Tag Archives: YouTube

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,



Track by Track Video Exploration of Terra Naomi’s New Album “To Know I’m OK”

June 20, 2011

Terra Naomi To Know I'm OK (Photo by Ben Watts)

If you’re a “regular” here at Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, or if you follow me on Twitter, then you know I prefer to do things unconventionally. Terra Naomi‘s new album, To Know I’m OK, came about unconventionally as well.

When I met Terra more than a year ago, she had a very clear vision of how she wanted this album to sound, even before all the songs were written.  She knew she wanted John Alagia (Rachel Yamagata, Brett Dennen, Ben Folds Five, David Gray, Liz Phair, Jason Mraz) to produce the album.  She was free from a major-label deal so she could do things differently, not beholden to anyone but herself.  At the same time, she was also keenly aware that she no longer had the major-label resources to record and release her second album, and if she forgot about that for a moment, somebody was there telling her it couldn’t be done.

Photo by Ben Watts

Determined to make her vision a reality, Terra ignored the naysayers and set forth on a path to record and release To Know I’m OK, without compromise.  Terra  raised the recording budget via a direct to fan engagement campaign with PledgeMusic and then approached John Alagia to produce the album.  Upon hearing the music and Terra’s plans for releasing the album, Alagia agreed.  The result? “This is the album I’ve always wanted to make,” Terra says.

Terra is also going about releasing the album independently, partnering with technology companies and passionate audience communities.  As she did with PledgeMusic, Terra continues to go directly to fans, reaching them in unique ways, and including them in the process. Terra partnered with Hipstamatic, engaging their passionate community and incorporating user-submitted Hipstamatic photos as the centerpiece of her video for “You For Me”.  She’s working with Klout, providing unique offerings to their influencers, as well as partnering with music and lifestyle bloggers.

Photo by Ben Watts

To Know I’m OK will be available tomorrow, Tuesday June 21st, and I wanted to do something special in honor of its release. I considered interviewing Terra about the songs and the recording process. I thought it might be fun to drink with Terra. Actually, I knew that was fun, having done it previously. Other ideas that crossed my mind were: going behind the scenes with Terra and producer John Alagia during the recording process, posting random outtakes from the studio, sharing footage nobody knew I was recording, and posting full streams of some of the songs on the album. I even considered showing the recording process through the eyes of Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito. I’m of the belief that we can have it all, so below, you will find everything mentioned above.

I hope you enjoy this track-by-track video exploration of Terra Naomi: To Know I’m OK.

It’s time for a listening party

1. You For Me
Michael Chaves, Sean Hurley, Brad Conrad, John Alagia, Victor Indrizzo lend a hand to Terra Naomi during the recording of “You For Me”

Terra’s dog, Elliott, lends his tail during the making of “You For Me”

Listen to “You For Me” (Full Stream)

2. If I Could Stay
Terra performs “If I Could Stay” at a private house party

3. Not Sorry
Terra discusses the re-recording of “Not Sorry”

Listen to the new version of “Not Sorry” from To Know I’m OK

4. Everybody Knows
Terra, John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Victor Indrizzo, Sean Hurley, and Michael Chaves working out “Everybody Knows” in the studio

Recording “Everybody Knows”

Listen to “Everybody Knows” Album Version (Full Stream)

5. Someday Soon
Terra, producer John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Michael Chaves, Victor Indrizzo, and Sean Hurley listening to their initial recordings of “Someday Soon”

6. I’ll Be Waiting
Terra discusses the meaning of “I’ll Be Waiting” during our “interview” at Malibu Wines

Recording “I’ll Be Waiting”

Listen to “I’ll Be Waiting” (Full Stream)
I’ll Be Waiting:

7. Take Time
Terra does a special performance of “Take Time” for Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend:

Inspired by a man who dumped her:

Listen to “Take Time” (Full Stream)
Take Time:

8. To Know I’m OK

Listen to the title track from Terra’s new album, “To Know I’m OK” (full stream)
To Know I’m Ok:

Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito, gives his notes on the album

Finally, after a long day in the studio, John Alagia and Michael Chaves had these parting words for Terra:

Terra Naomi: To Know I’m OK
Available at iTunes and Amazon beginning June 21, 2011

Take Time With Terra Naomi: Exclusive Interview and Download

June 15, 2011 

Terra Naomi: To Know I'm OK (photo by: Ben Watts)

I remember the first meeting I had at one of the major labels, when I initially started working in music.  We gathered to meet about one of their “priority artists,” but they had just signed another “priority artist,” so they were no longer focused on who we were there to originally discuss. Furthermore, the first 7 minutes of the meeting was spent listening to the record label executives talk about how much none of them wanted to  go to one of their artist showcases later that night.  I remember walking out of that meeting, more than a decade ago, thinking (and knowing me, probably saying out loud), “musicians are fucked if the people in charge of the music business don’t even like music.”

