Myths of Digital Music

In recent years there has been a lot of myths and half truths about the current state of the industry. Many have misunderstandings about how digital music has changed the market. Let me set a few of these misconceptions.

Subscription and Streaming Services Don’t Pay Artists Enough

As an artist this is a very important subject in this digital age of music. Streaming services tend to pay .3 to .4 cents per stream, which is decent when you think of the volume that music is streamed in as oppose to purchase. I will say that it seems company’s like Spotify could pay out more to their artists. Yet this is also an industry in its early stages (keep in mind Spotify only came out of Sweden 4 years back), so we can hope that as less is required in marketing and development a larger portion will go to artists.  In a recent Billboard article they describe digital music as being in a “financially precarious, low margin business” and went on to say, “There are three ways for artists to make more money from this service [streaming music]: a) the service can pay out a greater share of revenue; b) the service can acquire more subscribers; or c) the artist can renegotiate his or her contract with their label. Only b) is likely to happen in the short term, while a) would ruin the company and c) touches upon a larger issue…“ Also, streaming has also been shown to work as a synergistic marketing tool for other revenue sources such as digital and physical album sales and live performances.

No one buys music, especially teens who just illegally download

Actually, more teens (72%) bought some kind of music last year which is greater than the general population (68%). Also, 36% of teens bought an album in the last year and 51% bought some kind of download.

Physical Sales Don’t Exceed the Revenues from these New Digital Revenues

According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) “Music Industry in Numbers 2012” report, the digital recorded music market was larger than physical, 2.2 biliion to 1.8 billion. Even major labels are making more in the digital market than physical. Warner Music Group for instance made 215 million in digital revenue and 188 million in physical revenue last quarter. Digital was the majority of revenue even when including licensing, syncs, and performance rights revenues.

I am sure there a lot more misconceptions out there and please feel free to add them in your comments. But generally I think doing the research and looking at the numbers is the right way to form opinions about the music industry or about anything. I know, it’s a novel idea.

 

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How Do You Measure the Impact of Your Social Media?

Everyone knows that social media is crucial to spread your music to the masses. Many use Facebook, Twitter, WordPress obviously, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr and other micro-social media sites such as Posterous or Quora to connect their audience and promote their music. Yet, to constantly expand the reach of your social media you need to effectively measure what type of posts result in the greatest response. Once you’ve determined what is most effective in engaging your network you can post only highly interactive content in your media. So how do you measure the impact of your social media?

With each of your social networks you can try different posting strategies from week to week and month to moth to see which results in the greatest interaction. For each type of social media there are ways to do this for each network.

Twitter: Look at your number of followers, number of times your hash tag is used, and the number who retweeted your posts. Also www.TweetReach.com and www.mytoptweet.com are great tools to measure Twitter exposure.

Facebook: Look at your Reach and People Talking About You in Facebook Analytics to see how many impressions your ads and posts are getting. Also look at the number of likes and comments on individual posts to get a more detailed picture of the engagement of each post. Facebook Insights is great because it provides you not only your reach but also the composition of your audience. This helps you tailor posts to your audiences age and other demographics.

Youtube: Track views, thumbs up, shares, number of ratings, number of comments, and number of subscribers to determine social reach.

Blog: Measure number of visitors, the number of people following you, and number of posts to other blogs you made and the resulting referral traffic.

Website: Google Analytics is the king for website analysis. Also, hosting servers such as 1and1.com will usually have some basic tracking on visits to the websites they host. Yet, unlike more simple site tracking, Google Analytics actually gives the number of unique visitors which is the true size of your audience as oppose to just counting visits where one person can count as multiple visits.

Email: Look at how many people opened the email relative to the number who received it and then how many clicked through the link in the email. Mailchimp.com has great tracking and mail campaigns you can send to your contact list for free.

Finally you need to determine the number of conversions. This can be liking a page, subscribing for a newsletter, or purchasing a product. The conversion rate is the percent of people who actually do the intended final action relative to the total number of visitors.

Sites like Klout.com give a rating on overall social exposure and wildfireapp.com’s Monitor feature enables you to compare your Facebook and Twitter’s to other accounts. Also you can measure your influence on sites like www.socialmention.com, www.radian6.com, and www.lithium.com. Really neat tools!

