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Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk: The Art Of Asking

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Amanda Palmer made another big splash in the discussion of the new music industry this month when one of her talks aired on the site TED.com. TED Talks often feature celebrities or notable people discussing technology and music. Amanda’s speech has been widely shared because of some of the extraordinary remarks she made on piracy, record labels, and how she makes money.

Amanda is known for being close to her fans. She has over 800,000 twitter followers, a well-read blog, and “couch surfs” on many of her tours, often staying at fans houses rather than hotels. And, despite her popularity in recent years, she has held on to her Indie title.

Her talk highlighted how she uses this closeness to earn money. Every dollar she makes is the result of a personal connection with each fan. At the beginning of her career, this meant walking around in the crowd with a hat asking for money. Now, she uses twitter to ask for rehearsal space, a room to sleep in, and anything she needs on the road. And, to this day, she has people in public come to her with cash, saying, “I burned your CD from a friend”.

Getting paid directly from her fans proved to be incredibly fruitful after she left her record label. In April 2012, she began a Kickstarter campaign, asking fans to preorder her album, donating money before she recorded it. Although she asked for $100,000 for the project, her fans rewarded her with almost $1.2 Million, the largest amount ever given for a music project.

Through that story and many others, Amanda’s talk outlines how, in the midst of a decline in record sales combined with booming online piracy, she gets all the money she needs from her fans, simply by asking for it.

I highly recommend watching Amanda’s full talk, you can watch the video online or download it for free here.

 

Guest post by Kyle M. Bagley

 

How To Make The Most Of Your Social Media Marketing

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Artists, labels, venues, websites, pretty much anyone in the music business these days is involved in social media to some extent. Everyone knows it’s important, but knowing what the best parts are can save you hours, achieve better results, and streamline what you do online.

Set Goals

In order to decide where to focus your energy, you need to focus on what you expect from a social media campaign. “I just want to get my name out there.” is not enough anymore. You should have specific goals, ideally centered on making money.

What makes the most money for your band or company? Is it selling CD’s or music downloads? Selling merch? Ticket sales for your shows? Whatever it is, exploiting it should be the focus of your online presence, and will make the most effective use for your time. Expanding in the areas you are lacking should be a secondary goal.

If exposure is your goal, not money, try narrowing it down further. Who do you want exposure with? More fans? Labels or company executives? And what will this exposure lead to?

Know Your Networks

Once your goals are in place, knowing the differences between social media sites can tell you exactly where to go to achieve them. It is also important to respond to what is working differently on each site, and not waste time with things that aren’t. Understand, I am not suggesting that all your posts should be “buy this!” or “share this!”, but keep your goals in mind as you craft each page and persona.

Facebook

Facebook is a good place to start; it is the most popular network in most parts of the world. Facebook’s best asset is that it is the most likely to have all the people you actually know. First of all, this means building an initial fan base should relatively easy. Also, having a network of people you are already friends with and that live nearby gives you a great crowd to advertise shows to. Other sites that are more likely to include people from across the country may not help you much selling tickets to your shows. Facebook is also becoming the standard for informational, “like”-able pages, perhaps the first place someone might look that hears of your band or company.

Twitter

Twitter is a much harder place to build your network, but that network can be very rewarding. It is full of music industry people, and no matter how small your genre or specialty, they are easy to find. However, unlike other sites, you will only get followers by having good content, and saying truly interesting things. Your profile does not have the same fluff of the other sites, such as a bank of photos, a place to have your music, etc., but Twitter users are very active and like to share what others like them are involved with.

Your followers on Twitter will be all over the country, and more likely, all over the world, so don’t expect to gain a lot in ticket sales. On the other hand, tweets about new products, music, and especially press and blogs you are featured in will get a great response.

YouTube

YouTube is the best way to get lots of plays for your songs and people listening to your music. More and more big names started by doing frequent cover songs to sell their own original music. An embedded link in a video can be seen thousands of times if a video has enough plays, whereas reaching that amount in one post on Facebook and Twitter can be almost impossible.

YouTube’s major drawback is that it is not as good for conveying information. You would never click on a band’s YouTube profile to find out if they had shows coming up, read their biography, or see their past discography. But it’s a great way to be discovered by random stumblers or old fans who just want to listen to your latest music.

Balance

In all, one social media site will not accomplish all of your needs as an artist or company. And any social media site, listening service, blog, or network can have a benefit. But it is a better use of your time to have clear purpose for each one you become involved in, and limit what you do, rather than try to use all of them for everything, and end up with not enough.

