Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

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This week on Walking The Dog, I talk about Performance Rights Organizations, or PROs. In the US, the PROs are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Musicians can register with one of these three PROs as songwriters (music composer/lyricists) as well as publishers of their own music. Once you are a member of a PRO, you can then register your songs, which has the advantage of allowing you, the musician, to use the services of your PRO to collect royalties whenever that song is performed.

In this 15 minute episode, I refer listeners to a website called MusicalRedHead hosted by Christiane Kinney, who is an entertainment lawyer as well as an indie musician. I met Christiane a few years ago at SF Music Tech, and also follow her on Twitter (@musicalredhead). Her blog has a lot of great information for musicians.

In addition to giving a brief overview of what the function of a PRO is, the two issues I talk about in this episode are live performances, especially in smaller venues, and music licensing for television shows and commercials, and where PROs figure in the equation.

Please leave your comments and rebuttals below!

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Facebook: we love it and hate it. Facebook brings up so many opinions, but there is no question that it plays a big role in our lives both personally in business.

In Episode 3, I have decided to take a slightly different tack than the first two podcasts. I’m going a bit longer (11 minutes) and I’m going to discuss a hot marketing issue that also came up last night on the #ggchat Twitter chat (run by Madalyn Sklar every Thursday).

Many bands have experienced a drop in interaction on their Facebook pages in recent months since the changes Facebook made to its algorithms for how posts are displayed in fans’ news feeds. Basically, the days of free advertising are over. There has also been a lot of discussion about whether bands should be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.

In this episode, I summarize the key points in a recent (December 2013) article by Larry Kim on MarketingProfs called Twitter vs. Facebook Ad Showdown: Which Offers the Best Social Media Ad Platform. At the end of the podcast, I also give my analysis and recommendations in practical terms for artists and bands.

Let me know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media advertising. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.



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Walking The Dog Episide 2

Most every morning I walk my dog. That’s where I do a lot of my thinking about my own music and social media, about music marketing and about what’s happening with music and technology in general. I thought you all might want to come along and hear what was on my mind this Friday morning.

The subject of today’s podcast is gear. What is the role of gear in your music career? Have you recently purchased some new gear and has it made a big difference in your recording or live performance?

In this 5 minute episode I talk about my own experience and also my observations from watching Stevie produce local bands. I didn’t admit it in the podcast, but I’m not immune to the siren song of gear. I’m like a kid in a candy shop at Guitar Center. In fact, I purchased the JamMan Looper/Sampler pictured above in October of last year. I haven’t yet figured out how to use it.

It often seems that musicians are more willing to purchase expensive musical gear than to spend the same amount of money on music lessons, professional performance coaching, song critiques, marketing, or legal services. In my mind, expensive gear is a social signal – but what it signals to others is not necessarily what I think many musicians believe it signals.

I’d love to hear your experience and your opinion on this issue in the comments section below. I’d also love your feedback on this format!


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Walking The

Most every morning I walk my dog. That’s where I do a lot of my thinking about my own music and social media, about music marketing and about what’s happening with music and technology in general. I thought you all might want to come along and hear what was on my mind this Friday morning.

I was having a conversation last night with Michael Brandvold about my own content strategy on YouTube. The conversation was inspired in part by a great post by Lucy E. Blair published yesterday on Digital Music News entitled “STOP Making Viral Videos, START Making a YouTube #Content Strategy”.

Michael and I got to talking about the difficulty of committing to creating any kind of social media content consistently. If you’re going to commit to producing content for social media, he argued, you better enjoy creating it, or you won’t do it regularly. But the most important thing is that you create something and get it out there regularly. I argued that knowing what type of content your fans want from you is also important, and you ought to have a content strategy and understand your market before you start creating content.

Who cares if I create a music marketing podcast every Friday (for example), but no one is interested in hearing it?

So here are my 6 minutes (I thought I would keep it mercifully brief) on the conflicts between creating social media content and art for art’s sake – and creating for commercial consumption.

I’d love to hear your experience and your opinion on this issue in the comments section below. I’d also love your feedback on this format!

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10 Lessons For Musicians From The Lego Movie

This past weekend I saw the Lego Movie. It’s a fun movie – more than just a 90 minute commercial, as FastCompany wrote, (really, I promise). Now, I rarely go to see movies, so it’s even rarer that I actually like one.

Will Ferrell has a great (non-animated) role, and Morgan Freeman shows off his considerable deadpan and off-the-wall comedic skills. Is there anything Morgan Freeman doesn’t narrate these days? If you’ve never heard him narrate his own life, I’ve embedded it below. It’s hilarious. But let’s get back to the movie.

I think in all honesty, the Lego Movie’s target audience is GenY parents and Baby Boomer grandparents more than children. I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie creates a boom in adult Lego construction. If you’ve read anything about Lego recently, though, they have been amazingly astute at marketing their products in the past ten years. They didn’t exactly need the movie to sell their products.

