Friday, December 6, 2013

Breaking Down the Game with Christopher Burns

Photo by Darius B. Williams
We know that the music industry is changing in real time, but how do we as indie artists take advantage of the change? Art lover, sneaker mogul, and music publisher Christopher D. Burns, MFA talks about his experience and breaks down the game.

What has to happen is an empowerment of the indie artist. I don't even do music, but this spring when my shoe company was doing really well, I diversified and produced a single. I paid for the video to be shot, I paid for the beat and studio time. I didn't know anything about the publishing industry and I wanted to help, so I didn't even put the publishing under my name. I let the artist do it all and I moved him towards Tunecore. I knew that Tunecore could get the music on all of the platforms and since it was one single I let it go. He has since gotten several royalty checks on that one song, the Youtube vid is at 20K and he's been invited by emcees in Europe to do small, but paid features. (I leave the name out because this is a post for the purpose of explaining how to empower). I state all of this to say that those of us in small business have to share our knowledge. I break my neck to share what I know with people. I post it in my blog and when I write on my other blog, I share as much as I can. Breaking an artist is definitely possible and attainable. If I can make my own running shoe and sell 600 pair in competition with Nike and Adidas, emcees with the right strategies can get to the public and sell downloads. Here is how:

1. Make sure you have a web presence that is central to your brand. One place. I want to visit your site and find everything I need to know.

2. Sign up with a digital distributor like Tunecore (they will get you with BMI or ASCAP or you can sign up to keep your catalog there on your own) to have your music placed on all of the digital platforms. You can also sign up for Createspace to control this on your own and release music through - 60% of all music is downloaded on iTunes the other 30 is Amazon, the rest is Google Play, etc.

Christopher sporting ARCH sneakers
3. Get you a dedicated Youtube station which you can later monetize if you get the traffic. When you have a solid base of 2 videos sign up with VEVO which will gain you distribution and connection to other artists in the genre and VEVO has an app on Roku and other wireless streaming devices.

4. Set up your facebook page/instagram/tumblr and grant yourself a budget of 30-50 dollars per month to build likes. I know personally that every 1000 fans/likes will get you interaction with about 70 people. Yep it's that small, but the more people you have like your page the more you reach your base.

5. Make dope fucking music and believe in it.

I think it's critical that we share what has helped us. I may have put my shoe company on hiatus, but after a lot of trial and error, when I'm ready to relaunch (deeper pockets) I have 4 years of experimentation with results to go to. I'm passionate about the small biz and artists who are willing to listen and learn.

Find out more about Christopher's publishing company at When you're done, check out his sneakers at because the only thing doper than empowerment is empowerment + new kicks.

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