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How to build a music career 

Wendy Day sold her condo, stocks and car so you don't have to. Check her out at the #POPular conference Thursday and Friday.

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This weekend at the Pop Explosion, Wendy Day wants to tell you exactly how to make it in the music biz. And right now you're going to read some of the best advice she has for struggling musicians living in Halifax.

First: her bio. Twenty years ago, disgusted by record labels mistreating musicians in the US, Wendy Day founded the Rap Coalition---a not-for-profit that aimed to pull artists out of unfair contracts. She didn't just start an organization---she sold her condo, stocks and BMW in order to fund it. Since then she's voluntarily helped thousands of musicians, DJs and producers by pulling them out of bad deals and giving them priceless career advice.

Day's goal when she speaks in Halifax on Thursday and Friday will be to give nuggets of advice that musicians can take home and immediately apply to their careers. Bring a pen and paper, and rip out and save the following notes:

Even if you're working in a coffee shop or restaurant by day and creating music by night, she says you're already off to a great start. Making music costs less than it ever has before thanks to lower prices of equipment, and the internet has cut out many of the middlemen involved in promotions and sales. Musicians who make a mean latte can reach their fans more efficiently---so breathe easy.

If you're trying to build a fanbase, Day says you've got to reach out to potential listeners one by one. Start a list or spreadsheet of contact info ---Facebook, Twitter and email accounts ---for anyone who wants to hear your music. When you play or attend shows, ask people for their contact info, and put that information on your list. Then when you create online content---a new single, a video, a blog post--- send it to those people with a personal message. You're a politician, she says, and every vote counts.

In the States, Day says they don't have grants for artists. Instead, musicians rely on shows and sales to raise money. So if you can't get a grant from Music Nova Scotia, you should go directly to your fans for income. Charge a fair price per single (she suggested 99 cents) and then reinvest that money into putting on great shows for a lower ticket price, which will in turn bring you more fans.


Wendy Day, Thursday, October 20 and Friday, October 21, #POPular Conference, Citadel Halifax Hotel, see halifaxpopexplosion.com for times

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