- YouTube is set to be the 2nd largest distributor of money for music (after iTunes) thanks to new rights management technology.
- More than 3 billion songs have been shared via Facebook in the past 4 months (though later I heard the # quoted as 4 billion and 5 billion so who knows).
- If you log into TicketMaster with Facebook you can see where your friends are sitting and buy tix near them.
- Every time someone posts their ticket purchase via TicketMaster on Facebook, it increases TicketMaster revenue by an average of $5.
- Technically, a record label can "pass through" another label's distribution network going through a digital content management system like Fuga to get to an aggregator to get to a digital delivery company like 7digital who can then push that music to a branded store (like within Samsung Mobile) to get to a customer. So that is 7 layers between the artist and the consumer. And to top it off, if one customer is in the U.S. and one is in the U.K. the beginning point of the music and some of the points in the middle can be the same, but the pathway, and thus payment distribution, can follow two different paths.
- The existing Internet bandwidth infrastructure is just about tapped out. The remaining physical distributors of music and video are seeing a continued strong demand for physical product. As the demands on bandwidth continue to grow, many people will choose the less time-consuming option of having physical product (yes, wait for physical delivery in the mail, but plug and play once you have the disc). As one distributor said to me "If a 6 billion dollar industry is decreasing by 6% this year, there are still billions of dollars to be sold. I can live with that."
- One of the top social media music coaches in America got sick of coaching artists how to do social media because they were not willing to invest the time doing the work they needed to do to be successful.
- "World Music" is very present at Midem. Everyone who made it to Midem this year survived to the sales bottom. It's a clean slate. Everyone still alive are equals at the New Starting Line. Get ready.
NPR recently explored exuberant rock critic Chuck Klosterman’s side-splitting, stream-of-consciousness faux press release for an instrumental rock band. The seemingly silly exercise in pseudo-pr has something to say to global musicians.
Not only is the release a great compendium of nearly every irritating cliché known to rock/pop journalism, but it shows why stories—even if wildly improbable and patently false—are so important to understanding music, and not just for journalists being pitched by publicists, but for listeners in general.
NPR reporter Frannie Kelly pointed to research by NYU’s Michael Beckerman, a music historian and Dvorak biographer who discovered significant differences in the way listeners thought and felt about music once they heard the compelling story behind it.
As an example, he played a simple boogie-woogie piano riff. Sure, it was nice, but whatever.
Then Beckerman asked, "What role would it play if I told you the title was called 'Dark Blue World'? And what if I further told you that it was written by a Czech jazz pianist around 1929? And what if I told you that the jazz pianist himself was nearly blind? Could see only shadows, and that 'Dark Blue World' became his kind of personal anthem?" he asks. "You might listen to it differently, knowing that this was again a fraught story of a dark blue world all put together in this world of Czech jazz.
A whole new world opens up to the imagination.
Beckerman’s point is convincing. However, other researchers working in music psychology have found that reading descriptions of pieces—especially “dramatic descriptions” that wax poetic—appears to hamper music enjoyment, at least in a classical music context. Describing a Beethoven string quartet as an emotional hymn or referencing its musical structure, even in very clear lay terms, seemed to get in the way.
So which is it? Do stories help or hinder?
It depends. Does the story create context, putting the music in a bigger picture about the past, say? That seems to help people respond. However, fancy adjectives, technical terms, or even general emotive language? Not so much.
This holds for press releases, even for Klosterman’s work of fantastic realism. Journalists were intrigued by the stories Klosterman told. Some guy named Steve plays 40 instruments. He got signed to a label after a quirky chat at a strip mall.
Though odd, if these stories were true, they’d be really fun to write about. The truly laugh-provoking part of the release is the descriptions of the music. It’s the adjectives, not the fabrications, that make the release ridiculous.
Here’s the crucial point for global musicians trying to raise their profiles and get media attention. True, intriguing stories work in your favor. They are more important than fancy verbiage. They make people more receptive to your music, which means they’ll want to cover you. And your stories are likely just as unexpected as the ones Klosterman made up, if not more so.
Getting them down and into the best possible form—with appropriate, evocative language and careful attention to cultural details—is more important now than ever before. Stories, thanks to online and social media, have serious legs. They can walk out of press releases and onto the web, across boundaries that once seemed impermeable between fan and pro writing, or between advertising and editorial content (“advertorials” have long existed, but were once prohibitively expensive, not to mention reviled as shady, in the U.S.).
Now professional music critics and feature writers share an increasingly blurry frontier with cheerleading bloggers, eloquent fans spreading the word virally, and, yes, professional promoters who also write. Some press releases get posted verbatim online. Some writers and editors at time- and cash-strapped traditional media outlets sometimes chose copy and paste over original journalism.
