Ran into Rachel Pearl at a party a couple of nights ago and she handed me her new card...
This blog post will focus on the middle option -- Spotify!
I know a lot of musicians feel like Spotify and services like it are taking away from album sales, but there is no better way for people to start consuming your music quickly. If your music is on Spotify, and I think it should be, don't you want people to listen to it? If so, why not make that as easy as possible?
How you do it doesn't matter. Are QR codes dead? I don't know. It's tougher and tougher to get people to use them when they have no idea what's on the other side, but if you know you're going to get the music you want to listen to, they could work. That depends on your audience, of course.
If you (or your audience) aren't into QR codes, another way to easily get people to your music online is to spend $9 for a domain or make an easy-to-follow link from a domain you already have. For example, ListenToBandName.com or BandName.com/listen.
My point in bringing up Rachel's card isn't about whether you use a QR code, custom domain, or another method to get people over to your music -- the point is that you need to get people over to your music as soon as possible because that's how you're going to get new fans. With more and more people subscribing to "all your can eat" services like Spotify, why not point them in that direction?
More thoughts on the card... It's good to give people options. If they like the music, they can keep in touch via Facebook. Or, if they really like it, they can buy a CD. But get them to the music in the easiest way possible first!
I read some statistics over the weekend about creativity and how it is affected by age. During the related study, it was found that 5-year-olds had original answers to questions 90% of the time, while 45-year-olds had original answers only 5% of the time.
Somewhere during our lives, most of us lose our creativity.
You'd think in the music business, because it's (apparently) built on creativity, things would be different.
This is especially obvious when you listen to music or see how it's promoted. The majority of what you see, both on the creative and business sides of the music industry, is copied. In some cases, it's downright plagiarized.
I get it -- especially when it comes to songwriting or the way songs are performed. It can be an uphill battle to get people to listen to (and buy) something that is too different from everything else they've been exposed to.
But music marketing is different. Certainly, there are tried and true ways or getting the word out about what you're doing, but bending the rules (not breaking them) can give you the extra momentum needed to take your marketing and promotion from good to great.
Garcia Goodbye is a Belgian pop group. They took a simple technique, that at one time was very common for children's science experiments, and put a new twist on it.
Is this a great way to launch a single? Not directly maybe, but it's a creative way to get attention.
See Toronto Musician Hijacks Starbucks "Pick Of The Week" for a similar story of a guy who took a very basic idea and made a great video to make it even more powerful.
Things like this are all around you, but they're so simple, you're probably missing them.
Is "creativity" coming up with original answers? Sure. It also involves asking the right questions though.
As you're going through your day, ask yourself, "Is this something I can use to promote music?"
You'll be amazed at what you can do to get attention for your creative endeavors...
Yesterday, I talked about how Spotify can help your music career. Today, the topic is the "darkside" of Spotify...and the music business in general.
As previously mentioned, there are Spotify has three options to choose from. There is a free service, with limited access and commercials, a "computer" based service with unlimited access for $4.99/month, and a "mobile" service, also with unlimited access, but with higher quality streaming for both computers and mobile devices for $9.99.
To me, it's a great deal. Spotify doesn't have everything, so there are plenty of songs you won't be able to listen to through the service, but they've got 13,000,000 titles available, which should be more than enough for the average consumer.
So it's blown me away how many people are out begging for an "invite" to the free service, when you start using an "unlimited" and ad-free version immediately for only $4.99/month. Is having instant access to 13,000,000 songs not worth $4.99/month?
The answer is that it's not worth it...to some people. After all, not everybody is a music fan and not every music fan thinks that music is worth spending money on.
That's the reality. And it's the reality that some people are going to copy your music, sneak into your shows, and steal the t-shirts you're trying to sell.
Not everybody is going to see value in the work that you do. That can be frustrating.
Instead of spending time and energy on the people who don't care about what you're doing, focus on the people who do. Cultivate the "superfans" who will not only come to an occasional show, but come to every show...and walk out with CDs, t-shirts, and whatever else you're selling.
And take a look at the people who aren't yet into you enough to spend any money, but still provide some type of value. For example, the people who are copying your music to share it with friends.
Should you encourage people to copy your music? Maybe. For most bands, an issue far greater than piracy is that nobody wants what they've got for free. If you've got somebody who is so enthusiastic about what you're doing that he's making copies and telling all his friends about it, that may put you in a better position to make money than if he wasn't doing that.
Think about the big picture. Spotify is here; you can either use it to your advantage or not.
Spoify, a music service with instant access to over 13,000,000 songs, launched in the United States last month to huge buzz. Users have three options to access it. There is a free service, with limited access and commercials, a "computer" based service with unlimited access for $4.99/month, and a "mobile" service, also with unlimited access, but with higher quality streaming for both computers and mobile devices for $9.99.
It's a great service. More or less, you type the artist you want to listen to, click on the song you want, and it starts playing.
And I think it's good for the music business. At the height of the business, when people were both new CDs as well as back catalog, to replace worn out vinyl and cassette albums, the average consumer was spending about $3/month, which was split between retailers, distributors, labels, publishers, songwriters, producers, and artists.
If we can get 2-3x that money, without worrying about the "middlemen" and costs of physical distribution, we'll be in good shape as far as revenue.
Plus, a service like Spotify allows consumers to explore music. You can find an artist that you like and, instead of focusing on one album or a single you've heard, you can dig deeper, going into back catalog and more obscure recordings, of which Spotify has many.
This gets people more interested in and involved with the acts they like. Knowing one song is great, but knowing entire albums worth of material creates a relationship.
Imagine having fans who knew everything that you've ever done, thanks to a service that paid you every time your music was played? That's Spotify.
