Tag Archives: record label

Dear Music Business: Among The Reasons You’re Struggling

Dear record label execs, promoters, and managers:

While you’re busy trying to figure out how to save your business, doing things like launching apps and having rooftop concerts, you’re losing sight of the basics. You are often your (and your artists’) own worst enemy.

Many examples of this have been documented over the years. I’m not here to give you shit or tell you that you suck. I love music. I love musicians. I want to help you.

Within 5 minutes of trying to get more familiar with an artist – including purchasing tickets to an upcoming show – I ran into several obstacles.  Here’s what happened:

I’ve been hearing about The Weeknd for a while, so:

1. I went to Facebook

It’s important for you to understand how music fans are looking for music and information about artists. They are not going to your artist’s website as a first stop, and they’re probably not going to Google first either. They are going to sites like Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Soundtracking. That means you need to make sure your artist’s presence on those sites is easy to find and comprehensive.

Facebook recently launched Graph Search. For the record, I hate it, but unfortunately 1.1 billion people on Facebook are stuck with it, including your artists.

When looking at search, you need to think about how people will search. Account for user error. The conversation goes:

“Have you heard of The Weekend?” or “I love The Weekend!” or “Are you going to see The Weekend at The Greek Theatre?”

Or, a radio DJ or blogger on Sirius XM’s Blog Radio will say something like, “That was the latest from The Weekend.”

What are people going to search for? Will they know it’s spelled “The Weeknd”? This is about artist discovery and during the discovery phase, fans will be less likely to know the unusual spelling of your band’s name. If you have an artist with a name like The Weeknd or CHVRCHES, then you need to look at how people will actually search for them. Do search optimization for the incorrect spelling as well, so people can easily find your artist. Have a way to direct people from the incorrect spelling to the correct spelling.

Here’s what happens now when you search for “The Weekend” (as someone just discovering the artist would search) on Facebook:

This is a new development. Before Graph Search launched, a first-time search for “The Weekend” on Facebook went like this: the artist’s official page is the FIRST result, after typing in only the first few letters (before the potential spelling error would ever take place).

You may say this is a Facebook problem – a flaw with their search. I agree. There are numerous flaws with Facebook – here’s one more we can add to the list. Unfortunately, as evidenced above, this is your problem as well.

Solution: Facebook and numerous media outlets issue alerts about new product developments and features well in advance of their launch. When this happens, your “digital person” should get on the phone with Facebook or fly to one of their offices and explore how this will impact your business.

The product is Search. That’s pretty important to your business and how people will find your artists on Facebook. You should have these conversations early and do everything you can to help avoid what’s happened in the case of The Weeknd.

As a larger business lesson: make sure you have strong relationships at every key social media site. Maintain these relationships. Have dinners and regular meetings. Don’t just call when you need something. Look to these businesses as partners and work with them consistently.

Since I couldn’t find The Weeknd on Facebook by doing a simple Facebook search, I went to a company that actually knows how to do search, Google. As expected, Google (even with an incorrect spelling) directed me to The Weeknd’s Facebook page. Once I got there, I saw they had a “Video” tab, so:

2. I tried to watch The Weeknd’s videos posted on Facebook

Here’s what happened:

 

Solution #1: If you aren’t actually going to make the videos available for viewing on Facebook, then don’t include a YouTube tab on your Facebook page.

Solution #2: Pull your head out of your ass.

Ok, as it turns out now – I am giving you shit. Few things piss me off as much as this. This is your artist, right? And these have been deemed as official videos/streams? I’m assuming so because they’re on your artist’s Facebook page (even though that’s fucking useless) and YouTube channel.

Why on earth would you make it so difficult for people who actually want to hear your artist’s music to listen to it through the official, LEGAL, channels? Stop bitching about file sharing sites until you stop doing shit like this.

3. I went to YouTube:

No problems here. A Google company, YouTube has efficient, easy, and effective search.

Why am I showing you a good example? So that you can maximize it. Understanding that you want people to be able to find your artists, put your money where search is most effective. Run ads on Google and YouTube, as Atlantic Records is doing for Portugal. The Man in the example above.

In the case of artists who have unique names, like The Weeknd or CHVRCHES, you should probably run ads on Facebook as well. This will help get your artists in front of fans who couldn’t find  them through a simple search.

4. After YouTube, I went to Ticketmaster:

After all this, I was considering going to the show.

Ticketmaster has similar search issues to Facebook:

As it turns out, Ticketmaster’s search is better than Facebook’s though. If a user types in “The Week”, the appropriate artist will come up.  Nonetheless, there is an even better solution.

Solution: On Ticketmaster, whether I search for “NIN” or “Nine Inch Nails”, I get the correct results for that artist. This leads me to believe it’s possible to optimize search for artists like The Weeknd and CHVRCHES on Ticketmaster as well. 

Call Ticketmaster. Explore the option of having the correct results show up, whether somebody types “The Weeknd” or “The Weekend”; “CHVRCHES” or “Churches”.

In closing: Please pay attention – you CAN fix things like this, which will ultimately help you reach your objectives:

  • Increase an artist’s fan base
  • Sell tickets
  • Generate advertising revenue (your YouTube video views will increase if you allow video embedding)
  • Perhaps even, sell music

I apologize for coming across angry, but this is important to me too. I’m tired of hearing about how the music business is failing. I want musicians to succeed and if you’re doing a good job supporting them, I want you to succeed as well.