 

Guest post by Kyle M. Bagley

Asia music industry statistics

Monday, July 30th, 2012

In our last post we announced our launch in China to serve the asian music industry and large, undeveloped market in China.
Here are some statistics that show why this is an important market from IPSOS, one of the top market research companies in the world as revealed at the largest music conference in Asia, ‘Music Matters’:

– Key Growth markets for digital music in Asia:

  • 1: South East Asia (Korea)
  • 2: China
  • 3: India

– 26% of mobile users in Asia downloaded music apps for iPhone, HTC, Android
(Much higher than music downloads)

– Radio only popular in North America, not in Asia where people get music by mobile & computer

– The majority of people in China listen to and get music via mobile phone, so mixing music for mobile, and getting on the top 3 mobile providers in China is essential to reach this market.

 

Do I really need to blog?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

This is another question we often get asked, especially by new artists.

Here’s our answer with some wisdom from Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies:

In most instances, the answer to this one is a firm YES. In fact, We struggle to think of an instance in which the online presence of a musician, band or music enterprise would not be enhanced by the addition of a blog.

The most common counter-argument against musicians blogging is the idea of the ‘aloof artist’ – the notion that the mystique of an inaccessible and ineffable artist adds to the value of the work itself. We disagree, though of course, there are exceptions. You pretty much have to go into hiding to make that strategy worthwhile.

But the main reason to blog is not, as you might expect, that it’s a great way to promote your music. It’s more that the blog is now part of the way in which you do what you do.

Let me put it another way. Just as copying simply happens online, so does communication.

Accessibility is the norm online

If I find it difficult to locate you, listen to your music, find out what you’re up to and where you’re at, then it’s far easier for me to find an alternative source for what you do than it is for me to go digging in order to find out what’s going on.

If you’re trying to get work, sell your music, gain clients, gather fans, promote a record or a gig, or connect with the online environment in any way, blogging is the first step towards that. It is, at the very least, evidence that you understand that your online presence should be a conversation and not a brochure.

So what actually is a blog?

Well, actually, allow me to broaden the standard definition a little. Generally speaking, the term comes from an abbreviation of ‘web log’ – a continually updating ‘diary’ of events and occurrences. But it really just needs to be some regular form of communication that can be easily updated by you.

In that respect, I’d put a ‘micro-blogging’ platform like Twitter on the list, and a voice-based message system like Utterz on the pile as well. Mostly though, it’s somewhere you can post the latest news, thoughts, events, and interesting things as they come to mind, so that visitors to your site can see the latest, go back through previous posts – perhaps respond, and spread the word.

And the best reason to blog?

A smart friend of mine once said that the best music in the world is the sound of someone’s insides on the outside (yes, he was an old punk – how did you know?). His point was one about self-expression. That music, at its best, is something we can identify with on a human level. And we tend to like music we can relate to, because it expresses something of ourselves.

And because music is self-expressive, we are more positively inclined towards music by people we know and like – because if we like them, we’re likely to appreciate expressions of their ’self’.

So by logical extension – removing the curtain, engaging with your audience and actually letting them in on your day to day life will allow people to feel that they are getting to know you (in a ‘managed’ way), and will therefore be increasingly inclined to appreciate your music on that basis.

To put it in narrative terms – you become a character they care about. Whether you’re a musician, a label manager, a promoter, a venue owner or a music teacher – starting and (more importantly) maintaining a blog creates a story (remember this idea — we’ll be coming back to it). People love stories — and want to know what happens next — and if it’s a story they like with characters they can identify with, it will start to become meaningful and important to them.

Everybody must blog! Why do you think Twitter is so popular and pretty much any company that matters is on it?

The idea that the world is divided into content creators and consumers is increasingly redundant. What’s important is the quality, frequency and ‘engageability’ of your content – and that’s no longer restricted to your musical output.

The fact that you make music is unremarkable. The quality of your communication — musical content included — is now the measure by which you will be judged. This is not a call to pick over the mundane minutiae of your life. This is a challenge to be interesting.

And really, this is not such a radical or transformative idea. Your music has always been communication. Your music business has always been a communication business. This is about using the online tools to enhance that communication.

Another more technical reason to blog is related to one of the more important but less important ’20 things you must know about music online’ which you should read if you haven’t already and that’s SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

Everything you blog about gets catalogued by the search engines. So that means a lot of ways for people to find you and hear your music. Often things totally unrelated to music which is fine – people love to stumble upon things accidentally and ‘discover’ them for themselves. Some of our artists greatest sources of traffic to their website have been related to playdough, hiking, religious oppression and video games!

