Randi ReedProblem Solver, Founder MusicBizAdvice.com.

Need advice on handling your difficult band member? Need rock star marketing and promo ideas on a low-dough budget for your show, event, or project? I'm the Founder and Publisher of MusicBizAdvice.com, and have worked at the Platinum level in the music industry in booking and concert promotion since 1992, including for two Pollstar Award winning companies and a multiple Billboard Touring Award winning company. I've advised artists and their teams from the Platinum to local level. Prior to that I managed bands and was a singer-songwriter trying to avoid vocal problems and stage fright. My expertise is in booking and touring matters, artist management, marketing, concert promotion, and live events, and I've been quoted on Forbes.com and others. For further information, check out my LinkedIn profile under randireedmusicbizadvice at http://www.linkedin.com/in/randireedmusicbizadvice or my bio at RandiReed.com. I look forward to talking with you!

"If it can happen to a touring musician I've seen it or been there, and I can show you how to avoid problems before they happen to YOU. If you're a musician, I can teach you how to brand your band and give you solid ways to market your shows like a rock star, even when your marketing budget is at a shoestring level. If you're a manager who's not sure what to do next, I can brainstorm ideas with you or help you decide the best move for your client when you're at your wits' end."--RR

Recent Answers

Thank you for the question. I've been on both sides of the connection, and Carolynn's advice was spot on. You can't approach it as "I need a trick to get to this person." Offer genuine helpfulness to people you genuinely want in your network because their work helped you out in some way,

Never waste someone's time. Never assume they even have time to give you. Never ask for a favor-- especially the type of favor request he or she typically gets bombarded by. (Example: Music manager = never ask for tickets, autographs, or to meet their artists.)

I often see the advice of "find out that person's interests and talk with them about it" but more often than not it comes off as smarmy, and most high profile business people have keen radar for people who try to force a common interest. (It can also come off as stalkerish.) Plus, if someone mentions in Forbes that they enjoy purple peanut butter sandwiches and go-go dancing with polkadotted unicorns, their email, Twitter, and Facebook will suddenly be filled with people who "just happen" to be purple peanut butter sandwich eating go-go dancing polkadotted unicorns! So how does that person know who's genuine about that interest, and who's just trying to get to them via any means possible? They don't, so all those unicorns are suspicous. I just don't recommend going there.

Approach someone genuinely, from a place of service with no pretense. They're smart people, they know they have influence for a reason. So don't act like that reason isn't there. Tell them thank you for something they helped you with via their work, or tell them you enjoy their work, and offer something you're NOT selling or promoting.

Example: "Dear Mr. Frogdiver, I enjoyed your article about feeding and caring for green tree frogs and was so sorry to read about your dear Froggy's anorexia. I was there myself, when mine wouldn't eat for five years. If you're still having trouble with Froggy, here's the number for my flycatcher. He works wonders." When you send the information, just put it out there and let it go. They may or may not respond, and that has to be OK with you. If they don't, it's just that you and they aren't the right fit. If you're genuine, eventually someone will.

If the connection is via Twitter, retweet or favorite something of theirs that you genuinely liked or found helpful, or @reply to something insightful they've said. it often takes a few different tweets over a period of time to get a response, and it usually happens when you're least expecting it.

But really, put yourself in their shoes and treat them as you'd want to be treated. Imagine how you'd feel if someone wanted to date or marry you only because of your car, or only because of your bank account, and that they couldn't care less about YOU as a person. That's how powerful people and celebrities are treated every day. So don't be the person who does that.

Good luck. If you have questions or would like further info, I'd be pleased to set up a call.

Hosting and marketing a social event is actually pretty similar to planning a live music event in some ways. In this case, though, the "fans" are of your company or of the venue or activity where you're hosting the event. Dig into your customer's demographics, the demographics of the venue where you'll be hosting the event, and the demographics of the people in the area of the venue. What do they like to do? Where do they hang out? Partner with one or more of those places. Seek out your audience and market to them where they are, rather than trying to attract them to you. Give me a call if you get stuck and need help, of if you just need to brainstorm ideas. I've been involved with some pretty interesting promotions for live events!

As a consultant, people often come to me because they need resources and connections to help fill in the blanks to complete a project. Sometimes people don't need advice, they need someone to help put things together.So...given that you're indicating you don't know how to do that, if you start your own consulting firm, when someone asks you to do that, what will your answer be? Or, when a potential client is choosing between several consultants and wants to know about your connections and experience, how will you answer? My suggestion: learn on another firm's dime, not your own. Get some experience first before going out on your own. But if you insist, those two questions will need a very good answer.

See Joan Stewart's website, PublicityHound.com . Joan was a journalist for years and is also a publicist, so her site will help you out a lot. I think she recently put together a pack of media templates you can purchase. If you don't see what you need, email Joan and she'll direct you to what you need. She's fantastic.

I second Freshbooks. For project management, WorkFlowy can be a great option...Takes less than 5 minutes to learn and can be anything you need it to be. (Watch the quick tutorial video so the blank page you start out with doesn't freak you out.) I've seen Workflowy referred to as a list making app, but most people I know who use it use it as a project manager, because it's good for very fluid projects with a lot of moving parts. Plus, it works from the very first brainstorming session because you can just move items up or down in priority by dragging the bullet points and it's easy to add and delete things as you reassess along the way. You could even use it for managing several large projects that were completely unrelated to each other by just giving each one a different main bullet point. Very handy!

I agree with not changing the name of the business. You need as much transparency as you can manage while keeping yourself out of legal hot water. You don't want customers to be in a position of wondering "if". As much as possible while keeping yourself out of potential legal trouble, you need to demonstrate that YOU are: honest, saddened / horrified / shocked / embarrassed by the situation (whichever fits and is your honest emotion, without getting yourself into legal trouble), what steps you've taken, what steps you're taking going forward, that you're understanding of those customers who've chosen not to continue with you, and that you're deeply appreciative of the customers who stay.

Be sure to quietly seek the advice of a good attorney and have them OK all your statements before you put them out there. But make sure YOU actually write them so they don't sound like canned statements. With your attorney's permission, let your customers in on what steps you've taken so far (fired the employee?placed them on unpaid leave pending a thorough investigation?) and what specific steps you're taking going forward (Extensive new types of background checks and personality tests? New security procedures? Or whatever fits the situation).

Meanwhile, focus your attention on the customers who stay loyal. Thank them with some sort of special discount or offer--but do it carefully and with a deeply grateful and appreciative tone, rather than a bright and chirpy tone. Maintain a list of those who stay with you through this, and continue to remember and reward them in the future after the storm is past.

Your tone is everything in this matter. Never say "no comment" to a reporter. (Google "alternatives to saying no comment"--there are many.) Do not let your customers or the public see you be defensive or angry. They need to see you being a pro-active leader who recognizes the seriousness of the situation. It's over-used, but you really do need a tone of resolute "keep calm and carry on."

If you try to hide or pretend nothing happened, it will backfire.

Good luck, and feel free to call me to explore more ideas or develop a specific strategy.

Ditto to all of the above. Since you say it's a product, rather than a service, I'd also find some bloggers who do product reviews in your niche and pitch them about reviewing your product. Also, another way to get publicity can be to join services such as H.A.R.O. (Help A Reporter Out) and Pitchrate and respond to the queries in your niche. (They're services where reporters post inquiries when they're looking for experts for stories they're working on and products to review.) BUT--and this is a major one--before responding to queries, really learn the proper way to pitch a reporter, and be sure you have an online media kit containing the things they'll actually need, in the form they need them. Journalists who use HARO and Pitchrate are pros who expect a strong level of excellence, and there are very specific ways of how to approach them. I can show you how to do this if you'd like to schedule a call.

You may not be there yet, but at some point I'd suggest getting samples of your product into a subscription box such as Birchbox.com. (There are many; Birchbox is just the one I'm most familiar with.) Members earn points for doing short surveys for each product they sample, so it's a way of getting some extra market research too. Birchbox uses many engagement points to encourage subscribers to purchase the product through their online store: Birchbox.com monthly box preview videos, how to videos, articles in their online zine and blog, and in multiple emails sent to subscribers with offers that encourage them to buy throughout the month the product is in the box. That can be a great way to get new customers who are loyal to your brand. It's definitely a "go big or go home" option, but if Birchbox doesn't happen to accept your product, you'll learn a lot about what you need to do to make your product more competitive. I'm happy to discuss more ideas if you'd like, and I can recommend some beauty bloggers to contact as well.

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