Don’t lose sight of the basics:

  • Make sure people can quickly and easily find your artists on the sites that matter most.
  • Make your artist’s official content (videos, music) accessible. It’s a bit unfair to be going after fans on file sharing sites when you’re not allowing them to access the music legally, through your artist’s official channels.

Furthermore, be happy people are interested in your artists at all. We’re not on opposite sides of this. The people listening to your artist’s music – whether they’re paying for it or not – are the people you want on your team. Stop punishing people for caring about your bands. If you make music accessible, you will win.

Thank you,

Colette

 

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Another Case For Sharing Music: Cloud Control

June 29, 2013

I didn’t pay to download Cloud Control‘s album, Bliss Release. I received a newsletter from The Bootleg Theater that the band from Australia would be playing there in August, which reminded me I wanted to check them out.

I went to Cloud Control’s website and was pleased to see they have full streams of their songs available so we can listen to them. I listened for about as long as I could stand to be indoors, on the computer, during a beautiful summer day. Then, I reached out to a friend of mine who also writes about music to ask if he had heard of Cloud Control and find out whether he had any of their music.

Within an hour, the album awaited me in the cloud. I imported it into my iTunes, transferred it to my iPod, and took a walk down to the beach. It felt good to be discovering music again and Cloud Control’s upbeat vibe reinforced that feeling.

I was really enjoying the album, so I Tweeted about it to my 32,000+ followers, who share my passion for music.

I also emailed, called, and texted some other friends I thought would appreciate Cloud Control. Then, I sent the band a Tweet, letting them know their album was contributing to the enjoyment of my day.

That began a conversation with the band. Which alerted me that they have at least one person on their team who is adept at building relationships.

That led to a Direct Message from Jeremy, who plays bass and sings in the band. We transitioned from Direct Message to email and now I’m hooked. I like the music, I care about the band personally, I’m going to see their shows, and I will purchase whatever merchandise they have available on the road – vinyl, a hoodie… something that will put more money in the band’s pocket than an album download.

Jeremy took the time to see who I am, what I write about, what part of the world I’m in, before he responded to me. “You’re LA, yeah?” he confirmed, as he invited me to the band’s LA shows. That’s more than 97% of publicists who reach out to me, on behalf of bands that are paying them, do.

He then went on to talk about the evolution of Cloud Control’s music from their previous album to their forthcoming one. “It’ll be interesting to hear your take on it,” he wrote. Well, I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m predisposed to like it simply based on the current experience I’m having with this band and their music.

Jeremy gave me contact info for the label, so that I can request an advance copy of the new album. Dear VOTIV: you’re lucky – you’ve got a smart band that’s really working for it and doesn’t take for granted that anyone else is going to do it for them.

If they’d like the $7.99 for the album I didn’t pay for, I’ll give it to them. I’ll buy a copy and gift it to a friend. Now that they’ve engaged me, artistically, personally, and professionally, I’ll spend money on Cloud Control, no problem. During the course of any given band’s career, I have easily spent upwards of $1,000 on tickets, merchandise, and music. I’ll also make sure everyone I know knows about the band.

It doesn’t happen often, but when I do tap into the cloud for new music, it’s to achieve one of two objectives: to truly listen to – and hopefully discover – new music I enjoy; or to get an album I’d purchase anyway, 8-10 weeks prior to its scheduled release. In the case of music discovery, if I like the music, if I connect with the band, I’ll spend a significant amount of money supporting them, throughout their career. 

In the case of early access to music, I’d pay for early access to new music. Which, actually would be real-time access. I’d pay to download a song or an album when it’s complete, but that’s not how it typically works. Instead, an album is completed and sits on desks, shelves, hard drives, and inboxes, while all the teams coordinate and execute some semblance of a “launch plan”.

This year, among others, I had the new albums from The National, Sigur Ros, and Atoms For Peace, well in advance of their advance release. I listened to them in the car, during my morning runs, while working, and falling asleep. I spent a lot of time with the albums and recommended people purchase them when they were released. I’ve since bought tickets to see each of those bands two or more times during their tours this year.

Why should we have to wait for music while the label gets their marketing plan together? Marketing is nothing without engagement. You should have been talking to us all along. That’s what Cloud Control is doing. They’re doing whatever it takes, and as much as they’re able.

If you’re putting out quality music, something people can truly connect with, file sharing could be your greatest asset. Your “marketing team” is then comprised of your fans and they know how to promote your music and your shows better than anyone.

If, on the other hand, you’re afraid once people hear the music, they wouldn’t find it worth $7.99 or $9.99, then you have a bigger problem – you don’t have a product nor experience you can stand behind. That is what you should be worried about.

Cloud Control: I wish you all the best. I’ve been listening to the album a lot (my neighbors can attest to that) and enjoying it. Thank you for making your art and yourselves accessible. I can’t wait to see you play in August and look forward to the new album. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

Listen to “Ghost Story” from Cloud Control’s album Bliss Release:

Watch:

Their new album will be out September 17 in the U.S.

http://www.cloudcontrolband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cloudcontroller
https://twitter.com/cloud_control

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