Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Social Media Resolutions

Social Media image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here we are at 2013. If you're an artist or in a band, here are 5 social media marketing resolutions for the year that are the basis of the Music 3.0 strategy.

1. I will update my (our) website and make it the center of my online universe. Your website is important because it's the only thing you have total control over and you can rely on 100 percent. Facebook, Tumblr and other social networks provide far less control and can change their terms of service at any time, but your website is always securely yours.

2. I will release music regularly. Instead of releasing an album, release a song every month to six weeks instead. Each release is a separate event that you can promote, therefore you have multiple promotional opportunities. An album gives you only one.

3. I will create more videos. Most people discover new music on YouTube than any other place other than radio. Make a video for your songs as soon as you can. Don't wait to make proper videos, which take a lot of time. Just put the lyrics up over the music until a proper video is available. You see lyric-only videos all over YouTube that have millions of views, and that can happen to you too.

4. I will develop a mailing list and send a newsletter at least once every 90 days. Other than your website, your mailing list is the next most important part of your online presence. It's the best way to personally reach out to your fans.

5. I will post and tweet more regularly. Being regular and consistent is important, but provide more than constant sales pitches. Offer behind the scenes information, trivia, or links to other interesting info around the net. Keep your fans entertained.

This is a quick outline of an artist's modern marketing strategy, and obviously there are a number of additional points and a lot more to talk about. That's what well be doing on the Music 3.0 blog every day in 2013.


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 30, 2012

10 Stories For 2013

2013 image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog I don't normally cross-post between my Music 3.0 music industry blog and Big Picture production blog, but the topics below apply to both. As 2012 draws to a close, now is the time to take a look at what might be ahead in 2013. Here are 10 story lines to look out for in the year ahead, in no particular order of importance. In some cases we can clearly see what might happen, while in others it's still an open question.

1. A new trend in music. In case you haven't noticed, we in living in the middle of two musical trends with EDM going mainstream and the folk-roots movement led by Mumford and Sons breaking big. Is 2013 going to be more of the same as both trends peak, or will there be something completely new that captures our attention?

2. Streaming music takes over. 2012 was a year for pushing the streaming music ball up the hill and so many people were converted. When Apple announces their plans for streaming in 2013, the ball will begin rolling down the other side of the mountain and downloads will join the ranks of the CD - still in use, but no longer the music distribution mainstay.

3. Guitar Center's decline. The king of the music equipment retailers is in trouble, with falling sales and reportedly a huge balloon payment due. Don't be surprised if you see some changes in the marketplace, with a smaller more nimble GC facing some real competition. All in all, good for the business.

4. The Big 3 provide a boost to DIY. With the Universal Music takeover of EMI now complete, we've moved to a 3 major label world. Although you still need a major to become an international superstar, will this be the year that mold is broken and we see a true DIY breakout?

5. Hi-res music comes to the forefront. Bandwidth and storage are now cheap, and in a world where we're streaming hi-res video with monetary impunity, why should we still be listening to the lowly MP3? With Apple now moving to hi-res with their Mastered for iTunes program, Neil Young's Pono (if it gets off the ground), and sites like HD Tracks, is it possible that the mass market can finally move beyond CD quality?

6. Avid's decline. Talk about a sinking ship, Avid's stock has fallen like a rock (although it's been up a little in recent days), many of their best people have jumped ship, and Pro Tools looks vulnerable for the first time in years. It will still take a lot to get the entrenched pro market to change, but the upcoming NAMM show may hold a few surprises.

7. The tablet takes control. There's no doubt that the tablet computer has taken the world by storm even to the extent that PC sales are way down. While 2012 saw a few new serious audio creation programs come to the platform, will 2013 be the year where we cross the threshold into doing serious projects on it?

8. Diminished trade show importance. With the Internet, we no longer have to go to a trade show to see what's new. With so many of the industry trade shows faltering to the point where some of the biggest manufacturers don't attend, look to see the trend continue toward irrelevance.

9. The increased importance of the Cloud. So much of our every day world now takes place in the cloud that it's almost become transparent to us. Will music creation and storage switch completely to the cloud in order to increase security and eliminate leaks? Will more online collaboration make studios even less relevant than they currently are?

10. Can the album be saved? We now live in a singles world again, and although the album hasn't totally fallen by the wayside, it's becoming less and less important all the time. Every year a new electronic form of the album enters the marketplace, but none have yet to catch on. Will 2013 be the year that a new format wins our hearts and our pocketbooks?

There are many more than these 10 issues, but I thought that these were particularly interesting to watch for, at least in the beginning of the year. As always, it will be fun to look back at this time next year to see how each story developed.

Have a very happy New Year, and may you find it profitable and fulfilling. And once again, thanks for reading!


