The NBT Music Columns: Thoughts From M.I.A.M.Inc

miaminc.jpg Martin Johnson from the Digital label Money Is A Must outa Cleveland writes for us. this week: Myspace

You may have 40,000 MySpace friends who know your face (until you change your main pic), but do they have a connection with you or your music?  PT Barnum once said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens—nothing!” As a master promoter, Barnum understood the importance of making a splash and just how to do it. With the right advertisement or exhibition, he could easily attract people to his circus the first time, but what about after that? How would he get people to keep coming back for more? He knew that he would have to offer an unforgettable experience, something that was more than they had ever expected.

I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about how to promote music on MySpace. I think Bob Baker of TheBuzzFactor.com said it best: “The only thing that determines your material success with music is the number of fans you have who are willing to spend money on your CDs and merchandise and pay admission to your live performances. That’s it. It doesn’t matter who your manager is, who produced your CD, how many radio stations are playing your songs or what critics are writing about you. None of that matters in the long run.”

The goal of your MySpace page should be to build a strong fan base not to make a lot of friends. Fans buy your music and pay to hear your perform live; friends expect a free copy and want to get into your shows free. Some artists believe that if they obtain a certain number of friends and get so many plays, a record company will sign them. That is not true! I know that you hear lots stories about how people are discovered on MySpace, but most of those claims are overblown by the media. I guarantee that those artists were not exclusively promoting their music on MySpace.

When people visit your MySpace page let them experience you and your music. How do you convert a visitor into a fan? The same way you write a good song or make a good friend—you share a piece of yourself with that person. Write blogs that tell visitors about your hopes, dreams and goals and how you’re planning to accomplish those goals. When people see that you’re trying and have a plan in place, they are more likely to want to help you achieve those goals. 

Give them some music for free. People do not buy music based on a 60-second clip. Giving away music gives you, the artist, a chance to get that special one-on-one time you’re your visitor during their drive to work, a workout, or while they are doing house work. You don’t have give these visitors the original song from your album, but you can give them a live version or an acoustic version. Just give them something they can download and listen to whenever they want. Remember, purchasing music is three-step process: hear, like…then buy. They might have to hear a piece of your music twenty times before they like it enough to buy it. So give them a chance to really like your music. 

Send them to your web page. Keep in mind that one hundred friends on MySpace who truly like your music and who are willing to pass the word along to others are far more valuable than 40,000 strangers who claim to be your friend but who have never visited your MySpace page long enough to hear your music.           

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The NBT Music Columns : The CyberPR Blog (Ariel Publicity)3

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The Man Behind the Monitor:

  Indie Music Stop 

Today, we’re speaking with C.W. Ross about IndieMusicStop.com, and where digital music is headed in the future.  C.W. has an interesting perspective on the digital world.  As a self-proclaimed “Old Jalopy” he came up in a world without the computer being commonplace in every home.  So, how does he compete for readers in the new frontier of entertainment, well, let’s let him explain…

  Trevor: What is the purpose behind Indie Music Stop? 

C.W.: Our site has one simple purpose, to help spread the word about Indie Music. I want it to be a place where Indie music gets a fair shake. Everyone that writes for our site, I tell the same thing- be honest but if you don’t like someone’s music, write that, but don’t turn it into a personal attack on the artists themselves.

  T:  You mentioned before you aren’t to hip to the digital scene, so what got you into doing Indie Music Stop?

 C.W.:  I’ve always had a love for music. I played in my school band. The writing about music part also got started many years ago. I use to have a typewriter and I would type up pages of music reviews and take them to a local copy shop where I would get the pages copied. Then I would mail them out to different people who had answered ads that I ran for the newsletter.

 That is back before computers were affordable for everyone.  A simple computer that people would laugh at these days would run for thousands of dollars, and served basically as a glorified word processor.

 When the price of computers finally did come down it really made things both much easier and a whole lot less expensive. I’ve had various music related sites on the Internet since around the early 90’s. Indie Music Stop has been around for one year now.

  T:  You’ve started to expand IMS over the Internet, with a blog page, newsletter – so maybe your not such an old jalopy after all, where else can we find it?