The movie is packed full of sly inside jokes and life lessons. I thought I would pluck just a few and write them down, trying not to spoil the movie for you, in case you haven’t seen it:

  1. Encourage creativity in yourself and others. Be patient. Like Vitruvius was with Emmet.
  2. Sometimes an empty mind can be the most fertile place for ideas to appear. Also, like Vitruvius said.
  3. Stay flexible so you can adapt to change on the ground. Keep moving forward even when you don’t know what’s going on. Like Emmet did.
  4. Sometimes a little anger accomplishes a lot. You don’t have to be happy all the time. Like Unikitty.
  5. Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else just because you think it’s cool. You’lllucy 225x300 10 Lessons For Musicians From The Lego Movie attract the wrong kind of people. Like Wyld Style (AKA Lucy).
  6. Teamwork and collaboration can build things no individual can. Like Emmet showed the team.
  7. Sometimes the most mundane idea can save the day. Like the double-decker couch.
  8. Maybe someone who is standing in your way just needs a little encouragement and love. Like Mr. Business.
  9. Even the most ordinary creator is special. You just have to believe in yourself. Like the cat poster said.
  10. The prophecy is just made up. You make your own destiny. Like Morgan Freeman (AKA Vitruvius) said.

I think this is the shortest blog post I’ve written in quite a while. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for me, too…

Would love to hear your thoughts, comments, rebuttals – as always, please leave a comment below.

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It’s Sunday, and usually Sunday is my day to spend with my mother. I take her swimming at the pool or lake and then back to my house for lunch in my kitchen, a visit with her grandchildren and a few ball-throws with my dog, Lucy. It’s been a tradition for the past three years, since my mom moved out here to Seattle from her home in New Jersey after living alone for 35 years.

Today, I am writing about my mom instead in being with her in person. Yesterday, she passed away peacefully at our local hospice center, ten days after suffering a massive stroke. Within a few days of her stroke, she had lost the ability to talk, open her eyes much, or move her limbs or her body. She had not eaten or drunk anything since being admitted to the hospital. She was diagnosed a little over a year ago with congestive heart failure, and she had a number of other ailments common to 81-year-olds (arthritis, memory loss). With three hospitalizations in 18 months, we had all seen this coming for a while.

photo 24 e1378058793838 225x300 30 Lessons About Living From A Wise WomanMy mom had been very clear over the years with me and my sister that she was horrified by the idea of having to live in a nursing home, unable to walk. Certainly the idea of being unable to eat by herself, move much at all, unable to communicate with others, was the stuff of my mother’s nightmares. She was a woman who swam laps in the gym pool four days before her stroke. She had been a long time supporter of the group Compassion and Choices, and was thrilled when our state passed the Death With Dignity act in 2008, just before she moved out here. So her passing relatively quickly was both a sorrow and a relief.

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Downtown CS 1 287x300 Thank You and Happy Holidays To Teachers EverywhereSubject: Re: Happy Holidays and Thank YOU!!!
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 08:36:06 -0800

Happy Holidays to you, too. Thank you for doing such a great job with my son. Despite his challenges with attention, I think he is doing really well in your classroom. I am so grateful for your efforts to see who he is,  as I know you do for every one of your students.

I also just wanted to say that I know the Connecticut shooting has been especially difficult for those of us who both have young children and know the sacrifices teaching requires. Many of my friends who are new to teaching were quite shaken by it.

I have experienced first hand, in my student teaching, how much teachers come to care for all the kids in their classroom. It’s not like we plan it – it just happens because we are human, we are empathetic. Teachers are in the profession because of who they are – good people who like children and choose to make a positive difference in the world.

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Above The Noise Podcast Logo dark1 300x300 An Interview With... Me.I am so pleased to post this podcast interview of me by my friend Aaron Bethune of Yes, Aaron interviewed me (not the other way around) this time.

Aaron is the founder of Play It Loud Music, a boutique management and booking agency run by a tight knit team of industry specialists and musicians. They have an extensive music licensing catalog, and they also offer an “a la carte” menu of services including marketing and branding to artists, labels, producers, studios, and businesses looking for a creative edge.

I met Aaron through Twitter (an example of just how amazing social media can be at bringing people together), and we hit it off right away. Last week, he asked (perhaps a bit innocently) if he could interview me. Frankly, I was flattered, because Aaron interviews some of the most influential people in the music industry, people like author and music licensing guru Sarah Gavigan, branding expert Marty Neumeier, music supervisor and journalist David Weiss and many others on his blog and podcast, Above the Noise. I hope you enjoy it. Aaron and I talk about my past life as a technology marketer, and what I’ve learned about the similarities between the music and software industries. Please feel free to comment on the interview, I’d love to hear what you think.

Above The Noise Music Industry Podcast with Recording Artist & Software Developer Solveig Whittle