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.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Few Big 2012 Music 3.0 Stories

2012 image
We're coming to the end of another year, so it's time to take a look back. Here are a few of the big stories from the 2012 in now particular order.
  • Women dominate the music scene. Adele, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and even Madonna cashed in from everything from music sales to concert tickets to fragrance lines.\
  • The holdouts fall to digital music. Longtime digital holdouts AC/DC and Kid Rock finally give in and sign on to iTunes. Sales immediately jump.
  • Traditional media is less effective than ever. Michael Jackson's prime-time Thanksgiving special on the making of Bad sells just 11,000 albums.
  • Psy sets a record. Over a billion views on YouTube makes him an international star despite not liking Americans (his biggest market) very much.
  • Streaming comes to the forefront. It's not paying much, as songwriter Ellen Shipley finds that 3 million Pandora streams nets her 39 bucks.
  • Apple pulls their streaming service at the last minute. Apple was all set to introduce their music streaming service at the iPhone 5 launch in September only to run into last-minute trouble in the license negotiations. Will 2013 be the year it finally launches?
  • Trent Reznor resigns with a major label. The king of DIY recants and signs with Sony Music.
  • 140 Billion friends on Facebook. It turns out that the number of users on Facebook isn't important as all their friends when it comes to word-of-mouth.
  • Music sales up for the year. Even before the Christmas season, Nielsen Soundscan reported that digital albums are up 15% this year so far and individual digital track sales are up by 6%. In fact, Americans have already purchased more than 1 billion downloads this year and are on a pace to to break the 2011 record of 1.3 billion.
  • Sony negotiates independently. In a move that may signal a change in the way business is done in the music industry, music publisher Sony/ATV Music will soon negotiate directly with iTunes, Amazon and every other online music distributor directly. In effect, they're cutting out the traditional performing rights organization middlemen of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
  • Older catalog outsells newer releases.For the first time since Nielsen Soundscan has been keeping track of sales since 1991, older catalog records are outselling current albums. A catalog album is one that was released more than 18 months ago.
  • Beats Buys MOG. Headphone maker Beats Electronics, owned by rap artist/producer Dr. Dre and music exec Jimmy Iovine, acquired the digital music service MOG Inc. Now that everyone has headphones, it's time to deliver content.
  • The Universal/EMI deal completes. The Big 4 record labels become the Big 3 as the Universal takeover of EMI is finally approved after the company sheds some of the its smaller subsidiaries. 
  • Amanda Palmer scores big on Kickstarter. She tries to raise $100,000 for album promotion and raises $1.2 million instead.
  • The line blurs between online and over-the-air radio. More people listen to online radio than ever before, yet they still listen to terrestrial radio as well. 39% of the US population listens monthly to online radio.
  • Boy bands make a comeback. New Direction, Big Time Rush, and The Wanted crash the charts and sell out venues everywhere.
  • Billboard finally updates its charts. It took some time and is probably about 5 years too late in coming, but Billboard has finally updated its charts to include on-demand streams from services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Muve, MOG, Slacker and >Rdio to determine chart position
Here's looking forward to a great 2013!

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 26, 2012

YouTube Strips Labels Of 2 Billion Fake Views

YouTube monitor image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Since the beginning of music on the Internet, people have been trying to game the system. Fake likes and views have been plaguing everyone from record labels to publicists to the media when trying to get a true gauge on exactly what kind of traffic an artist has. New artists want to crank up the Likes and views to get label interest and make fans think they're more widely appealing than they are. But record labels do the same thing, it turns out.

Recently YouTube slashed the accounts of Universal Music Group, Sony and RCA Records by more than 2 billion views in a move that was aimed at shutting down the illicit view count-building techniques used to manipulate some sites.

Universal took the biggest hit when more than a billion views were eliminated, while Sony lost 850 million. RCA dropped a mere 159 million. It appears that the labels have responded by eliminating most of the videos from their YouTube channels, as Universal now has only 5 videos on their channel and Sony has none. Of course they favor their own Vivo service anyway so they didn't lose their entire video exposure.

So who were the artists that suffered? The personal channels of Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Beyonce and Avril Lavigne, as well as 500 other prominent channels were stripped of views in the last 30 days.

The next time you look at a video and it has millions of views, you may want to question how many of those are legit.


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 25, 2012

Marketing To Your "Tribe"

Tribe image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
An artist has 2 categories of fans - casual fans that may like you or your type of music but don't love you, and really passionate fans that love everything you do. Some call these your "true fans," "superfans," or "uberfans." Marketing guru Seth Godin calls them your "tribe."

Here's a brief excerpt about marketing to your tribe from my book, Music 3.0 - A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age.
"Be extremely careful about how you market to your tribe. Chances are your tribe wants everything you have to offer, but they don’t want to be hyped on it. Make an announcement about a new release or a piece of swag, but don’t oversell it. Tribe members don’t need to know that you think your new music is the greatest thing you ever did and it’s better than the Foo Fighters last release. They’ll decide for themselves and then sell it for you in their own conversations if they like it.
The way to market to your tribe is by simply presenting your product to them. Just make them aware that it’s available, and they’ll do the rest. You can take it a bit further by offering them information about the product - the more exclusive, the better.
Instead of a sales pitch:
  • Give them a behind the scenes story about the making of the product.
  • Tell them where the idea for it came.
  • Tell them about all the people involved, especially other tribe members.
  • Provide interviews with others involved in the project.
  • Give them all the trivia involved in the project, no matter how small. True fans will eat it up. If it’s a new song, tell them where it was recorded, who the engineer and producer were, how many tracks were needed, how long the mix took, how many mixes you did, how the final mix compared to the rough mix, and all of the hundred other fine details that go into producing a song. If you just produced a new T-shirt, describe where the design came from, why you chose the manufacturer, what the shirt is made of, why you chose the color, etc. Get the idea?
Giving them insight that no ones else has makes them feel special, will keep them loyal, and will show mere fans and lurkers the benefits of tribal participation."
You can read more excerpts from the Music 3.0 Internet music survival guide and other books on the Bobby Owsinski website.


