Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hashtags On TV

Hashtags on TV graphic from Music 3.0 blog
You know that a social phenomena has really broken out when you begin to see it pop up on television. Once upon a time not all that long ago, it was a big deal when a brand's website URL was presented during a commercial; now it's commonplace. The same with Facebook, where a brand page URL is shown on not only commercials, but sporting events, prime time shows and talk shows.

But another new social element heretofore relegated to only online is now beginning to show up - Twitter hashtags. For those of you who don't know, a hashtag is a keyword with a # sign in front of it. Using one or more can make your tweet easier to find if someone does a Twitter search for that particular keyword (see more about hashtags in this post.) This is how breaking news can travel so fast (see Arab Spring).

As an example, the Daytona 500 recently ran "#Daytona500" and "Raindelay" bugs on the upper right screen during the event (see the graphic on the left). The Oscar telecast then tried the same thing with "#Oscars," but implemented it poorly by only briefly flashing it before commercials. I've even seen some hashtags recently on some regional baseball broadcasts on the MLB Network. Image that - it's made it down to the regional level already.

Regardless of the implementation, the fact of the matter is that when a huge mass-media like television finally adopts something, you can consider it in the everyday consciousness of the average viewer. Ladies and gentleman, you may or may not use this social network yet, but Twitter is now mainstream.

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, March 7, 2012

Music Sales Increase Again

music start icon from Music 3.0 blog
For the second consecutive year, music and CD sales have increased in the US, according to NPD's annual music survey. The study found that total music sales were up 4 percent in 2011 over the previous year, and the number of CD buyers up 2 percent.

Paid downloads were up 14 percent, and the average annual spend on iTunes, Amazon and other music stores was up 6 percent over the previous year to $49.

While many in the music industry might debate the stat, NPD found that illegal downloading was also down, decreasing to 13 perent of listeners from a peak of 19 percent in 2006.

Why all the good news? NPD sites several factors, including the improving economy and better music, but the final factor sits right where I've always suggested in previous blog posts and books. The research firms feels that increased use of online subscription music services like Pandora and Spotify was responsible, since consumers get a chance to sample the song, then become fans and choose to buy it rather than download it illegally.

One last stat that I found interesting; the study found that listing to online radio grew 29 percent from a couple of years ago, which means that a full 43 percent on Internet users currently engage in the action.

As I've always said, the music business in not dying. It may be changing, evolving and morphing, but people still enjoy music as much as ever.

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, March 6, 2012

The First Socially Made Superstar

superstar graphic from Music 3.0 blog
It's time for another excerpt from Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age. This time it's about how social media can not only make someone a star, but a superstar.

The first socially-made superstar was actually Justin Bieber, and before you recoil in horror (I know you Bieber-haters are out there), remember that this isn't an endorsement of his music, it's about how he and a number of others did it in the new age we live in - Music 3.0.

"To many Justin Bieber is just another example of a short-on-substance teen idol, but if you forget about the artist and look at how he was discovered and how his career was built, you’ll find the perfect example of how social media can work in in a big way in Music 3.0.

Justin Bieber was the first artist made by YouTube. He was discovered there, and has prospered there almost more than any artist other than Lady Gaga. In fact, Bieber’s song “Baby” had more than 500 million views alone and all of his videos together equal more than 1.5 billion total views (which is  number one of all musical artists) as of the writing of this book.

His career began when he was captured on a cellphone video as he was busking outside the Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario (population 32,000) hoping to get noticed, a moment that has since been shared some 3.2 million times on YouTube. In just a little over 9 months, Bieber went from playing to 40 people at an outdoor water park in Poughkeepsie to headlining 86 sold out arena shows in 2010, all this while moving over 10 million albums worldwide over 14 months, opening his first movie on 3,000-plus screens with box-office earnings that topped $20 million, and inspiring hundreds of licensed merchandise items.

More than that, Bieber is one of the first artists to use social media to achieve superstardom, utilizing all forms of social media to capitalize on his success with over 9 million Twitter followers and 25 million Facebook fans. In fact, he is #1 in the top 100 Twitters and accounts for about 3% of all Twitter traffic as of the writing of this book in Spring 2011.

Bieber is not the only M3.0 superstar to fully utilize social media though; Lady Gaga, Eminem, Rhianna, Shikira, Katy Perry, Linken Park, L’ll Wayne, Taylor Swift and Akon all have 20+ million Facebook fans according to Lady Gaga, Shakira, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez all have more than 5 million Twitter followers. All of the these stars have more than 100 million YouTube views, with several over or near a billion.

