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The Art of Asking

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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Everyone watch Amanda Palmer’s brilliant Ted talk. I’ll wait the 13 minutes.

Ok, now that you’re in tears and are just as inspired as I am, let’s take something away from this.

No musician in the world is a better asker, connector, motivator or promoter, in my opinion, than Amanda Fucking Palmer (AFP). But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn to become better at all of these important attributes.

Take a moment to understand what is at the core of what we are doing as musicians. We are connecting. We are providing happiness, comfort, hope, encouragement, love and beauty by creating music and sharing it. We are connecting. In return, we are hoping that these people are moved enough to give us monetary support so that we can make a living doing what we love.

We do this to connect. Most of us just don’t realize that. Even if you’re socially awkward and don’t like talking to people after a show, you are still creating music to connect – otherwise you’d never let it see the light of day.

The answer to the biggest question in the modern music industry, how do you get people to pay for music, is revealed in a beautiful sentiment by AFP: “Don’t make people pay for music. Let them.”

Let that sink in.

It is all about the connection from day one. The most important thing you can do is gain the trust of your fans and reciprocate the admiration. If they tell you they love your song or your show or your video, make sure you take a moment to truly thank them and feel it down to your soul what this connection means. Be it at a show, on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube.

But it doesn’t just mean thanking them. Reach out and ask for help from your friends and fans. It makes them feel good to help someone they believe in. Most young musicians don’t have much money, so in the early stages you need the support. Ask a web designer friend to help you build your website (thank you to my brother Micah who has done this from day one). Ask a graphic designer friend for a logo, tshirt, cd, website and other merch designs (thank you Gadi for everything – more things than I can name), Ask your friends who are photographers to take your promo photos (thank you Michael, Mike and Gadi…again). Ask videographer friends (or film students needing to build their resume) to film and edit your music videos (thank you Eddie, Erik, Ali and Gadi… again and again!)

I wouldn’t be anywhere without the help that my friends (and fans) have given me over the years. Hell, this site was designed by Gadi and my brother Micah for hugs, high fives and love.

Derek Sivers (CDBaby founder) wrote a great piece back in 09 (2 years after Radiohead shattered the traditional music model by giving their album away for “pay what you want”) about letting your fans pay for music. He said “Some people like to pay. Let them.”
+Double Your Income… No Really

Always give the option for people to pay you. I’m not saying walk around with a tip jar around your neck, but on your websites you should have an option to buy your music (obviously), but also if you want to take the first step with all of us, give your music away for “pay what you want” and leave that amount space blank or with a suggested amount. Doing this, I’ve had people give me $40 for a SINGLE. No joke.

I’ve done my fair share of street performing and understand (similar to AFP) that opening your guitar case for tips is not begging (similarly to how I ran my Kickstarter campaign) – it’s allowing people to support you in a way that makes the most sense to them.
+How I Made $13,544 in A Month (On Kickstarter)

I have an open guitar case on this site (see at the bottom) for tips from readers who are getting something out of this site. Thank you to everyone who has supported my writing this way and thanks to everyone for reading and continuing to come back.

We’re all in it together!

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

Join the movement!

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