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How to NOT Waste Time Promoting Your Music on Social Media

how to not waste time promoting your music on social media

Let’s talk about promoting your music on social media.

More specifically making the task of promoting your music not suck (and take all your time away from music). I mean, who has time to spend hours coming up with social media posts?

The secret is NOT doing more to promote your music. It’s about working SMARTER – making the most out of everything you create.

So today, I’m going to walk you through a quick approach to making your social media efforts more efficient and more productive (so you can save time and get more attention for your music).

Keep in mind that implementing a strategy on social media like the one I’m going to give you today takes TIME. There is going to be very little instant gratification here, so get yourself in that mindset.

True success on social media is like a relationship (a relationship with each of the hundreds of thousands of fans you have on the platform). And like any relationship, it will take some time to develop.

So think long term with these tips, be consistent, and after a few months, you’ll start seeing some more activity.

1. Use What You Already Have

If you’re thinking you need to create a whole new set of content to post on social media, you’re wasting a lot of time and effort (time that could be spent playing gigs, practicing, recording, writing…).

Instead, think about how you can repurpose and adapt all the stuff you already have.

As artists, we create A LOT of stuff. You know, riffs, songs, lyrics, covers, jams, live performances, albums, tones, beats, effects, and the list goes on and on.

BUT, a lot of musicians I see out there promoting their music online don’t actually use half of the stuff they create. And that’s a missed opportunity.

I know, there is a bit of a balance to find here. Especially if you’re working you way up to a big album launch you don’t want to give everything away before the actual release date. But giving away little pieces here and there can actually get fans more excited for the release as you build up the anticipation.

Today, take a few minutes to look at all the creative work you do every day. How much of it are you actually sharing with your fans?

If you want our free guide on How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (CLICK HERE).

2. Focus on Frequency and Consistency

Okay, one quick aside before we get into how to actually create your social posts…

A lot of musicians have this mindset that their work can’t be released until it’s 100% perfect and finished (and it needs to be released in its entirety or not at all). And the result is often long periods of radio silence on social media followed by frantic promotion of the new thing.

At the most basic level, success on social media is all about balancing frequency and consistency. The more you post (as long as it’s quality, interesting posts), the more of a response you will get over time. Fans will start to expect and anticipate your posts.  

Which means that radio silence is actually hurting you when you get around to promoting your next big thing. (Especially on Facebook where the algorithm favors posts that get more engagement.) Less fans will see your promotions, less fans will respond to your promotions, and you’ll start feeling that social media is a waste of time.

So try to focus on getting some kind of posting rhythm down. After some time you’ll be in a much better place to promote your music (and have your fans actually notice your posts and respond).

Before you move on, look at your social accounts and figure out how often you’re posting. What does your schedule look like? Are there any gaps?

3. Splinter Your Content

Now we’ll move a little deeper and start talking about how you can actually take something like a new song, a new video, or a live performance, and turn it into multiple social media posts.

I like to call this “splintering” your content. Think of it like taking a big thing – like a song – and breaking it down into smaller pieces that you can post on social. Each of those smaller pieces will lead fans back to the full song.

So for a single song, here are some “splinter” post ideas:

  • Take a quote from the lyrics. Post as is or create an image with the quote. You can probably get a lot of quote posts from a single song
  • Open up and share the meaning behind the lyrics (you could create a post, a blog post, a short video, a live stream, or all of the above)
  • Create a short video (or do a live stream) walking fans through the tones (or beats, or pedal board setup…) you used in the song so they can recreate the sound
  • Share photos of the lyric sheet or lead sheet
  • Do a playthrough or tutorial of a certain riff or beat
  • Create a “making of” video series for the song
  • Post a lyric line you’re working on and ask your fans to finish it with their own words
  • If any of your fans cover the song you could share that too

See what we did there? That was just one song and we got a ton of social posts. Individually, these posts don’t give away the full picture of the song, so many of these ideas can be used in the days leading up to the song release to create hype.  

Try to do this exercise for something you’re working on right now. Make a list and brainstorm everything and anything you could splinter off from that main piece of content. You don’t need to use all the ideas you come up with, but write down everything that comes to mind and proceed from there.

(more tips on how to promote your music here)

4. Use Automation (in moderation)

Okay, so now we have all these social media post ideas. You probably don’t want to post them all at the same time. (Remember – consistency is key). So that means you need to space things out over time.

And that’s where automation comes in.

Automation tools help you pre-schedule posts on many different social media platforms so you don’t need to be constantly remembering to post on social media. That way, you can get your promotion over with and allow yourself to focus completely on music.

Check out these tools:

  • Hootsuite – this will allow you to schedule posts for multiple different social platforms. The free version allows you to post to 3 different social channels
  • Facebook (there’s a scheduler built right in. Instead of choosing “post,” choose “schedule” and pick a date and time you’d like it to hit your page)
  • Tweetdeck – this is a great free platform for posting, scheduling, and monitoring Twitter
  • Buffer – the free version allows you to schedule and manage 1 account from each social platform (so you could have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). You can schedule up to 10 posts at a time per social account
  • SocialOomph – the free version only allows you to schedule and monitor Twitter, but the paid version covers multiple different platforms

A little word of caution. Automation can be overdone. The very purpose of social media is to be able to connect with your fans authentically and in real time. If you’re pre-scheduling all your content out weeks or months in advance, you’re totally missing that real-time connection with your fans.

So, here’s what I suggest… Create your posts by splintering up your content, schedule them out for maybe a week or two, and then make time each day to post something relevant that you’re working on right now and respond to comments and messages.

Don’t forget to download your free social media guide and checklist! Here’s the link again:

If you want our free guide on How to Promote Your Music with 3 Social Media Checklists (CLICK HERE).

Instagram for Musicians: 5 Tips You Need to Know

Instagram for Musicians

Social media is one of the most effective marketing channels for musicians. With over 500 million users – 300 million of which are using the app every day – Instagram is a great way to engage with and grow your audience.

That being said, if you’re not using Instagram correctly it can be a major waste of your time. So here is a guide to Instagram for musicians and 5 tips to get you started. 

Know if You Should Use Instagram

While Instagram is great, it’s not for everyone.

As a musician, you should use Instagram if the demographics of your fanbase strongly correlates with their user base.

While 36% of all social network users are on Instagram, 55% of 18-29-year-olds are using the service. So it’s clear that a majority of their activity comes from 20-somethings.  Additionally, 65% of Instagram’s daily active users are female.

So, if a segment of your audience falls into the female 18-29 year old demographic, Instagram should be part of your social media strategy.

If you’re not sure, the easiest approach is to take a look at the audience at your next concert. Who’s in the crowd? Male or female? How old do they look? Of course, a more accurate option is to glance through the analytics of any other social channels you’re using like Facebook or Twitter.


Not sure what to post to Instagram? Download this free social media ebook: How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists


When to Post on Instagram

If Instagram is definitely going to be a part of your social media strategy, you need to determine the best times to post to get the most engagement.

According to a study by CoSchedule, Instagram users are most active on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8-9am. 

That being said, any data out there is an estimate based on everyone using the platform, and your audience could very well be different. If you want a more accurate idea of when to post your best bet would be to convert your Instagram profile to a business account to get access to on-board analytics specific to your audience.

To convert to a business account go to the “settings” menu and choose “Switch to a Business Account.” You’ll have to connect to your Facebook artist page to set it up. A Business account functions exactly like a personal account plus some additional features like analytics and a direct contact button.

Determine How Often to Post

With Instagram, you’re going to have to find a bit of a balance with posting. Posting too often can spam your fans’ feeds and lead to unfollows, but generally, the more active you can be, the faster your account will grow.

With that in mind, even if you have a bunch of photos ready to post it’s best to spread them out over a few days. Try posting once or twice per day depending on the amount of content you have available.

According to research by Buffer, the ideal frequency to post to Instagram is 1.5 times per day on average.  They noted, however, that posting more frequently didn’t seem to reduce engagement.

It’s important to remember that these numbers are just guidelines. If you know there’s no way you’ll be able to maintain one post per day, that’s fine! Figure out what you can realistically manage and stick with it – even if it’s every other day or even once a week. Putting out quality posts is always more important than meeting some number quota you read in an article.

Use the Right Hashtags

Just like Twitter, hashtags are big on Instagram. Think of them as organic discovery drivers. People will often browse through certain hashtags to find new posts and new accounts to follow. The “Explore” tab will also use your hashtags to recommend your posts to relevant audiences, which is especially important if you’re just starting out.

When choosing what hashtags to use, don’t simply use what’s trending. You want to choose hashtags that reach a targeted audience that’s likely to be interested in your music. Relevance is key here. So instead of #music, use #progrock.

To choose the right hashtags, check out what hashtags similar artists are using, especially on posts that are reaching a large number of users and have high levels of engagement.

Another way to see if a hashtag might effectively reach your audience is to simply browse the posts containing that hashtag. If these posts are related to things your audience is interested in, consider adding them to your next post. You’ll also see a list of related hashtags at the top of the Explore page if you search a specific tag.

Cross-Promote Your Instagram Posts

If you’re new to using Instagram for musicians, a great way to start is by adding followers by cross-promoting your posts to other social media accounts.

When sharing a photo on Instagram, share the post to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts inviting people to follow you.

A study by Buzzsumo found that photos posted to Facebook via Instagram receive more engagement than natively posted images, so posting your Instagram images to Facebook can improve engagement and grow your following on both social networks.

The Bigger Picture

Even if you’re posting incredible content on Instagram and you have a ton of fans on the platform, it’s still only one part of your promotion strategy. If you want to effectively promote your music, you need to be thinking big picture and start getting your social followers to go deeper by signing up for emails and buying your music.

We show you how to do this in the Musician Power Tools Promote Your Music Crash Course. Learn how to set up your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, how to build a killer website, and how to start collecting emails and emailing your fans.

How to Use Facebook Ads to Build Your Email List

how to use Facebook ads to build your email list

Social media is great for musicians – it gives you the ability to interact with your fans and promote your music to a well-targeted audience.

Even with all of the benefits, social media sites come and go. However, one thing seems to remain constant – email.

This is why the most important asset you’ll ever have is your email list.  Growing an email list is a great way to increase sales of your music and merchandise, and allows you an avenue of direct communication with your fans. (If you want ideas for what to send to your email list, check out these 10 free templates.)

Because of this, if you have even a $5 per day marketing budget, you should spend some of it on building your email list. In this post, I’m going to show you how you can do this with Facebook ads.

Use Facebook Ads as a Part of a Bigger Strategy

Keep in mind that Facebook ads should not be the entirety of your strategy to grow your email list. Instead, it should be one aspect of a larger music promotion strategy. So maybe you use Facebook ads to get in front of new fans, but you also have an email form on your Facebook artist page as well as your website where you offer things like free music, discounted merch, and early access in exchange for an email address.

The Facebook ads will be targeting people who may have never heard of you before but are inclined to like your music based on their interests. Having forms on your website will target current fans who already know about your music and want to go deeper. Both are necessary for an effective email strategy.

About Facebook Lead Ads

In the world of music marketing, a lead is – in simple terms – someone who has shown enough interest in your music that they’ve shared their contact information with you.

Because of this, Facebook has built a type of advertisement that lets you easily collect information like email addresses and phone numbers (with a user’s consent) through their ad platform – they call them Lead Ads.

These ads can be a great way to build your email list with your Facebook advertising budget.

