Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Festivals Score Big While Concert Attendance Down

The concert business is in real trouble. Industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz wrote  in his newsletter yesterday that uber-promoter LiveNation has cancelled 200 shows this summer because of poor advanced ticket sales.

We're in a recession, people don't have the money, they're not interested in many new acts and everyone's seen all the classic acts before. There's no incentive to pay an inflated ticket price laced with service charges, extra parking fees and outrageous beverage and swag prices.

But there's one area of the business that's hitting  it out of the park in terms of attendance and that's the festivals. Both Bonnaroo and Coachella were major hits this year despite higher prices and I think there's a major factor involved.

Festivals match the new listening habits.

Music fans no longer listen to an entire album, they listen to singles. It's Short Attention Span Theater for music, which is the perfect mentality for a festival attendee. There are usually multiple stages, so if you don't like one act, go find another that suits you. Pretty soon another act will be on to check out anyway.

Of course, a festival is a big band for the buck as well. Multiple headliners over several days with a lot of up and comers? For many, it's heaven. Of course, the conditions aren't as civilized as a concert at a modern venue, but for many, the communal nature of the event is just icing on the cake.

Europe already has many more festivals than the US, but expect that to even out over the next few years. For the concert industry, this may be on the only growth area available.

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, June 15, 2010

Is The TJ The New Voice Of The Artist?

I just read about MTV's search for a an official twitterer, which they're calling a TJ (you know, Twitter Jock) and I think it's a brilliant idea. No, not because they're hiring someone to be their Twitter voice, but for creating the title.

Until now, anyone who twittered on behalf of an artist or corporate entity was viewed as more of a surrogate who did the job because the artist couldn't or wouldn't. Fans were usually upset when they found out that it wasn't the artist, and if they knew it was the surrogate up front, they took the communication lightly.

By giving the job an official name, the position now has some status that the fan or friend will hold in a greater esteem (as long as the job is done well, that is). It's exactly the position that's been needed in a band or artist's online presence.

So hat's off to MTV. You've created something greater than you know.

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, June 14, 2010

Top 15 Worst Website Practices - Part 2

In the last post we looked at the site practices that both search engines and visitors really hate, today we'll look more at what's more or less invisible to the visitor, but can penalize your search ranking. Your search engine rank is where you come up on the results page when someone does a search for you.

In this case, we're going to use a hypothetical band "Emerald" as an example (sorry if there is a band already called Emerald, but you didn't come up high enough in the search results for me to find you.)

8) You don't use the band name in the URL. If you can't buy, .net, .org, .us, etc., URLs, then your url should at least have Emerald somewhere in it like, "," "", ""

9) You don't use the band name in the title tag. The title tag is what come up on the top of browser page. In the case of this blog it says, "Music 3.0 - The Blog Behind The Book." To be really search engine friendly, you'd put something like "The Emerald Band From Chicago."

10) Your title tags are the same for all pages. If you have 18 pages on your site and they all have the same title text, you've robbed yourself of an excellent SEO opportunity. Each page is unique and title tag should be treated that way and directly apply to the uniqueness of the page.

11) You use superfluous text in your title tags. The use of "Welcome" may be the worst offender. A tag that says, "Welcome to Emerald" doesn't give the search engine much to go one (at least it has the name in it.) What would be better is something like, "Emerald - The Best Band In Chicago." That accomplishes 3 things - it states the name of the band, the fact that you are a band, and that you play in Chicago.

12) You incorrectly use anchor text. Anchor text is the text that is hyperlinked. Search engines love it when it actually describes something. Using a phrase like "click here," misses an SEO opportunity. For example. Good - "Here is the first part of the Top 15 Worst Website Practices." Bad - "For the first part of this article, click here." The first one is description and search engine friendly, the second isn't.

13) You use too many keywords. It was once thought that that you should include every possible relevant keyword that you can think of in your keyword metadata area. As a result, you'd find sites that would have 100 of them, but soon Google caught on and changed the rules. The problem is that Google now only recognizes the first 4 or 5, and may even penalize you if you use a lot more, so limit yourself to the best ones. Check these articles out called Finding Keyword Phrases, Finding Keywords With Google Suggest, and Finding Keywords With Google's Wonder Wheel (notice the anchor text?).

14) You practice "keyword stuffing." Keyword stuffing means that you use your keywords at every opportunity in the text on your page. Once again, Google doesn't like this and will probably even penalize you if you use a particular keyword more than 5% (some say it should even be as low as 2%.)

15) You use irrelevant keywords. Let's say that Emerald is a cover band and plays a lot of Beatle's songs. If you use The Beatles as a keyword without using it in the body of your text, it's considered irrelevant and may get you penalized. That's to keep you from loading up on the most popular keywords of the moment in order to send a lot of traffic your way. Doesn't work, so don't try it. If you use a keyword, it better be mentioned in the text somewhere for maximum SEO effect.

There are a lot more examples than the 8 included here and in the last post outlining the first 7 worst practices (anchor text again), but if you master these first, most of the others will probably take care of themselves.

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, June 13, 2010

Top 15 Worst Website Practices - Part 1

With so many band and artist-centric sites like MySpace and ReverbNation around these days, it's easy for a band to believe that a website presence isn't required, yet it's an important piece of your online strategy. Your website is directly under your control, can be customized specifically for your message, and you never have to worry about a hosted site going out of business or changing the terms of service suddenly one day in the future.

That being said, there's a way to build it that's very friendly to your fans, visitors and search engines, but unfortunately not everyone chooses that route. So if you're about to build your own site or if you have one already, take a look at the following practices that are guaranteed to turn off your visitors. You know what they are yourself because you probably see them on other sites every day, but that doesn't mean you should emulate a bad practice.

Not only do many of the following aggravate people, but they're death to search engines. If you want fans to find you, make sure these are avoided.

1) Pull-down boxes for navigation. Designers love them, visitors hate them, search engines can't read them. Stay away.

2) Flash animation. Looks cool, but sometimes people just want some info and not cartoons. Search engines can't read any of the info in a Flash movie so they're a waste of time and money.

3) All graphics and little text. Search engines love text. Visitors love text. Pictures are nice, but use them in moderation.

4) A "splash" page. A splash page is an opening page with a movie or flash animation and no information. The whole "Enter Here" thing is so Web 1.0. There's no info for a search engine to grab and your visitors hate them. Avoid at all costs.

5) Frames. Again, so Web 1.0. Sites with frames went out a long time ago. Get with the times and dump these babies.

6) Pop-ups. It doesn't matter where they come from or if they're selling something or not, everyone hates them.

7) Dead links. This is just poor website design. It happens to everyone at some point, but remember that both search engines and visitors hate them.

Tomorrow we'll look at poor site practices 8 through 15, focusing more on search engine optimization.

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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