For all of the men and women who have served our armed forces to protect our homeland and freedom, we sincerely thank you from the bottom of our heart!
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Over the years, I’ve sat at a lot of breakfast tables with local musicians recapping last night’s gig. Usually the conversation starts about the nuts and bolts of the evening itself, but many times, the theme of the conversation moves towards the difficulty to get people to pay attention to the music or attend the concert.
As a musician and someone working in social media & technology, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about traffic and engagement. In my research, I have found there to be a prevailing theme in the thought leadership.
It’s with this context that I humbly present to you 3 critical steps to building fan engagement:
#1. Make Good Stuff
So you’ve attended the latest conference, gathered a lot of business cards, downloaded the newest social media podcast, and bought the newest book on how to get fans.
Sweet! That’s great. But it’s just one piece of the pie.
Content is king, and putting out regular content is important. However, it’s not only about consistency. Amazing content (with a little social engineering) will spread like wildfire without as much need for all the “social media turd polishing” hype. If you’re spending more time on Facebook than playing your instrument, you’re doing it wrong. If you find yourself coloring your hair more often than meticulously working on your lyrics… you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be like Narcissus, drunk off your own reflection, when there are thousands of people you could be learning from. It takes an awful lot longer to make good stuff without knowing, mimicking, and studying all of the good stuff that’s out there. Know the rules first before you go about breaking them. It’s like trying to learn a martial art without going to class. If you won’t dedicate yourself to being an expert, don’t be sad when people lose interest. Cultivate the dedication of the white belt while you strive for the black belt’s execution.
Make good stuff and they will come…
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Search is going social in a variety of ways as search engines look to social proof to make search results more relevant and users turn to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for more of their information needs. Google’s dominant role in search and web video, through YouTube, allows them to shape this process by pushing Google+ to the center of the Googlesphere to the degree that Google+ is now an inescapable tool for music marketing.
Google+ has been a growing factor in Google search results since 2011 with mostly confirming studies since though conflicting studies are starting to emerge.
However even conflicting studies can’t cancel out the fact that if Google is now using social proof as part of its results rankings, then Google+ participation would affect those rankings. Even if that were not the case, Google is introducing multiple reasons to convince or even force your participation.
YouTube Comments Will Soon Require Google+ Accounts
Last week YouTube began to introduce comments “powered by Google+” with full rollout by the end of the year. The new system means that comments about videos on Google+ can show up on YouTube, comments can have privacy settings and new moderation tools are available.
Based on additional details, this new system should be an improvement for videomakers and marketers:
"comments from the video creator will be ranked very highly and surfaced more regularly…The system will also push comments from popular personalities on YouTube and people in your Google+ circles higher up the comment chain, as well as highly engaged discussion about the video. Just like before, you will be able to vote comments up or down, too, and those votes will also influence the ranking…"
"YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube….users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users."
Google Authorship Now Requires Google+ Accounts
I’ve been remiss is not discussing the benefits of the Google Authorship program for solo musicians and individuals building their music industry brands but both Roo Raymond and Bob Baker recently addressed the topic.
In the latest version of Google Authorship you connect Google+ to your web content, in particular blog posts and website articles, and then your Google+ avatar appears with a byline next to your first content-related search result.
Google is partnering with multiple platforms including Wordpress (.com I assume) and Typepad which will further simplify the process for many bloggers.
For Wordpress.org users, various plugins are addressing the issue including Jetpack 2.5.
But the biggest recent change in Authorship is that you no longer have to be signed into Google+ to see those avatars in search results.
See Search Engine Land for more on Google Authorship.
What About the Death of Keywords?
So keywords aren’t really dying, they’re just becoming a bit less key to the Googleverse and that means, in the tech world, that they’re dying.
Hyperbole aside, the role of keywords in SEO is changing as search changes. As Google moves to encrypt all searches, analytics results for keywords used on Google will no longer be available. Though other tools can help take up the slack, this is a major step in undermining the gaming of keywords by SEO practitioners.
But if you take a look at these suggestions for post-Penguin SEO, you’ll start to see that the way forward is a move away from tricks and towards engagement, quality content and honest navigation.
Both earlier seo changes at Google and newsfeed changes at Facebook suggest the same thing, doing what’s best for your readers and site visitors will ultimately improve your presence on Google and Facebook.
