Sunday, September 21, 2014

Analyzing Apple’s U2 Mistake

U2 in concert image
By now everyone is familiar with the blowback received from the ill-fated U2 album giveaway on iTunes. Apple and the band thought that giving a free album to all iTunes users would be heralded as a huge win, only to find that many of them objected to the album being forced on them, even when it’s by a legendary superstar group like U2. Let’s analyze what’s going on here.

1. People want pull, not push. By and large users of any platform hate to have info pushed to them. Yes, there are exceptions like email and text notifications, but by and large, we hate being shouted at, even if it’s being done electronically. A better strategy in this situation might have been to say, “Here’s the new U2 album. Take it if you want it.” While that wouldn’t have amounted to the same ability to say that it was the biggest album release of all time, it would have alleviated the feeling that people were getting an unwanted musical virus planted on their phone or computer.

2. Downloads are over. When the entire world (except Japan, which is still stuck in the CD world thanks to oppressive laws) is turning to streaming music wholeheartedly, why would Apple hold on to this vestige of the past by thinking that anyone wanted to download an album’s worth of files? Oh, that’s right, the company has this vested interest in downloads by virtue of the fact that the music side of iTunes is still a huge business that features a billion downloads a year. The fact of the matter though is that the company and band could have looked a lot hipper by providing a free 90 day Beats Music account that included a proprietary playlist of the album along, and used the iTunes downloads as a secondary offering.

3. The band isn’t as cool anymore. Let’s face it, they’re all in their 50s, and while they’ve done an admirable job staying relevant far beyond the life span of most artists, to a great number of younger people it’s just, “Who is U2 and why are they sending me their spam music files?” The fact that the song that’s featured in the ad (“The Miracle of Joey Ramone”) is about another dinosaur rocker (although well-deserving) doesn’t help the cause either. Read more on Forbes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Top 5 Best Cities for Young Musicians

Austin, Texas image
Austin, Texas
Here's a great guest post from Alex Soare featuring the 5 best cities for young musicians.

What makes a city good for musicians?  Is it the amount of clubs?  The cheap rent?  The number of “Bassist Wanted” flyers on coffee shop bulletin boards?

In a word, yes.

It’s the confluence of several different factors that make a city a great place for musicians to live.  Some of it is tangible and some of it is just an indescribable vibe that makes musical folks feel at home in a place.  Whatever it is, some cities have it and some don’t.  

Just so you know, we disqualified New York and Los Angeles on account of them being overly-saturated and overly expensive.  Instead, we highlighted cities that allow you to be a slightly larger fish in a slightly smaller (and cheaper) pond.

1. Chicago, IL
If you don’t mind the rough winters, then you’ll love Chi-Town for its vibrant music scene and down-to-earth feel.  The city has the big world-class city thing New York has, but it’s decidedly more approachable for newbies, which makes it a great place for young artists to start out.

But the sheer size of the place means that there’s a scene for every genre. The hundreds of fabulous venues and the insane amount of music festivals (Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, North Coast, Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, and a full summer street festivals with live music) means there’s no shortage of opportunities to play and see live music.

And unlike NYC, the cost of living in the Windy City is do-able.  Cool, burgeoning neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen offer creative types with a budget a great pocket of the city to call home.  Plus, in these funky hoods, you’ll be surrounded by fellow artists of all media, along with great restaurants and dive bars that actually offer drinks you can afford on your minimum wage day job paycheck.  

2. New Orleans, LA
The Big Easy is a very easy city for musicians to make their home.  After all, one of the major exports of the city is its own distinctive genre.  And because of that, the city has a unique and fervent respect for music and its players – their musicians are treasured, perhaps, more than any other group.  But just because it’s famous for jazz greats doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more going on musically.  In fact, as the birthplace of Bounce, New Orleans has a flourishing hip hop scene in addition to active Latin music and metal communities.

For cheap, fun places to live, you’re not going to do much better than the Crescent City.  When you’re not working on your craft, you’ll be walking around, slack-jawed and dazzled by the city’s amazing food, stunning architecture and frighteningly friendly vibe.  And you won’t have to break the bank to rent one half of a cool shotgun-style apartment in young, artsy neighborhoods like the Bywater.  Let’s put it this way:  it won’t take long for you to feel perfectly at home in this laid-back, creative southern city that treats its musicians like some cities treat their politicians.

