Thursday, December 29, 2011

12 Music Business Predictions For 2012

Behold The Future image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
It's that time of year again when it's time to speculate on what's in store for us in the new year. Here are 12 educated guesses that I have about 2012.

1. Google+ continues to grow. Depending upon who's research you read, Google+ is already at either 150 million users or 65 million users. Regardless of the number, it's huge considering that it only launched 6 months ago. How many of those users are actually active is debatable, although Google doesn't care much as long as you're signed up and it has your info (that's the underlying truth of the matter). Regardless, Google will continue to add features to Plus next year and continue to gain users at a record number.

2. Vinyl continues to grow as well. You can say that vinyl is a fad except for the fact that every music store owner who sells it says their sales are way up over last year. Add to that the fact that they can't keep record players and turntables in stock tells you that although the vinyl business may never be huge, sales will continue to increase in 2012.

3. Facebook feels Plus's heat. There's no way that Google+ can have so many new users without Facebook feeling it somehow. Even with a number of new features, there were already signs of attrition even before Plus took off. Look for Facebook to do everything they can to keep their user numbers looking good until their IPO, then watch things flatten out after that.

4. Twitter grows up. While dismissed by many, Twitter is still a force to be reckoned with and will be more so in 2012 as the next versions of Twitter and Tweetdeck come online and provide new features such as brand pages and embedding. Look for user numbers and social influence to increase in 2012.

5. The major labels wind down. It took a while but it seems like artists everywhere have finally gotten the message - in this Music 3.0 world you don't need a record label, at least not in the beginning. The Big 3 have less and less to offer while taking more and more of a revenue pie that isn't that big to begin with. The majors will always be there, but will only be useful in some capacity to the "1%."

6. Indie labels make some headway. As I mentioned in the 2nd edition of Music 3.0, the business won't take the next step in its evolution until a new crop of entrepreneurs takes root. There's evidence that's happening, as new more efficient and plugged-in indie labels take hold with their heart in the right place - music, not money.

7. Concert attendance takes a leap. It's true that The Stones are doing their 50th anniversary tour, and Van Halen will be trying to regain their glory days this year, but that's not what will make 2012 a banner year for concert attendance. In 2011, for the first time at least 50% of the biggest earners on the road were not legacy artists. Finally a new crop of current artists are beginning to pull their weight in venues all over the world. Add to this some pricing sensibility that seems to be coming back to the concert marketplace, and a stronger economy, and you have a record year.

8. Music publishers feel the pain. Publishing has always been the secret cash cow of the music industry, not well understood and somewhat hidden from prying eyes. That's no longer the case as artists and writers are more knowledgeable than ever and push for better deals. That said, the music economy has finally caught up with publishing, as mechanical royalties are way down due to low sales and an increase in streaming, and broadcast revenue continues to dwindle. Look for that trend to continue in 2012.

9. Artist royalties take a beating. Even though the industry can be joyful for a slight increase over 2010, that's due to superstars like Adele, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, et al. For the average successful artist, the only thing to look forward to is the ability to make a living, as CD sales aren't what they used to be, and downloads give way to streaming, which doesn't pay nearly as much. Time to hit the road to make some dough.

10. Subscription is the new download. Another prediction that I made in Music 3.0 2nd edition is that we'll soon see a major shift from downloads to subscription as a way of consuming music. That's already happening, thanks to Spotify's launch in the US, but we'll see it snow ball in 2012 to the point where many consumers will never purchase another download again.

11.  The cloud is in the air. In 2011 we saw the introduction of cloud services from Amazon, Google and Apple, and while they haven't been in the forefront of our daily news cycle, they are making an enormous impact upon our daily lives as people see how useful storing their data in the cloud can be. Expect to see a gradual increase in cloud computing use in 2012 until we all use it so seamlessly and often that it becomes a huge part of our lives.

12. Micropayments hit their stride. In 2012 micropayments will finally come to pass in the way that all the previous predictions hoped it would. Micropayments are small 1$ or less transactions that up until now have been impossible to make because of transaction costs imposed by banks. The floodgates are now open and numerous services have found ways to work around the bloodsuckers, as artists and indie labels soon find new ways to take full advantage of marketing to their fan base.

That's it. It'll be fun to have a look at the list at this time next year and see exactly which ones came to pass. Have a happy, artistic, and prosperous New Year.

Read my 2012 predictions for music production on my Big Picture production blog.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spotify's Royalties Actually Greater Than Radio

Spotify logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
OK, here's a surprise. An article by Billboard magazine cited some interesting research by David Touve, an Assistant Professor of Business at Washington & Lee University who has long studied the music industry. The study found that Internet streaming, specifically Spotify, actually pays a higher royalty rate than radio airplay.

