Earlier this month I put together a survey of seven music strategy questions that I keep getting hung up on (seen, linked on the right).
Here are the questions and results. I’ve bolded and ordered the top answers adding my basic conclusions below, saving further thoughts till the end.
1. What kind of material should I focus on playing?
- 94% – My original songs
- 36% – Folk/rock covers
- 33% – Sunday morning singalong songs
- 17% – Reggae and dub numbers
- 19% – Kid’s songs
- 14% – Meditative, ambient music
- 6% – Love songs, wedding band covers
Conclusions: People like the other covers sprinkled in but the clear majority want me to sing my stuff.
2. Which venues suit me best?
- 68% – Outdoor shows, parks
- 62% – House concerts, backyard parties
- 46% – Coffee shops
- 32% – YouTube videos
- 14% – Churches
- 8% – Bars, clubs
- 5% – Live streaming online
Conclusions: Keep doing outdoor shows! Do house concerts and parties more regularly. More YouTube videos. (I don’t want to do coffee shops. I’ve done them and will depart from the crowd on this one.) Consider a church collaboration.
3. What configurations suit me best?
- 51% – Solo acoustic (no microphones, no amps)
- 46% With one other player (like guitar, keys, or drums)
- 37% – Solo electric (with mic, amp, loops and effects)
- 37% – With a big band (add horn section)
- 34% – With a band (guitar, bass, drums, etc.)
Conclusions: No standout configuration winners or losers. Solo acoustic and with another player seem to win, but people would like to see all of these. Reminds me that I can play with a stripped down setup most of the time but to make sure and put on a bigger show a few times a year.
4. As a musician, what should I go as?
- 49% – Jason Molin
- 31% – J Molin
- 20% – Everyday J
Conclusions: Jason Molin is the winner but 1/3 of my audience thinks of me as J. Keep using Jason Molin as the official listing, but J as the usual nickname.
5. I’m redesigning and planning a relaunch of my site. What web address should I use? I own these.
- 35% – jasonmolin.com
- 35% – jmolin.com
- 24% – jasonmolin.net (current)
- 5% – channelj.me
- 0% – channelj.org
Conclusions: Hmmm… jasonmolin.com and jmolin.com are virtually tied. jmolin is shorter, so that could break the tie. But jasonmolin.net and .com got 60% to jmolin 34% (more in keeping with the question above). I’m really on the fence here.
I think there is a way to choose all the above here, since I can advertise jmolin.com and redirect it and jasonmolin.net to the jasonmolin.com.
6. Which model for recouping costs would you be most likely to support?
- 69% – All the above, a blended balance of all
- 11% – Kickstarter-like Crowd Funding: get pledges for albums or projects annually in exchange for stuff and access
- 9% -Traditional Commercial: sell CDs, merch, charge for shows
- 6% – Fan Club Patrons: fans/patrons get stuff (letters, CDs, posters, invites, swag) and special access for ongoing support
- 6% – Public Radio: occasionally ask for member support in exchange for swag; find partners/sponsors
Conclusion: Use all the above. Work to give people all these options so that people can support in their various ways.
7. Any other comments?
- No more shitty gigs! Hey!
- Love the survey! (Several people said this.)
- Your park get-togethers are awesome but should also function as a platform to publicize your other gigs. A dot com domain is always preferable.
- Your music makes me happy!
- Use your drawings as album covers and use it in merch as well.
- Keep the music coming!
- I think any band configuration would be great. I personally would like to see a big band! Maybe also a different guest vocalist to duet with you from time to time.
- I really feel you should play whatever you like wherever you like.
- Don’t let your music die, continue and follow your dreams dude.
- So I think if you’re gonna be famous (and you should definitely be famous) it would be clearest to go with J. Plus it’s kinda bold to be one letter.
- I really appreciated your music in outdoor intimate settings.
- It is so wonderful to see you continuing to grow through your musical love.
Conclusions: I love all of you for taking the time to encourage me and help me out. Some great advice and inspiration here. Message received: I’m not stoppin!!!
So there are the results, and here are my thoughts, beyond the simple conclusions I listed above.
First of all, I learned a lot about myself before the first response because defining my struggles and coming to terms with viable options did much of the mental and emotional work to answer these questions for myself. It took a while to figure out what decisions were hanging me up, and also which options I wanted people to help me choose between. Once I did I’d reckoned with much of what was getting me stuck.
Second, as I got the first responses I realized I had to take the survey myself, answer the questions for myself, and reckon with how much power I was going to share with my fans on these decisions, especially if they chose differently than me. The act of asking and perhaps delegating my decisions to the group got me to realize which ways I didn’t want to go (even if people told me to).
Thirdly, the responses were both helpful and inspiring. A high percentage of people I emailed responded, many with thoughtful and encouraging comments. As with my Kickstarter campaign a few years ago, it was a thrill to see how many people will help me when asked, and a pleasant surprise to see who I heard from. Note to self: people want to help, BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK!
In the end the result is to move on, jump the hurdles, make more music, and don’t get hung up on these things anymore. This means:
- Play outdoor shows and house concerts. Post them to YouTube.
- Focus on original material with a mix of covers thrown in, folk/rock, singalong, reggae, kids, and ambient.
- Keep shows simple most of the time – solo acoustic or with guitar player – but put on a band show biannually and big band show annually.
- I’m Jason Molin and I go by J. I should emphasize J and be findable both ways.
- I should migrate everything to jmolin.com and redirect everything else there.
- I should use a mix of old and new funding models.
- Keep the music coming!
This was a tremendously helpful and encouraging exercise. Now I need to move past these questions. There’s a lot of work do to putting on shows in more spaces and varied setups, and migrating and relaunching my site. Thank you all for the help and support!!!