 C.W.:  Believe me I’m an old jalopy both in real age and technology. I don’t own an mp3 player other then the one that’s built into my DVD player, I don’t own a cell phone, and get ready to gasp- I’m still on a dial-up Internet connection! With me the whole emphasis is on the music itself and not on the technology that delivers it.

  T:  What would your advice be to a novice trying to break into online publishing?

 C.W.:  Either have a lot of money to hire people to do the work or be prepared to spend a lot of long work hours. When I first got started I was doing everything from all of the website coding and writing to answering all of the e-mails. In the beginning I was spending 40-60 hours on it, which can be rough when you’re not making any money and have to work other jobs to pay the bills. You have to really have a dream in your heart and be willing to sacrifice other things to achieve that dream.

  T:  Why do you think it is important for musicians to support the digital realm?

 C.W.:  If you don’t embrace the new technology you’ll be out of luck.  The music loving masses are moving on to digital technology to get their music. I’m sure that there will always be an underground cult for music the traditional ways like on CDs etc… They haven’t been able to totally kill off vinyl yet and they still even have some new releases out on cassette tape.

  T:  Where do you see music on the Internet going in the next few years?

 C.W.:  I think that unless the major record labels start making big changes they are going to be going the way of the dinosaurs. The Internet has really opened up the door for the Indie artist. There are now so many different ways to sell you music online that band’s no longer really need the mass promotion machine that record labels use to be able to supply band to get their music heard.

  T:  What do you plan to do to keep up?

 C.W.:  Our site is really at a crossroad now and I’m not really sure what direction it will take. The site has grown to the point that to go any further it will need to become a profession instead of a labor of love. Now, it’s getting to be all about the masses amounts of bandwidth needed to run any kind of music related site. People now not only want to have access to audio but also music related video on a site. I’ve been hesitant to go in that direction because, this is just my personal opinion, but I feel that when you add money into any mix it can really muddy up the waters and change even the purest of intentions.

 I know that I’ve rambled on but if you’ll give me a minute I would like to thank both you (Trevor) and Ariel for all of the help that you have given Indie Music Stop over our first year. It’s very much appreciated. 

The NBT Music Columns : The CyberPR Blog (Ariel Publicity)

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Free the Music and the Rest Will FollowBy Trevor Dye 

An interview with one of the most recognizable characters in digital broadcasting, and dual perspectives on the topic of free music. 

After one listen, it’s hard not to be charmed by the carefree nature of Jerry Bumpskey, host of Bumpskey’s World of Independent Music.  It could be the Jerry Garcia looks, or the ‘I don’t take myself too seriously” attitude, but what most likely gravitates listeners to the show is the digital-jockey’s overflowing passion for music. “(The purpose of the show is) to keep quality music alive, promote the artists making that music, and put together an entertaining way of presenting it.” Eight years and counting, the show has built an impressive listenership, “I have found the longer I do it the more people come back to see if I’m still there.”  He continues, “That has become one of the major promotions of our show. How long will they continue to do this?”  With his innovative approach to a multi-platform broadcasting and an heir apparent in Bumpskey’s “Lennon look-a-like” son, the show could have some serious longevity.

   So where can you find Bumpskey?  The more appropriate question is where can’t you find it, as he jokingly adds, “People are lazy and I am trying to make it so they don’t have to work very hard to get something that they should be listening to.”  The show has been available in podcast format on Bumpskey.com long before everyone bought an iPod and began to understand the functionality of a podcast.  Just as the case with Internet Radio, the medium in which Bumpskey’s show got its start.  Ever the foreword thinker, Bumpskey is already intimately involved with the burgeoning trend of social media, “I have also been trying to create an Independent Music community for some time now and whenever I see a good tool that can help our show move in that direction I try to support it…I love finding new sites like MusicWorld3D.com and the Musicians Playground to try and present what I am doing to a new audience.”  Quietly, Jerry is becoming one of the most innovative minds in digital broadcasting. 

 With the recent controversy over Internet Radio Royalty Rates, I asked Bumpskey about the financial implications of his show, “I have a release I use for the show where it says that by The Bumpskey Showpromoting the band that is payment for using the music. All the bands I contact for the show sign the release. I have done over 2000 shows since I started broadcasting and I have yet to find anyone who has done an internet show on a consistent basis like me.”  And he is right, there aren’t many like him, but he does gladly give back to the artists, “We also pay royalties to BMI, ASCAP…”  He also mentioned SoundExchange, but added that those dollars never actually trickle down to the bands they play.

