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Dave Kusek Podcast

Dave Kusek Podcast

I had a chat a couple of weeks ago with my friend Bobby Owsinski that he recorded for his Inner Circle Podcast. I I hope you enjoy it.

We talked about a lot of things in the Dave Kusek podcast including the early days of electronic and digital music, the creation of MIDI, the digital music revolution and the release of ProTools and the rise of online music education.

“Dave has been a pioneer in the digital space in many ways. Dave is the creator of Berklee Online, one of the first online education programs in the world, and now teaches music business at New Artist Model.”

You can listen to the full podcast at bobbyoinnercircle.com,  There is also some news about Spotify creating its own music label in an attempt to dominate certain playlists.

or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Read more here:
http://bobbyowsinskiblog.com/2016/09/06/dave-kusek-inner-circle-podcast/#ixzz4JamVjcPw

Learn more about the New Artist Model online music business school here.

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The Return of Vinyl Records

How Vinyl Records Made Their Comeback.

vinyl records come back

 

Thanks to Liberty Games for this great graphic.

http://www.libertygames.co.uk/blog/how-vinyl-records-made-their-comeback/

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Network your way to Success

Who will help you succeed in music? There is really nothing more important to your career than the RELATIONSHIPS you develop over time. It’s all about who you know and who knows you – and how big your network is.

Are people taking you seriously? Do you know how to approach them and get their attention? The next person you meet may be the one who will change your life forever. Are you prepared for that? You want to network your way to success.

In this final video of my Mini Series I reveal the secrets of Power Networking. I show you how to engage with people and get on their radar screen. Plain and simple, the reason that artists and writers get famous and develop huge fan followings is that they get out there and network effectively.

Watch this video to see how it is done

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I have helped hundreds of musicians cut through the noise and get themselves into positions where they can be successful. Now let me help you.

In the Mini Series I revealed the proven strategies I have been teaching my members and clients including:

  • How to create Communities of Fans and Super Fans
  • How to develop Experiences that your Fans will Crave and Pay You for
  • How to make Money in Music and Monetize your Audience Again and Again
  • How to uncover Opportunities via Power Networking
  • How to unlock Multiple Revenue Streams to support Your Career
  • How to get your audience to go from “Free” to “Paid”
  • Plus much, much more…

If you have not watched all 4 videos, I urge you to watch them soon – while they are still available.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this with them.

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Ring Your Cash Register Again and Again

As an independent artist, it’s frustrating to be stuck and broke. You find yourself wondering why others are successful and where all the money is hidden. Yeah I know, it’s really all about the music, but the reality is you need money to operate your business and invest in your future.

In my continuing Mini Series, I reveal tools and specific strategies you can implement to create multiple revenue streams and cash flow for your music. Discover two crowdfunding platforms you can use to support your art and ring your cash register again and again. 2015 can be your best year ever!

Let’s get to it.

studio guy

You will learn about Patreon and Pledge Music and how to use those platforms to increase your cash flow through fan funding.

Jump into the video as I show you the money.

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement. I absolutely love hearing what you’re thinking, so please be sure to leave a comment or question below today’s video. Someone will be very happy that they did.

PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from watching this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them. 

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Creating Amazing Fan Experiences

I hope you are enjoying my new Mini Series on the music business. It’s truly amazing how in the first video you saw New Artist Model students Steel Blossoms and Colin Huntley applying my strategies to turn their passions into a career.

These musicians are just like you. They started with a small following and have grown their audience and income by investing in strategies and success one step at a time.

In this second video of the free Mini Series, I reveal ways of creating amazing fan experiences they will crave and actually PAY you for. Discover unforgettable connections you can offer to your fans RIGHT NOW to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Watch this video and get your fans to fall in love and remember you forever:

creating rewarding musical fan experiences

You will meet Shannon Curtis, a recent New Artist Model member who has perfected the art of the house concert and put $25,000 in her bank account in just two months time. See first hand how she did it and exactly how you can do it too.

To get one step closer to your dream, click here.

 

AND PLEASE – If you know anyone else who might benefit from this Mini Series on the music business, please share this post with them.

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Music Discovery Trends

Earlier this year, Edison Research and Triton Digital released their Infinite Dial Report describing the trends in music, streaming, radio and digital music. They report that:

  • Mobile devices are quickly rewiring behavior, especially with young users and image sharing (Instagram and Snapchat)
  • Internet Audio is growing at a fast rate with Pandora as the #1 player in online radio by far
  • Podcasts are increasingly growing their listener bases

The smartphone either is or will shortly become the dominate way that people interact “online”. If you are trying to break new music, you need to make sure that your presentation is mobile friendly.

Smartphone Growth

This may be old news to many of you, but if you are trying to break music or gather a fan base and you are not on YouTube, you have little or no chance of success these days.  YouTube is absolutely dominating the listening/viewing habits of 12-24 year olds as you can see in this chart from Edison Research and Triton Digital.

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While radio remains the top source for new music discovery, YouTube was the No. 1 source for the very important young listener market aged 12 to 24 years.

Youtube 2

And finally, nearly half the audience in America is listening to online radio (Pandora mostly).

Online Radio

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The Changing Face of Music

Two related pieces of content rolled through my email inbox this morning that I have to share. The first is a Apple produced video from 1988 on MIDI, that helped to popularize the use of computers in music in the early days of “desktop music publishing”. Like most things from Apple, the video does not mention any of the amazing products (besides the Mac) that defined this era, including Master Tracks Pro, Finale, Encore, Opcode, Alchemy, and Digital Performer.  But they are all included in the video. It is amazing how relevant this video is even 26 years later. YIKES!  The dawn of MIDI.

I love the big hair and seeing lots of my friends again including David Rosenthal, Frank Serafine, David Mash, Tom Coster, Bryan Bell, Herbie Hancock, musicians Chick Corea, Carlos Santans, Laurie Anderson, Tony Williams, Chester Thompson and others. Thanks to Denis Labrecque for sharing this with me.


SECOND PIECE of content is this great graphic from Digital Music News showing how music formats have changed from 1983 (the year both MIDI and the CD were released) and 2013. You can easily see how the business has morphed, shrunk and completely re-invented itself over the past 31 years. If you don’t think “the music business” has changed much over the last 3 decades – take a good look at this. Thanks to Charlie McEnerney and Paul Resnikoff for this.

30 Years of Music Format Changes

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Make Your Gig Memorable

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There’s a few ways to approach your gig. You could lug your gear up on stage, play a few of your best songs, lug your gear off stage, and go home. This is the tried and true method for indie musicians playing smaller venues and trying to build up their audience. It works, but because it’s tried and true, everyone is doing it. From the audience’s perspective, it’s easy for your music to blend into the music of the band before you.

The other route you could take is to make your gig an experience. This means you need to go beyond just playing for your audience – you need to get them involved. There are plenty of musicians who have done this is the past and tons who are doing it today. Frank Zappa, KISS, Phish, EDM DJs, and the Orion Experience are just a few who have turned their live show into an experience. Zappa’s audience never knew what antics were coming next, Phish fans reacted in certain ways to certain songs, EDM DJ’s change up their set depending on the mood and energy of the room, and the Orion Experience turned their live show into a full-on production with dancers and lights.

You don’t need to be at the point in your career where you can afford to hire a team of 30 dancers to be able to turn your gig into an experience. Get your fans clapping during certain songs or singing during others. Bring out funny props or throw a beach ball into the crowd for your fans to throw around. Get creative with it!

This article is by Chris Robley from CD Baby. This is just a short excerpt from the interview, but you can check out the whole thing over on the CD Baby blog.

What led you to creating an off-Broadway show featuring your band and music? 

The Orion Experience as a band has been together since 2007, and we’ve played all over the country, mostly in indie rock venues. I think there comes a point when, as an artist and a performer, it becomes a bit routine. I’m not trying to disparage the live music experience at all, but in other forms of entertainment i.e. a Movie, or a Theatrical show, there is a suspension of disbelief that the audience participates in… And by that I mean, the lights go down, the orchestra plays the overture, there is the feeling that something magical is about to happen… A lot of times at an indie rock show, the sound guy says you have 5 minutes to set up as the audience watches you lug your amps onto the stage and tune your guitars… I think we just got tired of that kind of performing, and that was the impetus to start approaching our live show in a different way.

I’ve heard that when you were playing shorter sets in clubs you employed someone to simply dim the lights after every song. Can you talk more about some creative solutions your average indie band could use to liven up a typical club gig?

That was one of the first steps we took towards adding some theatricality to our shows. Even the simple act of having the lights go dark before we take the stage, or after a song ends can have a big effect on how the audience perceives the show. You know, look at your stage the way a painter looks at a canvas… What kind of picture are you trying to paint with your band? It’s important.

Can you tell us some of the details of taking your songs to an off-Broadway setting? What was the process like working with a director? How long did it all take? How large is the crew, and what are the different teams that play a role (dancers, lighting, sound engineers, etc.)? 

