Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Top 10 Vinyl Records Of 2014

Bob Marley - Legend Vinyl Record image
Bob Marley - Legend Vinyl Record
Sales of vinyl records will be up again at the end of 2014, which is no surprise to anyone in the music business. Mastering houses that cut vinyl lacquers are busier than ever, as are record pressing plants. There's even rumor of new modern equipment being built for the first time in about 30 years.

That said, a recent ICM survey found that fully 15% of vinyl buyers never listen to them. They're purchased as much as a collectible as anything. Then again, not everyone has the means to play a vinyl record either.

Here's the top 10 best selling vinyl records of 2014 so far.

1. Lazaretto - Jack White

2. AM - Arctic Monkeys

3. Morning Phase - Beck

4. Turn Blue - The Black Keys

5. Born to Die - Lana Del Rey

6. Legend - Bob Marley & The Wailers

7. Abbey Road - The Beatles

8. Pure Heroine - Lorde

9. Salad Days - Mac Demarco

10. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

Just as an aside, notice how all the album titles are either 2 or 3 syllables in length.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Today's Artist Management Uses YouTube

Artist Management
We live in a new world where promotion is no longer left solely to the record label. Now a good artist management team knows that they must be proactive online in order to increase the branding and visibility of their artists. In this excerpt from my Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music in the Internet Age book, Dan Tsurif of Mercenary Management describes some of the things that his company does for their artists when it comes to YouTube and other social media.

"What’s the most important social tool right now?
For what I’m currently doing it’s YouTube. It’s the single most important tool for a musician because you can distribute your music, monetize it, use the description to promote tour dates and merch store, and it has the social aspect so people can go and talk and share comments with their friends. For most artists, I tell them to pick just one social network and get really good at it, but if they ask me which one, I’ll tell them that YouTube is the single most important tool that an artist has at their disposal.

Do you recommend that your clients post more than just their music videos?
Absolutely. Typically the record label owns the masters to their songs, so the artists won’t make anything from posting them, and the label will want to do that anyway. That shouldn’t stop them from making their own videos. I tell them not to just focus on music but to put out videos on everything that you can. You can make a guitar lesson, show come cool backstage antics or webisodes, or even a rehearsal video. People love that. It’s very interesting for fans to see. That’s what we have a video team for.

What’s the one type of video that fans relate to the most?
Our most popular videos are webisodes of the artists on tour. Recently we had one with Black Label Society where a videographer followed them everywhere on the tour, and every day we’d put up a new tour recap. That was wildly popular.

We had one with Alternative Press Magazine for Black Veil Brides where they followed them around on the Warped Tour. It was a similar concept, but those had the most impact because it gave the fans a chance to see what the band members were like off stage, then see the transformation to going on stage and performing, so they could see what’s it’s really like to be in a touring band. Especially now that it’s so easy to pick up a guitar and get into music, they want to know what it takes to get to be a professional touring musician. They get access to that world and learn that it’s not all just parties and girls.

Do you do anything special for video SEO?
Proper tags and descriptions are wildly important. I see a lot of companies spending thousands of dollars for search engine optimization, and I agree to a point that you need that boost, but so much could be done just on your own with YouTube by properly tagging and using the descriptions. You should be tagging similar artists, having full lyrics in the descriptions, as well as the name of the director if it’s a music video. Just these little things that people can do have a huge impact on the visibility of the video. 

How much are your bands involved in social media? How much do you do?

It depends on the band. It might be 10 to 50% of the time, depending upon who we’re working with. We might give them a class on how to do something, but most acts do most of it themselves. For the personalized things it’s always the band members, but if they don’t know what they’re doing then we’ll show them the ropes. We can try to put ourselves in the head of the band members and maybe post like they would, but nothing beats the actual member doing it."

To read additional excerpts from Music 4.0 and my other books, go the excerpts page at


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vevo Launches Original Music Shows

Vevo logo
It's all the rage for cable networks to invest in their own show productions these days, and now that idea is now being adopted by online networks as well.

You're probably at least peripherally aware of Vevo, the massive online music network that's owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Google, and Abu Dhabi Media. The channel is where the major music labels place their artist's official music videos, and that's how most people are aware of it, since if you watch a video, you've noticed the name.

