Posts Tagged: Music

Google Plus for Music

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.


We have some great surprises for our attendees this year and the first one came yesterday. By popular demand, we have decided to make Podcamp this year ONE DAY. This means a day packed with learning, and evening gathering of like minds, Sunday to explore the area on your own, and the chance for a great weekend for everyone. Since this leaves many the opportunity to explore on Sunday, we thought we could let you know a few places in the area.

The school The New Hampton School itself is secluded. Not on a busy road, it has a campus that offers everything that a private school can. We have use of the cafeteria, where the meals are delicious and you have a wide selection of food to choose from during lunch and snack times. We also have access to the athletic field where we plan to play Quidditch.  There is also access to a library for impromtu one on one or small group sessions (“jellies”). The grounds of the school also have a beautiful pond to sit by and reflect or work. Since this is a PodCamp and the Law of Two feet applies, if you find that there is a time where you need to just sit and work, there are many places to do so.

To get an idea how far from Boston we are: last year PodCamp NH was in Portsmouth (1 hour north on I-95 to Exit 7). This year PodCamp NH is in New Hampton (1 hour and 15 minutes north on I-93 to Exit 23) – only a stone throw farther.

If you find that you have to travel Friday and Sunday there are plenty of places to eat and explore before the PodCamp begins and after it ends on Sunday. Remember to reserve your Saturday night for our after party, however, as it is an intimate chance to really meet each other. There will be more information about this as the event nears. The cute town of Ashland and it’s Main Street of Shops and Restaurants are a short drive from the School – one exit up to Exit 24. The Comfort Inn Hotel is at the same exit. The (original) Common Man, Bullwinkles Bar and Grill are two great Restaurants at this exit. We understand that there is always something going on in New Hampshire and this weekend is no different which is why places to stay may be few and far between.

If you are the outdoorsy type there are hiking trails and campgrounds, places to fish, tree top tours all within a few more exits. There is a Water park, Safari rides and even a train ride through the mountains. There are places to camp nearby complete with cabins, swimming pools, and even playgrounds for the family.

There is also our give away to all of our attendees: gift cards to the Tilton Outlets, so you can go shopping while in the area.

So join us for the entire weekend including a packed and exciting day of great learning and fun at Podcamp NH!

Go The F*ck to Number One

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.

Portsmouth: City by the Sea

As with any conference, or in our case, (UN)conference there is a new place to see around the venue. We are very excited that this year Podcamp NH is in Portsmouth.  Portsmouth is a great location, starting with the awesome views of the waterway.  Wait, scratch that, it is autumn and cold…So lets say leaves, let’s start with Fall Foliage.  Just kidding. Portsmouth is known for it’s waterways, but more then that it is known for shopping and food.


From coffee to swanky dinner, the seacoast is known for it’s eateries.  *I am going to interject here and tell you that there is an after party planned for Saturday Night. Details to come soon.* First we can start with the awesome Portsmouth Gas Light Co. Restaurant, with night life, dinner and great drinks.  If you enjoy Breweries then Portsmouth has it’s own.  The Portsmouth Brewery is a hand brewer that is open for lunch and dinner.  There are also tours of the brewery.  These are just two nearby resturants for lunch and dinner.  We will have a breakfast spread at the venue, but if you prefer to stop somwhere else there is Cafe Kilm and a Starbucks near-by.


Just a short drive from downtown Portsmouth is the Kittery outlets for shopping.  Check out the website for a complete list of stores.  Along The main streets of downtown there are small and interesting stores all along the way.

During the lunch periods and after conference time and even during your law of two feet we encourage you to explore Portsmouth.  And enjoy the weekend!

Music Discovery Under Constant Siege

In recent years it’s never been both easier and harder to get your music into the ears of potential new listeners. One question I get asked often from potential clients (perhaps second only to “How do I make money at this?”) is “Why aren’t people listening to my music?” It’s a tricky question to answer.

In the past, you’d have listening parties when you got new albums, or swap mix tapes. Bootleg concert tapes made endless circuits, introducing people to what your music sounded like live and how you interacted with your fans in real time. For a while there were some interesting online renditions of the mix tape, but most of these sites and services met the ax wielded by the short sighted RIAA. More recently, user driven recommendation engines like, Grooveshark, Pandora,, Sound Hound and more are coming to the surface. This is all great news for the indie musician out there, but often it comes as a surprise to discover the work it takes to get music listed on or found by these sites. Sites like Blip, while fun, can be especially frustrating for users who have to slog through hundreds of covers of your song to find the original version, and Pandora often frustrates those trying to discover your tunes by directing the listener away from the very music they asked to seed a playlist with.

Musicians (and filmmakers) still flock to MySpace, and television shows such as Glee have found innovative ways to use the MySpace karaoke engine to promote their shows via transmedia and audience participation, but as the perception of MySpace declines, so does your potential fan base. I find this unfortunate – music has always been something MySpace does well, and the player on people’s profiles has always been a fun way to learn what friends were listening to – however, the perception of MySpace as uncool makes it a mixed success for artists.

YouTube and other video channels are now doing some innovative things with music, to be sure, but aren’t doing a lot (yet) to make them discoverable. Unless you take the time and initiative to set up and promote your own channel, there is no great way to sort videos by type of music on many of these video sites. Hopefully, that will change as the need becomes more apparent, especially in light of the new YouTube Vevo live concert series and partnership. The industry still targets these sites as well, though, and many music videos find themselves being taken down eventually, even if they were uploaded with the full consent and knowledge of the musician.

Sometimes it is as a shock to learn that even if you work hard to put your music in the hands of your fans, and are good at it, the “powers that be” will still try to cramp your style, even if you don’t want, need or request their “help”. Witness the case in point of the RIAA and FBI going after sharers of Radiohead’s album In Rainbows – an album the band released under a pay what you can model to fans. Peer to peer is a great way to get your music out there, especially if you know how to leverage your actual files to encourage even pirates to come back and pay, but it becomes a constant battle between fan, RIAA, label and artist, even though it can lead to great ROI. So what does a musician do to avoid all of these potential roadblocks to finding new ears?

1. Be prolific – put your music out there in as many places as you can
2. Link back – use your web site as your hub and make sure every blurb, bio, description, tag and more links back to it and references it in searchable text as well
3. Don’t assume – third party sites rarely have your best interests at heart. They are there for their own ends. Make sure your files and content are hosted on your own web site and fully backed up if you share it elsewhere as well. This will save you endless grief if your data on third party sites gets lost, deleted, censored or otherwise removed or damaged.
4. Be DRM free – encourage sharing, but remember to link back.
5. Have multiple pay points – give fans as many places and as many ways to buy your music and merchandise as you can sustain. Make it easy.
6. Share buttons – make sure all of your blog posts, song uploads and more have easy to find buttons for immediate liking and sharing.
7. Use free tools – those third party web sites may not have your interests at heart, but they do give you great tools to get your music heard. Incorporate these widgets, like buttons and tools to help you reach more people.
8. Paper trail – don’t assume everyone is online 24/7. The concert poster, flyer, and weekly event column are not dead. Make sure you list your web site links and social links somewhere on each piece of print media you generate.
9. Engage – if you can sustain actual engagement online with your fans, that will amplify all of your other efforts to their fullest, even if you can only sustain your real engagement on a limited number of platforms due to time constraints.
10. ROI – ROI is money, folks. If your social strategy isn’t getting you butts in seats at shows, downloads, CD sales, and merch sales – you need to re-evaluate the sites you’ve picked for engagement and more. Remember you are one of thousands of voices online – your ROI tells you if you are doing a good enough job being heard.

So You Started A Band, Now What

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:

@leslie Hi, lovely. I need to help my nephew build a promo kit for his band. Not exactly my wheelhouse. Any simple tips you could share?Fri Jul 30 12:12:48 via TweetDeck

Social Media for Creatives and Creative Content

Register for Social Media Breakfast #13  in Portsmouth, NH  on Eventbrite

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

Q&A session 

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!


Let’s make SMBNH crackle with energy and success! See you there!

Getting Your Music Found For Sharing

If you are a person using sites like, 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 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?

Insert Tab A Into Slot B: Boilerplate Social

It is relatively common for every 20 or so proposals sent to turn up at least one recipient who replies “Well that’s great, but I really just wanted someone to ‘create buzz’, can you A) take out [essential proposal component] B) take out [business development component] C) charge less but do all of the work for me ‘for now’ D) [other random request that treats the social plus business consult as if it were a dollar menu]”? To me, that helps weed out customers who aren’t serious, but I see other consultants bending over backwards to price themselves low and make automated options for people and scratch my head.

First of all, this isn’t an automated business we’re in. It is true that some clients and their products or goals can lend themselves to some automation (see ReverbNation for musicians, or IndieGoGo for film, for examples). The reality comes into play that even those clients will eventually have to get their hands dirty and get involved with the people who are interested in their social efforts. If you are automated then you aren’t listening, you’re missing opportunities, and you aren’t growing like you could be.

Second, if you are a consultant and you don’t value your product (which is often yourself) or your knowledge enough to charge for it, why are you in business? If you aren’t comfortable charging a price and sticking to it, perhaps in the back of your mind you think what you offer has no value, and if you think that – so will your potential clients. Figure out what you know and what it is worth, and charge accordingly. Perhaps this post from Christopher Penn will help you get some pricing perspective.

Finally, as I mentioned yesterday, you can’t go social and introduce all of the shiny new toys and tools and strategies that compliment your business without making sure your business can support the interaction. That where the business development, web site and other aspects of what I offer come in – it goes way beyond social. You will need to make at least a few organizational changes to accommodate customer interest, because you can’t force the customer to interact in only one way any more. You may be there for sales or news updates only, but your customer may throw you a customer service curve ball – you need to be ready. Your web site and other media (print, TV, etc) presences need to be ready to be social too.

What this all means for the customer is an adjustment in thinking about how they do business and what kind of benefits this will have for you and your customer. Interestingly, this post is about only a fraction of what I offer. The social media and business development is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the cool things I get to do with clients, it just seems to be where a handful of folks get mentally stuck. What this means for the consultant is that you need to offer something you value, or no one else will value it either and you’ll be on this treadmill of rejection and price cutting until you throw in the towel or price yourself out of business – self doubt isn’t sustainable.

Welcome 2010 PodCampers!

We are so excited to see you starting to sign up to attend, sponsor or lead a session for this year’s PodCamp NH! We can’t even begin to fully express how phenomenal this event is going to be, especially with the added element of dorm life to foster even closer bonds and extended learning and teaching and creating for those who can stay. We also hope that the availability of the dorms at a low rate makes it easier for our friends from PodCamps all over the world to come and be part of this unique experience with us.

PodCamp NH 2010 is the second PodCamp here in NH, and most assuredly the most unique. We are opening our arms to everyone, not just social media types, because social media is simply part of the lexicon now. We want the techies, the coders, the creatives (film, music, photography, art, design, etc), the comedians, the marketers, the psychologists… the list goes on. We want to help everyone add these tools to what they do, learn new things, and grow.

This is YOUR PodCamp. You can sign up for sessions and see proposed sessions on the sessions tab (above), to sponsor on the sponsor tab. If you don’t want dorm life, there is a list of hotels under travel (though none have offered to match the spectacular dorm rate yet!). Registration is open over on Eventbrite.  Of note, we know it’s on Father’s Day weekend, and we encourage you to bring your children and parents during the day by using the Day Pass option. We have limited dorm accommodations so those overnight tickets are reserved for the adults. There is plenty of room at this one for everyone to grab one of the types of tickets and be part of it, and we even hope that some of the younger and older generations might want to lead sessions as well.

Meanwhile, here is a taste of what’s already on deck for this fabulous event:

  • Battledecks
  • Quidditch on the lush school grounds
  • Live music to inspire and entertain
  • Improv on a live stage
  • Education + Technology, Social and New Media
  • Government + Technology, Social and New Media
  • Health + Technology, Social and New Media
  • Blogging, All Levels of Expertise
  • PodCasting, All Levels of Expertise
  • Music + Technology, Social and New Media
  • Film + Technology, Social and New Media
  • Video for the Web
  • Collaborative Economies
  • Adaptive Media for Small and Medium Business
  • What can YOU teach? What do YOU want to learn?
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