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 24, 2012

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" - John Lennon-Yoko Ono

Let's celebrate the holiday with a Christmas song from John Lennon and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was recorded in 1971 with the Harlem Community Choir as a protest song over the war in Viet Nam, but over the years it has evolved into a Christmas standard. We're all the better for it.

Happy Holidays everyone, and thanks for reading!


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 23, 2012

How Google Adwords Work

If you've ever used Google (and I know you have) you've seen the yellow highlighted search results at the top of the page. These are actually paid ads in what Google terms an Adwords campaign, and it's the primary revenue source for company.

Did you ever wonder how those search results are so targeted? Here's a great infographic that not only describes how Adwords work, but also 3 tactics to optimize your Adwords account if you have one.

How does Google AdWords work? - infographic
Infographic by Pulpmedia Online Marketing

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.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nielsen's New Social Media Measurements

Multi-Screen image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blogNo matter how much influence television continues to lose, it's still the top advertising medium and will be for some time to come. That said, more and more people watch television along with a computer or tablet - the so-called "second screen." Now the powerhouse ratings service Nielsen (who recently bought their long-time competitor Arbitron) has acknowledged the fact by announcing that they'll be instituting a new metric called the "Nielsen Twitter TV ratings" that measures the social media activity of a TV show audience.

A while back Nielsen acquired a company called SocialGuide, and it's their technology that will be used to track the Twitter activity for more than 36,000 programs. The trick is that it's even capable to identify tweets that are associated with a specific show, which seems to be no easy task. The company didn't provide many details on how the service would be implemented, but did say that it would begin for the Fall 2013 season.

The second screen is becoming more and more of an issue for all marketing. Google recently did a study where they found that over 90 percent of people who owned multiple devices tended to use them simultaneously, but it's not necessarily only for social media. Plain old Internet search is also a major second screen activity when watching television.

I have to admit that I won't watch TV without an iPad anymore, but most of the time I use it to search for background information on what I'm watching. Regardless of the reason you use your second screen, advertisers see this as a major marketing opening. The problem is how to do it, which no one has figured out yet. In the meantime, enjoy watching both your screens.


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 19, 2012

Top 10 Touring Acts Of 2012

Madonna on stage image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
We're coming up on the close of 2012 and it's always interesting to look back to see who was hot. Billboard recently tallied the top 25 touring acts of the year, but I'll give you just the top 10.

1. Madonna - 72 sell-outs out of 72 shows, $228 million

2. Bruce Springsteen - 54 sellouts out of 72 shows, $199 million

3. Roger Waters - 51 sell-outs out of 71 shows, $186 million

4. Michael Jackson "The Immortal" by Cirque du Soliel - 9 sell-outs out of 183 shows, $147 million

5. Coldplay - 56 sell-outs out of 67 shows, $147 million

6. Lady Gaga - 65 sell-outs out of 65 shows, $125 million

7. Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw - 9 sell-outs out of 23 shows, $96 million

8. Van Halen - 9 sell-outs out of 46 shows, $54 million

9. Jay-Z and Kenye West - 15 sell-outs out of 31 shows, $47 million

10. Andre Rieu - 2 sell-outs out of 99 shows, $47 million

What's really interesting here is the percentage of sell-out shows that each artist did. Both Madonna and Lady Gaga sold out all of their shows, while Springsteen, Waters and Coldplay sold out the majority, but the others weren't nearly that successful. That said, others in the top 25 played to fully sold-out shows like Taylor Swift (25 for 25), Barbara Streisand (12 for 12), and Jason Aldean (59 for 59). Justin Bieber came close with 28 for 29.

It should also be noted that Springsteen actually played to the most people in 2012 (2.165 million to 1.635 for Madonna), as he made an effort to keep ticket prices down.


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 18, 2012

6 Music Business Holiday Gift Ideas

If you read my Big Picture Production Blog, you've probably seen my 13 Holiday Gifts For Musicians posts a few days ago. Here's another gift guide, but this one concentrates just on music business and social media.

Music 3.0 book cover image

1. Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age
You know that I'm biased about this, but I really believe that if you're looking for one book that best outlines the new music business, Music 3.0 is it. With lots of great traditional and social media tips to help you market yourself successfully and efficiently, the book is currently used in music business courses in colleges and universities around the world. You can read some excerpts of the book on my website, as well as my other books.

Musician's Roadmap To Facebook and Twitter image

2. Musician's Roadmap to Facebook And Twitter
Ariel Hyatt is the queen of social media PR and her Cyber PR company has been a huge help to hundreds of artists. Her Roadmap picks up where Music 3.0 leaves off. If you just don't get how Facebook or Twitter can help you as an artist, you need this book.

All You Need To Know About The Music Business cover image

3. All You Need To Know About The Music Business
This is the 7th edition of LA music attorney Don Passman's excellent book and there's a good reason why it's been popular for so long. Let me put it this way, if you're in the music business, this book is essential reading, since it outlines just about every business scenario that an artist might come up against. The best part is that it's written in plain English so that even complex ideas (and there are lots of them in the music business) are easy to follow. Highly recommended.

