Walking The Dog Episode 17: #WDS2014 and Lauren Kinney’s Art

In this 17 minute episode, I discuss Lauren Kinney and finding a higher theme in your music marketing, licensing a cover song for your CD when it isn’t part of the Harry Fox Songfile library, and the World Domination Summit 2014.

I am fascinated by the idea of finding a theme for your music marketing that transcends the music itself and brings meaning to your life as a whole. This could be a non-profit cause you feel strongly about, a social, political or environmental issue, or a lifestyle choice such as diet or healthy living. Finding ways to connect your music to something else you feel passionately about is a great way to attract people to your music.

LA singer-songwriter Lauren Kinney had a lovely article written about her in the New York Observer called Merging Art: Songstress Finds Her Literary Voice which talks about her new YouTube video series (correction to my calling it an album in the podcast), “Songs About Books.”

Literature is a passion of Lauren’s, and her new project made for a great unsolicited press piece (the writer found her via Instagram and tracked her down for the interview! How cool is that?) Perhaps one reason this worked is that it might not have been an intentional marketing technique on Lauren’s part – but still, worth thinking about what your larger message is as a musician, your theme as a human being.

I also talk about my experience licensing a cover song from Jimi Hendrix’ estate so I can release it on my upcoming CD, Fire and Other Playthings (due out next month). In order to release a cover song on your CD, you must get a mechanical license from the publisher of the song. Many songs are easily and quickly licensed online via the Songfile tool on the Harry Fox Agency website. The Jimi Hendrix song I want to release on my CD, however, is not available through Harry Fox, I need to get a license directly from the Hendrix estate. The only problem is that their mechanical license application clearly states that it covers only physical CDs, not digital distribution such as download (!) or streaming. So I have to ask them if they will grant those additional licenses, or decide whether to keep the song on the CD or not. [Post-podcast script – I am trying out Limelight to see if they can get me streaming and digital licenses as well as the physical CD licenses.]

On to my review of the World Domination Summit 2014 (#WDS2014), an “un-conference” I attended in Portland, OR, last weekend with the themes: Community, Adventure and Service.

[Tweet “If you have ten or more parked domain names, you are a dreamer – @jadahsellner”]

My #WDS2014 Conference Review Summary


  • Love Portland – what a great city
  • Very well run conference – from registration to the yogurt parfait snacks, an incredible media team
  • Participatory vibe – not your typical conference
  • Speakers were great – social entrepreneurs, marketing folks, creativity experts
  • A good place to “find a tribe” of people like you – if you are interested in social entrepreneurship, writing your first book, or starting a business
  • The WDS Foundation gives money to some of the participants to help kickstart their dream projects

[Tweet “Any business that compromises your health or relationships is not sustainable – @jadahsellner”]


  • The unbounded optimism got to me a little, although Scott Berkun’s (@berkun) talk toward the end tried to focus on the practicalities of entrepreneurship
  • A lot of cheerleading, not so much on implementation tools – dreams are important, but integrating the dreamer and doer parts of our personalities can often be a challenge for us artists
  • I’m not sure I will go back next year, but it was worthwhile to go once

A full list of speakers is on the WDS website, but some of my favorite speakers of the weekend were A J Jacobs (@ajjacobs, The Year of Living Biblically), Jadah Sellner (@jadahsellner, 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge website), Dee Williams (tiny house movement), Scott Berkun (@berkun, The Year Without Pants), and Shannon Galpin (@sgalpin), a last-minute stand-in speaker not listed on the webiste who had a moving and thought-provoking talk about the power of raising women’s voices around gender issues.

For a fantastic in-depth series of blog posts on some of the WDS speakers, check out Cyriel Kortleven’s website.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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Walking The Dog Episode 9: #Contentmarketing, Balancing Life, and #Micropayments


In today’s 16 minute Walking The Dog podcast, I talk about three things:

  • Consistent online content creation (even in the rain)
  • A shoutout to Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson’s Music Biz Weekly podcast episode 153 on balancing work and life
  • The main discussion: How can and why should we move from an online model in the music industry where everything is free (at least when you are starting out as an indie musician) to one where musicians can earn a living making music.

