I did a brief talk as part of a series of sessions by a very interesting and diverse group of music industry types at music 2.0 in Boston, MA this week.
I thought I’d put up the slides and record some fresh audio to give everyone a refresher.
If you can’t see the QuickTime movie below for whatever reason, Google Plus for Music is also on my Slideshare channel.
One thing I didn’t go into in my talk, mainly because it was a little advanced and I only had 15 minutes, was the Hangout With Extras feature. I highly recommend checking this out if you are an artist looking to collaborate as it pulls in Google Docs (lyrics) and other features to allow you to actively talk, chat, edit and record while in a Hangout. It’s the little blue link that appears on the “get your mic ready” page when you begin a Hangout.
I’ve long been a fan of artists, publishers and film studios using piracy and peer to peer to turn a profit, instead of fighting the tide. I talked about it for film here, and for music here and here.
Is it a simple solution? No. Does it have pitfalls (mainly, are their folks out there who won’t ever buy your stuff legally)? Yes. Can it work? Yes. There have been several case studies in music (mostly the “pay what you want” model, as espoused by bands like Radiohead and concept companies like 1band1brand, in which the “what you want” part is occasionally zero but the overpayers/true fans often make up for that) and a couple in film (mostly movies obtaining small release deals from the peer to peer buzz they generated).
Now we have a solid book publishing case study in the new children’s book “Go the F*ck to Sleep“. Instead of rewriting the Fast Company article that gives more detail on the story, I’ll point you to it and let you form your own opinion.
If the creative industries who are feeling their old business models crumble under their feet are seeking a one to one replacement for the old business model, they aren’t going to find it. We are now in a fluid creative content economy based in a la carte sales and peer to peer recommendations, dependent largely on reach.
Am I encouraging people to pirate? Heck no. I’m a big believer in paying the artist who makes what I like. Am I encouraging people who have things to sell to think creatively about price structure and sales tactics and be fluid in getting the message out? I am indeed.
I’d love it if you shared your stories about pirating helping (or hurting) your content and business model in the comments. Only by examining both sides of the peer to peer coin can we develop new ways for people to support themselves with their art.
It’s the dream of many high school and college students – to be in a band or to be a singer or songwriter. For many shy students, or students without the means to buy their first instrument (yet), it will remain a dream. A lucky few will actually get up the guts to make it happen.
You’ve found your instruments, new or second hand or maybe borrowed from a willing friend, and bandmates. You may or may not have found your gear – that can get pretty expensive. You’ve found a relative or friend with a willingness to lend you a basement or garage to practice. You’re probably still trying to figure out a name. Now you need to find a way to be heard.
Granted, no amount of presence, branding and marketing will help you be heard if you suck at music or if you need more practice, but if you are actually semi-good and don’t sound like a group of tone deaf monkeys, knowing some basics can help.
What’s this “flexible branding stuff you are always talking about for music?
You’re young or just started out if you are reading this, most likely. This is probably your first band. Heck, you are probably still arguing over the name! On the one hand, you need to be “branded” (e.g. recognizable to the public) to find gigs. On the other hand, your band name will probably change at least twice in your first year of doing this.
Handle that by setting up personal pages for each of the band members, and brand yourselves individually. Make the frontman the touch point on these sites until you have a name (carefully – this will entail making some of your profiles more public which comes with risk). Then, once the band name is set (eventually) make a page on social sites for the band as well and unlink your personal accounts, redirecting folks there. This will allow you to book gigs even while you are finding your footing.
It may help to make sure each personal page has the band logo and description and the (ever changing) name on them, to let people know they have found the right place to contact you for gigs, or just to tell you how awesome you are!
Sites to help with branding: MySpace, Facebook, iMeem, ReverbNation, OurStage, NuBuMu, SeeJoeRock, YouTube
What happens if one of my bandmates leaves?
This happens, too, in young bands. In this case, if putting a notice on your local community board at school or local cafes and such doesn’t work to find your replacement drummer, try another social site. Both MySpace and Facebook offer marketplace listings for just such and occasion that work like an online classified ad. Don’t overlook Craigslist either – it’s a great place to find bandmates. Again, proceed with caution – not everyone online is full of butterflies, rainbows and good intentions.
