Thursday, July 7, 2011

Album Sales Rise For The First Time Since 2004

Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Something in the music business besides vinyl actually went the other way for a change, as in up. Nielsen Soundscan, the people who officially measure music sales, found that through the first half of the year there were 155.5 million albums sold in the United States, compared to the 2010 when there was 153.9 for the same period.

Granted, it's only a 1% increase, but the music industry is looking for any cause to rejoice at this point. There's more though, according to Nielsen, “digital album sales are up 19 percent through the first six months over 2010 and are on pace to set a new sales record at the end of the year”. More than 660.8 million digital units (meaning songs) were sold in the first half of 2011 as well, an 11 percent increase from the summer of last year.

Now there are a number of interesting points to consider here.

1) It seems that catalog sales have spurred this slight album growth. Catalog is what's always been hit the hardest by the digital revolution, so it's certainly an interesting twist when you see growth in this area.

2) Considering that music in the cloud has begun and consumers are getting used to streaming and subscription, it's hard to believe that any kind of music sales have grown. Of course, the big test is when iCloud launches. Let's see if these numbers hold by the end of the year. Then there's cause for celebration.

3) Spotify hasn't launched yet. The word is that Spotify will launch in the States any day now, and by all accounts, it's a game changer. Add to the fact that they'll be partnering with Facebook so it will be built-in to the social network, and music download sales might actually take a big hit.

All that being said, I predict that music consumption will be higher than ever, and total revenue might climb. Of course, as I've stated in so many previous posts, it looks like the artist will get screwed out of most of this income, at least in the beginning, as most of this new found income goes to the labels. But make no mistake, we're right in the middle of a music business revolution. Feel it. Enjoy it. Make it work for you.
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When Your Music Should Be Free

Recently there's been a bit of controversy stirred up by a Music Think Tank post by Taureen Casey over why indie musicians should charge for their music. I personally don't buy the arguments made in the article, but you can read it and decide for yourself. Here are my reasons why I think music sales shouldn't be a major concern for an indie artist.

1) There's a time and place to charge for your music. When you're just starting out, your music is worth nothing because no one knows who you are. If you charge for it, all you do is limit the number of people who might otherwise hear what you have to offer, thereby stunting your career growth. There may come a point in time where you can charge for it, but if you're in DIY mode then that time certainly isn't now.

2) Most people don't value music anymore. There's been study after study all over the world that all come to the conclusion that the biggest demo for music consumption (teens to about 30 years old) all feel that music should be free. How are you going to compete with that? Certainly not by trying to charge for something that people don't feel they should pay for. You can rail all you want about it being unfair (I agree, it is), but you're not going to change this perception by charging for your music.

3) In Music 3.0, the more you give away, the more you sell. It's an interesting phenomena, but time after time it holds true. The more you give it away digitally, the more you sell both physically and digitally. Artist after artist has found that as soon as they take the free tracks down from their website, their iTunes sales go down. In a related field, the recent "children's book" Go The F#&k To Sleep received tremendous pre-orders only after a pdf of the book went viral. I can't tell you what the psychology is behind this as I haven't seen a paper on it yet, but it definitely exists. Ignore it at your own peril.

4) Most music is priced wrong. $0.99 has become the de facto standard for a digital music single, and $10 seems to be what artists want to sell their CDs for, but these price points set up a psychological barrier to purchase. If music was priced better (as in cheaper), perhaps that psychological roadblock can be breached. Of course, we'd have to lower the transaction costs with a new micropayments system (see my earlier posts about this), but at least we'd reach a point where people might be willing to pay something.

By the way, Radiohead has shown everyone the way with their 2007 In Rainbows experiment where they asked their fans to pay what they wanted. It turns out that the average fan paid $6.84 and the band ended up making more money than they ever thought possible, far exceeding their recording costs. Then when the CD was released it immediately went triple platinum (sales of 3 million). I'd say that worked out pretty well.

5) The big money isn't in music anyway. Not directly, because from the beginning of modern music, 90+% of a major or minor recording artists income has come from touring and merchandise. The music is your marketing to get people to come and see you. If you're smart, you'll figure out some packages combined with your music to sell to your fans (you do have fans, right?), and you'll have a number of clever merch items with great graphics. That's where the real money is.