Touve found that a spin on terrestrial radio results in royalties that range  from $0.000186 to $0.000372 in the U.S. and from $0.0004 to $0.0007 in the UK (at current currency rates). That's not much, is it?

Now consider that Spotify pays about 0.3 cents per stream (an estimate based on Billboard sources and media reports), which is 16.1 times greater than $0.000186 and 8.1 times greater than $0.000372.

There are a couple of differences though. Radio royalties feel bigger because so many people listen to radio. On-demand royalties feel small because relatively few people use services like Spotify. Also, the way radio royalties are shared makes a big difference in how much you earn.

The way that works is that ASCAP or BMI is paid a huge lump sum by the broadcaster for the right to use that organization's member's music, and it's then divided up between writers by taking a survey of national airplay. The more plays you get during the survey, the more money you get....maybe. The trick is that it all depends on the time of day, the market, and how many plays you get during the survey period that determines how much is in your royalty check. If you happen to get a big amount of plays either before or after the survey period, you probably won't get credited for them. And to make it even worse, ASCAP and BMI have different ways of weighting the different types of plays, so you make more from radio airplay from one, or television broadcast from the other. One of the benefits of streaming is that you know the exact number of plays and where they come from (or at least you should).

That said, with restricted playlists and decreasing airplay due to stations converting to news or talk, it's harder and harder to make any dough from radio airplay, even if the royalty rates were even.

Okay, so the cash cow of the music business is turning out to be thin and sickly, so what else is new? If you were in music to make a ton of money, you're in it for the wrong reason anyway. To real musicians, producers, execs, and all manor of other people working in the biz, it's all about the music; any money that comes in is a bonus. If you don't have the passion for it, go be a banker and make some real money.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Music Sales Up 1% In 2011

Digital Music image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
It's hard to believe but as of December 15th, music sales were actually up 1% over last year, which represents the first time in about 10 years that has happened. That's more impressive when you consider that sales for 2010 were down about 13% from 2009, and prior to that they were down an average of about 8% in the 2000's.

Why the turnaround, you may be asking? For one thing, there were some actual blockbusters this year. First of all, Adele's 21 had sold 5,281,000 with two weeks of sales yet to be recorded. That means that her sales will be a lot closer to 6 million by the end of the year, considering the holiday buying season. million. But hold on; that doesn't include an additional 750,000 copies she sold this year of her last album, 19. Then consider that her single "Rolling in the Deep” has sold 5,665,000 downloads, followed by “Someone Like You” with 3,352,000, “Set Fire to the Rain” with 963,000, and “Rumour Has It” with 551,000. All in all, a banner year for any artist at any time.

There were other big sellers as well, but keep in mind that these numbers are a few weeks old.
  1. Adele, 21 - 4,817,000 copies sold
  2. Lady Gaga, Born This Way - 1,973,000
  3. Michale Buble, Christmas -  1,964,000
  4. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV - 1,776,000
  5. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party - 1,389,000
  6. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More - 1,328,000
  7. Jay-Z/Kanye West, Watch The Throne - 1,124,000
  8. Beyonce, 4 - 956,000
  9. Lady Antebellum, Own The Night - 908,000
  10. Katy Perry - Teenage Dream - 907,000
What does this mean? Music is still alive and well and people will gladly pay for it in one form or another if they love it (not just like it). Sales like this prove that there's a lot of great music being made today, and fans will buy it when they find it.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, December 26, 2011

An Interview With Topspin's Ian Rogers

Ian Rogers image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Formerly the General Manager of Yahoo Music, Ian Rogers is currently the CEO of Topspin Media, one of the premier direct-to-fan services currently available. A frequent panelist at industry conferences world-wide, he is one of the most respected and widely quoted voices in the music business today.  I was lucky to  have him agree to an interview for the 2nd edition of my Music 3.0 Internet Music guidebook. Here's a brief excerpt from that interview.
"Where do you see things heading a couple of years down the line?
I really see things crystalizing. The industry has been in the way of what consumers wanted for the last fifteen years, but it’s finally getting pushed out of the way. The way fans are consuming music will change again in the next five years time, which should really scare the industry. They just got used to the idea of digital downloads and now they’re going to see their distribution format change yet again.

Five years from now you won’t connect your computer by a wire and transfer tunes to it. CD sales will continue to decline, but they won’t decline to zero because some people will still want collectables. Things like box sets or 12 inch vinyl will still exist.