Targeting

When targeting Facebook users for any ad campaign, you should aim to reach people who are interested in music similar to yours.

To do this, you need to find out what your current fans listen to.  One easy way to figure this out is by looking at your “related artists” page on streaming services like Spotify, and by seeing what kind of playlists people are placing you into. You could also post a simple message on Facebook asking your fans to comment their favorite bands and musicians. 

When targeting your ads on Facebook, it’s a good idea to have at least 2 ads running at a time, each with a different audience.  So if you’re targeting punk music fans, you might have one ad aimed at Blink-182 fans, and another targeting Green Day fans.

After each of these ads run for a few days, continue with the one that’s performing best, and replace the one that’s performing worse with a different targeting set.  This process is known as A/B testing and can help you make the most of your online ad budget. No sense paying for an ad that’s not working for you, right?

Formatting Your Ad

Another thing you want to test with your ad is the format.  With Facebook Lead Ads, you can use images or videos and have a number of choices for a call to action.

As mentioned above with targeting, you also want to A/B test your format and call to action.  

Try combining a music video ad with an option for viewers to download the song for free in exchange for their email address, or if you’re promoting your email list to current fans, an image announcing that mailing list subscribers have a chance to win a signed copy of your upcoming album might work.

Test multiple combinations of ad formats and value propositions to see what converts best.

What Fields to Use

When creating a Facebook lead ad with the intent to collect email list subscribers, it’s obvious that you want to include a form where people can enter their email, but what other information do you need?

Too many form fields can make people wary of signing up, so it’s important to limit the fields to only what’s necessary.

Here are some fields to consider:

  • Name – Personalizing your emails by using a subscriber’s name can increase open and click thru rates. You probably only need the first name.
  • Zip code or City, State/Province, and Country – This can be helpful when planning tour dates.  Rather than blasting your entire tour schedule to your email list, you can personalize it to them by including only the tour dates closest to them within the email with a link to purchase tickets.  Since zip codes don’t exist everywhere, you may want to use city, state/province, and country instead of zip code if you’re an international artist.
  • Address – If you plan to host giveaways for your mailing list subscribers or send them anything physical, ask for their address. If not, stay away from this. Remember, simpler is better. 

Remember, paid advertising should only be a small part of your overall music promotion strategy. If you want more ideas for how to promote your music, we recommend the Musician Power Tools course. You’ll go step-by-step through setting up your social media pages, your website, and your email list (and how to turn them into conversion machines that will help you develop superfans who will support your career).

3 Resources for Designing Awesome DIY Images

DIY Images for social media

Images are one of the most engaging types of content. It’s been proven time and time again that social posts that include images will usually get more likes and comments than plain text posts.

With that in mind, most everything you put out there to raise awareness for your music – from blog posts to YouTube videos, and social posts to emails – will usually need at least one good image, so being able to design awesome DIY images yourself can give you a powerful edge in promoting your music.

Of course, images for your press kit or music releases should be taken with great care, and in most cases should be put together by a professional designer. But if you’re looking to design images for a social media post, profile picture, or an upcoming event, DIY images can work and keep your costs down.

When designing images yourself, you want to make sure you can put together the best looking work possible.  We have more step-by-step tutorials in the Musician Power Tools Promote Your Music Crash Course, but here are 3 resources to get you started:

Canva – A free online graphic design site for DIY images

Canva is an awesome graphic design tool for just about anything you need to create on a DIY level.  This service is completely free to use, and provides the ease of use necessary for putting together quick, simple designs, but offers features that can help you put together pixel perfect, near-professional level designs as well.

They have a great collection of templates available for selection, along with a variety of shapes, icons, text, filters, and photos – some free, some available for a fee – in a drag and drop interface that lets you easily mix and match elements, change their colors, and more.

You’ll also find a ton of ready-made image sizes for just about anything you need, so you don’t need to go searching around to figure out the correct image size for the platform you’re using.

While this shouldn’t be used for professional design, it’s a great tool for putting together nice looking graphics for social media or quickly adding filters to your photos. We’ve personally used Canva for New Artist Model graphics for social media and blog posts (including this one!)


Want some ideas for what kind of images you should be posting to social media? Download this free ebook – How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists.


Pixabay – A resource for free, professional quality photos

There are a number of reasons you’d need photos other than those of you or your band.

Maybe you’re writing a blog post, setting up an event on social media, or are in need of some images for a custom design.  Whatever the case, you want to make sure you’re using images that are free of copyright so that you don’t face any legal trouble.  People have gotten sued for using photos without permission, and it can be a really big fine if you get caught.

Pixabay is a website that offers millions of copyright-free photos to use however you want for free.

Once you’re on the website, simply type a keyword into the search box and start browsing.  When you find something you like, just click download.

Images are often available in different sizes.  Keep in mind that when using images online, smaller ones will load faster, but for print, you want the highest resolution possible.

Material.io by Google – For understanding colors

When designing DIY images, you want to make sure you use colors that mix well together.

To effectively use multiple shades of colors, it’s a good idea to use colors that are on the same color scale.

This is where this page from Material.io can help.

While the entire site works as a complete design guide, mostly intended for app developers, this page contains a color palette that contains around 500 colors – starting with primary colors, then filling in the spectrum – to create a complete palette designed to show which colors work harmoniously together.

You can also find plenty of color palette generators, creators, and libraries with a simple Google search. Try out a few options and choose colors that best reflect the brand you’re trying to create. As an easy guide, try to have one main color, one accent color, and a few more neutral colors to keep things clean.

Knowing which colors work well together is important for any design.  If colors mix well together, they draw attention – which is the entire point of an image in the first place.


Try these three resources out and see what kind of images you can come up with. If you need help setting up things like your Facebook cover, your Twitter header, or even your YouTube channel art or thumbnails, we recommend the Musician Power Tools course. You’ll go step-by-step through creating those images (and how to turn them into conversion machines that will grow your email list).

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Is “Marketing” Killing Your Music? FREE WEBINAR: SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time.

Do you feel like you are trapped in social media HELL ? Are you spending all your time promoting your music without seeing tangible results?

FREE WEBINAR: “Is Marketing” Killing Your Music? Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST

Join CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and I as we tear down the barriers that kill effective music marketing, and show you better ways to do it in a free Webinar Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST.

social media hell
We’ll explore the traps that many artists fall into in the social media age that they think are “marketing” but are really just a waste of time, and help you understand what actions will get you moving (and marketing) in the right direction.

  • SEE how to avoid the TRAPS that waste your time on Social Media.
  • LEARN how to craft a compelling STORY and how to tell it.
  • GET your promotion and MARKETING moving in the right direction.
  • GET the latest TRICKS for building and connecting with your AUDIENCE.
  • HOW TO make STREAMING and playlisting work for you.

CLICK HERE and signup for the FREE Live Webinar

Thursday June 16th at 8pm EST
Signup live or watch the recorded Replay anytime

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Angèlia Grace

New Artist Model member Angèlia Grace

New Artist Model member Angèlia Grace

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist ModelTurn your passion for music into a rewarding career

Breaking into the world of independent music can be tough. But it looks like vocalist Angelia Grace might just have it covered.

The gifted soprano is “covering” music from some of the most famous movies in the world. Her YouTube videos have earned her hundreds of thousands of fans since she began posting in 2012.

Her performances include selections from the soundtracks for Superman, Inception and Interstellar composed by Hans Zimmer. She also covers music from The Revenant created by Ryuici Sakamoto, Jurassic Park by John Williams and other films.  Angelia Grace’s videos have been viewed more than 394,000 times.

While most musicians perform music and sing lyrics when “covering” a song, this artist brings a unique style to the task. Angelia Grace’s soundtrack covers include the original recording of the music, and she sings along to these instrumental selections using beautiful tones and sounds — not lyrics. She calls it “singing without words.”

“I had never heard about a ‘cover strategy’ before. I found out about it from Dave Kusek at the New Artist Model,” she says.  “This is where my combination of abstract music and soundtracks came from.”

“On YouTube, people are just really honest and tell you their reactions. I always want to take this as really valuable feedback,” Angelia Grace says, adding that she is working to create a new music video each week. “I ask fans which soundtrack they want me to do next. I want them to feel like they are co-creators. That relationship is so incredible.”

Born in Moscow and raised in the Netherlands, Angelia Grace is now living in Ireland.  She is hard at work on Crystal Voices, an album of original songs with lyrics, due to be released later this year. “Soundtrack covers are a great way to exercise my vocal potential,” says the artist who plays piano and flute.  “But people want a story,”

Angelia Grace also plans to release another album called Shine which will feature “soundtrack-like” music. Previous releases include Angelic Healing Sleep (2013), Angelic Tones (2014) and Asatoma (2015).

In addition to performing, working on her Youtube videos and writing her albums, Angelia Grace maintains her own artist website at http://angeliamusic.com/

She also studies voice with Frank Merriman and Edwin Williamson at Dublin’s Bel Canto School of Music, a place that has helped launch the careers of many musicians including Sinead O’Connor.  

While most of Angelia Grace’s performances appear online, she is beginning to weave more live appearances into her schedule including dates at festivals in Holland.

In 2015, she performed at the Marowa Leadership Conference, a spiritual retreat for business managers held in Nagoya, Japan. Angelia got the gig through connections on Facebook.  

“If Facebook didn’t exist I wouldn’t have gotten to Japan,” according to the musician, adding that she “friended” people from Japan who were connected to an artist friend of hers. “One of them contacted me asking if I could show them around because they were coming to the Netherlands. We skyped to get to know one another better. She learned I am a singer and asked me to be part of this three day spiritual event. All of my travel expenses were covered and I was paid to perform.”

Angelia Grace has a manager in the Netherlands but is extremely involved in the business side of her career. She uses Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about her music and stay in touch with fans.  

She has more than 4000 Youtube subscribers, over 1100 likes on Facebook and 900 people on her mailing list.  Right now, she says, Youtube is her most effective tool.

“The most important skill I’ve learned is the ability to use YouTube as a business tool and training stage,” she says. “It gives you the ability to practice performing without a live audience and get perspective that you can learn from. YouTube is an incredibly important part of my strategy. It is my portfolio.”

Instagram is also becoming an increasingly valuable tool, Angelia says. She likes the fact that her posts automatically go to Facebook and Twitter. And she especially loves what happens when she adds a hashtag to her pictures.   

“They explode online,”  she says, adding that reaching many social media platforms at once is essential.  “As an independent artist, you have to work smart because you have limited time.”

Every day Angelia Grace answers all of the messages she receives from fans, Youtube viewers and producers. She says that New Artist Model has helped her understand the value of constancy and discipline when creating a community. Maintaining relationships is essential, the artist says, so she makes it a point to communicate at least once a week with her followers.

“You have to be out there,” she says, adding that publishing valuable content is key. “If you don’t engage, what’s the point? I am building a relationship with people who will stick with me for years to come. That’s one of the most valuable lessons I learned from Dave.”

Her biggest challenge right now, says Angelia Grace, is learning to create professional working relationships with people who contact her. Often producers and musicians will reach out to discuss the possibility of working together. Ironing out the details can be a challenge, she says.

“It is great to have people praise you for what you do. It is even better to have people pay you for what you do,” she says.

Angelia Grace’s goal is to continue to grow her audience as she moves closer to realizing three of her biggest dreams — working with Hans Zimmer;  being hired in Hollywood to help create iconic soundtracks;  and filling large arenas with fans eager to share in her musical experience.