When considering your influence not only is the number of posts, comments, and shares considered, but also the social reach of those people having that interaction.  So, interacting with those users with the largest following, whether its Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook, results in more people liking and interacting with you. The users with larger more dedicated fan base mean more influence your media has on the social network. Make sure you continually analyze your efforts to improve results in social media. Happy twittering!

Music Education Program With South Broward

South Broward High School

South Broward High is a Marine Science magnet school located in Hollywood, Florida. The student population is approximately 2,300 and is very ethnically diverse. In addition to marine science, the school has a diverse art program which includes drama, art, band, and music classes. The founder of the Studio, Jon Kowalsky, is an alumni from this high school and saw the great work that South Broward’s teacher’s and art programs provide for their students.

South Broward High School’s mission is to provide each student with a quality education, in a safe and secure environment, through personalization and a rigorous curriculum. To further this mission, the school has begun revamping their music program with new supplies and instruments. It is critical that this school is able to pay for the necessary supplies to effectively educate their students; and this is where the Studio comes in. From August 15th to November 15th a portion of all download and music subscription revenue will help this school get the necessary supplies for their music program. Simply by purchasing a song, album, or music subscription you are helping to educate the next generation of musicians.

Want to get your school involved with our Music Education Program? Simply, email the name of the school and a contact number so we can verify them for the program.

Coachella Grosses $47 Million and What it Means to Indie Music

Boxscore has now come out with the numbers on Coachella 2012. This year’s Coachella had over 47 million in gross revenue with over 158,000 in attendance over the two weekends. It was interesting when Coachella made the announcement last Summer that Coachella would become a two weekend same lineup event many people in the blogosphere argued that it was a crazy idea and that the second weekend would fall entirely flat since most people would come the first weekend. I saw that risk at the time but still thought it was a brilliant experiment. Yet now, with almost 81,000 in attendance week 1 and almost 78,000 in attendance week 2, that concept was entirely proven to be false and Coachella was immense success. More importantly, for the purposes of independent artists, it points to the new crucial importance festivals and live shows play in a successful music career.

At last week’s New Music Seminar in New York City Sean Parker(creator of Napster) and other music business professionals discussed what they referred to as the fall of the record business and the rise of the music business. They essentially explained how twenty years ago, labels produced physical albums that could sell millions of copies and provide huge revenues for their affiliated artists. Today we are seeing a rise in the music business as a whole; there is still revenue from standard mechanical royalties and physical sales, but there is also now revenue from a variety of music distribution sites, licensing in other media such as commercials and movies, and of course live entertainment revenue, all of which are now becoming more important than ever. Distribution sites like www.Studio120.org and licensing music are vital, but the live entertainment revenue is also growing very quickly. Finally, I would add that performances at colleges and especially festivals are the best to get noticed because it is a soft ticket which allows you to perform in front of so many people. When I say soft ticket it means people are not going to hear a specific band but they are just going to the event regardless of the lineup. So for instance, the Roger Waters tour or any other tour that people buy a concert ticket for a particular artist it is a hard ticket, but for all the music festivals like Bonnaroo and Ultra Music Festival  which sells tickets before the line-up is announced these are people buying a soft ticket because they do not know who is playing but they know that great music will be there. So getting festivals and college gigs which are soft tickets are crucial for exposure. After all, when else other than giant music festivals like Coachella are you able to be exposed to over 150,000 music-obsessed people in a week and a half. It’s a very powerful thing for indie artists.

Touring Tips: 3 Things All Artists Should Know to Route a Tour

“The life I love is makin music with my friends I can’t wait to get back on the road again” – Willie Nelson

Good Relationships with Venue Owners, Managers, and Booking:

The biggest misconception about business is that it is about making money; when in fact business is not at all about making money. Business is about building good relationships and money is the residual side-effect of these good relationships. Therefore, if you want to do well in the music business you have to maintain good relationships with the people you work with. The best way to maintain relationships is to continually create win-win-win situations; make you playing at a venue a win for the audience, a win for the venue and event organizers, and a win for your band.

So we know how to make it a win for the band (get good pay, play a good venue, play good music, and have a good crowd) and we know how to make it a win for the fan (play good music), but how do we make it a win for the venue and organizers? The answer is to satisfy the booking person, the manager, and the owner. Particularly with smaller venues and bars the owner, manager, and booking person for an establishment may all be the same person. If that’s the case then you need to do all the things I am about to describe for that person; yet assuming they are all three different people there are things you should do for each to keep them happy. For the person who booked your band, they want good music attracting large crowds, so promo and practicing the music is the key. Also, do not forget to introduce yourself and show gratitude when you get there if they are at the venue that night. The manager wants large crowds and “drinking responsibly” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), so make sure to bring people who won’t start fights and destroy the venue. And then, the owner wants all of these things but it is best to just try to relate to the owner in a personable way. Try to find something to relate to the owner on whether its sports, movies, or music, just find something that will get them talking. When you relate to the owner in that type of way the next time your band comes up he will just remembered that you all had a great conversation about Led Zeppelin. Then, the manager and booking person can act as advocates for you who already have credibility with owner and tell him that you played great music, you brought a crowd, and the venue had a successful night. With the vote of confidence from his team the owner will not only want to rebook because you’re a nice person but also because his people have convinced him that your music is also good for business. Also, it’s particularly good to be in with the owner as he is the final decider in any increased compensation that you could get from a renegotiated deal after you have played somewhere multiple times.

Be Geographically Smart:

If you are routing a tour through the south the Midwest and the northeast do not bounce from Atlanta to New York to Nashville back to Philadelphia back to Chicago and then through Baltimore. Instead, be geographically smart. If you are doing those cities for instance go in a big circle, so that you go ATL to Nashville to Chicago to New York to Philadelphia to Baltimore and back. This will greatly reduce the amount of gas money spent and driving hours wasted for your tour. Another important aspect of being geographically smart about booking your tour is that you should route geographically dense tours where you’re never driving more than 8 hours. So, for instance, Chicago to NewYork is quite a drive but you break it up on the way by doing a show in Cleveland or Detroit, or even the trip from Nashville to Chicago you can break up with a show in Cincinnati. The beautiful part of touring in this big country of ours is that you rarely drive more than 8 hours, except in Texas, to get to the next major city you could perform in (Disclaimer: no offense was intended to Texas but yall have a big state, about 13 hours east to west driving).

SMART Goals:

All tours should have SMART goals; these goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented (meaning there is a set of actions you must take to reach the goals), Results-Oriented (meaning that those actions must aid in achieving a desired result), and Timely. For most businesses a timely offering would sell winter cloths in the winter and ice cream in the summer time. Yet, in the case of music it is a little different because it’s always the right season for music. So, timely in the case of touring music is about doing it in a timely fashion. If you have 20 shows it is much better to have a 30 day touring schedule than a 100 day touring schedule; of course, you don’t want a show every night because you’ll burn out but you also don’t want the show dates too spread out because every day off day on the tour is an extra day you’re paying for hotel and transportation. So, doing a show no less than every other day reduces the cost of the tour and therefore increases the profit from the tour.

Interview With Jay Thomas from Bluejay

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What type of music does your band do?

Tallahassee has dubbed us soul pop. Sooouuuul pop, they added the soul part. It’s lovely for them to say. It’s a lot of everything. It’s been important to me that my songs can be sung aloud, and sung back to me. At this point, it’s been important to truly emote, and I think the soul comes from the emotion behind the songs, which I want people to remember. So, the pop comes from remembering the song, or the catchiness, and the soul comes from the performance.

 

Where is your band from?

We are originally from Miami but we work out of Tallahassee and I owe my music to Tallahassee. I will always represent Tallahassee.

 

What are 3 artists that you admire or aspire to be like? How is your music similar and different from those artists?

HR Giger. I love HR Giger. He is an artist of landscapes and I’m very into creating landscapes with music and sound. I would say that Ani Difranco’s urgency has inspired me to deliver my message potently. Im just trying not to say Tori Amos (chuckles). I got to say Tori Amos. The way she connects at the source and plays music from the source, is what I take from Tori Amos. It’s not staged. Tori Amos’s music live is not staged. It is purely there in that moment and I like that. I really aspire to that.