3. Nashville, TN
This world-famous capital of country music has, far and away, the most flourishing music scene in the nation.  According to a report published by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the city has a whopping 7.8 jobs in the music industry for every 1000 working-age residents, and working musicians earn 156% more than the national average for musicians’ earnings. Considering that Nashville’s cost of living is 11.1% lower than the national average, it’s obvious that this is the very best financial choice for musicians.

Just make sure not to count it out if you aren’t a country crooner.  Though that’s what Nashville is most known for, the city also claims to be the very birthplace of both blues and rock ‘n roll.  Both classic genres are still alive and well-represented in today’s Nashville…as are, believe it or not, hip hop, and punk music.  When you factor in the Southern charm, the amazing venues and the high concentration of fellow musicians, it’s clear that the city is a kind of Eden for young artists.

4. Austin, TX
While it might be located smack dab in the middle of a very conservative state, Austin is known for its liberal, progressive, and artsy atmosphere embodied by the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.”  You’ll likely be greeted with live tunes in the airport (and even in some grocery stores), proving that this city wants everyone to know just how high music is on its list of priorities.  The Texas town has been the launching pad of hundreds of successful musicians as it’s long been considered an ideal place for young artists to sharpen their chops.

The city is also home to the seminal Austin City Limits show and several annual music fests, like the world-famous South by Southwest.  And if you’re a fan of warm weather, Southern barbeque and food trucks, Austin will be your own version of heaven.  This might also be the best choice for a budding musician who can do a techy day job, as many large tech giants, as well as thriving startups, call Austin home.  

5. Portland, OR
Portland is sometimes considered Seattle’s little brother, but it certain has established itself as a culture hub in its own right.  The healthy music scene has one foot firmly planted in indie and folk rock and the other in punk, but really you can find a bit of everything.  And less established  musicians will appreciate the large number of small venues and the gigging opportunities they offer.

What also makes it an excellent starting place for young musicians is the fact that community is such a big deal here.  It’s easy for newcomers to meet new people and jump into the music scene without feeling the alienation and anonymity that sometimes comes with moving to a new city. When you get down to it, the quality of life in Portland is pretty excellent.  There’s an astounding amount of accessible nature surrounding the city and it really is as ridiculously welcoming and friendly as it’s portrayed as in Portlandia.  

Just because you can’t afford to move to NYC or LA doesn’t mean you can’t relocate to a music-centric city that will help you launch your career.  These 5 cities are positively brimming over with opportunities for budding musicians who are looking for a friendly scene and friendly rent prices, both key factors in staying afloat while navigating the waters of life as a working artist.

Author Bio:  Alex Soare is a professional opera singer as well as the founder of Art Rise, an innovative social network for artists of all media.  His own experience as a working artist looking to network with peers and find jobs is what led him to create Art Rise.  He also enjoys sharing advice and tips that help young artists succeed. For more, join Art Rise today and connect with Alex on Google+.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

6 Steps To Branding Your YouTube Channel

YouTube channel image
Branding is incredibly important for an artist or band and how to discover and develop it is something that has been touched on numerous times in this blog. Your brand can be enhanced greatly if it extends to your YouTube channel, which is something often overlooked. Here's an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book outlining 6 steps to branding your YouTube channel.

"There are a number of areas that are available on your channel that enables you to emphasize your own design or brand. Let’s look at them:

1. The Channel Art: The channel art is the banner at the top of the page where you can display a customized graphic. YouTube suggests this graphic be 2560 x1440 pixels so that it works on all types of televisions, tablets, smartphones and computers, but what YouTube will show on most computer browsers is 1546 x 423. This is known as the “safe area” and is where you should place any critical graphics information since anything outside that area might not show up on a device with a smaller screen. The graphic can be up to 2MB and in either a JPG or PNG format. The Channel Art upload section is accessed by clicking on the pen icon on the top right of graphics box. You can access a template for the channel art, as well as a design tutorial, by clicking on “How to create channel art” at the bottom of the upload pop up box.
TIP: Your channel art should be attractive and consistent with your brand, but don’t be afraid to also feature any of the personalities, characters or content of the channel.
2. The Channel Description: You access your channel description from the About tab underneath your channel name. After the About box pops up, select the pen icon on the upper right to edit. From here you can enter or edit the description. Be sure to include all the information about your channel in the description, such as what to expect from the video content as well as who’s involved (like the members of a band).

3. Website and Social Media Links: The website and social medial links are accessed in the same manner as above; through the pen icon on the top right of the box. Here you can add links to websites, blogs and social networks. The first weblink you entered will appear on the lower right side above your channel art, as will the social network icons. The others will appear in the About box. 

4. Channel Icon or Avatar: The avatar is either a picture of you, your band, or product that appears on the upper left of your channel page. The avatar can be up to 800 x 800 (you’re able to crop it) and 1MB in size, although the smaller the file size the better, since it will load faster. The picture is stored with your Google+ account, and you can also access any pictures stored there to use as your avatar.

5. Featured Video/Trailer: Another thing that you can do is feature a particular video or trailer at the top of the page when someone who is unsubscribed visits your channel. Simply select the pen icon on the top right of the box, select a video, then hit save. You can see what both subscribers and non-subscribers see by toggling Unsubscribed trailer and Subscriber view next to the edit icon.

6. Playlists: YouTube allows you to create multiple playlists, which can have a great influence in how your fans consume your content. If you have a fair number of videos, you might want to create different playlists for different parts of your fan base, since each may have a different desire of what to watch. While your superfans will want to see everything you upload, your casual fans may be more selective. You can select the order and layout of these playlists, or create a new one, by selecting the edit icon on the top right of the playlist box."
To read additional excerpts from Social Media Promotion for Musicians and my other books, go to the excerpts

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Social Network Info You Can Use For Promotion

Social Media image
Social media is constantly changing and evolving, and the stats that worked last year can be enormously out of date only 6 months later. That said, here's some of the latest social information of 2014 gathered by Digital Insights, and how it can be useful to bands and artists.
  • 75% of engagement on a Facebook post happens within the first 5 hours. Don't post too many close together or too far apart for maximum engagement.
  • The most common reason to unlike something on Facebook is an uninteresting post. Make sure your content is always informative and relevant. Don't just post for the sake of posting.
  • 53% of interaction between a Google+ user and a brand is positive. You've discovered and established your brand already, right?
  • 22% of adults visit Google+ once a month. It's not as big as Facebook, but it still has over 540 million monthly users, so it's worth being on.
  • 44% of users on Twitter have never sent a tweet. That doesn't mean that they don't read what you're tweeting though, so don't worry if the engagement seems lower than other networks.
  • 84% of women and 50% of men stay active on Pinterest. It's a great network to be on if your audience is there. Poll them to find out.
  • 23% of teens consider Instagram their favorite social network. Once again, it's a great network to be on if your audience is there.
  • Weekends are the most popular time to send Vines. This is contrary to most other networks, where during the week sees more activity.
  • 40% of YouTube traffic comes from mobile. Make sure that your videos look good on mobile devices.
  • Marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads. Blogs are a great way to build and engage an audience if you're willing to spend the time and do it on a consistent basis.
Information is power, so use the above info to help expand and engage your audience. You can also find out some powerful ways to use social media with my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rdio Goes Free

Rdio image
With Spotify, Pandora, Apple and Google threatening to run away with the streaming music market, some of the smaller services have been forced to make changes in order to keep up. Rdio, which was created by the makers of Skype four years ago, announced recently that it would change from an all-subscription model to a freemium model in order to entice more customers to give the service a try.

No one knows for sure how many users Rdio actually has, but the service is currently available in 60 countries and it's generally admired for its clean design. Its new freemium service will be available in 20 countries to start, and gradually roll out to the others over time.

One of the more interesting things about Rdio is that it's now partially owned by Cumulus Media, which operates 460 radio stations in 89 markets. Advertising for the new Rdio free service will be handled by the Cumulus sales staff, and the service may be allowed to use some of the Cumulus programming in the future.

