I May Be Coming Back to this Blog…

It’s been quite a while since I’ve actively posted here. And I can’t really say that won’t continue. But I can say that musically, at least, I may actually hit a stride this year.

As my friends and family know, I have yet to finish an album…the same one I started almost a decade ago..! But this year I’m turning 40, and that’s ignited a growing desperate desire to get something finished. Anything. Whatever it takes. Getting help, over simplifying, etc. Maybe even launching a combination album release party and birthday party, or something crazy like that.

It’s an idea that’s constantly floating in my head.

In either case, I want to actively create again.

I recently visited the songwriting collaboration site, Kompoz.com, and thought it might be an easy way to get back into the groove — i.e. I can go and help other people finish their songs, which relieves myself of the self-induced pressure I experience when I work on my own stuff. The hope is, I’ll “learn” how to crank material out, and not overthink things, like I usually do. (My song avalanche is now on version 18!)

We’ll see what happens. If it works, I’ll start posting progress updates here on the ol’ blog. Wish me luck — I’ll need it!

3-Yr Old Cover of “Awakening” by Switchfoot

I am this kid’s biggest fan.


Look at that rock star gaze, the powerful pipes, and the axe-wielding bravado.  It’s 22 seconds of liquified gold.  :)




You can take your “Mm Bop” and eat it, Hanson Brothers…

How to Advertise on YouTube, Pandora, MTV, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone

ReverbNation has consistently broken the mold in offering tools that empower independent artists.

Their most recent ad creation platform, Promote It on Top Sites, is pretty incredible. Anyone with $25 can launch an ad on Youtube, Pandora, MTV, Pitchfork, and a whole slew of other sites.  I’ll regurgitate  the full details here, but will shamelessly slap their intro video below:

The platform is awesome.  But please, please, if you give it a try, start CONSERVATIVELY.  Be as narrow and specific with your targeting as you can, to make sure your precious ad dollars are spend efficiently.  This can be a great way to burn through savings fast.  :)

Starting a Band

More random thoughts on a late night, this time thinking back to the days when I was in a band (or two)…

If you’re reading this blog, surely you’ve thought about starting a band at some point in your life.  Whether you dreamed of playing to sold-out stadiums, or simply to hacking a few local gigs to wow the local scene, it’s all about sharing (and showing off) talent. Actually starting a band can be both hugely exciting and incredibly painful.  Here are some pitfalls many of us have faced when starting a band.

Band Member Goals

Are all the band members’ goals aligned?  It’s important to ensure that all members of the band are on the same page. How often will the band practice? What kind of music will the band play? How will the band split songwriting credits?  Who plays what?  Bands require compromise, but if everyone has different goals, the band’s toast.

Band Member Chops ‘n’ Skills

Playing music requires expertise.  Of some kind anyway.  (There are a ton of stories of unimpressive musicianship achieving success, but in reality, most successful bands are made up o f incredibly talented and/or charismatic musicians.)  Performance experience helps as well.  Some people are naturally charismatic.  Hopefully, if a band member is stage shy, it’s the keyboard player, and not the lead singer.  And hopefully, if a musician is “faking” skill on stage, it’s your percussionist, and not your lead guitarist.  (No offence to any Wooden Spoon players out there.)

Read more →

Why You Should Scoop Up Florence and the Machine Tickets

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and I thought I’d share some random, late night thoughts about a band.

Someone told me that if I was a Lord of the Rings fan, I’d like Florence and the Machine.  That seemed like an odd statement, so I put it to the test (I love LotR), and voila, I’m now a fan of the band.  They’re touring America this month to support their new album “Ceremonials,” and Florence and the Machine tickets are currently available.  As with many breakout bands, appearance in various media launched their success, making it yet another good case study for the “screen to mp3” success story.  Let’s walk through it.

Florence and the Machine’s unique sound is the key to their success. Florence Welch’s haunting voice overlaid on ethereal backing tracks creates a cloud of mystery around the listener. The complex harmonies combine with enough thump in the bass to remind the listener that this is a rock band. The band’s sound has been categorized at various times as English art rock or even soul. Perhaps the best description is pagan rock. The melodies and soaring vocals are reminiscent of New Age music from the 1980s.

The group appeals to a segment of rock fans who in earlier days might have listened to more pop-based bands. Although this segment is small, the band is fortunate to have been noticed by the mainstream media. Early in their career they were featured on the program “BBC Introducing.” Since then, their songs have been picked up for play on numerous television programs and movies, including “Wild Child,” “Eat Pray Love,” “Saving Grace” and many others. The recent “Snow White” gig was the latest in the string of soundtrack appearances which have given the group widespread exposure.

Since “Ceremonials’” debut, the band has also released two singles, “Breath of Life” and a remixed version of “Spectrum (Say My Name).” “Breath” was featured as the theme for “Snow White & the Huntsman.” “Ceremonials” reached the top spot on the UK charts in its first week. It peaked in sixth place in the U.S. The band also received two Brit Award nominations for the record.

When the tour concludes, the band will begin work on their third album. it could be a minute or two before the group is back on tour, so now is the time to scoop up those Florence and the Machine tickets.