Music Contract Library book cover image

4. Music Business Contract Library
Everyone wants to save a buck, and while you're always better off hiring a music attorney, sometimes you just don't have the dough. This book comes with a disc that has 125 of the most commonly used music contracts in editable Microsoft Word format. Any agreement is better than no agreement, and the Music Business Contract Library is a good place to start.

The Future Of Music book cover image

5. The Future Of Music: Manifesto For The Digital Music Revolution
This book was published a number of years ago but it's still surprisingly relevant. Dave Kusek and Gerd Leonhard nailed so many things, and have predictions that we've yet to see. It's a very provocative book that's an interesting read. logo image
6. Video Courses
Lastly, you'll find all sorts of great business and software courses on, the absolute best portal for learning on the Web. If you're into Mixing, Recording or Mastering, you'll find some of my courses there as well, but just about anything else you can think of that revolves around tech or business is available there. Here's a free 7 day trail pass.

Each of the above makes a great holiday gift, but don't forget to treat yourself to a present 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.

Monday, December 17, 2012

8 Search Engines That Access The Invisible Web

The Invisible Web image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blogI'm not sure how this directly applies to music, but it sure is fascinating on many levels. We think of the Web as everything that Google can find, but did you know that there's a huge amount of data that's not indexed or searchable?

It's estimated that the size of the searchable Web is at 167 terabytes (a terabyte is 1024 gigabytes) worth of data, while the so-called "Invisible Web" or "Deep Web" is more than 91,000 terabytes!! Wow, that's a lot of data that can't be easily found.

Why isn't this data available via Google? Google sends out spiders to regularly index websites, but there are some that require a password that just won't allow that kind of access. These include private networks and library sites, which have huge amounts of information.

There are a number of ways to access the data of the "invisible web" though, and here are 8 search engines that are expert in just such a task, thanks to a great article on MakeUseOf. I'll give you a brief overview here, but see the entire article for more detail.

1) Infomine has been built by a pool of libraries in the United States. Some of them are University of California, Wake Forest University, California State University, and the University of Detroit. Infomine ‘mines’ information from databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other resources.

2) The WWW Virtual Library is considered to be the oldest catalog on the web and was started by started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web. So, isn’t it strange that it finds a place in the list of Invisible Web resources? Maybe, but the WWW Virtual Library lists quite a lot of relevant resources on quite a lot of subjects. You can go vertically into the categories or use the search bar. The screenshot shows the alphabetical arrangement of subjects covered at the site.

3) Intute is UK centric, but it has some of the most esteemed universities of the region providing the resources for study and research. You can browse by subject or do a keyword search for academic topics like agriculture to veterinary medicine. The online service has subject specialists who review and index other websites that cater to the topics for study and research. Intute officially closed in July of 2011, but will remain available online for 3 additional years, but without any updates or revisions.

4) Complete Planet calls itself the ‘front door to the Deep Web’. This free and well designed directory resource makes it easy to access the mass of dynamic databases that are cloaked from a general purpose search. The databases indexed by Complete Planet number around 70,000 and range from Agriculture to Weather. Also thrown in are databases like Food & Drink and Military.

5) Infoplease is an information portal with a host of features. Using the site, you can tap into a good number of encyclopedias, almanacs, an atlas, and biographies. Infoplease also has a few nice offshoots like for kids and Biosearch, a search engine just for biographies.

6) DeepWebTech has a product called Explorit that gives you five search engines (and browser plugins) for specific topics, but for a price. The search engines cover science, medicine, and business. Using these topic specific search engines, you can query the underlying databases in the Deep Web. There's a trial so you can get a feel for it and see if it's worth paying for.

7) Scirus has a pure scientific focus. It is a far reaching research engine that can scour journals, scientists’ homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional intranets.

8) TechXtra concentrates on engineering, mathematics and computing. It gives you industry news, job announcements, technical reports, technical data, full text eprints, teaching and learning resources along with articles and relevant website information.


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 16, 2012

6 Tips For Marketing With Social Media

Merch image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you read this blog often you know that I'm always on the lookout for good information that I can pass along. Most of it, especially when it comes to marketing or social media, comes from outside the music world, so I try to adapt it so it's beneficial to musicians if I can. A recent post of that nature recently came from called "6 Tips For Marketing With Social Media." I've taken their great points and adapted them so they're more appropriate for music, as you'll read. Here's what they suggested.

1. Start with a product with a high potential. Some merch has a higher marketing potential than others. For example:

T-shirt with a logo - low potential because every artist has one
Limited edition vinyl released signed by the artist - high potential

A t-shirt is so common that it doesn't give you much to talk about in social media, while something that's more limited does.

2. Define your target audience. Your entire fan base may not be your target, since there is fragmentation within it that you might not be aware of. Are you trying to reach your true fans who will buy anything? Are you trying to reach just the female part of your audience? Are you trying to reach just the ones in cold weather climates? Try to define your target audience as precisely as possible.

3. What do you want your audience to do? Think about this before you launch a campaign. Do you want them to:

- simply discover the product
- explore the product and learn about it
- create and share content about it to amplify the product's reach
- purchase the product

You're probably saying, "I want them all," but sometimes just defining a single goal makes your marketing job easier and more likely to succeed.

