Guest Post by Rorie Kelly: Why 2015 is the Year of Community Not Competition

My 2015 started off with a bang when I accidentally got an article published on, which proceeded to get 12,000 shares. “Uh, how do you ‘accidentally’ get an article published on a website?” you may ask. Fair question.

I hit a milestone in 2014–I doubled my income from music. Like many indie artists, building up real income with my music has been a long and hazardous journey.  But after years of hard work and trial and error, I’m finally starting to get good at it, and I wanted to share what I’d learned with other indie artists.

I tossed out an email to Women in Music WIM, a networking group I had joined earlier in the year, asking if anyone was interested in running a guest blog.  Within hours, my inbox filled up with congratulations, suggestions, and offers of help–mostly from women I had never met. This is the power of community at work.

After sending just that one email out, I found myself with the luxury of choosing which online publication would run my story, out of several really exciting offers. Turns out Women in Music is one powerful community to be a part of! I wrote the article over the weekend, and it posted on on Monday. Throughout the week, a massive comment thread slowly grew on Guitar World’s Facebook page. Over 50 percent of the responses were the same cynical joke: “LOL, I’d love to double my income, but two times nothing is still nothing!”  It was funny enough (the first ten times) but suddenly all I could see was how hopeless many musicians felt.

Then a thought hit me like a ton of bricks: that used to be me. I used to feel exactly that cynical about music and money. I had a hard time seeing fellow artists have any kind of success, especially if their act was similar to mine. I’d feel hopeless and envious, wondering what they were doing that I wasn’t. I became terrified that I would waste my whole life working hard and achieving nothing.

Reading those comments made me realize I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel optimistic about my future. When I see other artists have success, I get giddy and excited for them. What changed? I’ve been mulling this over all month. I think the answer is community.

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to use my tax refund to join two networking groups I’d been hearing about for years: Women in Music and GoGirls Elite. I had a really big DIY/lone wolf thing going on at that time, and even as I was paypalling the membership fees I was expecting it to come to nothing. But few people I respected had told me “JOIN!” and in a rare act of compliance, I decided to heed their advice.

I could put a series of humble brags here about the opportunities that came out joining those groups – showcases at music conferences, album reviews, interviews on podcasts. But the really invaluable thing that happened was I found community. Friendships. Peers. I don’t feel like I’m in this alone anymore.  It has changed my whole outlook.

Through GoGirls Music’s weekly Twitter chat (hashtag #ggchat on Thursdays at 3 and 9pm EST) I began meeting other musicians facing the exact same struggles I was facing. Balancing music career work with a day job. Gauging what opportunities to spend money on. Finding a way to take adequate care of ourselves while working all day and gigging all night. Comparing notes made us all stronger. Forming friendships with other artists made me feel thrilled when any of us experienced a new success. Jealousy was out the window. If one of us was finding success, it meant all of us could find it.

Meanwhile, in the Women in Music email group, I saw women at every level of the industry (from CEOs to complete newbies) helping each other out just for the sake of doing it. I saw people asking for and receiving advice, contacts, feedback. When something came up that I could help with, I was eager to share my knowledge, even with a complete stranger. It filled me with joy to help someone else out with something I had struggled to learn the hard way. Instead of the competition and cattyness I had come to expect from the NYC music scene, the prevailing attitude was “We’re all in this together.”

My big question is: why did it take me 10 years of hard work to find community? What is it about the music industry that fills us with such self-doubt, we feel upset when other artists succeed instead of optimistic? What is so broken about the indie music scene that we literally laugh off the idea of making money? Of all of us finding success instead of a chosen few?

Maybe these are topics for another essay (or an entire book). At the end of the day the only thing I’m sure of is this: Community is my antidote for cynicism. Social media and networking groups have changed my life in the last year, mainly because I let them. Putting myself out there like the new kid at school, with no expectations and no real plan, has given me the faith in myself that I struggled to find for years.

Community not competition is my motto for the year. I hope you’ll join me.

About Rorie Kelly:

Photo Credit: Ian Darson

Photo Credit: Ian Darson

People hearing rorie kelly for the first time often comment, “I can’t believe that voice  came out of that body.”  The singer/songwriter has been compared to Alanis Morissette  and Janis Joplin for her catchy, melodic songwriting style and raw vocal power. Music,  videos, and tour dates are available at

1 Comment

Ariel Discusses How to Get Out of Our Own Way to Success on The Brassy Broad Podcast

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the lovely Jen Edds on her podcast, The Brassy Broad.

In our discussion I talk about some of the things that hold us back from success, the importance of  curating and telling our signature stories, and how having an email list can empower you.