She expects the strategies she is learning from New Artist Model to continue to be central to her growth as an artist, she says.

New Artist Model is helping me think like an entrepreneur and is helping me with marketing. You don’t have to do what Dave is suggesting, you should want to do it. It’s fun, helps you get closer with your team and fans — the people who believe in you — creating a foundation of support,” she says.

“The New Artist Model is going to change your music career forever. I’m not getting paid to say this! You have to know that this is the best investment you can make for your career. You need to build your career brick by brick. Learn what you need to know so you can be successful. It’s a leap of faith you have to take. The knowledge has given me so much confidence. How much is your dream worth? Priceless.”

Check out Angelia Grace here http://angeliamusic.com/
and here https://www.youtube.com/user/AngeliaCrystalVoice

 

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Margaret Dombowski

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

The Magnifiers and New Artist Model member Margaret Dombowski

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist ModelTurn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Music is a family affair for manager Margaret Dombowski.

The band she represents — “pop punk” phenom The Magnifiers — is made up of four of her five children. Elliott,16, and Eden, 15, play guitar and sing, Eliza, 12 plays the bass and Everett, 10, handles drums. Together these siblings write and perform edgy alternative music that is winning fans at concerts and online.

The Magnifiers’  EP “Report Card” sells on their website http://themagnifiers.com for $5 and is filled with original songs like “Zombie Raid on America.”  In addition, the group offers individual songs on iTunes and Bandcamp.  he band performs regularly at festivals and clubs in Chicago and beyond. In June 2015, they won the Illinois Teen Battle of the Bands.

This May, The Magnifiers will appear for the second consecutive year at the Hong Kong Pizza Party Music Festival in Piano, Illinois. Then in June they will grace the stage at Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago.

Not bad for a band born in 2012 after Elliott’s musical horizons were blown open when he received a guitar as a present. “All of the kids already played the violin and piano,” Margaret says of her homeschooled brood, so the idea of playing together was realistic.

Margaret made the decision to manage The Magnifiers right away even though she had no prior experience as a manager, booking agent or publicist.

“Initially I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Google Drive was my best friend.,” she says, adding that identifying herself as a manager and not a mother helps her succeed.  “I’ve gone out of the way to be really professional.  If I tell them I am the Mom there is a stigma — that I’m the ‘Mom-ager.’”  

New Artist Model is great,” Margaret says.  “I came across it when I was looking for a degree program in all of this. This is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve learned so much.””

Margaret says she decided to have the band do a cover of a Weezer song for its YouTube channel after watching the DJ video on New Artist Model. She also found important information about how to protect The Magnifiers name with a trademark. Recently, Elliott has jumped on board, reviewing New Artist Model lessons and videos as well.    

“You get a lot of information in these hour long videos,” Margaret says, adding that being able to pay for the program in installments is really helpful for artists on a budget.

While The Magnifiers is a band made up of young people, it is not a group in search of a children’s audience, Margaret says. They want to play for everyone — everywhere. That is one of the hardest things to communicate to promoters, producers and others. “The Disney Channel isn’t us,” Margaret says.

“This is the biggest challenge in managing a kid’s band,” she says. Sometimes they are not old enough to play a certain club. That makes it harder for them to develop a fanbase. A major label could give them a bump up but I don’t want them to lose creative control.”

Margaret uses Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reverb Nation and Bandcamp among other social media tools to spread the word about The Magnifiers.  She has even used Periscope to share performances with people out of state.  Recently, Elliott took over much of the social media work, communicating with other bands online and responding to posts on all of the group’s channels.  Margaret handles all booking matters.

Instagram and Reverb Nation are two of the most effective tools she has used to promote the band, Margaret says. Not long after the band was born, Margaret used Instagram to connect with the originators of The Aquabats, her kids’ favorite band.  Margaret struck up a friendship with show co-creators, Christian Jacobs and Jason Devilliers, and The Magnifiers were invited to Salt Lake City to appear as extras on “The Aquabats Super Show” television program.  

Margaret says there have been discussions about the possibility of the band opening for the Aquabats during a future tour. “Their audience is our audience. In our mind, we should tour with them.”

Margaret also used Instagram to establish a relationship with Threadless, a t-shirt company in Chicago. As a result of this connection, The Magnifiers were invited to play at their warehouse and then at the company’s holiday party.  “That is where I was introduced to Brian Keller (aka Brian Killer) who recorded our video for Zombie Raid on the USA,  Margaret says.

Reverb Nation is great for “messages out of the blue,” Margaret says, adding  “Last year, a big time producer contacted us and now we are talking about working together.”

“My mother always told me ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’  Who you know makes a huge different in this business, so I’d tell any parents helping their kids pursue their dreams, make connections, lots of connections,” Margaret says.  “Do lots of online research. Attend lots of local seminars and build relationships with people in the industry.”

Booking gigs takes extensive work Margaret says, and the way to succeed is stay in constant contact with local venues and festivals.

“There are days when I am doing email blasts on my lunch hour at work,” Margaret says, adding that being flexible is good for a young band with a relatively small fanbase.  “We’ve done a lot of shows for free. We’ve done a lot where we have to sell tickets ourselves.”

When they play out Elliott, Eden, Eliza and Everett like to employ the personal touch with their fans. They usually hang out with the audience after they perform and share promotional cards and stickers.  

Margaret and The Magnifiers are focusing on their goals for the future. They are actively seeking a booking agent and a record deal that will allow them creative control. They hope to to fulfill their dreams of opening for the Aquabats and playing Lollapalooza. They are working on their next EP which will include a track called “Trump.” And they may have a new member of the band before long. Little sister Evie, 6, is already talking about playing keyboards.

 

Check out the Magnifiers here http://themagnifiers.com

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo.
For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Justin Ratowsky

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model: Turn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,“ according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

“Our goals are to support our families by doing what we love while performing and touring on a national and global level.  We also want to continue to grow our subscriber base to over 100,000 and get our music licensed for TV and film,” he says.

Cali Conscious plays 25 shows a month in the summer and 15 in the off season.  The group is currently hard at work on its second album which will be released in 2016 and supported by a tour.  In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

Cali Conscious puts almost as much work into activism as it does into music.  The band has organized monthly community beach clean ups in Huntington Beach and funded construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia by donating live performance tips to charity:water.org.  Cali Conscious doesn’t sell plastic CDs at its shows and created a plantable paper download card embedded with carrot, lettuce, and tomato seeds to celebrate the release of its first album “High Times.”

The group is making the website Noise Trade a centerpiece of its current social media campaign, Justin says.  The music distribution platform lets the group trade their music to anyone who shares their email and zipcode on the Cali Conscious website.  http://caliconscious.com/  Currently, the group gives followers a download of “High Times” as well as an EP featuring acoustic versions of four songs from the new album.  

“You should use your social media platforms and the real estate on your website, to give away songs and build that relationship with your fans to gain trust and turn them into superfans,” says Justin, adding that “superfans” to him, are people who share news about the band with their followers.

Justin believes that developing 1000 superfans will enable Cali Conscious to have a sustainable music career — one that includes adequate support for crowdfunding, merchandise sales, touring and live shows.

“With Noise Trade, we get email and zip codes and fans get to download and share on Twitter and Facebook.  It lets you encourage your fan base to become part of your marketing team,” he says, adding that the service also allows fans to “tip” musicians.  “Noise Trade charges 20 percent of the money that comes in but we are still getting revenue from that every month.”

Raising awareness about the group and its music will help the band complete its newest album.  The offering will be paid for, at least in part, with a crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

“This next album will put us out there as an Orange County band starting to break through.  We believe in our producer and the message,” Justin says.  “We already have 30-40,000 listens on Pandora or Spotify.  I think when our next album comes out and we step up our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more organized and put up our video, I’m hoping we can reach 100,000 subscribers. “

Gigging is the main source of revenue for Cali Conscious. On May 21, the group will play the Concert for the Coast in Santa Barbara where they will feature “One Love For You,” a song about homelessness written by percussionist  Dig Gbye and the first single from the new album. The band will make a music video for the song that includes an informal “jam session” with local homeless men and women.  

During their visit to the city, the band will also provide blankets, clothing, food, water and socks to people in need with the help of online sock retailer Bombas http://www.bombas.com

“Water,” the second single from the new album, will also get its own video. All proceeds will benefit Gravity Water, a nonprofit dedicated to providing filtration and storage systems to poor communities around the globe.  http://www.gravitywater.org/  Both of the videos for the singles will be included in a pre-purchase crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

While using social media can be exciting and productive, it is essential for musicians to stay up to date on each service’s policies and guidelines, Justin says.  Early in his career, he gave away music from his own CD “Enjoy the Sunshine” to users on Facebook and got blocked by the company for a time. “They thought it was spam,” he says.  

“Be aware of limits on how many people you can contact each day and how different social media systems work. Their policies are always evolving,” Justin says.  “At this point, the main reason we are using social media, besides putting out photos, is to try to get people to go to our website. I want to get as much exposure for our website as possible. This is also something we learned from the New Artist Model.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools can really help musicians advance their careers — but players should never forgot about the importance of personal connection. Justin knows from firsthand experience that it is impossible to predict when opportunities will appear.

A local entertainment lawyer introduced the band to renowned recording engineer and producer Sjoerd Koppert who has worked with Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Doobie Brothers and other bands. Out of nowhere, this chance meeting from a mutual connection turned into an incredible opportunity to record in a top studio.   

“I went from busking to a million dollar studio,” Justin says. The result?  His first EP “Enjoy the Sunshine.”

That recording is at the heart of another story about the power of networking. Music from “Enjoy the Sunshine” can be heard in the new documentary film “Return to Cape St. Francis” created by Robert August. August starred in the iconic surf documentary “The Endless Summer” which was released in 1966. Justin performed at the Newport Film Festival this April when the documentary premiered.

Justin has played the Huntington Beach High School Surf Team’s annual banquet for the the past six years, and the coach of that club just happened to be the director or “Return to Cape Francis.” That connection ended up getting his music in the hands of Robert August.

Justin and his bandmates are excited about what lies ahead for Cali Conscious. A bigger fanbase, new album and tour all point to great things for the band. While Justin is looking to the future, he emphasizes the importance of never losing sight of the values that define the group.

“The most important part of our music is the message we have in our lyrics, that’s how we want to connect with our fans. We strongly feel we have this musical ability and we are purposefully using a positive message to help bring the world together through our lyrics,” Justin says. “We want to be a catalyst for our fans to inspire change. If we can create an easy avenue for them to be able to support our music but also support causes we believe in — like getting water to the world and making sure that people on the streets have warm feet — that’s where we want to be.”

Embracing these values have encouraged the group to do benefit shows for The Walk for Arthritis which drew an audience of 4000 to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Surf’s Up for Down Syndrome and Walk On Water, a nonprofit that offers sports therapy for children with disabilities including autism, among others.

“It is important to use our gifts as musicians to make the world a better place and encourage others,” Justin says.  “I am glad to use my talent as a vessel to do good in the world.”

To learn more about Cali Conscious visit http://caliconscious.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

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What’s Working in Indie Music Today: Lessons in Success from New Artist Model Member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model
Turn your passion for music into a career

Eric John Kaiser is the “French Troubadour.”  A native of Paris who lives in Portland, Oregon, this independent artist sings in French and plays guitar music steeped in  American jazz and blues.  He calls his style Parisian Americana.

