10 Simple Ways To Promote Your Music

[The following is¬†a guest post by my friends at Ditto Music. That’s why the spelling is British ūüôā Ditto Music¬†is an online music record label services and digital distribution company servicing over 50,000 artists across the world. Services include chart eligibility, royalty collection and online promotion. I have guest posted on their site.

This post is particularly relevant for me this week. Being a DIY musician, I have done each of the things suggested below myself to promote either my current band, Solveig & Stevie, or my former band, Shades of Red. So I can personally attest to the fact that they are all important. I think #6 below is something that¬†many bands and singer-songwriters wrestle with, myself included. I’d love to hear your feedback on this.

Stevie and I are planning a professional photo shoot and a band website redesign this month, and I’m pretty excited for that. You’ll probably see a blog post or two from me about those experiences. Meanwhile, here are some great music marketing tips from Ditto Music.]

If you are embarking on a career in music, having talent and determination will only get you so far. In order to reach the heights of international stardom, you will also need to promote your music if you decide to go down the road of independent publishing. The internet and the wide range of digital outlets available will provide you with many opportunities to spread the reach of your music. By adopting these 10 simple strategies, you can maximise your chances of reaching the top of the charts.

Continue Reading

Lessons From Hit Songwriters Of Every Genre And Race

The issues faced by DIY (Do It Yourself), DTF (Direct-To-Fan), AKA indie musicians cut across both musical genre and race. Many of the sources of information for musicians today seem to come in silos delineated by genre: hip hop artists read hip hop books and blogs, and get advice primarily from hip hop industry people; jazz, rock, metal, pop and folk artists do the same. Yet we all face many of the same issues, and these sources of information repeat much of the same advice to those who want to make a career in music. When we all share our experiences, though, we see how universal it is to be a musician, no matter what type of music we make, what cultural background we are from, or what age we are.

I was reminded of this when I attended the Pacific Northwest Recording Academy’s (Grammy organization) inaugural Songwriter’s Summit this weekend¬†at¬†Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project).¬†There were people of every age and color at the Summit,¬†but the concerns and frustrations voiced by the attendees were nearly identical:

  • How do I¬†make a living in this crazy business that I love, but which changes under my feet every year, every week, every day?
  • Where is the¬†real money to be made in writing and recording music?
  • How do I write a hit song? Then, how do I write another hit song?
  • How do I rise above the noise in the music industry and get my music heard?
  • How do I register and copyright my music so I can get paid?
  • How does the byzantine world of music licensing work?
  • Is¬†the music business¬†still all about relationships and who you know, or is the internet the great equalizer?
  • What is a mechanical license, what does a publisher do, who is SoundExchange and why should I care?
  • (and why does Rhapsody hold 30%¬† of their licensing revenue from streaming plays because they cannot figure out who to pay? This amazing statistic courtesy of Jon Maples, Vice President of Rhapsody Product Management)
Continue Reading

Cover Song Music Video Licensing Walkthrough

Last year I recorded a cover of an old¬†favorite song of mine called Menta e Rosmarino (I Won’t Be Lonely) by the Italian artist, Zucchero (AKA Sugar Fornaciari). He’s a¬†famous¬†singer, songwriter, and guitarist¬†in Spain and Italy. He’s less¬†well-known here in the United States,¬†despite his many collaborations with American artists¬†like Eric Clapton,¬†Joe Cocker, and Randy Jackson, among others.¬†I also hired a friend of mine, Josh Moore,¬†to¬†shoot¬†a music video for my Zucchero cover. All together, I spent a few thousand dollars¬†on making¬†the video, including paying for time at the studio where we shot it and compensating the other people involved.

I thought it might be useful to share a walk through of my relatively cheap and easy experience securing¬†the mechanical and synch licenses for both the audio and video files. As a writer of original music, and also because I spent my own¬†time and money making these¬†high quality¬†audio and video recordings, I felt it was important to comply with the legal licensing requirements. This was not a video of me singing the song by myself with a guitar in the living room in front of my computer’s video camera. Although I thought it¬†seemed unlikely, I didn’t want YouTube to take down my video channel¬†because of¬†this single cover video. Most important to me, however, I feel it’s only right to legally compensate the original artist for their work.

Continue Reading

Streaming Music: A 5 Horse Race?

***UPDATE: Google To Launch Music-Streaming Service (Market Watch, May 14, 2013). This could be a game-changer, as Google is a major infrastructure challenger to Apple. Also missing from my analysis below is Amazon, who could also become a major player, and does have a cloud-based music storage system today.

