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5 ways to boost engagement on Facebook

Boost Facebook engagement and get more attention for your music

With organic reach declining as a result of more content being shared, Facebook is largely becoming a pay to play platform.

While this makes it harder to reach your fans without using advertising, don’t be too quick to give up on Facebook as a marketing channel for your music.  Facebook is the most popular social network, with nearly 2 billion users, and it’s still possible to increase the effectiveness of your Facebook page by focusing on engagement. 

Here are 5 things you can do to boost Facebook engagement.

Use these social media post ideas to promote your music and get more Facebook engagement:

Show Your Personality

People relate to other people. That’s a simple fact and a big factor that goes into your Facebook engagement. (And a big reason why major brands have a hard time relating to an audience on a deeper level)

So when you post, try to talk in your own voice. This may be challenging at first as you get used to communicating through short social updates, but it will become more natural the more you work at it.

As a simple way to check yourself, try actually reading out your posts and asking yourself objectively, “Is this something I would actually say?”

And don’t be afraid to be polarizing! A lot of people lose their voice and are afraid to speak their mind on the internet for fear of rejection. Now, I’m not saying you have to take major stands on big world issues, but let the little quirks in your personality show.

So maybe you’re a punk rocker with rebellious, high energy, anti-establishment views. Or maybe you’re a singer-songwriter who’s also really into geek culture. Don’t be afraid to let that out on social media from time to time.

Some people may not get where you’re coming from, but some will! And that connection that goes beyond just the music is what will help solidify the artist-fan relationship

Ask Questions

Asking questions and using fill in the blank posts (or even funny Mad-libs style posts) are great ways to get people to up your Facebook engagement.

Why does this work? For the most part, a direct question elicits a response much more than a statement.

I’ve noticed myself that when I post questions on my own Facebook page, friends and followers of New Artist Model are more likely to like and respond to it, often with a great amount of detail, which leads to even more responses.

Here are some questions and fill in the blank posts you can try that could be easily adapted to any audience

  • Looking for some inspiration – What songs are you digging right now?
  • Which t-shirt design do you like best?
  • We’re ordering pizza from the tour bus. Topping suggestions?

Not only will questions drive Facebook engagement, but you can get a better idea of what your fans interests are so you can more effectively promote your music.

Share Engaging Photos (and Videos)

Photos and videos are the most shared type of content on Facebook and are a great way to tell stories in a quick and powerful way.

If you have songs with inspirational lyrics, try creating a nice looking photo with pieces of your lyrics using a service like Canva, and insert your logo at the bottom so those who see the photo and don’t already follow you are exposed to your brand.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Share photos of your gear, pedalboard, drum set up, or home studio with some information so fans can re-create your sound.
  • Create a short video explaining the meaning behind a song’s lyrics (remember to add subtitles)
  • Share a photo of a lyric sheet, lead sheet, or Pro Tools file you’re working on.

Use Your Fans’ Content to boost Facebook engagement

Social media is all about multi-directional communication.  Many larger artists post on social media and let their followers respond to them, but don’t engage with those who took the time to respond.

If your fans take the time to share a tattoo, painting, or cover of one of your songs to your Facebook page, reshare it with your fans.  It’s a great way to show appreciation to your biggest fans.

Not only that, but the excitement you give your biggest fans by sharing their content with other fans can drive valuable word of mouth.

There are a few things you can do to encourage your fans to post shareable content on social media. Encourage them to post photos from gigs, remixes of your songs, or covers and tag you. Maybe make it a regular thing (like “Fan Feature Friday”).

Post More Frequently by Scheduling Your Posts

When it comes to Facebook engagement, scheduling your posts in advance can be a valuable way to continually engage your fans without staying on Facebook all day.

Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer let you schedule posts in advance.  This means that with a little bit of work at the beginning of the week or day, you can continue to provide posts throughout the day for your fans to engage with.
Now, it’s important that you don’t rely too heavily on these social media management tools. Social media is dynamic and it happens in real time, so make sure you block out a little bit of time every day to respond to comments and post live. 

Facebook Engagement: Where to Go From Here?

There are a lot more resources available for you at the New Artist Model blog.  For example, if you want to self release an album, this will help you get started. If you want help with Instagram for music, this post may be very helpful.

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.

