Quit sending e-mails letting other blogs know that a track is premiering on another site. This does nothing for those other blogs. You're basically saying "go steal this track from the site we just gave the premier to and rehost". A bunch of blogs don't rehost or steal tracks so this e-mail is worthless to us. Just send us an e-mail when we can post legally and cleared. We don't send your PR firm an e-mail letting you know I just posted about an artist you don't represent because why the hell would you care. Don't do the same to us.
Get creative. It's tough out there for independent labels, but it's also the best time ever for trying something new, something bold, something that makes your label standout in a crowded sea of music releases. The old model isn't gone, it's been blown up, so keep adjusting and don't be afraid to think outside the box.
Make 2012 the year you quit illegally downloading music. I made this pledge a few months ago and haven't missed it once. With Spotify, streaming sites like Bandcamp or Soundcloud, and early album listens on NPR and other sites, the excuse of illegally downloading to determine if you want to buy an album is no longer valid. Illegal downloading has become a habit that only has the purpose of getting art a few weeks before it becomes available everywhere legally. People started downloading because the industry worked on a buy it if you want to listen, but now we're basically stealing ice cream samples at a store that gives it away for free.
Record Store Owners
Keep going. You're better then all of us and vinyl fans are grateful for your dedication. Most are struggling and the ones making money aren't going gangbusters. Remember everyday that you're directly shaping music fans and are one of the last vestiges of physical music consumption. Your resolution is to be proud of what you're doing and keep doing it for as long as you can.
Camera phone etiquette. I know that you want to get a shot of a band and then post it to instagram, twitter, facebook, etc so that everyone knows that you exist and do cool things, but how many photos do you need to take? The resolution for concert goers is take one photo per set and put your phone away. During the break in between bands, then send it to all your social media networks. Remember why you're at the show and if you're there to take photos with your phone, remember that you are disrupting the experience for others.
The last few years this ugly trend has spread across the major music festivals: THEY'RE ALL THE SAME! Same headliners, same medium acts, and same up and comers. I respect the Pitchfork music festival because the lineup is a direct reflection of their tastes, this should be adopted by all the other festivals...why is your festival special or unique? With the same lineup being repeated in various locations across America, how can any music fan feel like they're participating in something special? They can't. Have a vision and take chances on variety.
Write this down on a post it note and put it next to your computer: "What is the one thing your blog offers that no other site does." Two years ago I put this note on my workspace and while Hank and I are still working to be better each year, it really focused us on trying to create new content rather then reblog the same track as everyone else. Here is the thing, it's not an either or resolution. If you reblog buzz tracks for hits, there is no reason you still can't have a unique section that delivers something fresh to your readers.
Take the time to comment on a post. Most of us music bloggers do this for free and one of the things we love the most is connecting with our readers. I'm not saying be fake or always post positive comments, just add to the discussion, let us know how you feel about the content and add to it. Most bloggers hit a point where they're not quite sure why they're doing it, a simple comment from a reader can snap them back into understanding the purpose of running a music blog.
Quit worrying about signing to a label. You're existing in the best time where a band can find a fan base without money or label support. Focus on dominating your local music scene, create an Internet presence, and put the quality of your art as priority number one. If you do these things and realize that overnight success only happens for a few, everything else will fall into place. Work hard and pr firms, booking agents, and labels will come to you when you've put in the work and become the best band you can be outside the worrying about things you can't control.
Create something and share it. I have tons of friends who all have creative passions but deny them because of doubt, fear, or a number of excuses. If you have a creative dream, go for it, and realize that it might not reach the level of success you imagined, but at the very least the Internet is positioned for your art to at least be shared properly. Be it making your first album on your laptop, starting a blog, or making something and putting it up on Etsy...just create and be passionate, doubt yourself or ask questions later.
We hope you had a great 2011 and wish you an even better 2012.