I went to school for Musical Theater, so the process wasn’t completely alien to me, but that being said, it was unlike anything we had ever done before. The whole show was up and running in a month, which is an insanely fast pace. Fortunately we had an amazing team of people. Travis Greisler the director is a crazy genius, he’s just non-stop ideas, and he just knows how to pace a show’s development. Ryan Bogner, the shows producer worked his ass off coordinating the venue, the PR, and raising money. All told we had a cast and crew of about 30 people. It was really exciting, i’m not gonna lie.

How do you encourage audience involvement? Why is interactivity important? 

When we we’re coming up with the concept of the show, we thought it was important to have the audience participate in the show the way they do at a “Rocky Horror Show” screening, or a KISS concert… I love the idea of getting dressed up, like REALLY dressed up for a show, so we came up with the idea of the STAR CHILD, it’s kind of like your inner most fantastic self. We strongly encourage people to come dressed as Star Children to our shows, and they do, and it’s the best thing ever! The interactivity is important, because the energy is shared with everyone in the room. It becomes more about the sum of the experience instead of just the band’s experience.

 How can you turn your gig into an experience?

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

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Self Publishing on YouTube

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Everyone knows how important the YouTube platform is for indie musicians. It’s a great way to get your music out to fans, grow your fanbase, and provide your fans with great content from music videos to vlogs. There are plenty of musicians out there who have become successful mainly because of their YouTube channel, with Karmin and Pomplamoose being two of the most successful examples. They grew their audience by targeting young teens with covers of popular songs. Other musicians, like Alex Day, have based their career entirely on recorded music sales and a YouTube channel featuring music videos and hilarious vlogs.

However, there is another aspect of YouTube that is vastly underutilized by the musician community on the platform – publishing. You don’t need a publisher to get your music placed in YouTube videos. You just need to be proactive with social media and reach out to YouTubers you think would be interested in using your music with their creative content.

There is a huge community of amateur and professional video makers on YouTube with topics ranging from beauty and fashion to gaming to health and fitness. There is also a big surge of professionalism among these YouTubers and many of the more popular channels act as full-time jobs for their creators. As a result, many YouTubers are investing in better cameras and lenses to make their channels more professional and entertaining for their viewers.

Many are also looking to music to differentiate themselves from the masses of other channels on the platform. As you probably know, YouTube has a tough copyright policy and videos illegally featuring copyrighted material can be taken down. As a result, many YouTubers seek out free music they can use without violating copyright. There are plenty of royalty-free music tracks out there, but many sound generic and repetitive. Another popular option is to find remixes or original tracks by amateur and indie musicians and get direct permission to use the music – usually in exchange for a link back to the musician’s website or soundcloud page or a shout out in the video.

So why try to get your music in YouTube videos if you won’t get paid? It’s another form of marketing and a great way to reach a potentially huge subscriber base in a really authentic way. Think about how you find new music. More times than not you get recommendations from your friends or another trusted source, not a big flashy advertisement.

YouTubers are tastemakers. People subscribe to their channels and watch their videos because they trust their opinions. When they recommend a product or brand their viewers will be more inclined to try it out, and the same is true with music. When YouTubers feature really great music in their videos, either by mentioning the band or by syncing the music with their videos, tons of their subscribers will go listen to more or even buy the album.

Let’s take a look at a few examples. Day[9], whose real name is Sean Plott, is an ex-pro-gamer, a game commentator, and a host of an online daily Starcraft show, the Day[9] Daily. While he doesn’t sync music in his videos, he often chats with the audience telling them what bands he’s been listening to lately. During one of his videos he mentioned a Blue Sky Black Death song and as a result, the comment section on that song’s YouTube video was inundated with people saying “Day[9] sent me!” A lot of new Blue Sky Black Death fans were made that day because of Sean Plott.

There is an enormous fashion and beauty community on YouTube and some, like Jenn Im of Clothesencounters, are getting really creative with the music they sync with their videos. Instead of using repetitive royalty-free tracks they seek out remixes on Soundcloud, get permission from the artists, and edit their fashion videos to really fit with the track. Other beauty YouTubers, like Michelle Phan, will seek out indie musicians, use their music as a backing track to their tutorials, and link to their channels in the description box.

So, how do you approach YouTubers? First you need to do your research. Know what kind of videos they upload, their personality and style, and what kind of music they have used in the past. Gaming YouTubers may have completely different musical tastes from the beauty gurus. Next, figure out which track would be best-suited for their purposes and contact them directly. You can do this through Twitter, a YouTube message, or an email. Most YouTubers list their email addresses in the “About” tab. Make sure you keep their audience in mind. Try to target YouTubers whose subscriber base shares traits with your fanbase. The key here is to start small and work your way up. You won’t get much traffic coming to your site from the smaller YouTubers, but it’s just one step on the ladder.NAM_FINAL-horizontal-dk.png

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

 

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7 Career Tips for Musicians from Dave Kusek

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Check out these great tips from Dave Kusek. This article is from DeliRadio. Be sure to check out the full article over on the DeliRadio Blog.

1. Run Your Band Like A Business
“That’s a big challenge for a lot of people. Creative people tend to be creative, and want to write music and play, but they often ignore the business side of things. And you do that at your own peril. That’s a challenge for people.

“It’s hard to have a career in music. It’s very challenging and complicated. It’s way more than writing a great song and putting out a great record. You’ve got to get yourself organized, you’ve got to have goals. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to finance things. You’ve got to figure out how you’re going to promote. And figure out what’s effective in your marketing and promotion.

“So there’s all those things on the business side that I’m trying to help people with through the (New Artist Model). Whether you do that on your own, or with management or a team member, somebody has to be paying attention to business.”

2. Careful Working With Friends
“Working with your friends is always problematic. If you’re in that position, have open communication with your bandmates and team, regular band meetings, about: ‘What are we all about? What are we trying to accomplish? How can we split up the work so that we can get more things done? Who’s good at what, and can you combine what you need to do with that interest or skill?’…

“It’s all about regular communication, being open about what you’re trying to accomplish, and calling people out when they say they’re going to do something and they don’t.”

3. Streaming Music Is Marketing
“Listening to recorded music is very hard to monetize in the way we used to. Yes, you do want to try and sell CDs or get money from downloads or streaming, but I don’t know you can rely on that as your number one source of income, or even your top five, given the environment. So (streaming) is a form of marketing. There is some potential to sell music to people, sell recordings to people, but it’s not going to be your number one source of income. Certainly not in the early stages of your career.”

The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.

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The Creative Album Release

 

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1qqoLm3

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1qqoLm3

There’s more to the album release than just the date you release the album. There are so many awesome opportunities to engage your fans along the way! Try releasing songs early if your fans do something for you like share a Facebook post. You could give your mailing list early access to the album to fuel email sign ups. The strategies are endless so get creative with it!

This article is from the Nielsen Newswire and originally appeared on Hypebot. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can check out the full article here.

NONTRADITIONAL RELEASES

Although New Music Tuesday has been famous for decades, the tradition is shifting, with the most obvious example being a recent one: Beyonce’s self-titled visual album released last year. Released at midnight on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 as an iTunes exclusive digital release, the surprise album sold an impressive 617,000 units in its first three days without any radio airplay or pre-release promotion. It was available only as a digital release until Tuesday, Dec. 18, which is when brick-and-mortar stores began selling the album. Beyonce’s album continues to perform very well digitally, with almost 50 percent of the album’s sales in 2014 being digital.

ANTICIPATING THE ALBUM

Sometimes artists choose to sell an EP or make their music available for streaming before a formal album release. For example, New Zealander Lorde released The Love Club EP and Tennis Court EP in March and June 2013, respectively, before offering fans her Pure Heroine album in September 2013. Pure Heroine has sold 1 million albums to date.

Streaming previews are another way for artists to build anticipation for upcoming albums. Last year, after a seven-year hiatus, Justin Timberlake made part 1 of The 20/20 Experience available for streaming in its entirety via the iTunes store for free before the official release. Upon release, the first part sold 968,000 albums in its first week and remained in the top spot for three consecutive weeks. Furthermore, it was the top selling digital album of 2013. Songs from both parts of the album have totaled 234 million streams to date*. Daft Punk used a similar strategy for its Random Access Memories album, which the French duo released for streaming a week before it was available for purchase, and the majority of album sales to date have been digital albums. Furthermore, songs from the album have been streamed over 232 million times to date*.

Digital providers aren’t the only ones playing exclusives. Online music blogs like Stereogum and Okayplayer are amplifying their sites with streaming music—including exclusive previews. For example, Schoolboy Q’s recently released Oxymoron album was made available for streaming on YouTube three days before it was available for sale. He also performed the entire release for NPR Music’s debut First Listen Live concert series. The album debuted at the top spot with 139,000 albums sold and now has accumulated over 29 million streams*—evidence that retail exclusives and previews remain successful promotional strategies.

