your laptops: Gas is Cheap again! You’ve just lost your job and the government has taken you under its ample wing! You still have 964 CDs from that first pressing of your album under your bed collecting dust. You’ve always wanted to tour… It’s time to hit the road! But how to start?

These days everyone and their uncle make music. We play shows in our towns to our friends and modest crowds of earnest fans, but we yearn for that next step. The road beckons us with a promise of smoky bars (some places it’s still legal!), cozy hotel rooms, and late nights trading stories with friendly strangers. It’s the new American Dream, and it’s really not that hard to realize.

I’ve hustled my way through 4 national DIY tours. The first one was a small investment, we broke even the following two, and now we’re just starting to make some money. I’m not promising you the same results, but this article will hopefully help you learn from the mistakes I’ve made, and get you started on some of the best experiences an independent musician can have.

One of my fondest memories from my third tour was waking up at the crack of dawn in Johnson City, TN to the sound of a concrete drill directly outside our host’s apartment. Lifting my face from the
drool spot I had unwittingly contributed to the menagerie of other stains and burns on the carpet, I looked around the dim living room.

Domer’s head was buried in the couch (it was his turn), but he definitely was not sleeping. The Metermaids were tossing around in their sleeping bags like alien eggs about to burst. Only DJ Halo, sprawled out in an armchair, seemed to sleep peacefully despite the 500dB screech shaking the windows in their frames. I lifted the curtain and an overweight workman looked up at me sullenly, “Sorry. ‘Be done in a few minutes.” It was 9am on a Sunday; we had gone to sleep at 6am.

By 11am we had eaten some cereal, smoked some cigarettes, and were back in the car—most of us back asleep—speeding to our next sound check 8 hours away. Some nights we played to a smattering of ornery locals in a dive bar, other nights we rocked a packed house at a giant venue. If you’re not Michael Jackson or Miley Cyrus, this is just the way it goes.

The goal is to have a show booked for every night of the tour. If you aim for that, then you’ll have a night or two off when a few of them inevitably cancel at the last minute. And they always do. Also, try to book a big show somewhere first. Even if it’s on the other coast, you’ll feel better playing a bunch of smaller shows if you know you’ve got a guaranteed banger opening for Busta Rhymes in Missoula. Once you have a big show or two locked-in, then you need to start filling in the gaps.

I know
Myspace has gotten shady lately, but it should not be completely abandoned as a resource. Their music search pages allow you to enter a town or zip code and a genre, and then see who in that town has the most fans, hits, etc. Start searching for profiles that fit your type of music, who have decent fan bases, and, most importantly, shows lined up.

Aim for acts that seem to be roughly on your level. If a group has three shows on their page, chances are that they can get you on one in the future. This doesn’t mean that if a group has no shows, you should disregard them. If you like their music and the vibe of their page, then you should hit them up anyway. Sometimes a well-planned house party jumps off better than playing the local bar and grill.

Build a database of these connections. Save them to your favorites list. Then send them emails offering a show trade. Tell them you’re booking a tour, you’ll be in town around certain dates, and if they hook up a show, you will do the same for them should they ever want to play your town.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep—you should only do this if you can actually throw a decent show in your town. It’s not hard to rent a PA and invite all your friends out, so that’s the bare minimum. However, if you’re planning on hitting the road with your box of cds, t-shirts, and stickers, but don’t even have a rep in your own town, you’re probably going to waste a lot of time and money.

When you finally hit the road, stick your ego in your pocket. I’ve found that most of the cats on the DIY circuit are humble people. They open their homes to us, feed us, and sometimes even come out of pocket to hook up some gas money if a show goes particularly wretchedly. As a rule, I will give a touring group at least $50 for show, even if I brought out the whole crowd. It’s a professional courtesy.

Please keep in mind, though, that if you’re touring for your first time, and you reach out to someone for a show, this does not entitle you to any money. Chances are this person isn’t making any money, and it’s not like he or she called you. If you’re calling a person for a show, then you need to be ready to walk with only the money you make from your merch sales.

The key to substantial merch sales is to work the crowd after your performance. You’re on the road to spread your music, so you should walk around with your email list and a stack of CDs and talk to people. If you spend the night sulking or looking pretentious behind your merch table, I guarantee that you will lose out on $50-$80 each night. Most people at a bar are more reluctant to lose their seat than drop $5-$10 for a CD.

(As a side note, I suggest to never write off a small crowd. Sometimes the smallest crowds at the lousiest bars will buy one of everything at the merch table. If you’re really dope, you have the chance to let the people there feel like they’ve been lucky to catch a rare performance of an artist on the rise. Be humble. Be grateful. Look them in the eyes and listen to their stories. If you’re lucky enough to really take off one day, you’ll miss these past days of awkward intimacy.)

As you crisscross the road atlas, be sure to keep all your gas, toll, and motel receipts. Have everyone write their name on what they pay for, and keep them all in an envelope. At the end of the trip, add up all the receipts (x). Divide (x) by how many people were on the tour. This will be everyone’s equal share of expenses (z). Add up everyone’s individual contributions (y). The difference between (y) and (z) will be what each person either owes or has overpaid and is owed. I’ve found this to be the best way to make sure no one gets shafted with paying for too much gas.

Finally, make sure you’re friends with the people who you tour with. The last thing you want is a fight breaking out when you’re 800 miles from home and heads being salty for the rest of the treck. Your first couple tours are going to be rough. You’re going to play to near-empty venues of completely ambivalent locals. You’re going to eat a lot of crap fast food. You’re going to sleep on a lot of floors. And you’re not going to be making fistfuls of dough. If you’re with the right people, the worst case scenario is a musical vacation / road trip. If you’ve chosen to tour with some people you barely know, you may end up stranded in Iowa rapping about glocks with MC Rusty Bushes.

Good luck booking your tour. If you’ve toured the DIY circuit, please leave some comments with your favorite tour stories. I’d love to hear them!