   With such bureaucracy in the digital era, bands have difficult task of making music while still turning a profit.   Certainly, touring bands are at a distinct advantage but some musicians have day jobs, mortgages, children, and so forth.  One such musician, a talented folk singer/songwriter named Marco Mahler, recently decided to, metaphorically speaking, swim with the current.  The Portland based Mahler explains, “Since I just released my debut album I’m mostly looking at it from the stand point of someone starting out…when it comes to marketing a debut album you would want to create that critical mass as quickly and inexpensively as possible.”  To do so, Mahler is offering his entire album for free download on his site, “Having your album as a free download could be really supportive of getting the word-of mouth thing going and reaching that critical mass sooner.”  In a world that revolves around money, some may question this, but Mahler – in a tone befitting his laid back demeanor – replies, “The downloads don’t cost me anything. You can’t look at it as a lost sale. It’s a listener and someone who potentially will grow loyal to your label / band / musician and you’ll make your money back in the future one way or another.”  Quite the optimistic outlook, and with his level of talent I find it hard to disagree.

   Nevertheless, this is Mahler’s first foray into being a professional musician, so I decided to ask the music veteran Bumpskey his thoughts on musicians giving away their most coveted asset for free. “If the bands has other ways of generating money then I think it is great but a band does need to eat and should be compensated for all their hard work. I wouldn’t ask a doctor I liked to operate for free on me nor would he do it.” Replies Bumpskey.

 Given his free download policy, Mahler is an advocate of being a PodSafe musician.  He’s also a big fan of digital resources like Bumpskey (which he previously appeared on for an on-air chat with Jerry). “They’re like matchmakers. Establishing new connections between the musicians and listeners. Why would I want to charge them for helping me?”  He continues with a bit of admiration creeping into his tone, “And most of them can’t even cover their own expenses, let alone make the time they invest into it pay off. Most of them are in it for the love of music anyhow, not the money.”
 

So if you’re wondering about the future of music, think about what you just read, because that’s it.  A harmonious social exchange between artist and broadcaster – made possibly by the Internet, made real by mutual admiration.

 For more, including streaming video of the man himself, check out Bumpskey.com 

To get Marco Mahler’s entire album for FREE, go to MarcoMahler.com   

The NBT Music Columns : The CyberPR Blog (Ariel Publicity)

trevar.jpgThis is the First in a series of guest blogs written by Trevor Dye of Ariel Publicity  

An aggressive cheerleader for independent musicians, Ariel Publicity built its reputation by working primarily with indie artists. They give back to the independent music community by educating artists through their website, and Ariel has been honored to speak at music conferences such as SXSW, NEMO, and The PMC.Trevor joined the staff of Ariel Publicity at a time when a momentous shift was beginning to take shape. The forward-thinking innovation of digital, paperless publicity brought the adventure of the unknown; a unique quality that has been exhausted in many of today’s thoroughly defined professions. Trevor’s role is constantly expanding as the company grows exponentially. Presently, he handles a majority of the CyberPR operations. Sharing in Ariel’s vision regarding the Internet’s revolutionary power on the music industry led to a newfound passion, opening the door to limitless possibilities.


To balance such demanding work Trevor remains in the pursuit of leisure. Despite growing up in a landlocked state, he quickly became hooked to the tranquility of spending a warm summers day tearing through waves on his surfboard. Who says the East Coast doesn’t have surf? Trevor is also an enthusiast of self-expression. Spending countless days lost in a world of canvas and vibrant acrylic paints. Only to be paralleled by his love for the majesty of writing. Currently, he moonlights as a writer for the print publications Free Magazine and US1 Magazine, as well as several online music magazines.
  The Blog Versus All

By Trevor Dye

 An interview with a cool blogger, and a look at the debate between new and traditional media

“There’s really a lot to be said about a group effort,” says Vu Nguyen.  If the Blogosphere is the professional-amateur journalist collective, then We Heart Music should be considered a unique sub-collective within the collective.  More a music loving commune than a writing staff, the 22 bloggers that supply the ever-so-fresh content for We Heart Music do so out of pure love.

