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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Find Keywords With Google's Wonder Wheel

Google has a great feature that just about nobody knows about called the "Wonder Wheel." It's a visual way to find related keywords (and keyword phrases) quickly and easily. Here's how it works.

1) After you do a normal search, click on the Show Options button just above the first page rank as in Graphic 1.




2) Now choose the Wonder Wheel option from the list options as in Graphic 2.






3) A Wonder Wheel will appear with your chosen keyword in the middle of the wheel, and different keywords at it's spokes, as in Graphic 3.




4) If you click on any of the keywords at the spokes, a new sub-wheel will appear with additional keywords, as in Graphic 4.


One of the reasons that you want additional keywords is that Google now looks at keyword diversity as well as keyword density in your copy text on a web or blog. Therefore, the more related keywords you have, the more it will improve your search ranking.



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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Online Radio's Takeover - Part 2

Last April, I posted an article on my Big Picture blog entitled, "Online Radio's Takeover" that outlined how online radio was gaining listeners at the expense of traditional broadcast radio. Now a year later we have a new survey from Bridge Ratings that illustrates just how quickly the shift is occurring, this time with a bit more granularity.

The figure on the left shows that people are listening to a lot less AM/FM radio these days, down from 22 hours per week in 2005 to 18 in 2010. Why has that figure declined? Because Internet radio now attracts more than 60 million listeners a week (predicted to rise to 77 million in a couple of years), putting a real dent in AM/FM listenership. But what's not shown in this chart (but was spelled out in other data by Bridge) is the fact that, although all listeners are listening to more online radio, it's the 18 to 24 demographic that now listens the most. And because they listen to more online radio, they listen to a lot less traditional broadcast radio.

Let me explain why that figure is important to artists, musicians, bands, labels and anyone who makes their living (or hopes to) in music:

1) Broadcast radio was always the biggest form of promotion of a record. You needed airplay to get a hit. If the very demographic that listens to your music isn't listening to AM/FM radio, why do you need to worry about radio at all?

2) Record labels always had two major jobs (forgetting about producing the product for a moment) - distribution and promotion. If your market doesn't listen to radio anymore, but a label is only good at that kind of promotion, why do you need them?

3) If more and more people are listening to online radio, and it's easy for you to get on it (either on the large stations like Pandora or any of the hundreds of small specialized stations), why do you need a label to do something that you can easily do yourself?

4) Because there are so many small niches served by online radio, it's much easier to build an audience than ever before. If you want to listen to only Saharan Cowboy music, you can program a station or find a dedicated one just for that music.

5) Here's the exception - you do need traditional radio if you blow up on your own online to the point that the only way to go to the next level is with the traditional marketing and promotion that a label is really good at. Good for you if you get there, but that's probably not a realistic goal to most artists and bands.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that there's a lot more that goes into distributing, promoting and marketing yourself beyond the points listed above. The main idea here is that to promote yourself, you need airplay. You can get that airplay yourself and for free online. And what's even better, that's where your audience is right now, and that audience is growing by the day.


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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Ramifications Of A Lower Priced Rhapsody

As you may know, I'm a big proponent (along with a lot of industry pundits) of subscription music. It just makes so much sense for all the parties involved. It's a steady income stream for the artists, publishers and labels, and it's definitely a lot better for the consumer. Why download and fill up your hard drive when you can have every song at your fingertip anytime and anywhere? You can read a lot more about the advantages and disadvantages of subscription on my previous post.

Subscription hasn't hit critical mass yet, but it's used every day by a lot of people world-wide. Spotify is used by over a million subscribers in Europe, and Rhapsody, MOG and Napster together have over a million subscribers in the States.

Now comes word that Rhapsody (who last week was just spun off into a separate company by its owners - Real Networks and MTV) is lowering the price of a subscription from $14.99 to $9.99 a month. Why is this important? Because $9.99 is thought to be the magic price point where consumers feel comfortable paying a monthly fee. Why pay $10 for only 10 songs via download when you can have millions for $10 via subscription?

But Rhapsody was also forced into action. It has about 675,000 subscribers, but that's actually a decrease from last year, and both MOG and Napster offer $5 plans. But the real reason may be to strike before the 800 pound gorilla in the industry (iTunes, of course) introduces their hypbrid-subscription service, where you can put all your music in the cloud (their servers) and easily access what you don't already own. There's been no firm date for it's introduction, but industry insiders firmly believe it'll be sometime this year.

Subscription also holds promise in both the mobile industry (some can't fit all their music on a smartphone), and the possible licensing to various ISPs, which might end up just being an industry pipe dream.

That being said, it's important to stay tuned to the subscription story, since it has major ramifications for musicians and songwriters as well. How so? Most record label and publishing contracts don't account for record label income from subscription yet. There could be a lot of money that makes it into a label's pocket, and not yours.


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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, April 5, 2010

7 Website Mistakes Artist's And Bands Make

As I wrote in a number of previous posts, having a website is important to any artist or band. It's not enough to have just a Facebook or MySpace page anymore, a dedicated site is needed if you really want to control your message and build your tribe. Here are a number of common mistakes that artists and bands make when they don't pay careful enough attention to the dedicated sites.

1) No contact info. This is the worst offense of all. You can have a website that looks great and has tons of great stuff about the band, but it will all be for nothing if people can't reach out and touch you. This means they can't send you an email to book you for a gig, to ask you to exchange links, to become your fan, to buy something, or to complain about something. Music 3.0 is all about communication with your tribe, so displaying your contact info so it's easy to find is job #1.

2) No mailing list registration. If you don't have a mailing list, now is the time to create one. It's the main way to reach out to your tribe. Consider it your marketing arm for telling your fans when you have a new release or when and where you'll be gigging. Make this really obvious because it's one of the main reasons for having your own website. Check out this previous post for more info on mailing lists.

3) No easy way to purchase your music. It has to be both obvious and easy to buy one of your tunes or CD's. Don't make someone go find it. Either sell it directly from your site or have a direct link to iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby or any other distributor you're using. Make sure you go through the process yourself to make sure the process is completely easy and seamless.

4) Too much information. Don't make the pages of your site so loaded with photos and text that they're difficult to read. Try to keep the text down to 300 to 400 words, and make sure there's a lot of white space. Check out some of the artists and bands you really like for ideas.

5) Bad links. Everyone hates bad links. Your fans will loose interest and Google will penalize you in the search engine rankings. That's why it's important that every link works on your site, and every incoming link to your site work as well (which is a given, because you won't even have visitors if the links are bad to begin with).  Consider the "Error 404 Not Found" prompt as the worst thing that can happen on your site.

6) Bad email address. Almost as bad as a bad link is a bad email address that bounces. Fans find this very disrespectful. Sending them to an email address that you never check is almost as bad. Make sure that the address works and is forwarded to the address that you check every day. Make sure you answer any email within 24 hours.

7) No Press section. While not having a press section on your site is not fatal, having one is a sign of professionalism and will be a big help to anyone trying to book you or write about you. See this previous post for more about what your website press section should be.

These are mistakes that usually result from not giving your site enough attention in the first place. They're easy to correct and totally necessary to avoid in order to maintain and build your tribe, and facilitate any marketing and sales efforts.



Follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

6 Free Tools For Measuring Your Online Buzz


You can do all the social networking, friending, tweeting, and emailing you want, but if you don't have a way to measure how you're doing, you can never be sure that what you're doing is working or not. This can lead to a lot of extra work, taking up the time that you'd normally use to do the thing that you really want to do - make music.

That's why measurement tools are so important. You can instantly see what kind of reach that you're having from your efforts so you can operate more efficiently. Here are 6 free tools that will give you a surprising amount of information. I personally use them all and find them extremely useful.

Google Alerts (google.com/alerts) - This service sweeps the web and sends you an email whenever it finds a mention of your designated keyword phrase or phrases (your band name, for instance). You'll be surprised where you show up.

Twitter Search (search.twitter.com) - Acts much like Google except that it searches Twitter for any keywords or phrases.

Hashtags.org - I posted about this the other day. It's different than Twitter Search in that it looks only at a keyword preceded by a hashtag (#). You can read my article for more info on hashtags.

Who’s Talkin (whostalkin.com) - This service looks at blogs, Twitter and the news for your keyword. It differs from Google Alerts in that it doesn't send you an email since it works more like a traditional search engine.

Stat Counter (statcounter.com) - I love this one. Once you register with them, they give you a piece of html code to put on your site or blog that then provides statistics about who visits. It seems a lot more accurate than what you get from the statistics of your website (and you don't get much in the way of statics for most blogs anyway), and the info is really granular in that you can almost drill down to see the very house of one of your visitors if you want.

Tynt Tracer (tynt.com) - This one's similar to Stat Counter, except that it traces images and text that’s been copied off your site. Once again, when you register they give you a piece of code to put invisibly on your site. If someone copies some text, a Creative Commons notification will come up with the paste, telling both the copier and his readers where the text came from and under what provisions that it can be used.

I'm sure that these aren't the only free measurement tools out there, but they're the ones I use every day and find useful. I'm sure you will too.

Follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

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