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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The 5 Big QR Code Mistakes

Scanning QR code image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
QR codes seem to be all the rage these days, but that doesn't mean that just because you have one it will be effective. In case you don't know, QR codes are basically graphic analog weblinks that you can place on merch and packaging that will take anyone with a scanner app on their smart phone automatically to your website.

Mashable recently ran an article about the "5 Big Mistakes To Avoid On Your QR Coding" that I've adapted more for the music business.

Mistake 1: Not Testing The Code. Always test the proofs of your code with a variety of smartphones and scanning apps before you release it. A code that's too small (less than an inch) will often be too dense to scan if you’ve encoded a longer URL. Using bit.ly or goo.gl to automatically generate a short URL QR code is an easy fix.

Mistake 2: Getting Too Fancy With Text. QR codes can contain text as well as links, but if your goal is to get people to a mobile web experience, you should keep the  encode to a short URL. Don’t include any plain text, since many barcode scanners  may not read the link. Think of the QR code as a physical hyperlink that every barcode scanner should be able to immediately “click.” If your QR code requires the user to do much more than point and scan to arrive at the intended content, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Mistake 3: Serving Up Non-Mobile Pages. If your QR code scans successfully but you’ve pointed the user to a standard desktop website, that's a mistake. 99.9% of QR codes are scanned by a mobile device, so make sure your link is mobile ready.

Mistake 4: Putting QR Codes Where There's No Data Signal. I recently had this happen at a recent NAMM show. I went into a manufacturer's very well-laid out room that had QR codes on every product. The problem was that there was no data reception in the room so the QR codes wouldn't work. That was a lot of effort for nothing for the manufacturer, and a lot of frustration for the user.

Mistake 5: Not Offering Enough Value. The proper mindset is to reward the user for scanning your QR code. There's no point in taking someone to a page that's a standard home page URL or a digital copy of your flyer. You want to link to something much more than that. The most compelling campaigns tend to offer one or more of the following:
  • Exclusive rich media, videos and photos
  • Exclusive or time-sensitive access
  • Free downloads or swag
  • “Instant Win” contests
  • Special offers, coupons or gifts
  • “Secret” information
  • Deep integration with social media to activate viral loops
QR codes are cool and may be seen as cutting edge, but like so many things in marketing, they don't do you much good unless you implement them well. Make sure you think of these 5 mistakes before you design your next QR code campaign.
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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 daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 Steps To Branding Your Band

Music Marketing image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I spotted this list on Unified Packaging's website regarding some steps to branding your band. The company specializes in CD and merch packaging, but they also have some pretty good artist tips as well. I took their list and redid it a bit to come up with the following branding steps.

1. Have A Remarkable Logo. This is the first requirement if you’re planning to promote your band. You need this for your website, social sites, merchandise, for your stage during gigs…everything! You may start promoting yourself without it but it’s a big plus if you already have a logo. It separates you from the newbies and people will have an impression that you are a big fish.

2. Make Sure Your Website Reflects Your Music And Personality. Your website layout should reflect your music and your personality as a band. Try to be unique and remarkable with the fonts, copy, icons, and the overall look. Try to challenge the stereotypes of your genre without leaving it.

3. Make A Fashion Statement. KISS, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson - These guys are aware that they should use their bodies to promote their music. You cannot just wear whatever you want if you want to be known for your fashion but you do not have to be over the top like Lady Gaga either. A simple accessory like a big hat can make a big difference.

4. Have Some Cool Band Photos. All bands that aspire to become big need conceptual band photos for posters, merch, website, social networks, press kits, and a lot more. This is as important as the logo- you need this in order to start any kind of promotion. Let’s try the most basic- Facebook. Have you ever seen a facebook page without any band photos?

5. Have Some Creative CD Packaging. If you’re planning to release an album soon, then you better start thinking about the CD packaging. Your CD will likely be displayed in record stores, in your website, in online stores so your packaging better be impressive.

6. Have A Vinyl Release. If you want to go one step higher and if you think you have fans who are willing to spend, then release a limited edition vinyl. This will make your band look more handsome.

7. Have Some Fun Giveaways. Give your fans cool stuff that don't cost a lot during your gigs. Some bands give their fans cards and giveaways during the holidays. Here are some unique band giveaways to inspire you.

8. Have A Blog. The best way to captivate your audience, aside from your music, is thru stories. Tell them stuff about your day and your opinions about the latest issues. Show your human side and not just the “music machine” side. It will make them like you more.