Then you’re going to have two types of services. One is the subscription services, which are the Spotifys of the world, like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. I don’t think you’ll see many new entrants there, and in fact, the weak ones will probably get bought by a company with an existing subscriber base, such as a cable or wireless company.
 And then you’re going to have Apple, Google and Amazon with these more sovereignty-based [cloud] services. You buy the track in some form so you own it, and then it’s lockered and you can access that track from any device. That’s what it’s going to look like.

Companies like Topspin are going to be dealing with the direct-to-consumer channel which will be for the higher end goods. Digital is 50% of our volume and 25% of our revenue right now, but it’s possible that ratio will decrease over time.

What’s the best way to break an act these days?
I’m not sure that it’s changed all that much. More than ever you have to have something that people are passionate about, and you have to build awareness through great recordings and touring. Step two is different in that you now have to build real fan connections and a real relationship with those fans. If you’re lucky enough to do both of those things, then you can talk about selling something.

I think another difference between the proverbial yesterday and today is that we’re moving from a mass market to mass niches, so you have to know what the first niche is that you’re targeting and then go after it. You don’t put the music out there and see who adopts you, you have to know when and how and where you fit. Square peg, square hole, you just go straight into it.

If you look at the way that Yeasayer did it, it wasn’t about an all-out blitzkrieg. Their manager said, “I know exactly the audience that is going to like this. I’m going to tailor our approach to fit that.” It wasn’t that he changed the way they looked or anything, but he didn’t let any photos of the band get out for the first twelve months. He had a specific way that he wanted people to experience the music and the art that went with it. He knew it would resonate with a certain audience, and that’s the way he let it unfold, naturally but still really deliberate. Once he saturated that niche, then he moved on to another audience that would likely dig it, and treated it like it was a brand new band and pulled all those levers again.

The typical scenario is more of a shotgun approach, that “If only I can get it out there, someone is going to find it” kind of thing. That may have worked in the past, but not now.
Yeah, you’re right, but if you look at Odd Future as an example, those guys didn’t really do anything. They literally did just put it out there and the right people did find it and then some magic happened, but that’s the exception because it’s proven that the way your awareness unfolds really matters.

There’s a great study that someone sent to me that found that the influence of people on other people matters a great deal. Having someone say, “You’re going to like this,” is really important. That speaks to the fact that trusted filters really mean something when it comes to marketing music. I think we’ll have more of that happening in the future, and getting music to those new trusted filters in the right way will become increasingly important.

What’s the best way to do that?
I’m not sure but I think this is where the relationship game goes in the future. Having a relationship with the right bloggers and things like that is really going to matter. I think that there will be a “relationship with trusted taste-makers” business somewhere down the road, which is something different. Getting introduced to those sites in the right way will soon be an important part of marketing."

You can read additional excerpts from Music 3.0 and my other books at

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Top 10 Google Searches In 2011

Google Music image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here we go on a number of end-of-the-year posts. This time it's the Top 10 Google searches in 2011 according to Experian Hitwise:. Take a look at the list first, then I'll explain why it's so interesting.
1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Facebook Login
4. Craigslist
6. Yahoo
7. eBay
9. Mapquest
The first thing that jumps out is that Facebook is on here 4 times. Why would anyone google "" or "" when they can just type it in? Make you wonder.

Then take notice that Yahoo is on there twice (once more with a ".com"). What's ironic here is that people are searching for a search engine! Makes you wonder, take 2.

I'm pretty baffled at the fact that people don't know enough to just try to type in "" directly into their browser instead of doing a search for it. Makes you wonder, take 3.

This helps prove my point that most of the people using the online world are not as sophisticated as we're led to believe by the media. I guess this list is a lot better than if it included Justin Beiber and Britney Spears though.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

UMG Does Their Own Takedowns

YouTube logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
One of the hard things for most people to realize is that they don't automatically have the right to use a song in a video, even though it might be as simple as your six-year old singing "Happy Birthday" or a bunch of school kids singing "Rudolph The Red Nosed Raindeer" at the school Christmas play. The copyright to these songs are not public domain, therefore you have to pay their respective record labels and publishers for their use, regardless how trivial that use may seem.

But still millions of people put videos on YouTube every day of themselves lip singing to "Born This Way" or "Party Rock Anthem," but the publisher and/or record label has the legal right to ask YouTube to take these videos down. In fact, most record labels now have teams that do nothing but scour the Internet for just these sorts of copyright violations.

That said, YouTube is very good about complying with a takedown request, as evidenced by numerous videos that are here today and gone tomorrow. YouTube is not actually liable as long as they don't upload the videos themselves. If someone else does, they're in the clear.

