Thursday, October 6, 2011

10 Best Facebook Practices For Artists

facebook lineup image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Facebook is one of the best social networks for artists for artists and bands, but execution is everything in order to take full advantage of it. Mashable Social Media recent ran a great article about the 10 best practices for bands, and you can read the article here, but what follows is an abridged version with mostly of my comments.

1. Reach out to other artists. Ask a band whom you’re tight with to post your new music video/track/album art to their wall with a link back to your Facebook Page, and remember to return the favor. This is one of the best ways to use the network to expand your audience.

2. Take your fans backstage. Everyone loves to see behind the scenes, but fans are especially interested. It might seem insignificant to you, but any kind of backstage access is a big deal to them.

3. Go beyond the music. As I've said many times before, music is your marketing, but don't forget to make available any merch or touring info. That said, don't try to sell to your fans, just make it easily available if they want it.

4. Ask for input from fans. Communication is a two-way street and fans love to be asked their opinion on just about anything. Besides, they're your fans so they know what they want.

5. Be visual. Music is an aural medium for sure, but either still or moving pictures add so much to entire package that you can't ignore them any more. Besides, it's so easy to take pictures these days or make movies, you can't use gear or expertise as excuses anymore.

6. Make everything an event. This is one of the secrets of multiple singles releases rather than full albums. Every release becomes an event. You can expand upon that idea in just about any direction, from gigs or giveaways on your birthday to your best fan's birthdays, to making every gig a special occasion. Use your imagination.7.

7. Don't just ask for things. Once again, communication is a two way street. You give some and you take some and vice versa. If you ask for information, give something away for free. This goes a long way in keeping your tribe happy.

8. Don't forget the basics. Bios, press kits, pictures, logos are still important so be sure to have links to where people can get them if needed.

9. Offer exclusive content. The way to a fans heart is through exclusive content. If a fan can get exclusive mixes or movies that no one else can, that legitimizes his or her fandom and makes them want even more. Alternative mixes, outtakes, interviews - these are all inexpensive and easy to make content that any fan would love to have.

10. Use some tools. Make sure you take advantage of everything that Facebook has to offer, but also check out apps like Bandpage or Reverbnation for their event, sales and music plugins as well.

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, October 5, 2011

Don't Depend On Social Media

Music 3.0 2nd edition image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
The second edition of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age will be out in a few weeks so I thought that this would be a great time for a quick preview. The completely updated version has 5 more chapters, some new interviews and is about 40 percent larger than the last one, so there's a lot of new up-to-date info available. Here's a brief excerpt from a brand new chapter on Social Media Management called "Don't Depend On Social Media." In the coming weeks, I'll post more excerpts.

"It's too easy for today's artist who only dabbles in social networking to get complacent and comfortable with the abilities of a single social network, but that can spell disaster for maintaining your fan base if you're not careful. As those artists who formerly depended upon MySpace now know, what's hot today can become ice cold tomorrow. But other negative scenarios also exist that can be far worse than the network falling out of favor.
Scenario #1 - Let's say that you've cultivated a huge following on Facebook. What would happen if Facebook was purchased by Google, who decides that all it wants is the underlying technology of the network, and shuts the rest down? If you didn't capture the email addresses of all your followers, you'd lose them to the nothingness of cyberspace. Don't laugh - it could happen.
Scenario #2 - What would happen if Facebook (I'm picking on them because they're the big dog on the social block) changes its terms of service, and now charges you $.25 for every fan past 100? If you’ve built an audience of 80,000 fans, it's going to cost you $20 grand to continue. Wheat if they decided to limit everyone's fan connections to 100? Both are unlikely, but something similar could happen, where suddenly you were unable to access that large fan base that you've worked so hard to develop.
That's why it's imperative that you harvest as many email addresses as you can for your own mailing list so you can keep your social communication under your control. If you rely on an external network, sooner or later you're going to get burnt. It's the nature of the Internet to constantly change, and it's too early to get a feel for the life span of even of the largest sites and networks. So play it safe - develop that mailing list."

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, October 4, 2011

Apple's Latest Music Announcements

Cloud Music image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Apple's press conference today didn't introduce the iPhone 5 like everyone was anticipating, and the general feeling was that it was underwhelming in terms of product announcements. If you look underneath the surface of the event though, it wasn't really about product at all. This was more for the investment community and developers to let them know that Apple was still in good hands and there was truly some continuity from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook as the guiding light of the company.

That said, there were a few announcements that did affect the music industry. First was the official introduction of iCloud, which officially launches on October 12th. According to Apple, fully a third of all music sold on iTunes store is purchased on iOS devices, so iCloud is an important tool for the future of that ecosystem. As we were lead to believe, songs purchased via iPhone or iPad on iTunes will automatically be downloaded to a user's Mac for no additional charge.

And finally, some real details on iTunes Match, which launches at the end of October as well. With over 20 million songs, Apple claimes that iTunes is the largest music store in the world, which becomes an important piece to Match. Match "scans and matches your library against our 20M songs we’ll upload. What we don’t find, we’ll stream,” according to Apple's Eddie Cue. The operative word here is "stream." The price is $24.99 per year. Worth it? We'll see, although it seems to be a no brainer at the moment.