“I am a songwriter and storyteller. That is what I like to do – to connect with people,” Eric says, adding that he supports himself entirely with his music. “I admire the storytelling tradition of American music, the way it combines with everything from the Delta blues to jazz. Being here in the U.S., I get the chance to live it every day rather than see it at a distance.”

Eric moved to the States in 2006.  He has released four albums and played at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco, the Blue Nile in New Orleans, the Solidays Festival in Paris and shared the stage with the Welsh super stars the “Stereophonics.”  

Eric has also toured with French star Tété, “The Lost Bayou Ramblers” in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the French band “Revolver.”

Exploring North America on multiple lengthy tours, Eric has gigged his way up through Canada and down through the South, as far as New Orleans and Washington D.C.

“If you want to go the indie route, learning about marketing is really important.  What I like about the New Artist Model (http://newartistmodel.com) is that it teaches you clearly how to get different sources of income from gigging, recording and publishing,” Eric says.  “There is no excuse not to educate yourself and the New Artist Model is the way to go.”

Before emigrating to the U.S., Eric played out part-time in Paris and did other work in the music industry. He was a programmer for the Fun Radio Network, did public relations at Source Records (a division of Virgin) and co-hosted the live music show “Melting Pop” on French television network Direct 8.

“By the time I moved to Portland, I felt like I had enough knowledge to starting playing out full-time,” Eric says, adding that local gigging at French restaurants and coffee shops helped get his career off the ground and build his confidence.

Eric still plays out a lot in Portland but says dates are getting harder to find.

“The local gigging scene is changing. Portland is saturated with musicians and it is getting harder and harder to find gigs to make a living,” Eric says, adding that many small venues are closing as more condominium and office developments spring up.

As the city has evolved, so has Eric’s business strategy.  While the bulk of his income still comes from gigging, Eric also receives money from fan funding to pay for video and recording costs.  Album pre-orders are also a good source of funds. Eric offers French cultural presentations in area schools and workshops on French songwriting.  He also performs at weddings and plays the occasional house concert.

New Artist Model has shown me the value of getting a bunch of different income streams happening.”

Crowdfunding helped Eric complete two 2014 albums.  A Kickstarter campaign for “Idaho” raised just over $7000 while a RocketHub drive for “Outside It’s America” brought in $5000.  “Idaho” enjoyed pre-sales of 400 and its Portland CD release party sold out.

Eric is about to start a new Kickstarter campaign for an album he will complete in Quebec this June. He does one crowdfunding drive every two years.

“One of the most important things to do when crowdfunding is to keep expectations realistic”, Eric says.  “After all, it is a process based on trust, and trust takes time.”

“It only works if people already know you. Success with this didn’t happen in two weeks.  It is trust that was built over the years.” says Eric. “Build a fanbase first. You can’t just post a crowdfunding project and expect people to support you.”

Understanding the kind of crowdfunding your fans will support is important too, Eric adds.  His Patreon page encourages people to donate monthly or for each new creation. So far, it hasn’t brought in much money.

“My audience is a bit older,” he says.  “It scares many people to do it month by month.  They associate it with paying bills.”

Social media is Eric’s primary tool for staying in touch with fans — and he uses it in a way that embraces his unique musical niche.  Copy on his site http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com  appears in both English and French.  

People who give Eric their full name and email address get three free songs when they sign up.  “It is a worthwhile investment”, he says.

“Lots of people don’t believe in email lists but I do,” he says.  “Don’t just depend on Facebook, don’t let it control your contacts.”

Email is the most important channel Eric uses to keep in touch with fans — with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram close behind.  He reaches out to his fans once a day using his social media channels and sends our an email to his list once a month.  There are more than 4000 people on his email list and roughly the same number of friends on his Facebook page. He does not put much work into creating new fans online, opting instead to let it happen organically in person. “The connection with people at my shows is much stronger,” he says.

While Eric uses social media, he also spreads the word about his work in ways that are decidedly low-tech. He uses flyers and posters to announce his shows and asks French bakeries, restaurants and cultural organizations to help him spread the word. He also contacts local media outlets for coverage. “I’ve learned to make things easy for people who want to talk about you,” Eric says, adding that providing well written bios and promotional materials increase your chances of getting covered. “Be concise, precise and provide links that work.”

Eric spends each day on a combination of creativity and commerce. He rises early, checks his email and then reads marketing articles from the New Artist Model and other sources. He works on songwriting for a couple of hours. In the afternoon he works on booking gigs. Evenings are often spent playing out.

Some of his current projects include beefing up his YouTube channel with more cover songs and booking more house tours — both efforts inspired by the New Artist Model.

“People don’t realize how much work it is.  A labor of love that is almost 7 days a week.  If I don’t work, there is nothing that is going to be handed to me”, he says.  “Art and business have to cohabitate together. Like a brother you kind of get along with but not really — hey it’s your brother!”

Eric finds time to give back to the community in spite of his heavy workload. In the wake of the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Eric organized a benefit concert in Portland to raise funds to aid victims.  Eric and his musician friends raised more than $1800 for the French nonprofit organization IMAD which battles racism.

Eric says he will continue his musical journey through America this year with more dates in Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Learn more about Eric here: http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more information visit http://newartistmodel.com

How and When to Post on Social Media

Let’s talk social media. It’s something we all do as artists, but a lot of musicians aren’t using it to it’s full potential. Maybe you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter everyday but feel like your efforts are wasted because you’re not seeing any growth. Or maybe you don’t post as often as you should because you don’t know where to start. These are problems every musician will face their entire career.

The problem, I think, lies in the fact that we often will dump all social media channels into one big category. The term “social media” includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snap Chat, Pinterest, Linked In, Google Plus, and whatever else is out there. But all of those platforms couldn’t be more different!

Let me explain. Instagram is all about images. As an artist, you would post visually interesting photos relating to your music, use the description and comments to engage with your followers, and use relevant hashtags to try to reach new fans. If you tried to use that same approach on Facebook people would think you’re crazy. That’s because the way these two platforms work is completely different.

I’m sure you’ve run into “that guy” who just pushes out the same message to all his social channels. More likely than not, the message comes out formatted incorrectly on a few platforms because they didn’t take the specific requirements of those platforms into consideration when they posted. You end up with links in Instagram photo descriptions (even though they’re not clickable), messages that span across 3 tweets, and Facebook posts that go on and on in one big long paragraph.

The best solution is to get to know the social platforms you use. And I mean really get to know them. Pick one or two to focus your efforts on and learn everything you can about what to post, when to post, how to format your posts and photos, and how to attract new followers on the platform.

To help you get started, I wanted to share this infographic from Start a Blog 123. It breaks down the best times and days to post on each platform as well as a guide that breaks down the best image sizes so you don’t get your awesome photos cut off!

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6 Things You Need to Promote Your Music on Social Media

Social media is a cornerstone to the artist-fan relationship today. With that direct connection you can find a fanbase, and develop a connection with your fans (something that wasn’t possible in the past), and even sell music. Social media really puts your music career in your hands!

But with so many options out there it can get totally overwhelming! Every platform gives indie musicians a unique way to connect with their fans. Twitter is great for fun, little engaging conversations. Instagram gives your fans insight into your daily life. And YouTube is almost like talking with your fans face to face. But with each new platform comes new rules, formats, and strategies.

To help you make the most of each platform you’re using to promote your music, check out this infographic.

You’ll learn:

  • The best image sizes and formats for your posts and profiles on each social media platform
  • Keyboard shortcuts to save you time
  • The best days and times to post so you get the most exposure
  • Social media tools you should be using every day
  • Easy tips that will help you get more engagement
  • And a quick guide to writing headlines for your posts

And if you want to take it even further and really step up your email promotion as well, download this free ebook. You’ll learn what to send your fans to create more engagement and how to email music industry people to unlock more opportunities. Plus, you’ll get 10 free email templates and examples that you can start sending to your fans today. Just change out a few words and press send!

This infographic is from On Blast Blog.

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Social Media: What to Post and When

There are A LOT of social media platforms out there, and each requires a unique approach to posting. Different platforms cater to different target demographics and, as a result, the most effective time to post will vary. For example, Pinterest draws primarily women, Instagram has a large teen user base, and Linked In caters to working professionals.

As a musician you shouldn’t be on every platform. Instead, pick a few that fit with the demographics of your fan base and get really good with those. If you want to be really successful on social media, don’t just blindly post. Look to see what kinds of posts get the most engagement and what times perform better and use that information to make your future posts better.

To get you started, here’s an infographic detailing what to post and when to post it on 9 popular social media channels. This infographic was originally posted here.

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5 Steps to an Amazing Band Website

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By now I’m sure you understand the importance of having a website for your music. However, a sloppy, hastily thrown together website may actually be hurting your brand more than not having one at all. I’m sure you’ve all visited a website that was unorganized, out of date, or unprofessional looking and clicked off without even giving the content a chance. You don’t want that happening to your website!

The fact of the matter is that with all the tools and services out there to help you build a clean, professional website, you don’t really have an excuse. There’s also a ton of people with basic web design skills these days. There’s probably someone in your extended group of friends and acquaintances who knows all about WordPress or can write HTML. Even with all that, building a new site or refurbishing an old one can seem a daunting task, so I’ve broken it down into 5 things you should keep in mind through the design process.

 

1. Declutter

It’s a common error in the music industry to try to fit everything on the first page of your website. After all, you’ve been told time and time again that you want to be able to deliver content in the least number of clicks possible to avoid losing people. However, this can easily backfire if you’re not careful. A cluttered homepage looks unprofessional. Visitors won’t know where to look and they’ll most likely click away before giving your content a chance. Not only will this drive potential fans away, it will also keep your current fans from visiting and buying your products. In other words, you could be losing out on potential income!

So how do we remedy this? Take some time to really think about your biggest strengths as a musician and make that the focus of your home page. You want people to be able to visit your website and say “Oh, I know what these guys are about.” If you have a killer live show and play gigs more than anything else, hire someone to take some awesome live photos and use them on your homepage. Instead of just a basic music video you could include some footage from your shows (just make sure the video and sound quality is good). A rotating banner is a great way to convey a lot of different kinds of content in a relatively small space. You could even have a blog on your homepage with thoughts and photos from the road.

 

2. Keep it relevant

If your website has obviously outdated content right at the top of the home page, visitors will automatically assume either a) you’re not a serious musician, or b) the band has broken up. While they might still buy your music, they probably won’t come back very often. You want your fans coming back all the time! The more they visit your website, the more opportunities they will have to sign up for your mailing list, buy a ticket to your gig, or buy your album.

Even if you only release albums once a year, you can still have a continuous stream of relevant content. Make videos or recordings of cover songs to give your fans new music on a regular basis. Blogs are a great way to keep your website relevant. Write up quick posts weekly or daily depending on how much interesting content you have. You could post photos from the studio, short sections of lyrics you’ve been working on, footage from your band’s rehearsal, a picture of your new guitar, or even just interesting and funny stories.

 

3. Call to action

If you’re just putting out free content on your website you’re only going halfway. Of course you need great content like blog posts, photos, a few music tracks, and videos to keep fans interested and to keep them coming back. But the really cool thing about a website that sets it apart from social media is that it really takes fans from the information through the purchase.

After you have your relevant content set up, the first step up the ladder is a mailing list. You should have your mailing list signup featured prominently on your homepage. A mailing list is a great way to forge a stronger relationship with a fan. After you have people signed up for your mailing list, you can send them exclusive information, discount codes, and product offerings, but that’s for another post.