On the eve of the Future of Music Coalition’s Summit, where music licensing is prominent on the agenda, it appears that the horses in the streaming music race are finally lining up. Now, I could be totally off base on this, I’m just an indie musician with a software background and not a lot of insight into the behind-the-scenes happenings, but I think it’s shaping up to be an interesting race. I believe there are some silent bettors, the major music labels and Google, and it’s not really clear (yet) whom exactly is betting on whom. These players are listed in no particular order:

First, we have the apparent favorite,¬†Spotify (16 million active users, 4 million paying, ¬†subscriber-revenue-driven). They’re about to close another $100 million round of investments led by Goldman Sachs,¬†who knows a good investment when they see one, right? Why is Spotify such a good investment when they are bleeding green? Because it reportedly has licensing agreements with the major labels that guarantee it will make a 25% margin, while handing over 75% of its revenue to the labels. Some view this as a millstone around Spotify’s neck, but if Spotify can hold on long enough to dominate the market and achieve some kind of workable cost model, they become a utility: an entity with a guaranteed margin and guaranteed income.

Continue Reading

TAXI Road Rally 2012 Flashback

For those of you not familiar with TAXI, it’s a 17-year-old company that helps unsigned songwriters and composers submit their music for a variety of opportunities in film, TV, movies, and with labels. This is very helpful for aspiring artists like me who do not have deals with publishing houses or music supervisors. It’s also a great way for music supervisors to license new music cheaply from unknown artists. I’m just too old to be a rock star, frankly, but I’d love to create a revenue stream from my music via TAXI.

Membership in TAXI costs $300 a year (discounted if you bring others to the service), and there are small per-song submission fees as well. The Road Rally is TAXI’s annual member conference.¬†Michael Laskow, who runs TAXI, said that they have about 10,000 members, and that 2700 of them registered for the conference this year. I have heard others say that the Road Rally conference is one of the best things about being a TAXI member, and I tend to agree. Although free to attend (members can bring one free guest, also), it’s certainly not free when you count travel expenses and your time. There are so many music conferences these days, it’s important to budget for them and to ask yourself if they are really worth attending.¬†We spent a about $1100 per person in real money, as well as the time away from our clients and our own music creation.¬†I always come home with some new information and insights from the TAXI Road Rally, though.¬†Sitting in LAX thinking about the last three days I spent at the Rally, I thought I’d share why I feel it was well worth both my time and money.

Continue Reading

An Interview With… Me.

Play It Loud Music Podcast Aaron BethuneI am so pleased to post this podcast interview of me by my friend Aaron Bethune of PlayItLoudMusic.com. 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

Continue Reading

How About Standardizing The Technologies That Enable Artist Compensation?

Update July 6, 2012: I found a great article by Eliot Van Buskirk (@listeningpost) from January 2012 entitled¬†“One Big Database Could Save The Music Industry”¬†that outlines at least one proposed technical solution. Another solution would certainly be a set of standardized APIs across the software platforms involved, which would facilitate the passing of attribution data more seamlessly. This would certainly speed up payment to artists, and would make it easier for audits of labels and other middlemen to show exactly how many digital plays have been consumed.¬†

Opportunity Out Of Chaos

Salmon bass and audio equipmentI am concerned that the music licensing/compensation issue has created a polarized debate, but I don’t see a lot of discussion of how to fix the model. I think we all agree musicians (and producers and engineers, for that matter) should be fairly compensated for creating music. We also all agree that there is an increasing amount of music available to consumers for cheap or free, and that is unlikely to change. How do we reconcile these conflicting ideas? Because my business background is in software marketing, I always see things in terms of the opportunities created by technology advancements, bounded by the disorganized nature of the marketplace, especially in new or changing businesses. The music industry is certainly in flux – both in terms of production and compensation. That makes it both frustrating and exhilarating.

One thing I find interesting is how the opinion of the musicians (producers) differs from that of music consumers, and also from that of  industry commentators (who are not creating music themselves, but make money indirectly from  musicians and the creation of music.). We all have different points of view because they are informed by where we make our living. I think there is money to be made in nascent and confused markets, more than in organized ones, and that factor, to some extent, is preventing a model that is more streamlined and thus fairer to the musician/producer.

Continue Reading

Interview # 2 With Brian Thompson of Thornybleeder

This is the second half of my hour-long interview with Brian Thompson (theDIYDaily.com), a Vancouver-based music industry entrepreneur, record label owner, artist manager, marketing consultant, digital strategist, brand architect, web designer, blogger, podcaster and industry speaker. Formerly the corporate head of buying and marketing for a large Canadian music retail chain, Brian faced a crossroads when his long-time employer went bankrupt. Using social media, Brian has since re-created himself over the past three years to become a well-respected voice on the convergence of independent artist development, music marketing, social media and technology.

Continue Reading