 

What is the best piece of advice you could give to aspiring artists?

I don’t feel qualified to give advice at this point. But I would say if I were to give advice I would say in creation make sure that it connects with something deep and real within you. If you want to write a song and sing it for years, make sure that it’s connecting with something that your life keeps experiencing. Not particularly one experience but something that you can always go to that song and feel it and it becomes a vehicle for something that you feel often or something that is deeply felt within you.

 

What do you think the best way to find venues are? What about recording studios?

Other bands. Other bands that sound like you. With recording studios, it’s good to work with someone you know. It’s good to know someone who’s going to commit to recording what you want to portray. If you meet someone who is the ink and you want to write something down, they will do it for you, and they will benefit and you will benefit.

 

What are ways you promote on and offline?

I tell this to bands that I know. When we came out with Goblins, the debut album from 2010, we posted posters all over our hometown, Tallahassee. Out of online, it’s putting posters everywhere, it’s pretty general. Online, I would say that I just try to deliver content. Content always. Not thoughts, not Demos, content. I like to finish something and then present it.

 

What makes music special to you?

Music is the most important thing in my life. What makes it special is that … oh, its almost impossible to say really. What makes it special to me is that it’s irreplaceable. I defend it. I defend it strongly. It’s the one thing that’s not a human that I defend like a family member and it can get me into debates.

 

What do you mean debates?

For example, my father is a Ron Stewart impersonator and often he suggests artificial ways of going about things. I asked him to play flute on Mercury, the new album, and he suggested the keyboard and I yelled at him. I’ve told him time and time again that I’m not going to use artificial things. If I use artificial things it better be artificially real like an electronic beat that cannot be done otherwise. I defend it. I defend music harshly. It’s special. I’m not into artificiality unless were going to go all the way with that. If we’re going to go all the way with that I’ll match it with lyrics. I’m not going to match my lyrics so far particularly with an artificial beat. It wasn’t created that way. I would like to create dance music in the future or something like that, but I’m not about to add an artificial beat to my live show.

 

Where do you get your inspirations for your songs?

Life, life, life. Ya know, life, that’s it. “Lucy”-Lucid dreams, “Tallahassee”- living in Tallahassee, “Boogeyman”-being cheated on, “Bruisey Brookie”-a theme song for my friend, “Fluorescent Green”- relying on a partner, “Black Cherry Blood”-not trusting that partner. Yeah, anything that pisses me off (chuckles) or makes me feel amazing. Tallahassee makes me feel amazing, it’s a beautiful place. My music would not exist without Tallahassee so I wrote Tallahassee song. When anything boils over it needs to be written down. And now I’m going into a state where I’m going to start writing about stuff that I’m not going to be able to tell people exactly what it’s about because I feel like I’ve been very explicit so far and stuff has happened recently that I think I’m going to choose to be a little poetic or a little grounded about it. What inspires me to write music is anything that I feel so harshly that I have to sing about it for years. Ya know, being cheated on at the same party that I was at will always make me want to sing the song “Boogeyman”. I was there. I was in a different room and that man was getting someone else’s number. I always want to sing that. That will be the song that represents that feeling. And I think even songs like “Bruisey Brookie” that are really specific about one person, Bruisey Brookie represents pop art, at its most specific it represents my friend Brooke, and at its most large it represents pop art.

 

You mentioned being more poetic and less literal. Are the subjects you choose difficult to talk about to the public?

I feel like, on Goblins, I’ve written about topics that are easier to talk about. It really takes an audience sometimes to be able to go into the deeper subjects and the songs on Goblins were written in real life. I was hanging out with my family the other day and I can play Tallahassee song in the middle of the night and it gets them going, I can play Bruisey Brookie and it gets them going, I can play Boogeyman and it gets them going. The songs on Mercury that are coming, I don’t play “Downloading You” all the time. I do play “Burnin’ Soul” a lot, that’s the song about my mother. And that’s definitely a hard subject I’m going to explore more or explain more. My mom died when I was 12 and it wasn’t just that. It was a pretty shite situation. So I’m sure I’ll be dealing with that in music a lot more. But music is a conversation. So, you don’t go to a party and go “my mom died”. So, now that they’ve been introduced to me, now that people have been listening to Goblins, I feel like I can tell them more. It’s a conversation.