It’s a fact that the superstar of today cannot reach that stage illustrious stage without a large social media presence. While Twitter and Facebook strengthen the connection with the fan, YouTube acts not only as a the major music delivery system, but now plays a huge part in music discovery as well. Even though superstars have the resources to better craft a message and media campaign than a new act just starting out, social media is essential to artists at all levels in order to prosper."
Some of the numbers above aren't up to date since the book was written 6 months ago, but the numbers don't matter as much as the concept (they're still enormous). The point is that social media does indeed make it possible to go from a nobody to a superstar in a matter of months under the right circumstances. As you can see, it's been done.

To read additional excerpts from this and my other books, go to

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, March 5, 2012

What Bands Get Paid

Sunset Junction graphic from Music 3.0 blog
There's a pretty cool street festival in LA that's been going on for years called the Sunset Junction. Unfortunately it began to run into financial trouble recently due to the downturn in the economy, and as a result, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. In doing so, they had to list how much each act scheduled to perform was to be paid. Here's a partial list of the acts involved and how much they were to receive.

Butthole Surfers - $24,000.00
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - $22,000.00
Hanson - $20,000.00
k.d. lang - $20,000.00
Ozomatli - $20,000.00
Bobby Womack - $15,000.00
Gayngs - $13,000.00
Peaches - $12,800.00
Lil' Jon - $10,000.00
Tapes 'n Tapes - $10,000.00
Art Brut - $8000.00
Arthur Adams - $6000.00
Charles Bradley - $5500.00
Dum Dum Girls - $5000.00
Helmet - $5000.00
Rooney - $5000.00
The Growlers - $5000.00
The Melvins - $3300.00
Butch Walker & the Black Widows - $3000.00
EC Twins - $3000.00
The Original Vandellas - $2500.00
Kim Weston - $2250.00
Brenda Holloway - $1500.00
DJ Trent Cantrelle - $1500.00
Morgan Page - $1500.00
Natalia Kills - $1500.00
The Hundred Days - $1250.00 400
Blows - $1000.00
Cary Brothers - $1000.00
Madi Diaz - $1000.00
Soft Pack - $1000.00
The Rescues - $1000.00

There's a slew of under $1k acts, but you get the idea. We don't often get to see what acts are being paid across such a wide spectrum, but it's good to see so you can calibrate your expectations.

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, March 4, 2012

After The Album Is Finished

power circle graphic from Music 3.0 blog
CD Baby's excellent DIY Musician blog recently had a post regarding the steps to take when your album is finished. I liked their suggestions but decided to put together a few of my own based on the article.

Here are 10 steps to take after your CD is completed.

1. Get some photos taken. If you don't have the album artwork together, then you may need photos for that. But even if that's well in hand, you're going to need new press photos. Get them shot by a professional ASAP. Check out this article for advice on photos.

2. Update your press kit. You do have one, right? If you do, update it to reflect your latest release. If not, time to get started on it. Check out this article on electronic press kits for more info, as well as this article.

3. Update your website. Once again, it's time to reflect the fact that you have new music to offer. Updating a site takes time, so the sooner you get to it, the better. Before you begin your update, check out this article on the 7 mistakes that bands make on their websites.

4. Determine your distribution. If you aren't signed to a record label, now's the time to get with Tunecore or CD Baby to help make your music available to the world.

5. Determine your release schedule. If you've just completed an album, ask yourself these questions: When is the official album release date? What will be the first single and when will it be released? What will be the second and third singles and when will they be released? Check out this article for a new look at release schedules.

6. Submit your album to Gracenote and All Music Guide. Gracenote is the service that recognizes the songs on a CD when you put it into your computer. All Music Guide provides all the pictures and bio info that you see on iTunes. Submit to both so people get all the details they need when they play your CD.
Click here to find out how to submit your music to Gracenote.
Click here to find out how to submit your music to All Media Guide.

7. Plan your social media campaign. This includes email blasts to your fans as well as posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You want to determine just when everything will happen, in what order it will happen, and who's responsible for getting it done.

8. Create some videos. Many people get all of their new music strictly from videos on YouTube. Get a video out ASAP even if it's only composed of a picture and the music. Real videos take time and you can release the official video later. Get something out there now.

9. Book your album release party. If for no other reason, it's a good reason to have a party and celebrate the fact that you've accomplished something that took a lot of work. That said, it's also the best way to get the word out about your new album, especially to the local press.

10. Play to support the album. It's time to get out there and play for people to expose them to your new music. Some artists and bands gig to support the album while others use the album to support their gigging. Decide which category you fall under, make a plan on what you're going to do, and follow it through.

There are more things that you can do, but these are the bare minimum. Remember, just because you've made an album, the world won't beat a path to your door. You have to be proactive in getting the word out.
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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