What are some creative album releases you’ve seen? How have you released your albums? Share in the comments below!

If you want to learn more creative album release strategies, check out the New Artist Model online course. Sign up for the mailing list and get access to 10 free lessons.

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YouTube Strategies You can Start Right Now

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There’s been a lot of success stories on YouTube with artists like Karmin, Psy, and Baauer getting seemingly instant popularity with viral videos. Because of this, there’s a lot of misconceptions about YouTube. It’s not a platform for instant fame, and, like many other aspects of the music industry, requires a good deal of dedication and hard work.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a YouTube strategy today! YouTube is one of those platforms that you can make something really great with a limited budget if you take the time to plan and put in the creative effort.

This article was written by Matt Sandler, musician and founder of ChromatikYou can follow him on Twitter @mattdsandler. This is just a short excerpt. You can check out the full article on Hypebot.

1. YOU NEED TO START

Failure isn’t your biggest obstacle to success, it’s not even starting. Most people talk the talk, but never actually walk the walk. You want a great YouTube presence? Start making videos…today.

I know that there’s a tune you can crush. Maybe it’s Classical Gas, maybe it’sTwinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Perhaps 15 seconds of a popular chart? It doesn’t matter. Spend 30 minutes recording and uploading it to YouTube…today.

Start viewing YouTube as a sandbox for playing, performing, and sharing. Not everything you upload to YouTube needs to be perfect or professional quality initially. We’ll get there. But as a relative unknown in the YouTube ecosystem, you’ll want to just get comfortable with the recording and upload process first.

2. BE PROLIFIC, ON A SCHEDULE

One of the YouTube myths I hear all of the time is – “I just need ONE video to strike it big.”

So what do folks do? Pour a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into producing an incredible video. Cool. Assuming that you rocked and it miraculously went to the front page of Reddit, you now have 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers. Now what? Can you replicate that?

The unfortunate reality is that 100,000 views and a couple hundred subscribers doesn’t get you very far in the YouTube ecosystem. Not to mention, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there’s a 1/1,000,000 chance of you achieving that result.

The myth is dangerous because it forces you into an assumption that “if you build, they will come.” Which, as many creatives – from musicians to tech startup founders – learn quickly, just isn’t the case.

So let’s focus on starting small and building a community. Without a miracle, the only replicable way I’ve seen to build a successful YouTube channel is by being prolific and regimented with content production. One of my favorites, Gabe Bondoc – now with 272k subscribers and 48 million views! – was phenomenal at this early on.

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? Check out the New Artist Model YouTube channel for tons of interviews with music industry greats.

 

 

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 2)

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 6-10.

6. Find Your Niche

The best way to get a really dedicated fan base is to start small. Start local and move up from there. Just focus on your town or city and build up a strong following. Stay after your gigs to get to know your fans. Give them something really valuable and unique. Once you’ve conquered your local scene, move on to the next city. Its a long process, but in the end you’ll have a lot of people who are very excited about your music.

In the same way, you should really focus in on a niche. This can be anything you want – a genre, a attitude, a belief. Aligning with a niche creates the opportunity for a connection – chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who are just as excited about that niche as you are!

Eileen Quinn, is a songwriter and sailing enthusiast who combines her two passions into one by writing sailing songs. She targeted a market that isn’t already saturated with music – the sailing market – and was able to really be the star. It may seem like she limited themselves in terms of audience, but in the mainstream music industry they would have been just another artist. In their specific niche, however she was able to really stand out!

7. Get Your Fans Talking

As an indie artist today, you’re most likely in charge of your own marketing. Marketing can seem like a completely daunting task if its just you trying to get the word out, but you actually have a whole team of marketers just waiting to share your music – your fans!

With the constant presence of social media and the internet, most music fans today are bombarded with more information than they can possibly process. As a result, most music fans look to recommendations from trusted sources for new music. These trusted sources could be a good music blog but more times than not it comes from a friend.

The Wild Feathers are a rock band out of Nashville, TN. In the week leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album, The Wild Feathers made the album available early at their live shows. On top of that, the band gave their concert-goers a little surprize. Every album sold included two CDs – one to keep and one to share with a friend. (Source) By selling the album early they are specifically targeting their superfans – the ones who would travel hours just to get their hands on the album before everyone else. Because they are so passionate about the music, superfans are also most likely to tell their friends about The Wild Feathers. Giving them an extra CD to do just that really empowered their superfans to share.

8. Develop a Brand Strategy

“Branding” and “artist image” aren’t new concepts at all. Since the beginning of music artists have been defined by genre and personality attributes. Especially today, there are so many people out there trying to make it as a musician that you really need to consider why people would buy your album or go to your show instead of someone else’s.

There are two common approaches when it comes to defining a brand. Some musicians like to list every single genre they draw influence from. On the other end of the spectrum, some artists are afraid to even approach the task of labeling themselves. No brand is just as bad as a confusing one.

You don’t have to confine your brand to just musical style. Weave in elements of your personality, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Before  Sum 41 made it big, they had a hard time getting a record deal because many labels thought they were just another Blink 182 imitation band. The labels only heard one dimension of the band – their sound. It was their image, personality and attitude that really set them apart and got them the deal in the end. The band took camcorder footage of them goofing around and edited it into an audio-visual EPK. The resulting seven-minute hilarious video showed the labels that they were more than just punk music. They were characters and they were very good at projecting their character through media.

9. Find a Balance Between Free and Paid Content

Your music is valuable, and you can ask people to pay for your music in a variety of ways! Remember that money isn’t the only form of payment that has value. Information can be just as valuable or more than cash in many instances. Free music is one of the most effective ways to grow your fanbase. Even big-time musicians like Radiohead and Trent Reznor have used free music to their advantage. The key is to have a reason for free.

When trying to navigate the realm of paid content don’t let yourself be restricted to the typical music products like the CD and tshirt. Services like BandPage Experiences allow you to sell unique products and experiences to your fans. The sky’s the limit, and the more personal the products and experiences, the better. Rock Camp used a BandPage Experience to host a contest, allowing guitarists to purchase entries to win a spot at the Ultimate Musician’s Camp. Anberlin used a BandPage Experience to sell all access passes to their tours.

10. React to Opportunity

In music, opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and it’s your job to be ready! These opportunities could be anything from a pick up gig, to a publishing deal to a chance to collaborate with a local musician. Either way, the artists that can react quickly are the ones who succeed. While you want to take the time to weigh your options, remember that overthinking an opportunity can be just as bad as under thinking. There comes a point where you need to just decide to take the leap or not!

Amanda Palmer made $11k in two hours by jumping on an opportunity. (Source) Palmer was tweeting with her followers about how she was once again alone on her computer on a Friday night. Fans joined in the conversation and a group was quickly formed – “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda Palmer created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation. When a fan suggested a t-shirt be made for the group Palmer ran with the idea, sketched out a quick shirt design and threw up a website that night. The shirts were available for $25 and two hours later Palmer had made $11,000!


To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your music career right now, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons! 

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Top 10 Strategies for Indie Musicians (Part 1)

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1dCOr9T

One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. I’ve compiled 10 great strategies with 10 real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians I’ve talked to think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.

Here’s strategies 1-5. We’ll be publishing the second half later this week.

1. Make a Plan from the Start

Making a great plan is one of the best ways to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.

Try to make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.” Break down your lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.

From the start Karmin knew they wanted to be a pop duo targeting a young teen audience. Manager Nils Gums suggested the duo cover current popular songs to get in front of their target audience. They followed the charts and consistently covered the most popular songs every week. The important takeaway here is that Karmin knew their goal, they made a plan to get there, and they stuck with it. If they had given up on the cover strategy after only a few weeks, they would never have gotten to where they are today.

2. Leverage Your Copyrights
Your copyrights are your business. They are your assets and your products, so it makes sense to take some time to understand them. You don’t need to be on the same level as a big-shot entertainment attorney, but it helps to have a general understanding of copyright law.

There are two kinds of copyright: composition and sound recording. Copyright is created when a musical idea is put into tangible form. So when you write that song down (composition) or record it (sound recording) you own the rights!  All those rights are exclusive, meaning you, and only you can leverage your song. Remember that copyrights are power! You own the copyrights, so you have the power. Think about it, without your copyrights would labels or publishers have anything to sell? Lots of musicians have been realizing this and have figured out cool ways to leverage their copyrights.

The Happen Ins are an Austin-based rock band that were featured in a catalog from the clothing company Free People, a corresponding video, many blog posts, and played at the catalog release party. In order to grow their fan base, the Happen Ins offered a free download to Free People’s customers. In many cases this exposure can be far more valuable than money.

3. Focus on Time Management

Today’s indie musician plays the part of the artist, and the business professional, and as a result, many find themselves juggling entirely too many tasks. It’s great that artists today can be 100% in control of their career, the problem comes when you can no longer find enough time for what matters most – your music!

If there’s anything you are doing that’s not bringing you closer to your goals, stop or take a closer look.  If you’re spending hours each day on tasks that don’t have much benefit, eliminate, simplify, postpone, or delegate to your team members. Try to prioritize the list. More urgent matters and tasks that you keep putting off and putting off should have a high priority. AND REMEMBER, make time for your music!

Michael Shoup is a musician and entrepreneur who turned his career around and started making profit with time management. After graduating college with a Bachelors degree in music, Shoup started his career as a musician and effectively gigged himself into $6,000 of high interest credit card debt. Time management has helped Michael Shoup become debt free. On top of that, he’s managed to self-fund an album, started a music marketing agency, 12SouthMusic, and created a social media app, Visualive.

4. Build a Team that Grows with You

DIY may not be the best option for indie artists. There are a lot of artists out there with excellent business chops, but they’re still not experts. And that’s okay, because you have more important things to do like creating music! The key is to find a team who is motivated and passionate. Instead of DIY, move towards a do-it-with-others (DIWO) strategy.

Your team doesn’t even have to be seasoned pros. If you have a band you’re already way ahead of the game. Everyone has their own unique skills, so take advantage of that!

Pop singer/songwriter Betty Who was able to be really successful with a team made of college classmates. Producer Peter Thomas and manager Ethan Schiff attended Berklee College of Music with Betty Who. With Peter Thomas she was able to find and really latch onto her signature pop sound, and Schiff helped set her up on the business side of things. Betty Who’s “Somebody Loves You” began drawing the attention of the pop music world after the release of her first EP The Movement in spring of 2013. In September 2013 the song was featured in a viral gay marriage proposal video and just a few days later she was signed to RCA Records.

5. Get out There and Network!

Networking is really important to success in music, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with internal tasks and forget to take the time and introduce yourself. You don’t need a big speech or a prepared pitch. Just get into the habit of introducing yourself to one person at every show you play or at every studio you record in. Talk to the guy in charge of the soundboard, maybe he loved your show and wants to produce your next album.

Remember, networking is a two-way relationship, and collaboration is usually the best way to promote this win-win situation. If you collaborate on a show, a song, or a recording, both of you will be exposed to the other’s fanbase!  Always remember to give before you ask. Do something for someone and they will remember you.

Vinyl Thief used their extended network to find success. The band released their first EP, Control, in 2010 but were disappointed in the results. They called on a former high school classmate, now music marketing graduate, Wes Davenport who started working on improving their marketing efforts. Davenport helped them grow their fanbase through the digital releases of single, White Light, and second EP, Rebel Hill. (Source)

 To learn more strategies that you can be applying to your career RIGHT NOW, sign up for the New Artist mailing list and get access to free lessons.

 

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Full Steam Ahead

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1crjCq1

As the music industry moves forward, revenue streams are expanding into territories we would never have imagined. The live show can now be streamed over the internet, music fans can listen to any song they want with streaming services like Spotify, lifestyle companies like Red Bull and Converse are getting into the record label business, and new publishing opportunities are popping up everyday.

One industry that just keeps growing is the gaming industry, and its presenting more and more opportunities for musicians. Rock Band and Guitar Hero really started the ball going for customizable game music, and since then, many platforms have been integrating in their own streaming or local music players. This definitely presents a great way forward for music. Integration with Spotify could mean more paying customers, and in-game purchases could evolve to include music packages. I really think this segment of the music industry is wide open for innovation.

Last week, Steam announced the beta of Steam Music. Check out the article below from Billboard for more information.

Steam, which passed its tenth birthday last year, operates as both an online marketplace and a media hub for video game players worldwide, keeping their game libraries in a central location and storing game information and their purchases in the cloud. Similar to iTunes with music, Steam makes money the same way, taking a 30% cut of purchases. That structure keeps Steam’s marketplace a click away and Valve’s brand ever-present. While most video games are too complex to be played without having their files stored on a local device, Steam users are able to install the client on a new computer and bring their software with them, along with save game files and similar information. As of last October, Valve put the number of Steam accounts at over 65 million.

As it stands now, Steam Music simply allows its users to listen to tracks from their local digital libraries while simultaneously playing video games — as long as they are in “Big Picture Mode,” a user interface designed to mimic the living room-based functionality of the Xbox and PlayStation’s operating systems. But what if the service integrated a streaming service like Spotify? The result could be a boon for that streaming service as well as music rightsholders; recent revenue gains in Norway’s music industry have been directly attributable to streaming services’ pervasive scale in that country, accounting for 65.3% of recorded music revenues and driving industry-wide growth.

But there are strong indications that Spotify could eventually arrive on Steam. Martin Benjamins, one of two people behind the website SteamDB, a website — unaffiliated with Valve or Steam — dedicated solely to investigating the underlying code of Steam and its attendant programs, found something interesting inside Steam’s guts. “Valve has already done quite a bit of work on Spotify integration in the Steam client, and appear to be using… Spotify’s official API for [placing] Spotify functionality into third party applications.” If you need a translation: Steam is already testing integration with Spotify into Steam Music. Benjamins says that it appears as if Spotify Premium users would be able to utilize the feature.” It’s important to note that, while such digital sleuthing is a worthwhile exercise, unreleased or unactivated code doesn’t mean that a feature will see the light of day.

Valve declined to comment on upcoming or requested features, and Spotify did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Steam Music’s beta page does state that “we see an opportunity to broaden Steam as an entertainment platform, which includes music alongside games and other forms of media.” The company has taken significant steps to this end recently, developing SteamOS which allows users to all but replace their gaming consoles with a home-built computer intended to be always connected to the living room television, as well as Steam Machines, a prefab console intended to serve the same purpose.

Neither Xbox or the Playstation have a Spotify app available on their platforms, each preferring to push its own products — Sony’s paid Music Unlimited and Microsoft’s Xbox Music., which, like Spotify, offers a free and paid tiers.

As far as their plans to sell music, the company says, alluringly, on its site that “Steam currently offers a number of game soundtracks for sale. Your feedback will help guide where we take things next.” It’s also emblematic of a company well-respected by its customers, largely on how closely it listens to user feedback.

A quick glance at the Steam users online at the time of this writing showed 6.5 million — about 500,000 more than currently pay for a Spotify subscription. If 10% of Steam’s 65 million-strong user base subscribed to Spotify as a result of a trial or bundle deal, it would raise Spotify’s paid subscriber base by over 100%. Playing with games may just mean serious business for music.”

What do you think? Do video games present a huge opportunity for the music industry?

 

We discuss music placement in video games in the New Artist Model online course, but you can also get access to some free lessons by signing up for the mailing list

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Q&A: Dave Kusek Of New Artist Model

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This interview is from CMJ. Check it out here.

Dave Kusek has spent a lifetime working in the music business as a marketer, hardware and software developer, teacher and author. The meat of his career was right in the middle of the transition from the old analog world to the digital blur we’re all still transitioning into. So he has the experience of an old school sage and the knowledge of a cutting edge electronics whiz. After imparting all that as a longtime teacher at Berklee, he’s developed a new online music school, Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model, that aims to clear up the often fuzzy world of the constantly morphing music biz for striving musicians everywhere.


Give us a little of your personal history, and what makes you uniquely qualified to be able to explain this brave new confusing digital music world to green musicians everywhere, via your New Artist Model course?
I have been working in the music business all of my life, as an entrepreneur, teacher, author and marketing guy. I’ve seen a lot of change over the years having lived through the rise of technology in music and in life, and seeing the transformation that has occurred in how music is produced, consumed, and marketed.

 

I started one of the first synthesizer companies, Star Instruments, where we developed Synare electronic drums. That was around the birth of the disco era and during the time when electronic musical instruments started making their way into the vocabulary of musicians and producers. From there I founded Passport Music Software where we helped to develop the MIDI standard, MIDI Interfaces, sequencing software like Master Tracks Pro, and music notation software like Encore and MusicTime. We sold hundreds of thousands of units and worked with musicians all over the world to create software and help them with their careers.
From there I went on to start Berkleemusic at Berklee College of Music where I taught and worked for over 14 years. Berkleemusic became the world’s largest music school. And we taught online and worked with tens of thousands of musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and business people.

I co-wrote the book The Future Of Music with my friend Gerd Leonhard which predicted a lot of the change that happened in the music business. That became a best seller. That work led me to collaborate with lots of musicians, labels, publishers and artist managers coping with the changes in the marketplace that started with Napster and continued through the iPod emerging, iTunes, file sharing and all that has transpired since. At Berklee I set up a partner network of hundreds of companies like CMJ, Topspin, ProTools and many others to collaborate on digital marketing tools, online courses and strategies for independent musicians trying to navigate the changing marketplace.

