Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Public Domain Isn't Really Public

NASA Curiosity image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
There are a lot of horrifying things happening in the world today when it comes to artist's rights, but the following might be one of the worst. Now the major publishing companies are claiming they own songs in the public domain.

According to an article in TechDirt by Mike Masnick, musician Dave Colvin has been recording his own versions of Public Domain songs like the Christmas classic "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and each time he's posted one on YouTube, he receives a lawyerly email from either Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing or Sony claiming that they own the rights and he must cease and desist. Not only that, now YouTube is threatening to disable his account as a result.

Just to refresh here, Public Domain means that the public is free to use these songs because no one owns them! You are absolutely able to make money from them if you can, but you can't stop others from making any money either. Talk about power hungry, it's not like these publishing companies aren't making enough money already.

Colvin is trying to monetize the PD songs in his channel (which amounts to only pennies anyway), but now the majors are trying to stop him from doing even that.

But guess what, even NASA has had the same problems lately when their own feed of the Curiosity landing on Mars was blocked because Scripps News claimed they owned the copyright! Now imagine, NASA is publicly owned (which means by you and me and everyone else), and some slimy news organization says they own it just because they rebroadcast the feed as well?

Obviously this is all getting out of hand and just screams for new regulation, or at least that the current regulators be more vigilant. It's also another good reason why the Universal/EMI merger is not good for the industry. Giant companies don't need any more leverage than they already have.

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, August 29, 2012

7 Website Mistakes Musicians Make

Mistake image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
As I wrote in a number of previous posts, having a website is important to any artist or band. It's not enough to have just a Facebook page anymore, a dedicated site is needed if you really want to control your message and build your tribe. Here's an excerpt from Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age that are common mistakes that artists and bands make when they don't pay careful enough attention to the dedicated sites.

1) No contact info. This is the worst offense of all. You can have a website that looks great and has tons of great stuff about the band, but it will all be for nothing if people can't reach out and touch you. This means they can't send you an email to book you for a gig, to ask you to exchange links, to become your fan, to buy something, or to complain about something. Music 3.0 is all about communication with your tribe, so displaying your contact info so it's easy to find is job #1.

2) No mailing list registration. If you don't have a mailing list, now is the time to create one. It's the main way to reach out to your tribe. Consider it your marketing arm for telling your fans when you have a new release or when and where you'll be gigging. Make this really obvious because it's one of the main reasons for having your own website.

3) No easy way to purchase your music. It has to be both obvious and easy to buy one of your tunes or CD's. Don't make someone go find it. Either sell it directly from your site or have a direct link to iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby or any other distributor you're using. Make sure you go through the process yourself to make sure the process is completely easy and seamless.

4) Too much information. Don't make the pages of your site so loaded with photos and text that they're difficult to read. Try to keep the text down to 300 to 400 words, and make sure there's a lot of white space. Check out some of the artists and bands you really like for ideas.

5) Bad links. Everyone hates bad links. Your fans will loose interest and Google will penalize you in the search engine rankings. That's why it's important that every link works on your site, and every incoming link to your site work as well (which is a given, because you won't even have visitors if the links are bad to begin with).  Consider the "Error 404 Not Found" prompt as the worst thing that can happen on your site.

6) Bad email address. Almost as bad as a bad link is a bad email address that bounces. Fans find this very disrespectful. Sending them to an email address that you never check is almost as bad. Make sure that the address works and is forwarded to the address that you check every day. Make sure you answer any email within 24 hours.

7) No Press section. While not having a press section on your site is not fatal, having one is a sign of professionalism and will be a big help to anyone trying to book you or write about you. See this previous post for more about what your website press section should be.

These are mistakes that usually result from not giving your site enough attention in the first place. They're easy to correct and totally necessary to avoid in order to maintain and build your tribe, and facilitate any marketing and sales efforts.

