Unveiled 1878 audio on Edison invention features world’s first recorded music, blooper. It’s scratchy, lasts only 78 seconds and features the world’s first recorded blooper.
The modern masses can now listen to what experts say is the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first-ever capturing of a musical performance, thanks to digital advances that allowed the sound to be transferred from flimsy tinfoil to computer.
The recording was originally made on a Thomas Edison-invented phonograph in St. Louis, Missouri in 1878.
At a time when music lovers can carry thousands of digital songs on a player the size of a pack of gum, Edison’s tinfoil playback seems prehistoric. But that dinosaur opens a key window into the development of recorded sound.
"In the history of recorded sound that’s still playable, this is about as far back as we can go," said John Schneiter, a trustee at the Museum of Innovation and Science, where it will be played Thursday night in the city where Edison helped found the General Electric Co.
The recording opens with a 23-second cornet solo of an unidentified song, followed by a man’s voice reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Old Mother Hubbard.” The man laughs at two spots during the recording, including at the end, when he recites the wrong words in the second nursery rhyme.
It’s hard being a musician these days. In addition to writing/performing music, we’re often bombarded with the need to maintain an online presence, deal with licensing contracts, book tours, work with promoters, find sponsors, record/mix/master/distribute CD’s, and more. Because the work can be overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into bad habits and do things that hurt, not help our careers. Here are some of the bad habits that musicians are guilty of:
We focus on the wrong things. It’s easy to get obsessed with filling the booking calendar and end up over-playing instead of being strategic about shows. On social media, we look at the wrong numbers, focusing on the number of followers rather than building up engagement. We need to take a step back and look at our long term goals, instead of focusing on immediate urges.
We want a shortcut to everything. I get more emails asking about an easy way to get a sponsorship or booking a show than anything else. The easiest way to get anything in the music industry is to do the hard work of building up a local fan base and create a unique niche for yourself. That’s when you can make the pitch. As Beverly Sills states, “there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.”
We copy other acts. It’s good to learn from others’ examples, but you need to create something totally unique for yourself. Look for untapped markets where you can make fans in unexpected places. Have a unique voice or approach to social media, come up with unique pieces of merch, try new ways to promote. Don’t copy another act’s image. Imitation might be a form of flattery, but it does nothing to flatter the person doing the imitating.
The “magic solution.” This goes along with the shortcut: we often look for the next golden egg that can help launch the career. At first, everyone thought it was acquiring thousands of “friends” on Myspace, then it was licensing. Sometimes it is a national tour, others, the “solution” is getting a song on the radio. Reality check: there is no single solution that works for everyone. This is why I say that the best social media site for bands is the one your fans is on, not any site created by artists or made for bands. You have to find what works for your target audience, then do those things well.
We try and appeal to everyone. Instead of thinking of your target audience in terms of a demographic collection (i.e, 14-38 year olds), try to narrow it down to a single person. Who is your most enthusiastic fan? What sets them apart? What are they interested in? What is it about you that resonates with them? Once you determine the one person (rather than a generic group), forget about everyone else and just focus on other people like them. You’ll make better decisions and you’ll see better ROI on your efforts.
Not practicing for performance. Many acts might rehearse and get their songs down tight in the garage, but they don’t seem to be practicing for performance. In other words, even if the songs are tight, there the live show has issues: they don’t know how to set-up and clear the stage quickly, transitions between songs are long or loose, band members necessarily are messing around on their instruments during sound check or between songs (or “live” tuning), they don’t know how to address the audience. Try taking video of rehearsals and shows, compare the two. Time them. Fine tune it. If you want to be a professional, don’t act like an amateur band.
Do you find yourself slipping into one of these mindsets?
We have more resources for musicians than ever before, opportunities abound. However, bands also have to work harder than ever before as well. So before you just dive in, take a moment and think about your long term goals, develop a business strategy, and think about how you can give value to your most enthusiastic fans.
What’re some habits you find yourself falling into?
Source: Last Stop Booking (by Simon T.)
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OK, so the first thing you can do to promote your music better isn’t actually something many musicians associate with actually being a form of promotion. Collaborating with other musicians can actually be a great way to get out there. Making songs with a well known act can actually mean you can get in front of their fans. It may also mean that you gain a higher perceived value for working with that act, and it can be a good note on your CV when looking for other music related work and opportunities.
