If you read my blog, you know that we believe the way record companies handle leaks is one of the many holdovers of a bunch of Luddites refusing to adapt to the times. We write constantly about their refusal to figure out a way to take a leak and turn it into a good thing. As circumstance would have it, I had the chance to put my money where my mouth is when one of the groups I manage, Man Overboard, had their record leak 28 days before the intended release date. After the jump we will discuss how we made this become another thing that won us both new fans and the loyalty of the ones we already had.
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You’re in music. You are frustrated with the Industry and on days where you are honest enough to admit it you are jealous of several of the seemingly talentless hacks that sit atop the pop charts. Here are some of the conclusions I have come to about my career path in and out of music.
Sometime in the last year or so I was aimlessly flipping through 400 channels of nothing on when I noticed a familiar face on TV. My old band mate from college Gabe Roth was playing on one of the late night shows with the band he founded - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. After playing together in college Gabe simply never stopped. He maxed his credit cards and borrowed money from friends and did anything and everything he could to always be playing. Although he is most proud of the work he does with his own projects he was recently awarded a Grammy for engineering and doing arrangement on the Amy Winehouse Record “Back to Black”. Gabe is not one of the talentless I referred to in the opening paragraph by any stretch of the imagination.
When people search for information about investing in the music industry, about investing in artists, and when they are looking for information on 360 deals, my blog posts often appear within the search results. As a consequence, at least once a month, someone calls me about investing in the music industry or about investing in artists. Although this post speaks to artists, I plan to use this post and the accompanying comments as a tool to make my conversations on this topic more efficient.
One Billion True Fans - It Won’t Happen.
Even with overlap, at one thousand fans per artist, one million artists cannot acquire one billion true fans. All the music lovers in the world are never going to accept and process billions of artist-initiated emails, status updates and text messages. Pushy self-promotion doesn’t scale. If everyone is doing it, nobody is going to do it effectively; the same applies to fundraising; fans are going to tune these messages out. Collectively, artists and their managers are running the risk of appearing like financial planners at a cookout…occasionally invited, but often avoided. Moreover, the sum of all the effort and capital invested in music promotion generates such a negative return, that it makes investing heavily in time travel machines appear outright attractive. Perhaps it’s time to consider jumping off of, or avoiding altogether, the self-promotion bandwagon.
I really loved the pieces that Chis Bracco has written here on MTT on Blogging and I wanted to add some thoughts on getting blogs to write about you. His strategies are rock solid and full disclosure he used to work with my company and he is indeed very effective at getting bloggers to cover artists. Read Chris’s piece here: http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/how-to-really-get-your-music-on-blogs-tracking-the-results-o.html
I know that blogging seems like yet another unbearable thing to take on so there are 2 ways to approach this
1. Become a reader and commenter
2. Become a reader, commenter and blogger yourself!
Q: How Do You Play Ball with the Bloggers ?
A: Become a reader and commenter
I highly suggest that you try to get familiar with the blogging world by reading blogs and posting comments on blogs you like.
- Ariel Hyatt: Madina Lake’s bass player Matthew Leone is a Hero
- Mike Venti: 30 Tips For The Typical Musician
- Jonathan Ostrow: Reality TV Killed The Rockstar. But Is That So Bad?
- Kyle Bylin: On File-Sharing: Are You Smarter Than A 12th Grader?
- Brian Hazard: The Jango Focus Group
For those of us who embrace shades of mediocrity, here are some tips for becoming a typical musician:
- Practice one hour a day. However, feel free to skip practice if there is something more interesting going on.
- Play the same piece over and over again. Never try to deconstruct the music and figure out how and why it works.
- Convince yourself that taking music lessons is out of the question, since all your favourite musicians were self taught.
- Use only tabs and chord charts to learn new songs. Never try to figure it out by ear, it’s simply too frustrating.
In a time where reality TV has become the most popular form of programing - everyone from the famous (or infamous) celebrity drug addicts, to the not-so-famous, money-desperate “reality show” competitors have been cashing in on transparency as a way to connect with an audience and build a brand.
Would the sudden death of Corey Haim, the 80’s child-star who seemingly feel off the face of the earth around the same time as acid wash jeans, have made as big of a splash if his addiction hadn’t been documented on the A&E series, The Two Coreys? Probably not. It seems that Reality TV has created a wave of transparency that everyone wants to ride. Even MTV, a MUSIC video driven channel, has since officially removed music television from their name in order to focus on following pop culture in its own element.