4. Choose your social network wisely. Not all social networks are capable of delivering the same results, and in fact, some are better than others at certain activities. For instance:
  • Facebook's Timeline makes it ideal for product-related posts.
  • Pinterest works well with collections and product-related content, but be careful because your audience might not be there.
  • Twitter Cards bring images and details from a product page that now make it better at social merchandising, but be careful because it can also be considered SPAM.
  • YouTube is great to tell stories if you're good at creating great video content.
  • Instagram and Tumblr are great for user-generated and organic momentum.
5. Use as much visual product content as you can. Social networks today are a lot more visual than they were even last year. Get the best images that you can to gain the most attention, especially in mobile environments.

6. Take note of your process so you can reuse it. You'll be a lot more efficient if you think about what you're doing along the way in terms of using it again at a later time. As with everything, keep what works, but don't necessarily ditch the things that don't until you're sure they're not working for you.

Marketing takes some thought to be successful, but it's more about thinking about your audience rather than the rocket science aspect of it. All it takes is some time.


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.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spotify Discovers Music Discovery Isn't Social

Spotify log image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Last week Spotify introduced its updated user interface, something that users have been awaiting for some time. While this might seem all about the the features of the service, it's really a concession to the way people discover music when it comes right down to it.

If you've read Music 3.0 or attended any of my seminars, you know that there's always a section at the end called "What Next?" where I outline the coming technology and how it will affect our online lives in the near future. One of the predictions in this is section is "a new set of influencers" that people will follow to help them discover new music. In the traditional media past, that was the job of a radio DJ in the old beginning of FM days, or a selected reviewer in a music magazine. Soon that job will flow to a few trusted online sources, like Pitchfork, for instance.

Up until last week, Spotify flew in the face of that theory, figuring that music discovery was more of a social event. If you're friends liked something, chances are you would to listen as well. Their view on that has changed however. At the press conference last week, Spotify founder Daniel Ek acknowledged,
"Social has always been a very big part of what we do at Spotify. But finding people who can introduce you to music you care about has been hard. There are only a handful of people who are expert curators of music."
Ek goes on to say that these curators will be "journalists, trendsetters, and the artists themselves.....not just your friends, but really anyone on the music graph."

Yes, it's the "tastemakers" that we tend to discover music from, not our friends, at least much of the time. Ek goes on to say,
"For me, music is not social but is, in fact, the most personal cultural artifact imaginable. So when Spotify has shown me what my friends are listening to, I just realize this - I love my friends, but I hate their music."
The service will now suggest music to listeners not based on what their friends are listening to, but more on what they have listened to in the past, as well as known tastemakers. These new features are in beta testing now, and are slated to roll out at the beginning of the new year.

Seems like a step in the right direction, as long you follow the right influencer.

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 12, 2012

Top 10 Earning Women In Music

Shakira image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Shakira - #10 on the list
Forbes just released their top "10 earning women in music" list and the results are far from surprising. If you look at the pop charts you'll see that's it's mostly dominated by women, and the major artists are easily able to take advantage of that popularity with touring and endorsements. One of the things to take notice in this list is the number of music women who have their own fragrance lines, something that isn't as readily open to men.

Here's the Forbes list:

1. Britney Spears - $58 million, thanks to touring, endorsements and a new fragrance line.

2. Taylor Swift - $57 million, from $1 mil a show and endorsements from Covergirl and Sony.

3. Rhianna - $53 million, from touring and endorsements.

4. Lady Gaga - $52 million, from touring, fragrances and music sales.

5. Katy Perry - $45 million, from touring and music sales.

6. Beyonce - $40 million, and she was mostly inactive this year. Doesn't include her new $60 mil endorsement deal with Pepsi.

7. Adele - $35 million, from touring, sales and publishing from her 25 million album sales of 21.

8. Sade - $33 million, thanks almost exclusively to touring. Maybe the biggest surprise on the list.

9. Madonna - $30 million, endorsements, fragrances, shoe line and royalties.

10. Shakira - $20 million, endorsements, touring and fragrances.

As you can see, there's plenty of money to go around once you enter the superstar region of the business. The big problem is being able to get to that point, of course, and it never seems to get any easier. Each of the above is a fairly large business unto themselves and requires a commensurate infrastructure, so the star's ultimate bottom line is far lower than their income. There are a lot of 5 and 10 percent deductions along the way.


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 11, 2012

Psy Makes $8 Million By Giving It Away

Psy image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Psy's "Gangnam Style" is an international phenomena that only comes around once a decade or so. Artists lucky enough to catch the tiger by the tail tend to become one-hit wonders ("Macarena" anyone?), and that's why you hope that the artist cashes in - it may be the only chance they'll ever have. In these days of fewer record sales and more streaming, there's an ever greater chance that the revenue from a huge hit will be smaller than ever. In many cases, the artist (more accurately their management) goes for tight copyright control to squeeze every last dime out of the song, which in these Music 3.0 days can be short-sighted.

That's not the case with Psy, however, who's hands-off attitude to copyright infringement has led to at least $8 million, not counting any concert or appearance fees he's collected. Here's how it works, according to an article in the Associated Press:

"Gangnam Style" now has over 880 million views and counting, but Psy has over 1.3 billion views of all the videos on his channel. His income from that is about $870,000 according to estimates by TubeMogul, but don't forget that he has to split that with the company selling ads, then his management takes a piece as well. That's not all that much money for the huge number of views involved. Surprisingly enough, the US leads in views of the song.

