Thursday, February 25, 2010

6 Surprising Social Media Stats

Sometimes we assume some things about the Internet that just aren't true. We think that it's a tool primarily for the young, but that's not necessarily so. This became a personal revelation when my 80 year old father found my parents new home by surfing the web. No realtor, no word of mouth, and none of the traditional tools, just a browser.

Briana Kerensky crunched some numbers from 19 different social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Delicious and StumbleUpon, to come up with some surprising numbers in a post on, that verify that it's not teenagers and young adults dominating the social media sphere - it's their parents. The following is from Briana's post.

1. A quarter of social media users are between the ages of 35 and 44. According to Pingdom, people of middle age are the most "social" age group out there, because they were the generation of people in their 20s when online social networking took off in the mid-1990s.

2. 61 percent of Facebook's users are middle aged or older. While Facebook was originally created with college students in mind, older users have since taken over. According to Pingdom's study, 61 percent of Facebook's users are aged 35 and over, with the average age being 37. A full 64 percent of Twitter's users are over the age of 35 as well, with the average age of 39.

3. College-age people do not dominate any particular Web site. Pingdom's study revealed that no single Web site is the premiere choice for today's 18-24 year-olds.

4. The 17 and under crowd dominates Bebo. The only social networking site to have any kind of grip on the under 30 group is Bebo, which has an average age of 28. On Bebo 44 percent of the users are below 17 years of age. Owned by AOL, Bebo offers many of the same benefits as Facebook, but with more options to personalize profiles. It also offers space to promote music and original written works. Myspace also had a young group of users, with 33 percent being under 17.

5. Senior citizens have not caught on to social media yet. Folks aged 55-64, and 65 and over, are not heavy social media users. Pingdom attributes this stat to various factors, including seniors' lack of technical prowess and interest in the Internet. There's also the fact that social networking sites tend to be pretty time consuming for users. The older generation, which wasn't raised with home computers or phones with Internet (and got along with life just fine) just isn't used to using the Web as frequently as others.

6. has the largest amount of older members. had the largest number of users over the age of 65, at 8 percent. Another 78 percent are over the age of 35., which has been on the Internet since 1995, allows users to find, connect with, and keep in touch with people from throughout their lives. While it may just sound like a more nostalgic version of Facebook or MySpace, in 2008 Nielsen Online rated the Web site as number three in unique monthly visitors. In the United States and Canada alone, there are 40 million active members.

All this doesn't have a lot to do with music except for the fact that you can't assume anything when it comes to the Internet and social networking. Knowing your audience is still of prime importance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why The Controlled Composition Clause Hurts Artists In The Pocketbook

Here's a great video from New York entertainment attorney Wallace Collins describing the two copyright arrangements (performance and mechanical publishing royalties) that keep the music business churning. What's even better, he describes the Controlled Composition clause that severely limits the mechanical royalties that an artist who writes his own songs gets.

This is a clause that not well-understood, but Wallace does a great job explaining how it works as well as the possible negotiating strategies with a label. Yes, it's legal, but it's easy on the ears as the explanation is very simple and straight-forward.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monitoring Your Online Presence

Heath Close posted a great video on his In The Box Production blog called "Monitoring Your Online Presence."

It has some great tips for finding out who's writing about you or your band on Facebook and Twitter. While you still can't beat the granularity of Google Analytics, Stat Counter, Youtube analytics or Tynt Tracer for your website and blog, Heath's techniques give you a pretty good idea of exactly what your penetration is in the most widely used of the social networks, albeit without the precision of the fore mentioned tools.

Sellaband and Rolling Stone Updates

The Sellaband website described in yesterday's post has been off-line for the last 3 days. Now it appears that the company has been declared insolvent, which is the Dutch equivalent to bankruptcy (Sellaband is a Dutch company).

There's no word on what will happen to the funds raised by Public Enemy and other bands through the site, which could spell bad news for both bands and investors. Sellaband now seems to be one of those great Internet ideas that just can't be monetized. Too bad.

