Stepping Stones: What It Takes To Go From The Rehearsal Room To Performing In Arenas

Posted on February 6th, 2020   Comments: 30

musician performing in rehearsal room

Niels Schroeter from NCS Entertainment and Blue Élan Records once introduced me to a very important concept: Not every marketing tactic is right for every artist, and the next step an artist should take is really determined by where their career is at, and where they want to take it.

This is important because so often I see artists spending thousands of dollars on promotions that stand very little chance of working because they are simply not ready for it, or because it’s the wrong prescription for their genre.

This was one of those nuggets that I have repeated more times than I can count, and so I thought… Why don’t we get Niels on the podcast to explain this himself.

Niels is a very smart guy who has been there and done that in just about every aspect of the music business. He’s worked in A & R, product development, artist management, marketing, and as a general manager of several labels.

In episode #39 of the Music Marketing Manifesto Podcast I ask Niels to explain his concept of “Stepping Stones” and to walk us through just what it takes to go from the very beginning of one’s career, to becoming an international act. This is one of the more substantial conversations we’ve had on the podcast in a long time. I really think you’re going to dig it.

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30 Comments

  • For sure John!
    Great to hear from you and your insights!!!
    Have a beautiful day!
    Rachel!

  • Hi John!
    It was great to see your name in my email! Thank you for the episode! I feel it is a good idea to define goals and also find that experimentation helps direct the path!
    Thank you John!
    Great to hear from you!
    Rachel!
    http://www.rachelwalkertrio.com

  • Hi John. Been meaning to get in touch with you for some time. My name is Matt Warneford and I’m really looking for help in pushing my band forward in terms of marketing etc. Would love to have a chat at some point. Here’s a link to my current album on Spotify.

  • Skope says:

    Definitely needed to hear this! Thanks!

  • Great interview and perspective on things, as always. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mike Osborn says:

    awesome info. thanks for this episode. when you ran through different genres/best approach, you covered many of them but not outlaw country, wondering what his suggestions would be on that particular one? I think his recommend. on blues was apt if you are traditional blues only. There are fewer and fewer blues festivals(his suggestion was play festivals) and a good portion of those are controlled by “blues nazis” who wont give you the time of day if you dont sound like BB King. There must be more to it or perhaps he has more suggestions if you are blues rock? IM gonna listen to the whole thing again and take detailed notes, this was really good.

    • John Oszajca says:

      Thanks Mike,

      I’d need to listen to it down to be 100% sure, but I believe he talked about Alt Country a bit, and while Outlaw Country is not the same thing, my personal feeling is that the way you’d treat it would be somewhere between blues and alt country. But I don’t want to put words in Niels’ mouth, so you could always try contacting him. Thanks for listening!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for sharing. Great interview. I was a little confused when he started taking about releasing singles more consistently (like monthly) vs an album a year. And specifically how that aligns with what you teach in MMM & email marketing.

      Was he suggesting for example, that we send an email with a link to sell a $1 download of the single? Or putting it in spotify & sending a link to that? During that part of the conversation he kept mentioning spotify, however the royalty rates are so low, wouldn’t it make more sense to just sell it for a dollar via PayPal? Thoughts?

      • John Oszajca says:

        Hi Tim,

        I don’t want to put words in Niels’ mouth, but as I understood the conversation, Niels was talking about Spotify. He was essentially suggesting that an artist could sell their album to their fans via email in the MMM fashion, but also be releasing singles to Spotify over a long period of time, at the rate of about once a month. If you window the release schedule properly, this can still allow you to sell an album that is unavailable for streaming to your list, while releasing single to spotify on a more delayed schedule, for the purposes of music discovery, fan engagement, and some potential revenue.

        While Niels didn’t say this in the interview, you could also consider pulling songs once they have run their course and streams have slowed, in order to insure that you can still maintain the incentive for fans to buy the complete album, but this has it’s pros and cons as well.

        Long story short, streaming strategies are completely separate from the MMM direct to fan sales strategies, but Niels was discussing a way one could do both.

        Thanks for listening.

  • sean says:

    Good interview.

    But I think he’s a little out of touch. You’re about building a business for artists which is the future and he sounds more old school label guy approach. He’s going buy stats on Instagram talking about touring, etc.. very old school. The internet is the biggest radio station on the planet. You can reach the world in the click of a button.

    I’m sold on the funnel way of building a fanbase analytics and numbers don’t lie in my humble opinion. Even he said if you have a 50,0000 emails list you can write your own checks. With a list like that you could sell music, books, merch, etc..

    Good interview just confirms im doing the right thing.

    He mentioned a band ghost selling out the forum with no traditional media doing it independently I would love to read their case study. Hint hint john. I’m sure they would love to tell you their story.

    Thanks, john

    • John Oszajca says:

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for listening, and I’m stoked to hear that you’re a believer, in terms of funnels and this progressive approach to building and and monetizing an audience.

      That said, I definitively don’t think Niels is out of touch, by any measure. He’s one of the more forward thinking label guys I know. He’s just working within a different paradigm, with different pressures and key performance indicators, that someone like me (and it sounds like you) are paying attention to. But that was one of the reasons I wanted to have this discussion. I think that hearing things from both sides is really healthy, and gives all of you guys the clearest perspective on the big picture. I was personally really happy to hear how much our perspectives have come to certain parallels that maybe didn’t exist as much a few years ago when we worked on a few projects together.

      Great idea about reaching out to Vulfpeck. I’ll see what I can do 🙂

  • Mark Spears says:

    Excellent interview. Very informative!!!

      • Melissa D Moorhouse says:

        This was interesting but very different paradigm from indie artists who are 40 plus (like me) I am successfully finding my audience on Facebook and building my community (who are also 40 plus ) I also use Twitter & insta. I am not able to tour but do a few local shows and do performamces on you tube for my followers. I hope to do mini tours in the future. This presentation was more for a younger artist. I would love to see more stuff geared towards older Indies who can’t use this model. I appreciate your podcasts and your time John. Thanks for reading this.

        • John Oszajca says:

          Hi Melissa, thanks for listening, and for leaving the comment.

          To be honest, I don’t really feel the same way about this interview. While the discussion did certainly attempt to cast a broad net, so that one could get a bird’s eye view on an entire career… my goal was more to help people understand that not every marketing tactic makes sense for every artist. As 90% of the artists that I talk to seem to be spending money, and driving forward, without any real clear understanding of what their goals are, where their career is at, and what they need to do next. But just because we did discuss what it would take to get the big record deal and go the distance, that doesn’t mean that you need to share that goal to benefit from some of the things discussed. At least that’s my perspective.

          But I completely hear you, and appreciate the comment. I just wanted to clarify that this was not a podcast about becoming an international super star, but rather a podcast about getting clear on your goals, and clear on what you should be doing to achieve those goals. For whatever that’s worth 🙂

          • Melissa says:

            I appreciate your reply. I do see what you are saying in that indie artists shouldn’t be wasting money on the wrong PR/press/radio. Fortunately, I am in the 10 percent(I have come a long way in the past 4 years) and I have a plan in place and know what steps I need to execute next.Just the wrong podcast for me although I do value your work and other podcasts. Thanks again John 😊

  • Kat says:

    This was an extremely helpful interview! Thank you SO MUCH!! 🙏🏼🎶🤘

  • VERY interesting – thank you John and Niels

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