Vevo has been trying hard to do original programming though, and since about 2009 has produced over 2,000 episodes of various shows that cover music performances, interviews and news. The shows are mostly only a few minutes in length, but they've amassed over a billion views, according to Vevo. And all of those eyeballs really add up, since between the preroll ads and branded content, original programming is responsible for around a third of the network's revenue.

All that said, there hasn't been a Vevo original show that can be considered a hit. That's why the company is trying especially hard to give 3 new shows a much higher profile than before. A.K.A is the channel's first foray into animation, where musicians like Iggy Azalea tell the stories of how they received their stage names. Day Off With shows fans what artists do in their spare time, and Vevo DSCVR (pronounced "discover") introduces new acts with interviews and performances.

All of the episodes of the new shows are between 2 and 4 minutes to stay in the "snackable" range of what the normal viewer prefers. That said, Vevo has tried other show lengths as well, starting with an hour long variety show launched in March called The Collective aimed at the Latino audience.

This is a great time to be a content creator of any type, as there's finally the money and vision to try things that would have been called crazy only a few years ago. The problem is that we're all inundated with so much information that you have to wonder how any new show can break out. That said, Vevo has some deep pockets and a lot of viewers, all they need are the shows that viewers want to watch.

Here's an example of the previously mentioned A.K.A episode with Iggy Azalea.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Save Money Producing Your Album With A Tax Credit

Tax Credits image
Increasingly, music producers are looking for State tax credits before embarking on a project.

While this has been a big part of television and movie production for some time, music is now seeing the light in how cost-effective it could be to go somewhere besides Los Angeles and New York to make a new record. And since it's easier than ever to record just about anywhere, the tax credits now loom large for many a budget-minded producer.

Louisiana has been one of the leaders in music tax credits for some time, but recently Texas has jumped into the game. Tennessee fought runaway production by following with a big tax credit, and New York producers are currently lobbying legislators to pass a bill that will provide around $60 million in tax breaks each year to studios, artists, record companies and others involved in music creation.

That's not all, Georgia gives tax credits for up to 30% of the cost of making an album, and New Jersey recently gave Sony Music some $1.6 million in tax breaks to move 50 jobs there from New York City. And of course, Canada has long been a huge benefactor for the arts.

Most producers aren't aware of the current tax credit possibilities and most States are not very good at getting the word out, so you have to do some digging yourself. The first thing to do is look online to see if there's an entertainment or economic development commission like this one in Louisiana. There are a number of forms to fill out and the granting of the tax credits can take some time, so remember to plan as far in advance as you can.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Deezer And Bose Agree To Help Each Other

Deezer image
In what looks to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, digital music service Deezer and audio products company Bose have agreed to partner, with Deezer’s Premium Plus product now available on all Bose Soundtouch and Soundlink products. As a result of the deal, Bose customers will receive the Deezer service for $4.99 a month with a 30 day free trial for one year rather than the standard $9.99 per month.

Talk about a synergistic arrangement, this one seems to be made in heaven for both companies. Deezer is now in the middle of a major push to launch into new countries worldwide, especially the US, and could take advantage of the Bose current market penetration. The Bose brand, on the other hand, is known for catering toward the higher end audio consumer who’s not quite an audiophile, but more discriminating than the average user. Deezer’s service touts higher quality streaming audio than most services, and its upscale Deezer Elite tier even promises a CD quality stream, the perfect feature to show off Bose products.

If you take notice, Bose is everywhere these days. The company made a deal with the National Football League for headsets and now every television sideline shot features at least one coach wearing gear with a Bose logo. In fact, the deal is so strong that the NFL recently barred players from appearing on camera while wearing the competition, and even fined San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick $10,000 for doing so at an after-game news conference. Beats by Dr. Dre (and now owned by Apple) headphones may be preferred by the players, but that company will no longer be getting free advertising at the hands of the NFL.

Bose Professional has also cranked up the volume as it has recently made a big push into installed sound. Once an also-ran in the sector compared to companies like JBL, the sound systems division has recently introduced a line of modular speakers and amplifiers designed for large venues and houses of worship. And don’t forget Bose noise-canceling headphones, which are the standard by which all others are measured. It’s rare not to see at least a few pair on just about any airline flight you take, despite their high price. Read more on Forbes.


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