But beyond reality TV is the internet, and the continued development of social networking, blogging and microblogging, which has been giving musicians all around the world the ability to be as little or as overly transparent as they would like. So this brings up a very important question: Is transparency a good thing for musicians to take part in?
Back in February, I stumbled across an essay written by a twelfth grader named Kamal Dhillon. In it, he argues that file sharing may be illegal, but it is not ethically wrong. The essay had been entered into the Glassen Ethics Competition and Dhillon won. Out of eighty entrants in the contest, the essay that won the one thousand dollar prize and got republished in The Winnipeg Free Press, argued that yes, copyright infringement can be morally justified. Though the views that Dhillon expresses in the essay and the sheer intellectual resilience that he displays in it are not characteristic of his entire age group’s attitude towards file sharing, nor does his understanding of the issues seem to reflect that of most twelfth graders, it got me thinking. What happens when fans are not stupid anymore? What happens when there are high school students who happen to have a firmer grasp on the file sharing debate than some of the executives and artists who get quoted in the headlines?
I mean, they are smarter than a twelfth grader—right? Most likely not, I am afraid. Readers of blogs like Music Think Tank and TechDirt, who live to learn about and make sense of the impact of technology on the recording industry and have observed how file sharing has reshaped our cultural lives—i.e. you—are in fact, smarter than a twelfth grader. But, what about these out-of-touch executives, commonly relegated to “struggling dinosaurs,” whose only exit from this industry entails mass extinction of their kind and the destruction of the music empires they created? What about all those artists in recent years who have made off-the-cuff comments about file sharing, only to be criticized for their complete disconnect from the arguments? Better, how do Dhillon’s arguments stack up against some of the viewpoints that have been gaining traction in recent weeks?
Devo got loads of press by letting fans choose everything from the songs on their new album to the color of their hats. If you’re secure enough to make your own wardrobe decisions, you can get useful feedback on your songs by conducting a focus group on Jango. It only cost me $75 to play 12 of my songs to targeted listeners 3,000 times in a single day. The information I gleaned helped me select which track would open my new album, and persuaded me to cut two others.
I’d like to take a moment to step away from our regularly scheduled programming of marketing, PR, fan funding, digital downloads, the future of the music business, what works for an artist and what doesn’t to thank one artist in particular for reminding us what is most important.
One week ago Matthew Leone, bass player for the Chicago based band Madina Lake was rushed to the hospital after incurring several broken bones and head trauma when he heroically intervened in a domestic dispute between a husband and wife near his home.
Jonathan Ostrow: Why Music Should Never Be Given Away For Free.
Bruce Warila: Eight Recent Social and Technical Phenomena That Are Making Your Music The Only Thing That Matters To Your Success.
Chris Taylor: 12 Must-Have iPhone Apps For The Musician On-The-Go.
Ariel Hyatt: Crowd funding Week 2: Feeling Confronted & Insecure, But Pushing Ahead.
Chris Bracco: How to Track the Results of Your Hard Work.
Artist Phil Putnam and Brian Meece of Rockethub are continuing their journey of blogging about the journey through Crowd funding their projects.
Phil was in the office this week and he admitted to me how the roller coaster feels while riding it… the way he explained it makes a lot of sense: When you are interacting with your fans on Facebook or any social media there is an easy give and take. When you are asking for money the paradigm shifts and all of a sudden its a different story.
Interestingly enough there is an article in SPIN Magazine this month that quotes a few artists and their own experiences. Artist Momus was quoted saying that: I felt like a carnival barker.” and Jill Sobule who has been heavily covered all over the blogosphere and in the media about her fan funding said: “At times I felt too much like a business person.” Two very interesting takes on it.
After sending out all of your pitch e-mails and following up, you will probably receive a healthy amount of replies from bloggers. It’s really fun to get all psyched up about this, reply immediately, and watch the features pop-up all over the web. However, while basking in promotional glory, many artists completely forget the most important part of the entire process: tracking the results of your hard work!
The main reasons for undergoing a full-fledged music blog promotion campaign are to raise awareness about your music, and drive web traffic back to your official website, where people can interact with you, become fans, and ultimately buy whatever it is you are selling (CD’s, digital downloads, Uzi-Shaped USB drives, t-shirts, sock puppets, etc). Don’t just blindly assume that your web traffic, number of fans, and online sales will automatically increase because of your recent efforts in blog promotion. There are tons of tips and tools out there that can help you track and measure the effectiveness of your blog promotion, so you can figure out what worked and what didn’t. Try some (preferably all) of the following simple methods to track the overall effectiveness of your blog promotion campaign:
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(Updated Sept 29, 2014)