The conference program has no description for this workshop and I wasn't at all sure what to expect. I went in prepared to turn the tables on the mammon worshipping collection agencies and preach the gospel of Creative Commons to the masses, but no such thing ended up happening. Instead, Keith Mohr disarmed me by focusing the talk on how musicians are absolutely terrible at promoting themselves to which I say a hardy, "Amen!"
It's a truism that most musicians tend to have less than refined social skills. After all, if they if they had good social skills their youth would have been spent having fun with their friends rather than whiling away endless hours locked up in their bedroom trying to figure out the exact fingering for that riff in Stairway to Heaven. Additionally they tend to believe that people will be so impressed by their musical chops that adoring fans will naturally flock to them inevitably leading to the big cha-ching $$$!
Now we all know you're more likely to win the big lottery than to have such a providential event happen, but musicians all to often hold onto that sliver of hope rather than put the work into learning how to package and promote themselves in a manner that will increase their chance of their success. This blog is a wonderful example of how I tend to do that myself - a fact I'm constantly reminded of each time I look at Google Analytics.
Keith Mohr runs the site indieheaven.com which is specifically designed to help out musicians by making it easier by providing a portal were fans can better discover their music and learn about upcoming events. Keith also mentors many of his clients to help them refine their image and create a consistency of feel that fans are expecting.
In the workshop, Keith talked about how the industry has changed. It used to be that the brick and mortar record industry would take on all the heavy lifting of promotion and management for young and unknown bands but with the advent of the Internet, all that has changed. It has lowered barriers of entry and artists are now expected to lift themselves up by the bootstraps. The industry tends to only look at those who have already managed to attain certain heights of acclaim before even considering signing them. This ensures a more stable source of revenues for the labels but can be self defeating for the artist. Why would you hand control of your work over to a third party when you have already managed to go most of the way on your own? The value proposition is thin at best.
Keith was kind enough to grant an interview where he talks about these things. You can listen inline below or download the interview in MP3 format.
Interview with Keith Mohr of indieheaven.com
Be sure to listen to the end of the interview where Keith was kind enough to clear rights to include a clip from the smooth jazz guitarist, Drew Davidsen. There's also a few amusing outtakes at the end including one where I totally mispronounce the name of his site.