Check out the Music Business Accelerator (MBA) a new program that will help you plan your music projects, promote your music and create a sustainable career.

 

Every musician today needs a great website. Each week someone asks me what platform is the best band website builder for musicians to create a killer website. There are many choices to be sure.

Bandzoogle has what appears to be the best balance of features and performance at an affordable price. Their monthly packages start at $8 per month and they do not charge any commission on sales of music or merch or tickets of any kind. As of the date of this post, Bandzoogle artists have generated over $21 million in sales of music, merch and tickets using its proven cloud based platform. Don’t you want to do that too?

best band website builder for musicians

Over 25,000 musicians have signed up for Bandzoogle, including many New Artist Model students. These guys have the best solution for presenting yourself online as a musician or band. And they have agreed to give you a 90 day free trial so you can check it out. This is a no brainer if you need a website or want to update the one you have.

Click here for a free webinar on building the ultimate musician website

Bandzoogle is easy to use with a step-by-step system that will get you up and running in minutes with a custom site that can grow along with you. With over 100 different mobile themes you can easily customize a site to really stand out.

Move your existing domain over or setup a new one.

Here’s what you get with your Bandzoogle website:

• Sell music, merch & tickets commission-free.
• Stream your music and setup downloads.
• Built in email list to send professional newsletters.
• Integrates with all online musician services.
• Reports and analytics to target your fans.
• Unbelievably great customer service.

Pull in content from all of your online services like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Pledgemusic, CDBaby, Gig Salad, Bandsintown, ArtistData, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, Amazon and more.

Add a store to your site in two clicks and start selling music, downloads, tickets and merchandise without having to pay any sales fee.

Create a blog and EPK. Post music, videos and photos. Setup your events calendar and a lot more. Everything you need is built-in and just a click away.

Try it for 3 months for free. After that, plans start at less than $10/month. Or you can simply walk away and pay nothing.

What’s the best band website builder for musicians to use to create a killer musician website? Check out Bandzoogle.

Just last week, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle and I did a webinar.

Build the Ultimate Musician Website

  • BUILD a high converting musician website.
  • LEARN exactly what features you need and why.
  • GROW your email list and expand your fanbase.

Click here to watch this recorded webinar – all free.

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

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 on social media, 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!

when to post on social media

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 social media secrets to help you find that social media balance.


If you want more ideas and ways to promote your music on social media, check out this free ebook. You’ll get a ton of social media post ideas and 3 checklists to work through while promoting your music on social media.


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!

Want more social media secrets and ways to promote your music? Check out this article next and learn about 6 ways to promote your music.

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?

 

A Facebook business or band page is different from a personal page, and therefore requires a different approach.  Once you get a hang of it, it can be a great way to create a more meaningful relationship with your fans and customers.  Facebook allows you to talk to them directly, offer Facebook-exclusive promotions, and get instant feedback, just to name a few.

Check out this infographic with lots of tips to make your Facebook page more successful.

tips-facebook-business-page-infographic-e1372797853416

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.

Of course, creating fan engagement on Facebook can be easier said then done. But it is possible! The key is to focus on talking with your fans, not at them. Social media is all about creating an authentic connections with your audience.


If you want some ideas for what to post to Facebook and other social media platforms, download this free ebook: How to Promote Your Music: With 3 Social Media Checklists 


This article features some great tips to create fan engagement on Facebook.

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.

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.

 

 

My buddy Bruce Houghton at Hypebot, caught me last week for a quick interview before Rethink Music.  Here is an except from our discussion:

HYPEBOT: Your new focus is on consulting and investing. Are there any sectors, particularly within music and music tech, that particularly interest you or where you see the most room for growth?

DAVE KUSEK: Online education is one of them. This is an area that is already transforming how people learn and gain job skills and it is only going to grow as time goes on. There are big opportunities here that will effect tens of millions of people around the world. Online training is going to be huge. Job requirements are shifting and people need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances that can benefit them. The traditional model of higher education is already under pressure and there are many people and companies exploring alternative models that are very interesting.

The other area I am bullish on is live music and live events. The live concert experience cannot be digitized, yet can benefit enormously from technology. There really has not been much innovation in live music or in music merchandising beyond ticketing. I think there is a lot more that can be done with mobile technology and am actively working in this area. My investment in Tastemate is one way of digging into this potential in a meaningful way. We will be bringing our service to a venue near you, very soon.