 
The team element sets WHM apart from the popular trend of uber-snobby, niche-centric blogs, as Nguyen – the creator of WHM – explains, “We all bring in our own music tastes so we’re not tied down to any particular genre. “

  He continues, “I think this is really important because I’ve often seen music blogs that are really only one point of view to a very niche audience.”  The writers are constantly interacting with one another, giving a certain charm to the blog.

  “We all read each others posts and react to them, say if I make a post about a band called The Rocks, then someone might come after me with something about The Stones.” The staff, big enough to field two 11-man football squads, keeps the blog fresh each day for little incentive beyond a few free CD’s.

  Scrolling through a few of the 500 plus posts on the site, I felt the charm of a free flowing and untainted love of music that seems forgotten in a blogging world invaded by Google AdWords and Amazon Affiliate sales.

  But Vu wouldn’t have it any other way, “There’s a line you cross when you start doing it for money, and that motive can take precedent over the content. I didn’t want that for We Heart Music.”

 “Now, with blogging we are seeing the inherent value and contribution that so many regular people have, not just in music but a variety of other interests,” states Jessica, one of the WHM contributors.

  Social media tools are emerging as a voice for the masses, creating a shift in the concept of “credibility of information.”  Jessica expands on this change, “(blogging) is pure information as it exists in reality and not something that has been cultivated, censured, or changed. It has given people a voice and given listeners a chance to choose which kind of information they want.”

  As a freelance writer, Vu has personally experienced the drawbacks of traditional media.  “I recently wrote a small piece for a newspaper and what I wrote and what they published were different.”

  He elaborated that the changes were more related to the length of the article rather than content, but the obvious limitations remain.    All of this raises an interesting question; which is more credible, traditional media or blogging?  Mark Cuban, the malcontent NBA owner and a Maverick in his own regard, is an active blogger.  On his blog, Blog Maverick, he posted an article titled Blogging vs. Traditional Media – This time its personal.”  His opinions favor forward thinking Internet media, with an emphasis on media, as Cuban writes, “A blog is media. Its a platform to communicate that can reach anyone within reach of an Internet connection.”

  Later in the post, Cuban brings up an interesting point that echoes the sentiments of Nguyen, “There is a cost vs. time vs. interest vs. access series of constraints that determines who your audience is, how you reach them and what they expect of you. Over time, that has evolved our media into very defined roles.”  The more credibility blogging gains, the more vying for our attention becomes a competition.  On a post on Kottke.org’s weblog, Jason Kottke discusses a bet between Dave Winer of Scripting News and Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times over which media source, blogging or the NY Times, would have more authority by 2007.

   Kottke writes, “I decided to see how well each side is doing by checking the results for the top news stories of 2005. Eight news stories were selected and an appropriate Google keyword search was chosen for each one of them.”  The results were surprising.  In six of the eight searches Kottke performed, a blog entry ranked higher on Google than the corresponding story from the New York Times.   The irony is that most people were initially hesitant to trust blogs.   Bloggers were initially considered to be nothing more than average people writing on any topic regardless of their level of authority on the subject.

  I’m not sure when the shift occurred, probably around the same time people started throwing around the Web 2.0 moniker, but now bloggers are credible.  At the same time, insiders are continually exposing the reality of newspapers and major media.  For example, in his collection of essays Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs, Chuck Klosterman devotes an entire chapter to describing the hurried nature of life as a journalist.  His message: deadlines are ultimately the major factor in shaping most stories. Yet, we’re so trained to consume mass media that we rarely wonder if a journalist’s source was the best available or merely the only one available.  It’s hard to deny the sense of purity that comes with bloggers, as they aren’t affected by the same deadlines or corporate motives. I can’t say for certain which I trust more.  After all I assume most bloggers derive their information from the Associated Press or some other mainstream source.

    Click here to check out more from Vu and the We Heart Music crew, including an interview with yours truly on the latest WHM Podcast. Click here to check out Blog Maverick for more uber-intersting posts from my favorite NBA owner.   Read the full Blogging Versus Traditional Media Article on Kottke’s Weblog, or read about the Long Bet.