Where Content Is King, Community Is Kingdom

February 25, 2010

Coronation

Where Content Is King, Community Is Kingdom

“Content is king” is a common tag line in and around the world of online media, due in no small part to the increasing ability for almost anyone with an internet connection to publish and broadcast their works. Amid such a critical mass of information competing for our attention, consistently well written and insightful content from trusted sources needs to win out in order for us to extract maximum value from our online efforts.

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Content is only the first step, however, in creating a successful online platform. In social networking especially – as well as for most online experiences in general – the community is equally important, providing a kingdom within which content can be challenged, adapted, and enhanced.

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The challenge as enthusiastic adopters of online media platforms, then, is to build and foster a group that engages with content and interacts, both with the platform itself and with each other. In doing so, we increase interest in our message, return visits to our platform, and create the opportunity to build long term relationships that can elicit advice, future collaborations, and, yes, even sales of our products and services.

Here we take a look at some starting points for building and engaging this desired community. Please feel encouraged to add your own thoughts and successful strategies to these in the comments. The more we share, the more we can all learn!

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  • Reach out to those you think may have an interest in your field. Commenting on the content of others, replying to Twitter posts, leaving Facebook wall messages, or simply e-mailing people directly to introduce your own content are all good places to start. In making the first move, you can both add to another community and begin a relationship that may develop your own. As a rule of thumb, give more than you receive, especially early on.
  • Ask open questions to your existing community and request that they invite others within their own following to join the discussion. Fostering lively debate and information exchange engages the mind and associates your platform with a two-way street approach, rather than simply broadcasting to an audience.
  • Utilize interactive devices like polls, creative competitions (such as photo contests), and  engaging applications (such as games or surveys) to offer your community a more varied way to interact within your platform.
  • When hosting your own platform, such as a website or blog, spread your content to more populous sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and relevant message boards, to pull in a wider audience and attract new members to your community. Such sites can be viewed as outposts from which you can direct people to your hub site. As they have such established information sharing methods, they also make it easier for others to share your content with their own communities, accessing new those you may not have otherwise reached.
  • Allow conceptual space for your visitors to expand on your topics by leaving some of your content unfinished. Although this may go against the standard practice of beginning-middle-end, it’s a good habit to get into from time to time and allows others to contribute to the middle portion. From this position, you have the option to either leave the content open-ended for continued discussion, or cap it off with a summary comment or a follow up post.
  • Encourage discussion by presenting opposite sides of an argument or varied opinions within your own content. The majority can still drive at the point you would wish put across but the diversity of perspectives will prevent a one-sided, back-slapping session, provoking further thought and eliciting more points around which people can interact.

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What steps have you taken to increase interaction within your own online community?

How have you made your content a two-way street rather than simply broadcasting to your audience?


Broadcast Yourself….Live On Facebook? More on UStream.TV

February 16, 2010

Recently we looked at the options available to musicians in broadcasting their live performances using online video services. One of these platforms was UStream.TV.

Wakey! Wakey! Plays

Wakey! Wakey!'s Mike Grubbs streamed live to an interactive Facebook audience

Yesterday night the possibilities for music makers using this service combined with the extraordinary social networking reach of Facebook, as Brooklyn artist Wakey! Wakey! utilized them both to play to a wide and engaged audience.

The event represented a strong argument for tying in the various arms of social and traditional media, as the set was timed specifically to begin as TV series One Tree Hill – in which band frontman Mike Grubbs appears and his music is featured – ended. The message was spread around both Facebook and Twitter, as well as the official artist and label sites, creating a strong call to action for anyone interested in either the show or the music to tune in.

Once logged in, Facebook users joined the party on a custom tab inserted directly into the artist’s fan page. UStream offers this service to artists upon application, with the whole thing offering a clean and effective way for fans to watch the set on the left, comment/discuss with other fans on the right, and, of course, purchase merchandise via a banner handily placed below all this activity. It also boosts the buzz on the artist’s page by having the audience become a fan and RSVP to the ‘event’, increasing the viral potential for the message to spread to other Facebook users ahead of time.

Such integrated promotion of an online media event goes to the core of what we at Above The Static believe to be the unlimited potential for musicians to spread their creativity to a global audience. Building a diverse and engaged fan base is right at the finger tips of the artist willing to explore these avenues, an exploration that we continue to make alongside those with whom we work on a daily basis.

