Aquarium – a symphony of art, music and activism

Alternative seascapes, with Diamanda Galás and Vladislav Shabalin.

Diamanda Galás has been known since the 80s as a quintessential avant garde musician. In-between touring, recording and composing within a wide variety of music genres, she has been evolved with activism, performances and also contributed to film scores.

In 2011 she joins forces with artist Vladislav Shabalin to create the project AQUARIUM. The project, that was installed at the atmospheric St. Leonard’s Church in Basel, Switzerland, consisted of the musicians’ vocalizations and an installation of an aquarium like triptych, that instead of living fish was populated by fossils.

The two artists realized this project in hopes of raising awareness towards the environmental disaster that took place at the Gulf of Mexico. And while the visual impact of the large scale triptych is undeniable, Shabalin aimed to involve the visitors in a different level by adding extracts from Galás’ live album Vena Cava:

The sound installation aims to plunge visitors into a compelling emotional experience. Every night at 10, Diamanda Galás’ howling and screams that seem to come from the depths of pain if not from beyond the grave, resonate in an aquarium ever, tragically immobile.

While the installation itself was open to the public for only a week, audio-visual documentation is still available at the project’s website.

Art and music, sound and installation – isn’t it such an amazing way of awakening one’s senses, not only to the concept and the concerns behind the project, but to the pure aesthetics of such creation?

Counting Crows Shares New Music on BitTorrent

The Counting Crows on Monday released a slew of tracks from its latest album to fans on the popular peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent.

The band — which introduced the album Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) in June — has shared four new tracks, liner notes, and artwork from the album directly to BitTorrent users. The tracks are now available for free on the site, where fans can also purchase the rest of the album directly.

BitTorrent – which runs the file-sharing tools BitTorrent Mainline and µTorrent — allows users to share music, TV episodes and movies among the community. The company announced in January that it surpassed 150 million active monthly users.

“I don’t know how I didn’t think of this earlier — it’s the most obvious thing in the world since BitTorrent has such a huge global reach,” Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz told Mashable in a phone interview. “It’s not just about getting music to the people who would buy it anyway — even though that is, of course, very good — the hardest thing to do is make new fans.”

Duritz believes that if bands expose new music to the masses for free, there is the opportunity to gain fans that they would otherwise never get.

“The older people get, the less music they buy. But if you are exposed to new music at any age for free, it allows you to grow your fan base. That is the Holy Grail and pot of gold,” Duritz said. “I hope a lot of young bands pay attention because you don’t have to monetize everything to get your name out there. If you are good, get your music out there and that will be the beginning of your career. ”

The tracks in the bundle include “Untitled (Love Song)”, “Like Teenage Gravity”, “Hospital”, and “Meet on the Ledge.”

The promotion is part of BitTorrent’s ongoing Artist Spotlight program, which debuted in August 2010. The Counting Crows is also gearing up for its nationwide tour The Outlaw Roadshow, which features a variety of up-and-coming artists. The tour kicks off on June 9 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

BitTorrent and Duritz will also host a Q&A session with fans on Twitter with fans, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET today. Fans can participate by following the hashtag #crowchat and sending tweets directly to @CountingCrows and @BitTorrent.

Image via CountingCrows.com

What do you think of this move? Would you follow a similar path?

How to Choose the Best Songs for Your Album

If you’re heading into the studio to record an album, you should go in with plenty of songs to spare. Sometimes, things don’t work as well in recorded format, sometimes your tastes/ideas change. At any rate, going in with more ideas allows you to choose the very best songs for your album. Besides, it’s always better to have too many songs to choose from than not enough. But how do you decide which songs should stay and which should go?

This is what I recommend that you do: Treat it like a songwriting contest.

Create a score card for every song with all of the most important features to you. For example, areas could include: composition, arrangement, vocal melody, lyrics, catchy, dance-able, harmonic progression, execution/performance, artist merit/uniqueness, commercial viability, and so on. Pick the top five or six areas of importance to you and create a numerical ranking system. From there, sit down with your band mates, manager, producer, etc. and score every single song. At the end, the songs with the best scores stay. The ones that don’t can be used for giveaways, b-sides, fan incentives, etc.  This is an objective process to an otherwise subjective art.

You could also make this an opportunity to engage with fans as well by creating a “focus group” of your most enthusiastic listeners and allowing them to get a “sneak peak” of your new album. You could have several rounds of listening as well, since some songs to “grow” on you over time. Either way, this would help reduce the any disagreements/dissapointments among band members since it allows everyone to have an equal say over the project. Of course, if you have a producer or manager calling the shots, then this could end up very differently.

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/how-to-choose-the-best-songs-for-your-album.html

Breaking into the music industry for the 2012 graduates

So the big day is fast approaching. You are leaving the ivory tower of college in a few weeks and are about to enter the work force. Most likely the only thought on your mind is how to get a job.

The ideal is to have a job locked up and waiting for you before you graduate, so you can enjoy your last month at college. This is what all your friends in other majors are doing. The computer scientists are getting flown across the country and eating lobster. The engineers are meeting with on campus recruiters. The management and business students have already found a good position at the bank where they interned.

The music industry does not work this way. Very few companies hire in advance. Music companies are not structured to wait several months for an entry-level candidate to graduate college.  They hire when they need a body, not because there is an influx of new talent every spring, like some other industries. While this is frustrating, it actually creates a new opportunity.

