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.]
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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).
I received an email this week from a fellow musician and music marketer that caused me to unsubscribe from his list. I was so incensed that I didn’t just unsubscribe, I wrote him to tell him why.
The email was a solicitation for me to buy a spot at a conference called the Ultimate Millionaire Summit organized by a woman named Loral Langmeier. I’m not going to link to either his or her website from here, for obvious reasons – I don’t want to give any extra SEO to someone I feel is using dubious marketing techniques. You can Google Loral yourself.
Be Careful Who You Sell Or Give Your Email List To
This musician clearly sells or gives his email list to third parties – in this case, Loral Langmeier. He says in his email that he is performing at this “Millionaire Summit”, and told me all the reasons why I should Act Now! to join Loral (for just $297!) in Florida to “rub elbows” with millionaires and learn their secrets for accumulating my own millions! Yuck.
The email sounded so scammy that I did some background research on Loral and found that she has been sued for misrepresenting her product and refusing to give refunds to customers who complain. Yet she has also been linked to Dr. Phil and has a great PR team who continues to get her coverage on local television so she can promote her “seminars”. Apparently these TV station interns don’t do much fact checking before inviting Loral on their morning TV shows.
This 11 minute episode focuses on the ISRC (International Standard Recording Code): what it is, what does it look like, how do you get one, and why it is important.
Also often called the ISRC code (even thought that is a bit redundant), it is “an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings” (Wikipedia). The ISRC was developed by the recording industry in conjunction with ISO (International Standards Organization) in 1986, and updated in 2001.
But before we talk about ISRC codes, let me first say I am disappointed that SoundCloud removed the direct record/upload feature from its iPhone app this past week. This means it requires more steps for me to produce this podcast (ie. use Garageband or ProTools). It will also make it harder for me to produce Walking The Dog remotely, as I managed to do for the past two weeks while I was out of town, using just my iPhone and iPad. You can read about SoundCloud’s mobile app update on Hypebot.
On to ISRC codes. Deep breath, people.
Each of your songs, if you are a recording artist, should have a unique ISRC code associated with it. That code is embedded in the digital sound file, and included on the CD (not vinyl or cassette tapes). The ISRC code is also registered or kept in various databases by the artist or publisher. The ISRC code is important because it is used to track the physical CD sales, terrestrial radio plays, or digital streaming plays of the song online – for example via Pandora. It’s also used for tracking music charts, as well as combating music piracy.
The non-profit SoundExchange organization has been tasked by the US congress to figure out what royalties you are owed US songwriter from your non-interactive digital internet radio plays – ie. Pandora, IHeartRadio, or other streaming radio stations. They collect those and then send you a check.
To clarify what I said on the podcast, SoundExchange does NOT handle royalties from Spotify, terrestrial radio, live performances, YouTube, covers of your songs, licensing for TV or films. Just streaming radio performances.
As both interactive (Spotify-type) and non-interactive (Pandora-type) streaming music services become an increasingly important way that people consume music, the ISRC code will only become more important for musicians in terms of tracking royalties and charts.
In this 15 minute episode I interview Tommy Darker from the (somewhat noisy) Argyll Arms pub in SOHO, London, about his new book, The Indecisive Musicpreneur, and his many other ventures as an event organizer, blogger, public speaker, consultant, musician, and music industry thinker.
Tommy talks about how he started documenting his own journey to a place where he is now supporting himself as a full time musician. Although he has no formula that works for everyone, Tommy sets out in the interview the six key things he learned along the way. This includes developing a business model, and Tommy references the website Business Model Generation for helping musicians discover how to create revenue-generating business model for themselves.
We also talk about the challenge of switching between thinking as an artist and thinking as a business person. Tommy and I both espouse the idea of musicians as entrepreneurs (“musicpreneurs”), and we are also both fans of the Lean Startup Model, also known as Agile Development, which I wrote about in my post “Agile Marketing For DIY Musicians.”
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!
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: