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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Google + Still Growing

Google+ Followers image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Google + is growing like a weed. Every week it seems to gain more and more users at the expense of Facebook. Usage there is still high, although most people have only so much time for networking, so time spent on Google + means that a little less time is spent on Facebook.

That being said, now is the time to make you presence felt on Google +. As my friend and social media maven Ariel Hyatt states on her excellent post "The Musician's Guide To Google +", musicians just can't avoid the network any longer because of the following reasons:
"1. Google + pages rank very highly (if not #1) in Google searches.
This is incredibly important for any emerging musician trying to establish an online presence, as it will almost instantly increase your visibility. Even if you are still too obscure for your Facebook Fan Page or your personal website to appear towards the top of a Google search, a Google + page will almost instantly rank towards the very top.

2. Google + is the fastest growing social network in history.

Of course it is! Google is already such a dominant force that anything they introduce can grow, and fast. So it is no surprise that Google +, introduced in July of 2011, received 20 million visits in the first 21 days of its existence. As of September 2011,
Google + was up to 25 million registered members, which is still infantile compared to Facebook which is somewhere in the range of 750 million registered members. But if Google + can continue to grow at it’s current rate, it may be able to give Facebook a real run for the money.

3. Google + has already shown to be a powerful tool for musicians.

Within the first weeks of the Google + launch, a singer/ songwriter named Daria Musk took advantage of some of the FREE Google + features, namely Google Hangouts, to host a virtual concert to hundreds of fans and new listeners."
You can read the rest of this great Cyber PR post here. In the meantime, the chart on the left indicates the most followed Google + users. I guess it shouldn't be a big surprise that Britney Spears narrowly nudges out Google CEO Larry Page. Nor is it that "spiritual advisor" Snoop Dog is at number 3. What really is a surprise that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is number 4.

Which brings us back to why you should be on Google +. You can never be on this list unless you join.
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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, December 7, 2011

How To Reach Out to Industry Execs

World with headphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
As you might imagine, I get a lot of email from people asking me to critique or help them with their work. This is something that I love to do, but most days there isn't enough time for my own work, let alone something coming from someone else. It really does hurt when I realize 3 or 4 weeks later that I still didn't get around to listening to something. Rest assured that eventually I will get around to it, although not always in a timely manner.

That being said, you don't get something unless you ask for it, but there's a definite right way way to do it, and there are some reasonable expectations that you should have when doing so. Music Think Tank had a great article about this recently that you can read, but here's my version.

When you reach out to someone in the industry, remember that:

  • They're busy people first and foremost. Most people in the industry are doing too many jobs at the same time. They're overworked and most likely underpaid and already have a lot on their plate. They're not sitting around waiting to hear from you because there's probably 10 things on their to-do list that they won't even be able to get to today. Consider yourself lucky if you happen to get a sliver of their time, but don't take it personally if you're rejected or ignored. Unless you have something to offer that fills one of their needs at that specific moment, they probably just won't be able to fit you into their already crowded mind. 


  • They don't like people who aren't straight forward. Back when I was writing for magazines, I had a friend call me up and waste my time by beating around the bush hoping I'd suggest that he was awesome enough to write an article about him. I would have much preferred he just got right to the point and said, "I'm trying to get some press? What do I have to do to get you to write about me?" That why I could've either told him how or told him I couldn't, but he would've known a lot sooner and saved us both a lot of time. To this day I still don't want to talk to him because he turned me off that badly. People that are working in the industry are busy. Get to the point. 
  • It can never be about the money. If you're calling someone up and looking for help, a job, or even a record deal, the last thing you need to discuss is  money. It's an instant turn-off and will immediately get you dismissed as someone who doesn't care enough about the right thing. This is an industry that requires you give a lot more than you take, and do so gladly. Do that, and the rewards will come by themselves. The only time you're in a position to talk money is if someone calls you!
  • They may not be able to give you what you're looking for. You may be looking for a critique or advice, but they just may not be able to supply it. Why? Everything and everybody in the business is somewhat unique, and the knowledge or experience that was required at one time in the past may no longer apply (especially in this Music 3.0 world). It could be that person doesn't have any better idea that you have, or that what they know is outdated (hopefully they're aware that that's the case).
  • You need to have your elevator pitch ready.  Know what an elevator pitch is? It's a very focused and to-the-point presentation that should last the length of an elevator ride. Entrepreneurs looking for money develop their elevator pitches early in the process in the event they find themselves on an elevator with someone who might have the ability to fund their company. The fact is, everyone should have an elevator pitch that describes who they are, what they do, and what they're looking for in 2 minutes or less. This takes some time to get right, but pays dividends even if you find yourself pitching outside of an elevator. If you've enticed the person you're pitching to enough, they'll ask for more details.
Remember these points the next time you want to reach out to someone for some help. In this case, a little bit of knowledge really can go a long way.
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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, December 6, 2011

Does a Video Really Have To Be Viral?

We'd all like to have the next big viral video with several million views overnight, but the likelihood of that happening is almost as remote as winning the lottery. That said, perhaps a viral video isn't the key to promotion after all. As you can see from the infographic below, sometimes a clever promotional video that isn't viral in the slightest can be just as effective (or even more so) in getting the word out.

Although the focus is on a hygienic product, it could just as well be about your next single, album, tour or merchandise. In the article where this came on ReelSEO, three premises are stated:

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 1: Focus on Distribution

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 2: Not Social Enough

"Screw Viral Videos" Reason 3: Make the Videos that YOU Want to See

I think the sooner that you get the idea that a video must go viral to be successful, the sooner you begin to make a video that's more effective for your promotion.
You can read the entire article here.  Below the infographic, you'll find the video that cause the stir.