Your goal as you enter the music industry should not be to find a job, but rather to develop a career. Getting your first job will be a byproduct of this process, but jobs are temporary and a career lasts a lifetime.

Think of your career development in four levels

1. Building your Base  (informational interviews and conference attendance)

2. Skill and Knowledge Development (Outside Projects)

3. Creating Conversations around your work (keeping up to date with your contacts, using social media and writing)

4. Finding and applying for open positions (its still necessary, but not primary)

Each of these levels serves a different purpose and is important in its own way. Melodious.me can help you out with building the require connections in order to be able to network and frow your skills.

Building Your Base Network

The most important thing you can do as you begin your career in the music industry is to build your base of contacts. Simply stated; this is meeting like-minded people in the industry. Look around you, as your classmates are the first members of this group. From there, you should try and make friends in every niche in the industry, as all aspects of the industry work together. How wide your network will initially go depends upon how innately social you are. Two ways to expand your network that don’t require you to be a social butterfly are informational interviews and attending conferences.

Informational interviews are one of the best ways to meet people outside your immediate circle. While again, it is unlikely that you will be recruited by a music company in advance of graduation, many places will be willing to give you an informational interview. You only need one to get started.

Pick a couple of target companies and reach out about having an informational interview. Shoot for people who are mid to lower level. While it is nice to say you met L.A. Reid, Daniel Ek or some other well-known industry figure the advice they give will most likely not resonate until several years into your career, and they probably aren’t thinking about entry level jobs.

Once your informational interview is scheduled, prepare for it in a way that will not make the other person feel like they are wasting their time. Have at least ten questions ready that show you understand their business and want to know more.  Ask about how they marketed one artist as opposed to another on their roster and why. Ask about what their competitors did that they learned from and incorporated into their business. Ask about what they think is coming next in their industry. Ask about things they would do if they had their own company. Do not ask how to get a job or if they know of any open jobs. They know why you are there. Instead ask them how their career path came about, and you will most likely get some insight that you can use in your own career development.

Most importantly, at the end of the informational interview ask for one or two additional contacts where you can do another informational interview. Instead of just asking open ended which may return the answer, “let me think about it” – do your homework and have several companies already in mind that your first interview does business with. If the first interview is at a label, ask for a contact with their distributor or at a management company for one of their artists. At the next one with the distributor ask to meet with several of their labels. At the management company ask to meet someone at the booking agency for their artist or at the online marketing company they last hired.  Again, do your research and have your preferred companies in mind and ask for them specifically.  The easier you make it for someone the more likely they are to help.

Another great way to build your base is to attend conferences. Meeting people outside their work environment gives a different perspective, and at conference most attendees are excited to network. Again, asking about a job is not the way to make friends here. You can say you are looking when asked what you do (always be honest), but keep the conversation focused on business or music or food or sports or anything else that will make your new contact think of you as a person with ideas instead of someone without a job.

As conferences can be expensive a great way to make attending them possible is to volunteer. CMJ and SXSW have their pick of volunteers but there are hundreds of conferences out there, and the smaller ones can always use volunteers. The same speakers will be there and the attendees will be less overwhelmed or distracted by long missed friends. Volunteering at a conference is also great way to meet people for the shy, as you have a specific reason to speak to the other attendees and don’t have to initiate contact.

The goal is to build a base of contacts that will think of you when an open position comes across their desk, and that you can use as a reference when you find an open position in their network. Keep doing this throughout your career. Don’t ever stop. You can slow down, but don’t ever stop because you can never know too many people in the industry.

Outside Projects

Concurrent to building your base by doing informational interviews and attending conferences, you should start attempting outside projects. There are two reasons for this. The first is to demonstrate your ability. You may think your coursework and internships and extra curricular activities leap off the page and prove to potential employers that you are qualified, but they don’t. The second is to develop skills and knowledge. Few things will teach you the realities of the music business as well working on your own project.

Through outside projects you can develop an understanding what is valued in the position you are seeking.  For instance, an online marketing company’s biggest asset is relationships with online publications. If a candidate can demonstrate that they have built those relationships on their own, they stand out.

Desired Position – AR

Quality Valued – An understanding of why certain bands and songs are successful.

Example project – Starting a tumbler of unsigned bands to watch. Explain why you think those bands will succeed over their peers. It doesn’t have to be bands. It is just as effective using producers or songwriters. It also depends on what genre of AR you want to work in. It is more about the process than it is about the picks themselves, but if one of your choices hit, you have documented proof of your foresight.

Desired Position – Management Company

Quality Valued – An ability to manage artistic temperament.

Example Project – Manage a local band or unsigned artist. There is no better way to understand what it is like to be the day-to-day handler of superstar artist then by working with an unknown artist. The workload is still big. The egos are still fragile. The only thing that is different is the money. Managing a band is actually a great way to develop skills in numerous areas of the music industry as it necessitates knowledge of a variety of endeavors in order to truly be successful.

Desired Position – Online Marketing or Publicity Company

Quality Desired – The ability to find editors, content managers and writers, and build relationships with them.

Example Project – Run an online marketing campaign for an unsigned band. Create your media list by searching for stories about several similar sounding bands, and researching the contact info for the sites that ran them. Online marketing and publicity is an undertaking built almost entirely on relationships with the media. Start making them now.

Desired Position – Digital Distributor

Quality Desired – An understanding of Metadata.