I’ve worked with big artists and small artists in almost every genre and have coached many people who have been dropped from labels or just wanted to pursue an indie career from the start. I’ve had to learn what is working today and what is not, what tools you can employ to drive your career and what to avoid. It’s been a really fun ride so far, and this next chapter with the New Artist Model is going to be even more fun as we help a new wave of musicians deal with the realities of the market today.

What is the basic difference between the “Essential Class” and the “Master Class” that you offer?
Both classes teach the same material, with the same videos, presentations, interactions, animations, reading and case studies. The Essential Class is a self-paced course, so you drop into the course and go through the eight weeks of lessons on your own or with your band at your own pace. You move through the material and develop your strategy, you develop a brand strategy, publishing plan, touring and booking plan, a recording strategy and a marketing plan by going through a step-by-step process. We take a look at your finances and explore crowdfunding and various ways for you to get organized, set goals and create plans to reach those goals. That’s the essential course.

The Master Class is the exact same material but you’re working with me as a teacher and getting feedback directly from me. You are also working with a group of students from around the world. There are homework assignments, projects and class discussions that I lead. There is also a live chat once a week that you participate in where you can ask me any questions you want. You also receive feedback from the other students in the class which is a huge value. By working with people from different parts of the world you get a very unique perspective on the music business and get to share ideas and learn strategies that are working in different environments.

So basically, with the Essential Class you work at your own pace, and with the Master Class you get me as your teacher and a group of other students to learn from.

Can you give us a quick list of the basic areas of the music business that you hope to illuminate for your students?
The New Artist Model is an online music business course for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. The course teaches essential business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. The course is designed to give musicians a strong understanding of the current music industry and to provide the tools and techniques necessary to make a meaningful impact in today’s music market. Students will:

• Understand the dynamic music business ecosystem and your place in it.
• Build a team to support your goals and create opportunities for you in the marketplace.
• Leverage multiple revenue streams: publishing, touring and merchandise and recording.
• Develop an online presence and strategy to grow and monetize your relationship with fans.
• Understand the impact of copyright law and protect yourself and your music.
• Figure out how to budget, crowdfund and finance your projects.
• Get access to resources and people that can help you grow your network.
• Develop a custom and personalized Career Map and Budget for you.

Would you say that the New Artist Model online course is an extension of the guidelines you set down in your book, The Future Of Music: Manifesto For The Digital Revolution? Or do things move so fast in this world that you’ve got yet newer information to impart?
Well, in the book we did talk about a new artist model, and there has even been at least one song written about that approach, called Download This Song by MC Lars. But honestly, things have changed so much and are changing so fast that an online resource is really the only way to keep current. There are tools and technologies available today that were not around when The Future Of Music was written, most notably the iPhone and streaming services like Spotify—both of which we predicted in the book. So yeah, the New Artist Model course is a fresh and dynamic take on the current state of the music business and where things are headed today.

The general consensus is that touring is increasingly the most reliable way for bands to make money. Do you agree with that consensus? Or can touring be one more thing that gets in the way of an act developing their songwriting and marketing skills? 
This question gets at the central themes of the course, which are what kind of musician are you, what does success look like for you, what are you good at and where do you focus your efforts? I agree that touring can be a money maker for many artists if that is what you are good at and want to do. Performing live takes real skill to entertain an audience and build a fan base on the road, and if that is what gets you going, then yes, you should focus on that. But publishing and licensing are also great revenue drivers if you can write well and can plug into the music supervisors and agencies that pick songs for the media.

Another growing consensus is that musicians today cannot be “just” a musician, that they must be very proactive and entrepreneurial. But we all know musicians—is it realistic to expect musicians to run every business aspect of their career?
No, I don’t think that it is realistic that a single person can run every business aspect of their career. The whole idea of DIY is, in my opinion, a real disservice to the independent musician community. You can’t do it yourself, it’s impossible. You need a team and you need a strategy and focus so that you can move your career forward. It is more like DIWO, or “do it with others.” And to be effective doing so, you need a clear plan that you can communicate to your team members and that you can use to make decisions and figure out where to spend your time and where to invest your energy and resources.

Every artist needs a good manager and business partner to really get ahead. Someone to help with marketing and booking or plugging songs and providing a balance so that the artist can spend time being creative. But, I know and believe that in order for a musician to be successful in today’s environment, they need to have a very solid understanding of the business, even if they don’t do everything themselves. As a musician today, you are an entrepreneur and you better be fluent in the dynamics of the music business so that you can see where you are going and know how to get there.

Sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list to get access to free lessons!

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Build your Fanbase with Frequent Releases

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1de4Yfe

In the past the standard model was to release a full length album every year or so, and while a lot of musicians today still go by that model, more and more are starting to do smaller, more frequent releases. Especially if you’re an indie artist, this strategy is great for building a fan base and staying in the front of your fans’ minds.

Here CD Baby lists out some of the key benefits to the frequent release strategy. If you want to see all 10, check out the full article.

1. Keep your existing fans “tuned in” – Our attention spans are getting shorter and our entertainment options are increasing. If you disappear for three years without any new music, you can’t expect your old fans to pick right up where you left off. You need to stay on their radar if you want them to continue supporting you with equal fervor. The more frequently you release music, the more chances you have to remind them of why they love you.

2. Generate more opportunities for press – Likewise, the more music you put out, the more chances you have to contact bloggers, music magazines, local weeklies, etc. Pinning all your PR hopes on one album release every few years really limits your chances to get the press talking about your music.

3. Pace your creative and recording workload – It’s very time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to complete a major recording project all at once. Generally to finish tracking and mixing a full album in one stretch, you’re looking at anywhere from two to twelve weeks’ worth of work. But what about one song a month? That sounds more manageable, healthy, and realistic, which probably means it’s more likely to happen!

You’ll put everything you have into one song at a time to get it right; then have a little break from recording until next month — rather than exhausting all your energy or ideas. You can release a single every month for a year (and even do a release party for each one if you want to draw some extra attention to the new music). At the end of the year, compile the best ten tracks into an album.

4. Highlight your best songs in multiple ways – Fans love bonus material: remixes, rough demos, alternate takes, b-sides, etc. You can either release these bonus tracks as singles throughout the year, or include them in a special edition of your next album (which gives diehard fans another incentive to purchase the full album even though they already bought the singles that appear on that album separately).

5. Show off your live chops – Whether you produce your own concert recording or do an in-studio for a radio show, TV program, or music blog — turn those sessions into albums or EPs. People love to hear raw, live performance versions of their favorite songs.

How often do you release music? Share in the comments!

 

To learn more about staying connected with your fans, sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

 

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Beyond the Playlist with Viinyl 2.0

Why do most music players look like spreadsheets?

Discovering music on your own requires that you listen to a song for a period of time to see if you like it. Sure, if one of your friends tells you about a track you may “discover” it through them, but you will also spend some time listening to the song before you decide if it’s for you. This is the nature of the beast. Music is a time-based phenomenon.

Unlike with videos where you can “time compress” a video into a single frame image that you can easily visually scan, with music there is no alternative format that represents the song that can be easily scanned, except for the song name. This explains why most music interfaces display playlists, with song names as text not unlike in a spreadsheet, or list of song names. These can be easily scanned, but have no direct correlation to the sound or feeling of the song itself. I have always found it odd that in this era of digital music and highly designed interfaces, that most players default to a spreadsheet of song names to present music – true of iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rdio and many others.  Spreadsheet music players.

Sure you can have a thumbnail of the album cover, but rarely do you see this on a song-by-song basis. Maybe in parts of Beatport or other DJ sites that are focused on tracks, but not generally on the web for the mass consumers of songs. And yes we have also seen many different visual interfaces like Sonorflow that let you visually traverse music genres or the linkage between bands, but these do not convey information about the songs themselves or the emotions that they convey.

What if we had a way to make a song come alive visually? This was the whole idea behind the original MTV and it was wildly successful for decades. What is the online equivalent, or even better, what can we do to push the whole boundary of music discovery and showcasing to new levels by embracing the time-based nature of music and coupling it with visual expression and a modern interface that lets you experience and interact with music in new and interesting ways. And no, I’m not talking about the waveform displays on Soundcloud.

I am working with a new company called Viinyl which is in the final testing stage for a whole new video-based version of their Music Showcasing platform that is very hot. I haven’t seen anything like Viinyl 2.0 and I think it represents a whole new way of presenting music. Viinyl amplifies the emotional content of songs visually, in a way that is enjoyable and super easy to use. This is a whole new way of showcasing music.

Viinyl is re-defining the way music and videos are experienced. In fact their video player is a new way to attract attention, engage an audience with the emotion of a song, and make money on singles and tracks. From a simple URL you can run a full screen video with interactive overlays and gather email, sell tracks and tickets, connect to your social networks and literally showcase music thru video. You can sell any digital file including music and movies, and provide relavent information directly in the context of the song including bios, links, credits, contacts, concert dates, lyrics, etc.

