Notes From Digital Music NY – 6/22/10

June 25, 2010

Digital Music NY

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Earlier this year we covered a new music industry gathering called Digital Music NY. Since then, the event – organized by the fine folks at Fortex Group and MusicDish – has gone from strength to strength, increasing its now monthly meeting attendance and creating a version in Los Angeles.

This past Tuesday night was the latest installment of the New York City meeting and we were on hand to bring you a summary of the insights provided by the talented professionals in attendance. To kick off, various businesses and individuals took the ‘One Minute Mic’ to give us their news and announcements:

  • Reggie of Music Intelligence Solutions introduced Uplaya, a service site that rates the hit potential of a song within 30 seconds. Aimed at assisting recording industry professionals find the best songs for them more easily and to help artists get noticed, they are looking for mutually beneficial partnerships for the service.
  • A service called songbright was announced, which is a subscription-based service paying a fixed cost for plays on their site.
  • Amanda from Legend Factory announced their next showcase in August and that they are seeking unsigned artists to work with, as well as other suitable partnerships.
  • Carla Lynne Hall, a hard working artist and music industry entrepreneur, asked the question of all attendees: “What do you want to know?” Following on from her recent ‘Engage Your Fans’ webinar on, Carla encouraged people to contact her for assistance on anything from songwriting to online marketing initiatives.
  • It was also announced that the next Digital Music NY would be on Tuesday July 27th.

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Following the announcements, a Q&A session with global soul musician Tomas Doncker and 88tc88 representative Robert Singerman was held, focusing primarily on topics flowing from the recent Music Matters conference and the artist’s upcoming ‘Small Worlds’ tour in China, including a stop at the Shanghai World Expo.

After a little background on how the tour came to be, the discussion moved to the potential of the Chinese music market and the challenges of getting Western music into it. These summary points cover the main thoughts:

  • PR China FlagThe Chinese market has 800m mobile users and 380m net users at the current time.
  • Chinese music video platform Mogo was discussed as a primary sponsor. They can bring videos from associated Western artists to their large domestic audience.
  • Tomas emphasized the critical role his manager Miguel played in making the connections to start moving in China, including the important media representation he created with MusicDish.
  • The importance of lyrics to the Chinese audiences was raised. Success in the market is often related to the translation into Mandarin, a service provided by 88tc88. They also then distribute to 10 major retailers.
  • Robert noted that “China is 50 years behind the international music industry” but that the market potential is enormous and the government committed to tackling piracy from the beginning and getting a wide variety of music into their country.
  • As a contrast to the previous point, it was also noted that there is a great deal of bureaucracy in getting music licensed and into the Chinese market, as well as the predominance of pop music making it harder for rock and indie bands to get the attention they might expect of such a large audience.
  • Robert talked about their partnership with SSCEG (Shanghai Synergy Culture Entertainment Group), an organization with 14 TV stations and 23 radio stations serving the Chinese market; a great conduit for artists working with 88tc88 to gain exposure.
  • A lack of technical infrastructure and expertise was acknowledged as one challenge facing the country. As a result – and the government’s commitment to music – opportunities for sound engineers and those with tech skills are growing.
  • A cautionary note was raised on what percentage of royalties, if any, actually reach the artist after the service providers take their cut. Corruption and bureaucracy was again acknowledged as a challenge for China to tackle.
  • Finally it was noted that brand building is a huge focus in China, so sponsorship opportunities with links to the country can work wonders for musicians. Once a foothold is gained, the speakers agreed that establishing a live reputation was the next key step.
  • After the speakers set the scene for us so well, Tomas left us with the words: “See you all in China!”

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As a starting point for your exploration of the Chinese market, both Music*Dish China and 88tc88 are great resources. Eric de Fontenay is a font of knowledge on the region and clearly has a great passion for its potential. The question they leave artists and music industry professionals with is: Do you have that same passion, interest, and commitment to tackle the market?

As mentioned, the next Digital Music NY is on Tues July 27th. Mark your calendars!