You need to be able to sell your products on your website. Of course, the products you have available will depend on your current financial situation, but try to have a few different options at a few different price points. This could be a free download single, individual digital downloads, album digital downloads, and physical albums. If you want to go beyond that you can offer t-shirts, vinyl, and box sets. Make sure your fans can easily find and purchase your music. Many musicians have a few tracks featured on the homepage with a “buy” button that goes to the purchase page.

 

4. Address different kinds of fans

Your website is the hub of your online presence. Your fans will come here to check up on news, find out about tours, and buy your music. However, people who are just discovering your music for the first time are also coming to your website, and you need to plan your content accordingly.

New fans may be interested in a short biography of the band. They may want to listen to some of your best tracks, and they will probably be interested in downloading one song for free. A download for email promotion is one of the best ways to engage these new fans. They get a song, you get the chance to connect with them and hopefully drive a purchase down the line. Your current fans will want to see tour dates and more behind the scenes information. A blog is a great way to keep them updated on what you’re doing.

Pledge Music is a great tool to give different fans the content they want. It’s not just a crowdfunding tool. You can pre-sell your album and merch and also give your superfans exclusive and one-of-a-kind products and experiences to keep them coming back.

 

5. Don’t neglect the visuals

Now that you have all your great content in place, you need to take a minute and address how your website looks aesthetically. Just like how out-of-date content can drive away visitors, so can clashing colors, cheesy fonts, and out-of-proportion text. When in doubt, opt for a clean layout and design. It’s easy for your photos, videos, and content to get lost if you have a blown-up photo as your site background. Instead, go for a solid or minimally textured background that will let your logo, photos, and videos shine. After all, your website is about you and your music, not that cool flame picture you have as a background.

Keep your music and image in mind when addressing the look and feel of your website. A metal band should use a completely different color scheme from a pop singer-songwriter. There are a ton of pre-made color scheme’s out there that you can draw inspiration from.

Like in all aspects of your music career, the key here is not to go at it alone. Even if you’re a pro web designer, if you’re sitting in a dark room staring at the site for hours, you will easily miss color, font, and layout problems. Ask one of your friends who has a good visual eye to take a look at your site and give you feedback along the way. There’s also some great web design services for indie musicians, like Bandzoogle, that will provide you with pre-made templates that already look good.

If you want to learn even more about website design, the website services available to musicians, and some of the cool ways you can be using your website to grow your fanbase and engage with your fans, we cover a lot more in the New Artist Model courses.

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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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Your Marketing Questions Answered

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In this tough music business it can sometimes feel overwhelming. You need to learn how to do so many things on your own and still have time for practicing, writing, recording, and performing your music. Luckily, there are a ton of really smart business people out there sharing their knowledge on the internet.

In this article Ariel Hyatt from Cyber PR answers some pretty big questions that a lot of musicians trying to make it in this industry are asking. This is just a few of the questions she answered. To see all 14, jump over to Cyber PR.

What makes for a good pitch?

Something that’s extremely descriptive and catchy; descriptive doesn’t mean you have to sound like somebody else, though that’s a very helpful context. Catchy could be anything from fun, like hillbilly-flamenco, or poly-ethnic Cajun-slam-grass, or it could be really descriptive like Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit. Those are three of my favourite pitches, they’re in my book because they are really good. If I was in an elevator with Devil Doll and I asked her “what kind of music do you make,” and she answered “it’s Joan Jett meets Jessica Rabbit,” that’s dead on. She’s a rocker who’s got a really sexy, curvy look. A pitch like that, a short concise piece, is crucial.

Bands are normally terrified, they don’t want to say they sound like anybody, they don’t want to pigeonhole themselves. It really is a disservice to try to invent a new genre of music to explain what you are. It may feel creative, but people don’t understand it.

In today’s music business, how do you think a band can best get through or above the noise?

That’s a tough question. There is so much noise. What I preach, and what I think is really effective is engagement. Engaging people online starts with understanding your audience. People want to feel connected. If you’re just speaking at people and you’re not speaking with people, they’ll go elsewhere for that connection.

So, to rise above the noise… first of all, of course, this is all predicated on having really good music, so don’t suck. Work on your music, don’t just put anything out there. I see that all too often – people think just because they have a home studio, they have a right. Just because it’s easy to post on social media sites, that doesn’t mean you should. Be thoughtful, that’s the first step in rising above the noise. Just because I have a digital camera doesn’t mean I should take 3000 pictures and post them on Flickr. If I take 3000 pictures and I edited them down to 5 that were really stunning, and people saw them and appreciated them, that’s a good start. So, have great music – that’s the cornerstone.

Then the next piece is make connections. How do you do that? That’s really based on understanding your audience and that’s critical. There are million articles and books about how to do that but I also think you can get out there and play live. Connect with people and never squander an opportunity. Every day is an opportunity to connect with people, and that means if you’re playing a live show, get your butt behind your merchandise table and sign. I don’t care if you sign free postcards, or give away stickers – talk with people, connect with them. The most successful artists I know today who are making money and I’m not talking about Mick Jagger, but independent artists that are making it on their own – they take the time to connect personally with their fans.

What are some good ways to get people to sign up for a newsletter?

When people are considering signing up to a newsletter, which most people are not excited to do because we all get too much email, it’s not only about just getting people to sign up, it’s about making sure that when they do sign up, you’re giving them an amazing experience. I think that piece we forget. We’re so busy worrying about “get me names! I want names,” we forget that it was really important to have great content.

First, make sure you’re building a newsletter that has great content, then second make sure it’s going out regularly, consistently, and that it’s trackable (meaning you can pull up statistics on how effective it is). Whenever anyone is thinking of joining a mailing list, they’re thinking “What’s in it for me?” So you have to make sure you’re providing good content for them, make sure that you’re giving away music, make sure you’re doing something that’s interesting. So always think when you’re asking people to sign up, “what can I give?” Be generous. Giving away one track for a newsletter signup is probably not going to get you far. But if you give away three plus a video, then there’s something in that for a potential fan or a loyal fan already.

What’s your number 1 music marketing question? Leave it in the comments below

If you want to get a better handle on your marketing and create a strategy for success, check out the New Artist Model online courses. You can sign up for the full course or just take the marketing module. The courses are enrolling now! You can also check out 5 free lessons from the courses by signing up for our mailing list.

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Alternative Revenue Streams for Musicians

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There’s more revenue streams out there for musicians than just album sales.

Article by Mackenzie Carlin via Music Think Tank. Check out the full article here.

Offer VIP Packages for Concerts

Critics of social media may complain of young people wasting their lives behind computer screens, but the truth is, music fans still love attending live shows. You still can profit handsomely off of traditional concerts, but if you’re looking to amp up returns on your tour, consider throwing in VIP concert options. These could include special meet-and-greets before or after shows, or even private performances for your most dedicated fans. Many will gladly pay two, three, even four times the going rate for your concert if it means getting up close and personal.

Sell Merchandise at Live Shows

Music fans love showing off their favorites, be it through social media or old-fashioned band tees. The great thing about old school merchandise sales is that they can be incredibly profitable, particularly if you take on a multi-faceted approach including both online and in-person sales. Selling band merch is easier than ever, thanks to useful services such asIntuit QuickBooks, and the various on-the-fly payment systems that are available in the form of an app. Be sure to offer a wide array of products, so as to entice as many fans as possible to invest in the cause. These could include posters, clothing or vinyl records, which still retain a surprising level of popularity among music aficionados. A Music Think Tank post from last year suggests asking fans on Twitter and Facebook for merchandise suggestions, and then holding a poll to determine which options would garner the most interest.

Build a Dedicated Following With Social Media

The greater your social media following, the better chance you stand of benefiting from merch sales and VIP packages. Examples of musicians building dedicated fan bases through social media include Justin Bieber and Lily Allen serving as two of the most successful MySpace musicians. Today, the focus is on Facebook and Twitter, with several musicians also benefiting from the use of Soundcloud, a social network aimed directly at ‘sound creators.’ According to “Tech Crunch,” Soundcloud currently boasts over 250 million users, many of whom share their favorite bands and singers with their friends through the site’s popular social networking setup.

If you’re looking to make more money as a musician, check out the New Artist Model online courses. You can get access to free lessons by signing up for our mailing list.

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Lessons From Macklemore

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/NI6FMK

It’s the success every musician dreams about – making it big on your own. But you know what? It’s no fairy tale. The career of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has been a long, hard road – one that a lot of people would have turned away from a long time ago.

The duo brought home four Grammy’s in January and, although Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is helping them with distribution, they’re still not signed to a major record label. So how did they get here?

Here are some key lessons to learn that helped Macklemore and Ryan Lewis find their success.

1. Say something with your music. Embrace your brand.  Be different.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love,” a song with a more than an obvious nod towards the gay community,  is not commonplace in hip hop. By pushing this issue and standing behind a controversial topic, the duo probably got a lot of haters. But you know what, they also got a lot of people behind them. They stood out.  They were different.  Know who you are, know what you believe in, and say something meaningful with your art. Of course, timing is important too.

“I wrote the song in April [2012]. Shortly after Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Then Frank Ocean came out. It seemed like time was of the essence. It was never about being the first rapper to publicly support the issue, but at the same time you don’t want the song’s power to become diluted because all of the sudden it’s a bandwagon issue. 

The fact that there [was] an election coming up in Washington [was] huge. I know that a large portion of my fan base is 18-25, many of whom have never voted. If the song can get people out to the polls to pass same-sex marriage in Washington, that is a very beautiful and exciting thing.” (Source)

In the same way, the smash hit “Thrift Shop” (500 million views and counting on YouTube) is definitely not what you’d expect from hip hop. There’s no gold teeth, big brand names, or flashy bling pointing towards an extravagant lifestyle. Macklemore isn’t trying to fit into the typical hip hop mold. The duo has stayed true to their own ideas and because of that, have stood out. So what do you have to say?

2. It will take time.

There’s no such thing as overnight success. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis met in 2006, released The VS  EP in December 2009, and didn’t get crazy success until The Heist in 2012. Before there was a duo, Ben Haggerty released Open Your Eyes in 2000, The Language of My World in 2005, and The Unplanned Mixtape in September 2009. It was a long road. Do you think you would have continued to press onward?  8 years and still rolling.

Aside from albums, Macklemore and Lewis took years to build a local audience before expanding into a nationwide movement. The first national headlining tour was in 2011. Before that, Macklemore and Lewis focused locally playing at a Colorado College house party in 2010 and Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2010. The Agency Group’s Zach Quillen became the booking agent and began testing the duo’s reach by booking small gigs along the West Coast. The duo continued to grow, playing the Seattle Mariners opening day in 2011, and then moving on to festivals like Outside Lands, Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza later that year.

This train is still going. The duo is still operating independently with a relatively small team and being strategic about their plans. As we know so well, a huge hit doesn’t guarantee your future in the music industry.

“We are a small business that’s becoming a medium-sized business. With that, there is a learning curve and there are times when you feel like you don’t quite have the manpower to operate the business to the best of your ability. But we’re growing and we’re adapting to the best of our abilities.” (Source)

3. Keep moving forward.

Even if you feel like you’re further away from your dream than you’ve ever been, keep moving. After some local success with the 2006 EP The Language of my World Macklemore hit a low point, struggling with addiction.