I also think that there is potential to expand the reach of live performance using remote technologies. I am interested in ways to cut the costs out of touring to make it more profitable and to reach broader audiences. It is amazing to me that there has not been more activity in this area either, so I am looking for companies and people to work with that are thinking differently about what live music is all about and how to make it even more lucrative.

HYPEBOT: What are some of the things that Digital Cowboys has done in the past or is looking to do now?

DAVE KUSEK: We are focused on business development, marketing and product development, particularly in online and mobile services. We also do strategy consulting for businesses wanting to expand or enter new markets or make acquisitions. I say we, because while I am the managing partner, I also leverage a network of people around the world and with different specialties that I bring together to form a team to address the issues. For example, with a lot of the product work that we have done I brought together a team of visual designers and user experience people to execute on the product vision and do the testing. With business development projects I sometimes work with friends that have particular contacts or relationships that are beneficial to my clients. Sometimes I put together a couple different investors or strategic partners to provide capital or distribution or some other need. The main thing is to get the work done and show results, while trying to have some fun and work on interesting projects that are pushing the envelope.

HYPEBOT: There’s some talk of another tech bubble. Do you see think we’re approaching one in music and media technology?

DAVE KUSEK: I do think that some of the deals we have seen recently are off the charts, like Instagram – but who knows? That has all the earmarks of “bubble” written all over it. But Facebook is also about to go public and at their level, what’s another billion dollars?

But really I don’t think overall that we are at the point of frivolousness and excess that we witnessed in the earlier dot-com bubble, at least not yet. I believe that people are just beginning to figure out better ways to communicate and interact and learn via technology. That is having massive implications on the future of society around the world. Take a look at the stock market trend over the past 100 years and you will see that things tend to move up and people get smarter and more prosperous. I am an optimist.

There are a lot of music startups getting funded these days and certainly they are not all going to make it. I think we will see some consolidation in the DIY space as there are probably more companies addressing that market than the market really needs. The same is true for music streaming and distribution and music discovery. I think the real breakthrough companies will be formed by trying to do something completely different, rather than mimicking the past with technology. We’ll see.

HYPEBOT: Any plans to write a follow-up to the “Future Of Music” book?

DAVE KUSEK: I plan to spend a lot more time posting things to my blog and on digitalcowboys.com. This is a much better way to continue to update original thinking and way more efficient than writing another book. The music industry has gone digital and online outlets like Hypebot really do work as conduits in this business. That is a real bright spot in the transformation of the music industry. So, look for more at futureofmusicbook.com.

You can get the entire interview here.

More coverage from Hypebot here and from Billboard here.

My friend Roger McNamee, a founding Partner and Managing Director of Elevation Partners has been getting some great press lately on his thoughts on the new music business, investing in technology, Apple, Google, Facebook and much more.  Here is the transcript of a speech he gave at NARM earlier this summer, a must read.

“Our band – Moonalice – is inventing new opportunities in music. We would like you all to join us.

I have been a working musician for more than 30 years, and a technology investor for 29 years. I have played about 1000 concerts over the past 15 years, which means I have personally experienced everything in Spinal Tap except the exploding drummers. I also spent three years helping the Grateful Dead with technology and many more advising other bands, most notably U2.

My band is called Moonalice. We play 100 shows a year in clubs and small theaters, mostly on the coasts. Moonalice was the first band broken on social networks. What broke us was 845,000 downloads – and counting – of the single “It’s 4:20 Somewhere.” We’re the band that Mooncasts every show live, via satellite to thousands of fans on iPads, cell phones, and computers. We’re the band that has a unique psychedelic poster for every show. After four years, Moonalice has 371 poster images from the likes of Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson, and David Singer. Licensing those images will eventually a big business for us. We’re the band that offers the EP of the Month for $5. And we’re the band that uses the latest technology to radically improve both the production cost and commercial value of the content we produce. Now I’m looking for people who want get on this bandwagon with me.

The first question I hope you ask is “Why now?” The world of technology is beginning a period of disruptive change. The old guard – represented in this case by Microsoft Windows and Google search – is under assault and hundreds of billions of dollars may become available for new and better ideas. I hope that gets your attention!!!