The thing is though, it’s very unlikely you’ll get collaborations with big names in your genre (unless you already know them). You see, their time is precious, and they’re not just going to collaborate with every up and coming act out there. The solution? Using the ‘ladder’ method.
What you want to do is categorize any talented musicians in your genre into different levels based on how big they are. Usually, while the biggest acts won’t be willing to work with you at this stage, some of the lower level acts will be - with enough incentive. So what you do is approach those acts which are slightly bigger then you, and do collaborations with a few of them. Not only does this get you in front of their audiences, but it also gets you associated with being at their level.
Once this is done, start looking to the next step of musicians who are that bit more popular then the last group you approached (and are now in yourself). Do the same; collaborate with them, get in front of their audience, and become thought of as being on their level.
Rinse and repeat, each time working with bigger acts and getting a bigger reputation yourself. The good thing is, once people start seeing you’re working with lots of people in your genre, they will want to start working with you too. You’ll be the hip new people on the block that everyone wants to be associated with.
Payola, in one form or another, is as old as the music business:
Labels pay radio stations to broadcast their music, producers pay DJs to spin their records in the club, and promoters ask live bands to pay-to-play at their event.
And it’s always been a hot topic amongst musicians.
So if you’re an artist, should you ever have to pay-to-play?
Here are two ways to look at it:
Do you sometimes feel that your band’s draw is languishing? Are you tired of seeing the same people at your shows and want to play to a new crowd, even in your hometown?
If you’re like most musicians, you know that you absolutely can do better, that you have more fans out there than who actually show up at at the venue, and despite always receiving positive feedback, you don’t know why more people aren’t showing up. Here are some tips on building some momentum back into your tour dates so you can increase your band’s draw:
1. Find a Different Angle for The Show: It’s easier to get more people to show up if it’s your band’s first show, when you’re releasing a new album, it’s a tour kick off, or when it’s your final gig. Obviously, it’s because your fans realize those as special occasions and want to be there.
So rather than making every local show the same, find creative ways to make them more enticing: film a live music video, let fans write the set list, do special covers, play acoustic if you normally don’t (or vice-versa), record a free download of a live track, etc. In other words, give your fans a compelling reason to show up. Answer: Why will this show be different than any other? What makes this exact show special?
Did you know there’s a special six-week window of opportunity that comes once a year - every year? The sad thing is, most musicians aren’t aware of it or don’t give it much thought.
Will you be different? Will you be ready this year?
FACT: About 20 percent of all annual music sales take place in the last six weeks of the year – during the holiday season! And the demand is there consistently every year. Internet-based holiday sales, in particular, continue to grow … and there are more opportunities all the time to tap into these online consumer dollars.
Many independent artists profit simply because they put a little time and energy into creating annual holiday campaigns that gain momentum year after year.
THE PROBLEM: Most artists never tap into this holiday revenue potential.
Why? Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah come only once a year, and they are short-lived events. It’s easy to justify not putting much effort into them. Therefore, most musicians ignore this holiday music income stream.
That’s a BIG MISTAKE!
ACTION STEP: Now is the time to create a plan to share your music, do good in the world, and profit from the unique way you can help people celebrate during the holiday season.
Do what the smart bands and artists do: Think ahead and create a plan now that will serve you and your fans during the coming holiday season.
Source: Hypebot (by Bob Baker)
With over 7 million copies sold, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” is one of the highest selling singles of the past few years.
But WHY was the song such a huge success? And what can you learn from it if you want to score the NEXT big hit?
Here are 5 key insights:
1. It’s A Single
Did you know Thrift Shop was the 5th in a series of singles released from The Heist?
The first single was “My Oh My” (released December 2010). It completely failed to chart. About a month later came “Wing$” (released January 2011), but it didn’t really catch on either. Then, “Can’t Hold Us” (released August 2011) as the third, and a year later “Same Love” (released July 2012) as the 4th single…
…but it wasn’t until AFTER “Thrift Shop” (released August 2012) blew up in October of 2012, that the previous songs climbed the charts, too.
So what’s the lesson? Release and promote a series of individual songs. And: If it’s not a hit, switch. Don’t keep pushing a song that’s not getting any traction on its own. Keep releasing new songs until one catches on.
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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