Thursday, December 15, 2011

Louis CK's Excellent Business Adventure

Louis C.K. image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
The comedian Louis CK is the latest artist to discover that not only can he survive, but prosper without the help of a big company. Recently Louie used his own money to shoot his show at the Beacon Theater in New York, then payed for the post-production and the web infrastructure to offer the video for sale.

The production of the video cost him $170k and the website around $32k, but he decided to offer the video for only $5 to his fans as an experiment, since most of his previous DVD releases where about 3 times that amount.. Within 12 hours he had 50,000 purchases and broke even, and after 4 days he made another $250k in pure profit with total sales of over 500,000. He claims he could have initially made more if he sold it to HBO, but if the video keeps on selling as it is, maybe not.

This goes to show that if you have an audience, you don't need a record label/broadcast entity/big company to turn a profit, and even better, retain control over your product. The problem is that you need to have that audience first in order to pull something like this off. How do you get the audience? Most of the time it's from exposure from that big company that we all hate so much.

This is the conundrum of the Music 3.0 artist. You've got to build your market, and the only way to do that is with the same old fashioned work that artists all over the world have done. You gig. Louis CK is just like any musical artist in that he played the small comedy clubs everywhere, but he did it for 25 years before he built his audience and chops to the point where a major entertainment entity took notice. Then when he got his chance, he delivered (even though his HBO show was cancelled after a short run), but in the process was able to build his audience to the critical mass required to break out on his own. Plus, he was willing to take the chance, which not many artists are.

One of the advantages to living in Music 3.0 is that it's easy to respond to your fan base when a situation like Louie's arises. That's why social media, your website and your mailing list is all so important. With all those in place, you can have the online success of Louie, Radiohead and Trent Reznor. If you hang in there, grow your chops and your audience, and stay in touch with them, you'll be able to capitalize at some some point.

Do you have that kind of perseverance? If you do, build that mailing list and social media contacts now. If not, maybe it's time to think hard about that day job.

Read all about Louie's grand experiment on his website statement.
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, December 14, 2011

Your Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter

Musicians Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you've read this Music 3.0 blog for a bit you know that it's dedicated to two things; keeping you informed of the latest happenings in the new music business, and showing you how to use social media as a promotional tool for your music. I try to do an even balance of both, and if you look over the 700+ posts from the last two years (has it been that long already?) or so, you'll find a lot of great info.

Every time I post something about Facebook or Twitter, I get a lot of "How do I....?" messages, and I end up referring the reader to a number of my previous posts or my book Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age (the updated second edition just came out, which you probably already know if you follow this blog regularly). There is a great alternative though, and it just so happens to make a great Holiday gift as well.

My good friend Ariel Hyatt and Carla Lynne Hall have written a great book called The Musician's Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter that puts more knowledge about how to use both Facebook and Twitter as a promotional tool than I've ever seen in one place. Ariel is the founder of Ariel Publicity and Cyber PR, probably the most knowledgeable and prominent social media company out there that deals primarily in music. She travels all over the world speaking on the topic and is truly an expert in the field.

I know from the talks that I regularly give at conferences and colleges that social media is used by most musicians, but it's use as a promotional tool is widely misunderstood and under-appreciated. The Musician's Roadmap to Facebook And Twitter is the perfect way to take that next step in harnessing the tremendous power social networking. You can check out the book on the Cyber PR site, and even better, there's a Holiday discounted price if you click to this page.

The Musician's Roadmap To Facebook and Twitter is the perfect compliment to Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age (2nd edition). Buy them both for the musician in your life (or maybe as a nice Holiday gift to yourself).
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, December 13, 2011

3 Tips For Getting Ahead In The Music Business

The Artist's Infrastructure image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I saw an article on Music Think Tank the other day that I liked, so I thought I'd repeat a few of the major points here but add a little of my own spin to it. You can click here to read the original article, entitled "5 Tips For Getting A Label, Sponsor, Or Booking Agent."

There's a number of items that could be added to the list, but these are the ones that sprang immediately to mind. make no mistake, these can be hard lessons for an artist or band to learn, especially if they have to learn by their mistakes.

1. Treat Your Promo Materials Seriously.

Anything that you send to a prospective agent, manager, booking agent, promoter or record label is important and can't be taken lightly. That means that you have to spend some time on it to make it not only presentable, but to show you in the best possible light. That means a professional picture, a good looking and informative website, and bios and promo with carefully created copy that's clean of typos and grammatical errors. If you're not good at any of this (most people are good at only one or two), that means you need some help. Ask your fans first to get the job done for free or inexpensively, but don't be afraid to employ a pro if what you have is not the best you can do.

Also make sure that any of the above industry people can easily get more information if they need it, so don't forget links to your website, music, photos, YouTube videos and social networks on any material that you send.

2. Understand What Makes You Unique.

There must be something that makes you or your band unique. You've got to determine that before you pitch yourself to anyone. While figuring that out is up to you, here are two things to stay away from:

1) Don't say something like "We're different than anything you're ever heard!" Guess what, you're not. You may be different from anything that you've heard, but then you probably lead a sheltered life compared to people in the industry. Most industry folk have been around a lot longer than you and have heard a lot more. If aliens have taken you away to Area 51 to instill a new form of music in you, you better be prepared to back that up with some sounds. And if you think that your show is akin to Elvis and Hendrix rising up from the grave, you better have a YouTube video to prove it.

