Will Your Website Survive The Google Mobile Friendly Change?

Many artists hire someone to create their websites but there are many Do it Yourselfers who take advantage of the user friendly platforms like WordPress and SquareSpace to create their websites. Fortunately, I caught wind of a change the Google is rolling out that could potentially make your website invisible to those using Google Search. Google has decided to penalize websites not set up to be mobile friendly beginning April 21 which is only 7 days away.

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Thankfully Google has provided a link where you can check your website to see if it measures up to the standards they will be looking for. I would encourage everyone to check your site via this link https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/? If you website fails the test, you should put some changes in place to make your website mobile friendly. There is a free plug-in that I discovered on WordPress called WPTouch which solves the issue fairly quickly. You might also check with a website designer for additional help.








Artist Branding: Finding A Place in Your Audience’s Heart

Please let me introduce you to my friend Kevin Tucker and his branding/design company Collide Creative. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Kevin during my years at Word Entertainment. Kevin’s creative design and branding excellence has helped build the story for an impressive list of music artists. His design work has provided the foundation for numerous successful marketing launches from major Country & Christian record labels. Collide Creative gets our One Great Business award and I highly recommend you check them out for your design and branding needs. Kevin is based in Nashville, TN but works with clients across the US.


By Kevin Tucker


Every successful artist has found a way into the hearts and minds of those who support them. One of the major keys to engaging fans in a way that develops their loyalty, even devotion, over the course of the artist’s career. There are a lot of ingredients to the recipe for that kind of success, but a large portion of it boils down to branding. I know, you’ve heard people talk about branding so much in the music industry that it seems like it’s this nebulous, all-encompassing buzzword devoid of any definition. Does it even mean anything anymore? I’m here to tell you that it still means… everything.


But let’s set music aside for a moment. Think about your favorite consumer products or services. What makes you loyal to them? It’s likely a combination of factors, largely the promise of quality in what they offer, and the consistency in which they deliver on that promise, but there’s likely an intangible quality about the brand that you inherently connect to on an emotional level. Somehow what that brand stands for just “clicks” for you, and you sing their praises to all of your friends, even defending them to those who would criticize it. This kinship and loyalty didn’t develop through haphazard circumstance, and to accomplish that for any brand requires a great deal of expertise working together in a concerted, purposeful effort.


A brand is quite simply a reputation, and the experts in the industry who work under the umbrella of branding are those who play a part in the development and management of that reputation. That’s a big job… so it’s no wonder that the word is so prevalent. It encompasses many aspects of industry expertise in any industry, and for music it includes many fields including artist development, management, marketing, public relations, image development, photography, and design. The latter three areas are where the root of my personal expertise lies, but more on that later on. Branding requires a centralized effort in which everyone involved shares in the common goals. This is crucial for an artist’s initial launch, but it’s equally important throughout the process of promoting the artist and project. All of these areas combine to build stories around the brand and create an ongoing narrative that connects people to this brand/reputation. (As another example see Keith’s post about Nashville’s boutique jeans makers Imogene + Willie)


For the music industry, the longer-term effort is career-level brand-buildling; but the boots on the ground are typically working on one project at a time (typically an album or a tour), and usually each project has its own unique brand aspects which, though they relate to the long-term branding effort, are part of that project’s unique identity.


There are many artists out there who have leveraged branding well throughout their careers. Some contemporary examples include Mercy Me, Kanye West, Eric Church, Eminem, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Weird Al Yankovic, Beyonce, and Kid Rock. Odds are you find it difficult to compare that list of artists, because you don’t have an equal appreciation for their work. And that’s completely appropriate, because odds are that you’re not the intended audience for every single one of those artists. It’s crucial to know your audience… trying to be everything to everyone is a dead-end that leads to bland results that appeal to no one in a meaningful way. For example, make a list of your 5 favorite foods. Now imagine putting them all in a blender and drinking a smoothie of that every day. Yuck!


Throughout an artist’s career, they will evolve, sometimes even “reinvent” their sound and/or their look, and successful examples of this are the result of building on the established loyalty of an audience. Taylor Swift is a great current example of this – the shift she has made stylistically over her past couple albums would likely not have sustained her success without her devoted legions supporting it, and without careful attention to managing the transition and maintaining the fan base throughout the process.