This is not the way things should be, but it’s the way things are. It puts the responsibility and opportunity for crafting your own amazing story in your hands. Do it right: tell the truth, and tell it well.
1. Keep your content personal, and your persona colorful.
You’re an artist—so post like one. Maybe you’re from a place lots of Westerners don’t know much about. Facebook and Twitter are simple ways to send out short, bright blasts about your life, your surroundings, your ideas.
You can imagine you’re a travel guide and reveal little-known sides of your country, region, or town. You can let people into your artistic process. You can show different facets of your personality and culture, things you may not get a chance to reveal on stage.
Your posts can do anything. Chronicle a beautiful meal or a moment from a traditional (or not so traditional) event with a striking photo. Talk about a funny interaction on the street or in the studio. Link to other music from your scene that has yet to be heard internationally. Write briefly about your favorite market vendor, your family’s livelihood, your drummer’s sense of humor, your most passionately felt social cause.
In other words, this is your world. Get it out there.
2. Work in English—but don’t sweat the small stuff.
English is the lingua franca of global music business, for better or for worse. You should post in it. But you don’t have to sound like an Oxford grad (or a native speaker who grew up on the slang-rich streets, for that matter). A few mistakes here and there that don’t interfere with your overall message won’t hurt. They may even add character.
So don’t be shy. Try writing your posts yourself.
If you’re worried about your English, see if you can find a committed friend who’s willing to glance at a particularly tricky passage or complicated sentence you’d like to post. Or focus on interesting images and video, keeping your text simple.
3. Offer value by making followers insiders.
Don’t waste the opportunity to reach people by simply posting gig details, release dates, or glorified advertisements. Let people in.
There’s nothing more disappointing than receiving something akin to musician spam from an intriguing artist, particularly when it reads like a press release written by (jaded) management. Talk about you, not how groundbreaking your new songs are, or simply that you’re playing on Friday.
If you get nominated for an award or have a big show coming up, tell folks how you feel about it; how you really feel. If you’re posting a funky remix as an mp3 on your website, let your friends and followers have access to it first.
When people sense something matters to you, you’ve made them insiders. You’ve given them something of value: your insights, time, attention (especially if you’re good about tweeting back or jumping into a Facebook exchange when someone posts on your wall or comments on a post). Insiders will care much more deeply about your art and are more likely to become hardcore fans—fans who will support you financially and refer you to others.
4. Balance quality and quantity.
Content is key, clearly. And it needs to have a certain personal, engaging quality. But if you only post once every three weeks, you won’t necessarily gain much of a following. Keep posts fairly regular, so that you stay on your followers’ radars, without flooding people with overwhelming updates on your every move.
But when it comes to finding followers, the opposite is true: Look for quality, and forget about numbers (they’ll grow gradually). Focus on finding people who will actually take an interest in you and your music. People worth cultivating as contacts, fans, and even as friends. People you’d love to see at your shows. People who are eager to talk about your art.
5. Avoid shortcuts.
Reposting press about you is fine. Retweeting nice things about your music is fine. But if that’s all you do, you’re missing the point. You need to be sparking a conversation and drawing people in.
And while it’s a good idea to cross-post between blogs, Twitter feeds, and social media sites like Facebook, make sure to think about ways you can use each platform fully, appropriately, and uniquely.
Lastly, don’t bother mechanically boosting your numbers. A gazillion robotically added friends or followers might make you feel important, but are unlikely to spread the word about your music.
6. Stick with it long-term.
Social media, as the latest big thing, may feel like a flash-in-the-pan medium, but to make it work, you need to commit to it for the long haul. Facebook and Twitter have an immediacy that’s deceptive; to get a return on your investment of time and energy—a significant investment—you have to be willing to pursue a social strategy for a while.
Be willing to let things build slowly and be committed to making the effort for more than a few weeks.
7. Use social media responsibly.
Just say no to games or strange quizzes that post results to your friends’ news streams, and the like… and learn how to keep truly private posts, photos, and other info private by managing who can see your posts and what is public on your profile.
Musicians who manage their own bands have a tool box of new software applications at their disposal. Here is a round-up of some of the offerings available these days.
ArtistForce gives musicians a variety of internet-based tools: a booking widget, an interactive press kit, built in eMarketing tools, and career and performance feedback from the experts.
Nimbitis a site used by bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Los Straitjackets, London Symphony Orchestra and Blind Boys of Alabama. Here you can keep track of your sales and distribution, and connect to fans all on one site.
BandCentral hopes to keep you organized with the diversity of tasks and information a band manager has: expenses, gigs, merchandise, and fans. This site includes the ability for multi-login for band management multi-tasking.
