What depression? How to be a be a self-made rockstar

Don't let the economy stall your dreams of becoming a rock star. Now, more than ever, with music labels clinging to life-support, you need a strong DIY work ethic and the internet to make it in music. Nineteen-year-old CJ Baran, lead singer of pop rock sensation Push Play, shows you how to get it done -- build a passionate army of fans, sell out major venues and have control over making music you love, without being signed to a label.

CJ started off making music in his basement with a couple of friends he met through music instructors. Together, Nick, Steve, Derek and CJ formed Push Play. After recording an album-worth of songs on his computer using the software ProTools, CJ submitted the songs to iTunes and unexpectedly they shot to 32 in iTunes' top music downloads.

In the three years since, Push Play has opened for Miley Cyrus, sold out New York's Irving Plaza, and produced an upcoming album, Found, with Matt Squire, the multi-platinum producer for hit bands Panic at the Disco and Boys Like Girls.So even if you think your music is enough to carry you, think again. In this market, it's tougher than ever to get the sales you need to sustain playing music into a full-time job. Even if you're the next indie band raved about by Fader or a folk experimentalist with honors from Berklee, you're going to have to put in time online to get the following your band deserves.

  • Myspace is a portal to love: Push Play has over 72,000 Myspace friends. CJ says the band spends hours a day leaving their fans comments. Their profile is a chromatic billboard of we're-in-this-together self-promotion, with phone numbers to the Today Show and other shows posted for fans to call and lobby to get Push Play on air. What's more, to stay connected, the band plasters their own hot-line and each member's picture is accompanied by a link to their Twitter. "We literally spend about five hours a day on MySpace. We get 20-30 pages of comments a day," says CJ. A recent comment from Push Play's German street team -- fans that promote the band's music -- show's Push Play's reach.
  • As you're building your online following, recruit 100 fans to each recruit 10 more to spread the word that you're having a show. That's how Push Play sold-out New York's venerable Irving Plaza. CJ says the band just called up and booked it, and the fans showed up, thanks to the band's cushion of online investment.
Making music for a living requires building up the online following, which requires a huge investment of time and engagement, but in this economy, forging a connection with fans is a much better investment than relying on a music label. They're all going out of business anyway, while the internet, let's hope, is here to stay.

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