Thoughtful post by Rob Pegoraro on the Project DisCo site about Spotify’s steps to help music artists understand what “a listen” on their streaming service means. Additionally, the service’s new analytics platforms will enable creatives the ability to begin to market directly to their listeners and eventual fans.
I’ve written about this before, but as more listeners transition to using on-demand streaming radio from traditional broadcast radio, platforms like Spotify will become more useful to music artists. Not just as a source of revenue, but as a real way to build relationships with their listeners. Today, the artist sees no real information about who is listening to their music. Unless you’ve been using a service like Grooveshark that’s provided this kind of info to musicians signed up for their service for some time. Radio provides “sample” information, but that data isn’t exactly as precise or useful as say information you’d see from your website traffic analytics.
The added future benefit of being able to build a direct-to-fan store right inside where your fans are listening is a great opportunity that really hasn’t been provided by an online streaming service, to date.
Great read. Moby talks distribution & fan remix opportunities with BitTorrent, piracy and opinions on the weather, and building relationships with listening fans using everything the Internet has to offer.
Mathematicians Figured Out How To Execute The Perfect Reddit Submission
— this study is less about gaming the system of reddit and more about what makes a post more compelling to the audience. Keep things short, positive, and entertaining for better chances that other people will like it!
GaryVee on Using Twitter Search to Engage Audiences
If you’re willing to put in the effort and do a little bit of listening, you, too, can jump into conversations just like I did and create context with people like these that may eventually lead to the sale.
The next day, he rightly continues on the same topic to those who commented that his tactic doesn’t work. He rebuffs them asking how much they’ve tried it. As you might imagine, responses were weak:
I am blown away by the consistent ADD and impatience that the current American business culture exhibits when it comes to trying new methods and declaring them ineffective after only a cursory attempt.
The thing is, he’s exactly right. If you’re creative entrepreneur and you’re not in this for the long haul, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Like Gary says, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. There are no shortcuts developing relationships, especially those that are built on trust.
So get started. Jump on twitter. Search for those terms that people — who are interested in the same stuff you are — would say. And join the conversation. They are waiting for you!
"Lists gives you the easy ability to group your friends into specific lists which you can refer to quickly to catch up with tweets you may have otherwise missed."
We’ve talked a lot about how to use twitter and its lists strategically in our workshops. Dave does a great job talking about some specific ways to help others by sharing your lists publicly.
As a creator, making interest-based twitter lists can help you focus on your passions. This will make it easier to listen & engage with specific audiences, and in turn, help to build relationships and trust with followers. Taking a peek at (and subscribing to) the lists others have already assembled can be a shortcut to finding new followers and engaging with them.
Artist Merch How-to: Successfully Design, Market, and Sell T-shirts on Zero Budget
Capital. Lack of it is a big problem. Creators strive to do great things, but often without any upfront money, great things are stalled. It’s why labels and angel investors exist. Today, it’s why crowd-funding platforms like Pledge Music, IndieGoGo and Kickstarter exist. Thankfully, it’s why TeeSpring exists, too.
I heard about TeeSpring on an episode of This Week in Google on the TWiT netcast network. Jeff Jarvis, journalism professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, spoke about one of his students who started the company. The platform is a Kickstarter for t-shirts. Build a campaign around a custom t-shirt design, use a slider to set a minimum price and and another to set a minimum order needed to allow the t-shirt to be made. That’s it. The artist promotes the t-shirt campaign to friends and fans — if they buy in to the minimum amount, the t-shirt gets made. Most importantly for the artist, zero money up front needed!
It was just was I looking for to help a number of artists who had little-to-no upfront cash to make t-shirts to sell. You can go as low as a minimum of 10 shirts before your shirt gets made. The price varies depending on the design, number of colors and imprints (front and back), the quality of shirt, and the minimum threshold goal. TeeSpring handles fulfillment, too.
It’s a brilliant tool and I imagine this kind of platform is going to be coming to all kinds of merchandise stores — and why not?! If costs are known up front, all this ends up being is a pre-sale system that can help measure demand for a product. Nothing gets made unless the minimum order is achieved. So long as the costs are covered, everyone is happy.
The Artist Case Study
So, I convinced this amazing creator friend, Keith Medley, to give TeeSpring a shot…
One key part of growing your audience as an artist/band is finding out where your current audience came from, because most likely you will find a lot more fans where there is already a bit of buzz going. The problem is: Not every platform you or your band uses on the internet gives you all the statistics you need.
Take SoundCloud for instance, what you get (for free) is
How many plays a song gets
How often a song is downloaded
Who comments on your track?
But if you’re like me, you don’t want to dish out 29€/year to see who played it (if they are even logged in) or let alone 79€/year to get any geographical knowledge of your audience. YouTube does this way better; they give you statistics en masse, simply because they want you to be successful as it drives profit to them as well.
The tip I’m going to give you will not work for all occasions, but it can be used everytime you link to a song, video, download etc. from another page, say posting a SoundCloud song on Twitter. Before I go further into this, I’ll tell you how I learned this lesson “the hard way” (not that much was lost, but it was annoying none the less). If you just want to know what to do to get more statistics out of your links, just go ahead and skip the following chapter.
While Jack importantly emphasizes that no one will work for all artists, he does talk about a number of strategies, like leveraging covers songs with videos, trying to plan ahead with search engine optimization, and knowing your result with data analytics. He talks about Pomplamoose “blasting all channels” with updates, with an emphasis on important and content-rich updates, on many different social media & email platforms as they can, while still knowing that they won’t reach everyone. As pioneers of promoting their video-song on Youtube, it was interesting to hear that for Pomplamoose, they consider their videos to be the promotion or “packaging” for their music.
There’s some great discussion near the end about electronic dance music, or EDM which Jack is very excited about — both as an music artist having a new “palette” to work from, and what its cost of creation could do to the music market.
“I think people are naturally curious and want to know where the products they buy are coming from. It is satisfying and fulfilling to have that relationship between the creator and the customer. That’s hard to achieve with a box sitting on a store shelf.”—
1 year + $100K + booking agent + tour van split among four bands = very neat experiment.
Question: what will Hard Rock be doing to help the bands strategically build a fan base (and the demand for the band)? Or will the hype of being a Hard Rock band be enough to generate enough attention to sustain a band?
“Because there is no such thing as a prime-time debut on YouTube, creators work their way up from small audiences with whom they tend to interact directly on the site’s comments boards and who play a vital role in promotion. While this makes building an audience a challenge, it also means the audience actively and intimately creates its stars. Thus YouTubers constantly exhort viewers to “like,” to forward, to leave a comment.”—On YouTube, Amateur Is the New Pro - NYTimes.com
Nicki Bluhm's Van Session Covers and the 1% Youtube Rule for Artists
What you’re seeing above is a great music video cover by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers of the Hall & Oates classic I Can’t Go For That. The band has been recording from the dashboard of its tour van for some months, presumably between traveling from show to show. These great performances have been dubbed the “Van Sessions,” have been posted to Youtube and nicely curated into a playlist here. If you’ve seen it before, you’re in good company: This video hit the Internets on March 23, 2012 and has steadily been racking up views thanks to posts on Reddit.com, shares among friends on Facebook, showing up on Buzzfeed, thedailywh.at, boingboing.net and isnichwahr.de, among many others. You can see these stats (if the uploader makes them available) from video’s Youtube analytics, the little bar graph button under the video.
New Media Isn't New Anymore — Just Think Before You Post
In some recent work with artists — helping them setup systems like blast email updates, Facebook and Twitter posts, etc., it’s all too clear when artists perceive these kinds of communications as something new and are missing the basics. And if they can’t get past the basics, it’s really hard for them to see the advantages of these “new” mediums compared to traditional communications, like phone calls, letters, etc.
The Internet is here to say. Honest, it’s not a flash-in-the-pan. It’s not really fair for artists to pretend is something “new” anymore.
I know it can have a steep learning curve, and it’s tough to get our heads around, but I think it might be helpful if we can zoom-out and think of it all as not something so foreign, but just what we’d do naturally, albeit in a different medium.
Many artists have Facebook and Twitter accounts and are accustomed to using social media for personal, casual use to keep up with friends and following their interests. But I’ve found a trend that when it comes to talking about what they do, let alone promotion, they get stage fright and start acting in ways they don’t normally. Maybe they won’t post about their artistic work or upcoming performance at all, or maybe they’ll post a link, with nothing else in the update.
Just like with any other passing along of a link on Facebook or Twitter, we don’t just post a link, right? We say something (hopefully thoughtful, interesting, funny even?), and then include the link to what we’re talking about and want others to see.
This isn’t something new — it’s what we do in most communication, right?
If we’re going to call and tell our friends about something, we wouldn’t pick up the phone, and when the other person answered, just shout out a web-address and hang up, without giving context or saying anything else to them? How weird would that be? If we were sending a letter, same thing.
Same should go for Facebook and Twitter.
Engage & Use the Medium’s Advantage
Additionally, if we think about these specific mediums and what makes these platforms useful, it’s our ability to mention other people / things in our messages. What does this added benefit do for us?
When mentioned, those people see it (imagine what would happen if you mentioned someone in a phone call or letter and they heard it and saw it!);
Their friends and people watching / searching on them see it!
Amazingly powerful, but only if it’s used thoughtfully.
So, for example, when talking about an upcoming gig, artists should mention other people that might be involved in the show, like — not just other people in the band & the venue, but people (presumably the artists fans!) who’ve said they’re going to come. Maybe mention you’re bummed about those specific people who’ve taken the effort to say they couldn’t make it. Every time you do, you’re not just engaging with those people (because you’re continuing the conversation thought they were already engaged in with you), you’re reaping the added benefit of syndicating the message with all those people you’ve mentioned…and the people that follow them. How powerful is that — a system that rewards us for what we should be already doing — engaging with others!
It is NotNew Media Anymore
It really isn’t. So, starting today, set aside your fears and just be mindful of opportunities to do this with your social posts. No, it doesn’t have to be everything, one-off thoughts, pics & videos posts are great, and can be conversation starters of there own! But we should be taking advantage of this now common-place medium to start those conversations and engage.
There are A TON of good points in this great analysis of three indie artists who’ve had success with fan-fundraising using Kickstarter.com, by Clyde Smith. The conclusions hold true not just for fundraising, but also for all artist-fan engagements.
Tumblr, which is basically halfway between a blogging platform and Twitter, allows users to post photos, videos, and text. Critically, it also allows users to “follow” each other and “re-blog” the posts of others.
The latter concepts, which Twitter has also capitalized on with amazing success (through “following” and “re-tweets”), inserts reblogged posts into each user’s timeline stream. Thus, anyone who “follows” a user, also sees the re-blogged posts.
This turns Tumblr users into editors and curators in addition to content creators.
Tumblr an amazing free tool (blog or website replacement) that lets others spread the word about your art. The barriers to posting content — written word, photo, video, repost of someone else’s post— are incredibly low. No other blogging platform is as easily syndicatable and spreadable as tumblr.
Bandcamp's Analytics Shows It's Making Lemonade from Free Lemons
Bandcamp has a great post on their blog showing the results of inbound website traffic data. At least for Bandcamp, it shows that some users of freeloader websites still end up buying music, with a number of great examples.
It ends with some inspiring hope from the innovative company:
When we first launched Bandcamp, the conventional wisdom was that music retail was moribund, and that artists’ futures were all about those terrifically lucrative tours you guys go on, supplemented perhaps by trickle-down advertising revenue generated by millions of listeners enjoying your tunes while doing their best to ignore ads for toothpaste. Fortunately, it appears there’s still a thriving community of fans who understand that the best way to support the artists they love is by handing them money.
A very good and geeky explanation of why running your own website, with its own domain is so important for creators. From Marco Arment (the creator of the wonderful service Instapaper:
I’ve always built my personal blog’s content and reputation at its own domain, completely under my control, despite being hosted on many different platforms and serving different roles over the years. It has never been a subdomain of any particular publishing platform or host.