Here are some examples of the new Viinyl 2.0 in action:

http://hiphopdraft-ghost-in-the-machine.new.viinyl.com/
http://synthetica-mini-documentary.new.viinyl.com/
http://destination-brazil.new.viinyl.com/
http://idareyoubeta.new.viinyl.com/

The new platform supports audio file sales with fixed or flexible album pricing (minimum price and Pay What You Want) along with various free distribution options. The software is lightning fast, with just a few clicks, musicians and labels will be able to share their work independently – and hold onto all revenue generated.

The new Viinyl 2.0 LP format delivers a visual playlist, giving listeners and fans a far richer, more immersive and inviting music experience compared with the current spreadsheet format.  This new software will be available in the coming weeks.

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Remembering Music Producer Phil Ramone

Here is an interview with the great Phil Ramone, recorded at his home in Connecticut. Phil discusses making hits, songwriting, music production, the music industry, the listening experience, working with artists, the studio, spare parts, preparation, working style and gives his advice for artists and writers. A true master, he gives us a glimpse into his thought process and how he works to get the most out of the creative process. Notice how his mind easily shifts from the artistic to the technical and back without missing a beat. We will miss you Phil.

Phil Ramone is one of the most respected and prolific music producers of all time in the recording industry. Ramone’s musical acumen, creativity and use of audio technology are unmatched among his peers. Phil played a huge role in shaping the careers and songs of both Billy Joel and Paul Simon and is going to be missed so much. Such a gentle and graceful man who filled the world with optimism and carved such a wide swath across the music business.

He won 14 Grammy Awards, including producer of the year, nonclassical, in 1981, and three for album of the year, for Mr. Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” in 1976, Mr. Joel’s “52nd Street” in 1980, and Mr. Charles’s duets album, “Genius Loves Company,” in 2005. He also produced music for television and film, winning an Emmy Award as the sound mixer for a 1973 special on CBS, “Duke Ellington … We Love You Madly.”

Mr. Ramone was born in South Africa and grew up in Brooklyn. His father died when he was young, and his mother worked in a department store. A classical violin prodigy, he studied at the Juilliard School but soon drifted toward jazz and pop, and apprenticed at a recording studio, J.A.C. Recording.

In 1958, he co-founded A & R Recording, a studio on West 48th Street in Manhattan, and built a reputation as a versatile engineer, working on pop fare like Lesley Gore as well as jazz by John Coltrane and Quincy Jones. He ran the sound when Marilyn Monroe cooed “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962, and three years later won his first Grammy as the engineer on Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s landmark album “Getz/Gilberto.”

As a producer, he had a particularly close association with Billy Joel and Paul Simon; the back cover of Joel’s 1977 album “The Stranger” features a photograph of Mr. Ramone posing with Mr. Joel and his band at a New York restaurant.

“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band,” Mr. Joel said in a statement on Saturday. “He was the guy that no one ever, ever saw onstage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with — longer than most. So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him.”

Acknowledged as one of the top creative music producers, Ramone has also played an integral role in pioneering many of the technological developments in the music industry over the years. He ardently supported the use of the compact disc, digital video disc, hi-definition recording and surround sound.

Ramone’s impeccable list of credits includes collaborations with artists such as: Burt Bacharach, Bono, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Quincy Jones, BB King, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Liza Minnelli, Sinead O’Connor, Pavarotti, Peter/Paul and Mary, Andre Previn, Carly Simon, Frank Sinatra, Phoebe Snow, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder.

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The Future of Music for Urban Millenials

Here is a presentation developed for clothing manufacturer Carhartt as they try and capitalize on the popularity of their products with the youth market. Interesting trends and stats posted by students from Parsons The New School for Design.  “By identifying the forces at play in the world of music and the behaviors that are driving those forces, one can identify particular patterns that support current trends. By looking forward to what the future of music may encompass, this presentation aims to provide Carhartt, with valuable insight that will help the brand as a whole, cater to the future of urban millenials.”

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The Interdependency of Music and Technology

The music business has been utterly transformed by technology. New music apps such as Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Shazam and Songza among hundreds of others are driving new music revenue and employment opportunities for technically oriented musicians.

Olivia Leonardi over at Online Computer Science Degree has written an article about the intersection of music and software development and describing the rich past of the impact of technology, specifically software on the music business.  It is excerpted here.  Lets go people, tool up for careers in the music industry of the future!

Computer Science and Music Technology

You’re a heavy-duty programming dude or computer grrl, but you also love music.  Is there any way to reconcile these two interests?  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that computers and technology play a major role in the 21st century music scene. Audio sequencers, MIDI and associated laptops are standard operating equipment for performers like PrinceKraftwerk, OK Go, international deejay Paul Van Dyk or electronic music pioneer Thomas Dolby. Indeed, popular music today – from indie rock to hip-hop to house – would not be the same without innovations in computer science and technology. The following article is an exploration of the pioneering inventions and innovations in music technology that, through the use of computers, continue to define the musical experience of today.

Making Music in the 20th Century

1930 marks the year that the technological roots of modern popular music were formed. In that fateful year the world welcomed its first drum machine while the revolutionary electric guitar took the music scene by storm. Although the drum machine wouldn’t find its way into popular music for another 40 years, the electric guitar was seen as a brilliant invention and one immediately adopted by the jazz community and early blues artists. Perhaps more importantly, however, was that these two innovations inspired and challenged others to experiment with electric instruments and to test how technology could continue to enhance the musical experience. In the years following, the legendary Les Paul would lay down the first multi-track recording in 1947 and in ‘58 Link Wray, unsatisfied with the sound his amplifier was producing, would think to jam pencils into it to distort the sound of the guitar in the track “Rumble” – a technique The Kinks pushed into the mainstream with “You Really Got Me” in 1964.

Then, in 1966, producer George Martin was faced with a dilemma. The Beatles had recorded multiple takes of a John Lennon penned song called “Strawberry Fields Forever.” John had finally settled on not one, but two takes of the song that he liked best. The problem: the two takes, numbers 7 and 26, were recorded in different keys and played at different tempos. Without the technological innovations available today, Martin ingeniously solved the problem by mechanically slowing one take while speeding up the other, then spliced the two takes together to produce one of the most celebrated popular music recordings in history.

Enter Computer Technology

Computer technology has since incorporated innovations such as Martin’s and made them a routine part of music recording. Without major advancements in computer technology, however, such would not be the case. Once monolithic, the late 1970s and early 80s saw the size of computers greatly diminish while major improvements were being made in processing power. Personal computers were made accessible for the first time in history and, watching closely, the music industry quickly responded. As the Beatles were walking Abbey Road and the Rolling Stones were licking their way to chart toping heights, brilliant innovations on old technologies would surface simultaneously that – from sampling to the drum machine to the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) – gave rise to whole new genres like hip-hop and electronic music while altering the trajectory of popular music itself. The following is a brief run-through of some of those major developments in computer technology.

Sampling

Sampling allows musicians to borrow snippets of past tracks and even entire recordings and incorporate them into original creations. Using synthesizer technology, artists can also alter the tone of the sample by speeding up or slowing down the track; later iterations of samplers would actually come in the form of synthesizers as synths became more sophisticated and were able to adopt sampling technology.

The first sampler – the Mellatron – appeared in the late 60s and early 70s and was a tape replay keyboard that stored recordings on analog tape. Although its genius was widely recognized, it was soon improved upon with the emergence of the memory-based digital sampler. Developed by a trio of computer scientists and software engineers, the first digital sampler – the EMS Musys system – ran on two mini computers (PDP-8s), giving birth to the first digital music studio. As musicians began realizing the need and benefit of sound synthesis for sampling purposes, sampling synthesizers soon emerged. Surfacing in the late 70s, these sampling synthesizers would enable the use of percussion samples and techniques such as the crossfade and “time stretching” and are credited with advancing hip-hop away from the drum machine sound of its youth.

Today, sampling technology is either software-based or appears as part of the music workstation.

Digital Drum Machine

Beginning with the Rythmicon – the father of all drum machines, first produced in 1930 – the drum machine has had a strong impact on music through the years. The first “modern” drum machine – in the form of a programmable drum machine — emerged in the 70s with the Roland CR-78 machine and a few year later, the legendary Roland TR-808 (1980) and Roland TR-909 (1984). Both machines are icons of the early hip-hop, underground dance and techno genres. Indeed, Marvin Gaye’s classic “Sexual Healing” wouldn’t be the same without use of the Roland TR-909.

Digital drum machines, otherwise known as drum computers, also figure heavily in the development of pop music in the 80s. Starting with the Linn LM-1, digital samples of drum sounds and drum sound synthesis were both used with increasing frequency, appearing in works from the soundtrack ofScarface to Prince.

In music today the physical drum machine is a rare sight, whose use was rendered obsolete by MIDI and digital music workstations.