The biggest beneficiaries of this disruption should be the people who got the short end of Google’s business model, especially creators of differentiated content. For the past twelve years the technology of the internet has been static. Every tool commoditized content by eliminating differentiation. The most successful companies monetized content created by others. Google was king.

I believe Microsoft and Google are about to get a taste of what the music industry has been dealing with for a decade. Their world is going to change and they won’t be able to stop it. Not so long ago Microsoft’s Windows monopoly gave it control of 96% of internet connected devices. Thanks to smartphones and tables – especially the iPhone and iPad — Windows’ share of internet connected devices has fallen below 50% … and it will fall much further in the years ahead.

Consumers are abandoning Windows as fast as they can. I expect businesses to follow suit.

This is a HUGE deal. Businesses whose employees use smart phones and iPads instead of PCs will save up to $1000 per employee per year in support costs.If corporations buy fewer PCs, they will save tens, if not hundreds of billions per year.

This is happening because today’s strategic applications – email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other internet applications – don’t need a PC . . . in fact, they are far more useful on a phone.

Microsoft has been in trouble since it first missed the web in 1994. Then it was unable to prevent Google from taking charge in 1998. When Google showed up, the World Wide Web was a wild environment. No one was in charge. The prevailing philosophy was “open source” . . . and free software.

Google had a plan for organizing the web’s information that treated every piece of information as if all were equally valuable. To create order, Google ranked every page based on how many people linked to it.

What we all missed at the time is that by treating every piece of information the same, Google enforced a standard that permitted no differentiation. Every word on every Google page is in the same typeface. No brand images appear other than Google’s. This action essentially neutered the production values of every high end content creator. The Long Tail took off and the music industry got its ass kicked.

Google captured about 80% of the index search business, which gave it a huge percentage of total web advertising. Google’s success eventually filled the web with crap, so consumers began using other products to search: Wikipedia for facts, Facebook for matters of taste, time or money, Twitter for news, Yelp for restaurants, Realtor.com for places to live, LinkedIn for jobs. Over the past three years, these alternatives have gone from 10% of search volume to about half.

As if all this competition wasn’t bad enough for Google, then along came Apple with the iPhone and App Store. Apple offers a fundamentally different vision of the internet than Google. Google is about the long tail, open source, and free, but also had to remove 64 apps from the Android app store for stealing confidential information. Apple is about trusted brands, authority, security, copyright and the like. In Apple’s world, the web is just another app; it is called Safari.

People who have iPhones and iPads do far fewer Google searches than people on PCs. The reason is that Apple has branded, trustworthy apps for everything. If they want news, Apple customers use apps from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. If they want to know which camera to buy, they ask friends on Facebook. If they want to go to dinner, they use the Yelp app. These searches have economic value and its not going to Google, even on Android.

When Apple and the app model win, Google’s search business loses. Like Microsoft, Google has plenty of business opportunities, but the era of Google controlling all content is over. Consumers compared Google’s open source web to Apple’s app model and they overwhelmingly prefer Apple’s model. Software development and innovation has shifted from “web first” to “iPad first” . . . which is a monster long term advantage. Get this: Apple may sell nearly 100 million internet connected devices this year!

Apple’s strength can be seen best in the iPhone vs. Android competition. There are many Android vendors. Together they sell more phones than Apple does. But Apple gets around $750 wholesale for an iPhone. The other guys get between $300 and $450. This means Apple’s gross margin on the iPhone is nearly as big as its competitors’ gross revenues. Game over.

The other thing that makes Apple amazing is the iPad. No electronic product in history – not even the DVD player – can match the adoption rate of the iPad. Apple may sell another 30 million this year. At this point, the competing products have not put a dent in the iPad. Image what happens if Apple’s share of the tablet market remains closer to the iPod (at 80%) than to the iPhone (20%)?

This sounds like, “Game Over, Apple wins” . . . but it’s not . . . at least, not yet. The open source World Wide Web has finally responded to Apple. A new programming language has come to market called HTML 5. HTML is the foundation of the World Wide Web. For the past decade, HTML has been static, which allowed Google to dominate.