In other news, Rolling Stone Magazine's website has also been down for a few days, but speculation is that they let they're name registration lapse because of the error message that's displayed. Whether that's the case or not, it's a good lesson to every artist and band that owns their own website - always keep up with the name registration. Once it lapses, it may be tough to get back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sales Awards For The Decade

Recently the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released their tally of the decade's highest Gold and Platinum award achievements. About the most interesting thing about these totals is that most of the sales came in the beginning of the decade when CD's were still selling. Still, there are some impressive numbers on the list. I wonder what these totals will look like in 10 years?

The following comes via the always entertaining Hypebot blog.
Each level of multi-Platinum counts as its own unit and contributes to the tally. Only music released, as well as certifications granted, during 2000 - 2009 are included. Most total certifications (includes cumulative album, digital song, master ringtone, and music video certifications):
  • Group: The Eagles – 48 (Warner)
  • Male solo artist: Michael Jackson – 44 (Sony/Epic)
  • Female solo artist: Beyonce – 64 (Sony/Columbia)
Most album certifications:
  • Group: Nickelback – 25 (Roadrunner)
  • Male solo artist: George Strait – 29 (UMG/MCA Nashville)
  • Female solo artist: Britney Spears – 23 (Sony/Jive)
Most digital song certifications:
  • Group: Linkin Park – 13 (Warner)
  • Male solo artist: Kanye West – 19 (UMG/Def Jam)
  • Female solo artist: Taylor Swift – 25 (Big Machine)
Most master ringtone certifications:
  • Male solo artist: T.I. – 15 (WMG/Atlantic/Grand Hustle)
  • Female solo artist: Beyonce – 19 (Sony/Columbia)

*Format is: (record label/year released)
Highest certified album:
  • Group:  *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached (Sony/Jive, 2000), – 11x Platinum & OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – 11x Platinum (LaFace/Jive, 2003)
  • Male solo artist: Usher’s Confessions – 10x Platinum (LaFace/Jive, 2004)
  • Female solo artist: Shania Twain’s Up! – 11x Platinum (UMG/Mercury Nashville, 2002) 
Highest certified digital song:
  • Group: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” – 3x multi-Platinum (EMI/Capitol, 2008) and The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” – 3x multi-Platinum (Sony/Epic, 2006)
  • Male solo artist: Flo Rida’s “Low” – 5x multi-Platinum (Warner/Atlantic, 2008)
  • Female solo artist: Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” – 4x multi-Platinum (UMG/Interscope, 2008) and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” – 4x multi-Platinum (Big Machine, 2008)
Highest certified master ringtone: 
  • Group:  D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” – 3x multi-Platinum (Atlantic, 2006), Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” – 3x multi-Platinum (Universal Records, 2006), and Shop Boyz’ “Party Like a Rockstar” –3x multi-Platinum (Universal, 2007)
  • Male solo artist: Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” – 5x multi-Platinum (Universal/Cash Money, 2008)
  • Female solo artist: Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” – 3x multi-Platinum (Sony/Columbia, 2006)

September 23, 2004 - The decade’s highest certified album by a female solo artist – Shania Twain’s Up! –  reaches 11x multi-Platinum

October 22, 2004 - Digital Single award introduced. 45 titles were included in the initial group of certifications, encompassing tracks from each major recording company and representing nearly every genre in music

October 7, 2005 - Interscope artist Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” becomes first digital single to sell one million units

November 1, 2006 - Capitol Nashville country artist Garth Brooks takes Double Live (2008) 21x multi-Platinum. Garth Brooks is currently the best-selling solo artist in history having certified more than 128 million units to date

June 2006 - Master Ringtone award introduced. The Black Eyed Peas, Chamillionaire, D4L, T-Pain earn the RIAA’s first multi-Platinum ringtone certifications

January 10, 2007 = Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” goes double-Platinum to become the RIAA’s first multi-Platinum digital download

July 27, 2007 - The best selling ringtone by a female solo artist, Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” certifies 3x multi-Platinum