YouTube sensation infographic image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog





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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, December 5, 2011

A Big Change At WMG....Maybe

Warner Music Group logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Today it was announced that Warner Music Group chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. will step down as of the end of January. Bronfman has been pretty good at destroying companies, from Seagrams (the liquor dynasty that his family built) to Universal Music to taking Warners to the brink as their stock price took a big hit, so it's hard to tell for sure whether the decision to leave was his decision or new WMG owner Len Blavatnik's.

Bronfman's leadership had little to do with music; it was always about the money. More market share, higher stock price, and more acquisitions all had more precedent than developing talent for the long term. In this case, you reap what you sow, as WMG is just another major on a slow decline.

While it might seem like a good move that one of the old guard executives is leaving, don't be so sure that it will make a difference. Remember that the company is still owned by a Russian oligarch. not by a music person. Big money and music have never mixed, since the product is turned into a commodity rather than the art that it is. Since buying Warners earlier this year, Blavatnik hasn't shown that his purchase was anything more than some wealthy bargain hunting.

When the music business was at its peak in the 70s, the Berry Gordy's, Ahmet Artegan's, Jac Holzman's and Mo Ostin's of the world were running it. These were real music people that lived at breathed what their artists did and were willing to stand behind them until they broke through in a big way. Unfortunately we live in a much different world today; one that relies on immediate success and spurns artist development and technical innovation. It's no wonder that a tech company (Apple) basically took over the business by supplying the distribution chain that the labels could not.

So how will anything change? We need a new crop of music entrepreneurs, ones who are their audience and love music for the music, not the money. Until that happens, music will remain in the doldrums and the 3 remaining major labels will continue down their long, slow death spiral.
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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, December 4, 2011

The Death Of Artist Development

Music 3.0 2nd edition book cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I'm pleased to announce that the 2nd edition of my book Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age has just been released and is now available online and in book and music stores near you. The latest edition has 5 totally new chapters as well as new interviews with social media maven Ariel Hyatt and Topspin CEO Ian Rogers. Here's an excerpt from the 2nd chapter entitled "The Death Of Artist Development."
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"The industry has been slow to develop a new generation of artists, instead relying on so-called “heritage” artists like The Eagles and Madonna for large sales numbers. Since grunge was the biggest genre trend in the past 20 years or so (musical trends used to come every 6 to 13 years), it can be said that the industry is long overdue for something new. But with less artist development than ever before, when will this happen?

Artist development has always been the lifeblood of the industry, even as far back as M1.0. A good example of this is Geffen Records (now owned by the Universal Music Group). To build his label, David Geffen signed three of the biggest stars in the world at the time (1980): Donna Summer, Elton John, and John Lennon. Donna Summers’s and Elton John’s first albums for Geffen stiffed outright. While John Lennon’s was also headed for the dumper, he was unfortunately killed, which caused his entire catalog’s sales to spike. It wasn’t until the label signed new acts that it truly became successful, with Whitesnake and Guns N' Roses leading the way. As always, if you want to get rich in the music business, you’ve got to invest in the new.

The nature of artist development has changed through the years, going from being one of patience to that of instant win or lose for the artist. In the music business’s so-called glory days of the late ’60s and ’70s, it was not uncommon for a record label to stay with an artist for three, four, or even five albums (as was the case with mega-stars David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty) as the artist built an audience and eventually broke into the mainstream music consciousness. This is because the most successful labels like Warner Bros., Atlantic, and Elektra were run by music visionaries instead of large corporations worried about their quarterly bottom line. As the conglomerates gradually took over the major labels, that patience grew less and less until it reached today’s “the first record must be a hit or you’re dropped” mentality. Luckily, M3.0 finally provides an alternative to this way of thinking within the corporate music industry.

The Death Of A&R
The job of A&R isn't what it used to be, and looks to be dying even faster than the major record labels. According to former Arista Records A&R man Rich Esra, one of the publishers of The Music Business Registry, a quarterly publication that tracks A&R people and provides their contact information, there were only 25 A&R execs hired in 2010 while 40 were let go without a single one of them being rehired. In 2009 there were 58 hired and 51 laid off, and in 2008 there were 80 hired and 64 terminated. Notice a trend?

Rich recently posted the reasons that he thought A&R was dying in the excellent Digital Music News newsletter. According to Rich:
"1) The major labels are hiring fewer and fewer A&R executives because the volume of acts (and more importantly the types of acts) being signed have dramatically decreased.

2) The A&R process used to be about the discovery, signing and nurturing of the act. Today, A&R executives are not looking for talent per se. They are looking for an ongoing business.

An artist that has developed some kind of traction and awareness on their own is what I'm talking about. Today, acts need to be "developed" or at least be developing in a business sense, for any label to have even the slightest amount of interest. The idea that today's A&R executives will discover an unknown act/artist and develop that artist is an illusion. They have neither the desire, time or money, for that matter, in 2011.

(3) This is why from an A&R perspective, only the most generic, ubiquitous type of acts get any attention from labels today. There is only a certain type of act these days that major labels are willing to sign."
We've all heard the stories about the meddling A&R guy who knows nothing yet demands that an artist change their music or direction for reasons known only to him, but the fact of the matter is that there were far more good A&R people employed than bad ones. Someone has to find the next generation of talent just to keep these companies alive, and without A&R, it's more likely than ever that the major labels will die along with the position."

You can read additional excerpts from this and my other books on the excerpts section of my website.
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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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