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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.

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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:

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I just did my second band photo shoot for our Solveig & Stevie updated EPK, for the cover of our new EP/CD (whatever it is going to be), and for our redesigned website and social media banners.


This was not my first experience with band photo shoots. I’ve done band promo shoots, several music videos, and sat for professional family photo portraits and for business head shots numerous times before as well. You would think I could get this right – but no.

Band photos are so important, and they can be so complicated. Your photos should communicate your band’s brand accurately to your potential fans. Plus, all of us humans want to look cool and sexy and, well… good, in our pictures – preferably without either plastic surgery or too much Photoshopping.

I think we can all agree that we artists are perhaps a little more touchy when comes to visual presentation than the rest of the population. Whether we are are punk, folk, metal, grunge or goth, it’s often a very carefully calculated personal image.

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Aury Moore Kickstarter

PatreonIn 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.PatreonI 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!


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1 Gift From Johnny (1)

A few months ago, I came across a free ebook for download called Music Marketing on Twitter by a guy named Johnny Dwinell from Daredevil Productions in Nashville, TN. I’ve downloaded and purchased quite a few social media and marketing books in the past two years, and frankly, the quality can vary quite widely. I was impressed with the substantive and practical social media advice offered in Johnny’s ebook, and I thought it would be interesting to find out more about Johnny and what he’s up to over at Daredevil with his partner, Kelly Schoenfeld.

[Just in case you were wondering, I received no compensation from Johnny or Kelly or anyone else for writing this post. I’ve been approached lately with several offers to post “sponsored content.” I turn them down. If I write that I like something, you should know that it’s because I actually like it.]

Q1: I notice that on your website you list your services as artist development, demo recording, songwriting, and before/after recordings. It seems from your blog that you are moving from being primarily a recording and production studio to branching out into doing social media management and campaigns for artists. Can you talk a little about the history of your company and how your service offerings are evolving? What brought you and the agency to start providing social media management for artists?

Kelly Schoenfeld Johnny DwinellJD: Good Observation, Solveig! Yes, we are in the midst of adding a market development component to our thriving artistic development business. The impetus for this marketing arm was sheer pragmatism. We were very blessed to work with amazingly talented and hard working indie artists who deserve to be heard. The problem was that once we delivered the record – something we inevitably were all very proud of – the artist would walk out the studio door and the project would die right there; they didn’t know how to market it. We felt that artists really need to focus on being artists, and if we could find ways to help them market their records, they would return for a 2nd record with us which would, in turn, increase our sales.

The problem was that once we delivered the record, the artist would walk out the studio door and the project would die right there.

So phase 1 is to create and perfect an online marketing pipeline that is effective at moving units. Phase 2 is to become a proper indie record label where we can sign, develop, record any artist we like knowing that we can recoup the costs through our marketing efforts.

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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,, 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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I’ve written about the platforms StageIt and YouNow, where indie artists can stream a live music performance and even make money doing so. Concert Window was launched in 2011 by Harvard grads and musicians Dan Gurney and Forrest O’Connor to provide the same service. Still running a bit under the radar because they’ve only been live for about 9 months, Concert Window is gaining praise and growing quickly through word of mouth buzz in the indie musician community.

CoGar Kickstarter Concert

Last week, I attended a streaming performance on Concert Window by Austin singer-songwriter Alex Winters. It went so well that I thought it would be interesting to interview Alex about her experience and try setting up my own artist profile.

Alex and I met through GoGirlsMusic, and while she was here in Seattle recently, she mentioned she was about to do her first Concert Window performance. I signed up on the website ahead of time as a viewer so I could tune in. One of the things I noticed right away was that I could watch Alex’s performance on my iPhone while away from my desktop. I  think this is a smart feature, and no doubt increases audience views significantly. Mobile is where it is at.

After a few minor glitches on both her end (Alex’s PRO TIP: “When you’re ready to broadcast, hit the BROADCAST button!”) and on my end (my AT&T phone signal was weak at first), I was able to enjoy her concert on my earbuds with no problem. Note that all the viewer features of the desktop version are not there on mobile, such as chat and tipping.

This post has three parts. First, an interview with Alex about her experience with Concert Window. Second, my walkthrough of setting up an artist profile and a performance on Concert Window. Last, I give my assessment of some of the features that make the Concert Window platform stand out.

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Every Friday morning, I walk my dog and record a podcast about music, music marketing and whatever is on my mind that week.

In this week’s 19 minute episode, I talk about two things:

Look for a more in-depth review of Concert Window, including an interview with musician and songwriter Alex Winters, in a later longer blog post form on my website. In today’s podcast, I cover an overview of what Concert Windows is and a few of the features that stand out to me to differentiate Concert Window from StageIt.

The majority of today’s podcast discussion comes from a free ebook available from social media consultant, Kim Garst of Boom Social, entitled “9 Ingredients For Dominating Facebook’s News Feed… Without Giving Them a Penny… Shhhh”. I love Kim’s blog posts about Facebook marketing. She does research and shows examples of her experiments with her own Facebook page, and she also works with clients, so she focuses on real life data and situations.

Frankly, there is also something perverse in me that enjoys the idea of sharing Kim’s tips on using Facebook WITHOUT paying for advertising. Plus, the meta-lesson here is that  or order for you to download her ebook, her landing page is, well…. on Facebook! She’s using her own marketing principles to drive traffic to her Facebook page for free. Smart.

In last week’s podcast, I highlighted an article from Social Media Today about why it may be smart to ignore Facebook as part of your social media strategy, or at least why you should only consider it as part of your integrated marketing plan for your music.

As a social media marketer, I remain professionally ambivalent about Facebook, to say the least. I enjoy using it personally, but I hate it as a marketer, and I don’t respect the way the company treats its customers. And it also scares me a bit how much personal data Facebook collects online.

I cannot, however, in good conscience, suggest to musicians that they completely ignore Facebook as a marketing tool. However, with

  • 1.26 billion users worldwide
  • 757 active daily users
  • 138 million active daily users in the US alone

you can’t ignore the fact that

Listen to my podcast to hear Kim’s 9 tips and tricks for maximizing engagement with your Facebook fans and see how you can make the most of Facebook to market your music – without paying for advertising.

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2012-11-23 16.11.32

After two plus years working at this thing, wrestling with the beast that is the music industry, I’ve finally figured out the secret to success.

It’s not how many Likes on your Facebook page, or how many Twitter followers you can get. It’s not how much you spend on your website, or your PR campaign, or making a viral music video.

It’s pretty simple: Be better than everyone else.

Yup. That’s all. Just be better. Be a better singer, a better guitar player, be better looking, be sexier, be a better storyteller, be more shocking, be more thoughtful, be more profound, be more evocative, or be more provocative.

Make it impossible for your audience not to feel something.

Be Remarkable and Be Unique

Here’s the caveat: you have to be a lot better – not just as good as, or slightly better – than everyone else. You have to be really amazing at doing at least one thing, whether it’s vocally, instrumentally, lyrically, sartorially, or as a performance artist. I suspect you also have to better at more than just one thing in order to be unique, because there are a lot of good musicians out there.

Seth Godin said: Be Remarkable.  I say: 

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Facebook Logo

In this latest installement of my weekly podcast, I discuss two current articles and the issues they raise around marketing your music online through social media and other online marketing tools. I record this podcast every Friday morning while I walk my dog, which is where I do some of my best thinking about whatever is on my mind that week related to my music and music promotion as a DIY musician.

The first article I talk about in my 16 minute podcast this week is from Digital Music News, entitled See How St. Vincent Doubled Her First Week Album Salesby Nina Ulloa. It shows that an integrated digital marketing approach incorporating multiple ways to reach a customer can be a very successful technique for increasing music sales. I talk about my conversation this week with Jason Hobbs of The Found Group, the digital marketing agency that handled St. Vincent’s campaign, and how I see the techniques of this campaign might be applied by DIY musicians.

I also discuss an article on Social Media Today entitled Why Facebook Is Not Part of My Social Media Strategy by Shell Robshaw-Bryan, which makes the case for leaving Facebook out of the marketing mix entirely. Although Robshaw-Bryan was starting a blog (not a band or music website) from scratch, she makes some good points about the decreasing effectiveness of using Facebook to build a community – whether you pay for advertising or not. Is it worth paying? Is it worth even playing?

Regardless of what digital media tactics you use as a musician, from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or more, the fact I found most interesting is something marketers in other industries have known for years: it takes an integrated digital marketing campaign with multiple customer “touches” before purchase happens. There is no single event, or single digital platform – no silver bullet – that will result in an immediate sale.

This is just as true for customers buying music as customers buying beauty products or cars. With the exception of a live performance, most fans will not purchase music from an artist after just one interaction. Building an online community using multiple digital platforms, and using a “retargeting” tool such as The Found Group’s can help expose fans to an artist as a person, and to their music, multiple times. This multiple exposure is necessary for a fan to progress along in the consideration process, the “sales funnel”, if you will, to the end result of a purchase.

And the ultimate business goal of any marketing campaign purchase – whether it’s a ticket, a digital download, or merchandise. Being a “Like counter” is not as effective as creating community, word of mouth, and buzz that results in repeat purchases by fans.

What are your experiences with Facebook advertising, with integrated marketing, and with how you see fans process of deciding to buy music? I welcome your comments below.