Digital Music
The song sells for $1.29 on the iTunes Store and has been downloaded nearly 3 million times, which after Apple's split equates to around $2.6 million.

In Korea, subscription music is much more the norm than in the US, and most people pay around $10 per month. The song was streamed over 40 million times and downloaded around 3.6 million, but that only amounted to around $60,000.

Psy has sold 102,000 CDs in Korea which earned him only $50,000 (sounds low to me), but given that CD pirating runs rampant in Asia, you can bet that there were a lot more sold that he never saw a dime from.

This is where the big payoff comes from. Reported Psy has made around $4.6 million for commercials for Samsung (he's the face of their new refrigerator) and mobile carrier LG Uplus.

There are no figures on this but you can figure that whatever other revenue he's made is dwarfed by his performance fees, probably by at least a factor of 10 even on the conservative side.

The irony of all this is that Psy actually comes from money as his father, uncle and mother own a large chunk of a South Korean semiconductor manufacturer. Guess what? As soon as Psy hit #1, the stock more than doubled, and the family had an unexpected windfall.

So the take-away is that by using the song as promotion and not worrying about anyone stealing it for the gazillions of parodies, "Gangnam Style" became a global sensation that continues to pay off for Psy. The time he can ride this is limited, but he's managed to maximize the hit in every possible way. But he's not even the biggest grossing K-Pop artist, believe it or not, at least until his new album comes out in March.


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 10, 2012

Even Music Celebrities Go Bankrupt

The Great Divide image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
There's an interesting study on The Economics of Making Music put together by Bear Share that outlines just how difficult it is to make a buck in the music biz unless you happen to be a big corporation. As you can see by the chart on the left (which comes via, there's a lot of money being made in the business, but the musicians who make it all possible are benefiting poorly, typically taking in only $23.40 for every $1,000 earned.

The study goes on to outline some shocking details regarding some major stars with giant earning power that were forced into bankruptcy, in some cases as a way to be released from an unfair contract. According to the study:
"Some music lovers are surprised to hear news of their favorite artists going bankrupt, but it does happen - and not always because the artist went on a wild spending spree. Bankruptcy is one of musicians' only defenses against bad record contracts. 
Despite TLC's overwhelming success as an R&B group in the 90's, they were for forced to file for bankruptcy due to the massive overhead costs they weren't able to pay. They earned less than 2 percent of the $175 million dollars generated by CD sales - about 40 times less than the profit that was divided among their management, production and record companies. Likewise, Toni Braxton declared bankruptcy in 1998 after generating $188 million dollars from CD sales; her record contract paid her less than 35 cents per album. 
The Goo Goo Dolls have generated $2 million in album sales, but filed bankruptcy because they owed so much money to their record label. Bankruptcy has become increasingly common over the years, even with many successful musicians. Even Jerry Lee Lewis and Michael Jackson, both members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have filed bankruptcy. 
Sometimes legal troubles, debts or taxes are to blame for famous musicians filing bankruptcy. Other times; however, it is simply a way to get out of a contract. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is lobbying to change bankruptcy laws, making it more difficult for artists to file bankruptcy for the sole purpose of getting out of a contract."
Music has never been an easy business to make a buck in. Go back a hundred years and stories abound how an unsuspecting musician made pennies on the dollar for their work while someone else benefited. Even today with artists having a greater awareness and access to expert legal council doesn't necessarily mean that the outcome will be any different.

The best way to protect yourself is to be in the business for the right reason in the first place, and that's for the music, but you still have to surround yourself with the best team of professionals that you can afford.


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 9, 2012

Zappa's "Roxy By Proxy" Promotion

Frank Zappa image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I love Frank Zappa and spent a fair amount of time with him when he was alive (check out my Black Page and Waldorf Astoria stories if you're interested). Frank's family has been valiantly trying to keep his name alive since his passing, and son Dweezil has done a great job evangelizing his music with his Zappa Plays Zappa tours. Then came the Roxy By Proxy promotion.

The Zappa Project/Object of your Dreams: Roxy By Proxy! is the Zappa Family Trust's effort to raise at least a million dollars to fund the making of a film of Frank's 1973 performance at The Roxy in Hollywood. In order to do that, they're offering 1000 fans the right to become official "CD distributors." That means you pay a license fee of $1,000, receive a duplication master, and then have the right to manufacture and sell as many CDs as you wish, although you still have to pay a royalty of $1.20 on each one that you sell.

I love the idea of thinking outside the box here, and this is almost a clever way to do it, but the whole idea of being a "distributor" just doesn't cut it, in my opinion. First of all, if you "the distributor" expect to make money when you're competing with 999 other distributors, sorry, but it's never going to happen. I'm sure that Zappa fans still purchase CDs, but there's just not enough of them of them out there, especially when your competition is undercutting your price just so they can make their investment back.

What would have been better is if the Trust just came clean and said, "We're trying to raise money to fund a film that we know you want to see. Contribute and we'll send you an exclusive CD, and we'll even give you the right to give to your friends if you want." At least that feels a little more based in reality. After all, we see this same approach hundreds of times a day on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In fact, if they would've gone more towards the crowdfunding route, they might have added a few more tiers where they could've actually surpassed the amount they're looking for.

I understand that the Trust feels that they don't need to go to a crowdfunding site and pay them their cut since they already have a rabid fan base that they can readily access, but this whole issue of leading a potential donator into thinking that they might be able to duplicate and sell some CDs and make their money back is probably misplaced.

