Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

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Aaron Bethune

In today’s 35 minute episode I talk with my friend, music business consultant, newly published music marketing author, and just a lovely, genuine, and interesting human being, Aaron Bethune (@PlayItLoudMusic).

Aaron and I talk mostly about his new book, Musicpreneur: The Creative Approach To Making Money In Music (you can get a few chapters for free by signing up on the book website).

Eric Alper, Director of Media Relations for eOne Music Canada, has said, “This book might just be all you’ll ever need to read.”

Aaron and I discuss what makes his book different from most of the other music marketing books I’ve read, including:

  • Why Aaron started the book with a personal story about the time he came within 200 meters of one of the world’s seven summits, Cerro Aconcagua, and what that has to do with a career in music
  • Fan profiling, storytelling, being authentic and how to connect with fans
  • The reason 99% of musicians don’t manage to make a living in the music business, and how to be one of the 1% who do
  • The biggest obstacle to success for most indie musicians
  • Real life examples of how Aaron approached marketing two very different musicians whose music is in the same genre or format
  • How to identify possible sponsorship opportunities

I think you will enjoy our conversation as much as I did. Let me know in the comments!

posted by on Marketing, Music, Social Media, Thoughts

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cherry blossoms

In this week’s 12 1/2 minute episode, I talk about a local resource, Songwriters In Seattle, a group that organizes open mics and songwriting workshops for musicians via Meetup, an often overlooked social media resource. I also discuss a Slideshare presentation by Stan Smith (link below) with helpful tips for musicians trying to get their music and their message out in an online world crowded with competitors.

[If you listen all the way to the end, you'll also hear my simple trick for figuring out what makes you unique. This is a critical element in defining your story and marketing your music.]

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a Songwriters In Seattle songwriting group. Workshops and songwriting circles are  a great way to

  • hone your songwriting skills
  • network with other musicians, and
  • find co-writers.

Co-writing music is a hot subject these days, and very common in music-centric cities like Nashville and LA. This article, Tips For Finding & Creating Successful Co-writes, from the Nashville Songwriters Association website has some good tips about songwriting. I also follow Brent Baxter (@razorbaxter), who has a lot of good songwriting tips and ideas on his blog, Man vs. Row.

Finding your unique story is an important part of your music marketing. The online marketing presentation I reference in this week’s podcast is called 25 Ways To Get Noticed by Stan Smith of Pushing Social. Stan poses some great questions to think about when you are crafting your personal brand as a musician, such as what makes you unique? and what challenges have you overcome?

The three key parts of Stan’s presentation are:

  • Defining what makes your story unique
  • Delivering your message in a unique way (content and process)
  • Being consistently persistent in getting your message out

Listen to the end, and you’ll hear my simple advice for defining what makes your story and your music unique.

Please feel free to leave your feedback on this podcast below, or suggest other resources my readers may find helpful. 

 

 

posted by on Conferences, Marketing, Music, Thoughts

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Lucy The Dog

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.

My #WDS2014 Conference Review Summary

WorldDominationSummit2014 Walking The Dog Episode 17: #WDS2014 and Lauren Kinneys ArtPros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

 

posted by on Music, Social Media, Thoughts

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Taylor-Swift-Charity-650x406

In today’s 13 minute podcast, I mention that I will be traveling to Portland, OR this weekend to attend the World Domination Summit 2014, an “unconference” for creative types and internet geeks that was started by Chris Guillebeau, author of a book called The Art of Nonconformity.

The main subject of today’s podcast, however, is women in music. Now, I have written a blog post about the challenges of being a female musician, touring, and having children, but the issue that I wanted to address in this podcast is the intense focus on sex and titillation versus the focus on brains and musical talent that seems to follow female musicians in the press more than male musicians.

For those of you who don’t follow the music press much, Taylor Swift wrote an editorial piece this week in the Wall Street Journal about the future of the music business, and was promptly slapped in the industry press about her naivete. I also read a pretty scathing response from industry insider Loren Weisman on his Facebook page (see below).

Now, I am not here to critique the content of Swift’s piece, but rather the manner in which her opinion piece has been trashed. I think it is part of the undue focus the press has on female artists and their relationships, what they wear, and scandal around them instead of on their music and what they have to say.