“I was close to giving up. I was broke, unemployed, freshly out of rehab, and living in my parents’ basement. It was a “If this doesn’t work, I gotta get a real job” time in my life.” (Source)

You’re low point may look different. Maybe you feel like you’ll never break out of your home city or state. Maybe you just can’t seem to get to the point where you can quit your day job. The key is to keep moving. Take a small step forward, or even a few steps back. Keep yourself moving instead of lingering in that low point. Everything we perceive or appreciate in the world is based on motion. Stay in motion.

4. Find people who believe in you and build a team.

Having a team behind you is one of the best things you can do for your music. A “team” doesn’t have to be top industry veterans. More times than not, when we’re talking about indie artists, a team of top execs isn’t the best option. You want people who believe in you and your music, not someone looking to make big bucks fast.

Macklemore has shown us time and time again how valuable a team of “amateurs” can be. Ben Haggerty met Ryan Lewis, then 17 and a dedicated producer, guitarist, and photographer, in 2006. He wasn’t an industry veteran. He was another passionate creative out there with the same cause.

“Ryan is one of my best friends in this world. He’s my producer. He’s my business partner. And he’s probably one of my toughest critics, which is an imperative trait of a teammate… Ryan doesn’t make beats, he makes records. I needed that in a producer… I trust Ryan. I trust his ear and his eye. His creative aesthetic. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for him. I spend more time with Ryan than anyone else in my life. We’re a team, and I’m extremely blessed because of it.” (Source)

There weren’t any household names on The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis drew on local talent. Ray Dalton, a Seattle singer-songwriter is featured on “Can’t Hold Us,” Wanz, another Seattle singer was featured on “Thrift Shop,” and Seattle singer-songwriter Mary Lambert is featured on “Same Love.” In addition to that, Macklemore’s finance, Tricia Davis, is their tour and merch manager.

5. Create an authentic connection.

When Macklemore stepped on the stage at the Grammy’s the first thing they talked about was “Wow, we’re on this stage… And we could never have been on this stage without our fans.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis connect with their fans in a very humble and authentic way. You just have to take a quick trip over to their Twitter and Facebook pages to see just what I mean. The tone isn’t pitchy. It’s kind of funny how we almost have to relearn how to be human when it comes to social media in the music industry.

“For me, being transparent about every aspect of my life is what makes my music relatable and how I’m able to be an individual amongst the mass amounts of other artists.” (Source)

The slogan to remember is that things don’t make things happen – people do. If you want to find your own success in music you need to get people behind you – this means both fans and a team. Create a relationship – and that means two-ways. Give and receive.

Being a musician is a tough gig. You have to be incredibly gifted and ridiculously dedicated all at once.  But that dedication can pay off! It’s been proven time and time again that independent musicians can be successful their own way, and you can continue that trend. The music business was built on that ethos.

Check out the New Artist Model online music business school for more ideas and analysis like this. You can also sign up for the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Sources:

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/macklemore-ryan-lewis-the-heist/#_

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2014/01/7-lessons-anyone-you-can-learn-from-macklemore-ryan-lewis/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/474720/macklemore-reps-talk-the-heist-debut-diy-marketing-plan

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1562815/macklemore-ryan-lewis-billboard-cover-story

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10 Social Media Secrets

10 Social Media Secrets

Today, social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans and easily notify them with exciting news. With all the social media guides out there, you’d think no one remembers one of the key behavioral aspects to being human – socializing. I know, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – afterall, you still need to sell your show or record. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.

I’d like to know what problems your facing with social media. Let me know in the comments below.

1. Listen!

Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and @messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.

2. Leverage online and offline.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists, like Alex Day have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.

3. Write posts yourself.

Don’t completely outsource Twitter or Facebook to a third party. Fans can tell the difference. Keep it real and learn. If you have a band, have members sign their posts with their name so fans can get to know everyone’s personality.

4. Be conversational.

On Twitter, make your tweets two-way. If you just make a statement, there’s no where for the conversation to go. Think about how you would approach starting a conversation in real life. Instead of saying “We have a gig tonight at this place,” try “We have a gig tonight at this place. What songs do you guys want us to play?”

5. Be genuine.

Talk about your life and what you believe in, as well as your music and career. Open yourself up, so that people can get to know you. It’s amazing how much interaction you can generate by posting a funny picture of your dog.

6. The 80/20 rule.

So exactly what is the balance between personal/interesting content and marketing content? I don’t like putting a formula to something as spontaneous socializing, but a general rule of thumb is that 80% of your content should be personal, funny, interesting, and entertaining, and 20% should be reserved for marketing pushes. Go beyond 20% and people start ignoring you. Keep it social. Keep it fun.

7. Drive interest.

Just like the flow between social media and the offline experience, you should also create a flow between your social media channels and your website. Your website is the hub of your career online. It’s where you make sales and have more detailed information for fans. Link creatively to your website, so that you give people fun and interesting reasons to visit.

8. Don’t over-invest yourself in every social media platform available.

A lot of musicians I’ve talked to find themselves completely consumed by social media. As a result, they don’t have much time left over for their music. You are only one person and can only do so much. Pick a few social media platforms and really focus on creating strong interaction and engagement on those platforms.

9. Pick platforms that are relevant to your image and brand.

If your target fan is a young teenage girl, Twitter and Instagram are your best bets, as these are the platforms where these girls spend the majority of their time. If you are a improvisational jazz band whose target fan is a forty-year-old working man, Facebook and email would probably be your best bet.

10. Make your channels unique. It’s also a good idea to use each social media channel slightly differently. Give your fans a reason to follow you on all platforms. While you can and should push important information out across all your channels, try to give it a different spin. If your announcing a gig try this approach: Take a picture of yourself in front of the venue and push it out to Instagram and use Facebook to drive engagement, asking fans what songs they want you to play. Get creative!

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Ready to get a better handle on your social media? We go into even more depth in the New Artist Model online course. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for the mailing list to 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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Grow Your Fanbase With Twitter

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Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1amtI8U

Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool in your music career. However, it can sometimes feel like no one is listening despite there being hundreds of thousand of people on Twitter everyday. Andrew Muller (@TheRealMusicianruns Twitter campaigns for musicians and has a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. He gives some great tips for upping your Twitter game. Here’s a short excerpt from his article. To see all four tips head over to Cyber PR.

Custom background/header/profile image (with photoshop templates)

I can’t tell you how often a band is ready to run a promotional campaign on Twitter, but hasn’t even bothered to create custom graphics for their Twitter page yet. It’s a very simple task, so it always tends to blow me away when I see this.

If you don’t have any of your own ideas, here are some I’ll give you to get you started. If you do have your own ideas, feel free to let those surpass my recommendations.

For your profile photo, I would recommend choosing a picture of your band. Sometimes an album cover or a piece of art you have can be appropriate too. The photo can be up to 2mb in size.

For your header image, create a graphic that’s 1252×626 in size. It can be an album cover, a picture of your band, or maybe even just a background from your album slip. Do your best to make it a cohesive image that fits in with the rest of your band image.

For your main background, I have a special treat for you. Take a look at the Twitter account for “Every Time I Die”. Their background image is a perfect example of professional design, and you can achieve a very similar effect with minimal graphic design skills.

If you follow this link, you can download a photoshop file I’ve prepared for you.

All you need to do is fill in the blanks to get a professional background image. You do need to own a copy of photoshop, or at least know someone who does, but it should save you a lot of legwork when designing your own Twitter background.

With those 3 elements in place, you should be good to go as far as the “look and feel” of your Twitter page goes.

Tweet @ people

Twitter is meant to be a dialogue between you and your fans, so you need to consistently be talking to people.

Using the @ symbol when you reference someone is a great way to show on your public Twitter profile that you’re talking with people. When someone shows up to your Twitter page and sees that you are actively talking with people, they’re much more likely to follow you.

How do you use Twitter? Share in the comments below.

To learn more about how you can use Twitter to connect with and grow your fanbase, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons!

Email Marketing vs Social Media

Email marketing and social media are two great tools every musician can use. Email still converts more than social media, and social media is a great way to reach a potentially huge audience. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon one or the other. Use both tools together and take advantage of their unique strengths.

How does your approach to email marketing differ from your approach to social media?

Thanks to Media Bistro for this great infographic.

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How to Promote Your Music Online

There are plenty of articles and guides out there for music marketing. Many of them stress the need for a website, a social media presence, and the live show. This article from Music Think Tank stresses one marketing effort that is often overlooked – collaboration. Collaboration can be used in all aspects of your career, from the live show to songwriting to recording.

When you’re writing, collaborate with another songwriter for a song or two. Try to pick someone around you level or just above you in terms of fan base size. That songwriter will surely tell their fans about the collaboration. Since fans tend to trust the opinions of the artists they follow, some of them will probably check your music out. You’ll probably gain some new fans in the process!

The same goes for recording and touring. When growing your fan base, you need to establish trust if you actually want people to take time out of their day for your music.

This article, by Shaun Letang, was originally posted on Music Think Tank.

1. Climb the Ladder with Your Collaboration Efforts

OK, so the first thing you can do to promote your music better isn’t actually something many musicians associate with actually being a form of promotion. Collaborating with other musicians can actually be a great way to get out there. Making songs with a well known act can actually mean you can get in front of their fans. It may also mean that you gain a higher perceived value for working with that act, and it can be a good note on your CV when looking for other music related work and opportunities.

The thing is though, it’s very unlikely you’ll get collaborations with big names in your genre (unless you already know them). You see, their time is precious, and they’re not just going to collaborate with every up and coming act out there. The solution? Using the ‘ladder’ method.

What you want to do is categorize any talented musicians in your genre into different levels based on how big they are. Usually, while the biggest acts won’t be willing to work with you at this stage, some of the lower level acts will be – with enough incentive. So what you do is approach those acts which are slightly bigger then you, and do collaborations with a few of them. Not only does this get you in front of their audiences, but it also gets you associated with being at their level.

Once this is done, start looking to the next step of musicians who are that bit more popular then the last group you approached (and are now in yourself). Do the same; collaborate with them, get in front of their audience, and become thought of as being on their level.

Rinse and repeat, each time working with bigger acts and getting a bigger reputation yourself. The good thing is, once people start seeing you’re working with lots of people in your genre, they will want to start working with you too. You’ll be the hip new people on the block that everyone wants to be associated with.

2. Climb the Ladder with Media Outlets You Try to Get On

OK, this method of promotion is pretty similar to the last one, only with platforms to get yourself out there.

If you’ve ever tried to get covered by a big website, TV channel or radio station, chances are you didn’t hear back from them, or got rejected. Again, these places aren’t looking to work with just anyone; you need to prove you’re noteworthy and worthwhile for them using one of their exposure slots. As you may have guessed, the above ladder method works here too.

Start out by getting on smaller platforms and websites, and build your way up. Get all of these previous places you’ve appeared on your music CV. Include their logos on your website. Make it clear people are talking about you.

Gradually build things up, networking with new people along the way. You will find more and bigger opportunities become available to you, as the music industry is full of people who don’t care until you say you’ve worked with ‘x’ amount of their competitors. So keep climbing that ladder.

3. Master Your Gigging Game

So I could say to you, “Gig because it’s good exposure and you can make money from it.” I want to give you more, though. The thing is, anyone can gig. That said, what are you doing to set your gigs apart from 95% of other musicians in your genre?!

Practicing your lyrics is one thing, but mastering your show is something else altogether. Remember, as a musician you are an entertainer! It’s your job to entertain. Yes, that might just be in the form of your voice in rare cases, but in the majority of cases your whole stage presence also factors into things.

