Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grooveshark's Beluga Analytics

Beluga Screen Shot image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
This week beleaguered Grooveshark released its free analytics tool called "Beluga." It's an interesting tool for researching the demographics and music habits of the people listening to a particular artist. Even better, it's free.

What's more, you can even dig deep into the culture and lifestyle, socioeconomics and product affinities of the listeners. And it's free.

Culture and lifestyle provide answers to questions like:
Do you own any of the following gaming systems?
What languages do you speak?
What kind of pets do you own?
How many children live in your home?
Socioeconomics questions include:
What's your current employment status?
What's your annual income?
What cellphone network do you use?
What brands of credit/debit cards do you use?
Not enough? How about some product affinity info like:
What kind of gaming system do you use?
What kind of insurance do you currently have?
What bank do you currently use?
Do you use any of the following websites?
So exactly how does Grooveshark get all of this info just from streaming some music? They've actually been offering opt-in surveys to their users for a while, which allows them to collect a tremendous amount of data on the listener if he/she chooses to answer the questions.

Why is Beluga a free service? On their FAQ page, they'll give you a mumbo-jumbo non-answer, but the underlying reason is that Grooveshark knows it's in trouble in the streaming business, facing some stiff competition from services like Pandora and Spotify as well as the wrath of the major record labels. There's a lot more money to be made in data collection, so Grooveshark is actually positioning itself for life after music streaming, as I see it.

What's the achilles heel? If an artist isn't on Grooveshark, there's no way to determine any information about their listeners. The Beatles aren't represented on the service, so there's no demographic data available as a result.

That said, it's a pretty cool tool if you're an artist and you're on the service (By the way, Grooveshark is about to release an artist's upload tool that will make that easier in the future). By no means do you get a complete picture of your listeners, but it's another piece of the puzzle. Did I mention that it's free (at least for now)? Check out Beluga here.

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, May 30, 2012

The Land Of Fake "Like's"

It never takes long for someone to come up with a way to game an online measurement that the music industry finds useful. Once upon a time, the major labels used MySpace followers as a measure of a band's popularity. That's until it was discovered that there were multiple ways to fake the numbers. Of course, the number of website hits were once used as a measurement until every unknown band seemed to have a million.

We knew this days was coming for some time, but now we have proof that Facebook likes are being paid for. Take a look at the graphic below and you'll see a number of tell-tale signs that the number of Like's may not be what they seem.

We live in a high-tech era that claims to have popularity measurement figured out, but it's interesting that the only sure way to determine popularity is decidedly old and low-tech - the number of people you pull at your concerts. Sales have always been gamed (although it's a bit more difficult these days), but if you have a string of sold out dates with people fighting to get tickets (that's the key), then you can be sure that an act is popular. Ironically, the artists above don't have any trouble on that front.

Yes, I know all about "papering the house" (giving away or offering tickets at extremely low price), but which would you trust more; a venue packed with rabid fans or a bunch of Facebook Like's?

Thanks to Bob Lefsetz for the heads up on the graphic.

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, May 29, 2012

6 Crowdfunding Mistakes

Crowdfunding image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Crowdfunding for music projects is a hot topic these days, especially with Amanda Palmer's ongoing success (a million dollars in 30 days!). Everyone wants to get in on the act, and I've certainly covered many of the strategies on how to do that here already.

But let's look at a different side of crowdfunding. Why do some campaigns fail? There was a recent article in Mashable that specifically looked at this,  and I'll quote their bullet points, but the explanations are mine.

1. Nobody Knows You. If you don't have a fanbase to begin with, you're probably not going to attract one on a crowdfunding site. Why should someone give you money if they don't know you, or even worse, don't trust you? You have to do the hard work first before you can ask anyone for their dough.

2. No One Can Tell What You're Talking About. Unless you can concisely describe who you are, what you want the money for, and what the contributor gets back in return, you're sunk. This is easy to overcome; just test it on some friends, fans or even some strangers. Their feedback will help you hone your pitch.

3. Nothing Sets You Apart From Your Competition. There are a lot of open hands out there, especially now that crowdfunding has become so popular. You have to communicate why your campaign is different and why the rewards are so valuable before they'll pledge some money though.

4. You Fail To Ignite, Engage, Or Connect. If you don't get the word out, or can't close a potential contributor when they get to the campaign site, your campaign will fail. A great video (see Amanda Palmer) can help people to understand what you're trying to do, but engagement through social media, email and your website is just as important.

5. You Don't Maintain Contact With Supporters And Backers. It's important to keep a running dialog with contributors through email and social media. They want to know how well the campaign is doing so they can feel good about their contribution. If they do, they may tell others that might make the difference in being a success or not.

6. You're Greedy Or Clueless About Fundraising Goals. Be conservative about your fundraising goals. If you aim too high, you may scare away potential contributors. If you're unrealistic in how much you need for a project (like $500,00 to just record an album), you can be sure you won't get it. Remember, it's a good thing to blow past your goal; bad if you don't reach it.

Keep these points in mind when planning your crowdfunding campaign. It's not an easy process (nothing good ever is), but you won't help yourself much by ignoring this advice. Read the entire article at Mashable.

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, May 28, 2012

Setting Album Launch Milestones

Ariel Hyatt image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Recently on Music Think Tank Cyber PR maven Ariel Hyatt wrote a great article about marketing tactics for a new album launch. I'd like to reprint just a part of that post; the section that deals with launch milestones.
"Plan some milestones starting from two months before the release date to at least one month after the album comes out. Here is how this could look: 
Two Months Before Release - Release a single, a great way to get the fans excited and also to get some current press quotes to include when contacting press about the full length album - Announce to your fans that tickets are for sale for the CD release show 
One Month Before Release - Press campaign begins for new album - Announce pre-sale campaign through your newsletter, and social networks including Facebook and Twitter - Set up a Facebook invite for the new release, send it to all your Facebook friends and post on your Fan Page 
Two Weeks Before Release - Keep the excitement going, hold a contest to win a copy of the new album or tickets to CD release show 
Release Day Activities - Write a news post about the release on your official website - Send out a Newsletter to mailing list - Update Twitter and Facebook with an “album out now” post and link to where they can purchase it. 
One Month After The Release - Service press with official music video and announce tour dates. Again, the more activities you can plan leading up to the release will help build the excitement with your fans, and the more press points you can arrange for after a release will enable you to keep contacting press with new content, while at the same time reminding them about the new album. Also, don’t forget to ask your family, friends, and fans to write reviews of your new album on iTunes and other digital retailers the minute it becomes available. Studies have shown that albums that are reviewed at iTunes actually sell more than albums with little to no reviews posted. In the next and final post, I will talk about supplying content while you’re in between album cycles, as a means to stay relevant and fresh with your current fans, and to increase your fanbase as well."
This is some great advice. Unless you formulate definitive milestones, you have no idea if your plan is working or not. Plus, it's a lot easier to achieve your various goals if they're broken into achievable parts. If you have an album that you're finishing, it's never too early to make a plan for it.

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, May 27, 2012

The Secret To Tour Routing

Martin Atkins has toured for years as a member of Public Image Ltd, Killing Joke and many others. He has a great site especially dedicated to helping bands tour called that has a variety of tips and tricks to help that tour go a lot easier while keeping your expenses low.

In the following video, Martin goes into detail about the value of tour routing, and how it can make or break a tour.

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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