Kudos to Taylor Swift and her team (because let’s all acknowledge that she didn’t get where she is by herself) for having something intelligent to say – whether you agree with her assessment of the industry or not. And kudos to all the other female musicians like Amanda Palmer and Sinead O’Connor and Zoe Keating for trying to articulate points about issues that go beyond how much they are wearing or who they are dataing.

What do you think?

The headlines I referred to in the podcast are:

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SeanHarleyTucker

In this 30 minute episode I talk about the idea of timing as it relates to the release of music, like a CD or single, and also about the creative journey.

I had a great conversation with Sean Harley “Tucker” this week about creativity and being a musician. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on creator/makers in the industry today, check out his podcast, The Spark and The Art.

While some of us discover early in life what our creative calling might be, I think most of us struggle to find that intersection between what we love to do (our passion), what we are good at doing, and what others want to compensate, or pay us, to do. I know I’m still working on it.

Life is definitely better when you enjoy what you are doing every day!

Have a great 4th of July weekend (even if you’re not in the US).

 

posted by on Music, Thoughts

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Hare Krishnas London

In this week’s 7 1/2 minute episode, I am podcasting from lovely London, and the subject is streaming music and the future of indie music revenue streams. (The picture is of some Hare Krishnas we encountered on our walk back to the place we are staying at.)

An article this week in Digital Music News entitled Why Apple’s Acquisition of Beats Is Bad for Indie Labels, Artists, and the Industry… argues that the acquisition of Beats Music by Apple is a bad thing for indie artists and labels. The basic argument is that as download revenue declines, streaming revenue will not increase enough to compensate (essentially due to the unbundling of the single from albums), and that labels will continue to keep a large amount of the revenue from streaming from artists anyway, and so this is not a good model for indie musicians.

I disagree. I think the future viable revenue model for an indie musician will look more like that of indie artist Zoe Keating, who revealed where her revenue comes from earlier this year. Zoe makes much more money from selling her music directly from her website ($68k) than from streaming her music ($6k) – but she is OK with that.

In a March article on Hypebot, she is quoted putting her revenue streams into perspective, saying, “…Aren’t I just an example of “The Long Tail” at work?… For a single artist like me commercial streaming will never be more than promo. I accept that. But I will keep talking about it until streaming companies do more to make that promo more useful (i.e data).”

I believe that the Zoe Keating model is the model of the future for indie artists – one where record labels don’t stand between the services that deliver the music to fans and the artist – and more importantly, where they don’t stand between the payments made by those fans and the artist who created the music.

Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

posted by on Marketing, Music, Social Media, Thoughts

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YourBrand

In this 12 minute episode I discuss what content marketing is and how musicians can use it to help build their following on social media, bring fans back to their website, and ultimately, encourage people to listen, share and buy their music.

As part of her #TwitterSmarter series, Madalyn Sklar and I held a free online webinar this week that covered content marketing for musicians on Twitter. This (90 minute!) in-depth webinar is full of lots of information, including a Q&A at the end. You can view the webinar replay complete with my audio narration at the link above, or if you just want to see the slides without the benefit of narration, you can view them on my Slideshare. This episode of my Walking The Dog podcast gives you a taste of the webinar.

Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is a marketing technique many businesses are  finding very successful and cost-effective (besides email and paid advertising on Google or Facebook.) Content marketing, when done well, attracts fans, influencers, and customers who don’t already know about or follow you. Sharing content that expresses your passions or outside interests (in addition to sharing your music-related content) is a great way to attract attention and pull people in.

In the podcast, I discuss two different ways to use hashtags as part of a content marketing strategy:

  • Twitter chats (like #ggchat) and
  • subject or genre hashtags

For an example of how NOT to use hashtags (and a little lighthearted humor), check out the YouTube video below the podcast on hashtags by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

If you have tips and tricks to share with my readers on how to use content marketing, or some success stories to share, please do so in the comments section below!

posted by on Marketing, Music, Thoughts

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Walking The Dog Episode 10 Solveig Whittle

In this 18 minute podcast, I cover two current issues:

  • The $2.6 billion acquisition of Beats by Apple, and why indie musicians should care. 
  • A discussion last night on the popular indie music and music marketing Twitter chat, #ggchat (archives available here), about whether artists should release singles or albums (EPs, LPs, etc.)