Finally, news about the death of iPod are extremely premature apparently. Apple introduced a new iPod Nano with a modified touch screen and a new clock face that also measures walking and running sessions, and a new iPod Touch and Shuffle were also introduced. It seems there's some life left in those Pod's, and the digital files in your life, yet.

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, October 3, 2011

Supreme Court Rejects Music Download Case

Gavel striking image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal on a ruling that could have had serious revenue implications for all songwriters, with virtually 100's of millions of dollars at stake.

ASCAP had sued the United States government in the hopes of changing a traditional Internet download of sound recording to that of a public performance of the recorded musical work under federal copyright law. ASCAP had argued that digital downloads were also public performances for which the copyright owners must be compensated, but a federal judge and the appeals court rejected that argument, so the organization took it's final appeal to the highest court in the land.

"Music is neither recited, rendered, nor played when a recording (electronic or otherwise) is simply delivered to a potential listener," the appeals court ruled.

Being a songwriter myself, I'm all for getting more royalties at a higher royalty rate, but in all honesty, I just can't see how this argument holds water. A live performance and a recorded performance are simply not the same, as any engineer or producer will tell you. They're completely different animals. If the Supremes would have reversed the decision, it would have opened a huge can of worms with CDs, radio and streams eventually having to pay extra, potentially collapsing the whole music distribution system as we know it.

On second thought, maybe this was a missed opportunity to start all over again. What do you say Supremes; care to take another look?

The case is ASCAP v. United States, No. 10-1337, if anyone is interested.

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, October 2, 2011

5 Features Missing From Facebook Music

music on facebook image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Facebook Music has awaited with almost as much anticipation as Apple's iCloud (which we'll probably see this week). Now that it's finally here and we've got a chance to look at it, it appears there are a few things missing. Here's a piece of a great article from regarding the 5 features missing from Facebook Music. For me, number 4 is the big one. You can read the entire article here.

"1. True music sharing
We're not saying it would be easy, but if Facebook really wants to help people listen to each other's music, it should let them do so using whatever music service they want. True, Facebook has started down the road of universally translating between music services, so that I can hear your songs even if you use Rhapsody and I use MOG -- but so far, it has done so by tilting the playing field favorably (some would say unfairly) towards Spotify.
If Facebook really wants to offer "frictionless" music sharing, to borrow Zuck's oft-repeated phrase, it will let people listen to shared stuff using whatever they want, rather than the same service used by the sharer.

2. Real-time group listening
A Facebook employee deleted a tweet about it, but has confirmed that at least two streaming radio services plan to implement it. Slacker, specifically, says it has been working with Facebook to do so for months. So why didn't Facebook Music launch with the ability to join other listeners on a station in real-time, so that people can chat about what they're hearing a la This will probably be the neatest thing about Facebook Music, and even after yesterday's presentation, it's 100% vaporware.

3. Music tab in the ticker
Facebook is now more cluttered than ever, which, according to hilarious pundit Lore Sjöberg, is because Facebook finds it beneficial to keep its users dissatisfied while offering them a forum where they can express that dissatisfaction -- just like the Democratic Party.
Zuckerberg kept using the word "lightweight" to describe the new Ticker on the right side of Facebook, but accusations of clutter are not without merit. So why not add a music filter? As a music fan, I'm mainly interested in what people are listening to, Ticker-wise. I don't care about who my friends have friended. The Facebook Ticker should offer a way to look only at music activity, and there's no good reason for it not to.

4. Apple
As Matt Rosoff of Business Insider observed, the white elephant not in the room at f8 yesterday was Apple, iTunes, and iCloud. Apple would need to swallow some pride in order to join Facebook's music ecosystem, but maybe it should.
Some argue that Apple only ever sold music in order to sell more iPods and iPhones anyway. Now that it can sell apps for other music services, and run those on its devices, perhaps Apple is no longer concerned about selling music. From a user perspective, it would be nice if iTunes activity were included in Facebook's music activities. scrobbles from iTunes, so why can't Facebook? Maybe this one will happen when Apple takes the wraps off of iCloud later this year.

5. Independent developers
For this one, Facebook's off the hook for the most part -- it just needs to stay out of the way.
One of the neatest things about Rdio and now Spotify is that they let independent app developers build third-party players atop their catalogs. If I subscribe to either service, I can use any music app that taps into it, offering a potentially huge range of interfaces, platforms, designs, features, etc. to choose from -- more than Rdio or Spotify could ever develop on their own.
WIRED: Facebook's gone rogue -- it's time for an open alternative
If someone wants to build a music player that lets people choose what to play by rolling virtual dice, slaying a dragon, wandering through a 3-D library, or whatever, on any platform, I can use that interface to play Rdio's or Spotify's music.
This is already starting to happen -- and unless Facebook somehow gets in the way, all of the music played in these third-party apps should appear on Facebook. In fact, Facebook could even encourage this sort of thing."

 Let's see what happens at Apple's press conference tomorrow. iCloud, anyone?
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.


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