Even though YouTube is very liberal with takedown requests, they seem to have given Universal Music Group unusual leeway by allowing them to directly remove any video that they don't like themselves. According to an article in, there's "an agreement between the company and YouTube that allows UMG to use a “Content Management System” that can remove or “file block” certain videos on the site if it finds them objectionable. The agreement in question is not public, meaning that no one outside of those companies knows exactly how long UMG’s reach within YouTube actually is."

Here's the scary part. Does UMG have the right to control what videos YouTube allows on the site, even if no copyright infringement is occurring? Does that mean it can block it's competition if it wants to? Does that mean it can take down a video even if it has nothing to do with UMG? What happens if it makes a mistake?

As an artist myself, I'm all for protecting copyright, but I find it disconcerting that a major label has this kind of power. YouTube is already very good about acting on any copyright violation request, and they do it fast (I've done it myself). But UMG's new powers can be deadly in the wrong hands.

There's more to this intrigue as UMG and the cloud site Megaupload continue in a battle over just this issue, so it will be interesting to see what the new year brings.

Happy Holidays everyone!

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Social Technographs Ladder

Even back in the Usenet/Newsgroup days of the Internet there were two kinds of people online; joiners and lurkers. As we've grown in sophistication in social networking, so has our ability to more finely discriminate between the types of people that we network with. Now Forrester Research has come out with their "social technographs ladder" which divides Internet users into 7 basic types. Take a look.

Social Technograph's Ladder image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog

If you take notice, the ladder adds up to more than 100%. That's because most people fall into several categories at the same time, depending upon their level of comfort in an area or social circle. I expect the ladder to become even more finely delineated as we go forward. Which categories to you fit into?

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Measuring Your Social Media Exposure

Music 3.0 book cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
It's all well and great to be active online, but simply having a lot of likes, followers and friends isn't always the true gauge of your presence. That's why it's important to be able to more closely measure your true social media exposure. Luckily, there are now multiple ways to do this, as evidenced in this excerpt from the 2nd edition of the Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age. This excerpt comes from Chapter 8 on "Social Media Management."

"How many people have you reached with your message? How many could you have reached? In social media, there are some measurements about as reliable as a print magazine’s circulation, but knowing your potential audience does have value because it represents your potential sales lead pool.

Unfortunately, as of the writing of this book, some of these metrics have to be accounted for manually, so you’ll have to balance the level of effort to track the metrics versus the value you’ll receive from them to determine their importance to your overall strategy.

A good example of where there can be unreliability in social measurement is when isolating unique users for each of your metrics. You want to avoid counting the same person twice in the list below, but realistically it’s difficult to do.

These measurements highlight the number of people you’ve attracted to your brand through social media. To mitigate the potential for duplication of users, track growth rate as a percentage of the aggregate totals. This is where you will find the real diamonds.
  • Twitter: Look at your number of followers and the number of followers for those who retweeted your message to determine the monthly potential reach. You should track these separately and then compare the month-over-month growth rate of each of these metrics so you can determine where you’re seeing the most growth. A great free tool to use for Twitter measurement is TweetReach.
  • Facebook: Track the total number of fans for your brand page. In addition, review the number of friends from those who became fans during a specified period of time or during a promotion and those who commented on or liked your posts to identify the potential monthly Facebook reach. Facebook Insights provides value here.
  • YouTube: Measure the number of views for videos tied to a promotion or specific period of time, such as monthly, and the total number of subscribers.
  • Blog: Measure the number of visitors who viewed the posts tied to the promotion or a specific period of time.
  • Email: Take a look at how many people are on the distribution list and how many actually received the email.
Social Media Measurement Tools
Measuring just how successful an artist’s promotional campaign is (the artist’s buzz) and all the data that surrounds an artist is a top issue for M3.0. This was impossible in M1.0 and 1.5, somewhat available in M2.0, but now much more widely available and easier than ever to use in M3.0. With so many new avenues available for music discovery and promotion, knowing where the buzz is coming from and how to utilize it is more an issue than ever.

Here are nine tools to help track your buzz:
Band Metrics ( - band and song tracking
Google Alerts ( - Sweeps the web and delivers buzz to your inbox.
Twitter Search ( - Track your buzz on this popular micro-blogging service.
Who’s Talkin ( - Social media search.
Stat Counter ( - statistics about who visits your site and blog
Tynt Tracer ( - traces images and text that’s been copied off your site.
Next Big Sound ( - shows the number of new fans, plays, views and comments
Music Metric ( - provides social network tracking, P2P network analysis, radio and sales data, and fan demographics.
RockDex ( - collects data from blog posts, fan connections, pageviews, tweets, song plays, and spots viral trends and tracks progress over time."
You can read more excerpts from Music 3.0 and my other books on my website.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Google Updates Google+

We knew it would only be a matter of time before Google began to implement some of the requests that its Google+ users were asking for, and that time has come already, as the company has announced a number of new enhancements for the service. Here are 4 new features that you can begin to use now.