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Listening Stations: Tune Into Your Fan’s Frequency

March 19, 2010
Listening_Stations

Are you tuned into the right stations?

“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”, said Oliver Wendell Holmes. Whether global brand, small business owner, or artist, there’s plenty of wisdom to be gained in taking time out from broadcasting your message and instead tuning in to those talking about it.

In the past this was a much more costly, labor intensive effort to undertake, with consumer surveys, focus groups, and outside agencies often involved in obtaining a diluted form of opinion. Thankfully, social media and  increasingly active bases of internet consumer opinion have flipped the game on its head, making it easier than ever to tune into the frequency of your audience.

For musicians, Indie Survival Guide just released a quick and extremely useful tutorial on tracking your mentions online. An invaluable resource for musicians, certainly, but the overall advice holds true for other groups as well, particularly small businesses with limited resources to invest.

As a 3 point program, this boils down to:

  1. Define your key search terms. As with web design and SEO, this comes down to the key words surrounding your industry the name of your organization, and other pertinent terms.
  2. Choose and set up your listening stations. From Google Alerts to Twitter search and beyond, there are innumerable free options on the web for monitoring your mentions. We’ll be focusing on the best of these in a separate post next week.
  3. Track & follow up. Set up a routine to monitor your stations on a regular basis and, most importantly, follow up with those talking about you, whether positive or negative. A thank you for a good review or an attempt to reach out and resolve a negative opinion can both build bridges between you and your audience.

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When Chris Brogan encourages us to Grow Bigger Ears, it’s to recommend  developing a key part of the two-way street that is increasingly emerging as a natural part of online commerce and life. Our audience is going to be talking more and more whatever we do. It’s those that hear their message and respond effectively that will be the success stories of tomorrow.

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How do you listen to what your audience or customers are saying? What tools work best for you?

Have you any success stories resulting from listening online? We would love to hear them!


Social Media: Key Reading

March 17, 2010

Social media readingTo kick off our mission to build one of the most useful resource centers for social media and online presence development on the web, today we focus on some of the leading sources of social media knowledge out there.

These will be added to the Resources section for your bookmarks. As it expands, we’ll categorize everything accordingly for easy access. In the meantime, enjoy the myriad learning opportunities from these outstanding social media sources:

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Social Media Examiner – More information than one could ever hope to read, with practical advice and how to guides on using all the crucial social media tools.

Chris Brogan – A font of excellent insight into everything from successful blogging to building productive, trusting relationships on social media platforms.

Mashable – One of the premier online destinations for social media news, developments, and advice. If something happens in the SM world, it’s often mentioned here first.

Guardian Technology Blog – A varied source for coverage on developments in both the social media world and the tech that surrounds it. Also provides regular coverage on music industry matters in this area.

Hypebot – Great news sources combining music and technology, including social media for the new music business.

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Photo by Panta Rhei


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?


4 Ways to Fire Up Your Facebook Fan Page

January 28, 2010

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Earlier this month, one of our suggestions for those just setting out on their online media journey was to create and develop an engaging Facebook Fan Page.

But how can you best utilize a standardized platform with

the potential to reach several hundred million people?

Got Facebook Fans?

In this post we focus on some specific actions that can be taken to transform the familiar – and slightly dull – wall of updates into an interactive forum full of compelling information and discussion around your chosen subject.

Fire Up Your Facebook

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1. Any landing you can walk away from isn’t always a good one.

For most users, the Facebook wall is the first impression (or landing point) they see of a fan page. As this is an ever present sight on both personal profiles and fan pages, it doesn’t stand out and rarely communicates a summary of what you offer or stand for.  So what can you show your first time visitor instead?

Any tab of your Facebook page can be set as the landing point for your visitors. Add to this the ability to create your own customized tabs with the Static FBML option (something helpfully explored in this how to by Snipe.net) and the possibilities for an eye-catching, informative first impression are greatly expanded.

