Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Grant Maloy Smith is an Americana indie artist who lives in Rhode Island. I first met him as a member of the online indie Grammy® community this past fall. I was impressed with how he seemed to know everyone. Online pictures of him kept popping up collaborating with other musicians I knew, like Jody Quine and Ricky Kej/Wouter Kellerman, performing live or playing on their songs in the studio. For a guy based on the East Coast, he sure seemed to show up at LA recording sessions a lot!
I finally met Grant in person in February of this year at The Soiree, a showcase of indie Grammy artists at the House of Blues in LA, where he and I played backup for one of our mutual friends, nominee Paul Avgerinos. Grant was just as much fun in person as he is online.
I’m always interested in artists who
- Write and perform their own original music
- Collaborate with other artists often and outside both their own genre and immediate geographical area
- Have retained a sense of humor, and more importantly, a sense of purpose and vision for their music, in an industry that seems very opaque and anonymous
- Have had careers in other fields, where they have acquired strong business and social skills which they apply to their music careers
- Have over ten thousand Twitter followers
I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Grant, and learn some practical tips as well.
Since I’m not attending SXSW myself this year, I thought I’d bring you a real life, in the trenches, on the road, slice of life post about three female artists I met through Madalyn Sklar’s GoGirlsElite and #ggchat. I’ve met two of them In Real Life, and have watched two of them perform on ConcertWindow – which feels almost like IRL I’ve read their blog posts and listened to their music, and they are all such positive and energetic women, doing all the right things to market themselves in this crowded place we call indie music.
Meet Rorie Kelly, Mary Bue and Alex Winters. [Full disclosure, Mary Bue is a music marketing client of mine, but Rorie and Alex are not. All three women are also being represented by my friend Stacey Sherman of RSP Entertainment Marketing while they are at SXSW.]
These three talented musicians got together (completely unbeknownst to me) and booked themselves an unofficial showcase gig tomorrow, Thursday March 19, 2015, at 8 PM at the Waterloo Ice House in South Park Meadows.
I love this story because:
- It’s a bunch of women getting together to make their own gig happen – community, not competition!
- It’s social media at its best – helping people meet their business goals. Rorie, Mary and Alex met and got to know each other via the GoGirlsMusic network, which is a great virtual networking tool. The public Thursday Twitter chats at the hashtag #ggchat at 3 and 9 PM EST are well-attended by both male and female indie musicians and are always lively and informative. You’ll note below that they have some mutual male musician friends as well who are also frequent participants in the #ggchat Twitter chat, and helped encourage this group gig at SXSW.
- They all have great stories in addition to great music. I know some good PR will come from this for some deserving indie artists just trying to get heard above all the SXSW noise.
On to the interview.
What is authenticity? What does it mean to be genuine with your fans, with your customers? How do you know how much of yourself to share on social media? Why do both corporations and individuals find it difficult, yet rewarding (monetarily and in other ways) to be transparent on social media? How has social media changed the way entities, from musicians to social entrepreneurs to multi-national corporations, market their goods and services and engage in value and monetary transactions? How can we use social media to communicate our values, build trust, build relationships and, ultimately, create loyal fans and customers who buy from us because they share our values?
I recently read two books which stirred a great deal of thought on these questions. One is Kim Garst’s Will The Real You Please Stand Up and the other is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I was struck with the very different approaches these two women took to discuss the science and art of social media in their books, but also convinced that were they stuck sitting next to each other on a flight from New York to LA, they would find much in common in their approaches to building a thriving brand on social media.
This is a review of Kim Garst’s book, with a few examples from Amanda Palmer’s book thrown in to help illustrate some of the key social media principles Garst espouses (although she has plenty of more corporate case studies in the book).
Whether you are a musician, a corporation, or an individual seeking guidance on how to best use social media to build your brand and your business, Kim Garst’s book is a well-written, vital and accessible resource I know I will be recommending for years to come (and that says a lot in the quickly-changing world of social media).
[A podcast review of Amanda Palmer’s book will be appearing later this month as the focus of an extended interview of me by Connie Rock on the University of Washington’s FlipTheMedia.com].
This is the fundamental premise of Garst’s book, a business primer which blends both good and bad case studies with a methodical and organized approach toward 21st century marketing online. In just ten chapters and an easy-to-read 173 pages, Garst lays out the key traits necessary to craft an authentic presence on social media. Her principles apply as well to individuals interested in crafting their personal brand as they do to Fortune 100 companies. || Read more
I first saw Paula Boggs perform at a local singer-songwriter hangout, the Soulfood Coffeehouse in Redmond, WA. She seemed totally comfortable on stage, despite the fact that she didn’t look or sound much like any of the other performers that night. It didn’t take more than a single Google search on my iPhone to turn up the fact that she was the former Corporate Counsel for Starbucks, along with having served on the Iran-Contra task force during the Reagan administration. I was intrigued.