HTML 5 is a new generation of HTML and it changes the game fundamentally. It allows web developers replicate the iPhone experience, but with many extra bells and whistles … and no App Store. One reason HTML 5 matters is because it eliminates Adobe Flash, which has been an inadvertent barrier to creativity

Creativity enables differentiation. Differentiation can be monetized. Huge differentiation can be monetized hugely. With HTML 5, creative people can now use the entire web page as a single canvas. For the first time in a dozen years, web pages will be limited only by the creativity of the people making them. They can create experiences that will be more engaging to consumers and more profitable for advertisers than network television.

New forms of entertainment will emerge. New forms of business. Companies the size of Facebook and Google will develop in categories I can’t guess at. Companies as important as Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix will emerge to support what new content comes to market.

Whether you view Apple as friend or foe, HTML 5 offers real opportunity. Why?

Because you can deliver a better experience than an app . . . without an app. HTML 5 is cheaper to build, cheaper to support, no 30% fee . . . oh, and the apps perform better, too.

I believe Apple’s best response would be to focus on selling hardware and accept that consumers will demand products that happen to bypass the app store. Based on the argument with Amazon, I sense Apple is not ready to concede the point. That’s ironic, because the only way Apple can get hurt would be if they try to force all commerce through the App Store. The would create a real reason for customers to buy a tablet other than iPad.

Let me review my key points so far:

Google and Microsoft will remain huge, but their influence is evaporating, which means we can ignore them

Apple is winning big, which means we have to support their platforms first

For people who make content, Apple is a better monopolist to deal with than Google.

HTML 5 will give you a better product than the Apple app model at a lower cost and with more value.

Now let’s figure out what we can do together. My band Moonalice exists because T Bone Burnett wanted to produce an album of new and original hippie music in the old school San Francisco style. We put together an all-star band with in late 2006 and recorded the album. T Bone was about to win the GRAMMY for the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant album, Raising Sand, so we thought we were made.

We had a budget
We had an A-list PR guy
We had a really fine manager
We had custom label deal with a nice budget
T Bone’s innovative sound technology would make the album cutting edge

Old school music is good. Old school marketing wasn’t going to work for us. About four months before release, I reviewed the media plan with our PR guy. He said, “Sorry, man, but nobody cares.”

A few moments of somber reflection followed. Then, with great regret, I let our manager go. I let our publicist go. I let our label go. For all intents and purposes, we wrote off an album everyone was extremely proud of and which accounted for half of T. Bone’s portfolio the following year when he was nominated for Producer of the Year.

But I freed up most of our operating budget. Real money. And I focused it all on Twitter and Facebook. Our goal was to build an audience of dedicated fans around a Moonalice lifestyle. Three years later, we have 57,000 fans on Facebook and 75,000 on Twitter. We learned a great truth: as hard as it is to get people to spend money, it is much harder to persuade them to spend enough time listening to you to become a long term fan. We traded our music for their time. We discovered we could build an audience by giving away stuff that costs nothing to produce and distribute. These are serious fans who engage with us dozens and often hundreds of times a year.

The first thing we invented was the Twittercast. Before us, no one had ever done a concert over Twitter. Now we have done 103. Our marginal cost is exactly zero. Next we created Moonalice Radio, which has broadcast one song every hour on Twitter for the past two years. Then our drum tech bought a video camera and started recording the shows. Then he bought more cameras, put them on mic stands and started doing live video mixes. About a year ago, he figured out how to mooncast our concerts over the net for free.

Nearly all of our past 100 shows have been mooncast live on MoonaliceTV and then archived. Because we play mostly late shows on the west coast, only 10% of the audience watches in real time. But approximately 3,000 people watch EVERY show on a time shifted basis. Fans like the Moonalice Couch tour because they can chat, make friends, and do things that are not permitted at a live venue. They even buy Couch Tour tee shirts. And they are helping us create a new ecosystem where most of the music is free, because Moonalice art and life style products have huge economic value.

Thanks to HTML 5 and a satellite dish, Mooncasts can now be viewed on a smart phone without an app. Our video quality competes favorably with the best you have seen on an iPhone, and the technology to do all this costs the equivalent of six months of our former manager. He was a really good guy, but a satellite-based tv network is more valuable.

I want to finish up by recommending a course of action for you

Step 1: Remember that HTML 5 is just getting started, but the learning curve is less expensive and more profitable for those who commit to it from the beginning. The new business is going to emerge over a few years, not overnight

Step 2: Don’t wait for the labels to figure this out. Labels are not organized to get this right, which leaves a big hole in the new music market where labels used to be.