Digital Synthesizer

The digital synthesizer produces a stream of numbers at a certain rate that is then converted to analog form, allowing speakers to produce sound. Synthesizer aided music is some of the most identifiable of the 70s and 80s. No only did the Beatles and Rolling Stones utilize its capacity to produce unique and spacy sounds, but a whole new genre arose from its use: synthpop. Today, the synthesizer is a major element of the music workstation.

    • Forms of Sound Synthesis
    • Additive Synthesis
    • Subtractive Synthesis
    • FM Synthesis
    • Phase Distortion Synthesis
    • Granular Synthesis
    • Physical Modelling Synthesis
    • Sample-Based Synthesis
    • Analysis/Resynthesis

Sequencers

Of all music technology, the sequencer has arguably benefited the most from computer science, giving birth to the very genre termed “computer music.” In modern days, a sequencer is a piece of music software that can record, edit, and play back music. The first digital sequencer emerged in 1971 from Electronic Music Studios while the first microcomputer based digital sequencer, the MC-8 Microcomposer or “computer music composer”, appeared in 1977 using a keypad to enter notes in numeric codes.

As the personal computer’s capabilities progressed, software sequencers soon emerged. The New England Digital ABLE (1973) computer and its brother the Synclavier 1 (1977) are two of the most notable with the latter being used by such artists as Michael Jackson. These two advancements were also two of the first iterations of the modern music workstations. In the current day and age, however, most sequencing is done via software through the use of MIDI.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

The development of Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) was a remarkable innovation in the history of music. The MIDI made it possible for anyone with a computer, a modicum of talent and a measure of determination to become his or her own performer and producer. MIDI originated as a means to link keyboards with synthesizers, but has since evolved to become a computer software application used to edit all aspects of music recordings. MIDI allows for the interaction of many different instruments at once through a central transceiver that the instruments are plugged into. With their memory, processing power and interactivity, computers became the central brain that all electronic instruments were connected to. From this point on, the computer became irreplaceable in music production. Sequencing software was developed to piece together the disparate musical elements received on the computer through MIDI connections in addition to the development of software synthesizers, drum machines and samplers (often coalesced into one program).

Prior to MIDI, the recording process required a sound booth, session musicians, mixers and other expensive features. Since the development of MIDI, a single musician can sing, play accompaniment and mix multiple tracks together to produce a polished, sophisticated recording using only a computer, a mike and digital recording software.

From Olivia Leonardi at Online Computer Science Degree.

Side note – this is the 30 year anniversary of MIDI.  I will be writing more about that in the weeks ahead.

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The Sad Truth about the Music Business

Music_Evolution_lowres1

Music is a much smaller and less significant part of many people’s lives than 10-20 years ago.  There is more competition for our attention and the value of music has declined precipitously. This graphic shows the rise of digital against physical music, and the overall impact of piracy, widespread distribution and digital media on the music industry. The sad story is that overall the music business is shrinking. That is a fact that we all have to face.  The silver lining in all of this may be on the horizon, but it cannot come soon enough for me. We have to do something to reverse the trend.

Courtesy Daily Infographic.

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Modern Merch: Beyond the Tour T-Shirt – CMJ Panel

Ale Delgado wrote this great recap of our CMJ panel on merchandise last week.  Thanks Ale!  Here is most of it.  Visit her site for more:

Considering that I’m always looking for the next big thing, I knew I had to go to CMJ’s “Modern Merch: Beyond the Tour T-Shirt” panel. See, merch is a $2.2 billion business and one of the biggest ways an artist can make money. But while most merch is sold at shows, most people at shows don’t buy merch. Tricky, huh?

The basic premise of the panel was that opportunity comes when you marry a point of passion (e.g., a song stream or live show) with a call to action (e.g., a merch sale)– and yes, they had some tips to help you take advantage of any opportunities that come your way.

Moderator: Dave Kusek, co-founder of MerchLuv and co-author of The Future of Music.

Panelists: Zach Bair, founder of RockHouse Live Media Productions and the original CEO of DiscLive Network, which records, masters, and burns concert CDs to be made available to fans right after the show;  Mary Sparr of screen-printed gig poster pros Print Mafia and culture blog Young Mary’s Record; and Alexandra Starlight, funky and spunky indie starlette whose Kickstarter campaign resulted in 205% funding and a rainbow glitter 7″ EP.

 

1.Think of merch as an extension of your brand

As always, the first thing to do is consider your brand as an artist. Once you develop a consistent aesthetic, you can open the door to more innovative merch because fans will recognize it as one of your pieces. For example, Starlight created a one-of-a-kind rainbow glitter vinyl record for her self-titled EP. A record like that had never been pressed before and each one was hand-glittered, so each fan received a unique copy. If you’ve ever peeked at Starlight’s website (or rainbow-dyed hair), you know that a rainbow glitter album fits perfectly with her brand– and it’s damn memorable.

Furthermore, if you think of merch as your brand being integrated into someone’s lifestyle, it opens up even more creative possibilities. For instance, The Hold Steady created branded foam fingers. Y’know, the ones you wave around like crazy when you’re cheering on your favorite team. What do foam fingers have to do with music? Not much, but they’re fun, different, and priced for the college-aged fan. And judging by the fact that they’re sold out, they’re a big hit with fans.

2. Cater to your spectrum of fans

Take another look at The Hold Steady’s foam finger. It’s $10 reduced to $5. Easy sale for a teenager or college student who might have a lot of spending money but is willing to pay for something cool to show off to their friends. Making sure that you have different tiers of merch for different fans is key to building sales. You should have something at your merch table for the fan who just wants to snatch a free download card and for the fan who wants to buy everything. That also means bundling items together (CD, t-shirt, button combo) for a quick sale.

3. Be show-specific

If possible, create show-specific merch. It can be as simple as individual gig posters for each city in which you tour or something a little more involved. Sparr brought up the tickets that Mumford & Sons created for their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour. Each ticket was a commemorative passport that contained a download code for a compilation of songs recorded at each Stopover. Then it got better. Fans could get their passports stamped at the merch tables at each Stopover, personalizing their passports to their experience. Then it got even better. People were wandering around each Stopover with unique stamps, essentially turning the passports into a Pokemon game. (Gotta stamp ‘em all!) Talk about fan engagement.

Next, update your Facebook and Twitter on the day of the show and let your fans know what merch you’re going to be offering, especially if you have something that will only be available at that show. The more people can prepare (or at least consider the possibility of picking up your record), the more likely they’re going to buy something.

 

4. Work your merch like a pop-up shop

Think about every grumpy salesperson you’ve had to deal with. They don’t greet you, they don’t look you in the eye, they don’t care if their store is a mess, they don’t want to help you find anything, or (even worse) they’re way too pushy… Okay, now be exactly the opposite.

Your merch table is your pop-up shop. Have your items propped up nicely so that fans who are moving past your table can see what you have to offer. Greet them as they walk up to your table; don’t badger them, but put on a friendly face like you would if they were customers coming into your brick-and-mortar store. Also make sure that you’re being as meticulous as you would be if you were running a store: keep track of your inventory and double-check any email addresses written down on your mailing list. Remember that the experience doesn’t end when your show does; fans will remember what you were like behind the table.

5. Extend the experience

Well, actually, the experience doesn’t have to stop when your fans walk out of your venue either. There are a lot of ways you can extend your show experience, from the simple to the elaborate. Here are a few ideas from the Panelists:

  • Make sure there’s someone taking pictures of your show, including grabbing a few shots of the crowd. Then post it on Facebook and encourage your fans to tag themselves.
  • Have your fans post pictures of your show to Instagram with a hashtag of your choosing, and then sending them aPostagram thanking them for coming to the show or giving them a discount for your store.
  • Use DiscLive to record, mix, and master a live recording of your show. By the time you’re ready to sell some merch, they’ll have CDs ready to go. DiscLive also allows for preorders, meaning that a) you can bundle tickets and CDs and b) you’ll have an estimate of what you’ll sell at your show.
  • Use MerchLuv to bundle streaming songs with merch items to cater to those new fans who hadn’t heard of you before your show, but want to check you out afterwards. Remember, opportunity lies where passion meets action.

Read more here including a Happy Halloween Bonus Tip!

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James Taylor Suing Warner Bros

Gotta love it.

James Taylor is suing Warner Bros over digital royalties seeking $2m in compensatory damages from his former label for past MP3 sales.

The Guardian reports that singer-songwriter James Taylor has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against his former label, Warner Bros, claiming they have underpaid millions in royalties on downloads of his songs. As in similar cases brought by Eminem and the Temptations, the principal issue is the royalty rate for downloads or ringtones among artists who signed record contracts prior to the advent of digital music sales.

I reported on this situation in the Huffington Post here a while ago with Musicians may be owed billions in unpaid digital music royalties.