Welcome to 2011.  Musicians aren’t “fucked” as it turns out.  Musicians have more opportunity than ever before to get their music heard, reach more people, and do things differently and more creatively.  It’s up to us, the fans, to seek out the music we love and to take time with Artists we enjoy.

Terra Naomi at Malibu Wines

I recently spent an afternoon with Terra Naomi, drinking wine at Malibu Wines and talking about her forthcoming album, To Know I’m OK. Terra, who is no longer on a major label, has spent the past year creatively working to release her latest album, To Know I’m OK, independently.

She launched a campaign at PledgeMusic, bringing the fans who contributed to making the album behind the scenes, throughout the process.  She ignored everyone who said getting a top producer like John Alagia would not be possible, asked John Alagia to produce To Know I’m Ok, and he agreed.  She partnered with the creators of Hipstamatic (Apple’s “App of The Year”), and will be using photos submitted by the Hipstamatic community in the upcoming music video for her song, “You For Me.” She’s working with TuneCore, YouTube, Klout, music and lifestyle bloggers, and other fun partners, on the release of this album.

On Monday, June 20, I will post an exclusive track-by-track video exploration of  Terra’s new album, To Know I’m OK, so that you can get to know Terra and her music before the album comes out on June 21st.  In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to Terra Naomi and one of my favorite songs from To Know I’m OK, “Take Time”.  Enjoy!

Terra Naomi talks to Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend about “Take Time”:

FREE DOWNLOAD of “Take Time” (Live at Yoshi’s):

Live performance of “Take Time” at LA Music Blog (thank you LA Music Blog!):

Studio version of “Take Time” (full stream):

What really happens when you do an interview at a winery:

Track by track video exploration of To Know I’m OK to be posted on Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend Monday, June 20th. For more info about Terra Naomi:


Spaceship Rides Aren’t Cheap, But They’re Worth It: U2 at The Rose Bowl

October 25, 2009
U2 360 Tour
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

Bono – you’ve made some mistakes, but all is forgiven.

U2 – with The 360 Tour, you reminded us why you’re #1 (you were facing some competition there for a while).

The Claw: this is what $750,000/day buys you

The Claw: this is what $750,000/day buys you

Some amazing new music has been released and several extraordinary live shows have been experienced this year.  I questioned whether U2’s “Claw” was worth a $750,000 per day operations budget (the cost, regardless of if the band is playing a show or has a day off) and 200 trucks to transport it. I was so conflicted about this show (the band’s largest ever)  in particular that I wrote about it in advance of the event (see: The Pilgrimage of U2).

When I go to a U2 show, I go to see U2. I don’t need the spectacle. I’m not disappointed if they conserve some electricity, tone down the light show and just play their songs. One of my favorite U2 concerts was shortly following 9-11, when U2 performed without an elaborate stage set-up. The set was simple, just a few screens that displayed the names of 9-11 victims in memoriam. That show moved most of the audience to tears.  A band like U2 doesn’t need to go above and beyond with their production.  In fact, they’re often criticized when they do.

Until last week, I didn’t care one way or another about the elaborate stage set-up for U2’s 360 Tour.  I would have gone to the show without the big production.  However, I did consider that U2 could save money and the environment if “The Claw” truly didn’t add much to the experience and, therefore, ceased to be part of the show. At the same time, I was happy to hear that 333 people are employed to assemble the stage during this tour. If nothing else, U2’s 360 Tour is  stimulating jobs.


