Thursday, October 28, 2010

MicroPayments - The Artist's Future?

For quite a while now, technologists have been predicting that the online world would eventually revolve around what's known as "micropayments," which is the ability to charge very low fees (as low as a few cents) for online services.

While this may seem like a no brainer, micropayments are a lot harder than they seem not so much from a technology standpoint, but from a financial one. Every financial transaction costs money. There's a service fee involved that mostly comes from the financial institution doing business with the vendor. The problem has been that the transactional cost has been high enough from the likes of Visa, Mastercard, et al, that it's been nearly impossible to have prices of less than a dollar for any purchase online.

You might think that iTunes has been charging $0.99 for 7 years now with no problem, but Apple (and Amazon for that matter) is so large that it can absorb the financial trading costs without an intermediary. For everyone else, you need a bank or a credit card company to securely collect your funds.

All that may be gradually changing though, as PayPal (which is owned by Ebay) recently announced a new micropayment structure for purchases under $12, which charges 5% of the transaction costs plus 5 cents. This means that a purchase of a dollar has a transactional cost of just $.10 instead of the normal cost of about $.33. As a result, it may actually become profitable for more companies to do business in around that $1 area.

Although this is a step in the right direction, it's still doesn't go far enough. The real Holy Grail comes when transactions as low as 1 cent become doable. Why? Because then it will be possible to charge for things that we get for free now. Who wouldn't pay a couple of cents to hear the streaming song or get a download of an interesting artist? Want to see that hot video? It might cost you a nickel, but it's a small enough investment that you'd pay it without a second thought.

Consumers will be more likely to pay this seemingly insignificant amount, and that can amount to at least some income for an artist. And what if the purchase was automatically charged to your cell phone bill (also part of the Holy Grail solution)? You may hardly notice if it were a couple of bucks higher at the end of the month, but an artist would certainly feel better about himself with at least a little money coming in.

So watch this topic closely. This tiny bit of money is more significant than it seems.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Talent - The Main Ingredient

If you're an artist or band, you're hearing a litany of advice about how to do-it-yourself without a label, use social media to build you audience, develop you mailing list, improve your website, crowdfund, and just about every other buzz word that applies to online music these days.

Some people that you read or listen to have good advice, some have dated advice, and some just repeat what they've heard from somewhere else.

Regardless who you listen to or study from, you're no doubt feeling overwhelmed. What should I do first? Am I doing it right? How often should I do it? Do I need to do everything? Why can't I get everything I need to do finished by the end of the day.

Yes, being a musician, artist, band, producer, engineer or manager in our Music 3.0 digital music world is a handful. But here's the catch.

If you don't have the talent first, that special something that only stars have, none of it will work no matter how much time you spend on it.

There's more competition than ever, and most of it is mediocre. You can't just be good, or really good, or really, really good anymore - you've got to be GREAT! to break through.

Sure, who's to say what's good? Chances are no matter what you do, you'll find at least a small audience, but will that make enough money for you to quit your job? Will it even be enough to make all the hard work worth it?

That's why it's important to never forget why you're doing all this - it's for the music. If you find that you're spending more time working the social networks than writing, rehearsing, or practicing, you've got your priorities wrong. Because if the music isn't great, none of the other stuff will matter.

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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

iPad Owners Consume More

Apple's iPad was an instant success from the moment it was introduced and seems to be making great inroads in more places and demographics than anyone anticipated. One of the more interesting aspects of the unit is how much content an iPad owner consumes.

According to some new research from Nielsen entitled "The Increasingly Connected Consumer," iPad users:

  - are typically male (65%)
  - are under age 35 (63%)
  - have incomes over $100k (25%)
  - regularly access TV shows (25% vs. 11% on the iPhone)
  - buy more books (39% vs 13% for iPhone)
  - buy more movies (32% vs 12%)
  - are more likely to view ads that have interesting content (49%)
  - enjoy ads with interactive features (46%)

Contrast that to owners of videogame console systems when surveyed by Knowledge Networks and said:

  - 21% of viewers watch TV programs or movies using the game console at least once a month, which broke out like this:

    All persons 13-54        13-31      32-45     46-54
DVDs              17%          27%        13%       7%
Blu-ray discs      6            10             4          2
Streamed or       6            11             3          1
downloaded video
Overall use      21%          31%       17%       8%

What this all means is that we now consume all types of media on all types of devices. By not taking devices like game consoles, smart phones, and iPad tablets into consideration when distributing content potentially leaves money on the table.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

10 Things To Get More Shows

As you've read numerous times if you've spent any time on this blog, gigs are the live-blood of a band, especially in this day and age. Regardless of your skill or place in the music business, you've got to play in front of people to stay musically fresh, improve your show skills and make money. As a result, any time I see something that either makes it easier to book a gig, or contains some good advice or strategy, I feel compelled to post or comment on.

Here's a great post from Chris Bracco that appeared on regarding the10 things you can do to help you get more gigs. Many of these items we've covered before, Chris has a few things that really make a lot of sense.

Assuming that you have strong songs and an kickass live show, here are ten (10) simple things you can do to get more gigs:

1. Create a YouTube channel for your band.

Upload a live performance video on YouTube that represents your band at its best. Include a phone number and e-mail address too, so that anyone who wants to book you can contact you easily. Say something like “Contact ________ to book us for a live show.” To show professionalism and interest, try your best to respond to every inquiry within 48 hours.