When people leave your show, are they going to remember you as that person with good lyrics and a good voice? Or will they remember you as that person who stood out and outshone all the other performing acts that night? I hope you aim to achieve the second one.

So what can you do to achieve that? Well first of all, find out what works in terms of stage presence. Load up YouTube and search for the best live acts in your genre. See how they command the stage, see how they move, and see how they interact with the audience. Does it work? Is it something you can do and build on? Most of the time it will be, so be sure to build yourself as a overall great performer, rather then just someone who has good vocal ability.

To see the full article and see the other 3 music marketing tips, visit Music Think Tank.

Do you think collaboration is a good way to grow a fan base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Challenges of Finding Your Brand

Building a brand as a musician is a very abstract concept, and many get frustrated in the process. Its important to remember that the process of finding your brand takes a long time, and everyone else is struggling with it too. Unfortunately, there is no formula to a strong brand and the brand idea you start out with may not be the same as the one you end up with. It’s really a long process of self-discovery. You will need to look in yourself and also listen to what your fans and followers are saying and how they are reacting to fine-tune your brand.

This article was originally posted on the Cyber PR blog.

The key to establishing yourself online and within your niche, is building a strong brand. Unfortunately this is far easier said than done. The process of designing, building and nurturing a new brand means you have established:

  • A unique voice
  • Consistent compelling content
  • A trustworthy reputation

The problem for most comes down to the simple fact that there is no single path to achieving any one of these things. And yet, you need to achieve them all in order for your brand to blossom.

What works for some, may not work for others.

What seems to be an obvious indicator of success for some, may be hidden for others.

A ‘brand’ is such an abstract, malleable concept and it may be difficult to know if you’re heading in the right direction. In fact, it can be down-right frustrating.

So the question becomes:

What is ‘Normal’ what it comes to building an online brand?

Here are 4 normalcies of brand building that, although may not give you the answer to the status of your brand’s growth, should give you the comfort knowing that you are not alone in your frustration and process.

Defining Your Voice Can Take A LONG Time
Whenever branding is discussed, one of the first components to be included is the idea of establishing a ‘voice’. This ‘voice’ must combine a powerful mission statement with a unique approach.

It won’t work with just one or the other.

This voice may not come to you right away. In fact, it is normal for this to take a VERY long time to fully realize.

As Malcolm Gladwell has said in his book ‘Outliers’, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft.

Once you do fully realize this voice, your focus and ability to create compelling content will be likely to become prolific.

When I created MicControl, it took me over a year’s worth of daily blogging before I found my voice.

I knew I wanted my mission to be helping musicians to advance their careers through digital marketing. But it wasn’t until I found the right approach of creating lean, skim-able, and most importantly actionable articles focused on social media marketing tactics, that my voice became truly defined.

Once this happened – the content started POURING out of me. What once took me several days of sketching, researching, drafting, re-drafting, editing and formatting, now took me only a few quick hours at MOST.

You Will Doubt Yourself… And Then You’ll Doubt Yourself Again

Doubt HAS to be the number one killer of brands. I can say from personal experience that this was the hardest obstacle to overcome. And yet, I had to work to over come my own doubt about my brand on a weekly basis (if not more often).

Because building a brand is so abstract, and can take such a long time to establish, you’ll often feel like you’re just treading water.

This is normal!

Because of this, it is important to find any successes, even if they are small, that you can not only rejoice in on a regular basis, but can use to keep you motivated:

  • A handful of Facebook ‘likes’ on a status update
  • A comment left on a blog post
  • A Re-Tweet or an inclusion in a #FF (Follow Friday) tweet

These are all successes. Use them as indicators of your growth and realize that with each small success, you’re working towards your brand-goal of creating compelling content, a unique voice and a trustworthy reputation.

What challenges have you faced building your brand? How have you overcome those challenges?

To read the full article, visit the Cyber PR blog.

Social Media is Social

The elements of social media should be taken as they appear in the phrase itself. Social comes before media and is therefore the most important element. Social media is not a tool to simply talk or shout at your your fans, it is a complex feedback look based on communication and, most importantly, listening. You need to be talking with your fans. Without listening and communication, you will be missing out on a good 75% (or more) of the value social media provides.

Social media provides instant feedback. You will know exactly what your fans are digging and what they are not within a few hours if you know what kinds of metrics to look for. By learning from your fans’ reactions you will be able to improve your music and your message.

Unfortunately there is a large population of musicians who miss out on the social elements of social media. Here’s 4 key areas they fall short on and some tips to overcome them.

1. Me, Me, Me Marketing

You might have been raised in a world of billboards and commercials, but using social media as a one way street is killing your promo game.

It seems too many people are missing the social half of the phrase, social media.

You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and nonsense about buying your album.

Sadly, most bands qualify [as what the marketing world refers to] as spammers.

Engaging is easier than you think and should come naturally (assuming you are not a recluse).

  • Share albums, videos, and news about other music you enjoy or local bands you play with.Ask others what they think.
  • Share news related to the music industry or issues that reflect the personality of your band and use them to engage in conversation.
  • Instead of posting links to the same videos and songs repeatedly, post clips of the band working in the studio or upload a demo mix and allow fans to share their opinions so you can take the art to another level. Involve fans in your process(es).
  • Network with bands in other areas to create an atmosphere for gig swapping and collaboration as well as cross promotion of content.

This list goes on but the takeaway here is engage in a way that results in feedback and interaction.

Build a community.

2. Focusing on the wrong metrics

Your follower count means nothing unless you see conversions.

Huh?!

More important than a follower, view, or like:

  • How many fans have signed up for your mailing list?
  • Do you pass around a mailing list signup sheet at your show?
  • How many people have you met at shows? (You do hang out with the audience after the show…right?)
  • How many people have bought a CD or t-shirt?

Stop putting all your energy into increasing numbers on social sites and focus on converting the followers you have into loyal fans.

Use social media to funnel music listeners to your website where you attempt to convert them into a mailing list signup, song download, or merchandise sale.

Would you rather have 1,000 likes or 100 fans spending $1,000 on music, merch, show tickets and crowd funding campaigns?

Show me the money!

To see the full article, and the other 2 social media problems, visit the Cyber PR Music blog. Are you guilty of any of these common social media problems? How have you over come these problems to better connect with your fan base?

12 Tips: Twitter for Musicians

Twitter is a very powerful resource for fan engagement, but it is often misunderstood, and therefore underutilized by musicians and bands. Many will ask questions like “How much information can I really get across in 140 characters? Is it really worth it?” Additionally, it can be time consuming enough to manage a musician presence on multiple platforms, not to mention learning how to most effectively use each one.

It is, however, in your best interest to really get a good understanding of a few different social media platforms like Twitter. That’s not to say that you should be on every platform out there – choose the ones that most suit you, your music, and your brand. Remember that different platforms offer different ways to connect with fans and your content of Facebook will be different from your content on Twitter.

To help you use your Twitter account more effectively to engage and interact with your fans, here’s some tips on Twitter for musicians:

1. Be consistent. Whether you tweet once a day or once an hour, stick with your schedule for a little while and you’ll see your retweets and follows increasing.

2.  Share other peoples’ content. There’s an unwritten rule in the Twitter world: you share my content, I’ll share yours. By retweeting, you’re earning karmic points and increasing your chances that you’ll get followed back. Plus, if it’s interesting content, your followers will want to see it too! Tell your fans about some other great bands. Hype their shows and releases. Link to other folks’ blog articles and YouTube videos.

3. Don’t autopost everything. There are tools you can use to post a single update to multiple social profiles — Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. — with the push of a button. But people who follow you on every platform want to get a unique experience in each place. So while it’s ok to use the autopost method occasionally, try to give your Twitter audience a little something different than they’d get on Facebook.

4.  Pretend the whole world is watching. Unless you have a private/protected profile, everything you tweet is public. Don’t write something you’ll be ashamed of later.

5.  Interact! You can’t just tweet “listen to my new song” every couple hours and expect to see your number of Twitter followers growing. You have to be more interesting than a simple advertisement for your music. Here’s few things you can try instead:

* Share exciting news about your musical life.

* Let your fans go behind the scenes on a tour or recording project.

*Ask questions.

*Reply to those folks you’re following.

* Join existing conversations.

Be useful to others first. Then you can expect your followers to help promote your music.

6. Write longer tweets.  Internet marketers like to tell you to keep things short. But a tweet is only 140 characters, so it’s one of the few cases online where you actually benefit from using all the space you’re allotted. Also, some data shows that longer tweets get more clicks.

To see the other 6 tips, check out the article on Hypebot or download the full Twitter for Musicians guide from CD Baby for free.

Create Fan Engagement on Facebook

Facebook can be an extremely valuable tool for fan engagement when used correctly. It can serve as a platform to talk to fans, and a platform for fans to talk to each other. Additionally, if you create engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares, you’re also reaching a wider audience – the friends of your fans.

This article features some great tips to make the most out of your artist Facebook page.

Facebook: It All Starts with a Page

Before you start planning a Facebook strategy, make sure you’re using a Facebook Page, not a personal profile. This issue can be especially tricky for solo artists, who tend to promote their music from their personal profile initially, but it’s important to make the change to an actual Page. Here’s why:

No “Friend” Limit: Facebook Pages don’t have a limit on the amount of fans you can have (personal profiles have a limit of 5000 “friends”).

Keep Personal & Professional Separate: Having a page is a great way to help keep your personal and professional lives separate as well as minimize the risk of annoying friends/family with your music promotion.

Analytics/Insights: Page Insights can be a powerful tool to let you know where your fans are from, who are the most engaged, and what kind of content is working best (photos, videos, text, etc.).

Promoted Posts: With Pages, you can “promote” a post so that it reaches more people. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, the posts can even reach beyond the fans who have liked the page. This can be a great way to increase engagement and visibility for your music/content, but it can also get expensive quickly.

Ads: Using a Page gives you access to using Facebook Ads. You can use ads to promote your page and increase likes, promote shows, a new music release, etc. You can even target specific geographic regions, demographics, and interests. But again, just like with promoted posts, ads can get expensive quickly, so set a budget and stick to it.

Tip: Reverbnation has a great tool called “Promote It” that makes Facebook Ads a lot easier, and actually tests different ads for you, then uses the best performing one automatically. Check it out here.

To learn what you should include on your Facebook page, how to make the most of your posts, and how to drive Facebook traffic to your website, read the full article on Hypebot.

5 Social Media Tips for the Musician

Using social media for professional and business purposes can be hard to get a hang of. More likely than not, followers of your band or business are not going to want to hear about what you had for breakfast or some personal drama going on in your life. That being said, if used correctly social media can help you engage with your fans or followers and create a stronger relationship. 

Here’s five social media tips to help you get more out of your time online.

1. Produce quality content

If you want to make your mark on social media, first and foremost you should provide quality content. “Content is twofold,” says Mari Smith, a social-media marketing expert and author of The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web (Wiley, 2011). “It’s generating your own, [being] a thought leader. The other element is what I call OPC — other people’s content — and not being afraid to share that.”

One man who successfully balances both elements is entrepreneur, investor and author Guy Kawasaki. “He’s a self-professed ‘firehose of content,’ ” says Smith. “He has a way of creating a nice blend of other people’s content as well as his own thoughts and opinions.” Not only that, but according to his Twitter bio, Kawasaki repeats every tweet four times in order to reach all time zones.