So remember, your music is your marketing. It's what makes everything else you do more valuable, but it's not the main product itself. The more it's out there, free or not, the better it is for an artist.
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

3 Essential Twitter Tools That You've Never Heard Of

Frank Emanuele recently wrote a great article on regarding 3 new helpful Twitter tools that solve a number of problems that users frequently complain about and help you get a handle on on aspect of social media management. These include blocking spam, the best time to post, and managing who you follow, but the following three apps now make those tasks easy. Here's an excerpt from Frank's article.

Trim the Fat With TwitBlock
One of the biggest problems that Twitter hasn’t been able to solve is spam. If your tweets are public (which they really should be), you can’t even mention an Apple product in a tweet without being bombarded with “free offers” to win one. You can eliminate some of the unwanted attention by making your your tweets private, but then you’ll also be cutting yourself off from the global conversations that are constantly happening. Enter TwitBlock, the best resource for blocking spammers before they start to annoy you. TwitBlock securely scans your followers and looks for signs of spam, assigning the most suspicious ones a number rating based on a set of predefined criteria. The higher the rating, the more likely each follower is a spammer. You can then easily block the offending tweeters and never worry about them again!

With Tweriod, Timing Is Everything
Once you’ve removed spam from your Twitter experience, you’ll find it much easier to engage in valuable interactions with your followers. But how can you be sure your thoughts are reaching the maximum possible audience? What if you share a link to an article that you want to discuss, or a photo that makes you laugh, but no one is around to react to it? Tweriod is really handy for these situations. After a one-time analysis of the tweeting habits of your followers, this tool will recommend the times of day when the majority of your followers are actively using Twitter. This offers you a personalized estimate of the times when your content will receive the most exposure. I usually wait until after 1pm Eastern to share links and other interesting content, but Tweriod tells me that my followers are actually most active between 4 and 7pm. You’d better believe I’ll be saving my best material for those hours!

Don’t Be Afraid, Be Ruthless With ManageFlitter
There comes a time when every Twitter power user has to ask himself or herself, “Why do I follow so many people?” Once in a while, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate the people you’ve chosen to follow. People may sometimes get angry when you unfollow them, but if you aren’t enjoying Twitter, what’s the point? Theirs are the thoughts you’ll be reading, and so they will determine the value of your Twitter experience. It may seem harsh, but sometimes you just need to purge your account of the users who aren’t providing you with any value. ManageFlitter makes this dead simple. Sort the people you follow to see who hasn’t tweeted recently, who tweets too much, or who tweets about topics that don’t interest you. Eliminate the ones who don’t make the cut, and enjoy a clutter-free Twitter stream! You even have the option to separate out Verified Accounts and popular users so you don’t accidentally stop following your favorite celebrities.

Social media can be time consuming so anything that helps relieve that burden a bit is welcome to most of us.Try these tools out to make your Twitter promotional experience a little more efficient and easier.
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Top 10 US Social Networks

Here are the top 10 social networks in the US. Some you already know, but there are a few that might surprise you. Most of this info is thanks to IB Times.

10. Live Journal: LiveJournal was launched in April 15, 1999 by Brad Fitzpatrick as an online journal where users are able to post, share, and interact with other users. It is possible to join for free, but a paid account ($19.95/year) provides additional features. It has about 4.9 million monthly visitors according to Quantcast, but seems to be shedding users.

9. Tagged: Tagged is a San Francisco-based social network website that was created in 2004 that links people based on shared interests. Unlike other popular social networking sites where they are trying to keep in touch with their old friends, Tagged is interested in helping people to find new friends. It has 5.9 million monthly visitors, but is shedding users.

8. Flickr: Flickr started out as an online photo uploading and managing website, but the site has become popular for bloggers and users to integrate their postings, evolving into something that is more like a social networking site. It was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and now owned by Yahoo! ("Where start-ups go to die" according to my friend Tom Kozik, a former Yahoo executive). It has 18.8 million monthly visitors but is shedding users.

7. MySpace: MySpace was once the #1 social networking site until Facebook took over the throne in 2008. The company has been recently purchased at $35 million by Specific Media, with Grammy award winning artist Justin Timberlake also taking some ownership role. It still has over 19 million monthly users, but its traffic is down over 50% from last year.