2. Print up nice business cards

…with your band name, links to your music, live videos, and a phone number and e-mail address that can be reached for booking purposes. Also, include a link to your website so they can learn more about you. You’d be surprised how many bands STILL write down their phone numbers on dirty napkins and torn pieces of paper. Wherever you go, tell people who you are, how good you are, where you are playing next, and how easy it is for them to book you directly.

3. Go watch other bands that sound like you.

If there are any bands in your area with large followings, get out to a couple shows and become friends with other bands. Ask the bigger bands to let you open for them, maybe in exchange for some kind of help like designing a website, flyer, banner, etc. The harder you work for a band bigger than your band, and the more respectful you are to them and their efforts, the more likely they will consider you for an opening slot. Talk up how good your band is and why you are better than similar bands in the area.

4. Tell your fans how easy it is to book you.

Wherever you play - the street, house party, club or major venue, make sure your fans are aware that you’re willing to play anywhere. Use the Live Music Machine’s booking and calendar widget. Put it on your Facebook page, MySpace profile, personal web site, etc. and tell your fans to go there and book you for their private events, house parties, etc. After playing a gig, you should walk around the audience, engage people, ask them what they thought of the show, and let them know you are available to play live anywhere they want you too. Telling them that will definitely help you stand out from the pack.

5. Get guerilla.

Set up wherever there is a crowd of people who might like your music and play for them. Club, high school, venue, and stadium parking lots. How many tailgate parties do you think would love some free entertainment? Play outside clubs where bands are playing that fit in with your style of music. Those people waiting in line are going to be bored, so playing a spontaneous gig right on the spot will definitely make an unforgettable impression.

6. Don’t forget the old school.

Hand out flyers and post cards at events that have a link to free stuff and a way to book you for a gig.

7. Network with key industry people at events and conferences.

Radio PD’s and DJ’s, club owners, band managers, label executives, and others all attend music conferences quite regularly. Say hello to these people, maybe buy them a drink or dinner, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Respect their space and don’t try shoving a CD in their face two minutes after meeting them. Introduce yourself casually, let them know who you are and where they can see you play. If’s it’s a club owner, tell them you would love to come in during the day and do a free audition for a free gig. Just make sure you can get a place to sell your merchandise if you nab a gig. Offer to play at places that may not always host live music, like restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and malls.

8. Get creative.

Write up a proposal and present it to the appropriate person at your local school board, offering to do a series of free shows to raise money for the school athletic or band program. Ask to perform during a school assembly when they can provide you with a built-in audience.

9. Find places where bands similar to yours play.

Use ReverbNation’s “Gig Finder” to figure out where bands are getting booked in your area. However, e-mailing clubs with your RPK or EPK usually won’t get any results, because many of these venues have yet to claim their venue pages on ReverbNation. Instead, after finding some good places, print out your press kit and mail it to them, or better yet, personally drop it off it in a nice professional package along with a CD to any decision maker at the club. Follow up with a call within a couple of days so you stay fresh in their minds. If the decision maker has an assistant, get to know that person and you will find that it will be much easier to get in the door. If you email them anything at all, make it your MySpace link along with a concise paragraph stating why they should book you. For some reason, most clubs still feel most comfortable checking you out on MySpace, so play by their rules.

10. Do a gig swap!

If you have a respectable following or are an up and coming band, use sites and to trade and share gigs with other bands who might want to break into your market. Collaboration is key to success in today’s fragmented music industry.
BONUS TIP! Everywhere you go, wherever you play, whomever you talk to about your band… collect as many e-mail addresses as you can. E-mail is still one of the best ways to communicate directly with your fan base, and develop long-lasting relationships.

This post was originally published as a guest post by Chris Bracco on the Live Music Machine blog on October 19, 2010.

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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Survey Shows Teens Actually Paying For Music

It's common knowledge that teens don't and won't pay for music, and place zero value on it. Or so we've been erroneously told, it seems.

A new survey by the teen-targeted virtual world Habbo surveyed 47,000 teens from 33 countries about their listening and purchasing habits, and the results fly in the face of music industry wisdom. Among the data includes:

  -- only 33% of teens prefer to download music without paying for it
  -- Teens in Chile are least likely to pay for music, with 51% downloading music without paying
  -- only 21% of US and 20% of UK teens report downloading music without paying
  -- only 21% of teens prefer purchasing downloaded music
  -- 37% of Australian teens say they favor paying to download

Now comes the surprising part:
  -- 20% of teens polled report buying CDs
  -- Teens in Sweden (40%), Germany (37%) and Denmark (35%) are most likely to buy a CD, versus 14% of teens surveyed in the US

What influences the type of music teenagers listen to?
  -- Radio and TV are still the dominant music taste makers. 38% of teens take music recommendations from these traditional channels
  -- 28% are influenced by what their friends are listening to and recommending
  -- 18% are influenced by what is in the music charts
  -- Only 9% are influenced by magazines and what they read online

The study also shows that today’s teenager is connected with friends online and values their social recommendation:
- 78% of teens use social networks to share recommendations
- Only 23% never use social networks to recommend music to friends
- Finnish teens are the most likely to share recommendations (88%)
- German (51%), Swiss (46%) and Austrian (45%) teens are the least likely to use social networks to recommend

The music industry is pretty fast to claim that all their problems is the result of illegal downloads, but as we all know (and this survey suggests), there's a lot more to it than that.

Read the original article at Habbo's parent company blog at

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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.


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