Example Project – Help an unsigned band navigate any number of open digital aggregators like Tunecore or CD Baby, or start your own record label. Getting a song on iTunes isn’t particularly difficult, but it is an exacting granular process. This project will demonstrate an attention to detail.

Additional outside projects:

Book shows: Create a backyard or dorm room concert series, or start booking one night a month at a local venue.

Start a podcast: Procuring guests for a podcast will create opportunities to meet many people in the industry.

Volunteer to music supervise a student film: Do the clearances as well as the creative. Anyone can pick music they like, getting the rights cleared for that music is a much more difficult and impressive task.

Run a Pledge Music or Kickstarter fund raising campaign for an artist.

Build a band website or app.

All of these examples can be boiled down to one thought. If you want to be hired to do a job, start doing that same job on your own. None of them are particularly hard or require skills that you don’t already have. You may not excel at them yet, but you will learn with each project. There is an old saying that you will get a promotion after you have already been doing the job. I think that is true for getting hired as well. If someone has already been doing the work expected for a certain position, then justifying hiring them is that much easier.

A word about Internships

Traditionally students are told that the best way to develop job skills is through internships. Unfortunately music companies with well-run internship programs are few and far between. This is because it is generally entrusted to the youngest employees who are still learning to handle their own workload and may not know how to delegate yet. They are also usually just happy to not have to do grunt work for a summer. Hiring managers know this from watching how interns are utilized at their own companies.  This means that an internship is probably not as beneficial to your resume as you think. No hiring manager looks at a resume filled with internships and thinks, “this candidate has all the experience to do whatever job I’m trying to fill.”

I still recommend doing at least one internship though, because it creates another structure where you can meet people in the industry. This goes back to building your base. Know your goals going in to the internship. You want multiple people in the company to think of you as both a hard worker and an interesting person. These are people who you can ask for introductions to do informational interviews, and who hopefully think of you when a job comes across their desk.  If you can leave an internship with friends and supporters, consider it successful. If you leave an internship with a couple of bullet points for your resume, but without any contacts, then you wasted an opportunity.

Social Media and Address Books

After you put in the hard work to build a base of contacts and creating outside projects, do not just stand pat. You have to keep interacting with your contacts, and publicizing your projects.

Make sure to add every person you meet with on Melodious.me , and if applicable Twitter. Keep active on these platforms with your progress on outside projects so that you stay top of mind. Social media is also a great way to build up your base outside of your home city where you can’t engage in in-person interviews. There are numerous interesting people on Twitter and by participating in the conversation you can build your credibility with them.

After you initiate contact, keep up with them. If the most important thing at an informational interview is to ask for more contacts (which it is) the second most important thing is to send a thank you note and keep in touch.  Check LinkedIn every day, and if someone in your network changes jobs, send them a congratulatory note. If someone in your network posts something interesting on twitter, retweet it, or ask for a more detail about the idea. Do not do this in a phony way. You have to genuinely care about the subject matter or the person. Remember you are hoping they will care enough about you to recommend you for opportunities that come their way. If you don’t care about them, don’t expect them to care about you.

Applying for open positions

If you follow all of the steps laid out above, I truly believe that either a job will come naturally through your ever-growing network, or one of your projects will turn into a career on its own. Sometimes though, this isn’t the case, and it is still wise to apply for open positions.

Checking online job sites seems productive, but it is one of the worst ways to spend your time. Remember if you are checking indeed, monster, craigslist, entertainmentcareers.net, and similar sites so is everyone else in your class, and also every other future graduate, recent graduate,  and 40 year-old laid off banker whose true passion was always music.

A much more effective way to find open positions is to make lists of companies that you find interesting and visiting the career section on their website. A good way to make these lists is by looking at the panelist list of music conferences. The conference organizer has already done the hard part in finding companies that are doing interesting work. All you have to do is visit their websites.

Looking at the career section on the website will also show you what kind of positions your target companies are looking for, and what skills they value. Again, if you don’t have these skills, start an outside project and develop them.

No matter whether you apply through a website or an online job posting, do not just apply and move on. After you apply to the general address, find a connection using your contact list to an actual employee at the company. If you have been building your base properly then this should be fairly simple. If you have an employee at the company already in your direct network, ask them to put your resume in front of the hiring manager.

If the employee is outside of your direct network, after you have identified them, ask a connection to introduce you for an informational interview. During this informational interview, instead of asking for more contacts at other companies, ask for the employee to put your resume in front of the hiring manager for the position. This will ensure that your resume is at least seen, which is not often the case when applying to a posted position.

Conclusion

These steps should last you a lifetime in the music industry. The particulars will change. Informational interviews will turn into lunches and drinks. Conference attendance will turn into speaking on panels. For a lucky few, the outside projects may just turn into their own profitable companies. The basic ideas are all the same, though. You want to have supporters and friends. You want to develop skills and knowledge. You want to let people know what you are working on. You want people to think of you as a person with ideas regardless of your position. This is as true looking for your fourth job as it looking for your first, and it is how you develop a career.

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/how-to-begin-a-career-in-the-music-industry-advice-to-the-gr.html

Roman Totenberg’s last bow a remarkable death

Roman Totenberg is teaching a lesson.

In a hospital bed in his Newton  home, he listens to his student Letitia Hom playing the Brahms violin concerto. “Slow down, here,” he murmurs. “Slow down.”