Astronomy lessons with U2

Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, it was only fitting that this weekend began with an Astronomy lesson on the streets of Pasadena.  In addition to celebrating the largest U2 concert of all time, Pasadena was paying homage to Galileo and the 400 year anniversary of  the telescope.  As we were walking to dinner Saturday night, 4 Astrophysics PhD students stopped us and asked if we’d like to “see Jupiter’s moons.”  “How much does that cost?” we asked.  After they assured us it was free, we took turns peering through the large telescope the students had set up at a busy intersection of Downtown Pasadena.  It was a magnificent sight, if you really thought about what you were witnessing (and we did).  With the assistance of the powerful telescope, one could clearly see Jupiter and four of its moons in perfect alignment.  This sparked numerous questions which the graduate students were kind enough to answer during an impromptu astronomy lesson on the street corner.  We discussed galaxies, the universe, and the recent blasting of the moon in great detail. Later, when we sat down to dinner, we noticed an informational film about Astronomy was playing on the large movie screen in the main courtyard, outside the restaurant.  This was either a lucky coincidence or a masterfully planned stunt by U2 as they descended upon Pasadena in their spaceship (aka “The Claw”).


A space creature introduces "Ultraviolet"

The show was entirely “space” themed, with Bono often referring to the stage as a spaceship.  In fact, it did feel as if we were traveling through the universe (see video footage below).  Bowie’s “Space Oddity” filled the stadium just prior to U2’s entrance.  The Claw lit up; bridges and arms of the stage spun around; light shot into the sky from all directions, intersecting above the needle of the “spaceship.”  We were greeted by an alien who introduced “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).”  We viewed images of the Earth from above as we shot further through space. The last verse of “In A Little While” was spoken by an astronaut in the International Space Station.  Bono replaced the line “you turn me on” with “space travel turns me on” during the same song.


The Claw as Space Station

“Are you ready for lift off?” Bono asked the crowd just prior to launching into “Elevation.”  Bono himself seemed to defy gravity as he drifted above the stage, swinging from a large illuminated microphone, during “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).” U2 and nearly 100,000 fans visually “created a galaxy” at The Rose Bowl during “Moment of Surrender.”


A Pasadena yogurt shop welcomes U2 fans

The “360” in U2’s 360 Tour seems to refer to more than just the stage set up.  The experience itself surrounds you from every angle.  Preparation for last night’s show included arriving in Pasadena early (in some cases, days early) to avoid traffic and secure parking and transportation.  A Pasadena frozen yogurt shop welcomed the band and fans with “U2 Vanilla Bean” ice cream. It became the focus of local news media, as if all of Los Angeles truly were boarding a spaceship and shooting into space.  Not only did U2 take over The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, and YouTube (the concert was broadcast globally via live stream), they managed to capture three of Twitter’s Trending Topic positions throughout the show.

The live stream of the concert on YouTube effectively allowed U2 to cover the globe from all angles.  Rocco, one of the 333 people responsible for assembling The Claw each night, kicked off the evening with a statement that summarized the magnitude of this event: “This time, when you raise your voices, you won’t only be heard here, but all around the world.”  He further elaborated, “Tonight’s show is the biggest global concert ever.”  In that vein, historically, U2’s show at The Rose Bowl might rank among one of the most spectacular live events.

The voices of the audience quickly overtook Bono’s voice as the band played “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” until Bono held the mic behind his back and turned the vocals over to the crowd.  The amplification of nearly 100,000 voices singing the chorus in unison made it sound as if perhaps Bono was still on the microphone.  I’ve witnessed plenty of audience sing-a-longs at U2 concerts, but this one was the most phenomenal. Watch the video here (more after the jump):

The entire audience waved their hands in the sky, from left to right during “Mysterious Ways.”  Moments like these illustrated that the visual spectacle at U2’s 360 Tour is not solely a result of The Claw.  As with the thousands of voices singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” in unison, seeing tens of thousands of people waving their hands in the air was magnificent as well.  Watch below  (more after the jump):

The Edge strummed his acoustic guitar during a stripped down version of “Stuck In A Moment” and Bono’s voice sounded phenomenal and better than ever throughout the 2 hour 20 minute concert. Larry Mullen, Jr. added more soul and fire to “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” banging passionately on a bongo drum.  Adam Clayton’s bass line also sounded more pronounced in this energetic live version of the song. And that’s just the music – which is what I thought I came for. . .

When I first saw The Claw, just prior to The Black Eyed Peas opening set, I wasn’t all that impressed.  At 164 feet tall, the sheer size of The Claw could not be ignored.  The massive racks of speakers suspended around the top of the contraption were also worth paying attention to.  But other than that, illuminated by the stadium lights, The Claw just looked like an over-sized mechanical hand that picks up stuffed animals in an arcade game.