Spotify, and services like it, will help you to develop the type of fans you're looking for. People who have access to music like this are more likely to come to a live show, more likely to buy a t-shirt or other mechandise, and more likely to support you in future endeavors.
Yesterday, Derek Sivers released a new book. It got me thinking about the number of things that have changed for independent musicians since he started CD Baby in 1998.
So I went back to the archive.
In 1998, I had a mailing list for indie musicians called IndieBiz. On May 6, Rik Wright of HipSync Records asked this question...
Does anyone know of a company that JUST processes and ships orders from Web commerce? What I want to do is have my Record Company's site have a consistent look and feel, yet, when a viewer wants to purchase - have our "shopping cart" reside on someone else's server (with our look and feel or a non-proprietary one) and have them process and ship the product. My thought is that the arrangement would be similar to a distribution deal where we pay them a percentage per sale. Does anyone know of a company that might do something like this?
Later that day, Derek Sivers responded...
Hey Rik -
I think I can help you with this:
I setup my online record store, "CD Baby", to be able to do that for you. Your customers don't need to come in my "front door" and search for your record. You can put a "Buy CD" or "Buy Tape" button on your site and it will jump right to YOUR OWN ordering page on CD Baby. (nobody else's records there. no ads. no distractions. just collecting your customer's info so we can charge their card & send your CD to them within 48 hours.)
As far as the LOOK, I usually add bands to CD Baby for NO setup charge and it's good look. (check out a sample page at: http://www.cdbaby.com/buy/arlen.htm)
But if you want to stay consistent with the look of your website, I can grab your HTML and imitate it for a $20 setup fee. That way your customers won't really notice they've left your website.
Lemme know whatcha think.
And here is something from the same mailing list on June 12, 1998, where Derek responded to a thread about a contest people were entering just to get their music on the web...
Okay - I guess I would be a fool if I didn't toss in one little plug for CD Baby here.
Since some people seem to like the idea of Billboard Talent Net just to "be on the web" - I should let you know that my record store called CD Baby will not only set you up for FREE including digitizing two of your sound files in RealAudio, but we sell & ship your CDs for you, too. We just take a $4 cut per CD on the back-end. Nothing up front.
Obviously, you don't need your CDs in a store unless people are buying them, but if they ARE...
* no charge to put your CDs in our store
* we make you your own unique web page with all the links, reviews & bio info you want.
* you can link your fans directly to YOUR record, so they don't have to come through our front door & search for you.
* we don't categorize music into stupid "pop, r&b, alternative" categories - you are free to describe your music as you like
* we digitize & host two songs in RealAudio for FREE. We'd be glad to do as many as you'd like for only $10/song more.
* no advertisements(!) = no distractions for your fan who's about to buy.
* your fans can buy securely with Visa/Mastercard or AmEx, OR call our 1-800-# to order if they'd rather.
* we ship your CDs from here (New York) within 48 hours. great postage rates.
* and lastly: when you send us your records to be sold in CD Baby, we send you the famous "CD Baby carepak" with 100 full color postcards telling your fans where they can buy your CD, free music biz newsletters, coupons, and more...
ALL the info and details are on our site: http://www.cdbaby.com/home.htm
Email me with any questions or call me at 1-800-448-6369.
- Derek Sivers, president
- CD Baby & Hit Media Inc.
Glad things have changed! :)
People lie. They say they'll come to your show, but they don't. They say they've purchased your album, but they haven't. They say they're vegetarians when they actually eat fish.
It's not that people are all liars though... Sometimes, like the vegetarian thing, it's perception. Just ask anybody who has been on an online dating site... What people THINK is an honest description of themselves can sometimes be far from "honest."
What does an "average" body type mean?
And what qualifies as "married" anyway?
You get the point...
This stuff can fool even the best marketers. Until you've rolled out your product or service and have people actually handing over their cash for it, you can't be sure. Just ask Coca-Cola.
Fortunately, technology has allowed us to "spy" on people to get information about what they actually spend their money on and where they spend it, not just what they say (or think) they do.
Sites I recommend and why...
1. Foursquare - This is the best way to find out where your fans hang out and can make your job of reaching them a lot easier. If you notice they're all going to certain places, perhaps you need to think about being in those places too...
2. Blippy - Where are your fans spending money? What are they buying? How much did something cost? Blippy knows... Click here for an example of where I'm spending my money.
There are other variations of each of these sites, but these are the big ones for their categories and probably the best place for you to start.
Like the TSA, where everybody is treated like a terrorist, Universal Music Group is now treating their customers like pirates by embedding tracking information in downloadable music...
As somebody who makes a living from intellectual property, I'm all for wanting to get paid, but I also recognize that...
1. It's better for somebody to have my music than not have it, even if it's stolen. This is especially true for new acts, who can really benefit from the word-of-mouth that comes along with friends sharing music with each other.
2. It's bad business to treat honest people like criminals. The people on who buy your music on Amazon, which is where this warning was taken from, or anywhere else, are the people allowing you to stay in business and they deserve better.
This is a subject I've touched on before, but here's a friendly reminder...
If you have a new album and it's not selling, it may very well be that people don't know it exists. Believe it or not, 84% of people don't know when their favorite artists release new albums.
Automated systems from music stores like Amazon and iTunes, which look at purchasing patterns and let people know about things that might be interested in, can help, but don't count on them to do all the work for you. Nobody is going to care about letting people know you have a new album available more than you do, so if you want to make sure that happens, you need to either do it yourself or hire somebody to do it for you; it won't happen automatically...at least not in the way you want it to.
Don't be shy about promoting yourself or think "my fans are different." Your fans are not different.
Let people know about your new release. Do it now.