His kidneys are shutting down. At 101 years old, the legendary violinist — a man who hung out with Stravinsky and Copland, Menuhin and Rubenstein — is finally dying.

But he’s still teaching.

He murmurs something Hom can’t hear. “What?” she says. He repeats himself, but she still can’t hear. She bends over his bed, putting her ear to his mouth.

Totenberg says, perfectly clearly: “The D was flat.”

“It’s a remarkarkable death,” said Totenberg’s daughter, the NPR journalist Nina Totenberg. “He’s not going to go quickly — he has work to do.”

Totenberg was a legend in his own time. Born in Warsaw in 1911, he grew up in Moscow during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution; there, he gave his first concert as a child prodigy of seven. Later, he worked closely with the greatest composers of the 20th century, from Barber to Szymanowski, and premiered works that became part of the classical canon. He gave concerts for the King of Italy (when there was a king of Italy) and for Franklin Roosevelt when he was president.

But as he aged, he never stopped working.

As milestone birthdays went by — 90, 95, 100 — he attended galas and tributes, then quietly continued to play and teach a new generation of students. “I never stopped, that’s all. I probably will drop dead one of these days. Somebody will play so many wrong notes that I won’t be able to stand it anymore,” he told a reporter a few days before his hundredth birthday.

“There are people in the BSO in their sixties who I remember as kids, studying with him,” Nina said. But there are also young members of the BSO who visited this week, she said, saying “He changed my life.”

She said the family has had calls from Poland and Paris. Her sisters have had to talk former students out of taking transatlantic flights to see their teacher one more time.

All week, she said, a steady stream of Totenberg’s colleagues and students has passed through his house. On Monday, violinist Daniel Han drove from Philadelphia. “My father was quite irritated with him because he didn’t remember enough of the third movement of the Dvorak violin concerto, and that’s what he wanted to, quote, ‘work with him on,’ ” Nina said.

The day before, violinist Mira Wang had come up from New York and played for him all day. “He wouldn’t let her stop,” Nina said. “He just said, ‘More! More!’”

How to Get Ahead in the Music Industry. Good conduct and rules to follow

Be Professional :

Sounds obvious, right? But this rule is at the top of the list for good reason. You may be getting involved in the music business because you love music, but a lot of people flock to the business because they think it’s just a non stop party. While there are certainly plenty of opportunities to have fun when you’re working in music, but the key word here is WORKING. Getting to the good stuff requires hard work and commitment. When you have a job to do, show up on time, and do it. Show people that you can be counted on to work hard and you know the difference between work and play, and you’ll find doors swinging open.

Be Polite:

Here’s a hard truth: whether you’re trying to break into the industry or you’re already there, working in music involves lots of cold calling/emailing. Some people will ignore you. Some will take ages to get back to you. Some of them might respond to your 10 emails with a single word response. It’s incredibly frustrating. What can you do about it?

Nothing. It pays to stay polite and professional at all costs. If someone blows you off, resist the urge to tell them off. If someone takes the time to help, SAY THANK YOU. The music biz is a smaller place than you think, and your shoddy behavior will come back to haunt you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Some Money:

Getting involved in the music business because you eat, sleep, and breathe music is the RIGHT reason. Going into music purely for monetary gains is a drag, and in fact, there is definitely an argument to be made that chasing profits has come at the expense of good music at many labels. But, don’t confuse that fact with an idea that it is wrong to want to make money in the music business. To able to work in the music business, you need to be able to pay the bills from your music job. Period. Getting a paycheck doesn’t mean you are crossing over to the dark side – rather, it lets you keep doing what you love.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask:

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Do you want an internship, a job, to work with a certain producer, an opening slot on a bill with your favorite band – the people who can get you these things aren’t mind readers. They’re not going to come along and knock on your door one day to offer you the shot you’re after. If you want something, ask for it. Sometimes, people will say “no.” That’s not a problem, because sometimes, they will say “yes.” Don’t be so sure you know what the answer will be – ask, and you may be surprised what you can get.

Get it in Writing:

Yes, even when you’re working with friends. Even when there is no money involved yet. Beyond the financial reasons, a contract is a good way to clarify working relationships and responsibilities. You’ll be able to get things done a lot more effectively if everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them.

Say “I Don’t Know” :

If you’re working at your first music business job, or your band is meeting with a label, and you, well, don’t have a clue what everyone is talking about, say so. People often feel a lot of pressure to appear “cool” in the music business, and so they pretend to know a lot of things they don’t. Having the nerve to say you don’t know what something is about is absolutely a lot “cooler” than flubbing your way through a conversation that is over your head – you’ll almost always give yourself away. Besides, if you’re serious about this, you’ll have to learn the ropes eventually. Do yourself a favor and speak up.

Above All Else – LISTEN:

Whatever you’re trying to do in the music business, you can bet you’re not the first to try it. Now, granted, most people who enter the music industry have a life long love affair with music that gives them some level of knowledge – but don’t assume that because you’ve bought a lot of music and read a lot of magazines that you REALLY know how things work. When you get a chance to get some advice from someone who has been around the block, listen up, even if you think it sounds like a sell out. The people who really get ahead in music are the people who never stop learning from those who went before them.