For more excerpts from Music 3.0 and my other books, go to the excerpts section of my 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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get Kickstarter Analytics Data From Kicktraq

With so much data available on just about anything you can think of when it comes to social media and the web, the one area that's come up short in that regard has been crowdfunding, as up until now there were no serious analytical tools available. Now that looks to be resolved with a sort of Google Analytics tool for Kickstarter called Kicktrag.

Kicktraq allows you to see inside a campaign in more detail than ever before. You can see the Funding Progress over time, the Pledgers and Backers by day, how the campaign is trending, and the final projections for it. Check out one of the data screens below.

Kicktrag data screen image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog

While I'd like to see how much progress each pledge level is getting as well, Kicktraq still gives you a better idea of exactly where you're at during the campaign than what was available before. Remember that as little as a single tweet can make the difference in the outcome of a campaign. Now you can actually see its effect when it happens.

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, August 27, 2012

5 Steps To Optimizing Your Professional Profile

Google rank image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you're a producer, engineer, musician or just about anyone in the music business, it's important that you're clients don't forget you and potential clients can find you. That's why it's important to have a professional profile on as many social networks as possible. Here's a great list as to how to keep that profile fresh and up-to-date. The points are from a post on Mashable, but the explanations are mine.

1. Keep your profile up to date. Every time you get another gig, make sure you post it. It may not seem like something worth mentioning, but you never know when it might impress a potential client.

2. Refresh your keywords and specialties. What are the terms that best describe what you do? Make sure you find those terms and use them as keywords. Remember that a keyword works best as a phrase, not a single word.

3. Be everywhere. Don't limit yourself to just Facebook. All of the major networks are important, so not is it time to add a profile to Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ or even create a personal blog.

4. Get the recognition you deserve. Make sure that you post any awards or significant accomplishments. Now is the time to brag a little, but don't don't exaggerate, since people can usually see through it and it negates anything positive that you might get from the accomplishment.

5. Request a quote. The best thing is to get a quote from a client about either the work you've done or what it's like to work with you. That goes a lot further than most of the formal "recommendations" that many sites provide.

These 5 steps are fast and easy to do, but just like with most social media, the key is consistency.
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, August 26, 2012

Is The RIAA Dying?

MPAA-RIAA lobbying image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
For much of the last 10 years, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been a symbol of what's wrong with the music business. Traditionally the major record label's lobbying group, it also serves the purpose of declaring gold (500k units), platinum (1 million) and diamond (10 million) awards to the biggest selling records, but when it became the anti-piracy arm of the labels, most musicians and consumers agree it went too far. Suing your customers never bodes well for an industry and that's just what they did, raising a great deal of animosity towards the recording industry and never making a dent in piracy despite the huge amounts of money spent in the courts.

Now it looks like the record label's contraction is finally taking its toll on the RIAA, as their revenue has dropped by 45% over the past two years, from $51.35 million to $29.1 million. Why? There are fewer labels to contribute to their coffers for one thing, but also the fact that the remaining labels are making less money means that they pay less, since that's how the membership dues are determined.

As a result, you'll notice that the association has quietly called a halt to lawsuits against individual file sharers. It's just too expensive, since the reason why the file sharers are doing it in the first place is they don't have any money. Even if they win, they lose since you can't get blood from a stone. Going after Pirate Bay and Megaupload is a lot more efficient, although I think the reason why piracy is falling has to do more with the natural progression of subscription and free streaming models like Spotify and Pandora than anything the RIAA ever did.

What the RIAA is still doing to lobbying politicians to support its legislative agenda, with reports that they've spent as much as $90 million dollars over the last decade (should that have gone to artists instead?). Most recently, the association has been hitting congress and the courts hard trying to make it the ISP's responsibility to either block any file sharer or turn over their names for prosecution. Don't expect that to happen any time soon, thankfully.

The point is, with its cashflow down and threatening to decrease every year from now on, could the days of the RIAA be numbered?

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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