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my career tips  

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Yan and Boris host this bi-monthly series.

my career tips is about web 2.0 artist image and communications management.

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the social web and the artist : an overview
biography career facebook fan fans landscape management media myspace newsletter pitch press release social website
 

This week, let me share with you a (French speaking) presentation about being a musician in the digital age. Enjoy.



the power of newsletters
fans newsletter
 




Art piece by Thomas Koenig


Everybody's talking about Radiohead those days. The band just launched its new album "The King of Limbs" online. Very basically, the launch consisted in a last minute 100% online information release (this sabotaged a bit the work of traditional music critics), using social media as leverage (twitter, youtube, ...). The album itself is available in several versions (wav, mp3, deluxe and classic retail CD). If you want to read something about the music, Pitchfork is a good source. If you want to know nore about the launch, there is a cool ReadWriteWeb article about it.

Everything has been said about Radiohead and its revolutionary launches (specially "In Rainbows" and its "pay-what-you-want" model), but I want to add a little something here, that does not focus on the launch mechanism itself, but on the multiplication of products available.

In the electronic music scene, it's quite usual to have several quality formats (with several price levels) available (LP, CD, various bitrate mp3, wav), thanks to the DJs (who prefer better quality). Some artists also do Deluxe editions, so there is nothing new here.

However, what I have been seeing is that if artists, labels and managers have a clear strategy about product diversity (from a crappy mp3 to deluxe digipack LP) and - most of the time - a good appreciation of which retail outlets should host which product version (i.e the deluxe thingy in the small record label, the wav version on beatport or juno, the mp3 version on itunes, etc.), most of the time, the way direct fans are managed looks like big bulky "one size fits all" initiatives.

Direct fans are those with whom an artist can talk... well, directly (rocket science, huh?). On one side you got all the social media platforms that enable conversations and on the other you have the quite traditional but still effective newsletter. And there we come. Newsletters are perfect in order to talk with and classify your fans.Why? Because email is not dead yet. It is even fairly stable and enables you to communicate in a clean and controlled manner with the people who love your music.

You should watch this video to know more about email marketing for musicians:



3 Email Marketing Tips For Musicians from Greg Rollett on Vimeo.
(if you prefer reading, a transcription of the video is available here)

Let's come to fan classification now. Most online newsletter services enable you to classify your fan base according to response (I personally use bravenet). Basically, it a YES/NO game :

  • Send your newsletter according to the principles seen in the above video, your call for action should be about buying your music, in a quite classical format

  • Check for answers or reactions, for the actions your newsletter triggered : did the fan buy? YES/NO

  • You can then propose more to the YES fans, i.e. the Deluxe Digipack version

  • To the NO fans, you can try out with a cheaper item or maybe a free song

  • And so on and so forth... you will end up with several subscriber groups (i.e. the hardcore fans, the loyal fans, the occasional listeners, the discoverers, ...), to whom you are going to propose different offers, at different prices


And because radiohead has been my alibi to today's post, here's the band latest video :)


social media for musicians in 35 images
landscape management media social
 

No words today but a slideshow: social media for music artists in 35 images. Nex time I'll use prezi.



are you the next big sound?
dashboard facebook fan management media myspace nextbigsound social soundcloud stats video
 




Artist: Fichtre

Ten months ago (time flies, huh?) I reviewed a social stats platform called Next Big Sound (NBS). Firstly, I am happy because it is still around. Secondly, its bosses must be happy to have classy partners and users such as Billboard or Topspin. Finally the industry and some (self managed number crunching) artists should be happy about the release of Premier - NBS's premium offer - enabling even more counting and crunching.

First things first though. What's the basic purpose of NBS? As we all know, the world has changed. Selling music has changed. Sharing music has changed. Talking with fans has changed. As an artist or record label, you have to maintain several social media profiles on top of having your good old website. You might have a blog, a myspace account, a facebook page, a last.fm playlist, a youtube channel, a sound cloud. It all depends on your will, your time resources and your social media strategy (we'll be coming to that sort of things in later posts).

