How the Internet has Changed the Music Business – Guest Post by David J. Hahn

by Jason on September 10, 2009 · 1 comment

in Business, Guest Bloggers, Marketing/Promotion, Thoughts

david-j-hahnToday’s guest post comes to us from David J. Hahn. I’m thrilled to have David be part of my blog, as he was one of the first musician bloggers I met. Before I started One Working I did lots of research, and one of the first blogs I came across was, which was started by David and Cameron Mizell. I was blown away by all the useful information there, the interviews with other working musicians, and this article in particular, “Why You Should Start a Blog Today”. That article sealed the deal, and One Working was born.

But blogging is only David latest endeavor. He is a successful freelance music director, accompanist and writer. Originally from the Chicago area, he now lives in New York City and works primarily in musical theatre.

You can find out more about David and check out some of his recordings at his website and by following him on Twitter. And be sure to poke around at Theres TONS of great stuff for the working musician there.

How the Internet Has Changed The Way I Do Business

By David J. Hahn

I was charmed last week by the story of the Broadway show Next To Normal and their Twitter performance. With ticket sales slumping, they decided to try a new marketing approach. They performed the entire show on Twitter – tweeting each character’s line and posting links to the cast recordings when they came to the songs. By the end of the performance they had increased their following by 115,000. Ticket sales increased by 24%.

Despite my incontestable addiction to internet and social media (it’s true), I’m sometimes still shocked when the internet ends up being anything more than a neat, but useless, toy. You’d think that I would know better by now, don’t you?

And I do. I thought I would catalog a few successes I’ve had this year that show how the internet has changed the way I do business as a working musician.

Oh Dear, I Seem to Have Blogged

When the recession hit last year my business was slammed. It was clear that I was going to need to find new ways to network in this industry.

My friend Cameron Mizell and I started the website last fall. We knew that between the two of us we had a lot of knowledge about working in the musician industry, and if we stuck to it, we could create a blog and a readership that would be really unique.

I think we’ve both been surprised at how positive the experience of writing for a website has been on us personally and professionally. A lot of the people I’ve connected with over the past year – including Steve at the Barter Theater (who I’ll talk about next), Jason (who owns this site), and even a few of my new clients and coworkers – have been people that I first met through the site.

Some of the highlights for me have been the interviews with other working musicians. More than once these interviews have led to a genuine connection, again, both personally and professionally, with these musicians. Those connections have led to recommendations from both sides – and that has led to more work for all of us.

Plaid It Up

I’ve been working this summer as the musical director at a summerstock theater in upstate NY. Our last show is Forever Plaid, which is a show that is so popular that it has been it’s own sub-economy of the musical theatre industry since it’s debut in 1990. For a time in the 1990s (and to a lesser extent even today) you could work year-round merely by jumping from one regional production of Forever Plaid to the next. It’s also a difficult production to put together, and so well-worn by now that it’s an intimidating project for any Plaid rookie.

We’re not the only theater doing Forever Plaid this summer. Of course not – this is a recession and popular shows like this are saved for times when tickets must be sold. Theaters all over the country are Plaiding it up this summer.

I was lucky enough to connect with another music director that was also performing Forever Plaid at the famous Barter Theater in western Virginia. Steve Sensenig was a few weeks into rehearsal when we connected on Twitter, so he already had a good idea of which parts were going to be most difficult for us on our production. We traded notes back and forth on Twitter and email and in the end it really had a positive impact on our production.

We’ve started a Facebook Group for theatre music directors in the hopes that more of us might be able to connect and compare notes in the future. Join us if you’re interested.

Their Gonna Put Me In The Movies

I received an email last week from Sony’s motion picture department asking me for the full-quality version of one of my piano recordings they are considering using for one of their upcoming films.

The production company working on the film found my recording on iTunes. That’s right, iTunes. No agents, no radio play, no label executives pushing to get exposure for their artists – just iTunes.

Do you know what that means? It means that there are music supervisors for big films that are typing little searches into the iTunes Music Store and trying to find new music for new movies. It means that a DIY musician’s best case scenario can come true. I’m talking about the scenario that begins with that musician putting their music on iTunes and ends with a licensing contract from Sony and their music exposed to, potentially, millions of movie goers across the world.

The movie is slated to be released next year, and time will tell whether my recording is used or cut. Either way, I’ve very glad this opportunity found me and it’s another great example of how the internet has changed my career.

Those are just a few examples of the positive and productive impact that the internet has recently had on my career. It’s clear to me that we’ve already gone through a major transition in the way the musician industry connects.

If you haven’t jumped on the wagon yet I recommend you get started! My best advice would be to start following RSS feeds of musician industry blogs like this one, and try reading Cameron’s great article, A Musician’s Guide to Creating An Online Presence.

Best of luck and see you around!

Thank you David for your insights, and the reminder that the internet can actually be a tool to find work if you use it correctly and diligently.

So, how as the internet changed the way you run your music business? If you have any success stories or other activities that have paid off for you, please share them them below in the comments section.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tim Carey September 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Nice article. I’m one of the people who is new enough to the music business that all I have ever used for networking and marketing is the internet. I have found it to be great for hooking up woth out of town bands on tour who need a sub. Some of my highest paying and funnest gigs have been with bands or artists who found me on myspace just by searching “seattle bass player” on google, facebook has also had the same impact on my gig getting. I also use Myspace to post video lessons for my students, and to promote multiple bands at once under the umbrella of Tim Carey the bass player. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

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