How to Engage Fans with a Mobile App You Create…for Free

Guest Post Highlight:  More bands are leveraging mobile experiences to drive awareness for and engagement with fans.  Wheng will share her thoughts regarding the emerging fan touchpoint, and will also share one example of a way to build your own band mobile app presence for free.  Take it away, Wheng…

Let’s face it, pursuing a music career is one of the last professions today where a self-directing individual can be left to his or her own devices. As proof, take a look at these bands and what they’ve achieved so far. Whether it’s Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age, Teenage Fanclub or Radiohead, Twin Sister or OK Go, the single variable that defines any musician is how they built careers on their own terms. That’s the way it is, that’s how it
always has been.

And while some bands can’t seem to crack the music monopoly dominating the mainstream, that’s never a reason to stop to forging ahead and making music that sends ripples across airwaves, earphones, and attention spans of an infinite audience. Creating music on your own terms is still very much possible today.

The fact that millions of people own smartphones these days means independent bands like yours have an exciting new audience to explore. Think along the lines of a band-specific mobile app dedicated to spreading your music.  Bands can get exposure to, drive engagement with, directly communicate with, and sell goods to fans via a growing number of mobile device apps opportunities.

One example worth considering is the FANtastic4Bands music app builder. What I like about this tool is that you don’t need any computer coding skills to build your app and it’s really easy to use and update. And to top it off, it’s free.  It includes:

  • Simple drag-and-drop design
  • Tour schedule sharing
  • Fan engagement through live Q&A chats and Twitter
  • Direct-to-fan music sales
  • Direct-to-fan merchandise sales

How is it free?  The app  includes embedded targeted ads and links – a fair compromise considering what a band gets.  A $49/year premium version offers a few premium features, and a $499/year premium version is ad-free and band-branded. Definitely an option worth trying out.  (By the way, they’re running a contest on their Facebook page where they’re giving away microphones.)

Start building a mobile experience for your fans today.  There are plenty of mobile apps to choose from.  Good luck!

***

Wheng Enojo is a writer, inspirer, and life-enhancer. Currently, she is exploring and enjoying the world of DIY mobile apps as her newest hobby.

  • Live streams of concerts and gigs

Promote a Band via Social Media? You Could Earn $117K

If you’re actively promoting yourself, your band, or another artist, you’re applying and developing social media marketing skills that could bring in a pretty solid salary in the corporate world.  According to the Onward Search Social Media Salary Guide, a Social Media Marketing Manager in New York City or San Jose earns anywhere from $73K to $117K.  Suh-weet.

How far a stretch is it?  Less than you think.  Much of what you’re doing now can easily translate into corporate social media bullshit buzz speak for your shiny, new resume.  And if you’ve been keeping up with the likes of Hypebot, Bob Baker, Sound Advice, and DIY Musician, you’re especially good to go.  Just add the letter “R” to “band” to create “brand”, polish the ol’ resume with a little smoke’n’mirror magic, and get ready to update your ‘corporate casual’ wardrobe.

Here are some helpful examples to help get you started:

Dude, I manage my band’s Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest stuff” translates to:

“Manage  brand community monitoring, engagement, and expansion initiatives.”

So, I sell CDs at the merch table and on CD Baby” translates to:

“Manage social distribution channels via integrated offline and online channels.”

I stand outside of radio stations, faking “accidental” encounters with DJs leaving the building, sneaking thumb drives with our music into their pockets” translates to:

“Build strategic relationships with key influencers to extend brand reach and message.”

I post pictures, videos, and updates from every party, gig, outing, arresting, and blackout we’ve ever been involved in” translates to:

“Manage content marketing program to drive word of mouth exposure to Brand assets and Brand message.”

Marketing is all about hype, buzz, translation, targeting, and spin.  You too can live the dream and wear dress pants every weekday of your life.   Just be careful what you wish for. ;)

Youtube is a Beast of a Marketing Channel

Patrick Walker (Senior Director, Youtube Music) rep’d Youtube at Midem, along with a number of labels, etc, sharing some pretty interesting factoids.  (Live blogged by MusicAlly, via Michael Kauffman)  I’ll share a couple highlights that stuck out for me:

Youtube is growing.  No, really FAST.

  • YouTube now generates 4 billion views per day, a 30% increase in the past six months.
  • It’s got 800m unique monthly users.
  • 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

Youtube has new TOOLS for ARTISTS.

  • Multiple new site templates are available to choose from.
  • The new Youtube Merch Store plugs into 3rd party services such as iTunes, Google Music, Amazon, Songkick and Topspin among other services, to enable artists to sell, well, merch.

Youtube will be monitoring, managing, and MONETIZING consumer generated media more tightly.

  • Youtube’s Audio ID / Content ID technology identifies videos that use other artists’ songs.  (Labels can pay to use it, and extract licensing revenues in doing so.)
  • Youtube’s Melody ID technology can match “cover song” melodies to existing original songs.  (Again, Labels can pay to use it, and extract licensing revenues to do so.)
  • Youtube recently acquired Rightsflow, a licensing and royalty service provider that enables artists and labels to secure rights to music for various media.

Youtube advice to artists…

  • Make playlists.
  • Shoot videos when touring.
  • Video-announce news like tour dates and releases.
  • Collaborate with other artists.
  • Youtube’s algorithm rewards more frequent uploads, high volumes of likes/shares/comments/etc.  Keep this in mind when creating content.
  • Professional quality does not necessarily mean success.  “Raw”, ‘honest’ video can to well when appropriate.

There you have it.  Progressive labels and artists are starting to dedicate entire departments to creating, deploying, sharing, promoting, monitoring, and engaging video content. How can you leverage these new tools to promote your music?