Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Rise Of The QR Code

QR code image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
QR Codes have slowly but surely become a hot item to increase fan engagement for many artists, bands, brands and companies these days, as their use in every day marketing continues to rise. If you don't know what QR code is, take a look on the left to see an example (it's from Starbucks).

So what is it? The Quick Response (or QR for short) code is actually a 2D matrix bar code capable of storing up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters. It can be thought of as a physical, analog hyperlink, since if you scan it with an app in your phone, it will take you to a web page on your browser.

The QR code was created in 1994 by the Denso Wave company in Japan as a means for tracking vehicle parts during manufacturing. It worked especially well at this function because a code can be detected and read at high speed, and although the popular use embeds a URL link, it's still used in a variety of rather mundane industrial tracking applications.

Okay, ready for some interesting QR code stats from How about:
  • 52% of people say they've seen or head about QR codes, and 28% have actually scanned one.
  • 57% of Facebook and Twitter users say they've scanned a QR code in the past year, and 40% say they've done so at least 5 times.
  • Of the people who regularly scan codes, 68% are Apple users, 26% Android and 4% Blackberry.
  • Starbucks are starting to use QR codes for payment.
  • Top brands like Ford, Audi, Pepsi, Ralph Lauren, McDonald's and Best Buy already use QR codes in their advertising.
  • Many authors are including QR codes in their books to take readers to updates and extras (something I'll be doing in the future myself).
So how do you get started? If you're a user, go online or to one of the app stores and download a free QR code scanner (I like Bee Tagg). The next time you see a code, give it a scan and it will automatically take you to a website on your browser. As long as you get a good scan (actually you're just taking a temporary picture with your phone camera and the app is translating the code), you're in business.

If you'd like to begin to use QR codes in your promotion, there are a variety of code generators available online. You can go here to see 14 of them, and get lots of useful code info as well. Also check out my previous posts, 10 Ways Musicians Can Use QR Codes and 5 Big QR Code Mistakes, for some additional ideas and tips on their use.

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, January 25, 2012

The Science Of Email Timing

timing clock image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
As I've posted here many times before, your email list is one of the most powerful marketing tools that an artist or band (or a business or brand) can have. Recently some data courtesy of Dan Zarrella and Pure360 have shown that there is a definite science behind the timing of sending your emails. Remember that all times are Eastern Standard Time.

Before sending an email, consider:
6AM to 10AM: The second most prevalent email opening time is at the the beginning of the working day.

10AM to Noon: Consumers are not opening marketing emails, choosing instead to focus on work.

Noon to 2PM: Consumers are unlikely to open emails during their lunch break, choosing instead to spend their time on news and magazine alerts.

2PM to 3PM: Right after lunch consumers remain focused on work, responding mostly to email offers related to financial services.

3PM to 5PM: Consumers start thinking about their personal situation and as a result, more emails relating to property and financial services are opened during this time period than any other.

5PM to 7PM: Consumers tend to open business to business (B2B) promotions during this period, but also open more holiday-type promotions during this period than any other.

7PM to 10PM: The time period when recipients are most likely to respond to consumer promotions is when they get off work.

10PM to 6AM: This is an email dead zone, as most sent during this period are ineffective.

Here are a few other timing issues to consider:
  • Bounce rates are highest in the morning.
  • Open rates are highest during the weekend by 45%.
  • Open rates are 53% higher in the morning.
  • Click rates are 10% higher on the weekend and early morning.
  • The most effective sending frequency is 1 to 4 per month.
  • Conversely, the unsubscribe rate is higher at 1 to 4 per month, but levels off at 8 to 31 per month.
  • The highest unsubscription rate occurs among those who have been subscribers for less than 10 days.
  • The highest click-through-rate (CTR) is with those who have been subscribers for less than 10 days.
To sum things up, don't send those promotional emails out without first thinking about the timing. It could mean the difference between your finds reading it or not.

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, January 24, 2012

A Look At Digital Piracy

Here's an infographic from WebpageFX that uses RIAA and IFPI info to look at the state of digital music piracy since 2004.