I’m always interested in what draws someone with many talents and choices from the corporate world into music. I’ve said several times that learning the music business is harder than getting an MBA – even for someone with an MBA. Those of us who executed “Plan B” first, who had successful careers in other fields, might be tempted to find easier ways to fulfillment, like yoga or volunteering for the PTA. Or to simply look at our music as a hobby. You have to be pretty driven to stick with the music thing.
Paula is on her second album release, coming this March, called “Carnival of Miracles”, so I guess she’s in it to stay.
Here is my interview with Paula Boggs. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Featured image by scottchan for freedigitalphotos.net
I began teaching a social media certificate class this month to 31 adults in downtown Seattle at the University of Washington’s Continuing Education Program. I’m really enjoying it – the students are enthusiastic and operating all at different levels of social media expertise and experience. Creating material for a three hour class on a weekly basis is no walk in the park, but I love it so far! It’s an exercise in visual, rigorous, accountable, consistent long form weekly content creation.
At the same time, I’ve also been working with some fabulous musicians as a marketing consultant, helping them develop their marketing plans, define their music career business goals, and then execute against those goals.
AND I’ve also been trying to keep up with the fast paced and ever changing worlds of both social media and music. Oh, and then there’s the new set of songs Stevie and I are working on for 2015 release.
I got to thinking a few weeks ago about how to distill down the things I see as vital for musicians – and any small business owner – to attend to as part of their social media for the coming year.
So here is what I would tell you to do in 2015 with your social media if you were my music marketing client:
- Understand your primary social media business goals. Don’t jump into social media just because you feel you “need to be on social media.” Are you promoting a new album release, an event or tour? Is your primary goal to increase followers or Likes? Or are you trying to get the attention of bloggers, press or industry influencers? Are you trying to win a music contest or raise money via Kickstarter or Pledgemusic or some other platform? Is your goal to promote coupons or discounts to encourage fans to buy your music or merchandise directly from your website? Your goals will help determine both what social media channels to focus on, and what kinds of activities (posts) to engage in. Set some reasonable, concrete, realistic, numerical social media goals for 6 months and for a year from now – goals with numbers and a timeline. It’s easy to get lost, sidetracked and overwhelmed in social media. If you’re not aiming at something, you won’t know if you’ve succeeded.
- Know who your target market is. What are the basic demographics (age, sex, location, artists they like) for your super fans? If you don’t have a big fan base, research the demographics of bands you consider your competition. I also wrote a blog post on identifying your super fan that includes some great online research tools.
As 2014 winds down, I find myself both excited and bemused to write a final music marketing blog about a Seattle indie artist I first met a few years ago. His newest project, Margaret, hot off the press this month, impresses me both musically as well as promotionally (although I hesitate to use that word, and he would probably cringe at it, too). One of the things that characterizes this artist is a fierce allegiance to the creative much more so than the commercial, but perhaps that is a large part of what makes this music project such a great example to discuss.
Watching the way the marketing and promotion of this album has unfolded since I first heard about the project in April of this year has taught me a lot, and I hope you take something from my analysis.
Good music and creativity are at the heart of successful music marketing. I have never seen that embodied so clearly. The marketing is important, and executing well is important, but without good music, marketing only takes you so far. First and foremost, I believe that what drove Jason’s project was making good music that was meaningful to him.
What is good music? Ah well, that is a subjective thing. All I can say is, I know it when I hear it. And I know when I don’t. And so do you, and so do fans. Marketing is just the icing – it doesn’t disguise a bad cake, but it sure makes a good one taste better. Now, it is true that music is subjective, and there are many tastes, many genres, and many niches. However, some music is just well written and well-performed, and even if you don’t like the genre, you can appreciate the musicianship. Most importantly, good music moves the audience emotionally. Passion, combined with creativity and craft, make art that is magical.
The second most important thing to get from this article is that being flexible and listening to what your fans want from you will go a long way. If you start with a great live performance, and then get a clear message from your fans to release a CD, do what they say and they will buy it.
There’s a bit more to what Jason did with this project, however, so I’ve outlined below the 10 elements I think were most effective at propelling the project forward at such speed and with such success.
In fall of 2014, I interviewed New Age artists Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman about how they marketed their newest collaboration, Winds of Samsara. The album debuted in July at No. 1 on the Billboard New Age Chart, and then spent the following 12 weeks in the Top 10.
****** UPDATE!! February 8, 2015 – Kellerman and Kej WON a Grammy for Best New Age Album at the 57th Grammys. Congratulations! It couldn’t have gone to two nicer musicians and a harder working team. ******
Ricky, Wouter and their team are a hybrid indie artist marketing model: neither the artist nor the label does 100% of the marketing. Most of the marketing strategy, however, is planned and driven by the artists and their managers, with similarities to how Macklemore (Ben Haggerty), Ryan Lewis and Zach Quillen drove the charting success of The Heist in 2013.