1. One of the new features is called the “Volume Control” (which has nothing to do with audio level), that lets you fine-tune your streams and decide whether you want to see more or less items from a particular circle in your main stream.

2. Google+ Photos have been upgraded with a new lightbox that boasts improved navigation and photo-tagging. The new lightbox also puts more emphasis on the actual photos, with the navigation elements mostly being tucked out of the way (as seen in the video below).

3. Google+ Pages have also been updated with a couple of new features. Artists or bands using Pages can now delegate up to 50 people as administrators for a Page. Furthermore, these designated managers will now be included in all the activity that takes place on a Page, making it easier for them to follow what’s going on.

4. Finally, Google has redesigned the notifications in its Google Bar, which appear as red icons on the right side of the Bar. Click on the little red box, and you’ll see snippets that make it easy to see what’s happening on your Google+ profile, including all the +1s and shares you’ve recently received.

While Facebook shows no sign of massive defections, Google+ is coming on strong. The fact that they're able to add new features so early in the service's life cycle is definitely encouraging.
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How Musicians Use Facebook

Here's an excellent infographic from regarding how the top 250 musicians used Facebook in 2011. It's a real eye-opener in that it shows how powerful music still is, regardless of the doom and gloom that you might hear or read. Example? Rihanna has far more views than the most popular actor, television show, or the 5 top athletes. I also found it interesting that rock was the leading genre, just slightly ahead of pop and more than twice as much as hip-hop.

How Musicians Use Facebook image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Louis CK's Excellent Business Adventure

Louis C.K. image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
The comedian Louis CK is the latest artist to discover that not only can he survive, but prosper without the help of a big company. Recently Louie used his own money to shoot his show at the Beacon Theater in New York, then payed for the post-production and the web infrastructure to offer the video for sale.

The production of the video cost him $170k and the website around $32k, but he decided to offer the video for only $5 to his fans as an experiment, since most of his previous DVD releases where about 3 times that amount.. Within 12 hours he had 50,000 purchases and broke even, and after 4 days he made another $250k in pure profit with total sales of over 500,000. He claims he could have initially made more if he sold it to HBO, but if the video keeps on selling as it is, maybe not.

This goes to show that if you have an audience, you don't need a record label/broadcast entity/big company to turn a profit, and even better, retain control over your product. The problem is that you need to have that audience first in order to pull something like this off. How do you get the audience? Most of the time it's from exposure from that big company that we all hate so much.

This is the conundrum of the Music 3.0 artist. You've got to build your market, and the only way to do that is with the same old fashioned work that artists all over the world have done. You gig. Louis CK is just like any musical artist in that he played the small comedy clubs everywhere, but he did it for 25 years before he built his audience and chops to the point where a major entertainment entity took notice. Then when he got his chance, he delivered (even though his HBO show was cancelled after a short run), but in the process was able to build his audience to the critical mass required to break out on his own. Plus, he was willing to take the chance, which not many artists are.

One of the advantages to living in Music 3.0 is that it's easy to respond to your fan base when a situation like Louie's arises. That's why social media, your website and your mailing list is all so important. With all those in place, you can have the online success of Louie, Radiohead and Trent Reznor. If you hang in there, grow your chops and your audience, and stay in touch with them, you'll be able to capitalize at some some point.

Do you have that kind of perseverance? If you do, build that mailing list and social media contacts now. If not, maybe it's time to think hard about that day job.

Read all about Louie's grand experiment on his website statement.
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Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Your Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter

Musicians Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you've read this Music 3.0 blog for a bit you know that it's dedicated to two things; keeping you informed of the latest happenings in the new music business, and showing you how to use social media as a promotional tool for your music. I try to do an even balance of both, and if you look over the 700+ posts from the last two years (has it been that long already?) or so, you'll find a lot of great info.

Every time I post something about Facebook or Twitter, I get a lot of "How do I....?" messages, and I end up referring the reader to a number of my previous posts or my book Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age (the updated second edition just came out, which you probably already know if you follow this blog regularly). There is a great alternative though, and it just so happens to make a great Holiday gift as well.

My good friend Ariel Hyatt and Carla Lynne Hall have written a great book called The Musician's Roadmap To Facebook And Twitter that puts more knowledge about how to use both Facebook and Twitter as a promotional tool than I've ever seen in one place. Ariel is the founder of Ariel Publicity and Cyber PR, probably the most knowledgeable and prominent social media company out there that deals primarily in music. She travels all over the world speaking on the topic and is truly an expert in the field.