We got really good and someone wants to pay us!
Congratulations! You are on your way! Getting paid is a sure sign that you don’t sound like a bunch of tone deaf monkeys (or if you do and are in a death metal band, that you are really awesome at sounding like a bunch of tone deaf monkeys). Getting paid opens up a whole other can of worms. In the beginning go with cash and divvy it up fairly. Keep records – you may need to pay taxes even on cash payments. If you’ve outgrown cash you can grow into a bank account, and attach it to a PayPal account – this will make it easier for folks to pay you online.
Other uses for PayPal and online payments include people buying your merchandise (you will have T-Shirts once you have a band name, I’m sure), any demo CDs or downloadable music you may have, and tickets to shows. If everyone in the band has a PayPal, it’s a fairly simple prospect to divvy up the money regularly.
Wait, merchandise!? I didn’t even think of that. We can’t afford to print shirts!
Never fear, the online world is here to help with this, too. Remember that PayPal account we just talked about? You can use it to take payments from sites like CafePress and Zazzle. The sole purpose of CafePress and Zazzle is to give you a simple, easy, affordable way to make and sell stuff. They use a print on demand method of distribution, which means you don’t have to order hundreds of shirts and pay up front – you design them, you upload designs, you set a price, you link folks to the product on your social sites or web page, and CafePress and the like handle the orders, the delivery of the stuff and the paying of you.
This all seems like a lot to handle. Does it take time?
Yes, it does. The more serious you are about your band and your music the more time you should spend interacting with fans and fellow musicians on your online presences. If it’s just a hobby you hope to make some money at you can dial it down a notch and focus on other things. The nice thing about being in a band is that you can divide the work load among you so it doesn’t take too much time from homework, dating, jobs and other things in real life. Even so, all total you should spend about an hour a day on this part of things – the marketing part – in addition to the practice part and the gig playing part if you want to make this a permanent part of your music life.
Is there more to learn?
Absolutely, but this beginners guide should get even the youngest musician started down the right path. We can talk strategy down the road in installment two of this.
What about printed materials?
As my friend Nate from Big Duck Management will assure you, the days of the poster and postcard and sticker are far from dead. They are just a part of the whole now, though. Even things like photos and videos are easiest to have fans upload online to your social sites first. Then save the best to add to your media kit you’ll be building as you go.
This post was inspired by this question on Twitter today:
NOTE: THE EVENT IS ON June 25, 2010.
Ticket sales end on 6/24 in the evening. Do not confuse the Eventbrite ticket end date with the event date!
This month’s Social Media Breakfast is brought to you by Magnitude Media, DimDim, and The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH.
About The Music Hall:
The Music Hall is a nonprofit performing arts center that entertains 100,000 patrons, including 20,000 school children, annually with acclaimed film, music, theater, and dance performances. Its historic 900-seat theater, built in 1878, is the oldest in New Hampshire and designated an “American Treasure” by the U.S. Senate in the Save America’s Treasures Program administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. Living out its mission to be an active and vital arts center for the enrichment of the Seacoast community, The Music Hall presents diverse and relevant programming, including its signature series and innovative community outreach programs, and hosts numerous community fundraisers and celebrations for the benefit of more than 40 local nonprofits. A cultural anchor in a thriving Seacoast economy, The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $5.4 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending. The Music Hall is a 501c3 tax exempt, fiscally responsible nonprofit organization, managed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and a professional staff. The historic hall is located in Portsmouth, the seaport city recently named a “Distinctive Destination” for 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the “20 Best Towns in America” by Outsidemagazine (July 2008).
Special Thanks to Breakfast Sponsors
Theme for the 13th Social Media Breakfast: Social Media for the Creative
The 13th Social Media Breakfast NH is also the first SMBNH at The Music Hall! The official hashtag is: #SMBNH.
This one will be all about topics related to creatives using Social Media to expand reach and drive success, from filmmakers to writers, photographers, designers, artists and more. Note: Even though this is for the media makers and creative types out there, if you are a business, you should come check it out as well, since this will show you by example how to incorporate some creative media into your business content.
In this struggling economy and shifting paradigm we need to be working together to be more successful and better weather the storm. We should be pulling in all aspects of technology, new media, old media and social media to succeed. This meeting will help us lay the foundation for a richer, better creative, education, tech and new media community in NH.