Rdio's freemium service allows a new user to try the various stations available for free, and for the $9.95 Unlimited package provides additional playlists and add-free playback. With so much music now available for free online, it's no longer possible to be a pay-only service and attract new customers, and Rdio saw the writing on wall that it must be either free (at least partially) or die.

Jeff Ponchick Of Fullscreen On The Latest Inner Circle Podcast

If you want to know all about YouTube networks, have a listen to Jeff Ponchick on my latest Inner Circle Podcast.

Jeff is the A&R manager at Fullscreen, the largest multichannel YouTube network going, and you can hear what it takes for your YouTube channel to get the interest of a "major label" network.

Jeff is also one of the founders of a unique service called Outlisten, which crowdsources the concert experience online, and he'll talk about that as well.

In the intro section, I'll also talk about the importance of metadata for your music files and my top 10 plugins.

Take a listen at bobbyoinnercircle.comiTunes or Stitcher.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Top 10 Highest Paid DJs In The World

Calvin Harris image
The top DJs sure make a lot of money. Here's what the top 10 have earned in 2014 so far, according to Forbes.

1. Calvin Harris - $66 million
2. David Guetta - $30 million
3. Tiesto - $28 million
3. Avicii - $28 million
5. Steve Aoki - $23 million
6. Afrojack - $22 million
7. Zedd - $21 million
8. Kaskade - $17 million
8. Skrillex - $17 million
10. Deadmau5 - $16 million

Keep in mind that the concert season hasn't been totaled yet so these numbers are bound to change, as will the order. Except for Calvin Harris, of course, who seems to have an insurmountable lead for the year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Top 10 Apps In The US

Music apps are very popular these days, but it comes as a little bit of a surprise that only one true music app (Pandora) and two apps that are used for music a lot but not exclusively (YouTube and Google Play) are in the top 10 in the US at the moment, according to this graphic by Statista based on data from Comscore.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Google Search is not #1, and that two map apps (Google Maps and Apple Maps) rank so high. That said, the chances are good that a new and different music app breaks into the top 10 at this time next year. Care to speculate on which one?

Top 10 apps in the US image


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

9 Twitter Etiquette Rules

Twitter Etiquette image
Twitter is all about engagement, but if you don't follow the unwritten rules of etiquette, you'll find yourself with fewer and fewer followers. Here's an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book that explains the 9 Twitter etiquette rules that every user should know.

"This is a fairly simple medium, but there are certain unwritten rules that attempt to keep people from annoying one another. Despite this group etiquette, you’ll still no doubt run into situations that may make you want to scream, but keep in mind that it’s probably bugging others as well. Rest assured that sooner or later the offender gets the message and either mends his ways or leaves. Let’s take a look at what you should know.

1. Don’t use all caps. One of the things that netizens universally hate is someone COMMUNICATING IN ALL CAPS. This is considered the equivalent of shouting, is more difficult to read, and just plain impolite.

2. Don’t be rude. What’s rude in real life is rude on Twitter as well. The problem is that people are more easily offended online because they can’t see any facial expressions or body language, and as a result, what you consider to be a rather harmless tweet can kick up a firestorm. The way around this is to think through every tweet before you send it and stay away from any provocative language.

3. Don’t use an affiliate link in a tweet. Links in a tweet are a good thing, but it’s bad form to include one that’s blatantly trying to sell something or make money.

4. Don’t ask someone for a favor publicly. Just like doing it in a crowded room, it’s uncool. Better to ask in a private conversation. Use DM instead.

5. Don’t auto-DM. It’s possible to set up an automatic direct message welcoming someone when they follow you. Save your time and money as this is considered bad form. If it’s not personal, an auto-DM can do more harm than good.

6. Issue a high volume warning. If you’re going to be tweeting more than normal (like from a show, conference or event), tell your followers in advance. No one likes their Twitter feed to be controlled by one person.

7. Don’t be negative. Nothing turns off followers faster than negative commentary. If you can’t say something nice and be positive, don’t say it at all.

8. Don’t provide too much information. Twitter isn’t a place for details. There’s not enough room in the limited number of characters that you have, which means that you have to resort to more tweets, which puts you into the realm of over-tweeting. As with most things online, less is more.