Let's face it, if we use figures from industry sources then the piracy numbers are always going to be inflated. I've seen stats that say that for every one digital download purchased, at least 20 are pirated, but that seems way beyond the realm of reason. Piracy has always been a fact of life to the music business, even as far back as the late 60's when consumer reel to reel tape machines first came on the market. The major labels figured that they were losing about 20% to piracy then, and I don't see any reason why that figure should be higher than that today. That said, as we approach widespread adoption of subscription music, look for that figure to drop like a rock. Why illegally download when you can get whatever you want so easily?

This infographic actually makes the case that digital sales are up because of piracy, and you can easily make a case that that's true. As I say multiple times in my Music 3.0 book, "your music is your marketing." The more exposure it has, the more likely people are to buy it.

Digital Piracy infographic image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog

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, January 23, 2012

What Is Pinterest?

Pinterest boards image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blogYou may have heard about a new social site called Pinterest, which has exploded from 1.2 million to 4 million users in about 6 months. Pinterest is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting. Once they're uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized themed Boards, which can be for any topic imaginable, from cats to classic cars to cats driving classic cars.

While most people will use this for their main topic of interest, artists and bands might use it as a place for fans to pin pictures of a tour, or for behind-the-scenes pictures when in the studio, or as a place to gather artwork for an album.

Pinning is easy with the official Pin It Button, which is a simple drag-and-drop browser extension. When you come across an image you like, just click the button and select the corresponding picture, then assign the pin to a Board and add some identifying text. If the Pin is something you want to buy, include the price in the description and it will attach to the Pin for easy reference. You can also take a picture with your iPhone and add it to your Boards with the mobile app (there's no Android support yet).

The social part of Pinterest is that you can share pins on Facebook to help expand your network, and you can check out the Popular button to see what pins are trending at the moment, which is a way to find new content or Pinners who share your interests. Share a Pin with another Pinner by using an @mention in the description, just like you do on other social sites and they’ll get an email to let them know they’ve been mentioned. While most Pins are photos, you can also pin videos by hitting the Videos button at the top of the page, which allows you to see all the available videos as well.

One of the problems with Pinterest is that it's currently not open to everyone so you have to be invited. You can sign up on their website, or get an invite to someone who's already a Pinner. Either way, Pinterest looks like it might be the next hot social network.

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, January 22, 2012

The Center Of Your Online Universe

Center of your online universe image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here's another excerpt from the 2nd edition of my Music 3.0 book, this time about how to keep your online life from overwhelming you, as well as making it more efficient as well. This is called "social media management," and is a big part of the book, but you can get the general concept from this excerpt

"So many areas of social media require attention that it can get a bit overwhelming at times, and that’s when you need a social-media management strategy. 

A common mistake that artists who manage their own social-media assets make is to have too many focal points (like YouTube, their Website, their blog, Twitter, and Reverb Nation, for example) all residing in different places and requiring separate updates. You can imagine how tough it is to keep every one of those sites updated regularly! Worse is the fact that it’s confusing for the fan, who just wants a single place to visit. Yet another problem is that you may be collecting email addresses from each site and they may all be going on different mailing lists.

The solution is to use one site (usually your Website) as a your main focal site and use that to feed daily updates and info to all the others via RSS or social-media broadcast tools like Dijit ( or Ping ( This means that you only need to do the work of updating a single site, with all the others getting updated at the same time.

The second component of this management strategy would be to have all of your satellite sites (blog, Facebook, and so on) designed in such a way to feed your social media viewers into your website (see the graphic on the left). At a bare minimum, the email registration of each satellite site should feed into the same list as your main site.

At some point social-media management gets too complex for the artist to maintain, and third-party help is needed. This is usually a good thing, since you’ve progressed to a point that things are so massive that you need help. Furthermore, a company that specializes in social-media management can keep you current with new tools and techniques that you might not be aware of. Even when outside help arrives, remember that you are still the one that drives the bus. Be sure to take part in all strategy discussions, but leave the actual facilitation to the company you’ve hired.

So to summarize, here are 6 ways that you can keep your online life from getting too complicated.

1. Keep a single site as your main focal point.

2. Feed all your updates from your main site via RSS or social media broadcast apps.

3. Develop your satellite sites so they all feed viewers into your main site.

4. Email list subscribers from all sites should go to same master list.

5. Get 3
rd party help when you get overwhelmed.

6. Keep driving the bus!"

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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