6. Tumblr: Tumblr was founded in 2007 by David Karp and quickly became a popular micro-blogging service on the web, similar to Twitter. This new rising site boasts of clean design, easy usability, and large user base. PCWorld has listed Tumblr as President Obama’s top 5 tech tools. It has 36 million monthly visitors, but is growing at a rapid pace with traffic up over 72% from last year.

5. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social networking site mostly geared towards professionals. It helps people to find jobs, find people, and hire people. The account is free to create, but there are fees involved with some of the activities. It has over 40 million monthly visitors with traffic up by nearly 50% from last year.

4. Twitter: Twitter was created in 2006, with the name meaning “a short burst of inconsequential information.” The users can “tweet” their posts in short segments, with a maximum of 140 characters. Users can also “follow” others of their choice. Twitter has a Quantcast ranking of #5 with over 94 million monthly visitors, but its traffic has increased only slightly more than 1% over last year.

3. YouTube: As virtually everyone already knows, YouTube is a website where people can upload, manage, and share videos online. Similar to Flickr, YouTube has evolved from a simple video-sharing site to one that is similar to a social networking site with user interactive features. It has a Quantcast ranking of #3 with over 137 million monthly users. It is also up 22% in users over last year.

2. Facebook: The new social networking giant was birthed in a Harvard dormitory by its undergraduate student Mark Zuckerberg with his fellow friends. It originally served only Harvard students, quickly expanding to the Ivy League, and was followed by the rest of America’s colleges and universities. Now over 750 million users, or 10 percent of the world’s population, connect over Facebook. It's number #2 in Quantcast's ranking with 139 million visitors a month, with visits up more than 15% over last year.

1. Google+: OK, it's so new that there's not a great number of users yet, but with a Quantcast ranking of #1 and a huge user base, we predict that it won't take long for Google+ to overtake the others on this list. Check back next year to see if this prediction holds true or not.
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Interesting Features Of Google+

Google just opened up their new social network called "Google+," and it has a number of interesting features that could be enough to make users of other social networks to seriously consider it. These features  promise to change the way we interact, socialize and connect to others, and given the huge existing user footprint that Google already has, it could spell trouble for Facebook et al. Here's a look at them, thanks to International Business Times:

1) Circles - The Circles concept more closely follows the way you organize your contacts in real life. We meet different kinds of people everyday and interact with them in many different ways. Circles offers a simple means of organizing one's social network by grouping contacts into anything you can possibly imagine - family, friends, co-workers, etc. The groups can be formed by dragging the contact's picture/photo over a circle that represents the group (a group of people can also be dragged over a circle!)

2) Stream – Stream helps you receive instant updates from your friends and other contacts in your Circles list. It helps you decide and choose which circles and individuals you want to share your information with.

3) Sparks – Sparks pulls in stories, videos and other cool content relating to your specific interest. According to Google, the content in Sparks stream is different from the results you'd get if you put the same term into the search engine. Through Sparks, you can get an instant fountain of relevant information to share with friends. After you are asked to choose from a list of possible interests (biking, sailing, etc.), or to put your own specific interest, Google+ goes out and searches almost completely on-topic content from all over the Web.

4) Hangouts - Hangouts is a group video chat feature that allows up to ten people in a group to come together and video chat. Hangouts allow the person nearest to the mic and loudest to speak out.

5) Huddle - Huddle is a group SMS conversation feature where mobile phone numbers of members will be visible to all.

6) Instant Upload – Instant Upload allows the user to upload pictures and videos directly from the phone

Google+ also has amazing privacy features which will put Facebook to crying shame. It allows you choose which Circles you want to share that content with. Also, it lets you know clearly that the information you contribute to Google+ will be used to help refine search results.

Another advantage Google+ has over Facebook is their "data liberation," which allows you to pack up and take your data away from Google+ should you decide to leave the service.

This is a big plus for Google as privacy has always been Facebook’s Achilles’ heel as users have complained how difficult it is to leave Facebook and take their stuff with them.

It looks as though the invitations Google+ are now open again (they were closed due to technical issues shortly after it was launched), so let the social fun begin.
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for daily discussion of music, recording, and production tips and tricks.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...