Here are some of the topics we chatted about on the show,

  • Growing up the daughter of an entrepreneur mother and filmmaker father
  • How dyslexia helped her learn ways to make complicated ideas simple
  • The 3 things that hold us back from success
  • The importance of your Signature Story – what it should and should not include
  • Why you don’t need to jump on the latest social media platform
  • Why your newsletter is critical to your success
  • The value of mentors that teach us what not to do
  • Why you always give your best
  • Crowd Funding Coaching

I’d love to share with you my personal insights!

Listen here


Ariel Emphasizes the Importance of Newsletters on The Jazz Spotlight


Recently I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Yannick Ilunga on the fantastic Jazz Spotlight podcast, and I am excited to share this with all of you!

We discuss how having a newsletter is a must for every musician. Yes, even in 2015, a newsletter  is crucial.

Listen to the podcast for insight on how to launch and manage a successful email list! And thanks Yann and the Jazz Spotlight for the invitation. I am in great company, and ya’ll should check out the other episodes on iTunes.

Come listen to the podcast by clicking here:


How to Make Your Interviews Count & Enhance Your Brand

Hey there! I’m Brooke Segarra. I’ve been the Campaigns Director here at Cyber PR since October. I’m always looking for new ways to help artists expand their audience and reach. Since I’ve started this position I’ve read a pretty copious amount of artist interviews, and I’ve noticed a few things. In this article, I’ve put my observations into tips on how you, as an artist, can make the most of interview opps.

So a blogger of the blogosphere has asked you to do an email interview (condensed way of saying he or she will email you interview questions and you will email them back the answers), cool. Whether you have a professional publicist, a friend behaving as your publicist, or you are taking the DIY approach does not matter- this article is for you.

Now, as I said, the blogger said they want to interview you, and that’s great, but I am willing to bet that a little part of you was hoping it’d be a review. So …


Understand that this is a tremendous opportunity and not a blogger passing you questions because it’s significantly less effort to type 42 words than it is to type 350.

You’re participating in a PR campaign because you want to get the word out about you and your project, right? This is your chance to define who are, on your terms, to everyone aimlessly scrolling through Tumblr at 11 at night looking for the next thing to stream and the next scene. You want to put your best foot forward. You want YOU to say what you’re about.


Not only is an email interview your opportunity to convey who are and what you are about, it’s also one of your best opportunities to build your brand and give people a reason to hit play on that embedded Soundcloud.

Here are some ways to elaborate in an interview:

1. Never list (unless it’s to be ironic or funny, of course)

For instance, if you are asked who your influences are I wouldn’t suggest typing The Beatles [comma] Eric Clapton [comma] Bob Dylan [comma] etc.

This tells blog readers nothing except that you have the same influences as 75% of people in your musical genre.

Bring to light what makes you unique. In other words, write a sentence or two about why or how these artists are influential to you. When you do this your readers will have a much better understanding of what to expect from your sound as well as some insight into your personality.

2. You can expand on the question.

You aren’t being graded on how directly you answer what you’re being asked. The directions are not answer in 150 characters or less and be specific. Thank goodness.

People want to know you. So show them you.

For instance, in an interview with Complex Magazine last year punk pop femme Charli XCX said, “Periods are really punk. I want to have tampons as merch that say ‘PERIODS ARE PUNK’”. Now Charli was not explicitly asked about menstrual cycles or merch, but she wanted to say it, and she did, and it falls perfectly in suit with her girl fundom image and made it to the list of Spin’s top quotes of the 2014.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Not every band does this.” And you’re right, they don’t. Some interviews are quite dull. But keep in mind a generation of teens are not making out for the first time to “your In Rainbows” yet. Yet. You have to get yourself out there.


There are two great ways to go about this!

1. Be conscious (better yet, be wary) of how many times you use the pronoun “I”.

You may very well have single-handedly done everything up until this point by yourself, and if so, that is extremely interesting! However, using the pronoun “I” to start every sentence is not.

The best way to avoid starting a sentence with “I” is to invert the sentence.

For example:

Not Inverted: I eat a bag of Cheez-Its every time I record.

Inverted: When recording song lyrics, I always eat a bag of Cheez-Its.

2. Do some name dropping

One of the best ways to shine a light on yourself is to shine a light on others.

So, when you’re asked to give some musical comparisons, mention some local bands that you dig or groups who are within your reach to tour with.

Go the extra mile and hyperlink to these band’s websites. You never know what might happen!


It can be very hard to talk about yourself. Especially, when you’re consciously wanting to leave an impression and second-guessing everything you type.

Easy solution: Have someone else read it over before you send it!

Not your Tinder date, but someone who is close to you and knows the good stuff. The person who would be no fun to play Truth or Dare with because they already know all there is to know.