Now, I haven’t talked much about design & visual brand development yet, which may come as some surprise if you know my work. But I think it’s important to talk about how visual elements work within this branding ecosystem, because there are some out there who would use “branding” and “design” as if they were synonymous, and I think that’s a mistake. Design & visual development do play a very crucial role in branding, though, for two very important reasons.


First, an artist’s image allows all of the intangible ideas about their brand to be made tangible; to provide a set of visuals that symbolize that reputation in the minds of the audience. It’s somewhat comparable to what a logo represents for a product, or umbrella brand of products, but more like the complexities of how a product is consistently represented through advertising and packaging.


Second, those visuals are frequently the first impression of an artist’s reputation, especially in this digital age. While radio still plays a big role in providing first impressions (especially in Country and CCM), more and more people are initially introduced to an artist through visuals, and this is the beginning of the relationship with each audience member. It’s often that first impression that will factor into whether the music is heard, and will accompany it when it’s shared, repeating the cycle. And these visuals, again, serve as a symbolic reminder of the artist’s brand repeatedly, throughout the development of that relationship.


In this increasingly noisy world, how can an artist stand out? In the days where music retail was one of the key first impressions for artist visuals, some would suggest that an album cover should “pop off the shelf” as compared to those around it. Even then, I would suggest that, instead, what it needs to do is connect to those to whom it’s intended to appeal in a unique, meaningful way. That may sound like a subtle distinction, but if everything on the shelf were competing with one another to jump out at you at you, we’d have nothing but screaming neon, holographic, googly-eyed product everywhere and no one would want to go into that room, let alone browse the product. But I digress… the point is that these days, there’s a drastically larger amount of visual competition, and standing out online in a world of postage-stamp-sized covers is impossible without a purposeful, targeted effort.


I’ve had the privilege through my career thus far to be charged with developing the visual branding elements for a vast variety of talented and successful artists. Each one has their own unique appeal to a particular audience. There’s no formula for success – each one is the result of understanding the goal. Speaking from my own experience, here are a few examples:

I worked with country superstars Big & Rich via Warner Music Nashville since their debut album, and have been involved in art direction & design on a total of 7 releases for them. From the beginning, these guys had a unique twist on Country music, weaving together a seemingly contradictory mixture of quirky humor and heartfelt messages into an entertainment spectacle that one can’t help compare to a circus (and who doesn’t love the circus?). As they developed and grew this reputation, I was privileged to have the opportunity to define the visuals that conveyed it and played a part in shaping it.


Big Daddy Weave are a well-established 5-piece band in Contemporary Christian Music, and their album imaging has focused on the typical rock look, with covers usually featuring conceptual artwork with less focus on recognizable imagery of the members of the band. As their popularity and relevance increased, they began to build an appeal as personalities, and on their latest album Love Come to Life, we put their faces front-and-center, and built a set of images that pair that with conceptually centric imagery that stays true to their personality and message.


Working with artists with more familiar brands has its own set of advantages and challenges. There’s no need to establish in audiences’ minds who Amy Grant and Willie Nelson are, but in the case of both Amy’s Legacy: Hymns & Faith, and Willie’s Remember Me, Vol. 1, their typical brand took a slight detour to convey the unique qualities of the project. Amy’s project took a more organic turn and a focus on worshipful music, and the value of traditions. Similarly, Willie’s project were his versions of the Country classics he most admired. Each required playing off of the respective familiarity, each with its own an artful twist.


Often I work with new artists, helping define their look and brand. As a current example, I worked with Ele – a teenage Christian pop singer with roots in the classics and a modern sensibility (and a powerful voice to boot). Her first album Your Girl helped to begin the process of building her reputation, but as her second release, an upcoming yet-to-be-titled EP, is coming together, taking a fresh look at her look to reflect her personal and professional maturity (her first album was released when she was only 13) has turned into a discussion of whether to revisit her professional name. As simple as “Ele” is (pronounced “el-ee”; short for Eleanor) is it recognizable enough to be memorable? What trade-offs would there be for alienating those who are already familiar with her as “Ele” as compared to how a new name might be a factor in building her reputation among new audiences? Tough questions, and a process we’re still discussing.