So think of blogging as an indirect way for people to find out about your music.

Ok, So what should i write about?

We hear this one a lot from artists, what should I write to my fans and mailing list subscribers?

Well, since it’s essential you send a message out to your list at least once a month (you DO have a mailing list don’t you?) Here are some ideas of what you can write about:

– Details of the creation process of your latest musical works and otherwise

– Upcoming shows

– Recapping recent shows (telling funny stories if there are any)

– New music (either full CD releases or just new songs posted online)

– Info about upcoming releases

– New merchandise

– updates to your website, new blog posts, photos etc.

– great music, books, videos, foods and other things you’ve appreciated lately

– Funny/interesting stories and events that happen during your downtime

– Any other artist news

– Anything really. Fans signed up to YOUR list to hear what YOU want to say!

And you thought you had nothing to say!

It’s important to write something at least once a month, but no more than once a week.

But I really don’t like writing!

Ok, sure there are some of us who will just never get into or want to do this, fine, that doesn’t mean you don’t blog… Here’s a supplementary list for you:

– post photos you’ve taken or that you’ve found that you love [and credit the photographer]

– post your favourite videos you’ve found online

– post videos of your own, embedded from your youtube account [vblog]

– post some artwork you’ve created and mention the inspiration behind it or something

– post your own podcast [let us know if you want help setting one up]

We could go on… there are easy and quick ways to do this now using mobile technology and such, again, let us know if you need help.

 

How to use StumbleUpon.com to promote your music

Monday, February 20th, 2012

With over 20 million users, StumbleUpon.com is not only a very cool site to browse the internet more effectively, it is a great tool to get exposure for your music. Here is how StumbleUpon define themselves:

“StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click stumble Use StumbleUpon to Get Exposure for Your Music Stumble!, we deliver high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences. These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of over 15 million other websurfers with interests similar to you. Rating these sites you like (thumbup Use StumbleUpon to Get Exposure for Your Music) automatically shares them with like-minded people – and helps you discover great sites your friends recommend.”

Once you install the StumbleUpon toolbar to your web browser, everytime you click on this stumble Use StumbleUpon to Get Exposure for Your Music “Stumble!” button, something new will come up. And the more you rate the sites StumbleUpon recommended, the more likely StumbleUpon will find the sites that fit your interests. So from now on, you won’t need to worry if you can’t think of new ideas to post on your Facebook, Twitter or blog. Simply set your preferences in StumbleUpon and start stumbling based on your taste in music or anything else, and you’ll have endless ideas to share with your fans.

Not only StumbleUpon is a great tool to find sharable content, it can also help YOU get discovered. You can submit your music, video, streaming tracks, blog post or anything else, then you get potential of thousands of people stumble across your content.
(on some browsers, the toolbar doesn’t allow you to submit content though, so you’ll be best off using a browser that allows you to install the full toolbar such as Firefox and Chrome)

Some users reported that hourse after stumbling her friend’s newly released music, the tracks got thousands of views. However, there is an art to using Stumbleupon effectively for music promotion. Stumbleupon works best when a page is shared that many others would want to share with their friends or contacts online. If you submit too many links from your own, or the same website, you could get blacklisted, or your account could be suspended. And those who want to promote their own websites may find it hard to keep track of who had linked to or shared their pages.

Let us know if you need any assistance using Stumbleupon as well as other important tools to promote your music.

Making money with Youtube’s partner program

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Youtube’s partner program has made some musicians realise that being active on Youtube can bring some real income. Here’s how it works and what you need to do to make money with it:

There are two types of partnership, the first one is for those who consistently upload great videos to Youtube, and the second one is called individual video partnership, those who have a single popular video can apply for this one.
Once one becomes a Youtube partner, you can start making money by either enabling ads to be displayed with your videos, or by making them available for viewers to rent. Some successful partners even made a career out of it.
Of course there are some criteria to meet in order to become a Youtube partner. You must own the content, both visual and audio, and the guidelines can be found at the copyright centre; and you need to upload regularly; moreover, you need to be over 18.
This partner program is currently available in 14 different countries, and the list of countries can be found here.
A lot of artists benefit from this program, however, some complained that they can’t upload covers anymore, which often get more views than original material. Also, even for original content, without proof of copyright one wouldn’t be accepted as a partner, while it takes time to copyright a song or an album.
Next we will post on how to make money on Yotube specifically with licensing your music.