I start the podcast with the recent Hypebot post Mark Mulligan: Apple’s Beats Acquisition Driven By Streaming Music’s Mutual Fear Factor. Mark is a respected music industry analyst and consultant, and former Pinnacle and Forrester analyst who publishes on his own SEO-friendly-titled blog as well, Music Industry Blog.

As indie artists, we probably don’t care much who wins the streaming music wars – Pandora, Spotify, Apple, YouTube (Google), or Amazon. We should care, however, that the flow of revenue to artists from streaming music consumers becomes more transparent and equitable.

Apple revolutionized music consumption and propelled the consumption of digital music into the 20th century with iTunes. Perhaps their acquisition of Beats will help drag the music industry into the 21st century and make payments more transparent. A humble indie artist can only hope!

The majority of the  podcast is a discussion of the issue of whether indie artists should release singles or a bundle of songs (an EP, LP, or album.) I am in the process of releasing what I call an EP later this summer, so this issue is personally relevant to me as an artist.

I draw some of my argument from an excellent (if a bit dated) article on Music Think Tank by Frank Woodworth, entitled Unbundling the Album: A Business Case for Releasing Single SongsI believe the discussion should really be about how indie artist can best market and promote songs, not really how we release them.

Please feel free to leave comments and opinions, experience and arguments below! I love to hear from you.

posted by on Conferences, Marketing, Music, Social Media, Thoughts

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Rainleaves

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).

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:

posted by on Marketing, Music, News, Social Media, Thoughts

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Aury Moore Kickstarter

Patreon Walking The Dog Episode 8: @Kickstarter @Patreon and @Fluence appIn this 12 minute episode of Walking The Dog, I discuss crowdfunding and other new ways indie artists can support themselves besides selling merchandise or touring.Patreon Walking The Dog Episode 8: @Kickstarter @Patreon and @Fluence appI have written about a local Seattle artist, Aury Moore, and her successful Kickstarter campaign which raised over $20K to fund her 2012 CD “Here I Am”. I am always interested in case studies of artists who have raised amounts like this via crowdfunding, because they are so much greater than the average.

Hypebot published an article today entitled “#Fangagement: Artists Crowdsourcing Opinion Part 10: Mark de Clive-Lowe” which included some great tips from Mark (a musician who also raised $20K on Kickstarter) on being realistic in your funding goals based on average donation rates, numbers of fans, and average social media engagement rates. Mark researched the stats, and found evidence that the the engagement number on social media is 3%. Many social media experts also echo Mark’s findings that only 3% of fans, followers, and those who have Liked a Facebook page are likely to participate in a social media campaign of any type. It’s important to keep this and other numbers in mind so you don’t overstretch or understretch your funding goals.

The Hypebot article also mentions Patreon, a new, fast-growing platform for sustaining indie artist careers created by Jack Conte (Pomplamoose). It’s kind of like Kickstarter, but ongoing, and may be a new model for artists to sustain a career in music while still leaving them time to focus on creating art – not just focusing on the business 100% of the time.

The Seattle ukulele songstress I mentioned, Molly Lewis, is actually up to over $2000 per original song in pledges on Patreon. Worth checking out!

Finally, I wrap with a mention of a new platform for musicians to pay small fees for feedback from music industry influencers call Fluence. Fluence is a San Francisco-based music startup that is still running very much under the radar, but you might try it out if you are an artist fairly new to the music industry and are looking for professional feedback and connections with industry folks. Hypebot also wrote about Fluence in February 2014. I have written recently on this blog that I feel it is very important for musicians at every level to get professional feedback on their music and live performance. Fluence offers this opportunity for feedback without having to travel or spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to perform in showcases or pay consultants or coaches.

Please let me know what you think of my podcast, the subjects mentioned, and any experience you’ve had with any of the platforms mentioned. Share so we can all benefit from your knowledge!