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Have you used other services or social networks to broadcast live to your fans? How did you promote the occasion and what results did you see?

What are your thoughts on spreading your creative work via live streaming services?


Notes From Digital Music NY

February 11, 2010

On Tuesday night, a Fortex Group-organized gathering gave a chance for those of us with interests at the intersection of music and online media marketing to meet, discuss the latest trends in our various worlds, and, yes, snag some happy hour booze.

Some insights were also provided into the developments at the Midem 2010 conference in Cannes, France, by Eric de Fontenay of Music Dish. Here we run down some of the more salient points, with links for further exploration where useful:

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  • MusicDNA, a new type of format for music delivery that we’ve tweeted about in recent weeks, was a hot topic and could be seen as a new way to engage fans via increased digital  content in music.
  • MXP4 is another initiative aimed at delivering more interactive musical experiences.
  • Music Dish China highlighted the potential of the music market in the Far East and the unique music coming from the country. Challenging the Western domination of music mind sets, Eric offered this Music Dish service as a window into the world of artists many of us would not find through normal channels.
  • Although the overall conference attendance was down again, around 1/3 of those displaying were new registrants, indicating perhaps a ‘changing of the guard’ from the traditional organizations to newer entrepreneurs in the industry.
  • Mention was again made about Myspace and SoundExchange seeking to pay out ‘lost’ royalties to musicians, as previously reported in January.
  • There was also a note that the more major players in the music industry are, far from popular opinion, still very much alive and seeking to find better ways to work in the digital arena. As such, short-sighted attempts to monetize other areas of an artist’s revenue, such as 360 degree deals, seem to be dying out.

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The general consensus was that Midem 2010 had a more optimistic  feel than past conferences, with hope in some of the newer developments to begin lifting some of the gloom that has surrounded the music industry following a decade in decline and the recent economic downturn.

Thanks to Ephraim Cohen at Fortex Group and Eric for what we hope will be the first of many such events. Thanks also to those that we spoke to during the night. Some very exciting work is being done by very talented individuals and we look forward to seeing it unfold.

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If you attended and noted something overlooked here, please do add anything you feel valuable to the comments. Thanks!


A Global Audience: How Musicians Can Play For Fans Around the World

February 4, 2010

All musical artists, whether bedroom singer-songwriter or pop sensation, want to connect with fans around the world.

Can you reach a global audience?

Though the web initially made it much easier to get word of music to those thousands of miles away, actually playing it live to these lovers of your art has proven elusive. A cursory glance of any artist’s Myspace page or message board will testify to this, littered as they are with requests to play to a couple of folks in Helsinki and their lone (but obsessive) fan in New Zealand.

The beauty of ever-expanding bandwidths and reliable high speed connections, however, means that the days of saying “We’d love to but…..” to some of your most enthusiastic advocates can be a thing of the past.

Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are excellent platforms for building a video marketing/promotion campaign but for live web casts there are other, lesser known sites that savvy artists are now using to engage with their fans, transforming geography from a barrier to a unique aspect of fan interaction during these performances. Any artist checking out uStream.TV or JustIn.TV will find a simple but effective platform from which to build a live event that can be attended by anyone with a reasonably quick and reliable connection.

Last weekend I watched New York based singer-songwriter Lucas Kane Hall play from his apartment to fans both here in the USA and all the way back in his native Australia. Gathering around a common factor – the live music – fans were able to discuss their location, post comments on the performance to each other in real time, and vote on their favorite songs of the set (a beautiful ode to nostalgia for a more innocent time, 1985, won, incidentally). Despite the distance, such events offer fans a chance to connect and form experience-based communities in similar ways to a live show. In actual fact, it could be said that this increases due to the nature of web interaction and the tendency of people to be more open to communicating via this medium.

We will cover the use of specific sites in more detail in future posts, as well as the wider phenomenon of creating video content to promote music online. For the moment, we would love to hear your opinion on these sites and the opportunities live video broadcasting presents.

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Have you staged an event on one of these sites? What was your experience like and how did your fans react?

Do you see opportunities to take the concept further to promote your music to a global audience? What are your ideas?