And there you go : you post, update, friend fish, tweet, share, accept requests, blog, webcast, comment, submit, stream and so on and so forth. And then what?

That's the time when you realize that - in the end - some stats might be useful. When did people comment and view a lot? Was it after you tweeted a nice reharsal picture? Or when you posted this very long text telling the tour bus story? Or maybe was it about this quick and dirty concert video you shot with your phone? Stats are useful not only regarding the number of plays, views or fans (although we all agree about the basics), they can also be a useful help in detecting what kind of interaction your followers prefer. And thus help you define your priorities when producing the (non audio) content that nurtures your social media presences.

So that's what NBS enables you to see in an friendly and comfy way: stats. The site enables you to follow up to 16 of your social media profiles and generates time graphs picturing the evolution in number of fans, plays, views and comments, be it on a combined basis or platform per platform. Nice.

Now, for the true businessmen, the Premier option is THE dashboard, enabling you to have the complete view on an artist online activities : blog mentions, iTunes album sales, P2P activity, radio plays, geographic and demographic fan base breakdown. Definitely worth a look if you're an artist manager.

It may sound a bit geeky but trust me, it's full of information if you ask yourself the right questions.

myspace or not myspace
fan fans media myspace reverbnation social soundcloud stats website
 




Artist: Adam de la Mare

It was in the news today, Myspace is laying off 500 employees, nearly half of its staff. That's quite rough, although predictable. The platform already had a major round of layoffs in mid-2009 and face an uncertain future. One must remember that News Corp. bought it for US$580 million in mid-2005, so the thing has to bring back money.

And there we are. The once leading social media site has lost the mainstream fight. Everybody is facebooking, tweeting, tumbling, youtubing or instagraming nowadays. Myspace changed its logo recently and no one cared. Lame. The platform has been deemed ageing, useless, conservative, clueless and mainstream. Even in the music world, bands are now using other ways, such as bandcamp, soundcloud or big cartel to store and share their tracks (these platforms will be covered in later posts).

More and more, artists or bands ask me if it's still worth to keep their myspace accounts up to date ("it takes time", "the new interface is not friendly", "I prefer Facebook", etc.). Time being a scarce resource, the question is worthy.

However, as Michael Doernberg - CEO of Reverbnation - says : "MySpace is still the de facto music destination on the web. If you want to go to single place to see a comprehensive presentation of a band, MySpace is still the biggest." Just think about it. What do you do (maybe not if you're a scene insider) to give ear to a band or artist? And, more importantly maybe, what do bookers, festivals and clubs artistic directors, radio DJs or journalists do in order to get quick and dirty information and sounds about prospects? They go "band name" and "myspace" on Google. As simple as that. They do that for four reasons :


  1. one is never sure to get songs in a simple and clear way on an artist's website

  2. there is a lot less artists on the other above mentioned platforms

  3. you don't go 1 + 2, given all the uncertainties (and given you've got 100+ bands or artists to review), if you can go Myspace instead

  4. and then, if you like what you found in 3, you digg and go 1 and 2 


Moreover, Myspace may be slashing employees, it still has a lot more cash than its competitors, which makes it easier to pass deals with Google. The specifics of the deal are kept secret, however one can assume that it might help search engine optimization. Oh, and the former place for friends also recently - and finally - launched Fan Management Tools.

In short, keeping an updated profile and using it as an entry door to your other online presences is still a savvy time investment.

about the art of pitching
biography career management pitch press release style
 




Source: sequin

What about your pitch? In this context it is not the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound, it's the marketing term. Marketers and vendors call this the Unique Sales Proposition, entrepreneurs name it the elevator pitch. It consists in a few words that define you, your music and your uniqueness. A referenced uniqueness.

I said it last week: we're on the wild wild web. Tons of websites, dozens of tracks on beatport and juno, thousands of audioblogs, millions of myspace pages and soundcloud accounts. The competition is fierce. The share of voice is thin. A good pitch might help. It does not do all the work, but it might help.