That said, I sincerely hope that they raise the funding to get the movie made. Can't wait to see it myself.

What do you think?


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.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Will Low-Power FM Stations Help Local Music?

On Air image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 Blog
While radio is decidedly old school media, it's still utilized a lot more than you think. Traditional radio is listened to more than twice as much as its online counterpart, and it's still perfect for breaking news, sports, and general car-based entertainment. The problem is that the programming has regressed over the years, especially when it comes to music. Where radio was once vital with local sounds, now you have a certain sameness to the playlists across the country thanks to the homogenized bottom-line-first programming of the station groups that own most of the stations.

It's possible that might change a little, thanks to an unexpected ruling by the normally staid Federal Communications Commission. Yes, that same FCC that has been afraid to peek into the future lest they step on the toes of big broadcasting has given us at least the possibility of something to cheer about and it's called Low Power FM (LPFM).

Originally sanctioned in 2000, LPFM has a maximum of 100 watts and a broadcast radius of 3 miles, but thanks to the lobbying efforts by Big Broadcast, the application process wasn't particularly easy. In fact, only a single LPFM station has been commissioned since then, and the majority of applications were by entities speculating on the popularity of holding a license and cashing in, rather than building stations.

The new FCC ruling set out a streamlined process that limits the applicants to only those that will actually build a station, and eases some of the bandwidth restrictions that Big Radio insisted on to protect their turf. This will all take place next year when the new application process go into effect.

What are the implications of LPFM? Maybe none, maybe a lot. It's been proven that radio is only as good as it's programming and talent. An LPFM station probably won't have much of either, just like college radio (the poster child for low-power radio). That said, it's also not obligated to a corporate playlist, so it's possible to finally have a return to an open playlist like the glory days of early-FM in the 70s (how I long for those radio days). Back then, you never knew what you'd hear next, but if you liked the DJ, you knew you'd probably like what he or she played. With no big money involved, we can only hope that some experimentation will be in order with no reason to focus on the the lowest common denominator dictated by the marketing department.

While we can't expect LPFM to change the broadcast world, it would be nice if we had some local alternatives, even if their reach is only 3 miles. Hyper-local radio is target at your community. The question is, will your community listen?


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 5, 2012

10 Creative Rules Of Thumb

Here are some great tips on how to stay creative that that have been floating around various blogs for a while. Regardless of who created the list, it's still pretty good advice and something I wish I would refer to more often myself. Take a look:

Top 10 Creative Rules of Thumb:

1. The best way to get great ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.

2. Create ideas that are 15 minutes ahead of their time…not light years ahead.

3. Always look for a second right answer.

4. If at first you don’t succeed, take a break.

5. Write down your ideas before you forget them.

6. If everyone says you are wrong, you’re one step ahead. If everyone laughs at you, you’re two steps ahead.

7. The answer to your problem “pre-exists.” You need to ask the right question to reveal the answer.

8. When you ask a dumb question, you get a smart answer.

9. Never solve a problem from its original perspective.

10. Visualize your problem as solved before solving it.


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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sometimes Big Promo Doesn't Work

Michael Jackson
More and more, music mass marketing is working less and less. This is especially true for television, where once upon a time, an appearance on a popular show could mean a huge jump in sales. Take for instance an appearance on Saturday Night Live, which could mean at least 100,000 in sales; sometimes even more back in the good old days of limited media. This is becoming less and less the case however, as we get further into Music 3.0 where consumer's listening, watching and buying habits are dictated by the time they spend online.

Probably the best example of how little impact television can have came recently with the airing of Spike Lee's documentary of the making of Michael Jackson's Bad. This was basically a 90 minute commercial for the re-issue of the album during prime time of one of the best television viewing nights of the year, and it sold only 11,000 albums the next week as a result.

Let's go over that again - Michael Jackson, big album, Thanksgiving evening, 11k!

The worse thing is that it was a really great program, showing another side of Michael that few have ever seen, along with much of the backstory of the making of a big-selling album. Granted,  the record is 25 years old and MJ's music isn't currently hot, but it would have been interesting to see if a similar show on Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (or even Psy for that matter) would've done any better. Maybe a bit, but I doubt it.

Several things are changing at once here. Television is losing it's impact, and people are getting more used to subscription music instead of buying it. I bet a lot of the audience that were motivated to listen to MJ afterwards just fired up Spotify or Pandora or Grooveshark or ..........

The fact of the matter is that I think more copies of Bad might've been sold with an online marketing campaign, and it would've been a  lot cheaper.

The estate of MJ no doubt made some big dollars from the network, but the show just proved that we're in a state of evolution in all media. Hang on for ride!


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 3, 2012

5 Aspects Of The New Music Reality

Reality Check image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
During lunch with a friend today, he passed some scenarios by me for breaking a new act. One of the things he said seems to be what's now seems to be accepted industry knowledge, although I believe the logic is faulty.

"We're going to do vinyl and digital downloads but skip the CD. They're done." After discussing for a while what he was going to charge for the items, I told him my feelings on the matter.

1) Hoping to make money on any kind of music isn't living in reality, especially for a new artist that no one knows. That business model is dead and gone, even for all but the 1% (or less) of established artists.