I know from the talks that I regularly give at conferences and colleges that social media is used by most musicians, but it's use as a promotional tool is widely misunderstood and under-appreciated. The Musician's Roadmap to Facebook And Twitter is the perfect way to take that next step in harnessing the tremendous power social networking. You can check out the book on the Cyber PR site, and even better, there's a Holiday discounted price if you click to this page.

The Musician's Roadmap To Facebook and Twitter is the perfect compliment to Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age (2nd edition). Buy them both for the musician in your life (or maybe as a nice Holiday gift to yourself).
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3 Tips For Getting Ahead In The Music Business

The Artist's Infrastructure image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I saw an article on Music Think Tank the other day that I liked, so I thought I'd repeat a few of the major points here but add a little of my own spin to it. You can click here to read the original article, entitled "5 Tips For Getting A Label, Sponsor, Or Booking Agent."

There's a number of items that could be added to the list, but these are the ones that sprang immediately to mind. make no mistake, these can be hard lessons for an artist or band to learn, especially if they have to learn by their mistakes.

1. Treat Your Promo Materials Seriously.

Anything that you send to a prospective agent, manager, booking agent, promoter or record label is important and can't be taken lightly. That means that you have to spend some time on it to make it not only presentable, but to show you in the best possible light. That means a professional picture, a good looking and informative website, and bios and promo with carefully created copy that's clean of typos and grammatical errors. If you're not good at any of this (most people are good at only one or two), that means you need some help. Ask your fans first to get the job done for free or inexpensively, but don't be afraid to employ a pro if what you have is not the best you can do.

Also make sure that any of the above industry people can easily get more information if they need it, so don't forget links to your website, music, photos, YouTube videos and social networks on any material that you send.

2. Understand What Makes You Unique.

There must be something that makes you or your band unique. You've got to determine that before you pitch yourself to anyone. While figuring that out is up to you, here are two things to stay away from:

1) Don't say something like "We're different than anything you're ever heard!" Guess what, you're not. You may be different from anything that you've heard, but then you probably lead a sheltered life compared to people in the industry. Most industry folk have been around a lot longer than you and have heard a lot more. If aliens have taken you away to Area 51 to instill a new form of music in you, you better be prepared to back that up with some sounds. And if you think that your show is akin to Elvis and Hendrix rising up from the grave, you better have a YouTube video to prove it.

2) Don't say, we sound just like "xxxx (fill in the blank)" unless you're a cover band trying to get a club gig. You know what? There already is a Depeche Mode, Adele, Bruno Mars or Maroon 5. Record labels like to jump on the bandwagon of whatever's hot at the moment, but by the time they (and you) actually have a product to sell, the public has moved on and the whole thing dies. Be yourself and find out what's unique about you in order to get ahead.

3. Labels, Agents, Promoters, Etc Don't Care How Good Your Are.

The music business only cares about one thing; do you have an audience. If you have one, that means you'll be able to sell music, tickets, merch and have a career. If you don't, it doesn't matter how tight you are as a band or how well you play. Just ask any jazz musician why he's not living in Beverly Hills for proof. Chops do not automatically equal audience (although it sure helps to have them).

In a future post, I'll add a few more of these. For now, take heed and be aware that these tips can save you a lot of time and heartache.
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

YouTube Will Collect Your Royalties

Google and Rightsflow image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Last week Google made a minor splash by announcing its acquisition of Rightsflow, a music licensing service that simplifies the process. Rightsflow makes it easy for someone wanting to use copyrighted music on their website, in the video, or on a album to get all the clearances necessary to reduce your exposure to any future litigation, or even a simple takedown. On the surface, that sounds all well and good, but there's a bit of strategy going on behind the scenes that looks at the bigger picture than just making it easy to pay or collect royalties on YouTube videos.

Over the last few years, music publishers have been pounding on YouTube (which is owned by Google) to do something about the multitude of copywritten songs that have been used illegally on their network. Sure, most of it was innocent, like the 8 year old doing a cover version of Bruno Mars "Grenade," or the family singing "White Christmas," but that's still illegal and publishers want to get paid.

YouTube has always been really good about taking down videos that contain songs that are copywritten when notified by the song's owner or administrator (you can see many examples just in the many videos I've embedded on this blog form YouTube over the years), but that wasn't enough. The publishers wanted more.

The major music publishers waged a war in the courts against Google and basically won, with Google promising to do something about the illegal use of their songs. That's what the acquisition of Rightsflow is all about. Rightsflow asks uploaders to pay a one-time fee of $15 fee to use music and then tracks and pays royalties to the rightful owners. Finally, the publishers and songwriters will get paid.