Key Points for Musicians and Music Marketers
Emphasis is shifting towards engagement and high quality content in search results and on social media and away from tricks and techniques for higher rankings.
Current changes involving Google+, especially Authorship, privilege individuals over groups. Keep an eye on those changes and make sure you have a Google+ page for your band in the interim.
Keywords have never been the biggest issue for musicians beyond making sure you’re found when they search for your name though they have been of use for particular marketing tactics.
Focus on getting your name out there. Make sure you have a broad but manageable social media presence. And be sure your official website’s homepage has your name in the title and in relevant text on the page and you’ll be found.
When in doubt, serve your fans.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
A couple months back when Ad Age’s staff began working on our Music Issue, I started to obsess about the inextricable link between music and viral media. Think of a pop-cultural moment that’s “gone viral,” and chances are pretty good it’s music-related. (Unless, of course, it’s a cat video. Then again, Keyboard Cat was nothing without his Yamaha.)
Was it possible, I wondered, to pin down the most viral moment in music history?
I also wondered about what, exactly, constitutes historical virality. It’s obviously easier in a post-YouTube/Facebook/Twitter world to quantify buzz. But then again, you might argue that in a pre-social world with way fewer entertainment options — and more of a tendency toward monoculture — what we collectively were all buzzing about routinely had a lot more scale (like when the series finale of “M*A*S*H” drew more than 100 million viewers).
TV and radio powered the popular-music-related conversation for most of the modern age. But was media-prescribed, marketing-driven virality automatically less “organic”? Sure, arguably. Or, you know, maybe people just really liked Michael Jackson.
At any rate, as a sort of thought exercise about the nature of pre- and post-internet music culture, I’ve put together a short list of the most viral moments in modern pop-music history — with “modern” starting, for the sake of argument, 50 years ago. Which means the British Invasion of American prime-time TV makes the cut, but not Elvis’ televised (and semi-censored) hip-swiveling in 1956.
I excluded moments that were purely musical — which means no record releases, epochal or otherwise (like, say, the Aug. 8, 1988 release of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton,” which ushered in the gangsta rap era). And I left out notable births (e.g., the launch of MTV on Aug. 1, 1981) and artist deaths.
What I was looking for, generally, was viral musical moments that had multimedia dimensionality and which rocked the culture.
Given the way people actually watch music videos these days, or even the way they straight-up listen to music, a YouTube Music Awards show makes way more sense than, say, the continued existence of the MTV Video Music Awards. And this fall, the website will kick off its first-ever annual awards show. As Billboard reports, the people at YouTube have tapped Spike Jonze, arguably the greatest music-video director ever, to be the show’s creative director, which strikes me as a very smart decision. Actor and former Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman will host the show, and the list of performers will include Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, and Eminem. Check out a preview video below:
The 90-minute show goes down 11/3 at New York’s Pier 36, and we’ll presumably learn about the live webcast soon.
Source: Stereogum (by Tom Breihan)
Music videos are no small potatoes for YouTube, and Google’s looking at making them bigger in Google Search results — literally.
As part of Google’s quest to more tightly integrate its different services, the company appears to be experimenting with how music videos appear in Google Search results, according to the blog Google Operating System. The top search result for a music video would be significantly larger preview of the video itself, in the style of a Google Now card, with additional information such as the artist name, song title, album name, and year released.
It’s not clear if the preview will let you play the video directly from the search results list, or if you’ll have to click through to YouTube. It’s also unclear whether Google will be opening this test out to more people.
ARTISTS / LABELS: Monetize your videos on YouTube through ONErpm’s Premium Network and earn more revenue! Get started by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Source: CNET (by Seth Rosenblatt)
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the day I quit my software job. There was nothing wrong with my job; it was rewarding and I liked it, but “information architect” was not my calling. I didn’t want to sit at a computer all day. I wanted to make music.
I’d played the cello since I was 8, but my fears — of rejection, of performing in front of an audience, of poverty — had stymied my attempts at making a living from music. Then I turned 31, and I was suddenly more afraid of the regrets I’d have if I didn’t try.
The first couple of years I did the usual pay-your-dues hustle. I paid the bills by playing with the cello-rock band Rasputina, and I performed my own music for free, touring in a VW camper and selling a home-recorded CD at shows and on my website.