Step 3: Don’t wait for major artists to figure it out. The great new stuff is going to come from artists who have nothing to lose. Artists who come out of nowhere will create huge value for next to no cost.

Step 4: Make sure you are successful addressing the needs of next generation content creators … not just listeners. There are WAY more of content creators than you may realize. Thanks to Moore’s Law, Karl Marx is right at last: the means of production are in the hands of the proletariat. At the peak, there were 8 million bands registered on Myspace. They weren’t playing gigs, they were creating stuff, mostly for their own entertainment. Those people spent a lot more money creating the content they posted on Myspace than they did on recorded music. Thanks to Apple’s Garageband, the population of people capable of mixing something is now measured in tens of millions. Making these people successful is the key to creating new markets and new music products.

Step 5: Do everything in your power to encourage new product ideas and new forms of content. HTML 5 is a blank canvas and there is no telling what people will do with it. For all I know, HTML 5 may produce five or even ten amazing categories of product.

Contests, prizes and publicity will give you an opportunity to associate yourself with whoever creates the cool new stuff. If you have local stores, do local events. Think Alan Freed.

Step 6: Near term, focus your platform strategy on Apple.

Step 7: Long term, focus on HTML 5. The sooner you commit to HTML 5, the more likely you will produce something of economic value.

Step 8: Remember that HTML 5 will produce companies as important as Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix. It costs musicians practically nothing to create good digital video and fantastic audio, but they need distribution systems optimized for their content.

Step 9: Make music fun again”

And if that isn’t enough, Roger was kind enough to share with me his thoughts on investing in technology related businesses.  TechInvestingHypotheses

My friend George Howard recently wrote a great article for Berklee’s Music Business Journal.  In it he explains how music marketers can connect more closely with the fans that matter as they try and propel their band forward.  Here is an excerpt from the article and solid advice for any marketeer.  The complete text can be found here.

The Life Cycle Curve

In order to find your audience you must consider several details. The first is to accept the fact that you cannot market to the majority; you can’t afford it, and even if you could you would fail because of issues related to frequency of contact with these gatekeepers (i.e. radio/press).

Take the Mavens and Early Adopters and focus on these two groups. The Mavens, a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point, applies to people who actively and aggressively seek out new things. They are the ones who are not only the most connected to the information channels, but are also most predisposed to discover new things, and new channels as well.

These mavens have a personality type that generates deep satisfaction from not only the seeking out and discovery of new material, but also the sharing of this material. The first class of people with whom they will share are so-called Early Adopters.

These Early Adopters are one standard deviation closer to the majority than the Mavens, and thus there are more of them. However, while they will adopt new things more quickly, they are not typically at ground zero of discovery. If the mavens are the bloggers, the Early Adopters are the readers of these blogs, and — to a degree — the re-bloggers. Again, these Early Adopters are a more populated class, and thus their influence is potentially greater than the Mavens.

There is crossover between the two groups. The area of focus is detailed below:

In every product category there are Mavens and Early Adopters. Whether you are dealing with music or any other product or service, you must find a way to bring your product to both groups.

Pyschographic Modeling

In an era of interconnectivity, demographics and geographics, while still important, are less important than the habits, trends, personality of a customer; i.e. their psychographic profile. Finding your audience requires you to understand profoundly the psychographic profile of your customers. What do they look like, where do they shop, what type of food do they like, etc.?

Determining these factors allows you to create a “model” customer. This is the person who, if you could get your music to her, would deeply embrace it. Also, given the fact that she is a Maven/Early Adopter, she will likely share what she has discovered with her network. Significantly, defining this Model Customer allows you to determine where this customer is likely to congregate, and thus where you must bring your music.

The Straddle: Offline and Online

We do not make profound connections with products, services or people online. Profound connections occur offline — in person. The genius of Facebook, and why it has eclipsed networks such as MySpace, is that it represents a Straddle of offline and online; we upload pictures and detailed stories of our offline activity so that our friends and family can be aware of these offline experiences. In this manner, you must understand that technology is simply an accelerator of your offline activity. By locating the Mavens/Early Adopters within your psychographic landscape, and taking your music to them — in person — you greatly increase the odds of these people developing an emotional attachment to your work.

