Meet Will Black: The man who knows how to connect with fans, can play over 400 songs live, and how to run a DIY album funding campaign without the help of a label. Read it all here on Facebook: http://ow.ly/fSANy
How did you get your start? Have you always been a career musician?I’ve been performing music since high school and initially was playing the pub circuit in and around Vancouver in the late ’90s. In 2001 I took my rock duo “The Doorcrashers” onto the high seas and played a couple years for Carnival Cruises. Then in 2005 I landed in Bermuda at Hog Penny Pub and I’ve basically been performing here 5 nights a week ever since – just about to finish my 7th season!
Tell us about why you decided to use PledgeMusic to get the funds you need to record your new album as opposed to using a similar site, like kickstarter, or even over the help of a label? (We think it’s an awesome choice by the way!) Have you used PledgeMusic in the past?
I had never used any sort of crowdsourcing website before, but I had interviewed a couple of musicians on my music podcast (The Blinding Heights) who highly recommended PledgeMusic specifically. Kickstarter wasn’t going to work because it was necessary to be living in the US to get that set up, so PledgeMusic was who I went with. Having said that, I would use PledgeMusic again as I like their music-centric philosophy and the layout of their site towards promoting music projects specifically.
Running a funding campaign using PledgeMusic is a great way for an independent artist to raise the financing needed to produce your musical product (ie album, tour) and keep the fans who have pledged part of the experience from conception straight through to project completion and beyond. It allows me to maintain 100% control over the direction and quality of my music campaign without the need for a record label.
You can learn more about my 2nd album I am currently working called “Dangerously Close” at http://www.WillBlack.com/pledgemusic.
How did you hear about Music Xray? Have you found success through us yet? Tell us about your experience with the platform.
I’ve known about Music Xray for a while now (can’t remember when it started, but I’ve been on the mailing list a long time). I’ve recently used the new Fan Match service and it’s opened my eyes to the importance of placing a dollar value on each fan that subscribes to your mailing list. Of course, it’s important to keep connection with fans personal and engaging, but from a business point of view you need to know how much it costs to actually get a new fan onto your mailing list and into your musical scope. It helps you to work towards a profitable music career for your own music vs. having it simply as a hobby you throw money at.
How do you feel about your current Fan Match campaign for your song “Señorita Ballerina?” Have you been in touch with any new fans? Any comments on the product in general?
I’ve only done the Fan Match campaign for one song so far and that’s the single from debut record “Senorita Ballerina”. I’ve added everyone who has liked the song to my mailing list, but I haven’t heard from anyone directly that they found me via Fan Match. The next phase will be to follow up with them directly via the new Facebook link Music Xray has added next to each user’s ID.
My concern with Fan Match is that for each of the fans scouting and listening to different artists, they will get overwhelmed with additions to so many different artist mailing lists that it will wash out much of the connection I am trying to make with them via my own newsletter. However, I understand that Fan Match also provides other helpful services like scouting out new material with fans of like-minded artists to discover how relevant a song may be.
How’s the Canadian music scene? Do you plan to build a main fan base there, or branch out all over the place as soon as possible and get fans from everywhere?
I’ve been performing abroad for so long that I haven’t done many gigs in Canada (specifically the Toronto area these days) in a while. I get a couple shows in every year over my winter months off from performing at Hog Penny in Bermuda, but the live scene in bars and pubs has slowed down much like it has throughout North America. It would be interesting to see a comparison with Europe and the UK as to how much things have changed there too? Hopefully there will be some sort of revival in live music over the coming years… I hope I’m still alive to see it when it does!
I also currently self-market my music worldwide via social media like Facebook and Twitter. Other than the language barrier making communication difficult sometimes, I value all music fans no matter where in the world they are.
Tell us about your podcast “the Blinding Heights” – what’s on it, who’s on it and how’d it start?
The Blinding Heights Podcast is a monthly show that I host and produce. I market it as “your premiere new music discovery service” and my aim is to take the heavy lifting out getting great independent rock and pop songs into people’s ears. With the proliferation of home-recording, etc – there are now SO many independent and unsigned acts in the world that it can be quite the search effort for someone to discover new music that they will really enjoy. I try to be a go-between to hook up the best songs I find directly with the fans who want to hear them.
The show has been running for 2 years now and has its own webpage at http://www.theBlindingHeights.com/.
If you know of a band or artist that would benefit from being on the show, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you feel about self-recording, producing, and releasing your first album? That’s a fantastic accomplishment – you’re basically untouchable in the music industry now that you know how it’s done?
Untouchable! Wow, now I feel like Al Capone or something.. 😉
Most of those various hats were worn out of necessity to keep costs down, but thankfully I chose Metalworks Studios, one of the best studios in Canada to record my first album at. Awesome facility with great house engineers and I’ll be doing my followup album, “Dangerously Close” there as well.
I’ve tried to do as much as I can on my own including website development and all my own social media promotion. Because my “day job” is gigging 5 nights a week, I’ve had my weekdays available to focus on learning the trade of growing my original music business. When my business (ie. fanbase) gets to the point that I need to bring on more help, then I will look at contracting whatever services I need. It’s even possible I could end up working with a label someday, but it likely wouldn’t be until I brought a larger fan base to the table.
We read that your live shows are 2.5 – 3 hours without breaks. That’s amazing! How has that panned out so far? Any interesting stories about playing for that long with no stopping?
It all started when I used to busk on the streets of downtown Victoria, BC when I was a kid. You would get a 2 hr slot at the good spaces to perform and you would sing your ass off and try and rake in as many tips as you could before it was the next guy’s turn. That philosophy has pretty much stuck with me ever since and then when I started performing at Hog Penny Pub the management specifically wanted me to do 3 hr shows and it’s never been a problem. Hey, if you stop your show for a break, you are simply giving people an excuse to bar hop down the street and catch the next band or DJ.
The downside is that I don’t get to socialize directly with the customers as much as I would if I took breaks every 45 mins, but I think the upside is better. You also have to take care of your voice which I do through daily vocalizing and monthly lessons with one of the best vocal coaches on the planet – Mark Baxter.
You have a song repertoire of over 400 songs? How did you learn them all, and moreover, what drove you to this?
This is pretty much just been through picking up tunes here and there over the years and always asking people for their requests. I have nicely setup request books that I encourage listeners to look through and pick songs at every show. Tt’s a necessary tool to keep their interest and sing the songs they want to hear and have them come back again and again. As a career pub entertainer it really is all about creating sustainable relationships with customers and giving them a great experience anytime they walk through the door. Make them feel great and they will return 🙂
And lastly, it really seems like you know how to appeal to any fans you might have out there – in terms of what you offer, and how it’s presented. Is there one main one that you find, as an artist, you can reach your fans best?
Fan Newsletter. Easily the most important marketing tool for any musician wanting to keep in constant contact with their fans and grow relationships via their music. I send one out every week and always keep the content fresh and engaging through new YouTube videos, the podcast, album reviews and even cool interviews with sites like Music Xray 😉
Please check out my official site at http://www.WillBlack.com for links to everything I’ve touched on in this interview.
I enjoyed our chat, Music Xray! Rock on.