Quantity is not the same as quality, of course, but what is remarkable about Kawasaki, says Smith, is “his masterful ability to curate such volume. I could skim through his tweets and probably find a few things every day that I could pass on to my followers.”

To find out the four other tips, see the full article at Entrepreneur.com.

 

 

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Peter Jenner on the Future of Music

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/18lnuFf

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/18lnuFf

Former Pink Floyd and T Rex manager Peter Jenner, now emeritus president of the International Music Managers’ Forum, talks online music, copyright and the future of the music industry.  It is very satisfying to see the ideas expressed in our Future of Music book becoming mainstream concepts in the industry.

>As physical sales decrease, how should the music industry be monetising its content?

Record companies believe that music is about selling bits of stuff to people in a retail environment. They always looked on the internet as a potentially huge retail environment and it’s actually a service environment. The record companies should be working out what services they can provide.

They should also be talking to ISPs instead of fighting them. The key thing is people are going to want music as part of what they get on their digital connections. The ISPs are going to have to invest more and more to develop better services, and in that context they will have to start charging for content, whether they charge for content directly with a meter or whether they bundle it or use advertising or sponsorship.

Another way to go would be to look at statutory licensing for different types of usage. It would be incredibly bureaucratic but it would be one way. So let people access whatever music they like and pay a set rate. The same with commercial businesses.

>Do record labels still have a role to play in the music industry?

Yes absolutely, particularly for investment and promotion and marketing. And they could become very good at licensing, at helping artists to develop their website. But they have to get away from this idea of control and instead become partners of the artists. Many of the record and film companies are very enamoured with the idea of control because it’s how their model has always worked, with in-house lawyers and copyright advisors. There is huge inertia in the way the industry licenses and administers content. We have to fight this.

>How have the sources of revenue in the music industry changed?

Until the CD came along I think artists overall got a better deal and more control and a better bite of the money. After they invented the CD the record companies increasingly fought back, decreasing artists’ revenue share and increasing their control. That’s just got worse with the advent of the internet because there is less money available. You used to be able to sell 5,000 albums, now that is incredibly hard so the industry has to look at digital options, but a lot of web services don’t pay properly. Google will pay you a share of the revenue you generate for them, but if you don’t make them money you don’t get money.

>Has social media changed the way bands are marketed and content is discovered?

Yes, but it has huge potential to do more. At the moment, because it isn’t licensable, it isn’t doing the job that it ought to be doing. But what it can do is alter the value chain. With less money available in the music business we have to instead look at what we do have. And what we have is lots of data on music fans. Marketing has always traditionally been more expensive than recording but we can cut these costs by using social sites and viral links. And maybe we can cut out advertising costs because acts can just directly email their fans.

>Can music-streaming services support the music industry?

They are good, but they don’t have all the music. I manage Billy Bragg and there are a hundred versions of his tracks online. I can get a recorded version but a lot of the times on these services there are no live versions. And globally there are billions of tracks so the problem remains of how people find a particular piece of music or if they like something how they find similar bands. People aren’t just looking to buy the music, they are looking to buy a service which is personal and recommends music and enables discovery and which saves them time. I’m not sure anyone is really offering this yet.

>Is there a future for physical music?

Yes, but its role in the industry will become less. Probably physical music, like CDs, will become very expensive and luxurious and they will be like hardback coffee table books and people will only buy maybe one or two a year. The music industry’s job is to make as much money as it can from a track or album, and that includes physical sales alongside digital sales, access services and anything else they can come up with.

>What do you think the music industry will look like in 10 years?

Probably very similar. But what we might look on as broadcasting income will hugely increase. Most revenues will come from users paying to access the content. You won’t notice that you are paying for recorded music so much.

I think the artists ought to be much more powerful, whether they will get it together is another matter. There will be record labels, but whether they will be labels that own content or just be agents I don’t know. They might be more like the Performing Rights Society and less like Universal.

Read the whole interview here from Sara Vizard at Strategy Eye

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New Rules for Artist and Fan Engagement

Props to Dave Allen founder of Gang of Four for these suggestions below. Well considered (and annotated). I recommend that you do what he says.

“Humans are subconsciously moved by the emotion of music, it provides a link to their ancestry and to their tribes, it stirs not only positive but sometimes negative feelings linked to moments in time and is often steeped in nostalgia and memories. No other art form is ‘consumed’ as broadly and passionately as music on a daily basis around the world.

How music was delivered used to be in the hands of the few – bands, concert promoters, record companies and their retail distribution companies, radio, and video shows such as MTV. In tech-speak this system embraced ‘push’ – we the mighty and powerful will “provide you” [at a price determined by “us”] with access to our treasures when “we” feel like it. These days that system is rapidly breaking down as music fans now ‘pull’ what “they” want to listen to.

Control has moved from the few to the millions of many. Dull labels and dull bands offering dull, flat, non-experiential product – e.g. a CD, will go the way of the CD as it goes the way of the Dodo. Consider what Cirque Du Soleil provides as an experience compared to Barnum and Bailey’s circus. Or Burning Man compared to your average music festival. Even the Las Vegas Beatles-themed show ‘Across The Universe’ wipes the floor with most rock concerts these days.

Music fans are no longer patiently waiting for their favorite bands to deliver new music according to the old customary cycle – album, press release, video, radio, tour. No, the fan base has to be regularly and consistently engaged.

Some Ideas (for artists, managers and labels):

– First, communicate openly and ask your fans what they want from you

– Listen to what they have to say. Really listen

– Provide unique content such as early demos of new songs

– Never under estimate the power of a free MP3

– Forget completely the idea of an organizing principle (album). Invent a new one

– Use social media wisely. Twitter and Facebook Pages are best, MySpace is too cluttered

– Don’t push messages to your fans, have a two way interaction with them

– Invite them to share, join, support and build goodwill with you

– Scrap your web site and start a blog

– Remember to forget everything you know about the CD “business”

– Start to monetize the experience around your music

– Remember – the browser is the new iPod

Read more from Dave Allen here at his Pampelmoose Blog

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Lessons from File Sharing

From Eliot Van Buskirk and Wired:

To hear some tell it, file sharing gutted the music industry by encouraging people to gorge themselves on free, illegal content. Indeed, unless Friday’s landmark verdict against The Pirate Bay is overturned, four Swedes will spend a year in jail and owe millions of dollars to entertainment companies for operating a file sharing network.

Nonetheless, sites like The Pirate Bay taught — and continue to teach — valuable lessons to the content industry. Even as music labels and movie studios try to sue peer-to-peer networks out of existence, these same networks have been preparing music labels and movie studios for the emerging social-media world, in which sales form only a small slice of the revenue pie, and what really matters is who likes what, and who pays attention to them.

Facebook, MySpace, imeem, YouTube and other social media sites — which the labels now recognize as a major part of their revenue streams going forward — incorporate several aspects of Napster and other early, rogue file sharing networks: buddy lists, user uploads, filtering content by user, viral marketing, ad-supported content and the potential of mining valuable data. The complete DNA of social media was right there, from the very start of P2P.

And even in the early days, the labels were intrigued by the vast pools of user data available on networks like Napster and Kazaa, although they were reticent to take advantage of it.

“It was more than just stigmatized,” recalled Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, which measures the popularity of media on file sharing networks. “They feared that to even look at or inquire about what was happening in the file sharing universe would somehow compromise their unflinching stance that this was unauthorized.”

But as the initial furor over P2P died down, labels began monitoring file sharing networks through BigChampagne and other services. The data they find there continues to help them in any number of ways, from choosing which leaked song to use as the single, to where a band should tour based on the IP addresses of its fans, to figuring out which artists should perform on the same bill.

The labels beat down Napster, Kazaa, Scour and other P2P networks, and if today’s Pirate Bay verdict stands, they will have beaten four Swedes too. Meanwhile, new ways to share files continue to surface, including private and encrypted networks. And The Pirate Bay developers say mirrors exist in other countries, so no matter what happens in Sweden their site will continue to operate. Besides, The Pirate Bay is only one bit-torrent tracker site.

For some, the offense committed by an enabler like The Pirate Bay — as opposed to the people who actually do upload and share copyright material — may be difficult to grasp. You can also find torrents on several other sites — even on Google’s search engine. And YouTube hosts pirated copyright material, until and unless it is asked to remove it by the owner, because it is unable to programmatically detect which video clips are pirated.

But the difference is that Google, Yahoo and MSN aspire to catalog everything indiscriminately, while services like The Pirate Bay explicitly cater to practitioners of digital piracy — and are proud of it, to boot.

Even as the content industry celebrates another false victory over file sharing, the world is moving on, to cloud-based, on-demand streaming services — some licensed — where you can hear music and watch videos faster and in a more social way than you can with bit torrent. And as content holders look to monetize those networks, P2P networks provide the only useful template, because they share so many characteristics with today’s social-media networks.

Garland, who was there, says tools designed to measure user behavior on file sharing networks led directly to tools that now mine licensed networks like Facebook, imeem, MySpace and YouTube.

When it comes to “where and how people stream, download, watch, listen to, blog about or otherwise make use of or interact with music,” said Garland, “file sharing ended up being the blueprint.”

And it’s a good thing that blueprint was there, from the labels’ and studios’ perspectives, because today’s social-media networks contain even more user data than P2P networks do, and that translates to a bigger opportunity to monetize them through advertising, recommendations and, yes, the occasional sale.

In addition to teaching them how to mine social networks for user data, file sharing taught the content industry that it’s often more efficient to address networks than users. On one hand, this sort of thinking led to The Pirate Bay lawsuit. On the other, we have Choruss, Warner Music Group adviser and digital music guru Jim Griffin’s plan to license universities, then ISPs, to allow subscribers to download and upload as much music as they want for an overall, royalty-like fee.

“Asserting property rights and attempts at control have cost the sound recording industry over a decade of licensing revenue [and trading] control for compensation,” said Griffin during his Digital Music Forum East keynote. “Monetizing friction-free access to music will require swinging to the next vine, and when we make that transition we’ll uncover a bigger music service business that’s been too-long trapped in the too-small body of an old product-based business of control.”

The Choruss plan and the RIAA’s official shift away from suing individuals are acknowledgments on the part of the music industry that file sharing will always be a factor, so it could be simpler — and even beneficial — to lump licensed and unlicensed services together under one monthly fee tacked onto users’ ISP bills. (ESPN and other video networks already do something similar.) Love Choruss or hate it, Griffin would never have come up with this efficient way of addressing social-media consumption if file sharing networks had never existed.

Finally, P2P accelerated the development of products that people want to purchase when free alternatives exist. Whether music sales are competing with The Pirate Bay or imeem, the answer is the same: Sell ads against free content, and try to sell people something they can’t access through the free alternative, be it bonus materials, instant access, concert tickets or whatever. Witness Radiohead’s infamous deluxe box set, the recently launched iTunes pass (essentially an album subscription), Josh Freese’s crazy album extras, or iPhone apps that deliver an artist’s latest creations in near-real time.

File sharing networks forced an industry notoriously set in its ways to acknowledge the enormous power of the internet to distribute music through social channels — if anything, increasing its odds of thriving during the inevitable social-media era.

Lawsuits like this one against The Pirate Bay make sense on the surface. On another level, they’re a funny way of saying, “Thanks.”

From Eliot Van Buskirk and Wired:

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Social Media Map

Here is a comprehensive map of sites driving the future of social media. From Overdrive Interactive, an online marketing services firm that really gets it. Enjoy and proliferate.