Musicians, we’ve all heard it’s important to create online content outside of your music – blog posts, streaming online concerts, YouTube music videos, how-to videos, artwork, e-books, podcasts – the suggested list goes on and on.

Why create content in addition to your music? Well,  content marketing is 21st century marketing: bringing your fans, your audience, your customers to YOU, instead of marketing AT them (the old way).

[Tweet “As a musician, consider creating and distributing content online as a way to build your fan base.”]

It’s super important to pick a content form that you can be consistent in publishing.  For example, I decided to start this podcast because I knew I would always be walking my dog and thinking about music marketing stuff, and because I knew I could commit to doing it once a week – even in the rain (like today).

The second subject of today’s podcast is to acknowledge that balancing being an entrepreneur (a “musicpreneur,” if you will) with the need to nurture your family life, your personal needs, and your health is a challenge for every musician.I encourage you to watch or listen to the latest episode of the Music Biz Weekly Episode 153: The Musician’s Dilemma for an honest discussion by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson (neither musicians, but both very busy guys) about their thoughts on this challenge.

Lastly, I discuss this article: Why I’m Not Giving It Away For FREE (And You Shouldn’t Either) by Nancy Fox on LinkedIn and the idea of NOT giving all your music away for free. How can musicians make a living when they are starting out competing in this noisy environment where fans are overwhelmed with so much free online stuff?

It’s a problem for the entire online industry, not just music, and Ms. Fox’s suggestion for solving the problem may or may not work in the music industry.

More resources on micropayments and creating a sustainable model for online content in intellectual property (IP) creators:

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Walking The Dog Episode 7: #Metadata and #MusicBiz2014


Welcome to my weekly podcast. I talk about music, music marketing, and the music business where I do some of my best thinking – while walking my dog.

In this 22 minute episode, I discuss the Music Biz Association’s 2014 Metadata Summit on Tuesday May 6 I attended in LA, part of the larger three day Music Biz 2014 Summit. The Music Biz Association, formerly known as NARM and its sub-organization, digitalmusic.org, is “a non-profit membership organization that advances and promotes music commerce — a community committed to the full spectrum of monetization models in the industry” (from their website.) I have written about the importance of standardizing music metadata as a critical component in ensuring artist compensation in the new music industry where digital will eventually dominate.

It’s interesting to note that the board of the Music Biz Association is composed of representatives of all the major players in the music industry, and this list is evolving to encompass players other than the big labels: Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, YouTube (ie. Google), iTunes, as well as players like The Orchard and INGrooves. As music moves to a self-published model, I hope to see more representation in associations such as Music Biz for indie artists, too. Right now the industry is dominated by these big players (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”), but the future of music is a much flatter structure, where streaming micropayments, and thus metadata, will play an even larger role.

Look for a long form blog post later on this website about my experiences at Music Biz 2014, and a larger discussion about music metadata.

Also of note this week is the speculation around the purchase of Beats by Apple, as streaming players being a slow consolidation that (in my opinion) makes for a more rational and sustainable financial structure for streaming music services, as I predicted many months ago. This would be the largest acquisition ever made by Apple, if it goes through.

Finally, I discuss the significance of the incredible success of the soundtrack to Disney’s movie, Frozen. At the MetaData Summit, I sat next to Disney’s finance group, there to hear about the latest advances in metadata standardization. Why do they care? Because the Frozen soundtrack has been on the Billboard 200 13 times, it knocked Beyonce off the charts, and it has sold 2.6 million copies (58% digital – but that means 42% digital). As pointed out in this article on NPR’s blog, “Well Into Spring, ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack Keeps The Charts Cool,” Frozen‘s soundtrack has made a lot of money for Disney in a variety of different ways. Perhaps the difficulties of tracking all the various ways in which songs make money for Disney in the new music model, where digital plays come from a myriad of sources, will motivate a behemoth like Disney to put pressure on the industry to standardize music metadata more quickly, and streamline the monetization process further.


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Macklemore Manager Zach Quillen Reveals Secrets of Marketing ‘The Heist’

Macklemore Same Love

I first wrote about them in October 2012 on this blog, but the world now knows that a combination of strong, socially conscious messaging, a well-defined visual persona, an electrifying live show, and great music characterize the hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Amplified by impeccable marketing execution and excellent timing, they have become the poster child group for DIY indie artists around the world and put Seattle back on the map of music industry innovation.

Zach Quillen (@wexington), who began managing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis full time in 2012, was interviewed this past Saturday live and in person by Larry Mizell Jr. (@lar206), DJ from KEXP Seattle. This happened at Seattle’s EMP Museum at the Pacific Northwest Chapter of The Academy’s Songwriter’s Summit 2014. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience.

As both a marketer and an indie musician, I was fascinated to finally hear Quillen talk in person about the details of marketing The Heist. I’ve been waiting to meet Quillen for almost two years, and I wanted to hear straight from the source what his biggest challenges and most difficult decisions have been. I was not disappointed.

There Has Always Been A Plan

My key takeaway? There is a plan. There has always been a plan. It’s a plan you can trace back to the early 2000s, but the additon of Quillen brought music industry marketing expertise, experience and connections to the mix. The seemingly meteoric success of The Heist has been planned by Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis and Zach Quillen for years. Marketing for The Heist has been strategically thought out, considered, discussed, rehashed and then tactics executed boldly – with adaptations made on the fly as opportunities arose.


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The Best Expenditure Of Your Money, Musicians

How Important Is Your Live Show To Your Career?

Tom Jackson believes that the most successful artists are those who are amazing live performers. A few weeks ago, Stevie and I attended a two day bootcamp with live music producer Jackson and his team to see how we could improve our own performance. I was not disappointed.

photo (41)In his many years of experience working with everyone from big name artists like Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, or Jars of Clay to up-and-coming indie artists like the Canadian country duo The Reklaws, Jackson has learned that fans don’t just come to a live show to listen to music. They come to feel emotion. What they crave is to connect with an artist, and to have their lives changed.

As for merchandise, most fans don’t buy a CD because they want to listen to the studio version of the song they heard live. Merchandise, Jackson says, is a prop that help fans relive the emotional moments of a live performance. The merchandise is a memento, and the emotional moments in a show are what it’s all about.

The Steven Spielberg of Live Music Performance

Tom Jackson teaches musicians how to make their live stage show remarkable. He helps artists deliberately create emotional “moments”. Jackson is the Steven Spielberg of live music production. This is the science of stagecraft and performance art. He teaches musicians how to use moments to create true fans, because it’s those moments that bring people back again and again to see your live show. It’s those moments that create the word-of-mouth buzz that propels an artist forward.

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Basics of Musician Vlogging and Seattle’s First VloggerFair

Vlogging is an increasingly popular communication medium, and I think it’s a largely underutilized way for indie musicians to communicate with fans, perform live, do interviews, build their YouTube subscribers, and share information about themselves and their lives. Musicians might even find it an unexpected source of additional income.

What is vlogging, you may ask? Vlogging is a contraction of the phrase “video blogging.” Vlogging is what happens when you publish regular, serialized video episodes on YouTube and people “tune in,” or subscribe, to your YouTube channel to watch. Vloggers, some of them quite young, but many of every age, are making a living doing this. If they offer interesting content, and can build a good subscriber base, it can be a very good living for some of the superstars of vlogging. Vloggers provide the content, people subscribe to watch it, and advertisers sell ads on their YouTube channels through the partner program.

Chris Pirillo’s VloggerFair 2013 In Seattle

I just attended VloggerFair here in sunny Seattle. VloggerFair is a combination trade show and giant fan club convention conceived and organized by the fast-talking and very creative Chris Pirillo. Chris is the star of the YouTube channel LockerGnome, a “Geek Lifestyle” channel with 288,000 subscribers. In addition to his fast-paced LockerGnome tech gadget reviews, Chris and his wife, Diana, also vlog about their day to day lives in what amounts, more or less, to a reality TV show on YouTube.