Architecture of Participation

One of our most primal urges is to share information; this is why babies make the massive cognitive leap to learn language skills. Your job, once the initial offline experience has been established, is to create an architecture of participation; a method for frictionless sharing of information so that those Mavens/Early Adopters who have discovered you offline can begin to share their discovery with their network (i.e. online).

This requires a series of steps related to value exchange. Your first task is to establish four things:

1. Your own site
2. A Facebook Fan Page
3. A Twitter Account
4. An email newsletter

Your Site

On your site you must present a value proposition that begins with exchanging some type of content for an email address. Email is your currency; the more of it you have, the more likely you will be to convert what is essentially a non-scarce resource (i.e. your music) into something of tangible value. Do not be fooled into thinking you can get away using a third-party site as “your” site. While, undeniably, service providers such as Reverb Nation and Bandcamp provide value, you do not own these sites, and fundamentally your participation does more to increase the value of these sites than increase your own value. This is not to say you cannot extract value from these third-party sites; however, this requires using them like Facebook, Twitter, and others, to drive potential customers to your own proprietary site.

Facebook

Your FB fan page, similarly, must also represent a value proposition. The value here relates to engagement. FB allows for easy engagement via its makeup. Consider contests, polls, short videos, or other ploys that will keep your fans not only engaged with you on FB, but will encourage them to direct those in their network to your FB fan page. Of course, you must use FB to direct customers to the value proposition that exists only on your site: a content-for-email exchange, and other site-specific offerings (chats with the artist, etc.).

Twitter

Twitter should be used to establish your voice and to direct people to your site. The establishment of the voice comes as much from your affiliations — who you link to, who you follow — as it does from your actual tweets. As above, use it to engage and to direct traffic to your site. Employ time-sensitive offers and offers only available to those who follow you on Twitter. The goal is to inter-connect these tools, and to leverage them to enhance the offline experience. In all mediums you must encourage and facilitate sharing. Your site must have a FB “Like” button and a share on Twitter so that whenever you post content, your constituents can share with their network.

Email Newsletters

The single best tool for conversion of fan to customer is email. While email is an increasingly ineffective tool for communication it still yields a higher return with respect to sales than any other tool.

Therefore it is imperative that you use your email newsletter wisely.

1. They must be short; highlight one and only one action. The total length should be less than 500 words.
2. They should be frequent; once a week on a regularly-scheduled basis.
3. They should have a call to action; tell the recipient what you want them to do: come to the site to get something, come to a show, etc.
4. They should be forwardable; ask your recipients to forward the email to someone they think will enjoy it.
5. They should have sharing functions embedded; allow people to Tweet, add to a FB status.
6. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

Don’t worry about overwhelming people with email blasts. If people are unsubscribing, they’re likely non-value adding “fans” any way. Instead, focus on presenting real, timely, share-able value to your current fans so that they have a tool to help you gain new ones.

Converting your Audience to Customers

It is an immutable law of business and nature that somewhere close to 80% of your activity (engagement, profit, etc.) will come from 20% of your constituents. This is referred to as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. This means that if you have 10,000 people on your email list something close to 2,000 of them will generate 80% of your total sales. The other 8,000 will be largely non-value adding.

The problem of course is that you won’t know which of the 10,000 are the true fans. Thus, you must continuously work to increase your overall amount of constituents. Rather than having 2,000 of 10,000 contributing, strive to have 20,000 of 100,000.  In order to sift through the layers of participation to find the most valuable customers, you must create a filter. Think in terms of a funnel. At the widest point of the funnel is the easiest level of engagement: a free song for an email address.

Summary: The Value of Psychographics

The key is to determine what you deeply care about; what your purpose is, what your values are. From there you can begin — via a psychographic analysis — to find fans that share these same values. At that point, your goal is to bring your music to them, and create the architecture for more participation. Straddle between an offline and an online engagement strategy, but use both.

Once you’ve aggregated these Mavens and Early adopters, you must begin converting them into both customers and evangelists. This is done by honoring the 80/20 rule and working to extract maximum value out of your loyal 20%. Always work to increase the overall pool of your fans.

By George Howard

George Howard was President of Rykodisc, is an original founder of Tunecore and  Assistant Professor and Executive in Residence in the College of Business Administration at Loyola University.