9. Your Music Videos Should Reflect Your Band's Personality. Your music video should have personality if you want to create a brand. Try to aim for viral success by getting extra creative. Do not just make music videos that are forgettable. There are millions of ways to make your video unique so explore.

10. Have Some Graphic Tees and Merch. If your logo is not yet that popular, go for really cool-looking graphic shirts then just put your name and a small logo somewhere. Make sure your designs match your personality and make sure they’re the kinds that your fans would love to have. Same goes with your merch and stickers.

I think I could have come up with another 10 steps that have to do with social media and marketing, since these steps are pretty much dedicated to what Unified Packaging does, but this is a pretty good starting point and we'll leave that for another blog.
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Fire That Killed The Music Business

Building Fire image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
One of the sad byproducts of the London riots of the past few days is the catastrophic fire that burned a huge three-story, 215,000 square-foot building in Enfield to the ground. The building was owned by Sony DADC and held CDs and DVDs distributed by the Pias Group. Pias, one of the largest international music distributors, stored the CDs of more than 150 indie labels at the facility. All told, it's estimated that more than 30 million CDs were destroyed. It's not known exactly how much of the loss is insured.

While Sony will survive since they have product stored at other locations, this could mean the death knell for many of the labels who depend upon the income from CDs. Of course, the last thing the music business needs is to lose any indie labels at the moment. Bands like Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and Oasis are also directly affected, as product will mostly likely not be available to support their summer tours as a result of the fire.

So much is made of digital music these days as it's always forefront in the news, but the fact of the matter is that huge numbers of CDs still sell every year. Remember that over 326 million of the shiny plastic discs were sold just in the US in 2010 alone. While digital sales seem to be as large, that income to a label is a tenth (at best) of what a CD brings in. Take away that income from a label that's probably already teetering, and you've just put a knife in its heart. It's hard to find a silver lining in any of this at the moment.
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spotify Is A Hit So Far

Spotify logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Despite some different numbers from different sources, it looks like Spotify has found an audience, at least in the early going. While Billboardbiz.com estimates that the music service, which launched on July 14th, has amassed at least one million total users in just three weeks, AppData claims the total is closer to 2.1 million total users.

Either of these are impressive stats, but the most important figure is 70,000. That's the number of paying subscribers to Spotify after only the first week that it was available in the US.

Some see paid subscription like this as the savior of the music biz, while others see it as just another boulder pulling it down. On the one hand, if there are enough paid subscribers, the music business could be considered healthy again. A round number thrown about is 100 million at $10 per month, which comes out to $12 billion a year. While this might be great for the major labels, it's yet to be determined just how much of that the artists, publishers, and indies will see. If history holds true, it will be a pittance as always.

Spotify expects to have 50 million users in the US within an year. How many of those will be subscribers? If today's numbers stay on course that only amounts to 3.5 million users, well below projected 100 million. Then again, if Apple supplements its soon to be launched iCloud with some sort of streaming subscription service, those numbers just may be within reach.

Once again, this is still probably not great news for the artist, since the streaming royalty rate is so small ($.0012 - or about a tenth of a cent per stream) that an artist with a giant hit may only expect enough money to buy a nice dinner, if that. Another example of Music 3.0, and why an artist's supplemental income is so important.
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why The $.99 Price Point?

99 cent sale image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Did you ever wonder why Apple chose $0.99 as the base price for a song on iTunes? There's actually some sound retail psychology behind it.

Many studies (such as ones from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and MIT's Sloan School of Management) have shown that a price ending in $x.99 makes a product's price look more attractive than one that's rounding up to a full $x.00 amount, which is why you see so many prices at stores in the mall end in either $.99, $.98, or even $.95. If a piece of clothing is priced at $9.99, it has a much better chance of selling than at $10.00, according to the theory. You even see this with high ticket items like cars, with prices like $24,995 because it doesn't break the psychological barrier of $25k.

When it comes to buying a song, $0.99 cents just seems a lot less than a dollar, even though it's almost the same. The same holds true of Amazon song pricing at $0.69, which still seems less than $0.70. We've been trained by years of buying at retail to look for that "9" at the end of the price tag. It's just comfortable to us.

That said, in this age of credit card, Paypal and Square transactions where no physical currency changes hands, it would seem that perhaps this practice is heading for scrap heap. When you purchase something at a store with currency and get change back, even if it's a penny, you feel like you've somehow received a deal. Purchase the same item with a credit card in a currency-free transaction, that feeling no longer exists.

What do you think? Is the $x.99 price a relic of the past? Do you feel better purchasing at that price instead of a full even-dollar amount?
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Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

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