Show this person the final draft of your interview and ask if there they think you forgot or should add.

You don’t have to add everything or anything that they say, but it might help you think of something that you didn’t.


People can’t read it if they don’t see it.

Not every publication tweets every article that appears on their blog, so a lot of the interview’s visibility may depend on you.

Keep in mind that you can always repost an article to your socials months after it happens.


Thanking the blogger may sounds simple enough, but many people don’t do this.

This is something you should do even if you have a publicist. Write a little note to the blogger at the end of the interview and include it in the text that you send to your publicist.

You may want to put your note in a unique color or font to be sure the blogger can differentiate from your note and the text of the interview.

Written by Brooke Segarra

1 Comment

Video 1 From My Mini-Masterclass Series: Facebook Fan Page

I’d like to share with you part 1 of my popular 3-part Mini-Masterclass video series with you – It’s all about Facebook!

I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from those who have already seen the video, and I hope you get a few Ah-has from it as well.

In this Facebook video you will learn:

  • The answer to the number one question I get asked about Facebook (every time)
  • How to get your fans from you personal page over to your Fan Page
  • How to get more ‘likes’ on your page
  • The best strategies for making the ever-changing Facebook a powerful fan-engagement machine and a showcase for your music, list building and videos.
  • In 2015 and beyond it is necessary to allocate a budget for Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts in order for your posts to be seen. So – don’t forget to experiment with Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts in 2015 and beyond. Also, I say 1 post a day but you can drop it down to 3-4X a week.

For the next two weeks I will be sharing with you 2 more Mini-Masterclass videos on Twitter and Pinterest so be sure to watch for those!


Guest Post by Kristen Graves: The Emphasis on Musician Branding at the YOUR MUSIC, YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR CAREER Seminar

Photo Credit: Ruthie Whalen

Photo Credit: Ruthie Whalen

Branding - the thing that songwriters think they’re too talented for…

I remember the first time that a business coach-type told me that I needed to pay more attention to my branding…I had no idea what she was talking about.

I thought that brands were for companies, make sure that they (the companies) were defined and able to reach their target market…blah blah…I had no idea why it was important for me. But she persisted and continued to explain – that when people described my music, they were really describing me, and so I needed to give them something to hold on to.

I’m an optimistic, social justice-focused singer/songwriter, and people know this when they listen to my music. I also have my own (faux) political party called the Just Be Nice Party. I’m really all about the hope. And yet, while people will sometimes use these phrases or words to describe me, more often than not – I’m the singer/songwriter with dreadlocks.

At Ariel Hyatt’s YOUR MUSIC, YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR CAREER seminar with Michael Whalen, and a bunch of other wonderful music business folks, she called me out in the auditorium because of my hair – mentioning that I could never cut my dreads.

A few years ago, this would have bothered me, but now – I know that she’s totally right…and I’m fine with it!

I decided on dreads a few years ago out of convenience, (it’s a story for another time that has to do with spending months in Mexico and bathing in a waterfall) have kept them out of love, and have benefitted from them out of branding.

Branding Yourself Is Not Selling Into Some Gimmick

I used to think of branding and marketing along the lines of a gimmick – thinking that it was for people who needed some kind of trick to get customers to buy their music. (I really wasn’t trying to judge, I was just deciding that my time was best spent on creating music.)

Photo Credit: Ruthie Whalen

Photo Credit: Ruthie Whalen

I now realize that while yes, my time is best spent creating music, branding is merely an extension of songwriting and being creative.

When I walk down the street, I get a lot of compliments on my hair (even on NYC’s sidewalks, where attention is hard-earned), and I get a lot of smiles.

I’m pretty sure this is simply because my outside looks like what and how I feel inside.

Meaning – I’m a carefree, optimistic and flexible person – people can tell this by the way I dress, walk, and wear my hair.

Ariel & Michael’s seminar retaught me that branding is simply letting people know what my music sounds like through other senses – and when I think of it that way, it’s actually fun and very cool.

Branding isn’t a cheap gimmick, it’s refusing to compromise on who I am. Making sure that everything I do looks, sounds, smells, tastes and feels like me.

Ariel, Michael and all – thank you for the amazingly helpful information, and thank you for reminding us to be fiercely true to ourselves.

About Kristen Graves:

unnamed Kristen Graves is a singer/songwriter and humanitarian from  Fairfield, CT, serving as the current Connecticut State  Troubadour. Mentioned as ‘the new generation of folk’ by the  New York Times, Kristen performs approximately 175 shows a  year, delighting audiences throughout the country.

Page 1 of 4112345102030...Last »