 

It’s interesting you say it’s a conversation, how do you get feedback?

Fan feedback has only really started since Goblins and the live shows. I think feedback is something that multiple opinions come in and you just interpret them. Here’s a good one, my dad said for example, “Your catchiest song is about marijuana” (Scottish accent)(chuckles), with “Garden Girl” on Goblins, and it is one of only two songs with a repeating chorus on Goblins. So, I definitely thought I could repeat something if I really mean it. And the songs on Mercury, I mean what I’m saying and it’s important for people to hear it. So, I think the feedback from Mercury will be more politically exciting than Goblins. Goblins is more personally exciting but I’m starting to write about stuff that I think people will feel in their political/personal lives.

 

In your time as an artist, what is one thing that you’ve learned that could help other artists out there?

When I was learning poetry at FSU, they didn’t necessarily judge if a poem was good or bad. In order to be a poem, it had to be true. I would say if you take the time to write a song that is true it will always be true to you and others will understand that truth.

 

If there was one thing that you could tell your fans, what would it be?

Support my bloddy kickstarter when it comes out because I don’t want to play shite bars forever. Mercury. It drops this year 2012.

 

So you’re using kickstarter to fund the album?

I don’t know if were using Kickstarter yet, or another fund raising site. We’re doing something where we can raise some money and release it. We got the music done, but there’s always that last push. There’s a few out there, there’s Indiegogo, there’s Kickstarter, there’s other ones I’ve seen.

 

Tell us about your upcoming album, when is it coming out?

Ya know, when you’re indie, it never comes out (chuckles). Mercury will be out some time this year. We are dealing with mixing and videos. Stuff so that people can understand the statement I am trying to make. And I’m not just about releasing 10 songs that I’ve written. I’m about making a statement and creating an aesthetic that is gorgeous and beautiful. I love that so much in other artists that I aspire to create an aesthetic with Mercury. I think that I’ve created an aesthetic and a feel and I want to make sure that’s delivered correctly. And it’s coming out this year but it’s hard to determine the month because everyone’s got day jobs (chuckles).

 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Love everyone that’s listening. I love all of you. Thanks for listening.

 

Stay connected with Bluejay and Check out their music at

https://twitter.com/bluejaysongs

https://www.facebook.com/bluejaymusic

http://www.youtube.com/bluejaysongs

Stay connected with Bluejay and many more independent artists at Studio120Music.com

Google Does Music Now Also?

  Will Google Music be the new biggest addition to the music industry or the biggest upcoming flop of the 21rst century? Whatever you believe the ultimate fate of Google Music to be you must admit they are off to a good start. Users of Google Music were able to get their first glimpse on Wednesday and the public relations had Billboard and other industry experts talking up the launch for months. The most interesting part will see how they try to integrate the benefits of Google Music to attract users to Google Plus. Google Plus’s largest competitor, Facebook, has chosen to integrate music in a much different way. Instead of only sharing songs on Google Plus that were accessed through Google Music, Facebook announced its partnership on September 22nd with the largest digital streaming services to automatically share music habits with Facebook users. I believe the Facebook approach will work better because I feel Facebook is simply marrying the most successful streaming services and the most successful social network, while Google is attempting to attract users to a new social network with a new music service. Although the partnership route may have been more effective for music sharingthrough Google, there was a few areas where Google most certainly got it right.

                First of all, Google realized the strength of its competitors, like I-tunes, and noticed that they had to do something fundamentally different to get any attention in the music market. So, the company has secured various exclusive never before heard songs of legacy rock groups as well as a whole collection of free music from major artists. The free and exclusive music makes Google Music stand out as something which other music competitors have not been able to do yet. Another interesting inclusion is the surprise of the Artists Hub. The concept of the artist’s hub is that independent (unsigned) artists will be able to sell their music through Google Music directly as oppose to going through a CDBaby or similar service. However, I feel the fatal flaw to this is that they charge a flat thirty dollar fee in order for independent artists to start selling their music. I feel Google does not understand the independent market because I would bet most artists would refuse the charge. Whatever the final outcome, last Wednesday definitely marked a new day in how music is marketed online.