In addition to Leslie Poston (myself), who will be your host and MC for the morning, you will have three speakers giving three brief presentations on topics relating to the theme for the morning.
Opening Remarks by Leslie Poston (SMBNH founder)
Welcome Remarks by Monte Bohanan from The Music Hall (venue sponsor)
P.T. Sullivan, Nh Photographer, on using social tools and networks for photography
Marc Dole of Hatchling Studios on social media and DIY film
James Patrick Kelly, science fiction and speculative fiction author on using social tools and media like podcasts for authors
John Herman, educator, improv comedian and new media literate on webisodics and social media
This is going to be a great breakfast!
Your closest off street parking is the Parking Garage in Portsmouth on 34 Hanover St. There is also plenty of street parking, including a municipal free lot a bit further away.
Social Media Breakfast History
On seeing growing demand in this area, I decided to fill the need with a new branch of the nationwide Social Media Breakfast in NH. It isn’t that we don’t love Boston, because we do, but our neighbor to the north is rich in technology and social media, and often overlooked when events are planned. I saw a need for networking opportunities that were easier to get to for the northern tech and social media crowd, and decided to step up and fill it. Because NH itself is a diverse and scattered state, the Social Media Breakfast there will be just a little bit different than the one in Cambridge/Boston. Our first meeting was in January 2009, and was a roaring success.
What is a Social Media Breakfast?
From the official description: The Social Media Breakfast was founded by Bryan Person in August 2007 as an event where social media experts and newbies alike come together to eat, meet, share, and learn. Marketers, PR pros, entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, new-media fanatics, and online social networkers are all welcome to attend.
The breakfast series began in Boston and has now spread to more than a dozen cities throughout the United States and around the world.
How will the Social Media Breakfast in NH be different?
The main difference between Social Media Breakfast NH and other SMBs will be all-inclusiveness. I do not want only social media people and companies to attend, I also want technology types, programmers, coders, tech writers, tech companies and more to attend. As a state that is rich in technology but scattered in distance, I think the best networking and connection making effect will be achieved by combined our different cultures. You never know, as a social media type you might just meet the coder you’ve been looking for to create your dream project if we all come together to connect and to learn from each other!
TO SPONSOR THIS OR A FUTURE SMBNH CONTACT LESLIE POSTON via Twitter, Email or Phone.
Let’s make SMBNH crackle with energy and success! See you there!
If you are a person using sites like Blip.fm, Last.FM and others to share your favorite music with the world, you know how frustrating it is when you can’t find a song you are looking for. Sites like SongTwit.com help somewhat by allowing you to upload a song, but then you run into potential copyright and ownership issues. We all know you are just showing your favorite band some love and not stealing, but some labels are not so open minded and don’t see the long view of sharing as a benefit to sales.
The artist can help us be the engine of their discovery by allowing sharing, and better, by proactively ensuring their content is out there to share. I would have never discovered some of my favorite album purchases without a friend sharing a link to a song with a “you must listen to this” note attached, and I am not alone in this. After all, those who find music online are several times more likely to make a purchase.
How can an artist help their music get found? Uploading songs to sites like Blip.FM is a great start, but just slapping a song on Blip or a video on YouTube is only the beginning. Artists need to proactively tag and title their work, from the ID3 tags to the file name, to make them more discoverable. If your ID3 tagging isn’t up to par, what I find when I search for your music to share are a bunch of crappy covers on YouTube or hundreds of junk links to poor quality fan recordings of your music. That’s not what you want for your music brand!
If you are really good, you will learn to embed purchase links into your YouTube videos on your official channels. After all, 91% of those who proactively look for something on YouTube make a purchase related to their search. If you are full of awesome, you’ll learn to be shameless about putting purchase info into your songs themselves. Some musicians use analytics in their file links to track listeners and reach out to them. Some simply end the official song file with a voice over saying to find them on their website, spelling the URL. As a listener, that is fine with me – it gives me a way to find you and pay you for your art. Musicians who have sharable links on their sites increase sales dramatically as well.
If you are a musician or label, what creative ways are you encouraging sharing and turning it into a purchase?