Is that really enough to make people willing pay though? Probably not, but then again, Google's not expecting that either. This is more about getting the publishers off it's back than anything.

The good news is, if your material is being used without your knowledge in a video on YouTube, you now at least have a chance to be paid something. Don't expect much more than enough to pay for a Happy Meal at Mickey D's though. 15 bucks doesn't go very far, especially with a lot of fingers in the pie.
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Music 3.0 2nd Edition Now Available

Music 3.0 book cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I'm proud to announce that the 2nd edition of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age is now available. I'm very humbled that that the first edition of the book drew great praise and was adopted as a primary textbook in the music business courses of so many schools (including the MBA programs of several universities), so I did my best to make sure that the second edition is as up to date and relevant as possible.

Music 3.0 2nd edition (or the "Music 3.0 Guidebook" as I like to call it) has 5 completely new chapters that feature the latest music business and social media concepts as well as  a couple of brand new interviews with social media maven Ariel Hyatt and Topspin CEO Ian Rogers.

I've gotten a number of questions about the book, so I thought I'd answer them here.

Why is this book different?
There are a lot of really great books about the music industry out there, but I think Music 3.0 is unique because it talks strategy. The strategy of how to look at your music as a product. How to develop your online and social media strategy, and how to integrate your online and traditional marketing. It looks at the big picture as to why things are the way they are in the music business today, but then gets into the details on how to develop a strategy that works for you.

Strategy and looking at the big picture is great and all, but is there any information that I can use right now?
You bet. How about:
  • How to write Facebook and Twitter posts that get attention. 
  • The best time of the day to post on Twitter and Facebook. 
  • The real secret behind social media promotion. 
  • How to efficiently use social media so you have time left over to actually do music again. 
  • How to use the two biggest under-utilized marketing tools at your disposal. 
  • How to tweak your website, blogs and videos so they rank higher in search engine ranking. 
  • How to use Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube as marketing tools.
  • How to develop your brand. 
  • Multiple low-cost high and low-tech tips for marketing and promotion that you can do right now. 
There's a lot more, but that's just off the top of my head.

Who was the book written for?
It's really written for anyone involved in today's music business. If you're an artist, in a band, a manager, promoter, agent or work at a label, there's info that you'll totally find useful.

Isn't this just another how-to book?
There's a lot of how-to in the Music 3.0 guidebook, but there's more to it than that. There's a pretty good chapter on the the music industry evolution and how we got to Music 3.0, which includes what has changed in the music business and why it changed.
There's a chapter on the new players in the industry and why you need to know them.
There's a chapter on why traditional record labels, television and radio are no longer the most important factors to an artist’s success.
There's a chapter on how to actually make money in the new music business.
And there's a chapter about the new technologies that are being introduced that will influence how we sell or market our music going forward.

Please excuse this blatant bit self-promotion. I don't usually do this sort of thing, but I'm pretty passionate about this book and I hope you will be too.

If you want to read some excerpts, you can go to the excerpts directory on my website.

To purchase the book (it makes a great Christmas present), you can buy it from Amazon, at a traditional book store like Barnes And Nobel, or a music store like Guitar Center.

You can also purchase a personally autographed copy directly from me for a flat fee of $25 via PayPal including shipping (U.S. and Canada only). Please be aware that I only have a limited number of copies available.

 I'd also love to read any additional comments from anyone who's read the 1st edition of Music 3.0!
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Google + Still Growing

Google+ Followers image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Google + is growing like a weed. Every week it seems to gain more and more users at the expense of Facebook. Usage there is still high, although most people have only so much time for networking, so time spent on Google + means that a little less time is spent on Facebook.

That being said, now is the time to make you presence felt on Google +. As my friend and social media maven Ariel Hyatt states on her excellent post "The Musician's Guide To Google +", musicians just can't avoid the network any longer because of the following reasons:
"1. Google + pages rank very highly (if not #1) in Google searches.
This is incredibly important for any emerging musician trying to establish an online presence, as it will almost instantly increase your visibility. Even if you are still too obscure for your Facebook Fan Page or your personal website to appear towards the top of a Google search, a Google + page will almost instantly rank towards the very top.

2. Google + is the fastest growing social network in history.

Of course it is! Google is already such a dominant force that anything they introduce can grow, and fast. So it is no surprise that Google +, introduced in July of 2011, received 20 million visits in the first 21 days of its existence. As of September 2011,
Google + was up to 25 million registered members, which is still infantile compared to Facebook which is somewhere in the range of 750 million registered members. But if Google + can continue to grow at it’s current rate, it may be able to give Facebook a real run for the money.