Sure, branding decisions can make or break an artist’s career, but it’s not something to be intimidated by. Any artist preparing for success is already surrounding themselves with a team of trusted experts who will guide and collaborate with them through the different aspects of this process. As the artist keeps making great music and building their reputation, the team will help manage it and introduce new people into their audience, many of whom will eventually become the devoted fans every artist seeks.


About Kevin: 

Kevin Tucker is a Creative Director in Nashville who has worked in the music industry since 1996. He helps artists, companies, and organizations bring personality to their brands in digital and traditional media through impactful art direction and strategic consulting. To see more of his work, visit CollideCreative.com. 



Ryan Corn Releases Debut Record

Every now and then as an artist manager, I have the opportunity to discover something great. While it’s quite rare to find true artistry amidst a host of gimmicks, wannabes and one hit wonders, I am encouraged that artisans still exist. A few years back, I stumbled across one such artist who was stowed away creating music in a Cape Girardeau, MO basement. An extremely talented yet humble young man. A songwriting genius with a knack for writing musical hooks & lyrics that rise above the norm. His self-produced demos sounded like masters ready to compete with anything at radio. Thankfully, Ryan Corn signed with Artist Garden Entertainment and our journey began. Shortly after, Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records, recognized the same Artisan in Ryan resulting in the fastest record label deal offer in the history of our company.

Ryan’s Curb Records debut record releases today. His single “Wonderful Things” can be heard on mainstream radio stations across the country including Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Milwaukee, St Louis, Jersey Shore, Columbia SC, Charleston SC, Mobile AL,  Boise ID, Knoxville TN, Hammond LA, Eugene, OR  and Portland ME. “Wonderful Things” is racking up 40K+ listens a week on Spotify, he was recently featured as American Songwriter’s Daily Discovery and Ryan was featured in Google Play’s Antenna Program for the month of November. Apparently our little secret is getting out!

Click the cover/link below to hear it for yourself. I think you are going to like Ryan Corn!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the President of Artist Garden Entertainment, an artist management and marketing company that manages this artist. Regardless of that fact, I only recommend music that I personally believe is exceptional and would be enjoyed by my readers. I am not compensated directly, other than normal management commissions for recommending this record through this blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Live In The Vineyard

My many years in the music industry have been a roller coaster ride with highlights that fill the journey with unforgettable memories. As I look back, there are a few landmarks along the way that really wow’d me. This past week, Live In The Vineyard proved to be one of those moments.

While the rest of the music industry is consumed with trying to figure out whether Spotify is a good or bad thing for music, Claire Parr & Bobbii Jacobs are consumed with creating a unique cottage industry within the music industry. Combining live music experiences with some of the finest food & wine over a weekend in Napa certainly accomplishes that.

Live In The Vineyard is centered around contest winners from various radio stations across the country. The event engages radio with various corporate sponsors including Southwest Airlines, Aloft Hotels, UPS, National Rental Car, Enterprise Rental Cars and Sutter Home to create a great promotional vehicle for music. When one of our artists, Ryan Corn, was booked for the event, I really didn’t know what to expect. I do know that music, food and wine make a pretty great combo and that created a curious excitement to see how it would play out. Live In The Vineyard celebrates the artisans of music, food and wine creating an unforgettable experience. Attendees are shuttled around on luxury buses to various wineries throughout the days & evenings for private dining and tasting experiences accompanied by musical performances from both well-known and newer artists. One of the memorable music performances for me was seeing Mat Kearney perform an acoustic set which gave the audience a sneak peek at some of his brand new songs. Other music performances included Ingrid Michaelson, Train, EchoSmith, Matt Nathanson, Meghan Trainor, Scars on 45, Marie Miller and Johnny Swim. The most memorable winery visit was our visit to Spring Mountain Winery which created a beautiful backdrop for a tasting of one of Napa’s best kept secrets topped off with a performance by Johnny Swim in a wine cave!

Ryan Corn with Mat Kearney

Ryan Corn with Mat Kearney

It’s great to see people like Claire and Bobbii finding unique ways to promote great music experiences in our ever-changing music world with events like Live In The Vineyard. We are grateful to have been a part of this year’s event!