All of this stems from a landmark ruling in 2010, when a company representing Eminem’s publishing rights won a case against Aftermath Records. The label was ordered to pay royalties on downloads and ringtones according to the rate for licensing, not sales. Since then, a wide range of acts have pursued their labels for compensation.

Lots more to come.  The leveling of the playing field.

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Digital Lemonade – Part One

As the saying goes – when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And as we face the reality of the digital music business today, many are finding ways to make digital lemonade.  This is the first in a series of posts about creative thinking in music.

In the face of declining recorded music sales, we have to look hard at the opportunities for generating money in music and get creative. Most of the energy today in digital music investment is in streaming music, music discovery, ticketing, crowd funding and artist services. Businesses like Pandora, Spotify, Beats, Ticketfly, Soundcloud, Songkick and Indiegogo have received significant investments in recent years as investors chase profits in the music space.

Artist Income – Virtual Tours

But what about individual artists and musicians themselves? What can they do to increase their opportunities to profit from their art when it is becoming increasingly challenging to make a living as a musician. Live performance and merchandise have long been mainstays of any carefully crafted musical career. How are these revenue streams fairing in the digital economy? Live shows it would seem need to be experienced and therefore are harder to digitize and share, although some are trying to broadcast live events and take them to the digital sphere. Take Stageit and Liveset for example. Artists can broadcast their live shows and reach a global audience while performing in a studio, living room or other venue.

Like a virtual campfire, these technologies let fans and performers join together in virtual circles enjoying the music and getting up close with the artists. It remains to be seen how influential these attempts will be, but I expect that inevitably some form of digital broadcast of live events will take hold and be a profitable source of revenue. Afterall, in theory, this form of live event takes a lot of the cost out of the tour, makes the artist more accessible and is easy to promote using social media and email.

Artist Income – Involve your fans

The musician Beck is planning to release his next album in the form of sheet music and full color artwork. His thinking is that people can participate in the creation and performance of the songs in this truly interactive record release.  I think this is really smart and another feather in the cap of this truly creative artist/producer.  Why not sow the seeds of your music within your fan base, and see what they come up with?  Perhaps Beck’s genre lends itself to this kind of experimentation, but other artists can take a cue from him on a clever way to draw your fans closer to the action.

Beck’s latest album comes in a primative form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full color artwork for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case, Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012.  Beck is inviting his fans to record, mix and produce each track in their own way. If you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” you will need to bring them to life yourself, by playing the music. It will be very interesting to see what the uptake is on this release when it becomes available in December.

There are already postings of these tracks appearing online such as this cover of “Do We, We Do” from Max Miller on Soundcloud.

Digital Sheet Music

The sheet music business is facing challenges like unlicensed tablature, free files and online video instruction that is making this old-school business look for new ways to monetize their songs. Notation sales have fallen off, though not nearly as rapidly as recording revenues. In this post from Create Digital Music, you can see the transformation of the print music business as it goes digital (as it has been doing for some time now). Sites like sheetmusicdirect.com, musicnotes.com and others are pioneering the distribution of digital sheet music.  Sites like lyricstore.com are taking music licensing into an entirely new direction by letting people create custom merchandise from their favorite song lyrics.

There is lots of room for making digital lemonade in the new music economy beyond iTunes, Pandora and Spotify.  In the coming weeks I will post more about online music education and a quiet revolution in music merchandising, both of which we will discover, are hotspots for growth and revenue creation in the fast moving world of digital music.

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Internet Trends – Re-Imagining Everything

I was reviewing this fascinating data from Mary Meeker over the weekend again, and thought I would share it. Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers describes what she calls “the re-imagination of nearly everything” powered by mobile and social. For example: News outlets are reimagined on Twitter, note-taking is reimagined on Evernote, scrapbooking is reimagined on Pinterest and music purchasing is reimagined as listening.

Meeker also traces out the story of the mismatch between mobile growth and mobile monetization, pulling together numbers and analysis of one of the biggest weaknesses in today’s Internet industry.

And she gives some context to the state of the global economy. Here’s the full slide presentation:

KPCB Internet Trends 2012

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Digital Music Stats

This video from James West and Len Henriksen shows that the consumption of music has come along way since the days of vinyl records. But now with all the digital variants of music available to anyone with an internet connection, what has become of the stability of the industry and the ability of artists’ to make money?

To sum it up, while digital consumption has absolutely exploded – the revenue per download, or spin, or play has collapsed. Data is from 2010.

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Learning from the Music Business

Photo by Brian Cantoni on Flickr

Photo by Brian Cantoni on Flickr

Netflix — the poster child for premium Internet video services — was birthed by iTunes and other online music services before it. Yes, movies and music are fundamentally different forms of media, but the online video guys can learn a lot from the transformation of the music business.  What works and what doesn’t.

Peter Csathy from TechCrunch says that three ingredients that have proven to be essential for the success of any online music service apply equally to the premium online video world. This trilogy represents the “Sacred Tenets of Online Media” that apply to any service provider.

Sacred Tenet #1 – Quality.

No brainer, right?  But how many service providers truly understand this? Remember the early online music services (both legitimate and not)? Audio quality was frequently abysmal.  I would argue that the quality of digital audio is still not good enough, but it is getting better.  The early audio experiences were usually empty (meta-data, what meta-data?), and the bad guys infected you with viruses. Enter iTunes, which offered a healthier, better sounding product and far richer overall experience. That mattered. That was a game changer.

The same applies, of course, for online video viewing, no matter how big or small the screen. To “win,” service providers must ensure that movies and television shows look good on every device regardless of the explosion of new devices, form factors, endless specs, new formats (MPEG-Dash, UltraViolet) and variable network conditions. Consumers don’t care, and they aren’t patient. Not anymore. They just want the stuff to work. And, that ain’t easy. That’s why Netflix transforms each movie into over 100 renditions to account for different devices, formats, and network conditions. THAT’s a commitment to quality.

Sacred Tenet #2 – Deep Content.

We live in a world where iTunes, Rhapsody and Spotify offer virtually any music track you could ever think of – 15 million of them! We take that for granted. We expect it. But remember, it wasn’t that long ago when that wasn’t the case.

In the earliest days of legitimate online music services, music libraries were small and filled with gaping holes (how’s that for an oxymoron?). iTunes launched with a scant 200,000 tracks back in April 2003. Think about that. Those numbers, of course, represent only about 1.5% of the total number of tracks now offered today. Ultimately, once customers got over the novelty factor of new music services, that paucity of content led to frustration – and opportunities to differentiate based purely on size.

This same basic truth applies to premium online video services of course. What happens when you can’t find the movie you want? You bolt and look elsewhere. Well, none of the service providers want that to happen, so each of them is feverishly racing to expand its cache of movies and television shows. That’s why you read about deal after deal after deal. It’s the quest to get the critical mass they need for their customers to stay.

Sacred Tenet #3 – Discovery & Navigation.

It’s essential for online movie customers to easily find the premium content they want, when they want it. But, it’s also essential for them to find a way to intelligently and easily navigate the vast expanding universe of other content that they don’t necessarily know they want – until it “finds” them and they experience it. That is the fundamental role of discovery.

The same holds true for premium video. As movie libraries expand online, it is essential to give the consumer powerful tools to make sense of it all. Many flavors of discovery exist, including social. Service providers will look to differentiate themselves here too as music services, like Pandora, do in the online music world.

iTunes got it right 10 years ago – and rules the online music world at least for the moment. But, things are very different in the online video world. Many hats are in the ring this time around. Netflix is the leader, but certainly isn’t a lock. And, Apple isn’t a significant player (yet). The players who pay homage to the Sacred Trilogy will best position themselves to be the big winners tomorrow.

This is an editorialized excerpt from a post by Peter Csathy from TechCrunch.  Peter is President & CEO of online video technology company Sorenson Media.

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Investing in Media and Tech from Roger McNamee

Roger McNamee is probably the coolest investor I know.  He has called it right so many, many times and just did it again with Facebook.  You have to pay attention to him.  I have been “schooled” by him on more than one occassion and for that I am eternally grateful.

Here are his thoughts on the road ahead, taken from a Mashable keynote presentation he made the other day.  Great stuff if you want to try and make money in web and mobile tech in the years ahead.

 The shift is away from the desktop experience of free undifferentiated content. Mobile users don’t navigate the Internet with Google searches. They use apps, which deliver a better experience. And they spend much more time within those apps than on any web story.

Instead of needing tens of millions of lightly engaged users in order to be considered successful, McNamee hypothesizes that future success will come from smaller numbers of even more engaged — and thus more valuable — users.

It will, he believes, will be built not on the Google-controlled HTML4 web nor within Apple-controlled apps, but using HTML5, which allows for differentiated, engaged experiences without the downsides of the app store.

“The basic success factors going forward are going to be exactly opposite of those we’ve had in recent years,” he said.

You can get his entire presentation here.

Awesome stuff.  I’m definitely paying attention.