Ricky and Wouter signed this project with a label, but they recognized from the start that their label wasn’t going to do everything needed to promote the album. The artists themselves needed to pitch in, especially with social media promotion. That is the powerful story here – all the incredible networking and promotion this team did for the album, in addition to using key industry resources at their label to help strategically promote the album in distribution and on the radio.
I’ve seen first hand on social media how Ricky, his wife Varsha Kej, Wouter, and Wouter’s manager, Tholsi Pillay, persistently promote Winds of Samsara. All four fluidly mix the creative with business. In addition to being Wouter’s manager, Tholsi played keyboards and synth on the album, and Varsha is Ricky’s manager as well as a sitar player.
I wanted to hear more about how this marketing dynamo planned and executed their marketing, and what has gone into debuting and maintaining Winds of Samsara’s Billboard chart status over the past weeks and months. I also wanted to know what kind of promotional team they have behind them (distributor, PR, etc.)
Stevie and I have been honored to be asked to help judge the last two annual Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands here in Seattle. In 2014, 10,000 bands entered this international competition, and 750 bands subsequently participated in live battles around the world at Hard Rock Cafes from Dublin, Ireland to Atlanta, Georgia. One winner went on to score an all-expense trip to Rome, Italy to perform in front of 40,000 fans.
This year, Stevie and I were asked to be two of the four judges in the finalist round here at the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe. It was very exciting. Even more exciting: this past May, the band which we helped judge to the number one spot in Seattle, a most excellent female-fronted band called Joyfield, went on to beat all the other bands from around the world, and win the entire 2014 global competition!
Brad is not only a fantastic live event MC, his day job is DJ at local Seattle radio station, Click 98.9. Brad is fast-talking, energetic and funny,. He’s also just a really straight-up, honest, friendly guy, AND (it turns out) he also has a lot of insider knowledge to share about radio and the music business.
I thought it would be very cool to interview Brad and see what words of wisdom he might have for indie artists when it comes to radio as well as media and PR in general. I was not disappointed.
I think you will enjoy this interview. Brad has some great advice to share, from how to get on the radio, to how to market yourself as a musician, to the role of social media for indie artists.
I recently participated in a group discussion with Christine Infanger (@norabarnacle) and a few other music industry people about musicians who send automated Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter when someone follows them.
The result was a light-hearted compilation of all the reasons we all hate it when musicians Direct-Message us. It was posted on the CD Baby DIY Musician Blog, and I thought you might want to read it if you haven’t already. There’s some good advice here!
I cannot restate this enough- Do Not send bot/automated DM's. It's spam, everyone ignores them, & it's annoying. Trust me, musicians.
— Christine Infanger (@norabarnacle) July 29, 2014
It began innocently enough; a tweet was sent which read “I cannot restate this enough- Do Not send bot/automated DM’s. It’s spam, everyone ignores them, & it’s annoying. Trust me, musicians.” From there, an onslaught of musicians and others involved in the industry in various capacities got to retweeting, favoriting, and corresponding.
This innocuous tweet touched on a subject which seems to have been gnawing its way to the top of many pet peeve lists as artists are becoming further removed from personal engagement and replacing it with automated direct messages.
What transpired was a fascinating two day conversation amongst a group of people all very active in the music industry and all very knowledgable about social media and the common sense behind using social media to interact. The conversation then necessitated more than 140 characters and moved to email where the group decided to compile a list of what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do when sending direct messages on Twitter. [Read more here…]
Tis the season for indie album releases (perhaps the Grammy submission timelines are driving some of this).
As some of you know, we recently mastered our second Solveig & Stevie CD, Fire and Other Playthings. Before we release it, of course, I am writing up my promotional plan. In the midst of my best practices research process, it occurred to me, wait…
What about consulting the collective brainpower surrounding me in the virtual online cocktail party that is the Internet of All Things, those brilliant music industry people (some of whom I am now honored to call Friend and many of whom I have met In Real Life over the past several years)?
Then came another Lightbulb Moment: I should compile these tips into a blog post to share with you, my faithful readers!
All of these folks are people I have interacted with on social media or in person in some way or another, so they are real people with real experience in music marketing. Many have written entire books (or at least ebooks) on the subject, which I have downloaded or purchased and read.
The links below are not affiliate links, they’ll just take you to the author’s website or blog. All I ask is that if you do visit my friends, please let them know I sent you.
Don’t forget to read all the way to the end – there are some real gems here. Some are a bit more, ahem, detailed than others. Some are practical lists, and some more philosophical. I didn’t want you to miss anything, so I edited just a bit for obvious redundancies. There are some recurring themes.
[By the way, if you’d prefer this post as a PDF, I am thinking of creating an ebook from this blog post. Let me know in the comments or email me via the contact form to let me know.]
So with no further ado, in no particular order, except as they came in to me, here they are: