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Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Music 3.0 Blog Week In Review

Here's the Music 3.0 Blog Week In Review For March 3 through 8:

What Data Should Musicians Collect?
It's the quality more important than the quantity that's important. Read more...

Does Social Networking Affect What You Buy?
A new study says not as much as you think. Read more...

Does Being Signed To A Label Rock?
The RIAA thinks so, but they're biased and their numbers don't make sense. Read more...

10 Low-Cost Low-Tech Promotion Ideas.
10 inexpensive yet effective ideas for great promotion. Read more...

Proof That The Music Industry Is Not Dead.
These RIAA charts show that music is more popular than ever. Read more...

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You should 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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Proof That The Music Industry Is Not Dead

You keep hearing that the doom and gloom about the music industry, and indeed it's in a terrible funk, but here are a couple of graphs from the RIAA (the record label trade association) itself that prove that music is in fact more popular than ever.

The charts provide an excellent overall picture of exactly what kind of music product has been sold since 1973. These charts take into account all kinds of music distribution formats, from vinyl albums to cassettes to 8 tracks to CDs to digital downloads.

The first chart just looks at albums.

You can see that the the best years were from 1995 until 2001 with the peak of almost 1.1 billion units in 2000. By 2010 sales were down to about a third of the peak sales, but digital album sales were increasing at a fairly rapid pace.

Now lets look at singles.

As you can see, the single was virtually a dead format by 2003, but once iTunes came online, the single took off into the stratosphere sales-wise to 1.1 billion in 2010.

What's the take away? In 2000 the music industry had it's best year ever with about 1.2 billion units (albums and singles) shipped. In 2010, the music industry shipped 1.4 billion units (combined albums and singles). The difference is that most of them were singles, which threw off a tenth as much revenue.

If you look at it from a revenue standpoint, the music industry is suffering, but we already knew that. But if you look at it from sheer popularity proven by overall units shipped, you can make a case that it's more popular than ever. The average fan just won't pay for filler anymore, nor does she have to - and that's the biggest difference of all.

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You should 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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

10 Low-Cost Low-Tech Promotion Ideas

I always get great response from excerpts from the Music 3.0 Internet Music guidebook, so here's another one. This time it's from The New Marketing chapter and it's called "10 Low-Cost Low-Tech Promotion Ideas."
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Promotion doesn’t have to cost money to be effective. Here are some ideas that can be powerful tools that don’t even involve a computer.
1. Don’t underestimate the value of something free. Fans love free items, either as part of a package (for example, buy a CD, and get a T-shirt free), part of a contest, or just being one of the first ten fans to email. Sometimes items of seemingly little value have a wide appeal. Backstage passes, seat upgrades, seats on stage, tickets to the sound check, invites to a meet and greet, and downloads of live songs are all prized by a real fan.
2. It’s surprising that this isn’t done more since it works so well: park a van or truck that has a banner on it across from a show by a similar act. Every fan entering or exiting the venue will be aware of you.
3. Free or low-cost entry to show “after parties” extends the show experience and rewards the true fan. These can be promoted along with the show, and even offered as a part of the ticket package. 
4. Instead of sending a “thank you” email to a promoter, writer, interviewer, or just someone who’s done you a good turn, send a hand-written thank-you note by snail mail. You’ll be shocked how well this works. It’s unusual, it’s sincere, and it’s remembered.
5. Consider asking your tribe to help you with promo. Ask them to put up flyers or send out emails. Put a PDF of a poster or flyer online for fans to download.
6. Fans always want a chance to meet the musicians. Consider having a “meet and greet” after every show, but make sure that the fans know about it in advance. 
7. Find your niche and market to it. It makes no sense to market to Amy Winehouse’s tribe if your music isn’t like hers, so don’t waste your energy marketing in that direction.
8. Make everything you do an event. What holiday is coming up? Is it a band member’s birthday? Is an anniversary near? Try a tribute to “Fans that just got laid off” or “Fans that just got hired.”
9. Use the power of your niche to widen your fan base. Flyer someone else’s show in a related genre. Sponsor somebody else’s event. Consider trading sponsorships and gigs with another band.
10. Align yourself with a cause you believe in. Causes often have a large PR mechanism behind them that can expose your music, but it has to be something you really believe in or it may hurt you in the long run.
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You should 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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Does Being Signed To A Label Rock?

A recent ReverbNation and Digital Music News poll revealed that 75% of artists no longer want to be signed to a record label. No surprise there. On March 31st Liz Kennedy, the director of communications for the RIAA (the Record Industry Association of America - the US record record label trade group), posted the following interesting ditty on the RIAA blog about why it "rocks" to be signed to a label.
"So why would an act want to be signed by a music label today?  For starters, the investment associated with developing new talent is substantial. IFPI estimates that music companies internationally invested $4.8 billion in discovering, nurturing and marketing artists in 2010.  Record labels today invest an average of $1 million to break a new pop act in a major market.  That investment supports a variety of production and promotional pursuits that most individual artists would never be able to afford on their own, including advances, recording time, music video creation, tour support and marketing. 
In a world where there are 2.5 million hip-hop and 1.8 million rock acts on MySpace alone, more often than not, the addition of a music label is usually the difference between a band that offers songs to a few devoted fans online, and one who embarks on a multi-city tour, whose music is featured on a hit TV show or commercial and who goes on to earn Gold and Platinum plaques. In a noisy digital music market, it takes a label to help acts stand out in the crowd."
You can read the entire post here, but what's interesting is that it references an interesting study done by the IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonograph Industry - the world wide record label trade group) called Investing In Music that supposedly breaks down the investment that a label makes in a act today.
"Investing in Music outlines the very substantial investments involved in developing and marketing successful artists. In the UK and US, it is estimated that it typically costs more than US$1 million to break a pop artist. This is spread across an advance paid to the artist, recording costs, video production, tour support and promotional work. A typical example of the breakdown of the costs of breaking a new pop act in major markets is as below:
Advance US - $200,000
Recording US - $200,000
3 videos US - $200,000
Tour support US - $100,000
Promotion/marketing US - $300,000
TOTAL US - $1,000,000"
Okay, this is what you expect from record label shills - lots of good news, glowing reports, and big numbers. Unfortunately, the whole thing is based on an alternate reality.

1) First of all, artists don't want to sign deals with labels (especially the majors) because they feel ripped off. You mean you want a piece of my touring and merch sales? And I get exactly what for that?

2) Today's artists feel that they can lay so much of the groundwork themselves, thanks to social media and digital distribution. Why bother with a label that will take most of the money (if there is any) and will most likely ignore you anyway?

3) Those IFPI numbers are totally out date. They may represent a typical signing in years past, but that's not the world we live in today. When was the last time you heard of an artist getting a $200k advance? When was the last time you heard of an artist getting a $200k budget? And tour support? That went away for most signed acts in the 90s. If anything, the promotion and marketing number is low. About 5 years ago it cost $1 million to break an act the traditional way with radio and television. It probably takes more today since those methods aren't nearly as effective anymore. So sure, those $1mil  deals still occur, but they're few and far between these days.

You can poke a lot more holes in both of these posts, but remember this: If you want to break big as an artist, you still need a major label, at least for now. Sorry, it's a fact of life. Look at any chart and see how many artists are indie. Not many. But here's the thing -  if they don't guarantee those big dollars to you, who needs them? You're better off going it alone. Besides, it's still better to build your core audience up slowly but surely, one fan at a time. Always was, always will be.
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You should 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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Does Social Networking Affect What You Buy?

Apparently social media doesn't affect the buying patterns of consumers as much as every thinks, according to a new study by everyone's favorite bank, Goldman Sachs. The study indicates that search engines  ranking (at 31%) has vastly more influence on buying than social networking (at 5%), with recommendation engines like StumbleUpon coming in second at 27%. What's more of a surprise, 33% say none of these have any influence at all.

I'd like to read the entire study before I'd get uptight about this chart, but it does correlate somewhat with conventional wisdom. Most people don't seem to pay attention to any of the ads on Facebook, but what's not mentioned in this chart is if direct marketing through social media it addressed or is this just for adverts.

Even so, it's an interesting chart that certainly indicates that there's still a place for traditional marketing.

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You should 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 3, 2011

What Data Should Musicians Collect?

The Internet has given today's musician the ability to collect mounds of data about her fans like never before, but the quality of that data is just as important as the quantity. Once again Jon Ostrow has hit the nail on the head with a great article called "What Data Should Musicians Be Concerned With" on the MicControl blog. Here are 5 data points that the article suggests you collect and why.

Location Data 
This is important so you know where to perform, and so you can better target your promotion.
  * Best way to collect: Make it a required field during mailing list registration.

Age
This allows you to choose the best venues to play. No use playing in a club if most of your audience can't get in.
  * Best way to collect: Once again, make it a field during mailing list registration, or check your blog, website and YouTube stats.

Social Media Use
To maximize your social promotion, you have to know how your fans are using social media.
  * Best way to collect: The article suggests following some related blogs and watching the comments, but another way is to design a survey and ask them.

Time Of Social Media Use
You have to know the best time of day to tweet or post to maximize your promotion.
  * Best way to collect: Hootsuite and Facebook analytics, but the article also suggests a new service (at least to me) called Timely that analyzes your tweets and suggests the best way. You can also try TweetWhen, but be aware that their suggestions differ.

Method Of Music Purchase
This is important because it not only tells you where your fans like to purchase music but how much they're willing to spend. This allows you to tailor your offerings to their spending habits.
  * Best way to collect: Once again, ask your fans with a survey from Polldaddy.com or SurveyMonkey.com.

Read Jon's fine article in its entirety for more great insights.

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You should 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.

The Music 3.0 Week In Review

Here are the posts from the last week of Music 3.0: The Blog Behind The Book.

Record Labels Claim They Lost $75 Trillion To Piracy.
When asked to estimate the damages they incurred in their suit against file-sharing service Limewire, the major record labels claimed they lost $400 billion (with a "B") on the low end, to $75 trillion (with a "T") on the high end. Read More...

10 Great Music Marketing Ideas
Here are 10 music marketing ideas from the Music 3.0 Internet Music guidebook. It’s easier to sell your music if you add extra value to it, so it helps to think outside the box when it comes to distributing your music. Read More...


Amazon Is First To The Digital Locker. So What?
Today Amazon announced a digital music locker service that enables users to upload and stream their music on multiple devices...  Read More...


The Best Time To Tweet
If you're using social media for promotion, then the timing of when you do it is critical. Read More...



How "Friday" Proves That Payola Still Exists
What's confusing is that the 60 million views have turned into just 12 radio plays so far. Read More...

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You should 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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