 

Performing a piece of music for the first time

We all have to perform a piece of music for the first time.  There’s no way around that.  Yet how often do we do approach a maiden performance as if it was our one shot at it?  I found myself falling into this mentality for much of the first part of my life, especially when I was young and in school, spending hours in the practice room surrounded by others just like me and very unaware of the world outside the hallowed halls of the music institution.  Pieces were in and out of my life with each jury that I successfully passed and the thought that I might someday repeat some of the same repertoire rarely, if ever, crossed my mind.  Working with young people on a regular basis now, I see that I am not the only one that has had this attitude.  It amazes me how many students never ask me for their music once we’re finished a project together.  Some even graduate and move away without a peep, leaving my pile of unclaimed music growing at a shockingly rapid pace.  Do they really think that’s it?  That there’s nothing more to be extracted from a piece of music?  I was there myself a few years back but now I find that kind of sad. (Lest you think I’m a bad person, I do try to return the music to their owners but that can be harder than you might imagine!)

Anyway, I digress.  What I want to share in this blog post is my relatively newfound attitude that I have about playing music for the first time.  It’s quite simple, really, but it might help in relieving some of the performance anxiety that we all feel from time to time, especially when we’re performing a piece we’ve never performed before.  So here’s what I’ve learned –

The first time is always challenging and is usually nowhere near where I would like it to be either physically, technically, or musically.  

 

I truly think this experience is unavoidable.  No matter how hard I practice, how long I spend with a piece, or how thoroughly I learn it, the first run is always a bit of a let-down.  But in my book that’s ok because it’s no wonder – playing music isn’t an easy thing to do!  And what’s the hurry?  Is it really our only chance to get it right?  Does the piece disappear from existence once we’ve had our way once with it?

Nope.  Don’t think so.  At least it doesn’t have to be that way.

In light of this revelation, here are some things I think about now when I’m sitting backstage feeling a little nauseous about a first-go at something:

  • I acknowledge the reality of the situation and accept that the performance isn’t going to be as comfortable or as satisfying as a performance of a well-seasoned piece.
  • I remind myself that most musicians end up performing the same piece several times in a lifetime.  This one performance doesn’t have to be “it.”  In fact it shouldn’t be unless I decide afterwards that it’s not a piece that I want to do again.
  • I look forward to getting the first time out of my system and to the next time I get to work on the piece, knowing that it will feel completely different – easier, more natural, and marinated with my own personality and understanding that only comes with time and experience.
  • Since I don’t expect technical perfection, I strive instead to relay to the audience and to the musicians with whom I’m working the overarching feeling I have for the music.  I think more in abstracts and in big pictures, knowing that eventually the details will fall into place and that with time and further visits with the music, I will become more familiar with the tiny, wonderful details that make the music what it is.  If I attempt to focus on the details at this point in the game I get frustrated and find myself in the wrong side of my brain – the overly analytical side and when that happens it’s never a pretty picture.

For those of us that aren’t performing artists full-time, there is something else we can do to help ourselves with this whole issue.  We can get out there and make a habit of offering our first performances to more and more people in a safer, more comfortable environment.  Rather than making your senior recital, jury, or performance at Carnegie Hall your first time performing a given piece, plan ahead, be pro-active, and offer a performance of it at church for the choir, in the local retirement communities, at a school, in your living room in front of friends, at a restaurant – anywhere!  Not only would it get that first performance out of the way to make room for you to go to the next level, you would also see how excited and grateful your audience in these settings are to be hearing live music played by you in a more informal setting.  You might even realize in doing this that the audience doesn’t expect perfection or detect imperfection.   Not a bad thing to get in touch with!

So go on…take the plunge and perform that piece for the first time…just go easy on yourself and remember – there can be a next time!

Written by Erica Ann Sipes@ericasipes ) in Beyond the notes

Why Mobile Apps Matter For Music

Mobile phones can be considered either an asset or a hindrance depending on whom you ask. At one point, mobile phones were only available in brick sizes reminiscent of the scenes in A Night At The Roxbury. Fast forward to the present day when mobile phones dominate nearly every facet of human behavior. They have disrupted how we communicate with one another, how we function in a work environment, and how we choose to spend our free time. You can’t walk by a crowd of people without seeing someone typing on their Blackberry or iPhone. With the amount of impact the mobile phone has had on daily life, it is only recently that this disruption has infiltrated music.

Since March 2012 there are 7.1 billion mobile devices on the planet, this is more devices than there are humans. With these kinds of figures and usage, there is a huge audience of people who have yet to be tapped for disruption and engagement. Through the use of mobile applications and successful leverage of mobile technologies, musicians would be able to reach an entirely new audience of people in a very personal way: mobile applications.

Mobile applications are a recent advance in this sector of the mobile marketplace. If you browse through any application storefront whether it is for Blackberry, Apple or Android, there is an application for everything imaginable. Applications like Instagram allow you to add filters to images taken on your mobile phone. In need of an activity for the night? Look no further than Draw Something, an application, which allows you to draw on your mobile phone. In an already oversaturated market, how do musicians and music marketers take advantage of recent technological advances to disrupt and engage with an audience?

Mobile Music Marketing

Every person who listens to music has one band or artist they have a connection with. Whether it was a seminal personal moment or the wonderfully insightful lyrics, the ability to transcend and identify with music is an extremely personal event. While interacting with bands or artists we have these kinds of connections with, it’s important for the fan to be able to gain an insight into the artist persona. The connection goes beyond reading their Facebook post about their favorite book or tweeting them a question anticipating a response, it’s about interaction: the ability to interact on a personal level with an artist or band, identify with their music, and create an experience with them.