9. Pause between tweets. Another thing that makes people crazy is a big volley of tweets one after the other. Take a break before your next tweet. Give other people a chance to get their tweets seen as well.

Following these online etiquette rules will not only help you keep your followers, but will keep you in good Twitter standing. It’s just a little bit of courtesy, but well worth it."

If you'd like to read additional excerpts from Social Media Promotion for Musicians and my other books, go to the excerpts section of

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

T-Mobile Adds More Music Services

T-Mobile Music Freedom image
T-Mobile is doing its best to win new customers using music as the incentive with its Music Freedom initiative, a plan where music streams don't count as data against a customer's data limits. In fact, the company recently said that customers have streamed nearly 7,000 terabytes of music, which amounts to around 5,000 songs a day since the service was launched a few months ago.

Music Freedom customers already had access to Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, iTunesRadio, Rhapsody, Samsung's Milk and Slacker, which probably have the biggest market share in the space, but it's now adding Google's Songza, Rdio, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, and Paradise.

Interestingly, it didn't add Google Play Music, which turned out to be the #1 most requested platform by its users. T-Mobile ran a survey and after more than 750,000 votes, that was the service that came out on top, yet it's the only one that hasn't been implemented yet.

It's yet to be seen if Music Freedom will add the extra jolt that that T-Mobile really needs to compete with its much larger competition, but its great to see music as such a large part of its new direction.

Monday, September 8, 2014

2014 Is The Best For Concert Attendance In 20 Years

Stadium concert image
We keep on hearing how bad the music business is, and when it comes to the recorded music part of the business, that may or may not be true. One thing's for sure though, an area of the industry that's definitely thriving is live performances, especially big venue concerts.

According to Billboard's Boxscore chart, 2014 is the best year for concert attendance in 20 years, mostly because so many major acts have added stadiums to their tours this year. In fact, Live Nation has promoted 72 concert shows this year alone, and predict to have more than 100 by the end of the year.

Most stadiums pack in anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 people, as compared to only 20,000 in the largest music-only arenas and amphitheaters. Whether the sound is better is debatable, but that doesn't seem to be a deterrent to the fans that purchase tickets.

Interestingly enough, the fact that you can play to 3 times as many people doesn't automatically mean that you can automatically make 3 times the money. The costs also jump proportionally anywhere from 2 to 3 times as well, since more sound and video equipment is required, so there's quite a risk involved. The margins on a tour are very thin to begin with, with the promoter getting around 1% and the act around 30%, so any miscalculation can mean a huge bath for everyone involved.

Still, this seems to be a good year to be in the concert business, and business, as they say, is booming.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

9 New Rules For Making Music In Today’s Online World

Online music image
The music world we live in today is decidedly different from that of only five years ago, let alone a few decades. Where once the entire business was based around physical sales, today its more about aggregating multiple revenue streams for both the artist and the record label. Here’s a set of 9 rules that have been excerpted from my book Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age that all artists need to at least be aware of if they want to succeed in our current music environment.

1. It’s all about scale. It’s not the sales, it’s the number of YouTube views you have. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (physical and digital) may have 50 million YouTube views. Once upon a time, this would’ve been deemed a failure, today, it’s a success. Views don’t equal sales, and vice-versa.

2. There will be fewer digital distributors in the future. It’s an expensive business to enter and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors, and fewer places to distribute your music. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find the landscape of online music to be very much consolidated in a way similar to what happened with the major record labels.

3. It’s all about what you can do for other people. Promoters, agents, and club owners are dying to book you if they know you’ll make them money. Record labels (especially the majors) are dying to sign you if you have have an audience they can sell to. Managers will want to sign you if you have a line around the block waiting to see you. If you can’t do any of the above, your chances of success decrease substantially.

4. Money often comes late. It may not seem like it, but real success is slow, and even in this social media world, you still grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely you’ll have a longer career. An overnight sensation usually means you’ll also be forgotten overnight. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much through the years.

5. Major labels want radio hits. They want an easy sell, so unless you create music that can get on the radio immediately, a major label most likely won’t be interested. This is what they do and they do it well, so if that’s your goal, you must give them what they want. Once again, this hasn’t changed much through the years. Read more on Forbes.


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