Curb Records Releases New Ryan Corn “Wonderful Things” Video

This week Curb records releases the new video for Ryan Corn’s new single “Wonderful Things.” Viewers get a unique view of the 12 story Times Building in Huntsville, Alabama through the lens of a camera being flown on a drone helicopter. Director Joel Banta of Bilby Films, uses the drone in a way that gives viewers the sensation of floating high in the air while peeking into various scenarios of people’s lives. The hauntingly entertaining video creates a desire for multiple watches. A must see!




Ryan Corn Releases Debut Single

Artist management is similar to mining for diamonds. Genuine artists are not easy to find in a world where music can be so easily manufactured. Cubic Zirconia may look like the real thing until you examine it closely and see that it is missing character on the inside. When we first discovered Ryan Corn a few years back, we knew instantly that he was a rare find and that he belonged on the Artist Garden Entertainment roster. Today the world will get a taste of this truly remarkable artist as Curb Records releases his debut single “Wonderful Things”  Ryan Corn’s self-produced record just shipped to radio and is available today on iTunes. Do yourself a favor, click the cover below and listen to this song!



Artist Garden Entertainment Celebrates Five Years!





NASHVILLE, Tenn.—One of Christian music’s leading management and marketing agencies, Artist Garden Entertainment recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with a VIP showcase featuring the company’s artist management clients. Pictured (l-r) at the event are singer/songwriter Noah Cleveland; Curb recording artist Ryan Corn; Artist Garden Entertainment’s Keith and Diana Stancil; Save The City Records/Provident Distribution recording artist Holly Starr and StompTown Revival’s Gabe Martinez.

Founded by respected industry veterans Keith and Diana Stancil in 2009 with a mission to find, develop and build talent, the Brentwood, Tennessee-based company also operates a marketing and consulting division which represents such clients as Save The City Records, Reach Records, FLAME, Beckah Shae, Tedashii, Derek Minor, Seth & Nirva, Reflection Music Group, Canon, and Victory World Church.

Achievements for Artist Garden clients include signings to major record labels; hit Christian radio singles; a GMA Dove Award nomination; main stage appearances at top Christian music festivals; and placement on one of music’s biggest annual tours, NewSong’s Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, among many other milestones.

“It has been a very rewarding five years,” says Keith Stancil, President/CEO, Artist Garden Entertainment. “In everything we do, we strive to remember the mission and philosophy we founded the company upon: ‘we grow music.’ The process of nurturing our clients as we help them establish a platform continues to be an honor for us each and every day.”

In addition, the company’s blog, TheMusicGardener.com, has been honored by The Nashville Scene in its “Best Of Nashville Awards.” Written by Keith Stancil, the blog offers a range of information on marketing, social networking, and navigating the new music industry and has become a go-to resource for independent artists.

Prior to launching Artist Garden Entertainment, Keith Stancil spent 20 years in sales and marketing roles at Capitol/EMI, Warner/Elektra/Atlantic and Word Entertainment, most recently serving as Vice President of General Markets/International/Digital at Word. He has worked on sales and marketing strategies for such artists as Garth Brooks, Tina Turner, R.E.M, Madonna, Metallica, Amy Grant, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Tim McGraw, among numerous others.

A 15-year artist management veteran, Diana Stancil is best known for her role as manager of Platinum-selling female vocalist Jaci Velasquez. She orchestrated partnerships on behalf of Velasquez with Feed The Children, Nashville Visitors and Convention Bureau, and the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, as well as held an executive role with Velasquez’s label, Apostrophe Records.

For further information, visit artistgardenentertainment.com.

America’s Got Talent Visits Nashville

Okay Nashville, show us what you got! We know there is some crazy talent here in the great Music City, the city built on Artist Development, Artist Managers and Booking Agents. America’s Got Talent wants to see it. If you think you have what it takes to impress Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B, then don’t miss the America’s Got Talent auditions on January 28!




Holly Starr Releases New Video

With Youtube being the #1 destination for music discovery, every music marketing plan should include a video of some type. One of the artists we manage, Holly Starr, has been very diligent at releasing videos to accompany her radio singles and it appears to be paying off. Holly’s video for “Don’t Have Love” is now at 580K views on YouTube and “Through My Father’s Eyes” has clocked in almost 270K views! We are thrilled to announce the release of Holly’s new lyric video for her current radio single “Grace For All”