The reason most campaigns for artists fail is the fact they equate fan interactions with conversions and sales. If the interaction between a fan is to be measured into how likely they are to purchase something, the value of creating an experience is lost and so is the fan. When combining interactions and mobile applications, the ability to create the experience is amplified because you are taking a device the fan communicates with and uses every day and engaging them.

Levels of Mobile Fan Engagement

When making a mobile application, the first thing that should be taken into account is how it will function and its purpose. Any mobile application can be placed within one of three levels of interaction. The first would provide basic functions such as displaying blog posts, offering ticket buy links, and incorporating regular updates via third party applications (Facebook or Twitter). The second level would engage the fan beyond basic necessities and add the artist’s music in the mobile environment. The third level would engage, disrupt, and create an experience for the fan beyond the basic scope of an application. These third level applications would mimic the successful elements of the mobile phone philosophy.

There are basic functions such as those provided by a service like Mobile Roadie where the artist can create a simple application to upload music and video content, put up ticket buy links, and update fans with blog posts. This would be the basic level of function for a mobile application: content curator. The next step above this would be involving some sort of action with music for example the popular game Tap Tap Revenge. This engages the fan with an action and incorporates a musical element into the equation. Another example of this level would be a streaming service such as Spotify where a fan can create a playlist for an artist or genre and listen to it on their mobile phone.

The highest functioning level for a mobile application would be something which creates an experience and encourages an interaction. A perfect example of this would be Shazam. The application identifies music based on what is currently playing. If you are watching a television show, hear a song, and are struggling to identify which song it is, you can enable Shazam, which will take in the music and identify it for you.  Once the song is identified you can take that song and share it across social media sites thereby engaging your friends in your experience.

Most digital marketing plans for album releases include basic principles such as Facebook ads, email newsletters (no more than twice a month), and a complete revamp of a website with the new approved creative. While these principles are currently considered to be boiler plate, if reincarnated on a mobile level they are fresh. If there were a mobile service similar to Topspin which provided customized text messages or mobile messaging services, many artists would have the ability to communicate with fans in this way.

While using Broadtexter for a band campaign a few years ago, the band I was working for was able to text message fans based on the fans’ locations. What intrigued me even more was that it was free. Services like Mozes were becoming increasingly popular and cost quite a bit of money, but free services were available. If applied properly, artists and bands can use mobile messaging services to communicate with fans beyond just texting to a number to conduct a poll. They can have them text to their mobile application and when they do they get sent a link via text message to download a free song.

Mobile applications are a huge asset when it comes to marketing music that have yet to be amplified to another level of engagement. With virtually anything available when making a mobile application, there should not be any limitations placed on how it could function and disrupt. Within the next few years, the development of mobile applications in music is only going to get larger as companies begin to take notice of the emerging marketplace. As Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and Johnson Johnson shift their focuses from social media to mobile, musicians and music marketers should do so as well.

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/why-mobile-apps-matter-for-music.html