3. Google + has already shown to be a powerful tool for musicians.

Within the first weeks of the Google + launch, a singer/ songwriter named Daria Musk took advantage of some of the FREE Google + features, namely Google Hangouts, to host a virtual concert to hundreds of fans and new listeners."
You can read the rest of this great Cyber PR post here. In the meantime, the chart on the left indicates the most followed Google + users. I guess it shouldn't be a big surprise that Britney Spears narrowly nudges out Google CEO Larry Page. Nor is it that "spiritual advisor" Snoop Dog is at number 3. What really is a surprise that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is number 4.

Which brings us back to why you should be on Google +. You can never be on this list unless you join.
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How To Reach Out to Industry Execs

World with headphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
As you might imagine, I get a lot of email from people asking me to critique or help them with their work. This is something that I love to do, but most days there isn't enough time for my own work, let alone something coming from someone else. It really does hurt when I realize 3 or 4 weeks later that I still didn't get around to listening to something. Rest assured that eventually I will get around to it, although not always in a timely manner.

That being said, you don't get something unless you ask for it, but there's a definite right way way to do it, and there are some reasonable expectations that you should have when doing so. Music Think Tank had a great article about this recently that you can read, but here's my version.

When you reach out to someone in the industry, remember that:

  • They're busy people first and foremost. Most people in the industry are doing too many jobs at the same time. They're overworked and most likely underpaid and already have a lot on their plate. They're not sitting around waiting to hear from you because there's probably 10 things on their to-do list that they won't even be able to get to today. Consider yourself lucky if you happen to get a sliver of their time, but don't take it personally if you're rejected or ignored. Unless you have something to offer that fills one of their needs at that specific moment, they probably just won't be able to fit you into their already crowded mind. 

  • They don't like people who aren't straight forward. Back when I was writing for magazines, I had a friend call me up and waste my time by beating around the bush hoping I'd suggest that he was awesome enough to write an article about him. I would have much preferred he just got right to the point and said, "I'm trying to get some press? What do I have to do to get you to write about me?" That why I could've either told him how or told him I couldn't, but he would've known a lot sooner and saved us both a lot of time. To this day I still don't want to talk to him because he turned me off that badly. People that are working in the industry are busy. Get to the point. 
  • It can never be about the money. If you're calling someone up and looking for help, a job, or even a record deal, the last thing you need to discuss is  money. It's an instant turn-off and will immediately get you dismissed as someone who doesn't care enough about the right thing. This is an industry that requires you give a lot more than you take, and do so gladly. Do that, and the rewards will come by themselves. The only time you're in a position to talk money is if someone calls you!
  • They may not be able to give you what you're looking for. You may be looking for a critique or advice, but they just may not be able to supply it. Why? Everything and everybody in the business is somewhat unique, and the knowledge or experience that was required at one time in the past may no longer apply (especially in this Music 3.0 world). It could be that person doesn't have any better idea that you have, or that what they know is outdated (hopefully they're aware that that's the case).
  • You need to have your elevator pitch ready.  Know what an elevator pitch is? It's a very focused and to-the-point presentation that should last the length of an elevator ride. Entrepreneurs looking for money develop their elevator pitches early in the process in the event they find themselves on an elevator with someone who might have the ability to fund their company. The fact is, everyone should have an elevator pitch that describes who they are, what they do, and what they're looking for in 2 minutes or less. This takes some time to get right, but pays dividends even if you find yourself pitching outside of an elevator. If you've enticed the person you're pitching to enough, they'll ask for more details.
Remember these points the next time you want to reach out to someone for some help. In this case, a little bit of knowledge really can go a long way.
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Does a Video Really Have To Be Viral?

We'd all like to have the next big viral video with several million views overnight, but the likelihood of that happening is almost as remote as winning the lottery. That said, perhaps a viral video isn't the key to promotion after all. As you can see from the infographic below, sometimes a clever promotional video that isn't viral in the slightest can be just as effective (or even more so) in getting the word out.

Although the focus is on a hygienic product, it could just as well be about your next single, album, tour or merchandise. In the article where this came on ReelSEO, three premises are stated:

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 1: Focus on Distribution

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 2: Not Social Enough

"Screw Viral Videos" Reason 3: Make the Videos that YOU Want to See

I think the sooner that you get the idea that a video must go viral to be successful, the sooner you begin to make a video that's more effective for your promotion.
You can read the entire article here.  Below the infographic, you'll find the video that cause the stir.

YouTube sensation infographic image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.


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