2008 - The RIAA celebrates 50th Anniversary of Gold Record

November 7, 2008 - The decade’s highest certified album by a male solo artist – Usher’s Confessions – reaches 10x multi-Platinum

May 8, 2009 - Flo Rida’s “Low” goes 5x multi-Platinum; is the highest certified digital download in history

August 21, 2009 - Michael Jackson’s legendary album Thriller climbs to 29x multi-Platinum to tie the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) as the highest certified album in RIAA Gold and Platinum history

October 12, 2009 - The decade’s top recipient of digital download certifications – Taylor Swift – takes her best selling song “Love Story” 4x multi-Platinum

December 15, 2009 - Lil Wayne’s ringtone “Lollipop” becomes the highest certified ringtone ever at 5x multi-Platinum

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Here's Why Public Enemy's Fan Funding Went Awry

Fan funding a recording was a hot topic the past couple of years. So much so that a website called Sellaband was launched as a way of facilitating the funding and a number of acts actually met with some success as a result. Indeed, 43 bands reached their funding targets through the site, with 35 of them set at the $50k mark and another at $60k, although most have been in the $10 to 20k range.

While raising funds from your fans might be a wise strategy for financing your next album, not everyone is successful, mostly because there's insufficient incentive for the fans to open up their wallets. The once mega Public Enemy is a prime example. The group was trying to raise $250,000 for recording and marketing a new album, and in December was 28% of the way there with $71,000 pledged. Since then, however, the fund has actually slipped to $67,400 instead of increasing.

Even though PE has been far more successful than any other band on the site in terms of total money invested, they're still unlikely to hit their target and here's why.

1) Like similar offerings, PE has multiple investment levels. Here's what they call "exciting incentives":
"Believer" Level = 1 Part ($25) Incentive: Exclusive, numbered CD in Digipak 1
"Hype" Level - 4 Parts ($100) Incentive: Exclusive, numbered CD Digipak, opportunity to buy 2nd CD at 50% off, & Name in booklet 4
"Rebel" Level - 10 Parts ($250) Incentive: All of Above plus Exclusive Limited Edition Public Enemy T Shirt 10
"Posse" Level - 20 Parts ($500) Incentive: All of Above plus Autographed Copy of CD signed by Chuck D 20
"Terrordome" Level [Limited to 50 investors] - 40 Parts ($1,000) Incentive: All of Above plus Unlimited use backstage pass for 3 years 40
"Bring The Noise" Level [Limited to 15 Investors] - 200 Parts ($5,000) Incentive: All of Above plus Executive Producer Credit on Album 200
"PE Number One" Level [Limited to 5 Investors] - 400 Parts ($10,000) Incentive: All of Above plus Studio Visit during recording session 400

The problem here is that the "exciting incentives" aren't really that exciting. You pay a relatively high price for not a lot in return. Perhaps they think that they don't have to offer more because they're a well-known entity, but it appears their fans have spoken with their lack of participation (or an example of a campaign done well, check out Josh Freese).

2) The average investment per donor is pretty low at an average of about $75 per each of their 901 investors. Most other acts average well beyond 100 bucks, with some approaching 200. Again, there's not much of a benefit for the investor at almost any level so there's no enticement to throw a lot of money at it.

3) Sellaband doesn't have much in the way of tools to market much beyond their particular network, and PE hasn't had a good enough social networking campaign to continue to reach out to potential investors.

In fact, PE could've used their fame for a dynamite marketing campaign, but if the following video is an example of what they'e doing, it was doomed to fail.

Public Enemy/ SellaBand Promo from Command Pictures on Vimeo.

How could you make a video trying to raise money without adding any details? There's no steak and no sizzle.

4) It's hard to be sympathetic to a band asking for money who has a member that's all over television in commercials and reality shows. If Flavor Flav is so famous, why doesn't he finance it?

The lesson here is that for fan financing to work, they must feel like their getting something special at any investment level. Bang for the buck is just as important in this arena as in any other.


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