The Claw, powered up

Considering the cost of The Claw (both environmentally and financially), I’d come to expect that it would actually pick us up and transport us through space.  With the help of spectacular visual effects and lighting, a cylindrical screen that moved vertically throughout the show, the light of the moon shining over the stadium, and the audience’s incessant jumping during “Elevation,” it felt as though we indeed did launch a spaceship.


Blast off

It was visually overstimulating as smoke shot up from the set, beams of light shone hundreds of feet into the sky, the needle of the spaceship illuminated and morphed into various colors, lights flashed throughout the stadium seating, and the arms (or fingers) of The Claw itself lit up.


Images are projected 360 degrees

At the same time, the screen moved up and down during the songs.  In its simplest form, we were able to follow footage of the band playing on screen.  Animated characters and pulsing light shows were also projected on screen.  “Reality” became blurred as live video of the band was inter-cut with canned footage of the band and then layered with visual effects.  Check out the use of the screen during “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (more after the jump):

The visual impact of “City of Blinding Lights” was also extraordinary and helped further bring the spaceship experience to life (more after the jump):

As the band began playing “Moment of Surrender,” Bono suggested that fans raise their cell phones into the sky.  The majority of lights dimmed, while the glow of mobile phones and flickering blue and white lights pulsed throughout the stadium so that it looked like we were surrounded by a mass of stars.  As Bono promised, the effect of this coordinated effort was the creation of a virtual galaxy.  Watch the transition here (more after the jump)

While introducing “Moment of Surrender” (at 6:41) Bono instructs the crowd to raise their cell phones into the sky and “create the Milky Way”:

The virtual galaxy continues to unfold throughout “Moment of Surrender”

Halfway through the show, the man standing to my left leaned over and said, “I think the stage is worth it.”  I’d have to agree.


"Radio Tehran, can you hear us?"

As is the case with most U2 shows, messages of peace, empowerment, social movements, and positive change were highlighted.  “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was dedicated to Iran, “Walk On” was performed in honor of Aung San Suu Kyi, and video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu stating, “God will put a wind at our back and a rising road ahead, if we work together as one, ” served as the introduction to “One.” Bono also thanked fans for supporting (RED) and ONE.

“Don’t leave us now.  We hope this is not the end,” Bono said just before the band walked off stage for the evening.  Well, much to the dismay of thousands of people, they couldn’t leave even if they tried.  As could be expected, there was one more light show to be had – the lights of brakes on cars formed a steady, line leading to the nearest exits.  For those of us on foot, getting out of the Rose Bowl was was much more expedient, although as somebody exclaimed while climbing through a chain-linked fence, “this is like a human maze.”  We passed cars rapidly and followed the line of traffic up the hill.  In an attempt to take a short-cut, dozens of people then scaled a steep, grassy hill that was full of mole holes, climbed through two chain-linked fences, only to find themselves on the edge of a freeway.  People darted across the freeway exit, and then raced across the freeway entrance to the safety of a path that lead directly to Colorado Boulevard.  The final challenge was dodging rotating sprinklers while walking on the last stretch of sidewalk leading to Colorado Blvd. Of course, there’s always that one guy who has to get in the sprinklers.  Just as the adventure of this event began before the concert itself, the experience of U2’s 360 Tour did not end when the band walked off the stage.  To further punctuate that sentiment, within minutes of walking out of the stadium 2 emails arrived via my Blackberry – one from Live Nation and one from U2.  The message of each was the same: U2’s 360 Tour will continue into 2010, with more North American dates added next summer.

U2 Stand up to rockstars

At the band's request. . .

U2 – that show was impressive, one of the most spectacular events I’ve attended.  Individually and collectively you have done a lot of good in the world.  You’ve personally impacted the lives of millions and have empowered individuals with information and tools to make contributions to the greater good as well.  The results of your dedication and commitments to the world include helping people enjoy a longer life, providing clean water, food, and medication.  All of that is fantastic and nobody expects you to “do it all” or single handedly “save the world,” but one can only image that your carbon footprint from this tour is more massive than The Claw itself.  If you’re not already doing so, please consider taking additional steps or making a financial contribution to offset the carbon footprint of your 360 Tour.  If you are already doing so, please have your publicist let the world know because it’s not being recognized by the media nor your fans.

Important message from the space creature who introduced “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”