With Bandize you can manage everything from tour dates, accounting, contacts, tasks, and product management on one easy page. They offer a free 30 day trial.
No internet connection while you’re on tour? No problem. With Indie Band Manager, you can download the program and go, no internet needed. You get the tools to manage your tour and distribution as well as resources to find new gigs and contacts.
As technology continues to shrink the world and music becomes more and more accessible to the masses, what's the best way to find the new music that you love? It's a task that can seem overwhelming at times, and presents unique challenges for those in the global music industry. To help answer the question, we asked some industry pros what their strategies were for discovering the latest gems, and we present their responses here.
Erich Ludwig, Senior Director of Operations at MediaUnbound (www.mediaunbound.com), a company that provides recommendations services to other media companies finds the question particularly interesting since he is in the business of music discovery. He also works as a consultant for artists who are trying to get discovered, and speaks to the question from these two different angles. Here are his responses:
1. What are your top 5 sources for finding new music on the internet?
On a personal level, my answer is as follows:
a) email from friends/colleagues b) IM's from friends/colleagues c) last.fm d) music blogs (primarily African music oriented) e) Google news feeds (using appropriate key-words)
The best source of recommendations has traditionally come from friends. Especially for those of us in the "snobby about my music" category. Even though I work for a recommendations company, I don't use personally (or even in my consulting business) any of our companies' clients on a regular basis to discover music. That is likely due to change...I'll explain more once we go public...
Anyway, personally I find most discovery engines not able to capture my diverse interests, although I certainly play around with them for competitive analysis and for testing our own products. There are also some problems for recommendation services for international music, whihc is primarily what I listen to. These problems have to do with tagging and naming, as well as with actual usage data. These 2 things are large components of a recommendation system, and one can see the problem here easily on last.fm just by entering any artist whose name has accesnts or is easily misspelled (try Ramata Diakite for an example. Her last.fm page is http://www.last.fm/music/Ramata+Diakite/). I'm Ramata's manager, and have linnked up all the other permutations of her name on her page:
Ramatou Diakité Ramata Diakité Ramatou Diakite
There is no easy way to get around this, and it severely affects the discovery of international music. International labels & managers MUST be sticklers for tagging and labeling tracks and albums to take advantage of the recommendations systems being built into many new web sites.
2. Do you have any other sources for finding new music? If so, what are they?
My network is really very good at helping me find new music. Usually that involves someone in my network contacting me to ask about this project they are working on, and asking me various questions about that project - how to market, promote, distribute, book, license, sign to label, etc...Through this process I sometimes find music that I personally enjoy, and other times, find stuff that is great, but that I may not love. And of course WOMEX, SXSW and a couple other festivals are great places to load up on new music.
3. How do you manage the overflow of music that comes across your inbox, desk, and ears? Please give specific tools, techniques, and philosophies.
Two weeks ago when DubMC's Dmitri Vietze facilitated a discussion titled "Digital Explosion and Live Performance" at the annual Arts Presenters conference, a somewhat spontaneous "case study" emerged as various people involved with the debut album of Vieux Farka Toure and the parallel remix album produced by Derek Beres shared different aspects of the project. Here we offer a Q & A with producer Beres about this new-model approach which supports: original source material and accompanying live performances as well as a remix project, whose tracks will be staggered over a few months, and for which there will also be a live dance party with DJs and Vieux playing live; and, exclusive downloads on various e-tailers and blogs, and even a fan-as-remixer project in collaboration with Creative Commons/Mixter. The intent here is to expose the inner workings of such a project and explore new models for cross-marketing world music.
Describe the mission of the Vieux Farka Toure remix project.
It’s twofold. First, the remixes are a way to lead people back to the source material, which is the root of anything Vieux does. Second, I wanted people to recognize both the foundation of African music, which shines through in the soulful, bluesy songs he writes, as well as a “future culture” that is not limited by geographical location but is nonetheless influenced by African music. Every aspect of the mission leads back to Vieux himself.
A great discussion took place during the Digital Explosion session at the annual Arts Presenters conference. In the spirit of Wiki, attendees were asked to jot down some notes to share with those who could not attend. Radio programmer and concert producer Charles Blass of WKCR FM (NYC), Lovevolv, Inc., and Brooklyn Sugar captured three quotes:
An associate professor of informatics at Indiana University named John C. Paolillo authored a study called Linguistic Diversity in the Digital World. He says Internet linguistic diversity is far less than actual global linguistic diversity, and even less than that experienced in many countries in the world. "The results are significant because they contradict the popular notion that linguistics diversity on the net is on the rise," said Paolillo. If this is a pattern with language diversity on the Web, how might this affect music diversity on the Web?