How to talk to Journalists about you and your work

Part of being a DIY artist is marketing yourself like an entrepreneur or small business owner: You’re presenting the brand of “You, Inc.,” comprised of all the unique things about your music and you as an artist. And while putting some tracks up on social media platforms like Melodious.me, Facebook and Myspace or on your own website is an important part of your larger portfolio of marketing tactics, you can’t just leave it at that and hope that someone will eventually stumble across you.   A very important part of your PR campaign as a DIY artist is presenting yourself well to blogs, podcasts, online music communities, music websites and magazines. It’s a given that if you’re at the stage where you’re ready to approach the press about your music, you should have at least two things: a professional-sounding collection of your songs – whether that is in the form of an LP or a full-length album – that represents you at your best; tangible proof that you are playing whenever and wherever possible, working hard at providing an engaging experience for your fan base – who essentially act as your paying “clients,” buying albums and coming to your shows – and to turn new people onto your music. Assuming you have both those things going for you, what comes next?   In the Digital Age, where almost everything you need to know about your brand can live conveniently online, a lot revolves around email. A well-crafted email can land you and your band more free advertising than you could ever afford (which is incredibly important, especially if you really are paving the road of your music career entirely by yourself). However, a bad one will end up in the “Deleted Items” folder, often before even one note of one song hits a single ear.   You don’t necessarily have to be a highly-trained writer or even a great natural marketer to put together an attention-getting email; neither of these skills is typically the #1 strength of most musicians. But if you’re serious about making music your career, you do have to approach the media thoughtfully and professionally and think like a business owner whenever you’re presenting yourself and your music. The following are five tips to think about before (long before!) you hit “send” on that next email.
Have a clear grasp on your story.
You love your music and you think people should hear it. But you have to think of yourself like any other company or brand: In order to get people to tune into you, you must have a good handle on your story and mission statement as an artist and be able to persuade potential fans with very short attention spans why they should love your music too. “I’ve been passionate about music ever since I was five and I like to write songs” or “I grew up watching MTV and know my music is better than what I’ve seen on there” isn’t going to cut it; these statements encapsulate an almost immeasurable number of artists or ”musicians’ brands” out there.   Instead, think about which unique qualities sets the story of how you came into music apart from the story of every other person that has ever played music. Perhaps you were raised by circus performers who were hip hop fans, which led you to develop an interest in learning how to play the accordion and writing clown-themed raps (though don’t worry — you probably don’t have to be quite that “different” to stand out!). Even if you are just a guitar-driven indie rock band or a traditional singer/songwriter, think about the personal experiences that have led you to pursue music and how that comes through in what you do. Then write that story out … in no more than three sentences. People with the power to write about and recommend your music to others often get hundreds of emails daily, and they will tune out if you don’t get to the point quickly. If they want to know more, they will ask. After you write down your short story – in the business/entrepreneurial world, they call it your “elevator pitch” – repeat it over and over to yourself, so you can rattle it off when someone asks you and relay it in every email you send to someone you think should be listening to your music, along with a direct link to some songs.
Keep it local.
When you’re deciding which media outlets to contact about your music, start with those that write about musicians and events that are located near you. If you’re at the beginning of your career – and especially if you’re at a point where you’re just starting to see a few more people than your four closest friends and your mom regularly at your shows – you need to focus on getting attention in your home city/local area. In the beginning, reaching out to people that can actually come out to see you play, understand where you come from and interact with you personally is an important part of establishing personal relationships with current and future fans. And the closer they feel to you, the more likely they will be to recommend you to friends and the more often all of them will want to download/buy your music, buy your t-shirts or come to see you perform.
Do focused research.
As a DIY artist, there’s nothing that can waste your precious PR time – or suck more time away from your top priority, which is writing and playing great music – more than blindly sending out “listen to my music” emails to every person on the planet who listens to music. Still, a lot of bands do just that, thinking that indiscriminately casting a wide net will increase the odds that someone will respond. Think of it this way – if you didn’t own a house, would you like to get repeated, unsolicited emails about homeowners’ insurance? If you front a country band and you randomly email bloggers that write exclusively about heavy metal bands or someone that runs a steampunk zine begging them to listen to your music, you’re essentially committing the same crime of irrelevancy, and you could even be building a bad reputation for yourself as a thoughtless spammer.   Thanks to Google, it’s quick and painless to search for the media outlets that regularly talk about the exact type of music you play and to find the people that might even actually be excited to hear from you, which can up the rate of positive response to your emails significantly. Along those same lines, know which type of outlet you’re emailing before you send so you can set realistic expectations about the response you might get. A blog, a newspaper and a magazine all take very different approaches when it comes to writing about and talking to artists. Also, before you start to send emails, make a list of sources. You can add to and subtract from that list as you go along.
Send personalized emails.
Once you’ve made a list of media outlets to email – even if that list is long – resist the temptation to send a form letter. Take the time to craft each email separately and include a few personalized details you’ve learned through your research about the person/publication/source in question. If you are sticking to the “short and sweet” rule of emailing, this level of detail shouldn’t take too long to add, and it will show the person on the other end that you’re legitimately interested in their feedback and are serious about your career.   Secondly, the community of journalists and bloggers that write about music tend to know each other, especially if they write for the same publication or about the same types of music. This means they talk to each other about the music – and any communication – they receive from artists. If you send the exact email to ten different people, you risk, at best, depersonalizing the professional relationship you could have had with a journalist or blogger that could’ve potentially helped you connect with a huge number of new fans. At worst, the people you email will spread a negative word about you to those in their network, which will likely decrease your chances of getting written up elsewhere.
Don’t send more than two emails.
Along the same lines as “keep it short and sweet,” when you’re trying to get people to write and talk about your music, limit yourself to two emails: an email with links and a follow-up email, sent at a later date. That’s it. Period. As previously mentioned, people writing about music hear from a lot of artists on a daily basis. And the best journalists and bloggers – those that truly care about what they do and have a legitimate love of music – are going to actually take the time to thoughtfully read and listen to almost every email and music link they get. You’re not going to get a “yes” or “no” right away, so you need to be patient. At best you can expect to get a quick “Thanks for sending this! I’ll listen to it within [insert specific time frame here] and get back to you.” If that happens, wait the amount of time the person specified and then send a quick follow-up a few days after that time has expired. If you get no response to your initial email – which, frankly, quite often happens – wait at least a week and then send a follow up. In either case, if you don’t hear back after your second email, end it there and move on.   As you think about the process of sending emails to the press about your unique artist brand, think about the last time you heard a music journalist say, “I love this new band I’ve never heard of. All they had to do was send me a link to a free download of their album, and I was sold!” Likely, you can’t, because that’s probably never happened. The truth is, most bloggers and music journalists have little to no direct interest in helping you and your band reach the next level; they’re looking for good music that their loyal readers will like. In order to get the attention of music journalists and get the word out about your music, you need to provide compelling reasons for music lovers to listen and fall in love with you. And if you can create that magnetic pull to your “creative products” (your music!) through all your marketing tactics, you will continue to add to your roster of “loyal customers” (your fans!).

How to work your way into the music industry

It’s true that industry professionals and artist mind sets could not be farther apart. They are on two totally different sides of the game, yet working together as a team. All industry people probably receive anywhere from 15 to 200 emails or calls a week from indie artists wanting to work with them or get their advice. This is not an exaggeration. Most of these calls/emails are unfortunately misguided and are not going to get the artist anywhere just based on their approach. As an indie artist I am sure this must be incredibly frustrating… constantly sending out emails to industry people and not receiving replies. You’ve been told that to be proactive you have to mail, call, email, and send presents to industry representatives to get their attention. This is NOT true… let me help you out here.