Musicians, for example, may choose to display the artwork and details of their latest release, as well as a link to their bio for those wishing to dig deeper. Alternatively, a music tab from an application such as iLike could be the landing point, placing the songs front and center. As the latter is one of the main issues for musicians when considering increased use of Facebook – in comparison to Myspace, which traditionally places music at its core – taking a step like this can significantly improve the standing of their Facebook fan page for promoting and converting first timers to fans, via the music.

Other organizations may choose to emphasize some other compelling content on their fan page, whether a video, informative article, or a discussion around a new product or service. As well as providing a more eye catching landing, it also offers more control to the page admin as to how their visitors move through their content, which is often a major concern of those just starting out with online media, particularly social networks.

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2.  What’s in a name? Create a Facebook page vanity URL.

Another confusing element of starting a fan page can be where to direct potential fans, as the web address (URL) for these pages starts off quite large and unwieldy. Though embedded text links or abbreviated linking can assist online, attempting to communicate this URL over the phone or in print can be more frustrating.

By far the best option is to amass over 25 fans and create a custom (or ‘vanity’) Facebook URL, which can often be something as simple as Facebook.com/yournamehere. Initially this issue requires a workaround until the fan count is reached but, once up and running, this step makes your fan page much more memorable and easy to access.

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3. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Engage the crowd.

As far reaching as social media networks can be for broadcasting to your audience and potential clients, by far its greatest power lies in attracting this crowd – your Facebook fans – to your content and engaging them to become a part of it.

Facebook allows you to include links, photos, videos, polls, and plenty of other media to expand your fan page beyond a simple wall of service updates. Share an article with a link and compelling picture, encourage your fans to read it and comment back with their related opinions and experiences. Design competitions aimed at having them upload their own content involving your product or service (for example, a photo of them having fun using a product at home or a video testimonial on their successful use of your services) and ask them to tag their personal profile so that the message spreads to their friends as well.

Unsure what kind of content your fans might enjoy? Place a poll on your page to ask them and encourage their comments after doing so. Anything that gets your fans invested in and a part of your page, rather than just an audience member. The added benefit of this lies in the increased activity associated with your page as fans interact, raising your visibility in both personal user feeds within Facebook, as well as externally for search engine rankings as they index the site.

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4.  Got any plans tonight? Add events for your fans to attend.

One of the key social aspects of using personal profiles on Facebook is the ability to see what events friends are attending. Anyone can create an event and invite their connections to it, as well as requesting they pass on the invitation to their own network. If approached in the right way, this can boost awareness and attendance of the occassion as the news is quickly passed from user to user and a buzz grows. In addition, the date and time is placed in the user’s Facebook calendar and a reminder appears next to their personal news feed as the big day approaches, helping even the most disorganized of fans to keep you in their plans.

Event pages also offer the equivalent of a mini fan page, on which attendees can discuss it and post related content. Organizers can then interact and encourage this activity, once again building anticipation for the occassion and increasing the activity associated with both the event and the fan page behind it. Musicians can discuss set lists, special merchandise they will be selling, song requests, and all manner of topics that get fans even more excited to be a part of the whole thing.

Keep in mind too that events need not be restricted to set dates and times at a physical venue. Special offers and promotional periods or the release date of a new product or service can also be set up as events to raise awareness. These require a little more creativity in getting fans to RSVP their attendance to a non-physical event, but the same logic holds that if the organizer is able to create compelling content and engage their fans to interact, then excitement and an attendance base for such events can be built.

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These are just some of the sound starting points from which you can create an exciting, engaging fan page. A place where your audience feels informed and involved enough to transform themselves into particants, interacting with others interested in your message and offering their own insights and knowledge to further increase the appeal for new visitors to perform that much sought after ‘Become a Fan‘ conversion.

And the fact that this increases visibility for you in all the places you need to be seen? Well that’s something that you’ll just have to deal with, right?

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Have you moved beyond a standard page to really fire up your Facebook fans? What steps have you taken to achieve this?

What limitations do you see on such Facebook pages that restrict your use or, worse, prevent you from joining at all?