In previous decades, this unsigned, DIY approach was considered a temporary steppingstone on the way to a record contract. If an artist wanted to grow beyond her hometown, she needed the resources, relationships and reputation of a label. That’s how an artist got on the radio, got press coverage and got albums into stores. Record labels were the gatekeepers, and without a contract, an artist couldn’t get very far.
By the time I came along, the Internet was already changing the power dynamics of the music industry, but the most fundamental shift for me came in 2003, when iTunes opened its doors to unsigned artists. Any artist could sell music and get the same percentage deal from Apple as the record labels. CD distribution was still difficult and the old problem of how to get anyone to pay attention wasn’t solved, but an unsigned artist could now sell music alongside bestselling artists in the largest digital music store in the world.
As soon as my first album was ready, I submitted it to iTunes. It took five months to appear (in part because an upload script had rejected my submission because of the umlaut over the “e” in my name), but during that frustrating waiting period, I got some nice national media attention and, when the album finally went live, sales were immediately good. It went to No. 1 in iTunes Classical and stayed in the Top 20 for so long I stopped paying attention.
Shazam, the music discovery and tagging service, has rolled out an update to its iOS app that means whenever you tweet a song you’ve tagged to your followers, they’ll be able to play previews directly inside the message. This is thanks to Twitter’s Player Card, and works similar to how YouTube clips can be viewed without leaving the tweet.
In related news, the iOS app has also been updated with faster recognition, with claims that it can now recognize a song in as little as one second. The company says the speedier song identification will be more noticeable on the iPhone 4 and 3GS.
In addition to this, Shazam’s charts now display the most popular tracks of the past week, and some new “TV experiences” have been introduced for US users, though Shazam hasn’t specified what exactly this is.
Artists / Labels can get their music distributed to Shazam through ONErpm! Click HERE to get started!
Musician Zoë Keating earned $808 from 201,412 Spotify streams of tracks from two of her older releases in the first half of 2013, according to figures published by the cellist as a Google Doc.
The spreadsheet was Keating’s latest attempt to shed more light on the issue of streaming music payouts to artists, as part of the wider debate on whether Spotify and its rivals can generate a sustainable income for musicians.
"This is streaming revenue reported from January to June 2013 for my 2 old recordings distributed by CDBaby," explained Keating in the notes section on her spreadsheet.
The 201,412 Spotify plays of songs from her One Cello x 16 EP and One Cello x 16: Natoma album earned Keating 0.4 cents per stream (just under 0.3p in UK terms), after digital distributor CDBaby’s 9% cut is factored in.
How do other streaming music services compare to Keating’s Spotify payouts? She earned $54.40 from 7,908 plays on US service Rhapsody at 0.69 cents per stream, although that included mechanical royalties payments for writing the songs as well as performing them.
Keating earned a mere $13.38 from 387 plays of these songs on Microsoft’s Xbox Music service, although the per-stream rate there was a startling 3.5 cents.
The spreadsheet includes payments from Apple’s iTunes Match and Amazon’s Cloud Drive – 0.2 and 0.05 cents per stream respectively, although as services that let people stream music they already own from cloud lockers, these represent different licensing deals to Spotify, Rhapsody and Xbox Music.
Keating’s EP and album earned $1,617 from SoundExchange – the US company that collects royalties from services including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Sirius XM – and $930.26 from YouTube, although data on the number of plays in these cases is not available.
Her total streaming payments for these two releases were $3,454.28 in the first half of 2013. Keating’s last album, 2010’s Into the Trees, is available to buy, but not to stream.
Keating has a history of releasing this kind of raw data, as the debate about how much artists get paid from streams as opposed to sales of their music has grown in volume.
"If we are going to discuss the ideal structure of the new music industry, we need to know how recording artists make a living today or we’re just spouting hyperbole," she wrote in a previous Google Doc, released to share details of her digital earnings between October 2011 and March 2012.
"So, in the interest of evolving the discussion, I am making myself into a data point. I encourage other artists, if they are able, to do the same."
That first Google Doc revealed that nearly 97% of Keating’s income came from sales of her music on iTunes, Amazon and her own Bandcamp website. During that six-month period, Keating earned just under $47k from iTunes, $25k from Bandcamp and nearly $11.2k from Amazon, but less than $300 from Spotify.