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Lessons From Hit Songwriters Of Every Genre And Race

The issues faced by DIY (Do It Yourself), DTF (Direct-To-Fan), AKA indie musicians cut across both musical genre and race. Many of the sources of information for musicians today seem to come in silos delineated by genre: hip hop artists read hip hop books and blogs, and get advice primarily from hip hop industry people; jazz, rock, metal, pop and folk artists do the same. Yet we all face many of the same issues, and these sources of information repeat much of the same advice to those who want to make a career in music. When we all share our experiences, though, we see how universal it is to be a musician, no matter what type of music we make, what cultural background we are from, or what age we are.

I was reminded of this when I attended the Pacific Northwest Recording Academy’s (Grammy organization) inaugural Songwriter’s Summit this weekend at Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project). There were people of every age and color at the Summit, but the concerns and frustrations voiced by the attendees were nearly identical:

  • How do I make a living in this crazy business that I love, but which changes under my feet every year, every week, every day?
  • Where is the real money to be made in writing and recording music?
  • How do I write a hit song? Then, how do I write another hit song?
  • How do I rise above the noise in the music industry and get my music heard?
  • How do I register and copyright my music so I can get paid?
  • How does the byzantine world of music licensing work?
  • Is the music business still all about relationships and who you know, or is the internet the great equalizer?
  • What is a mechanical license, what does a publisher do, who is SoundExchange and why should I care?
  • (and why does Rhapsody hold 30%  of their licensing revenue from streaming plays because they cannot figure out who to pay? This amazing statistic courtesy of Jon Maples, Vice President of Rhapsody Product Management)
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Recap: SF Music Tech Summit XII 2013

I had a very full day at my first SF Music Tech. I was impressed with the level of serious dialog, with the fact that women were much better represented here than at many of the tech conferences I’ve been to (35 – 40%), and, perhaps most importantly, with the mix of technology, business, and artist/creative-types represented. Many music conferences attract one type of attendee or another, but this one seems to do a really fine job of bringing them all together under one roof.

Here are my other impressions (taking into account that there was no way I could humanly attend all of the 33 sessions):

Daisy and YouTube: Important But Unrepresented

It was interesting that panel after panel talked throughout the day about YouTube as the most important platform for music discovery, especially among young people. Zoe Keating said she gets more money monthly from YouTube than Spotify. Yet many other music tech platforms are not seamlessly integrated with YouTube, and licensing is a nightmare for smaller musicians. Google was completely unrepresented at SF Music Tech as far as I could see – neither as panelists nor attendees.

Another elephant in the room was Daisy: apparently things got heated at the “How We Will Experience Music in the Future” panel, although I wasn’t there to hear it myself. Daisy went completely unmentioned in the “Music Discovery” panel (with panelists from Echo Nest, Rhapsody and Pandora). I did see two Daisy/MOG/Beats (that was what their badges said) attendees, but no official panel representation. I would think with all the press Jimmy Iovine’s been courting around Daisy and serving data to artists, they would have had someone here to talk to the tech community about this feature. Maybe I’m naïve.

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TAXI Road Rally 2012 Flashback

For those of you not familiar with TAXI, it’s a 17-year-old company that helps unsigned songwriters and composers submit their music for a variety of opportunities in film, TV, movies, and with labels. This is very helpful for aspiring artists like me who do not have deals with publishing houses or music supervisors. It’s also a great way for music supervisors to license new music cheaply from unknown artists. I’m just too old to be a rock star, frankly, but I’d love to create a revenue stream from my music via TAXI.

Membership in TAXI costs $300 a year (discounted if you bring others to the service), and there are small per-song submission fees as well. The Road Rally is TAXI’s annual member conference. Michael Laskow, who runs TAXI, said that they have about 10,000 members, and that 2700 of them registered for the conference this year. I have heard others say that the Road Rally conference is one of the best things about being a TAXI member, and I tend to agree. Although free to attend (members can bring one free guest, also), it’s certainly not free when you count travel expenses and your time. There are so many music conferences these days, it’s important to budget for them and to ask yourself if they are really worth attending. We spent a about $1100 per person in real money, as well as the time away from our clients and our own music creation. I always come home with some new information and insights from the TAXI Road Rally, though. Sitting in LAX thinking about the last three days I spent at the Rally, I thought I’d share why I feel it was well worth both my time and money.

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