2) Don't say, we sound just like "xxxx (fill in the blank)" unless you're a cover band trying to get a club gig. You know what? There already is a Depeche Mode, Adele, Bruno Mars or Maroon 5. Record labels like to jump on the bandwagon of whatever's hot at the moment, but by the time they (and you) actually have a product to sell, the public has moved on and the whole thing dies. Be yourself and find out what's unique about you in order to get ahead.

3. Labels, Agents, Promoters, Etc Don't Care How Good Your Are.

The music business only cares about one thing; do you have an audience. If you have one, that means you'll be able to sell music, tickets, merch and have a career. If you don't, it doesn't matter how tight you are as a band or how well you play. Just ask any jazz musician why he's not living in Beverly Hills for proof. Chops do not automatically equal audience (although it sure helps to have them).

In a future post, I'll add a few more of these. For now, take heed and be aware that these tips can save you a lot of time and heartache.
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, December 12, 2011

YouTube Will Collect Your Royalties

Google and Rightsflow image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Last week Google made a minor splash by announcing its acquisition of Rightsflow, a music licensing service that simplifies the process. Rightsflow makes it easy for someone wanting to use copyrighted music on their website, in the video, or on a album to get all the clearances necessary to reduce your exposure to any future litigation, or even a simple takedown. On the surface, that sounds all well and good, but there's a bit of strategy going on behind the scenes that looks at the bigger picture than just making it easy to pay or collect royalties on YouTube videos.

Over the last few years, music publishers have been pounding on YouTube (which is owned by Google) to do something about the multitude of copywritten songs that have been used illegally on their network. Sure, most of it was innocent, like the 8 year old doing a cover version of Bruno Mars "Grenade," or the family singing "White Christmas," but that's still illegal and publishers want to get paid.

YouTube has always been really good about taking down videos that contain songs that are copywritten when notified by the song's owner or administrator (you can see many examples just in the many videos I've embedded on this blog form YouTube over the years), but that wasn't enough. The publishers wanted more.

The major music publishers waged a war in the courts against Google and basically won, with Google promising to do something about the illegal use of their songs. That's what the acquisition of Rightsflow is all about. Rightsflow asks uploaders to pay a one-time fee of $15 fee to use music and then tracks and pays royalties to the rightful owners. Finally, the publishers and songwriters will get paid.

Is that really enough to make people willing pay though? Probably not, but then again, Google's not expecting that either. This is more about getting the publishers off it's back than anything.

The good news is, if your material is being used without your knowledge in a video on YouTube, you now at least have a chance to be paid something. Don't expect much more than enough to pay for a Happy Meal at Mickey D's though. 15 bucks doesn't go very far, especially with a lot of fingers in the pie.
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, December 11, 2011

Music 3.0 2nd Edition Now Available

Music 3.0 book cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I'm proud to announce that the 2nd edition of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age is now available. I'm very humbled that that the first edition of the book drew great praise and was adopted as a primary textbook in the music business courses of so many schools (including the MBA programs of several universities), so I did my best to make sure that the second edition is as up to date and relevant as possible.

Music 3.0 2nd edition (or the "Music 3.0 Guidebook" as I like to call it) has 5 completely new chapters that feature the latest music business and social media concepts as well as  a couple of brand new interviews with social media maven Ariel Hyatt and Topspin CEO Ian Rogers.

I've gotten a number of questions about the book, so I thought I'd answer them here.

Why is this book different?
There are a lot of really great books about the music industry out there, but I think Music 3.0 is unique because it talks strategy. The strategy of how to look at your music as a product. How to develop your online and social media strategy, and how to integrate your online and traditional marketing. It looks at the big picture as to why things are the way they are in the music business today, but then gets into the details on how to develop a strategy that works for you.

Strategy and looking at the big picture is great and all, but is there any information that I can use right now?
You bet. How about:
  • How to write Facebook and Twitter posts that get attention. 
  • The best time of the day to post on Twitter and Facebook. 
  • The real secret behind social media promotion. 
  • How to efficiently use social media so you have time left over to actually do music again. 
  • How to use the two biggest under-utilized marketing tools at your disposal. 
  • How to tweak your website, blogs and videos so they rank higher in search engine ranking. 
  • How to use Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube as marketing tools.
  • How to develop your brand. 
  • Multiple low-cost high and low-tech tips for marketing and promotion that you can do right now. 
There's a lot more, but that's just off the top of my head.

Who was the book written for?
It's really written for anyone involved in today's music business. If you're an artist, in a band, a manager, promoter, agent or work at a label, there's info that you'll totally find useful.

Isn't this just another how-to book?
There's a lot of how-to in the Music 3.0 guidebook, but there's more to it than that. There's a pretty good chapter on the the music industry evolution and how we got to Music 3.0, which includes what has changed in the music business and why it changed.
There's a chapter on the new players in the industry and why you need to know them.
There's a chapter on why traditional record labels, television and radio are no longer the most important factors to an artist’s success.
There's a chapter on how to actually make money in the new music business.
And there's a chapter about the new technologies that are being introduced that will influence how we sell or market our music going forward.

Please excuse this blatant bit self-promotion. I don't usually do this sort of thing, but I'm pretty passionate about this book and I hope you will be too.

If you want to read some excerpts, you can go to the excerpts directory on my website.

To purchase the book (it makes a great Christmas present), you can buy it from Amazon, at a traditional book store like Barnes And Nobel, or a music store like Guitar Center.

You can also purchase a personally autographed copy directly from me for a flat fee of $25 via PayPal including shipping (U.S. and Canada only). Please be aware that I only have a limited number of copies available.

 I'd also love to read any additional comments from anyone who's read the 1st edition of Music 3.0!
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.


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