2) Give your music away. That's what it's worth to most consumers - zero, nada - especially if they're not your fans. Music always has been a promotional tool for the artist, and the record label made most of the money anyway. Once you get over the idea that you can make money from the sale of your music, your mind will be free for other possibilities that can be monetized.

3) CD's aren't dead yet. They're a collectible, the same as a shirt or hat, and that's how they should be should be thought of. The fact is that they're not the be-all, end-all to monetizing your brand, and they really never were. Remember that there were 248 million CDs sold in the US last year that were counted (many sold at concerts don't hit Soundscan), so there still is a demand. You just have to adjust your thinking on the type of product it is.

4) But you can charge for a collectible. A collectible is a memento of a moment in time, and people will pay to relive that through an item that they'll buy. But you can't charge too much.

One of the problems with most bands and artists is that they price their swag way too high. Who pays $10 dollars for a CD these days? Who's willing to pay $20 for a T-shirt? Even legacy artists with a really great brand and nicely designed merch can have a problem at $35, which has become the norm at a concert.

Find out your costs, including tax, shipping, the commission you give to the swag salesman, and everything else that might be hidden, and mark it up by 20% - 25% to build in some margin. Especially if you're just starting out, think of these items as promotional. The fact that you might get someone to cover your costs by buying your merch, and even make a little as a result, is a bonus. You can charge more later once you develop a rabid following that wants everything ever connected to you, and you've proven that the market will bear the higher price.

If you're audience wants CD's (some still do, believe it or not), pull a Radiohead and let people pay what they want for them, or set the price extremely low so you can at least cover your costs. Once again, it's promotion. I'd rather people pay at least something because that way they've made a commitment to listening to it. A CD given away for free will most likely hit the garbage before it ever hits their ears.

As far as digital downloads, give them away for free on your website, and charge for them on iTunesAmazon and all of the streaming networks too. Study after study has found that downloads sell better when they're available for free, as weird as that sounds.

5) Don't buy inventory. The days of order 500 or 1000 of anything are over. Get just enough to have a few on hand (like 10 or so), and order anything else on a as-needed basis. For CDs, you can order from 1 to 100,000 for a fixed fee of $1.75 from For all other merch, you can do the same at or

We're living in the age of Music 3.0. It's time to take advantage of it.


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 2, 2012

7 Ways To Optimize Video For Facebook

Facebook Video image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Although people love posts with pictures on Facebook, posts with videos receive far fewer Likes or comments. Here are 7 quick tips  from Jackie Cohen at AllFacebook on how to optimize your videos just for Facebook. I've adapted them a bit more for artists and bands.

1. Limit the video footage to 5 minutes or less (way less). The shorter the video, the more plays you'll get. A long video can scare off people who might ordinarily check it out.

2. Create a good thumbnail image for your video. A good thumbnail is like a good cover of a book. It helps get an impulse "buy."

3. Create a catchy or unique title. Just like with a book or magazine article, the title can sell the product.

4. Check out the keywords for similar videos. For example, if your song has a drum solo, you might want to check out what keywords other videos other songs with drum solos use as well.

5. Allow people to share your work. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many artists actually limit the sharing of their video. Let them embed your video on their blog and website if they want. That's how you go viral.

6. Encourage people to rate and review your video. Don't directly ask for a Like, since that's against Facebook's terms of service, but you can ask for comments or a rating.

7. Upload to other video sharing sites. Use OneLoad to post your video on all relevant video sites. It's the quickest and easiest way to do it, and you'd be surprised the number of people who might find it that wouldn't otherwise.

Keep the above tips in mind the next time you post a video on Facebook. They don't take much time but can make a big difference in the number of views that it ultimately receives.

Help support this blogAny 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 discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stars Make The Big Mistake Of Not Going Digital

Kid Rock Rebel Soul image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
It seemed like a good idea at the time to be a holdout from going digital, but now it looks like AC/DC and Kid Rock are paying the price. Two of the longest digital holdouts are meeting with only modest digital download success now that consumers have started to tip toward streaming, and it looks like the window for some real revenue from digital might have passed them by.

Take AC/DC. While the video of the band's Live At River Plate hit #1, their first album (of the same name) debuted at only #66 on the iTunes store. That said, since the band recently released their entire catalog to iTunes, 13 of their songs have entered the 200 song Hot Digital Songs chart. This sounds like a lot until you see that the classic "Back In Black" is the biggest seller at only 68k, and the album of the same album sold only 15k this week, which is a drop in the bucket to the big sellers of the day. You have to think that if they had done this any time in last 3 years that they may have had more success.

Kid Rock's first digital album Rebel Soul is doing better, debuting at #5 and selling 146k total copies, but only 57k of those are digital. The problem is that amount is less than his the debuts of his previous 3 albums, even with the digital element now attached. The interesting thing here is that KR really missed out on the digital scene by waiting, proven by a cover band called Rock Heroes selling 1,647,000 digital copies of his 2007 hit "All Night Long," which would've meant about $330k of revenue that he missed out on right there.

Once again, this proves the point that you can't sit on the sidelines while technology passes you by, especially in music. Both Kid Rock and AC/DC didn't do themselves any favors by doing so, although they probably thought they did the right thing at the time. Remember the mantra; your music is your marketing. The more that's out there, the better off you are, even if you're AC/DC.

Help support this blogAny 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 discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.


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