When you ask artists about the musical style they play, often you get the quite typical "I sound like absolutely nothing you’ve ever heard before" or the even more typical "I don't answer to this question" (I remember Yuksek telling me that during an interview at the Montreux Jazz Festival). Well, if you're Yuksek, it's ok because influential people already wrote about your music and your influences and fellow DJs and producers charted your releases on RA. But if you're beginning in the business, you shouldn't miss any opportunity to spread the word.

Before you can do name dropping, you should give people a context and references. People need it. If they miss it, you miss them.

A good pitch can be a sound basis for personal branding. It'll spice up your biography and your press releases. It'll help you present yourself efficiently to bookers and bloggers. You can also use it on your website, on your myspace account, on your facebook account, etc.

Ariel Hyatt has a technique to write good pitches in no time, here it is :

Take out a clean piece of paper, and write down the following:

1 Write out the type of genres you play. No more than two or three should actually be selected in the end.

2 Write down all the artists that other people say you sound like.

3 Write down a list of all artists (or authors or famous people) that influenced you.

4 Write down all of the feelings and vibes that you want to create or convey with your music

Use these elements as a guideline to help come up with a few words or sentences that sum you up.

Now, go to this website: 15secondpitch.com

Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple and as concise as you can. And most importantly, be proud of it.

an introduction to the career tips section and the 1.000 true fans theory
career fans management media social video
 

This is my first blog post here and I am quite honored to join the SEM team. With Boris – our multimedia conception specialist – our aim is to issue a bi-monthly post on the present platform. We also plan to have a few guests posting interesting stuff about career management in the web 2.0 world.

Just a few words about me: I am a brand marketing and communications professional, now specializing in social media management. I currently live in Lausanne and work in the Swiss media industry. Here are links to my Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

I also love electronic music (better do so on the present platform, don’t you think?). Next to my daytime job, I notingly act as event coordinator, promoter, booker and DJ for the Digital Natives collective, have been amongst the founders of Biolive party throwers association and serve as speaker and teacher for the CMA Foundation, the ETM in Geneva and the HEMU in Lausanne.

One has to acknowledge that we live in a more and more specialized and professionalized scene, and that new information technologies and the social media world have dramatically changed the way we communicate. People now socialize via their smartphones, share and recommend stuff they like, browsing in a sea of information, channeling interests to and through communities of interest.

To partially illustrate my point (and to bring in some air to this pretty dry post), here’s a hype video about social media nowadays.

A Day in the Life of Social Media from DBA Worldwide on Vimeo

Let’s face it, it’s the jungle out there. We’ll try to stress out some – hopefully - useful strategies and tools that will enable you to reach your audience, spread your word and your world, and eventually get some attention, bookings and sales. If MUSIC is still the main driver of success, caring about the way YOU channel it to the world is the aim of the present weekly series.

This said, our focus here will be mainly on online image and communications management, thus some of our post may concern marketing, rights and organization.

I said above that the new web is a jungle for the modern artist. Thanks to information and communication technology and to this thing called social media, everyone has access to a tremendous amount of information, be it through his social networking contacts, audioblogs, music platforms, preference engines and so on. This can be seen as an enormous opportunity (the whole world being your potential target audience, basically) or a daunting threat (the whole world being your potential competitors, in fine).

To start off the series, let’s cite Wired Magazine’s former Senior Editor Kevin Kelly, who wrote a great post called 1.000 True Fans two years ago that got lots of attention around the blogosphere. Kelly essentially argues that to be a success online, you don’t need a huge audience. You just need 1,000 true fans who are willing to buy stuff from you. You should definitely read that.

Of course there have been lots of responses and criticism to Kelly’s theory. Some called it simplistic, over optimistic or not accurate (I find this one very interesting and complete). And they are right as well.

I personally think that the whole topic can give creative artists the motivation to manage their image, presence, availability and communications online. It draws the line between the opportunities and threats of the contemporary mega connected web (I always wanted to use the words contemporary and “mega” in a same sentence). It also underlines the fact that managing a fan base is an enormous and time consuming job.

We’ll try – throughout the posts to come - to give you advice, hints and tips about how to do this job in a strategic, efficient and – why not – fun way.

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