Here are some tips for indie bands at appealing to industry people and approaching them with higher chances of success. This is coming from someone who has been on both sides of the fence for many years! Some of it might sound harsh, but trust me it will work!

1.) Do not cold call. 

In this day and age cold calls are just downright annoying and disruptive. You will not get your target industry person at their best if you bombard them on the phone. Email and let it wait in their queue. They will get to it when they have time and will be in a much better mind frame to deal with you! Another thing, DO NOT cold call them on their cell phone or text them. I can guarantee this will result in them feeling annoyed and bothered that someone called them on their cell when they are out and about, when it could have been a simple email.

2.) See things their way. 

Industry people are business people. They want to hear great music but also want to hear profitable music. This mixture sounds different for every industry person based on their personal experiences and musical taste. Regardless of your sound, you need to show industry reps that you have something going on and something that they could profit from investing in. You have to show them that you’re on the right track without them and there is an urgency for them to get involved. Send a short and sweet email that outlines some of your bands biggest selling points. For ex. big press moments, tour history, good support shows, or festival appearances. This is how they can gauge how well your band is doing. Don’t forget to include links and your contact info. Make your email short, professional, and quickly get to the selling points of your band. Also, don’t forget an un-replied to email is not a waste of time. You have planted that seed and they will refer back to the email when the time comes.

3.) Make them come to you. 

If you’re thinking after reading that last paragraph, “but I don’t have any selling points” then chances are it’s probably too early on in your career to be emailing these people. Focus on building your story and value. Instead of spending your time making cold calls and sending emails spend your time building your plan and reaching out to media and promoters (a lot of which these tips can be used for as well). Also, don’t forget to perfect your craft. Live shows and recorded material should be top notch. Then when you have gained a buzz and the support of the media, trust me the industry will follow. It is their job to pay attention to indie bands that are making waves. They will notice when a band is really talented and building a strategy, I can guarantee it. This is the best situation to be in because they are coming to you and you are in the place of power because they really want to work with you! Creating that urgency isn’t easy but it is what sets apart the flocks of artists and the ones the industry and media call “up and coming”!

4.) Come on easy. 

Remember now, you want to build a team around your band that is as excited about your music as you are. You want your future manager, label, publicist, etc. to really stand behind what you’re doing. I highly recommend starting off your email relationship with inviting the industry rep to a show or asking them to take a listen to a link. Then see where things go. Your initial email should never read “I would love to work with you, can you represent me?” Most of the industry people who are good at what they do like to have a personal relationship with their clients and their clients’ music. All you have to do is put the invite out there and when the time is right they will respond. Who knows they might fall in love with your music or they might not.

5.) Be confident. 

When you send your email DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, make excuses for the material you’re sending, for example “here’s a link to our music they’re not the best recordings because we did them in my basement” or “here’s a link to our website, sorry the graphic design sucks because we haven’t updated it for 3 years”. If you are not proud of what you are sending them to do send it. Period.

6.) Learn how to truly network. 

We live in a world with multiple ways to get in touch with someone you don’t know. If there is a target person on your mind, find them on twitter and chat with them about something relevant. Look them up on Facebook and see if you have any friends in common who could possibly introduce you. Get creative. I have a golden rule I always stick to: If you are the first person who has ever told me about your band, chances are I am not going to think twice about it. I consider myself pretty involved and if there was something really hot coming out of Ottawa, for example, chances are I would have seen friends posting it on social media sites and someone would have told me about the great show they checked out. I am constantly asking local bloggers and music fans for their tips, so if you are the first person to tell me about YOUR band you aren’t doing a very good job blowing people away with your live shows. Get creative about meeting people and be genuine, this will go a long way.

7.) Be patient.

If the industry person you emailed is doing a good job at what they do, the more emails they will receive, daily. Your band is not their top priority. There are simply not enough hours in a day to get to all the emails. Do not take it personally.

8.) Proofread your email. 

Grammar is important. You wouldn’t send a resume in with typos, would you? Being rock and roll and typing emails while you’re high and drunk is only awesome when you’re making people lots of money. The rest of the time it will get your email landed in the trash bin immediately.

and last but not least…

9.) Never burn bridges.

Just because one industry person doesn’t appreciate your tunes it doesn’t mean an opportunity won’t come across their desk one day that’s perfect for your band. It also doesn’t mean they don’t have friends that could love your band. Another example… Say you hate major labels and a rep from Warner asks for your record. The stupidest thing you could do is tell him you’re not interested because they might have been interested in putting your band on a support tour for one of their artists, having you do some co-writing, etc. Always keep your mind open and remember the industry is very connected. Everyone who is in it has fought to be where they are and will most likely some value to your career at some point.

So there you have it. There is a right team for every artist. If you’re making good music and going about it the right way those people will find you because it’s their job to find you. Be patient and build something on your own in the meantime.

If you feel like you have no idea where to start building that strategy then ask for help. Lots of industry people will offer consultations, like us! Soak in the knowledge and put one foot in front of the other. Nothing happens fast in this industry. Every decision a person in power makes is based on a number of factors and timing. If you’re looking to speed up this development process then you’re in the wrong industry. Trying to rush this will mean you will end up working with the wrong people and learning the hard way that good things come to those who wait. I am not saying sit back and do nothing, I am saying start getting smart about your career and learn how to truly attract the people who can make you successful.